stress, life challenges, resilience, growth

How Are You At Pop Quizzes?

How Are You At Pop Quizzes?

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

Most of the courses I attended as I pursued my formal education were predictable. The class syllabus specified the test dates and the date upon which a term paper, if required, was due. What to study and when to be prepared were clearly delineated.

Some teachers and professors, however, had the annoying habit of throwing in “pop quizzes,” tests that were unannounced and unexpected. Receiving a respectable grade in their classes depended upon being prepared for and performing well on the pop quizzes.

Life is like that. How we fare depends greatly on how we handle the pop quizzes it throws our way.

Physical health is inseparably interwoven with mental and spiritual health. Nothing will destroy physical health more certainly and completely than a broken spirit. Fail one of life’s pop quizzes and disease will surely come your way.

The pop quizzes of life come in many forms. The loss of a job. A traffic ticket. The death of someone you love. A business set-back. The break-up of a relationship. A job transfer necessitating a cross-country move. The defeat of your team. Any of a myriad of challenges to the status quo.

Disappointment, disillusionment, and discouragement are certain signs that you are facing one of life’s pop quizzes. How you respond will determine not only the quality of your life, but to a great extent the quantity of your life. When facing a challenge you can regroup and move on or you can let it defeat you. The choice is yours.

Many, perhaps most, people fail to realize that they control the direction of their life. It is all too easy to assume that you are a helpless victim of your circumstances; that in the game of life you’ve been dealt a losing hand.

George comes to mind. George came to see me at my office every three months to review his regimen. At one of these routine visits it was clear that George was not doing well. He was unshaven, his demeanor much more reserved than usual, and his countenance was that of someone carrying a heavy burden.

I asked what had happened in the months since his last visit. He informed me that his cat, a beloved companion had died unexpectedly. Finding a new pet was not an option for him, he explained. There had never been, nor ever could be, another cat like his cat. Life had dealt him a cruel blow, and he did not have the will to fight back. Despite attempts to raise his spirits and deal with his depression his health deteriorated.

I also think of Anthony. An upper level executive in corporate America in his early fifties, he was “down-sized” and given early retirement. He was bitterly disappointed. He also decided that, given his age, there was no hope for gaining meaningful employment elsewhere. He went on, a shadow of his former self, his once vibrant personality subdued and his general health in a state of gradual decline.

George and Anthony were unprepared for the pop quizzes that were thrown their way. They “failed the test” and their general health began to fail as a result.

Mary, on the other hand, passed her pop quiz with flying colors. Mary had spend her life almost completely dependent upon her husband. He managed the finances, he drove the car, & he directed their social life. She did nothing and went nowhere without him. After his death, however, she rallied her strength and began assuming responsibility for her future. She organized her finances, adopted a stray cat as a companion, and, after a time of living alone, moved into a retirement center so that she could enjoy the company of other people. Her lifelong anxieties lessoned and her general health became stronger than it had ever been.

I also think of a dear friend and mentor, who faced the challenges of life and never grew old. He was busily pursuing new business projects up to the day that he died at the age of eighty-one. He felt that when it came to pursuing one’s dreams age was irrelevant. Retirement was not a consideration.

Success in life is not achieved by avoiding challenges; it lies in responding with confidence and boldness when challenges come your way. When disappointments come, and they will come, you have a choice. You can accept the fact that you have been handed a pop quiz, respond appropriately, and move on, becoming stronger in the process. You can also rail against the injustice you have been dealt and let the challenge defeat you.

Resilience is one of the secrets to living a happy and healthy life. Recognize that you have a choice and opt for traveling a path leading to new horizons.

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