Being grateful for the irritant

At the Good Life Project camp last weekend, founder Jonathan Fields did a talk on podcasting. We were chatting about what makes a great interview, and of course, it’s when the presenter has a good story. But a good story is rarely a story where everything goes right.

Why? Because:

  1. No one believes the presenter.
  2. There’s little emotion or take-away.
  3. We don’t tend to like a person who tells us everything in their life is perfect.

Jonathan gave the example of a person who says he grew up in a terrific family, got into a great school, and ended up in investment banking – only to find out he really, really loves investment banking. This may sound like a great life but it isn’t a great story.

And isn’t that funny.

If I asked you to describe an ideal life, I’m sure you wouldn’t include the challenges of stress, difficult decisions, injury, or illness. But that’s the stuff that shapes us. When I look back on the most challenging times in my life, I see that those were times where I had to make the toughest decisions – to either stick up for myself or turn a corner and head off in a new direction. The challenges, while seemingly endless or awful then were what helped make me who I am today – and I’m deeply grateful for that.

When you want to carve a statue out of stone, you have to be abrasive. You have to knock off edges and file down rough areas to get to the statue inside. Getting your edges knocked off is no fun. But then you emerge. And where you struggled, you are stronger. And where you felt overwhelmed, you find yourself on more solid ground.

The irritating things in life are usually a gift – not a gift you’d wish on someone else, but a gift none-the-less. And those gifts help you live a better life.

AND what a great story you have to tell!

This beauty was waiting on my car as I got ready to leave camp last weekend. I’d love to hear his story about what happened to that fourth wing which seemed to bother him not one bit!

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4 thoughts on “Being grateful for the irritant

  1. Great Post Janie! It’s true that it’s the things we have that happen to us or around us that help shape and define us,…and some of those make good stories!


  2. Was listening to a piece on NPR about caterpillar metamorphosis today… a bit like getting your edges knocked off and then some! Hearing the sculpture reference also reminded me of something William Zorach once told my friend Eleanor Miller, “You want to carve a gull? Just cut away everything that doesn’t look like one!”


  3. Oh, my gosh. The butterfly thing is amazing because they basically dissolve and reform. What would that look like in human terms!! Oh, my 🙂

    Love the gull comment. It’s fun to make things sound so easy, right? 🙂


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