“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well”. This is a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, Kidnapped and other classics. Sage words of advice.

Our expectation of how life should be treating us often doesn’t match up with the  reality of our circumstances. While it is true that we don’t get to choose where or to whom we are born; our ethnicity; or our socio/economic circumstances, we do have a choice as to how we view them and subsequently what we make of them. We can whine and complain and do nothing which will leave us stuck or we can decide to make our lives the best they can be in our particular circumstances.

That being said, the mind-shift is in our hands, hearts and heads. We can choose to see the proverbial half-full glass or the half empty one. We can choose to be envious of a person we think has had more opportunity, maybe a better education or a more comfortable lifestyle than us. This will undoubtedly make us dissatisfied and unhappy if we do nothing to control or analyse our discontent. The alternative is to look at our own situation with the firm intention of not succumbing to such negativity, but to assess how we can change our own circumstances for the better. It will be a process usually requiring a one-step-at-a-time strategy to reach the goal we define for ourselves.

It is our attitude that will make all the difference and that has nothing to do with our economic circumstances. There are many, many stories of poor or homeless people, neglected or abused children and adults who have overcome horrible circumstances and found ways to extract themselves and go to school, get a job, or improve their lot in some way – astonishing us with their tenacity and will to do so. More visible examples are all those people with disabilities who make interesting lives for themselves; amazing disabled athletes competing vigorously in a whole slew of sports and Special Olympics. It is so sad to me that the media will dwell on negative sensationalism while so many such wonderful successes are not illuminated as frequently.

Don’t waste time on envy or spite or trying to tear down the person you think has more than you, is more privileged or luckier than you. You don’t know their story – they may have started life quite differently than the one they now have. They may even have started out more disadvantaged than you think you are, Very few people are just “lucky” or seem to have it all without a hitch. They may have had many mis-steps or apparent failures along the way which you know nothing about. Things aren’t always what they seem. Instead of focusing on others look for the possibilities which might serve you. There is always potential for change no matter how small. Don’t waste time and energy on unproductive jealousy or self-pity. Those emotions will drain you and keep you bogged down in the situation which is making you unhappy. It may well be a struggle to envision change and deliver hardship in the short term, but if you have a clear vision and stickability you will get there.  

If you read me regularly you already know that one of the prevailing questions in my head for life’s many challenges, is “are you going to be a victim or a volunteer?” I want to be in control of my life as much as is humanly possible which means dealing with the situation I am currently in. Just like everyone else, life has dealt me blows as well as benefits and my life has wandered off the course I thought I planned. I questioned this and like others had to choose how I would react and re-adjust. I could fall and stay down or I could get up, shuffle the deck and decide to get back in the game. Our hands already hold the cards we need to win.