4 Ways We Don't Realize We Suck at Coping With Adversity

#2. Being Defined by It

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Do you know any losers? Like total, full-on sad sacks? They may be friends or relatives, and you don't want to be mean and call them that, but the fact is they seem to court failure and morbid depression the way Shakespearean heroes courted underage girls.

Into everyone's life a little rain must fall, but these people have that constant cloud overhead keeping them wet and downtrodden, and it seems like nothing will ever fix it. And the longer you hang out with them and interact with them, the more you realize that their position in life seems to be a solid 30 percent bad luck and 70 percent self-inflicted bullshit.

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"Once I master Pong, I'll figure out employment."

The people who choose, consciously or not, to be defined by their own adversity are the sorts of people who are chronically unemployed or underemployed. Their go-to phrase is "Well, in this economy ..." or something similar, but they haven't updated their resume since Bush Sr. was in office, or they apply to jobs online that maybe three people in the country are even qualified to fill, and when you confront them about why they don't apply to the five places down the street that are hiring, they claim the hours are too hard to manage, or the pay is too low, or the work is beneath them. When the choice is between not working at all and working at any damn place at all that pays and doesn't require you to fellate strangers, there is no work that is beneath you. Not if you're serious.

Unfortunately, the stunning lack of motivation and wallowing in self-pity that defines these people creates an Iron Man-like veneer that is pretty impenetrable. No one wants to hear that their patheticness is their own fault, so they won't hear it. Or if they do, they add it to their shitty cocoon made of ways the world is beating them down. They don't have a job, plus their friends are mean to them. Life sucks.

#1. Accepting It

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I have little evidence to back me up, but I suspect that a large part of religion and the idea of karma are firmly rooted in the idea that you need to take what you get in life and like it. For whatever reason, people dislike that which has no explanation; disorder is unappealing to the human mind. That's why we see faces in clouds -- we try to find something that makes sense in things that don't make sense. So in the grand scheme of things, in the way the universe works, we want order. We created God. And this doesn't even imply that I think there is no creator -- how the hell would I know, look at what I do for a living. I'm not qualified to account for the creation of reality; I barely qualify for credit. But the God of man, a God who demands that you not eat fish one day of the week, or that women not drive cars, or that you avoid bacon, that's something a man made up to control another man. A lot of them, in fact.

As a byproduct of our creating a fairly petty representation of the creator of the universe, we ascribe this being a lot of petty human characteristics, chief among them being what would best be described as a schizo penchant for assholery. When a flood rolls in, who gets blamed? God. Someone gets shot accidentally during a drive-by? It's part of God's plan. An asshole flies a plane into a building, and he did it for his God. That's a lot of people assuming that the universe and everything in it across trillions of light-years and billions of years of history is being run by a fucking doucher. Don't be offended by that. In fact, I refuse to let you be offended by that if you're a religious type. I'm not saying that any real God is that way. I'm saying that this dick God people invoke all the time is that way. And in invoking this dick God, we just accept terrible things. After all, who's fighting the almighty?

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"I'm coming down on this beam of light to put my foot in your ass."

There's a degree of comfort, I suppose, to be drawn from the idea that a tragedy is part of a bigger, better plan -- God and his mysterious ways. But it's also a crutch. It's a way of shrugging off having to deal with real issues, and, a lot of the time, it's not fair. Sometimes shit happens; that's what that bumper sticker means. It's hard for people to accept, though, too hard for some people, and that's how you end up in a world where people refuse life-saving medical procedures because God will save them if that's his plan. But come on, what if his plan was to work a miracle through Dr. House and you just fucked it by not going to the hospital? What if he didn't even make plans today because he runs an entire universe full of billions of worlds and your flash in the pan existence literally couldn't possibly mean anything to him, so he's off playing skeeball today?

What if the universe was created by and exists within a force of nature so unknowable and foreign to the human mind that it not only exists beyond thought and emotion, but functions as existence itself? Life happens because it is existing. The way your very cells divide totally without your influence, so too do worlds come into and out of existence in this being simply as a function of its existence. It has no motivation to know you or influence you in any way whatsoever. If that's the case, dealing with tragedy by blaming it on this force would be a total cop-out and just as sensible as blaming it on beavers. You wouldn't expect a beaver to provide for you, would you? Yeah.

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Felix Clay

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