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An Anti-self-help Self-help Series ~ Recognizing The Reality Of The Circumstance Of Your Life

Updated on March 14, 2013

I fear my point here will be no help, instruction, or encouragement to anyone - it seems like the kind of thing you either simply 'get' or you just don't . . . I'm not at all sure someone can be persuaded to grasp and use the sense of this argument. Also, it's nothing at all new, we're all very familiar with the premise - however, I do think it sensible and useful, so I share it here.

If it's not been told to us directly by our parents when we were young, we've just about all come across this at some point; "Eat your vegetables - you know, there are children starving in China who would love to have those vegetables to eat". I don't imagine that argument worked on many children. As a child you don't really own a realistic sense of poor foreign children being so hungry they would actually like to eat spinach - our inner voice tells us "I don't care how hungry I was, I still would never want to eat vegetables". This argument might not persuade children to eat something they find repulsive, but it should persuade us, as adults, to own a balanced apprehension of the circumstance of our lives.

Some people suffer from a chemical imbalance or psychological disorder, some have come through such horrific experiences in their life (severe deprivation, personal assault, physical injury, war, etc) that they need trained professional assistance to gain a well-balanced view and control in their life. But many feel no direction or purpose, many hurt because they feel no control over their life, many feel life is too hard to find any joy, many are simply unhappy. But you notice that all these conditions share a common feature - they all pertain to how we 'feel' about our life . . . not how are life actually is, but how we feel about it.

Often the problem is not that we really can't own a direction or purpose, the problem is not that we really don't control our life, the problem is not that our life really is too hard, etc - the problem is that we 'feel' all these miserable perceptions. For many people the trouble they are burdened with is not the actual circumstance of their life, it's their own emotional contrivances, it's their own invented outlook of life that provides them hurt rather than joy. Now, the solution to this dilemma, it seems to me, is to introduce a realistic sense of the true circumstance of their life, to have them deliberately consider what their life is compared to what it could be and compared to how they feel about it.

Of course the first difficulty is, not everyone is governed by reason, not everyone is inclined to analyze things, not everyone easily applies logic to ideas, etc. This is not at all to suggest that those who are more emotionally-based than reason-based, or more spontaneous than analytical, or more intuitive than logical, etc, are less smart than others - intelligence is a whole other matter, any individual of either of these types of people can be more or less intelligent than the other, this is not a matter of being smart enough, it's about bringing reality and our perception of reality into accord.

For me, owning a realistic view of what my life could have been, what other's lives have been, makes it easy for me to appreciate my life and find joy daily in the real circumstance of my life. Look at the photo to the right . . . that is me in relatively good health, surrounded by an incredible library I've built over the years, and fiddling with a beautiful resonator guitar one of my sons got for me last Christmas - I have every reason to be a happy man, and I am.

But, look close at my arm, look at the numerous reddish scars that dot my forearm . . . it wasn't that long ago that, rather than sitting comfortably in my home enjoying my books and guitar, that I was sitting in bars playing this little game; two boneheads place their forearms on the bar tight against each other and then a lit cigarette is dropped in the crease between them - whoever pulls away first loses. I would win dope money from Hell's Angels doing this. I am not living as I used to live and that is something to, daily, be thankful for . . . and living a life you are thankful for, and knowing it, and remembering it, provides joy rather than hurt.

I am a happy man, yet, the actual circumstances of my life, my story so to speak, could easily be read as a pretty miserable tale; my father abandoned us when I was just a few weeks old, we moved all the time when I was growing up so I was always the 'new kid' in school, we had very little and occasionally we would be without electricity, I virtually dropped out of school by the 7th grade and stopped going altogether by the 10th grade, I spent several years doing little else but LSD & cocaine, a motorcycle accident disabled me from doing the only kind of work I could really get paid for (construction), and at nearly 60 years old we still rent and live paycheck to paycheck. But, as I said, I am a happy man - partly because I own a realistic perception of what my life is and what it could be instead.

You undoubtedly have real and serious problems, relationships can certainly cause pain, things are very likely not just as you would prefer them to be - but, compared to what? You are an individual soul living-out your life on this planet - just by virtue of being a soul who exists in 21st century N.America you are living a life in the top .0001 percent of ease and safety and pleasantness of any souls who have ever lived! There have been countless people who have been born into slavery, hard labor and death in their teens was their whole life experience, they never had the luxury to dream of goals and directions for their life . . . there was no sense of disappointment or unhappiness, only survival until death.

If you would not want to trade places (and believe me, you wouldn't) with an Assyrian in the 5th century BC, a French peasant in the 16th century, an African in the 1800s, a Jew in Nazi Germany, etc, etc, then how can that not prompt you to be thankful for the life you do have . . ? . . and thankfulness produces joy. Look at the first photo, my dog Leonard - what does that picture have to do with anything? In that photo I see a big screen TV, an acoustic and an electric guitar, a computer, and the best dog ever - there's a lot I would change in my life if I could wave a magic wand, but c'mon, how can I dare be unhappy?

And that's part of what keeps me balanced and contented and happy - it seems to me unreasonable, unseemly, downright ugly for me to be anything but happy . . . I have a mechanism in my kitchen that I can go to, turn a knob, and water pours right out of a pipe. And if I want hot water, all I have to do is turn the knob the other way and, I'm not kidding, hot water just pours out! That is a remarkable thing - but, only if you recognize the blessing of having such a thing, only if you realize that you are one of a very, very minute number of souls on this planet who have ever had such a thing to enjoy. Nearly every time I go to my freezer and get ice for a cool drink I marvel that I, among all the souls who have lived, have such thing - ice, instantly, whenever I want it!

We all have real and miserable things we have to deal with . . . that dog in the photo died some time ago but I still 'feel' him sitting beside me, my wife's father died last year, I had a little sister who died when I was 5, my son and his wife and one of my daughters were in a car accident just last night, we've got no money at all for Christmas this year, etc, etc - but I still don't want to be building pyramids until I die at 18 . . . so, how can I stand among a multitude of souls and grieve over my circumstances? Too often it's not our factual circumstances that cause us hurt, it's how we perceive our circumstances, it's how we 'feel' about our life not our actual life that hinders joy.

An Anti-self-help Self-help Series ~

"Why Do We hurt?"

"Believing You can Fly (I mean, accomplish & serve)"

"What Do You Believe In?"


  • Regular, Normal Christianity
    I believe many folks are turned off, not by authentic Christianity, but by the too often ugly, discordant, and silly religion some have concocted and falsely labeled "Christianity"
  • The Christian & Private Study - A 'How To' Guide
    You don't have to be a scholar to study Scripture effectively and you don't have to be intimidated because of unfamiliar terms and references - there are essential things you can know and aids to use that will make your own private study fruitful.


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    • neeleshkulkarni profile image


      6 years ago from new delhi

      as my Guru says"all that you really need is being provided for " it matches what you are saying, because it is only when we look at what we DO NOT have that we grieve.When we look at what we DO have all we can do every time we bow to the Almighty is to say a heartfelt "thank you"

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I am back reading this very interesting hub. I always have believed that it's not the circumstances that happen in our lives, but how we interpret them that helps in moving on with a positive attitude.

      When I lost my older son to cancer, leaving 4 little children without parents, I thought my life as I knew it was over. And it was. I almost lost my will to go on. I not only lost my son but in a way my grandchildren too as they were passed around to different relatives, finally ending up with an aunt they didn't much like.

      But there is something within me that seems to come out on top of the worst of situations. I've had many but continue to feel a powerful love for others. Thank you Mickeyfor allowing me to vent!

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.


      Thank you very much for your comment - being forwarded to those you care about gives me pause . . . I hope I know, at least a little, what I'm talking about.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      K9keystrokes, thank you very much for taking the time to share your favorable review and for your encouragement, it is very genuinely appreciated.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      7 years ago from Northern, California

      Wow. This is deep and rich in substance.

      "'s how we 'feel' about our life not our actual life that hinders joy."

      What an amazing sentence. You give your purpose here from a knowing place, this resonates with me. I am an instant fan MickySr!



    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I pondered these very things in my life and came up with a some what amazing ideal that works. I believe that building sanctuary in our own lives, our homes and eventually everywhere we go is the answer. Its a process of maturity and a set of rules that helps us to govern ourselves and the other people in our lives. Even reading the Bible and applying these principles completely changed my view of how faith works. I was no longer a sinner but someone who recognized sin and saw it as an obstacle to overcome in order to create sanctuary in my life. Before I simply condemned myself and considered myself a failure based on the opinions of others who did not know me or really even cared. I also recognized that regardless of belief that we will choose a belief system in order to seek the same ends regardless of consequence or futile ideas. Its learning why anything is futile that allows you to grow and discover your true identity over time by taking the journey.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story. As someone who majored in Psychology, I have the tendency to over-analyse things, which also doesn't work for letting things go.

    • hush4444 profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      This is such a profound and moving hub. It's as if you've read my mind! The fact that we're writing these hubs shows that we have access to electricity and the internet, which are luxuries to many people in the world. Thank you for this great read.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      This is such a beautiful hub Mickey. I am forwarding it on to friends and family. Thank you so much!

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.


      I've frequently considered putting together a book titled 'There's Two Kinds Of People In The World" . . . here is an example; there are those who understand that your own life is what you make of it, it's not a matter of if things happen to go your way or not but a matter of how you deal with things as they go your way or do not go your way - and there are those who think their life is at the mercy of circumstances, that if things go well they will be happy but if things go poorly how could they possibly not be miserable. The telltale observation though is, those in the 2nd group, trusting that as long as things go well they can enjoy happiness, those folks seem to never be happy, not real joy kind of happiness.

      Of course this is an easy idea to advance if your life is free from hardship and hurt - but, look at some of the people who, according to the 2nd theory, have no call at all to be anything but miserable all the time (children with 7 months to live, those paralyzed & wheelchair bound, etc), yet have a vibrancy of life and joy that is convicting to the rest of us.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      S "As I watch one of my sons struggle . . . I pray that one day his life will . . ."


      Another idea (perhaps the next entry in my "Anti-self-help Self-help Series") that enables us to sort through the concerns of life and encourage us to find joy even in the darkest times is, the truth that God is not finished with us yet . . . we are each living-out our lives, lives that God is overseeing as He brings about all things according to His plan and purpose.

      I fear to give anyone hope when I personally do not know what God has yet to unfold to us, however this cannot be denied; history is overflowing with lives that seemed irretrievable, lives that just kept getting more miserable, lives that appeared to all hopeless - yet God did not merely rescue these people and alleviate their hurt, He didn't merely restore them to even greater wellbeing and prosperity, God made them His champions and used them greatly to bring about His will.

      Conversion is not a work of argument or pleading, coming to the light does not happen because things work-out to convince the desperate to believe - lives change because God determines to adopt us to be His own, He fills us with His own Spirit and we become new creature, we are no longer as we were. Look at Paul; nothing seemed to indicate things were soon to get better for him, he was not at all rethinking the course of his life, Paul was on his way to arrest Christians for execution when God determined to use him to build His church.

      Of course, not everyone is going to be another Paul, most of us live quiet lives of sparse adventure - but God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, He saves His people in a manner that demonstrates salvation is His work . . . when we least expect it, without indication, when hope seems absurd, it is often then that god intervenes and lives are changed. That's kind of what faith is, finding joy even when things appear dark and hopeless.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      It really is how we choose to interpret the different factors in our lives that can lead to feelings of contentedness or discomfort. I'm glad you've made that point!

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      7 years ago

      Hello Micky,

      What a blessing this was to read. I could not help but find so many gems in this hub. You have been through the fire and are a shining example to many..It does not matter what we have, it is the simple joy of living and recoginzing who we are in God..Thank you for sharing..As I watch one of my sons struggle as he fights the addictions of in jail..I pray that one day his life will be transformed and he will also look back and appreciate from where he came..My hope and prayers as a mom to never give up..

      Thank you,


    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      7 years ago from UK

      This is an interesting hub. Thanks for sharing your story as it shows you aren’t just dishing out advice, but know what you are talking about - you’ve found your way to happiness so are in a position to guide others to do the same.

      I think your last sentence says it all really. Looking forward to reading your other hubs in the series.


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