Most of us would agree bouncing back is a necessary life skill. It’s a skill we end up learning whether we want to or not!
Studies have been done on how people respond to failure. I’m not so fascinated about how adults respond (as helpful as that may be). The studies fascinating me are the ones where kids response to failure is observed. Apparently, some kids not only appreciate failure, they love it. They don’t see failure – such as getting a series of math problems wrong- as a bad thing, but as a way of learning. I read about this study in the fun, upbeat book All the Places You’ll Go, How Will You Know?, by John Ortberg. (It was inspired by the book of the similar name- Oh the Places You’ll Go- by Dr. Seuss.)
John Ortberg talks about how some kids thrive on failure- they don’t see their “failures” as failures. They see these problems as a way of learning and accomplishing a challenge.
When I failed my first semester of nursing school, I was horribly disappointed (disappointed may be too tame a word. There was a lot of tears and eating of chocolate). I cried. I told my mom. I moaned and groaned about my future and what this failure meant. I did not see failing the final exam of my first semester of nursing as a challenge to learn and grow.
I might have given up, except for a notoriously challenging professor. I’ll never forget the day after I found out I hadn’t passed the final exam and was being dropped from the nursing program. This professor told me I should choose a different profession that wasn’t so hard for me. I got SO stinking mad. I didn’t show it, but on the inside I was boiling!
Ironically, part of the reason I went back to repeat that semester the following fall to repeat was because J, the professor, told me I shouldn’t do it. (In retrospect I wonder if she knew I’d respond like that). I ended up thanking her when I graduated for the challenge.
I have a sweet friend, Rachel, who’s married to a great guy. They are raising a house of boys; they’re a darling ,loud and adventurous group. One of the little guys not only has a fairly significant congenital condition, he developed a serious health condition throwing their entire lives into a spiral a few years ago.
I watched as Rachel balanced all of her normal activities along with weekly trips to Stanford and a host of other hospitals, trying to find the cause and the cure for her small son’s health crisis. She was tired and overwhelmed, yet she persevered in a hope-filled and thankful attitude. She was honest about her struggle, but she did not let it overwhelm her or rob her of her spirit of perseverance.
It left a permanent impression on me on the art of bouncing back from the hard and unexpected. Today, the little boy is doing well and the whole family is thriving.
We’re all very different in the ways we respond to life. One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is that I have a choice in how I respond. Hard things come to all of us, but life is lousy only if I let it be.
One of the fun things about writing books with a group of friends and a fun mystery is I get to figure out how people will respond to bizarre and not-so-bizarre situations. Different personalities respond in a variety of different ways to the same problem. It’s part of what makes human beings so fascinating.
In the second novel, The Wedding Dress Disaster, each friend responds differently when Kristi’s wedding dress is stolen. When the situation gets more exciting and requires some brave action, some characters push into the danger and other characters withdraw. Some characters become quiet and introverted, while others speak up and do things we might consider impulsive, even unwise.
Nearly everyone has a decision to make on how they will bounce back from a frustrating situation, if they will bounce back. If you’ve read the book, did you find yourself relating to one of the characters? Did any of them drive you nuts with their response?