“I want winning!” the three-year old seethed as he plucked the dreaded peppermint candy card from the pile. He was so close to the castle, the finish line, the grand ending where he could declare himself the winner, but instead he boomeranged back to the beginning only to watch others race to the finish.
Candy Land is a game of momentary thrills and devastating setbacks.
It’s a game of chance– pick a card — see what you get
Like life itself, it reveals one’s general resilience and stress tolerance when external circumstances happen.
In plain talk: You get to see who you are when Sh%$ happens.
The game is about trust and tolerance about enjoying the journey and about dealing with the unexpected turn of bad news just when you thought you were at the top of your game.
Everyone covets the ice-cream cone card. It’s the winning lotto ticket catapulting your gingerbread man closest to the castle.
But even a great thing gotten too early can turn bad
In Candy Land, getting ahead too early means there is a deck full of other cards itching to yank you back to the start line instead of the finish.
In life, too much too soon can also have the same effect: Overwhelm, anxiety and depression.
In the words of the world’s earliest Greek “life coach,” Epictetus….
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
Winning or not winning are almost irrelevant.
It’s who you are and what you make it mean that dictates your experience.
There are countless stories of lottery winners going bankrupt, losing friends and suffering nervous breakdowns. While even more stories abound about those who endure catastrophic illnesses or events that bring them inner growth , resilience and gratitude.
Can you change who you are when Sh&% happens?
Maybe not initially.
As Wayne Dyer, the self-help guru and author of numerous books on personal transformation once said, “If you squeeze an orange you get orange juice.”
When you are ” squeezed” under pressure you get to see who you are. If you don’t like what you see, you must take conscious steps to change it or it’s likely life will keep presenting you with the same situations to master.
If you find yourself frequently asking “Why does this always happen to me?” You might consider upgrading your question to ask, “What would it take for me to have a better outcome?”
As for the three-year-old “sore loser” who bitterly complained about losing at Candy Land, it only took 6 months of playing every day to increase his tolerance for losing. He developed resilience, the ability to laugh and enjoy the game even if he didn’t win. He focused on what else was fun about the game and most importantly he reframed what losing meant. Losing now meant he could experience many different outcomes and still feel whole and intact.
Not so ironically as soon as he started accepting losing, he started winning.
He somehow intuitively gleaned the principle of the “Third Noble Truth” of the Buddha who taught when you let go of craving and attachment, pain will dissolve.
Plenty of life circumstances seem to happen beyond our control
But how we respond is ultimately our choice.
This is our Response-Ability.
How we respond dictates the outcome of our experience and the lessons learned.
There is no one right way, but if we could for a moment believe that what ever happens (even the most horrific of incidents) is either for our good or for our growth, we are much closer to finding our resilience and inner peace.
Practicing with small setbacks (annoying disappointments) builds stamina and resources for coping with bigger challenges. Does it make it any more fun when serious challenges arrive? Not really, but just like deeply rooted trees survive storms there is often more to be gained in the recovery phase.
Gatorade’s latest ad campaign showcases the agonizing defeats and losses of the world’s most elite athletes, asking the question,
“Do you want to know the secret to victory?”
“Make Defeat your Fuel.”
Make Believe~ Make Belief Affirmation: Today I’ll ask, ” How can I use this experience for my good or my growth?”