The nameable and predictable problems of human living

Seligman, the pioneer of positive psychology, writes that our way of explaining events to ourselves determines how helpless we can become, or how energized we can become, when we encounter life’s everyday setbacks as well as its momentous defeats. 

It’s certainly the smart mindset to have. Believing that the narrative isn’t done to us, rather, it’s something we choose, this is an essential part of being resilient. 

The challenge, though, is that the story of our life is rarely as tidy and eloquent and theatrical as we’d like it to be. Consider a few of these universal conundrums. 

How do we know if the emptiness we feel is cause for clinical concern, or if it’s just a new phase of the spirit preparing itself? 

How do we know if we’re having an actual anxiety attack, or if it’s simply a painful whole being reaction to the nameable and predictable problems of human living? 

How do we know if the event happening to us is an abject failure, or something that is positively shifting our life into a whole new direction? 

How do we know if this experience is best thing that ever happened to is, or if it’s simply another part of our journey? 

How do we know if this problem really a crisis, or yet another one of the ongoing issues of ordinary misery that confronts all people? 

The short answer is, we don’t. Certainly not now. Probably not soon. And in fact, sometimes not ever. 

Even after we’ve looked back at our lives through the gauzy veil of bullshit we call hindsight, we still may not walk away with a clean story about what’s happening to us. 

And that’s okay. We can’t always expect to get full understanding from ourselves. 

The good news is, that doesn’t make us helpless, only human. 


Are you still berating yourself for not knowing everything?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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