Something Bad Happens. You’ve got two choices.

You’re with your friends and you walk into a bar…

Wait, no that’s for a different story.

You forget your wallet, you miss the bus, you dent your car, or you break your arm.

Whether the incident was minor or major you always have two choices:  To have a positive or negative reaction. You can either be angry, upset, or disappointed OR you can be grateful, understanding, maybe even joyful.

I recently hurt my knee by stubbornly refusing to quit.   It wasn’t anything excruciating, in fact I thought it might be fine in a few days.  Yet weeks later, it is only kind-of-maybe getting “better” (i.e. walking doesn’t hurt anymore!) but it still has a way to go.  I can get around fine, but I can’t run, climb, or bike, and hiking volcanoes in a month (which was the plan) seems pretty unlikely.

There are days when this really gets me.  As the final few perfect fall days pass by I can’t help but feel frustrated that I can’t them the way I typically would (with long runs through the forests of fiery foliage that Urbana is known for).  The lack of the endorphin kick I’m used to doesn’t help either.   Each runner who passes me by leaves a pang of jealousy.

But on certain days, when I see the other side, my condition seems a whole lot brighter.  I can walk!  It’s glorious to slow down and appreciate the great outdoors at a slower pace.  And it’s wonderful to see others able to doing what they love.  I went to a state park last weekend and instead of hiking the whole time I sat by the water, soaking up the setting sun and the tranquility of the blue sky reflected in the blue lake.

So next time you are ready to complain about something bad that has happened, consider the inverse – what if this pain caused you joy?


For another example of how to be grateful when bad things happen read how my professor reacted to his son’s motorcycle accident.


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