The problem with problems is that wherever you go, there they are.
Problems have a shadowing type of effect. They follow you around until you get them into the light of full day.
Everyone has problems or bad experiences. One of the hard lessons I had to learn is that it didn’t matter how good a person I was, I was going to have difficult situations. And if I was going to have problems, I might as well deal with them as efficiently and effectively as possible. When life hands me a lemon I start making lemonade. Or lemon bars. Or lemon meringue pie. My goal is to turn that negative experience into something positive. Better or bitter? The choice is mine.
John Maxwell in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, tells us that there can be gain with the pain of problems. Maxwell tells us five attitudes we can adopt to help us make lemonade when all we have is a boatload of lemons.
Choose a positive life stance.
Realize that there are ups and downs in life, and that this too shall pass. There are things we can control, and things we can’t control. Control the situations you can. After a friend was dealt some bad news, I asked her how she kept a positive attitude. Her response, “I can either be positive or negative. And I sure don’t want to go down the negative path. Easy choice.”
Embrace and develop your creativity.
Keeping our sense of humor about a situation helps us think creatively in order to develop “out-of-the-box” solutions. Some of my favorite tools in the kitchen are Microplane graters. That company originally manufactured parts for dot matrix printers. As inkjet printers became more popular, this company had a problem. But they took their technology and make some woodworking tools. When they heard that a customer’s wife had used one of their tools to grate oranges (not lemons?), and thought it was the best grater ever, they took the idea and ran with it. From printer parts to woodworking tools to kitchen graters. Creativity at work and play.
Embrace the value of bad experience.
As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. When you are going through a bad experience it is hard to see that there will be any benefit down the road. But many people who have chosen a “positive life stance” tell of their personal growth during trying times. One family tells of being out of work for a year as a growth experience, bringing their family together. Another sees it as the event that destroyed their family. Believing that, yes, the journey is going to be scary but we’ll all be fine at the end of the road, helps us embrace the value of a bad experience.
Make good changes after bad experiences.
There are people who have told me about experiencing life-threatening situations-heart attacks, cancer, car accidents-and how those events caused them to change their lives in significant ways. They see their present happy life emerging from the healing process of those unpleasant experiences.
Take responsibility for your life.
Maxwell tells us that it is one short step from ‘why me’ to ‘woe is me’. Remember that there is random bad luck and random good luck. When we take responsibility for getting ourselves untangled from our problems, it’s easier for us to see creative solutions and make the needed changes we need to move forward in our lives and keep growing. Studies show that those patients who actively take responsibility for their diabetes management are 3.5 times more effective in controlling their health issues over a ten-year period than those who don’t.
Life is problems.
When we can learn to have a positive attitude towards the ups and downs in our life, we’ll also be teaching our children an important part of learning and growing. That’s the zest of the lemon.