So you’re on a plane, 10 000 meters up in the air, playing candy crush on your phone. You suddenly hear the pilot’s voice screeching through your headphones. He announces that the plane is crashing and there’s absolutely nothing he or any of the crew members can do about it.
You panic along with everybody for a few minutes. You shout, you scream, you cry, you throw a fit, maybe you even take out your rosary beads and pray for a while. And eventually, you sit down and accept your fate: You’re going to die on that plane. This is your last day. It’s all over. You might as well extend your arm to shake hands with death.
But three minutes before the plane crashes, things take a turn. An air hostess comes rushing through and announces that she’s found a stack of parachutes in one of the overhead compartments! They might even be enough for everybody.
Now here’s my question: when she hands you your parachute so you can land safely on the ground, will you reject it because you’ve already accepted that you’re going to die today? Will you give up the opportunity to save your own life because you’ve already, “made peace” with the end?
If you’re like most people, you’re thinking, “Are you insane? Of course I’ll take the parachute! In fact I’ll run to grab the parachute long before she has a chance to hand it to me!” It’s ridiculous to even think of rejecting the parachute in this situation. So why do we reject the parachutes in other areas of our lives?
So maybe at the beginning of the year, your resolution was to exercise more and eat healthier. You’ve been doing well for a couple of weeks, but one weekend, your friends invite you for a picnic. And of course, there will be all kinds of cheat foods there. You join your friends and end up derailing completely off your diet. You eat a couple of thousand calories more than your MyFitnessPal allows, and you know there’s no way you can add enough hours of running into your schedule to make up for all that.
Oops! That inner pilot in your head announces that your new years’ resolution is crashing.
But the next day, when you’re back home, you realize that you have a 2-hour gap in your schedule where you could do whatever you want, work out perhaps. And you know you still have all the kale and quinoa that you bought last week.
Now tell me, why would you choose to spend those two hours watching Netflix and eating the whole mega pack of Doritos chips instead of getting on that treadmill and pulling out Jillian Michaels’ healthy recipes book one more time? Why wouldn’t you take the parachute and save your health and fitness goals?
The same goes for when you’re having a generally frustrating day. You might have woken up with a headache. Maybe you went to work and your boss shouted at you in front of all your co-workers for something you didn’t even do. Maybe your computer was 10 times slower today and the printer just would not co-operate. Maybe during lunch time, you had an argument with your significant other and he or she said some pretty hurtful things. Maybe you’re having a day that can only be described as the devil’s creation.
But when your co-workers invite you to go to the bar with them later on, where you could have fun and laughter and change your day around completely, why would you choose to give up on your day instead? “No, I’m just not up for it. I’ve had a pretty long day.” Why would you throw in the towel so easily like that? Sure it’s been crashing for some seven hours, but if you have the chance to take the parachute in that one last hour, why not take it?
I encourage you to practice some mental Cirque du Soleil. Be mentally flexible. Don’t be fooled into thinking there’s something wrong with changing your mind, even if you’re changing from “this is a horrible day” to “this is the happiest day of my life.” You’re allowed to be a living and changing work-in-progress.
If you’ve decided based on a few events that your day, week, month, year, or even life is going to be horrible, you don’t have to stick to that decision. If the opportunity presents itself, if you find a way to change things even after all hope seems to be gone, if you find a parachute that can help you turn things around, take it!
And as always, cheers to life!