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What would you do if you lost both legs?
Estimated read time: 2 mins 40 secs
Jim Sursely stepped on a land mine and lost BOTH of his legs and one good arm.
Here are three lessons from a Vietnam War veteran on how to deal with any kind of shi**y situation.
Lesson 1: Decide whether you are going to attack the situation, OR curl up into a ball and hide.
Let's be honest. Hardship happens to almost everyone — unless your dad is Bill Gates.
I believe everyone has the potential to deal with hardship, but it doesn't mean they will choose to.
After losing his legs and one arm, Jim went back home and lived with his parents. He spent almost 30 days lounging around on the couch, asking his mom to fetch him the remote or bring him a Pepsi.
And then, his mom finally had enough.
She told Jim, “Why don’t you get off your sorry a$$ and get it yourself?!”
This jolted Jim into taking action. This jolted Jim into attacking the situation.
He decided to go to community college because you don't need two legs and an arm to get an education.
He then became a real estate agent, started a small roofing company, and even got married and had two sons.
Lesson 2: Radical acceptance of things you can’t change.
When sh*t happens, people complain. And Jim did a little complaining too.
But the thing is, if you decide that you are going to attack the situation, then you have to stop complaining at some point. You have to accept the things you can’t change any more.
When Jim lost his legs and an arm, he couldn't accept the situation right away. He kept praying to God asking for some kind of answer.
And after a long time of not getting any answers, Jim got kind of angry.
But at one point, he just kind of started to surrender. He told God to take care of the vision and what’s in store for him in the future. He decided that his job was to go to occupational therapy and physical therapy, and maybe become an inspiration for other war veterans in the future. And that’s exactly what he did.
Accepting the situation doesn't mean you're okay with it. It just means you are going to take ownership of how you choose to perceive and react to the event — things you have control over — and do your best to improve the situation.
Lesson 3: Find a way to perceive the negative event in a way that’s meaningful and beneficial to you.
Jim had faith in God, which gave him strength.
But even if you don't believe in God, it's essential to have something to believe in to keep you moving forward.
Psychologist Viktor Frankl had a patient who lost his wife, and the patient suffered from severe depression because of it.
Dr. Frankl asked the patient if it would be worse if he had died and his wife had to endure the pain of losing him. To which the patient responded, “Oh, for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” This shift in perspective helped the patient suffer a lot less from his own depression.
Perception is an incredibly powerful tool, and how we perceive an event is subjective. There is usually no right or wrong answer, so you should perceive negative events in a way that’s beneficial to you but not harmful to others. You should also perceive negative events in a way that’s meaningful and helps you grow as a person.
My biggest takeaway from Jim?
If the challenge I am facing isn’t as bad as losing two legs and an arm, then I can make things better.
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As always, thanks for reading!