-Being behind bars was one of the most important things that ever happened to me.

-I started my business during a recession.

-I met my wife in a trailer park. (that would be a great country song)

-Some of the best times in my life were times when I’ve been exhausted, dirty, and in pain.

Why am I sharing all this weirdness with you? Because too many people let their circumstances determine their happiness and what they are able to accomplish.

They become victims of what is known as learned helplessness. This is a term coined by Martin Seligman, a psychologist who specializes in positive psychology. My kind of dude.

Learned helplessness is when someone repeatedly experiences something negative that they cannot escape or avoid. That leads to the person giving up even when they can escape or avoid the negatives in life. They feel like they have no control over the situation.

When bad things happen in your life, how do you react? Do you automatically give in and resign yourself to the outcome? Or are you prepared to fight and overcome?

You can begin escaping this helpless feeling by asking yourself 3 questions next time something bad happens.  These are questions from Daniel H. Pink’s book “To Sell Is Human”.

Here are the questions with some bad and better responses for examples:

1. Is this permanent?

Bad response:  Yes. I hurt my knee, I will never be able to exercise again.

Better response: No. I may have to scale things back, but I will be as active as I can until I recover.

2. Is this pervasive? (pervasive means it’s everywhere)

Bad response: Yes. Everyone who takes fitness classes is narcissistic and rude.

Better response: No. Maybe it was just that one particular lady I was next to in class.

 

3. Is this personal?

Bad response: Yes. My coach picked on me because he doesn’t like me.

Better response: No. My coach showed me extra attention today because he was helping me with my form.

The main point is take back control of your life. You do have control of a great many things in your life. Attitude and effort are two of the most important things you control.

Bloom where you are planted, stay positive, and don’t let life’s ups and downs that are out of your control keep you down. You never know what that bad thing in your life might lead to if you have the right attitude. Might even find love in the trailer park like all the greats do.