Posted by: Don Linnen | 1 April 2014

Tough Times, Good Times

Whining has always been one of my least favorite things. On most days I actually try to do less of it.

Broken cars, lukewarm showers, greasy food, humorless coworkers all add to a litany of justifiable complaints for most of us. In the grand scheme of things, none are a showstopper. When they pile up, they can bring you down.

When things get really crummy I try to remind myself to “embrace the suck.” That’s milspeak – a military expression – for: “things are tough, just deal with it.

There are two standards I notice about tough times:

1) When you survive a disaster, it makes for a really good story. Sometimes it’s for the entertainment of everyone else; sometimes, a reminder for everyone else to not do what you did.

2) When the tough times are shared – and survived – the experience is bonding. The memories are rich.

Frank Bures described this kind of rich life in his Rotarian article, “What Price Experience?” He contends that memories add far more to our happiness than material goods or money.  He refers to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, authors of  Happy Money:  The Science of Smarter Spending. Dunn and Norton conclude that “experiences are more likely to make us feel connected to others.”

With the advantage of many years of living, my favorite memories of good times are almost always based on tough times.

A struggling team in high school, the Corps at Texas A&M, pilot training, survival schools, assignments away from family, out-of-touch bosses, camps for kids with cancer, and a blinding snowstorm on the Interstate – all survived and all met both standards above.

Bures concludes his excellent article with a quote from Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca: “Things that are hard to bear are sweet to remember.

Fade in The Burns Sisters singing the great Woody Guthrie song, God’s Promise. If I were talented enough to do that, I would. 

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