“If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I always in the pits?”

Dave SW

4/26/20238 min read

There is a book that was published some time ago, “If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I always in the pits?” This simple statement often sums up, many people’s feelings. What’s the answer? It’s our self-talk, the banter that goes on inside our heads every minute of every day. You see from a very early age we’re taught to be mindful, watch where we go, watch what we’re doing, how we’re doing it.

Early on in our lives, we learn two of the most powerful words there are in language for us, “Don’t and No”.

For many people these are the first words they actually learn to understand, say and recognize. Of course, these are taught by our parents and mentors to help to protect us from things happening. Unfortunately, by learning these words at such an impressionable time in our lives we also learn to incorporate them into our self-talk, without even realizing we’re doing it.

As human beings, we are capable of doing so much, much more than we ever think is possible. I am a passionate believer in that. Each and every one of us is a mine of unrealized potential. We miss opportunities to harvest most of that potential every day. Opportunities happen all around us, all the time. We need to learn to recognize them and to learn how to take advantage of those opportunities and access that potential within us.

Opportunities permit us to step beyond what's been done before, they provide us the chance to challenge the status quo, to look at old things in a new way. Most of us have heard the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. What we’re talking about is taking what you think are problems, and turning them into something new and exciting.

So how do we access that potential? The principles behind what it takes to access that potential are the same no matter what career or industry you are in. We can apply them just as easily to our home life or anything else that we want to accomplish. It isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

In order to have the impact that I’m speaking of we need to look deep into ourselves and ask the person we find there if they actually want to change. Because without a commitment to change, it won’t happen. Basically, we need to get past what holds us back. I’m not speaking of the human limitations we may have, I’m speaking of the only true limitation that we all have. “Ourselves” If we can do that we are well on our way.

We ignore or give away more than half the opportunities in our lives, and most of our true potential lies at the beginning of those opportunities. “Every Day Of Our Lives”. When we see, hear or think about anything our first reaction often is “That’s great, but I could never do that”, or possibly we say “I could try that”, but then we never follow through. Then there’s the big one, the one where we actually start something and only aim at the middle. We aim at mediocrity, and we hit it. “Why?” It’s our fears, we all have fears.

But in general, there are only three that hold us back: 1) the fear of failure, 2) the fear of rejection, 3) the fear of success.

Problems and Opportunities

Whether we like to admit it or not, our biggest problems are really not what we think they are. Although most of us have difficulties or what we often view as problems at various times in our lives we don’t spend very much time thinking about why they occurred, or what if anything we might have done to stem its flow before it started.

For most people problems stem from 4 main areas: 1) Someone or something else and we have no control whatsoever. 2) We created pretty much the entire problem. 3) Someone or something happened, but the problem was created by our reaction or lack thereof. 4) It’s not really a problem at all, but we’re reacting like it is (they are opportunities).

More than half of what we perceive as problems are rooted in what we perceive to be our own limitations (ourselves), and they could have been avoided by us. By either thinking and planning out what we could or would do, or by changing our attitude and how we react. Rarely are problems really problems. More than half of what we perceive as problems are actually just misinterpreted opportunities.

In order to stop this from happening we have to change ourselves. Before we can change anything we need to change our way of thinking, change the way our brain responds. The most basic human cognitive function is to ask questions. If we think about something and try to reason it out. we are questioning ourselves. We already do this all the time. Is the light turning red or green, should I turn left or right, what did they say? Start to pay attention to the questions that your brain is asking yourself on a daily basis, as you go through your day. This is the self-talk, the self-questioning that is happening all the time. Once we become aware of the questions we are asking ourselves, we can begin to take control of those questions and actually ask questions that mean something.

As we get better at doing this we will begin asking great questions and we'll begin to get great answers, if we don’t we won't. Once we are aware of the automatic questions we are asking ourselves, we can start to ask two questions that we’ve all heard but paid very little attention to. They are: 1) What if? 2) Why Not?

Just by asking ourselves these questions, we will begin to open up the possibilities they bring with them. What if I Could? What would that look like? I know I can’t, but what if I could? What would it look like? We can start out asking these in a general way. When a potential problem or opportunity presents itself to you, even if it seems impossible, keep asking. Try it now, think about something that you have already perceived as a problem. What if I could _____________ (and fill in the blank)? Just say it to yourself. What if I could ____________ (and fill in the blank)? Well, What If I Could Do That? What would it look like? I know I can’t, but what if I could?

By asking these questions of yourself, It doesn’t mean you're going to do it. But counterintuitively this is the actual power behind the questions, you're not putting anything on the line, and there is zero commitment on your part right now. Anything is possible, but as soon as you ask the question your brain makes a fundamental change. Instead of thinking of reasons to stop you from doing it, it starts thinking of reasons and ways that you can do it. This is an extremely important point. We all have a challenge or three to deal with. Don't shy away from them. Meet them head-on with, What if I could? When you ask yourself this you start trying to come up with a creative way to get by the challenging moment. What you come up with will be a unique product of your experience, and your experience only. No one else could come up with the same solution. The more you ask yourself those questions, the greater the chances are that the answer(s) to the opportunity will be something truly fantastic.

What If?

For most of us, our life is an ongoing search to uncover opportunities. Even though they may be happening all around us, all the time there is a constant battle inside us, trying to figure out whether we think something will work, whether we would like to actually do it and whether we could actually manage to do it. The common denominator through this whole process is that we are trying to manage change in our lives, but that’s stupid. Managing change never works.

It’s impossible to foretell what may come from change since change itself creates its own direction without knowing that direction there’s no way we manage it. All we can do is create change, by doing this we stay ahead of the change rather than trying to follow it. We can do this by using, ‘What if?’, each time we ask ourselves ‘What if?’ the answer is uniquely our own and based on our understanding, experiences, wants and needs, and abilities. It’s created by us, for us no other person’s answer could be exactly the same. At that point, you are creating change and you are out in front of it because it is your change. You are defining it rather than trying to manage what someone else has started.

Once you make it a habit of asking ‘What if? you won’t want to go back. When we are young we have very little sense of what is happening around us, our world is small so we look for things to do within that world. As we grow and learn about new things in our world, our wants and needs increase drastically along with our ability to do more. Most of us arrive at a point where we all have more to do, than time to do it in. We fall victim to time poverty. It happens to everyone.

Every time we turn around we are being asked or asking ourselves for or to do something else. It’s not our fault it’s the way we have chosen to be. The trick becomes not to try and do everything but to do what matters most.

We need to make sure that we are not majoring in minor things. There is simply not enough time to do everything. But there is enough time to do the most important things, we have to decide for ourselves what those things are. What will make the largest impact on what we need or want the most? It's not about the challenge itself, it’s about how it could impact the outcomes we are looking for. ‘What if?’, can help us in a big way. Because it helps us to change our thinking, It helps us to become possibility thinkers instead of reactors. We open our minds to the possibilities around us. By asking ‘What if?’, all we are doing is taking a problem and using our uniqueness to come up with an answer. We do this by making it an exercise in fun. This makes things lite and easier to deal with.

What usually happens is we place them on a pedestal, ‘Oh the problem’, ‘look at the problem’. We don’t want to diminish the importance of problems, but if we can make them fun it helps us distance ourselves from them, stand outside of them, and obtain a different and often better perspective. Hence a better solution but one that is uniquely ours.

We don't want to look at things as a problem but as opportunities instead. We hear that all the time. But how does a problem become an opportunity? It’s through you and me that we become willing to step away from them and look at them from a different perspective. In a way that has never been done before, ‘What if I could?’.

We open up our creativity, embrace it and use it. We are, all creative, just in different ways, we have to learn about the creativity within us by using our life and experiences.

Dave SW