Ever notice that after you hurt a finger or toe, it becomes the only place you keep hitting against something? Weird, huh? Well, the same odd thing is happening to me about my new book, “Stop Whining Start Living.” It seems that wherever I turn, something relevant to the main concepts of responsibility, choices, courage, endurance, and character just keeps popping up.
I received an email from a twenty-four-year-old woman who is new to my radio program and my books. She has had a tough time since the age of eleven, due to a father with a severe borderline personality disorder and a mother who simply pretended everything was fine.
But everything was not fine. The young woman did about everything she could to get their attention and/or punish them for the abuse and neglect: anorexia, abusive relationships and go-nowhere jobs.
Ironically, her mother finally gave her a copy of my books, “Bad Childhood Good Life” and “The Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives.” I remember telling parents that the way they could make up for their mistakes with their children was to give them the former book with enthusiasm, humility, and optimism.
Well, it worked. The more this young woman read, the more she wanted to explore herself, and the more she did that, the more she began to enjoy life. It was at this point that this very young woman came up with amazing insights:
“In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I resolved to begin taking care of myself and (this is a doozy for me) showing love to others.”
“I am happy to say that once I started taking responsibility for myself, I became happy for the first time in my whole life!”
“I can choose whether I want to have a good day or a bad day…just like that!.”
“I get to renew my promise to myself that if I get the chance to have one more day on the planet, I’m going to damn well use it for something great.”
….and last but not least:
“I’ve been through enough crap to not take life for granted.”
What impresses me about this young woman the most is her enthusiasm. She gave up the ugly, but comfortable “known” (self-destructive and parentally punitive) behaviors for life-affirming, exciting, but “unknown” – and that takes guts. I so admire guts!
My favorite of her phrases is “I get to renew my promise to myself that if I get the chance to have one more day on the planet, I’m going to damn well use it for something great!” Just today, my yoga instructor (who is my friend) told me her fifty-seven year old cousin, whom she had just seen during Easter, died precipitously of a tear in his aorta. They tried to save him, but he had so many immediate complications that he didn’t survive. Just like that. One day you’re here…the next day you’re not.
Let me repeat that:
one day you’re here…the next day you’re not. One day your parents, children, the love of your life, a good friend is here…the next day they’re not. So – my advice is STOP WHINING about the stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter and START LIVING each day as if it is your only opportunity to bring something beautiful into this world.