Do you get discouraged when little things go wrong?

My brother has a saying: Some days are peanuts, some days are shells.

Monday I had an absolutely great bike ride. Cranked a little more than thirty miles, hardly noticed the hills, rode faster than I ever have, wasn’t even tired when I got home. At this point in my training it was about as close to a perfect ride as I’m going to get.

Tuesday—not so much. About five miles from home I encountered a stretch of road covered with fresh oil and gravel. After a half-mile I was coated with oily pebbles. So on the return trip I took a different route and came across road construction and a detour that included a rather nasty hill. Toss in a couple of minor equipment issues that lengthened the ride into the heat of the afternoon, and completing my thirty-five mile trek wasn’t a lot of fun.

Monday was peanuts. Tuesday was shells.

I’m a habitual “awfulizer.” If everything doesn’t happen exactly as planned, it’s awful. In my brother’s terms, if it’s not all peanuts, it’s all shells.

Replacement therapy

I’ve learned through painful experience that I can’t break habits like “awfulizing” through sheer will. I have to replace the less helpful thoughts with something more positive or productive.

So when I caught myself grumbling about my horrible luck, I actually stopped right in the middle of the big hill and began listing the positive aspects of the morning:

  • Despite the extra time, I still felt strong.
  • This was exactly the sort of unplanned obstacle I’m likely to encounter on my actual ride, and I gained confidence knowing I could move past it and keep going.
  • I was climbing a tough hill, one I usually avoid, pretty easily.
  • I hadn’t planned such a long ride, but I was completing it without much trouble despite the setbacks.

By the time I resumed my climb, I was actually smiling—as much as one can smile while cranking up a hill in 95 degree heat. My entire mental picture of the morning’s ride was altered.

I don’t want to pretend to be Pollyanna and ignore adversity. Life simply isn’t a continuous trip on the Good Ship Lollipop.

But maybe I can get a little better at finding the peanuts hidden beneath the shells.

How do you remind yourself to look for the peanuts among the shells?

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Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site

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