“You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.”
~ Josh Shipp
Josh Shipp (1982 – present) is an American youth advocate, public speaker, best-selling author, and is often called The Teen Whisperer. He has dedicated his life to helping teens develop vital life skills and chase their dreams.
Right from the first sentence, Shipp pulls no punches, “You either get bitter or you get better.” This is a life issue, not just for teens, but for everyone. It is a challenge to make choices. I believe that for many people, their first instinct when life throws setbacks and difficulties in their path, is to wallow in their disappointment or bitterness for a while. A person can choose to become a more bitter person with each new failure or hardship until they quit trying altogether.
When I first read the words of this quote, I thought immediately about how the “culture of entitlement” pervades our modern society here in North America. It seems to me that there are way too many people who feel that the world owes them whatever they happen to want. They don’t feel they should have to work hard to be successful. Josh Shipp’s message here should be particularly meaningful for them, but I’ll bet that those who feel entitled are more prone to ignore such advice.
The key to Shipp’s message is that life will always throw roadblocks in our path. For some, those difficulties can be quite formidable, even tragic. Unfortunately, there are those who accept this fact and choose to adopt a negative attitude because of it. One of the things that cause me to pause is that all too often it is people who endure the greatest hardships who manage to adopt the most positive attitude towards getting on with their lives. I admire their courage and their faith.
It really does take courage to take life’s punches and pick yourself up ready to keep working at achieving your life goals. I also believe that this courage has to be built upon something rock solid – like faith in yourself and in the achievability of your goal. When I see someone who gives up easily, I am not inclined to offer that person any assistance. But the person who gets knocked down and scrambles back into the fray is the person who has faith and has something very substantial upon which to anchor their courage. That’s the kind of person to whom I want to offer a helping hand.
Shipp closes by stating that the choice to become bitter or better does not rest with fate. Some believe that everyone’s destiny is pre-determined and that they are powerless to change it. Hogwash! I believe that God is all-powerful, but I do not believe that He stands by watching and directing the events of our lives. That flies in the face of the concept of free will. No, I must choose. My life is my own to cherish or to hate. Difficulties are good because I believe that they give us opportunities to learn, to grow, and to flourish.
When we choose to believe in ourselves (yes, that’s a choice) and act courageously in the face of adversity, we will achieve something far more important than a particular life goal. As Josh Shipp attests, we will become better persons. Isn’t this far more valuable than any individual goal we might accomplish? To be a better person means that you will be a happier person. It also means that you will have far more influence on others as you live your life. Finally, those that you influence will, in turn, become better persons and they will be your legacy as they pay the goodness forward.