Always look for the upside

Life is full of ups and downs, and unless you learn to find the upside during the darkest hours of your life, you may drown in your own sadness.

Life seems to always find some way to throw a curveball into our perfect plans.  Some people say, “man plans, and God laughs.” 

Regardless of how you view things, when life does throughs a challenge, obstacle, adversity, limitation or setback in your life you have two choices, wallow in pity or find the upside in the situation.

I know that life can be hard, believe me – I am living proof of how hard life can be at times.  I have lived through or with a heart condition, a diagnosis of being legally blind, ADHD, and a stroke – just to name a few of the curveballs that life has thrown at me.

Any one of those obstacles could have sidelined me or limited my potential in life.  But one of the reasons they didn’t is because I always looked for the upside even during the most challenging times in my life and sometimes the upside included humor.

As a child, my heart condition only limited me as to how fast I could run.  Of course, it was frustrating that kids my age even kids that were younger than myself – could beat me in a footrace.  Fortunately, I found the upsides to my heart condition: throughout grade school, I could choose to participate in P.E. class or not (and since I never cared for P.E. I loved the option).  In junior high (now called middle school) and high school I was placed in adaptive P.E. with other students who had disabilities.  In high school, the only thing those of us in adaptive P.E. were required to do, was dress out for gym.  After dressing out, we would go to the coach’s office to play checkers.  From those checker playing days, I developed some friendships that lasted more than 30 years.  I doubt if that would have happened with those people if I was not in adaptive P.E.

The other reason I could opt out of P.E. activities in grade school and placed into adaptive P.E. in junior high and high school was my vision. 

I was born with cataracts that resulted in my vision being measured at 20/200 in my left eye and 20/300 in my right eye.  (if your vision, with correction in your best eye is 20/200 then you are diagnosed as legally blind).  I have never been able to read out of my right eye and I have very little if any dept or 3-D perception.

My vision did limit my ability to see well enough to play sports with my peers.  Although I did play on a team on a soccer league, I was not very good at the game.  I also played neighborhood baseball with my peers.  Again, I was not very good even with the oversized green bat in my hands. 

My vision limitations caused me to realize a few of my childhood dreams were not possible: baseball player, baseball announcer or even mailman.  Mailman was out as I knew I probably never be able to acquire a driver’s license.  Instead of brewing over my losses, I would jokingly tell people in high school and college that the upside of my vision being poor, I could not drive.  I would never be asked to be a designated driver to a bunch of drunks throwing up in my car.  Nor would I ever need to worry about car payments, repairs, insurance, the cost of gasoline, etc.

Anyone who has ADHD or knowns someone with ADHD knows that trouble can easily be found near the ADHD person.  I am no exception to that rule.  My ADHD either was the cause or a contributor to me being kicked out of 4 schools and other problems in life. 

Granted, my ADHD has given me (and others) a lot of grief, I have found that my ADHD can be used to help me find creative ways to share my messages of hope to others.

A stroke like mine can certainly be debilitating and limit one’s quality of life.  I lost my ability to run, walk, stand, dress, feed or even turn myself in my own bed and threated my future with my fiancée (now wife).  However, I did find a upside to the stroke. I get great parking spots wherever I go (and people love to take me and my placard with them). I get VIP treatment at some events at no additional cost.  Most importantly, I will never be asked to help someone paint their house or move ever again!

When life gives you a lemon, make yourself a great tasting cup of lemonade with plenty of upside in it.