Terry Paulson

You could blame having to work hard on Adam and Eve for getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden. If the Bible's not your thing, blame Darwin who established the compassionless truth that life is about the survival of the fittest. Whatever the cause, life has never been easy.

M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, started with an unsettling truth: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths."

That truth allowed parents to keep repeating their favorite family lectures: "The fairy godmother isn't coming, so stop your complaining and do something to make things better." "When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade." "You can't drive a parked car. Get off your duff and get moving."

Sure, some people have better luck, but in the tough times, we can learn how to play a poor hand well. The struggles we face make us stronger. They develop our character and the resolve needed to find our way in this difficult but exciting adventure called life.

Easy doesn't do it unless gifts land in our lap. Focused effort consistently earns better results in the good and the bad times. Winners never always win. They win and lose more than the losers because they stay in the game. They compete. They learn. They fall down, but they bounce back up.

While one American coasts through community college only to drop out and choose a restaurant job with good tips to support the surfing he loves, another American takes core pre-med classes, works her tail off to get into medical school, endures long hours and low pay as an intern and resident to become a doctor. They have different priorities, make different choices, and earn different results. Both are blessed to be born in this land of opportunity, but one takes advantage of that opportunity to better her position. The other has the right to choose an easier road.

Some Americans take responsibility for their health. They watch what they eat, exercise regularly, have regular checkups, and pay for insurance to cover those unforeseen medical problems that just might ruin anyone's day. Others care less about health habits, would rather spend their money now than worry about insuring problems that probably won't happen. There's no warranty on anyone's body that comes with the original equipment. Some take care of what they got; others use it until they lose it. Once again, easy doesn't do it.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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