Welcome back! Today I want to share a story with you. It is a story about how we could live in gratitude, and it is a story that, at some point, you will be able to relate to and hopefully, learn from it.
Before we start, I will ask you a little something. In your life, you have experienced different events, and your reactions to them are what is of interest for us today. Find a memory of a challenging moment in your life, and then, remember how you reacted to it. How long did it take you to recover from it? Who did you blame in the process? How long did it take you to see the bright side?… If you need aspiration to find an example, here are some common ones:
- A time where you have been dumped by a person you loved so much
- A time where you were fired
- A time when someone’s critic resonated to the core and shaken your inner confidence
- A time when your trust was shattered upon discovering a lie
Got one? Perfect! Just write it down and keep it somewhere in your mind for now. We will go back to that a bit later in the article.
Let’s move to the story part of the article… This story will touch on the life of three persons: Michelle, Cameron and Alana.
Michelle is a woman who finds her life hard and stressful. There are little joy and tenderness in her relationships. She has a decent job; she rents a flat, she has two kids and a husband she likes more or less depending on the day. She struggles financial and the future isn’t bright when she thinks about it. Michelle could be many of your neighbour or friend!
Michelle reacts to life events in a way she learned as a child. That way creates powerlessness and fears; it generates anger against the world and an overall stuckness. In other words, she goes quickly into her “victim mode”. You may hear her saying:
“Life is hard! The governement is taking all our money with their damn taxes!”
“I have a shitty job! It’s just the way it is”.
“Who? Me?! It isn’t my fault! It was Geraldine who did it, I have nothing to do with that!”
“I have been unlucky in life, my mother didn’t love me and my dad was a drunk. How could I have a good life?
This is Michelle’s (sad) world, always a victim and forever a victim. Her internal dialogue is negative, and her focus is on others. When Michelle looks at life, there is someone or something else to blame for whatever is happening.
Before I present our next character, I have some questions for you:
- Do you know a Michelle in your life?
- Between you and me, at times, you are a Michelle too?
When something happens to Cameron, he will initially react as Michelle do. After all, unless the very rare few, we often all react like that!
You will regularly find him playing the victim and blaming others or the world for his problems and faults. But for Cameron, it doesn’t last forever. The power he uncovered is that after a while, he can start to see why it wasn’t such an unfortunate event in his life. At times, he even sees how significant that event finally was. That little tweak on looking at past experiences created over-time massive improvements in Camero’s life.
He learned from failed relationships, he learned from hard and tough time and saw the growth opportunity of life challenges. He discovered that we don’t always know what is positive or negative, at least not when it is happening. He changed partners a few times until he found Jen. He is planning his future as he knows that no matter what will happen to him, he will eventually be okay after a while. Cameron is living and growing.
When Camero looks back at his previous significant life events, you will hear him saying to himself or his friends:
“I am happy that Rosa left me a few years ago. I could met Jen and she is the true love of my life!”
“Robert! Remember when I broke my leg? It was actually good, I learned self-discipline during the recovery process and it actually changed my life afterwards! Isn’t that funny that breaking my leg was one of the best thing that could have happened to me?”
“Damn! It took me twenty years to realize that my father’s absence and my mother’s excessive cloness taught me how to be in the middle with my friends and Jen.”
Most of us are like Cameron. We initially blame (victimising), but one day, we finally see it! We found why that happened to us and why it was great. It wasn’t just sad or devastating, it was growth, it was love, and it was precisely what we needed. While it doesn’t remove the pain, it brings another twist to the situation and allows us to expand our horizon.
Did I say, three persons? Oh yeah, I still have to present you, Alana. Alana is the wisest of all three, and she is usually worth looking up to!
Alana is well off in her life. She created gratitude, abundance and prosperity in her relationships and at work. She remembers vividly a time where her mindset was like Michelle and Cameron but that was years ago. Alana isn’t a better person nor superior. She was taught something invaluable, and that transformed her life. He took her a few years to be in that state of mind, and she still needs to make conscious efforts to stay here. She is a part of the few people who have a different view on life and particularly on the experiences that life is bringing to us. The secret that was taught to her all started with that sentence:
“Life is happening for us, not to us”
Initially, it made little sense to her. With time and practice, she started to see opportunities in every challenging situation in life. When life is hard with Alana, she is deciding not to blame the world or someone else. She tells herself that while it looks confronting, she doesn’t want to settle yet if it is a bad or a good thing.
Here are good examples of Alana mindset:
“My mother got sick and is at the hospital. I’m very scared for her and I know that it could be the warning from life she needed to change her life style and her eating habits. I’ll support her to be healthy so we can have many more years together when she’s out of there.”
A few year ago you could have heard say: “Fuck! Sandra? I just got fired and I don’t know what to do now… You know what?Remember that trip I always wanted to do? Yeah in South Africa. I’ll take book a flight and see what life as to offer there!”
Alana has one core philosophy she would like to share with us today:
- When life hurts us, we can choose not to define what is happening to us (negative or positive). We can leave the door of growth open and look pro-actively for that growth. The harder a life event has been, the bigger it will make us grow. If we dare to take that opportunity.
This is her secret, this is was empowered her in her life. She grew from her life events, and she stopped giving her power away to others or circumstances. Alana often reminds herself of that quote:
“Life is happening FOR US, NOT to us”
Firstly, I hope you enjoyed your read today. It is the first time I try to share a message with characters that I invented. I also hope that you found their experiences and wisdom powerful.
Secondly, I asked a little something of you earlier in that article. Do you remember? You know, that painful moment of your life and how you reacted to it? 🙂
The exercise is simple and just between you and yourself. When reading the summary below of our 3 characters, honestly access which one you were the closest to. If you dare, take a moment to see what the outcome could have been if you were another character:
- Michelle: There little to no gratitude in her life! I call it the “victim mode” where everything is because of other things or persons
- Cameron: Being thankful for what happened, but a few days/weeks/months or years after the event has passed.
- Alana: Deciding to be grateful immediately, even when it looks terrible and when it hurts! Deciding to let the door of positivity open even when everything is dark and hurtful.
Don’t get me wrong Alana is still feeling pain; Alana still needs time to process the tragedies happening to her. But because of that mindset, she recovers faster in most cases than Cameron. Michelle might never recover from some of her life events.
Over a lifetime, embracing and practising the lessons we learned today from Alana might change who you are and how you relate to other. You might be an inspiration to others or their rock when life goes to shit.
“Life is happening for us, not to us”
“Life is happening FOR US, not to us”
“Life is happening for us, NOT to us“