Video: Dealing with Life’s Sh** Sandwiches

Because we all experience tough times, I think this video is powerful. It’s all about dealing with life’s “sh** sandwiches,” aka those situations that seem to suck immensely. If you’re wondering how to deal when everything is going wrong, check out Marie Forleo’s advice. And as a bonus, read on for my personal experience dealing with life’s sh** sandwiches.

Check it out here

My personal note:

From an outside perspective, the last year for me was–and my friend actually told me this–a sh** sandwich. If you’re curious:

  • I worked in a windowless storage-closet-now-office adjacent to a cemetery with brown grass.
  • My apartment was rundown with bars on the windows and little sunlight because of the hotel three feet away from the window.
  • My dad was battling with cancer for the third time in four years. He passed away in May.
  • My new-used car needed service 3 times including one of the tires completely falling apart.
  • And despite paying for an all-day parking pass I was ticketed anyways.

Of course, that’s only part of the story. As Marie suggests, I took stock of all the good things in my life, and the list was way longer. Let’s revisit my “sh** sandwich,” this time looking at life through the lens of gratitude:

  • I had a job. I made money. I was able to pay my rent. And buy food. And put money in retirement. I also had benefits. My co-worker was awesome, and our conversations were some of the best I’ve had. I had my own office.
  • I had a roof over my head. I had my own room.  I had internet and clean drinking water and utilties and trash and recycling and all the comforts of modern Western living. I had great roommates who were and continue to be some of my closest friends. I had a bed and a clean, safe place to sleep at night.
  • I still had my dad, and we had had 22 great years together. My family had great health insurance to help cover the costs of 3 rounds with cancer. He made it through the first 2. Despite his weakened health, we could still talk on the phone multiple times a week. We had lots of support from friends and family both for my dad and for the rest of us. Given the knowledge my dad didn’t have a lot of time left, we were able to use his saving to go to China, something none of us had ever done.
  • I had a car. I had access to maintenance. I didn’t have to do it myself. No one was injured or died. I have a form of transportation. The fact that I was worried about my car breaking down rather than my health breaking down–or my relationships, my house, my food supply, my water supply–that’s pretty awesome.
  • It’s just a parking ticket. And it means I have a car, and the money to pay for gas, and luckily the money to pay for the ticket.

In the end, I have lots to be grateful for. I mean, I’m alive! 

Here’s my action plan for any time I find myself thinking my life sucks:

Be grateful. I aim for 3 things. Usually the first one is the hardest. When I’m really stuck, I think big picture, like “I’m not in the middle of a war zone.” And then more come, and almost always my list just keeps going.

Acknowledge what cannot be changed. While it may not be easy to accept it, there are things we cannot change. My dad had cancer, and now he’s gone. I cannot change that. So what can I do? For one, I can be grateful. And beyond that, I can focus on what I can change.

Change the situation. For the things that can be changed (like my job), I use the same tools as I do for a 6 Month Plan. What is my goal? A job I enjoy. What is my deadline? Finish out my year and then find a new one. What do I want to have done in the next few weeks? Revise my resume, and start looking at openings. 

Or change perspective. This goes perfectly with being grateful, but it can even go further. To use my job as an example again, I shifted my perspective from my job being the main thing in my life to my job providing the money for me to do what I love. My job allowed me to live in L.A., be around my friends, and volunteer for a great organization, UCLA UniCamp. The job also spurred me to take the “Designing Life After College” course (the most influential single course I’ve taken) and to start this blog (which I clearly enjoy).

Thanks for reading this long post. If you have tips for dealing with hard times, I’d love to hear them!

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