Friday, May 22, 2009

Things Could Always Be Worse

My brother-in-law got dealt a raw hand today. I won't go into particulars. It just wasn't a good day, and he lost some things of value. And this isn't the first time life chose to pee in the lemonade he made from the lemons life handed him. And it surely won't be the last.

But whatever you're dealing with in the moment, it could always be worse. Especially for those of us in developed, democratic countries. Things could be so much worse. I know "count your blessings" is a sort of tired phrase, but it's always applicable. Look at what you have, materially and psychologically. Consider all the friends and loved ones you've accumulated through your life. And when things go wrong, consider all the other ways that it could have gone so much worse.

Maybe instead of, "count your blessings" we should say, "count your unrealized potential catastrophes". It doesn't roll of the tongue quite as smoothly, but it's a far more visceral experience. Imagine all the alternate outcomes in life where your current calamity is just a small glass of water in an ocean of nastiness. Envision how much more awful your life could be, but isn't. How much more awful some other people's lives actually are. And as bad as things are for those people, things could always be worse.

Imagine the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. It's different for every person. You might not have considered before what that thing is. Or you might be intimately aware of it. In some cases it may have already happened to you. If it has, and you're still here, you got through it. The worst thing that could possibly happen to you happened, and you came out intact. Intact enough to at least say, "I'm still here", which is saying an awful lot.

If whatever scenario you're envisioning hasn't yet come to pass, consider this. Likely it never will. And what is going on for you right now pales by comparison. Use your "worst case scenario" as meter stick against which all of lives troubles can be measured. Compared to your "10" scenario, your current muddle ranks a paltry "4".

I don't know whether this helps everybody, but it helps me. As bad as things are, they could always be worse, and I know where that nearly infinite regression ends for me. As long as "that" doesn't happen, everything else is cake.

And if that does happen, and I get through it...everything else is cake.

No comments:

Post a Comment