“One of the reasons I think I’ve placed a high value on life is that my father took his.” This is how Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways pilot who successfully ditched in the Hudson River off New York City, wrote in his memoir of his father’s suicide in 1995.
There are many ways we can choose to look at or frame the various events that happen to us in life. We weave the events of our lives into our stories, making choices about how we work them into the fabric of our existence. How we decide to interpret things powerfully effects how they affect us.
I’m sure that his father’s suicide was painful for Sullenberger. Yet I’m greatly impressed with the way he was able to take a positive from the experience, to use it to value life all the more: “I’m willing to work very hard to protect people’s lives, to be a Good Samaritan and not to be a bystander, in part because I couldn’t save my father.”
No matter what happens to you, there is a way to use it. In the middle of your despair, discouragement, or despondence you may not want to hear that somewhere there is a silver lining. You may need to complete your grieving before you are ready to see the way out or accept the lesson.
I know that I’ve snapped at those who have attempted to cheer me up before I felt ready. Yet it remains true: Our frame powerfully affects our response. The longer we focus on the problem the less time we have for the solution. Life turns out best for those who make the best of how things turn out.
Stumbling block or stepping stone: Your choice.
“When one door closes, another one opens. Opportunity awaits if we will but cease pounding at the closed door and go forth in search of the open door.”