A line of research concerning a group of young people called “indestructibles” was once reported in a leading psychological journal.
These indestructibles lived under extreme poverty, and came from very bad home conditions that were located in slum neighborhoods. Yet, they were well-adjusted and good students.
That research got me to thinking of some people I’ve met in my life who fit the description of “indestructibles.”
It is true that we cannot prevent troublesome or sorrowful events from intruding into our lives. But some people live heartily, joyfully and considerately one day at a time. They rely on their power of choice, whether their problems are solved today or not.
My first encounter with an indestructible was when I was a teenager.
The man was one of our next-door neighbors. It was during the height of the Depression. People by the droves were out of work; they were losing their life savings as a result of bank failures and were being evicted from their homes. Suicides were frequent. Nervous breakdowns were common.
My neighbor was a highly skilled (and highly paid) tool-and-die-maker. Suddenly, he was without a job or a paycheck. The best he could do was to get a job with the WPA, a governmental agency which gave menial jobs to as many people as possible. His assignment: dig ditches.
This seemed a terrible thing to me. Imagine this top-flight craftsman digging ditches!
Without complaining, he went to his job every day. At night he returned, his attitude as positive as if he had his old job. One night he got talking enthusiastically about the fine art of digging ditches and how he was enjoying the opportunity of working outdoors and using his strength to accomplish a task. “I’ve never felt better in my life,” he commented.
We boys were so fascinated by his enthusiasm that we went to watch him. Most of the men who worked with him were leaning on their shovels, looking miserable. Not our neighbor. When he saw us, he stopped to take us on a quick tour. He told us how to dig a ditch. Then he showed us his handiwork. His ditches were straight…uniformly deep – with firm sides. “Aren’t they beautiful?” He was proud of his ditches.
One night, he announced that he had been made foreman. He was filled with compassion and pity for his men. They refused to accept their lot in life and spent the day moaning and complaining. Our neighbor now had a new zest for his job––the challenge of lifting his men out of despondency and showing them how to be thankful that they had some work to do.
As I watched this highly skilled craftsman who could find a challenge and satisfaction in anything he did, I realized he had mastered a pivotal principle: it was not the task that was important, but the spirit he brought to that task. He brought an undaunted spirit to every task and experience. As a result, he was happy and successful.
This man had a faith that sustained him. His faith could be summed up in these verses from the Bible:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
This is an excerpt of Chapter 1 from Dr. Brandt’s book “I Want Happiness Now!”
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