I recently was asked to speak about “When Life Gives You Lemons” by a friend to a group of women in her church group. She wanted the focus to be on how we can find happiness and peace even in the midst of difficulty. I remember thinking: “Sure, I can do that!” But, then came the preparation. I procrastinated…and procrastinated. I found myself caught in the mire of pessimism.
There were not any big events that created this in me; no terrible trial or difficulty. It was a build-up of little things.
Pessimism is sneaky. It creeps in a little at a time, and pretends to protect you — keeping you safe from the big, bad world. But, I have found pessimism prevents me from feeling happiness; from finding and keeping joy in my life. So, when the irritations of life come — those little pebbles in your shoe — pessimism makes pebbles into mountains.
The first pebble was small, and I didn’t stop to shake it out. Then a few more. I put a bandaid on and kept on walking. Another pebble gets stuck. This one breaks the skin a little bit. And suddenly it feels overwhelming.
Stupid pebbles! Why do I always get pebbles in my shoes?!
This is so hard! I can’t handle this today.
I think many of us question, “Why me?” when little irritations enter our lives. But, pessimism truly does have an effect on your mindset, your well-being, and your progress. I loved this quote by Winston Churchill:
As the time came closer to give the talk, I decided I needed to buckle down and stop procrastinating. I found myself drawn to constants that I know to be true: gratitude, service, self-care, and living a Christ-centered life.
You see, I know those things make me feel better. I know it, but sometimes the pebbles just become so irritating, distracting and overwhelming that I forget to practice truths. In the midst of the distractions of life, the busyness that keeps me from remembering what really matters, I lost track of the peace and gratitude that keeps my head above water, and holes out of my shoes.
Sometimes when the pebbles come, I forget to check for holes. And, that is the trouble with pessimism. Pessimism rarely helps you solve a problem, because pessimism is focused on finding problems…everywhere. That is truly the gift of pessimism: you can find a problem wherever you look. But, pessimism’s focus is on finding problems, not solving them. And, an unresolved problem is exactly that: a problem.Pessimism's focus is finding problems, not solving them. Click To Tweet
So, I looked pessimism straight in the eye and said, “What can I do to make this better?” I had to start by looking for holes in my shoes. There were a few small ones that were allowing the irritations of life to become bigger than what they were. I needed a few patches; a little self-care, a little gratitude, and some help from others around me.
When a pebble gets stuck in your shoe for a very long time, it creates unnecessary wounds, and I needed a little healing.
When you feel the pebbles of life’s irritations in your shoes, make sure you check for holes!
Our world today is more and more focused on the negative: the disagreements, the offenses, the evils, the terrors and horrors of life. I am not saying we cannot and should not grieve or feel sadness. We must have both happy and sad, light and dark, joy and sorrow, to appreciate its opposite. But, I don’t want to sit in a bathtub of negativity until my fingers get all wrinkly. I want to choose joy, hope and light.
I have always loved the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. I love that we all get to choose our own path in this life. We all have opportunity to fight for and make our own way. I hope that as I grow older and wiser that I can teach my own children that I took the path less traveled by. I hope I can show them that I chose goodness, optimism and strength even in the very face of negativity, distraction, and evil disguised as good.