Insights: What Happened to Fairytale Endings?

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00fairytaleHow many of us grew up on Cinderella, Batman and the Cleavers?

As a child we would sit wide eyed looking and dreaming about how life was going to be when we grew up, how we might be swept off our feet by Prince Charming, become a super hero and save the world, or have that perfect family where no one fights and everyone is kind to each other.

Then one day we look around and wonder what happened to that dream.

In real life, 80 percent of it consists of the mundane, unsexy and unexciting stuff. Yes, that is real life: doing the dishes, paying the bills, putting the children to bed. This is real life that allows us to appreciate and enjoy the other 20 percent.

I was reading an interesting article the other day that talked about how people who win the lottery do not end up happier than before their financial gain, and in fact their stress level often increases. However, people who have experienced something challenging in their lives often find themselves feeling more grateful and appreciative than prior to their challenge.

I had a very impactful moment in my life when I was in my late teens. I was in an accident that left me in a cast from my ankle to the top of my thigh. It took nearly six months before I was really able to participate in the normal daily routines.

I remember the first day I was able to stand on my own two feet and do the dishes and have a shower. I remember looking out the window as I felt the warm water on my hands and feeling an overwhelming feeling of contentment that I was able to do the dishes, that I got to do the most basic things in life. I have never forgotten that feeling and whenever I am doing the dishes I remind myself to feel grateful rather than resentful.

You see, most of life is an attitude. It’s not what happens to us, but how we look at it. If you know the work of artist Andy Warhol, you would agree that he certainly looked at the world without fear of what others think, or complaining of being bored, but from a place of embracing what came from his inner self.

He once said, “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”

It is a choice. The pseudo mathematical equation of EVENT (10 percent) + RESPONSE (90 percent) = OUTCOME (100 percent) says it all. It is not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens to you.

So the question to be asked is how do we choose our response?

Often our responses are taught to us as children, to look at things negatively or positively, or feeling like a victim, or “I can get through this” attitude. We often are unaware of how natural our way of responding to the world and life is. So pay attention, notice what your natural response is. Then decide how it works for you and if it does not, change it. Remember the unsexy, the mundane and the unexciting really are very sexy, very exciting, and is what most of life is about.

So say good-bye to a fairytale life and say hello to the roller coaster of the ups and downs of real life.

Enjoy the ride.

Contact Dr. Zavala at [email protected] or

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