it’s too big

You are an active participant in your own life. You work hard, pay attention, and contribute to reaching and exceeding goals. You improve your skills, build your character, and try to understand issues from many sides. You are patient. You don’t whine. You get help. You talk it out with friends and speak to the experts. You try so hard, and maybe even make some progress.

But the problem persists. It doesn’t go away, even with you trying to chip away at it every day. It happens to all of us: the problem is simply bigger and more complex than we are. And sometimes we just can’t solve it. We can’t beat it. It gets us.

As a citizen of the United States, a country built on the principles and culture of self-reliance and going it alone, living in what’s frequently touted as the greatest country in the world, filled with opportunity for all, we are told, there can be a marked tendency to believe that success is available just around the corner if we’re doing all the right things. The truth is, sometimes it just isn’t. And our problem does not have to do with how hard we are working, our positive outlook, or how much we want it. The problem is simply too big for us. We don’t have control.

Yesterday, my email from Daily Worth arrived in my mailbox with Caitlin Kelly’s introduction to Pound Foolish: Exploring the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Forbes columnist Helaine Olen. The nature of Ms. Olen’s work resonated with me, as I’ve spent hours with a friend listening to her excellent and dogged research of how the economic disasters of the past several years have impacted the lives of humans, often with tsunami-like force and resulting devastation. Some of us are managing, and some of us are devastated, and much of it has to do with uncontrollable, destroying force that indiscriminately chooses its victims. Terminal illness. Financial bankruptcy. A failing marriage. Sometimes we can’t stop it, we can’t solve it.

Olen’s work reminds us that no matter how many gurus tell us they have the answer if you only do this or this or this, the problem, the circumstances, the solution may not be in our control. Self-help experts abound; indeed, we are exploring professional and personal growth here.

Keep perspective, my friends. Broaden and keep perspective.

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