On this week’s episode of the podcast, Joel Del Rosario dropped a really profound Napoleon Hill quote on me. “There is something infinitely worse than being forced to work. It is being forced not to work.” I found this to be a profound concept to consider during this time. I don’t know what causes Marines to be deep thinkers but a lot of them are. Maybe it is our constant forced time in nature. Perhaps it is our intimacy with our potential demise.
I for one have always used the mantra, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met the man with no feet” to reframe my way of thinking when I begin to feel sorry for myself. Yet, this concept of considering the inverse of our current situation is a truly impressive thought exercise. One that is advocated by the Dhalai Lhama and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. Men who have been placed into some very unbearable situations and still found a way to turn it into a positive.
We can apply this concept of considering the inverse of a situation in a lot of areas. I have heard a lot of people talk about the negative impact of the Pandemic on people’s mental health. While I sympathize with that view point have we considered the inverse. What about the forced pause that we all have been given? The one forcing us to have those tough conversations with ourselves and loved ones. Those moments that have forced us to really contemplate the world around us and turn off our distractions.
I genuinely believe that our lack of satisfaction in life is directly tied to our baseline for comfort. People who live hard lives are also people who genuinely appreciate the simple things. Bacon never tasted as good as it did when I returned to the states from a one month exercise in Jordan. My bed never felt as soft as it did after a month sleeping out in the tree-line or on cots. My shower never felt so warm as it did when I was forced to go 27 days without a shower. I took less pity on myself for those 27 shower-less days when my buddy told me he went three months without a shower in Iraq until he finally bathed in the Tigris river.
I don’t know what ails you today. I don’t know what will bother you tomorrow. I know that in all situations you have something to be grateful for. I say all situations because you can read books like Man’s Search For Meaning and Faith of my Fathers and realize that men in Concentration Camps and POW Camps find solace in gratitude. I’m hopeful we never actually have to meet the man with no feet to be grateful for the shoes I wear. I’m hopeful we never need to lose our job to appreciate the one we have. I know that we should purposely force ourselves into very uncomfortable situations regularly to remind ourselves of all the great things we have.
After all, Through Pain and Suffering Comes Spirt and Discipline.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.