Stuff happens in life. Including very hard stuff. But no matter what that stuff is, it doesn’t have to define our lives. We can define our lives by choosing how we respond to what happens.
I was reminded of this just recently.
My gym is a short distance from where I live. So I try to walk there. Yesterday, as I marched the few blocks down the street while looking down at something on my phone, I heard a loud metallic bang.
Pain exploded through my head. My glasses smacked up against my face, slid down my nose, and crashed onto the pavement. My ears rang. My nose felt like it had been punched. And everything looked fuzzy. Dazed, I slowly looked up. And saw the pole that I had just slammed into.
As I steadied myself, I wondered whether it was safe for me to work out. I was dizzy. My head throbbed. And I felt a bump the size of a walnut on my forehead. I wanted to cry. I pictured myself going home, crawling into bed, and bawling my brains out. And for a few moments, I contemplated doing just that.
Instead, I waited for the dizziness to subside, retrieved my glasses, and continued down the street.
Defining my day.
By the time I entered the gym, the dizziness was gone. The bump on my forehead had doubled in size, but the pain was manageable. And I felt well enough to exercise, so I started my run.
I ran cautiously at first. But half way through, I realized that I was running at my usual pace, with a smile on my face. I loved the music. And feeling my legs move rhythmically to it. So I ran as long as I could, and finished the rest of my workout. I felt peaceful and relaxed, and that feeling stayed with me for most of my day.
I also felt grateful that I hadn’t abandoned my work out. I was familiar with the end to that story. I would probably have gone home, nursed my bumped head, and maybe even cried a little feeling sorry for myself. After that, I would have felt annoyed for not having exercised. And that feeling would have stayed with me for the rest of my day.
Luckily, I had chosen to define my day differently.
Just like I had chosen whether and how the big and small bumps I had experienced in my life were going to define it. Of course, I would rather none of them had happened. But they had. And I was stuck with the fact that they had. But I wasn’t stuck with how they were going to impact my life.
No one is. Because we can allow the events that occur to define our lives; or we can define the role that they will play. That is our choice. And in that choice, lies true power.