I have a millennial client who said in a recent tele-emotional education session, “This at-home bullshit is driving me effing crazy and it completely sucks! I can’t go play video games with my friends and that sucks. My parents are driving me insane and they suck. Everything in my life sucks. Life sucks!!!”
Sucks? Hmmm. For some reason I instantly thought back to about a decade or so ago to a book I read then, “Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It,” written by Alan Cohen. Seems like at the time, there were a number of books about things that suck, from Justin Halpern’s “I Suck at Girls,” and Danica Miller’s “Math Doesn’t Suck,” to Chuck Runyon’s “Working Out Sucks.”
But sucking in math, relationships and sucking at exercise are small stuff when it compares to sucking at life. I mean, optimal living includes exercise, healthy relationships, and sometimes being able to do math, doesn’t it? If you suck at life, all of life, that’s a whole different story. This is seriously harmful stuff, walking around hauling the belief that life sucks because of coronavirus.
I wrote my first book in 1988, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff PS: It’s All Small Stuff,” now in its 25th edition, and since then have always separated out what’s small from large stuff. Why sweat either? The large and the small stuff don’t suck. They are hassles, not horrors, and never worth tossing away any moment of life by planting word seeds like “it sucks” when you simply mean, “I don’t like it.”
Alan Cohen wrote that the following were reasons that life may appear to suck:
1. You give your power away
2. You expect it to suck
3. You get fooled by appearances
4. You waste energy on things that suck
5. You keep trying to prove yourself
6. You say “yes” when you mean “no”
7. You think you have to do it all yourself
8. You try to fix other people
9. You starve your soul
10. You forgot to enjoy the ride
Maybe it’s that you’ve adjusted, accommodated, to the life you’re living. Ever think what would happen if you move your goldfish into a larger bowl, or your favorite tree into a larger, more open, field? They’d grow bigger of course! Who are you waiting for to move you so you can grow your emotional wellbeing bigger than you are? Coronavirus, as I’ve written before, only infects you, it doesn’t “make you,” “get you,” to feel anything. Only your thinking, and doing those things that Cohen described above, can erode your emotional wellbeing.
You know from reading my columns by now that my education and experiences providing psychotherapy, counseling, coaching and emotional education have convincingly taught me, “The Link is What You Think,” the title of my fourth and most recent book. Your thoughts about your life sucking are your enemies here. Your self-defeating thoughts, small-fry expectations, and accepting less than full-speed ahead, are the seeds of what’s sucking in your life. Flat tires happen. Being miserable about them is entirely your choice.
Cohen observes brilliantly, “Your life is not what the stars, numbers, genetics, environment, politics or economic conditions make it; it is what YOU make it. External variables influence, but internal variables determine.” By the way, he’s talking about YOU, yes, YOU. Time to become a growth-minded person who nourishes and follows your own spirit, who focuses on personal enjoyment of what you master, not on short-lived, materialistic, deceptions in life.
In a recent marvelous column by Julio Vincent Gambuto, entitled “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting,” he notes, “Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we ‘open back up’ and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. That never happened. What are you talking about? Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again.” This time is one of the greatest opportunities we’ve ever had to pause, and to think about what really matters, what is really important, to bring back into your life. Sucks? Hardly. The link is what you think.
What DO you focus on? Want to lead a life that doesn’t suck, one that provides a direct path to health and happiness? Become a powerful focuser. Put aside nonsense, spend some Marie Kondo time in your closets and in your mind, and change your life, and maybe the world, by focusing on your personal goals, particularly other people, joy, and passion-driven pleasures.
Create positive emotions, use this gift of corona-pause to curate who you are, unconditionally accept yourself, others, and life. Why? Because these actions lead to happiness and when you achieve happiness built on unconditional acceptance, life no longer sucks. It’s that simple.
Oh, and my client? He came to quickly learn that, yep, the link is what you think. As soon as he got that, and he did in that call, he saw that life never really sucked, there were things he simply didn’t like, and he was then able to begin prioritizing his time to far more enjoyable, healthier activities. That’s what emotional education can do for you.