Friday, August 8, 2014

Choosing your lessons

[Johnathan Clayborn]

Yesterday the intranet page at my work had an interesting poll. The question was:

If you can only be w/ one type of person for the rest of your life...Would it be..
1) Someone you settle for and are miserable with, but who is financially stable.
2) someone that you want to be with, but you both struggle financially barely making it paycheck to paycheck.

Not surprisingly, 3/4ths of the people who responded selected option 2, myself included. There were a lot of people who rationalized their choice with comments like "money doesn't buy happiness". One commenter suggested that "if you select option 2...You will argue w/ your significant other mainly over money. Its inevitable no matter how much you love your mate.". Others were quick to point out that If you agree on how/what to use your limited resources on then you will not argue about it. The arguments come because you have different goals/priorities, not because of lack of money. In some cases this is easier said than done, but the logic is highly accurate.

I responded to the thread with the same example I gave when I was in my undergrad degree and I discussed in my post back in December, 2011. The basic premise of argument is that without sufficient income you are sometimes presented with a Kobyashi Maru scenario where there is no right answer. No matter what choice you make you will emotionally distraught and psychologically distressed. These types of choices are made every day by the "working poor" of America, people who make more than minimum wage, but less than enough to have a comfortable living. Is money the end-all, be-all thing to have? Certainly not. Money is not everything. However, when you are struggling to make ends meet, not having enough money to pay for things will certainly lead to unhappiness. Anyone who's ever been in that situation can attest, it's no picnic.

Another commenter responded to my post by saying that he agreed with me and that it's our resilience that gets us through those hard times. He suggested that people who picked option 1 because they thought that it might bring financial peace of mind are forgetting what the other commenter posted about differing goals and priorities; just because you have money doesn't mean that you won't fight and argue about it. In some cases you may fight and argue more because there's more money to fight over.

I vociferously concur with that commenter's sentiment. What most people fail to realize is that life is about struggle. You will always struggle in your life. You will always have a problem, a dilemma, a challenge...something that needs to be overcome. Honestly, that's part of what makes life interesting.  The question is never about whether or not you want strife in your life, it's going to be there regardless. The question is really about what the nature of that strife should be. There you have some choice in the matter, that's why I picked option 2. It's better to struggle with someone that you actually like. Our whole lives are nothing more than a series of sequential challenges, it's how we handle those challenges and what lessons we take away from them that define us. I'm not at all ashamed to admit that at one point in my life, in my early 20's, I was basically homeless living in an RV in a KMart parking lot where I worked. I decided that I didn't like that condition, and I changed it. It was a series of stupid choices, the kind that young people often make, that lead me to that spot in the first place. Since I made choices that lead me to be there, I could make choices that would take me away from there. Now, 12 years later, you would not have guessed that I was basically homeless, and I'm approximately 18 months away from completing my PhD. I firmly believe that every situation and experience in our life can teach us valuable lessons. Since it's our struggles and strife that defines us, that teach us, the real question we should be asking is "what lessons would I like to learn today?"

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These blogs represent my thoughts, ideas and opinions. They may be different from yours. You may not agree with them. While I do enjoy a good, polite debate on a topic (where points are countered with other points based on logic, reason and fact), I do not enjoy an argument (where you tell me that I am wrong simply because you disagree and cannot offer any reasons to support your position). I am very respectful of others, and I expect everyone on here to be respectful in return, not only to me, but to each other as well. Disrespectful posts will be deleted automatically. Feel free to share your ideas, but keep it civil, please.