For me, finding the silver lining in life's clouds was something of a coping mechanism. As a little girl, my mother battled chronic illness. I remember when school was dismissed, I'd hear other kids see their moms' cars in the pick-up line and complain their playground time was cut short because "Mom is here already." I was thrilled when my family's station wagon was among the cars. It meant Momma was having a "good day." Later when she died (I was twenty at the time), I was able to find gratitude in the knowledge that she was no longer in pain.
When I started my television career before I graduated from the University of Georgia, I had to deal with plenty of naysayers. How would you respond to a woman who said to you, "You have no business being here and are taking away a job from someone who is qualified?" I will never forget that moment in front of the vending machines at Channel 5. I stammered out a reply along the lines of "Well, the boss is giving me this chance and I hope to prove him right." I also resolved to make the most of the opportunity as long as it lasted. Who knows, the boss might be persuaded the female reporter was right!
Later when my career was derailed, I discovered that while I couldn't control what happened in my life, I could control how I let it impact me. The Greek Epictetus said it quite elegantly, "Ask not that events should happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen and you will have peace." I must confess I only made that discovery after wallowing in depression and self-pity for a time.
It is NOT easy to do. How many times have you not gotten the job? Haven't you felt kicked in the teeth when denied opportunities, been frustrated when someone not nearly qualified enough got the green light instead? Maybe health problems have rearranged your family's life. It just isn't fair! I know I've felt that way. It isn't fair. But here's the thing. I've given birth to three children and at no point was there ever anyone in the delivery room looking at that newborn and saying, "Kid, from here on out, it's all fair." Life just doesn't work that way. Some people don't seem to be affected by that. Just as there are those who can walk through a field of poison ivy and never have the slightest discomfort, there are some people who can be hammered by all of life's negatives and still remain unscathed. I am not one of them. Deny me entry to the club, and part of me wants to sob in the corner wondering why I'm not good enough. But the bigger part of me has realized it's no fun going to a pity party. The better I get at resisting the temptation to give in to sorrow, frustration, or stress, the more successful I seem to be both personally and professionally.