Saturday, September 04, 2010

Beware The Ostrich And The Bear

You all know about the Ostrich.

When the Ostrich perceives danger he sticks his head in the sand – to hide – believing that nobody else can see him.

But he is still in plain sight. In open view. Visible to all around him – save his head buried beneath the ground.

He thinks he is invisible.

He thinks he is safe.

He is in his "happy place".

Often when we think of the future … we only envision our happy place. Where all is well. Where no problems can be seen.

But often when we think about the present … we think about all the obstacles facing us at the moment.

We think about the insurmountable debts we owe.

We think about the people around us who seem to be causing us problems of one type or another.

We think about our jobs and the frustrations that our daily work prevails on us.

We think about the things around the house that need repairs. And convince ourselves that our home is falling apart.

And we come to the conclusion that life – at this moment – stinks.

Very seldom do we look at the current status of our lives with the same optimism we hold for our future.

Very seldom do we take into account all the good things about the here and now.

We dwell on the bad. We swim in the pool of negativity. We embrace it and we wallow in our own self-perceived misery.

And we feel sorry for ourselves. We seem to actually enjoy feeling sorry for ourselves.

Because nobody else could possibly have it as bad as we do right now.

The grass is always greener in everyone else's yard.

We convince ourselves that times are … bad.

There is an old story told by theologian Emmet Fox . I tell this story every chance I get to anyone who I see who has convinced themselves that everything is just plain horrible at that moment.

I tell it to people who only dwell in the negative moments.

And quite often I tell it to myself.

Because I am as prone to dwelling in the negative as much as anyone else.

There once was a Bear that was foraging through the woods when he happened to stumble upon a hunter's camp.

No one was at the camp – the men were all out hunting.

But the Bear smelled something good coming from a big black kettle cooking over an open fire. The Bear grabbed that kettle in his big old bear arms to get a better smell … and perhaps to eat the stew inside … simmering in the kettle.

But the kettle was very hot, and it burned the arms of the Bear.The Bear knew only one line of defense and squeezed the pot even tighter. And the tighter he squeezed the more the kettle burned.

Until finally the Bear could stand it no more and passed out from the excruciating pain.

You are probably asking yourself "So what does this story have to do with dwelling in negative thoughts?"

Well, consider yourself to be the Bear.

And consider that burning hot black kettle to be negative thoughts in your mind.

Had the Bear simply let go of the kettle, he wouldn't have gotten so badly burned.

When we dwell on the negative – our immediate response is to think about such things harder … and harder .. and harder … until it simply burns you, scars you, possibly even destroying you.

You have to let that kettle go.

This is not to say you become the ostrich , who sticks his head in the sand to hide from his problems.

Because then you are prone to let the problems destroy you as well.

You have to change how you approach your problems.

You have to change your approach from that of how bad everything is .. to an approach of "how can I make it better?".

For example – you can make a list of all your options you can think of to make the negative to be a positive.

You have to figure out how to make lemonade from the lemons.Yes, I know – I hate that cliché too.

But the funny thing about the clichés we hate is that a cliché becomes a cliché only because it's so true.

When bad things happen, you cannot afford to be the Bear who hugs the kettle – it will burn you too badly.

But you cannot afford to be the Ostrich with his head in the sand – or the problems you are hiding from will prevail.

Instead you have to sit down and figure out a plan of attack.

A business plan if you will.

So you can open up a lemonade stand.

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