She often commented after a setback, “Nobody said life is fair.”
One of my earliest life lessons on the fairness of life was quite traumatic. [Warning: Sad story ahead so skip over the next few paragraphs if you like to protect yourself from these.]
When I was a little girl, my brother received a beautiful rabbit for his birthday present – a seemingly rare white rabbit, a treasure. The fact that he was the first in our large family to receive a rabbit as a pet made him feel even more special.
He was asked to share his pet and he did. The boys began a game of letting the rabbit hop ahead and then chasing it to catch up. The rabbit hopped. They boys charged. The children laughed.
Until one of the birthday boy’s big brothers didn’t stop in time. The coveted pet, a birthday present only a few hours old, lay limp, his neck broken.
The reality of life is that it is not fair. Much of it is random – more so than our need for certainty and predictability likely allows us to admit.
Yet, when is the last time you caught yourself complaining that life is unfair… and that inequality has fallen in your favor?
This question is prompted by the lessons I processed while writing Walking with Justice, the story of my life’s greatest mentor from when he was a young boy through the end of his life at age 96.
Judge Max Rosenn was no stranger to loss and the unfairness of life. He lost his grandmother and other relatives in the Holocaust. He lived through the Great Depression, several wars, an accident that paralyzed his father, discrimination, and a historic flood that decimated his community. I personally watched as he lost his beloved wife, his two younger sisters, and seemingly countless friends. Judge also experienced many of the more insidious destroyers of men, like power, prestige, and wealth.
I learned much from watching my mentor, a man who didn’t fall into the trap of complaining that life is unfair while failing to fully contemplate all of the inequalities he tallied in his favor.
Here are 3 things that allowed Judge to keep a healthy perspective through the trials and losses of his life:
1. Acceptance. Watching Judge maneuver through life’s challenges was an incredible journey to learn from. He accepted his lot without any sign of bitterness. He did not spend energy fighting reality, but on embracing the whole of his experience as it was. Staying connected to the love he shared with those who left his side, he set out to discover new layers of connection with others. He stayed active, not in an attempt to push away his emotions, but as a way of embracing each day of life that he was being gifted.
2. Gratitude. Judge gently yielded to what life brought him without seeing himself as a victim or complaining about misfortunes. I never saw him entertain that proverbial question of angst that has destroyed hope throughout the ages: “Why me?” Watching my mentor taught me that through the most devastating loss we can choose to focus on and show gratitude for the continued blessings of work, family, health, love, and life. Gratitude allows us to enjoy our freedom to smile in the midst of tears and to laugh in the midst of pain.
3. Elevation. The great challenges Judge experienced did not destroy him as they did countless others because he chose to see each event life brought to him as an opportunity to respond with action that elevated himself and all around him. He chose acceptance and gratitude. He chose to live righteously. He chose honesty in his business affairs. He chose to invest himself in his relationships. He chose to set aside time daily to renew and strengthen himself. He chose to relentlessly work toward a more just world. He chose to amass riches that would outlast his days on earth.
Feeling beat up in your business or life? The results you currently are experiencing are driven by the sum total of all of the thoughts you’ve had up to this point in your life.
The next time you catch yourself thinking that things that are happening to you are not fair, make sure you are giving as much conscious attention to those inequalities…that are falling in your favor.
So, what do you think? Do you have any stories to share with us about things that seemed bad but actually worked out well for you or your business? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.