In his response to my fan email, Marshall Goldsmith signed off with “Life is good.” Some people might think that this is a cliché; there are bumper stickers that say as much after all. But, in this case, it was proclaimed by Marshall Goldsmith, a superhero in the coaching world, so it gave me pause. When I thought about it, I realized that while it may have been said before it is true – life is good. In truth, it is not that we say it too often, but rather it is a shame that we do not recognize it more. Why is this the case?
The fact is that with everything we do in both our professional and personal lives, we are presented with a choice. We can see the day ahead as an opportunity or a challenge. The weekend has just started or is half over. The hard truth is that life is good when we decide it is good and life is not so good when we choose for it to be so.
This is not to say that we should only participate in activities, work on projects, or interact with people who give us pleasure and avoid those which do not. It simply is impossible to cherry-pick all of the time. No matter how much we like our lives, there are necessary, unavoidable aspects that we find unappealing. Rather, it means that regardless of whether the task at hand is at the top of your preference list or the bottom, you can choose to find joy in it. When facing the part of your day you instinctively find unappealing, you can choose to think “Life is good,” as opposed to “Why me?”
No matter what the situation is, there is always the opportunity for a reframe. Our experiences, in and of themselves, are neither positive nor negative. We are the ones who interpret them as such. The first time you are giving a presentation can be nerve-racking or exciting. The assignment that calls for more responsibility than usual can be burdensome or challenging. And, your executive-level job can either be a source of stress or a reason for gratitude.
If you find that the times you are enjoying your work are outweighed by the times you are not, do something about it. Perception is reality, right? You can choose to change both.
While thinking about this blog post, I remembered something that happened when I ran the Palm Beach Marathon in December. The volunteer at the water station somewhere around mile twenty-two said to me, “You are the first person to pass through here who is smiling.” To this, I shouted back, “Isn’t that the point? Don’t we do this because it is fun?”
It is all too easy to forget this in the course of your daily life. It makes no difference whether you have elected the task at hand or it has been thrust upon you. The important thing is that you choose to keep smiling.