Bad stuff happens to everyone.
We all face illness, the death of loved ones, financial crises, job setbacks, relationship challenges, and mechanical malfunctions. All of them are real, and all of them can breed frustration. When faced with these events, we often view them only in the negative context, and we ask the question: “Why me?”
Recently, I read a quote by the great tennis player Arthur Ashe:
If I were to say, “God, why me?” about the bad things, then I should have said, “God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life.
— Arthur Ashe
If I understand correctly, he said this sometime after he was diagnosed with AIDS — after he was confronted with and had to live with “bad” news.
After this diagnosis, he went on to speak out for AIDS awareness rather than quietly retire to a private life. Shortly before his death, he founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He kept using his blessings to help others even when he had received what many would call a curse.
Here’s what I propose, don’t ask “why” questions when confronted with adversity. Instead, ask “what” questions. Ask:
- What lesson have I learned from this experience?
- What will I do now?
- What good is there in this situation?
“What” questions give you power. “Why” questions sap your strength.
And, I come back to the title of this post: Count Your Blessings.
Despite any hardship, all of us have some blessing.
If I have a co-worker who drives me nuts, I have a job. If my car has a broken water pump, I have a car. If my furnace breaks, I live indoors. If I lose a loved one, I had the privilege of knowing them.
I do not suggest that counting your blessings during a crisis or hardship is an easy thing to do. Nor do I claim to always execute this thought perfectly.
I do know that when I have found the strength and wisdom to look past the challenge to see the blessing, the challenge seemed less daunting, and I had the energy to persevere. When I have focused on the challenge, I have felt hopeless and without energy.
So, to have energy, enthusiasm, and happiness — count your blessings.