"Life Sucks" Syndrome is a reoccurring virus that threatens to destroy our business, our families and the tapestry of our soul. As I speak and coach across the United States and Canada, I see people from all walks of life succumb to its paralyzing effects. I get emails from people of all ages, genders and nationalities asking for help.
Victims of this illness often report the feeling that life is sucking the marrow from their bones, robbing them of their joy, hope and will to live. Left untreated, "Life Sucks" Syndrome robs sufferers of their faith and passion.
In my short time on this planet, my experience and research has taught me to attempt to step back and see the bigger picture. In the big picture, this moment is a tiny dot on the timeline of my life. I'll get through it. Even when it seems like life is ripping the skin off of me and that I've reached the absolute bottom of human misery. I'll get through because opting out is not an option.
Asking "Why?" something happened is a recipe for frustration and anger. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. Life is hardly fair or just or balanced. Victories go to the most ambitious, most creative and most thick skinned. Justice and fairness and mercy are romantic concepts but hardly applicable to the reality of life.
Consequently, I've learned to find the takeaway (or at least the potential for growth) in almost everything. I want you to know that life sucks only if you let it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind every time you feel the symptoms of Life Sucks Syndrome nipping at you heels.
Life has more to do with how we deal with crisis than what the crisis is.
People we love will leave this existence for another. Soul mates whom we trusted may turn their backs on us when we need them most.
In our journeys into the Valley of the Shadow of Debt we may get to know our creditors more than we had hoped. Sickness or disease may try to incapacitate us. Fortunes will be made and lost within a single phone call.
Deal with the cards handed to you or demand a new deck. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to scream out in rage or frustration, then scream. If you need some place to mend your wounds, then go there. But do not allow those painful experiences to strip you of your dreams and ambitions.
Ultimately, every experience prepares us for the next challenge that lies ahead. Learn to find the silver lining, the one thing, however trivial, that you can take away from what happened. Next, write down the lessons learned. Then, one step at a time, continue your journey.
No matter what happens to us, someone, somewhere is having to endure a far greater test.
Show me the person without a pair of name brand sneakers and I'll show you a person somewhere else with no feet. Show me the person who hates getting up at 6 AM every morning to go to work and I'll show you another person who would give their soul if it meant being able to sit up from their bed on their own free will.
Did actor Christopher Reeves allow his challenges to rob him of the desire to help others and himself? Even in death, his actions demonstrate the power of resolve.
Ask actor Bill Cosby if losing a son stopped him from giving back or if the parents of the children who died in the Littleton Massacre are going to stop living their lives with passion and purpose.
Those who lost employees, friends and loved ones on September 11th, 2001 in New York know the pain of loss. The families and friends of the 3,000+ Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have died in the ongoing chess game of war know what it's like to hit what seems to be the bottom of a lightless pit with no way out.
How many will lose their jobs, their business, their houses, their health, their sanity this week alone?
They, like you, will also endure. Ultimately the will find the strength to overcome the emotional roller coaster that has become part of the human condition.
It can be hard to get through the tough times, but these people and countless others are proof that life only sucks if you let it. If they can get through the impossible pain, so must we.
Armageddon arrives for someone every second.
Even after the TV cameras go on to the next big story, the pain of rebuilding goes on. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf, millions were (and continue to be) impacted. Lives lost. Homes destroyed. A lifetime of memories destroyed in a matter of hours.
Looting. Fear. Bureaucratic bullshit. Yet, the people who remained within (or left behind) the devastated regions of Louisiana and Mississippi found the strength to go on. What other choice did they have?
At the time, I lived in Broward County. We tasted the "dirty side" of Hurricane Wilma. I made the mistake of leaving for a trip, thinking that a Category One would be of little consequence.
As I drove home in a rental car from Tampa along I-5, then 75, I experienced what my family and almost a million others had already endured for two nights total darkness. Complete silence and the uncertainty of what wait ahead.
In the first few days, fear, potentially contaminated drinking water, gas lines that snaked for miles. Roads blocked. The search for batteries and blue tarps. Chaos as we discovered just how bad drivers in South Florida really are.
Even as I write this, hundreds of displaced families are still living in cramped 18' by 32' trailers trying to find permanent housing before the next wave of Hurricanes pummel Florida. FEMA has no answers for them. They don't earn enough to be able to afford the $700 and up that a one-bedroom apartment costs in South Florida (and many other parts of the country).
Despite the damage, and the ongoing rebuilding, we are blessed compared to what could have been and to the ongoing losses around the world.
Across the globe, crack babies are being born. People are dying from heart disease, cancer and AIDS. The atrocities of Genocide are snuffing the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Millions more are dying a slower death with every cancer stick they smoke, every Big Mac they ingest, and every excuse they make not to exercise.
Regardless of your status, your education, your outlook, your faith, your genetic makeup, or anything else, the physical end is inevitable.
This body will stop operating eventually. It might be the result of old age, disease, a speeding car, a slippery road, a poisoned ecosystem or an overwhelming love making session.
I don't know how it will happen. But this physical existence will end for all of us. Instead of obsessing over the when, obsess over the how. How are you living your life to the fullest while you still can?
Are you exercising your options to live fully and extremely, with passion and purpose? You control what you do and how you conduct yourself in all matters before that personal Armageddon comes to pass.
Someone once taught me that if you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you're peeing on today. Live like the next 8 hours is all you have.
Will it be spent brooding over past mistakes an people who hurt your feelings. Will it be spent vegetating in front of this computer screen? Or will it be spent doing the things you've been putting on the shelf or waiting for the "right time" to follow-through on?
Obsess over this moment and how you'll live in it without regret. I say Suck Life before life sucks you.
I know that regardless of what happens to me or around me, I AM HERE FOR A REASON.
And so are you. In every role you perform (mother, father, lover, friend, leader, professional), you are here to enrich the lives of those around you. To be that shoulder to lean on. To be that ear that hears the unspoken sadness. To be the inspiration for the weary traveler to take one more step. To be a voice for those who have none.
I challenge you to find the courage to live, love and lead life with passion. Youre too special for anything less.