Monday, March 14, 2011

Rolling With Life's Punches

I’ve always heard the phrase “just roll with it,” in such stressful or inconvenient terms, as though the thought of doing so is too much to deal with.

In fact, for a long time, I had a hard time understanding this phrase in a context other than negative. After all, why would we submit to the idea of things being out of our own control when the popular belief is that doing so makes us weak? Certainly no one wants to appear weak, and especially not for lack of control.

Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about being in control all the time (contrary to popular opinion). In fact, I would wager that allowing ourselves the freedom to “just roll with it,” is very empowering.

I was able to learn this lesson first-hand over the course of the last year or so, which has led me to the conclusion that trying to control everything simply leads to unnecessary stress.

A year ago at the end of January, I had just lost my job. My wife and I had been preparing to look at houses for what we thought would be the next big step in our lives. And then – as they say – “It all came crashing down” (my car even ran out of gas on the way home that day).

At first, I was in quite the funk about the entire ordeal. My mind would recount the things that I may have done wrong and what I could have done to change them or what was wrong with me that I would end up in this situation. For the first couple of weeks, it was very depressing as I sat at home doing nothing after having something to do for what seemed like every minute of every day for nearly a year and a half.

However, I eventually came to the conclusion that there were only so many things in this situation that were in my hands. And, if I was going to get anywhere, I was better off focusing on – not worrying about – what I could do, not what I couldn’t do. Thus, I decided, I should just “roll with it.”

So, I set out to find a job and was eventually hired at a local grocery store. Over the next nine months, I had a wonderful experience working with the public, great people, and doing a job that is harder than it looks.

While at the store, I learned what it was like to enjoy going to work – something I hadn’t experienced since the first few months I worked at the newspaper.

And those aren’t the only things I noticed. My relationship with my wife improved greatly. Before I lost my job, my wife and I hardly saw one another during the week and we were lucky to have an entire weekend to ourselves.

The point is, if I had spent my time trying to control everything instead of letting life happen, I very likely wouldn’t be where I am right now.

A year ago, I would have said “things don’t look very good for the future.” But now, I can’t help but smile when I think about where I am: In better health, in a stable living situation, in a great job and – the best reason of all – expecting a son.

I may not be working in the field I went to college for, but I would rather be working out of my field and happy than in my field and unhappy or burdened by so much stress.

Sometimes, life doesn’t take the direction you expect or even want it to take. However, if you take a step back and roll with the situation, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. Just remember to enjoy the view along the way.

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