In the movie “Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” the main character, Alexander, makes a birthday wish that his family have an awful day. His wish comes true, and everything goes horrendously wrong for the entire day. In the end, the family learns a valuable lesson: that no matter how bad things are, they still have each other–and in order to enjoy the good days you have to have some less than stellar ones.
Life can be ridiculously frustrating at times. At one point or another, we’ve all had a “Murphy’s Law” type day. We woke up on the wrong side of the bed and things continued to snowball from then on. For some of us the frustration lasts for more than a day, and for others, the frustration never ends. Things don’t always go our way, and sometimes life can hit us from several angles simultaneously. Sadly, life is simply too painful for some—sometimes to the point where one decides to end it.
I think that part of the reason why life can be so hard at times isn’t simply because it’s hard. It’s also because of the seemingly pervasive idea that it’s not supposed to be. We live in a society that idolizes perfection. When are bombarded with advertisements showing us the end results and none of the struggles. Hedonism dominates our culture. Perhaps the reason so many of us are unhappy isn’t because our lives are necessarily bad, but that we have unrealistic expectations of what life is supposed to be like. A quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, Blow, illustrates this point in a simple and yet illuminating fashion.
“Sometimes you’re flush and sometimes you’re bust, and when you’re up, it’s never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, you never think you’ll be up again, but life goes on.”
“Life goes on.” No matter what happens in life, it moves forward, and what’s done is done. Things aren’t always going to go your way and nature doesn’t care about our meticulous planning for the future. Shit happens.
The idea I’m going to present to combat living a bad life may sound counterintuitive at first, but follow along with me.
Maybe we all need to be a little more pessimistic.
Don’t get me wrong; it is imperative to be optimistic about your life in the long run. I’m just saying don’t expect your life to be rosy all of the time, and definitely don’t expect to gain something that’s really worth having easily.
We watch documentaries like “The Secret” which say all you have to do is put a picture of a fancy car on your wall, and wish for it, then you will have it. We read books like “Think and Grow Rich” which claim that you just need to have a strong desire for riches and they shall be granted to you. This is not how the world works. Realize that you aren’t going to get everything you want just because you are a good person. This isn’t Kindergarten anymore, and you don’t get a gold star just for showing up.
Expect the unexpected. As soon as you can grasp the fact that you really don’t have control over your life you will feel a little more at ease. That isn’t to say that you literally have no influence over the quality of your life, because you definitely do. I just mean that there is always a possibility of something going awry. On the journey to your goals you are certain to have obstacles. If you are in a relationship you are undoubtedly going to have some issues from time to time. Even for those of you living a good life, every once and a while, you may have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Just accept it.
When you are making a plan for your business, for your health, for anything really, there’s nothing wrong with having a contingency plan. When making any plan I’d like you to think of 3 possible outcomes. The first outcome is the ideal one; where everything goes just as you planned and you’re the hero. The second one is the worst possible outcome; where essentially everything goes terribly wrong. The third one is the likely outcome; what will probably happen. If you think about the worst-case scenario of a situation, and decide that you would be able to deal with it, proceed with your plan. Be ready for each outcome. If you make a plan and only expect one outcome, and it doesn’t go that way, of course you are going to be upset.
Life has ups and downs; you will never be able to escape that, so why burden yourself with the idea that it’s not supposed to be that way? Prepare yourself. The economy can be unpredictable; save your money. Your body deteriorates, as you get older; keep yourself fit and healthy. Your relationships with your family and friends will be tested; strengthen them now.
In the metaphorical highway of life, while you’re in the driver’s seat, wear your seat belt.