Facts Are Facts, The Story Is Yours To Create
Let's rewind back old school. Imagine yourself living in a small town and doing odd jobs, making a living as a hired hand. One morning, a farmer offers you $100 to work on a project for the day, and you agree. You feel like that’s a fair wage for the job he described - you’re happy and your take the job. You feel grateful, valued & appreciate the opportunity!
But halfway through the day, your boss realizes the work isn't going to get done in enough time. He goes back to town to find another worker that can help for the afternoon and evening.
As you and the new worker are ploughing side by side, your new companion happens to mention that he’s getting paid $100 to work for the half day.
Wait a minute…
Your mind absorbs the information…you’re getting paid $100 to work the whole day, and this new worker is getting paid $100 to work half the day?!
What’s your immediate reaction to this information? What's the story that starts playing in your mind?
Do you mentally default to: "That's not fair! I've been working here all day and I'm getting paid $100 and this guy just showed up for a half day and he's getting paid the same amount? I should be getting paid double what he's getting paid!"
If you went to the town pub after ending your work day and started telling your sad tale, I’m guessing 99% of your pub-mates would agree with you. Of course they’d understand you’d been cheated. The landowner (aka ‘The Man’) had conned you into working for less than what you deserved. You’d been treated unfairly, and by the end of the night they’d be singing songs about the injustice, and you'd have collectively decided to boycott all future dealings with this unethical employer.
But let's rewind back and just look at the facts....
-At the beginning of the day, did your boss offer you a certain wage to work his farm?
-Did you feel like that was a fair wage, and did you take him up on his offer?
-Did your boss go against anything you had agreed upon?
-At the beginning of the day were you grateful for the opportunity?
-Did anything about your agreement change?
The story playing in your mind keeps rolling: "Yeah, but that’s how I felt before I found out that my boss was unfair and treating me poorly.” Most people would feel the exact same way. Slighted, unappreciated, and angry. They would totally back your story as the gospel truth, and you could commiserate till dawn.
But there’s one small problem...
Those aren't facts, that's just the story you're telling yourself.
Based on those same facts, you could also have this perspective of the day's events: for a half a day's work, this farmer paid his new employee way more than market value...that's incredibly generous! If he's that generous, maybe there could be a bonus or more opportunity if you keep working hard. Maybe if you go back the next day, the farmer will offer to pay you even more!
Based on those same facts, you could just be glad the project got done in one day. You agreed to finish the job in a certain timeframe - the farmer could easily have gotten angry at you for not being true to your word and taking longer than you said you would! Since the work went more slowly than anticipated, he could have had you work through the night until the job was done! You could be grateful he brought on help so you didn’t have to stay till midnight.
Based on those same facts, you could wonder what this new hire brought to the table that his time was twice as valuable as yours?
Did he bring more experience?
Was he more efficient?
Could he get twice as much done in half the time?
Looking at it that way, you might start to get nervous about your future job security!
The truth is you were given opportunity that you were grateful for, paid the wage that you agreed upon, and everything else is a fiction that you created in your own mind.
We all have stories that we tell ourselves; many of them got formed and cemented as we looked at the world around us at a very young age, and so we don’t know how to separate these stories from actual reality. One person always sees themselves as the underdog, another is never good enough, and still another finds ways to prove to themselves over and over that someone else is always to blame.
In this scenario, you only became unhappy when you started looking at everyone else around you - you felt life was dealing you an unfair hand. The world teaches us to constantly be looking at other peoples situations and be in a non-stop game of comparing yourself to everyone else. Comparing schools, degrees, jobs and salaries. But the best thing that you can do is choose the story you tell yourself, focus on your own situation and be grateful for the opportunities that you have.
Back to the field...
If at the end of the day your work is far better than the new guy, guess who will get a call the next time work needs to get done? If a new guy showing up inspires you to be more productive so that the next day you can get the job done on your own, who's to say your generous boss wouldn't give you some of that extra money that he saved from not having to hire a second person?
Facts are facts. Life happens and we don't always have control of what's occurring around us. Job changes, family drama, financial struggles…these are some of the facts that that create more difficult and complex life situations.
But we always have control of how we respond to the facts, and we always have control of the story we tell ourselves.
Not everyone will deserve the benefit of the doubt. Surely there are cheats in the world and unfair situations, but look at the facts when making those types of accusations - you could just be filling in the blanks with a negative story.
You're writing your own story EVERYDAY. Write one that is full of appreciation, gratitude, and opportunity. Choose to see your life with a positive spin - and be amazed by how many more doors will open up as a result!