Challenges and Lists

Years ago, my father commented to me that “Life deals cards daily.” How true that is. Sometimes we are dealt aces and we feel like we are on top of the world. At other times, we are dealt a hand like a foot – low cards putting us into a state of fear, worry and sadness. Life is filled ups and downs, some due to things we can control and others which are simply the result of random circumstance.

What do we do when life deals us a tough hand? What happens when nothing seems to be going our way? What do we do when we feel like we are all alone, in the middle of the ocean treading water and about to drown?

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. What do I mean by this? Allow me, please, an example. Suppose you go to the doctor and he tells you to lose weight and exercise to remedy an issue with your health. He sends you to a nutritionist who gives you a specific diet to follow. This physician also sends you to a personal trainer who suggests an appropriate exercise routine for you.

The diet and exercise advice, you are given, is simple. There is nothing complicated about it. You are given directions. Now you have to follow them. This is simple, in the sense that there is nothing for you to figure out. Again, just follow directions. This is not, however, easy.

At times, what causes circumstances to seem overwhelming is that we are tugged back and forth by our emotions to such a degree that we feel as if we cannot deal with even the simplest directions. Yet, if we can get our emotions under control, we stand a much better chance of dealing with our challenges. I know, easier said than done.

One approach that might help us overcome challenges is list making. When we are confronted by a great many things, we can create a list of what we must deal with. When making the list, we would want to put the most important challenges first and the lesser ones at the end. In other words, we prioritize our list in the same way that a hospital emergency room does a triage with incoming patients. The doctors there deal with people coming in with heart attacks before those coming in with a common case of poison ivy. This makes sense.

Assuming we have a prioritized list, we can now go forward and deal with each challenge individually, instead of allowing them to overwhelm us. True, we might have to deal with a few challenges almost simultaneously, but the list will help us switch back and forth with a sense of order. Eliminating chaos in our lives, especially in the face of strong challenges, can help us feel better, focus better and surmount those challenges with greater ease.

Image courtesy of [Gualberto107] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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