"This is not how the story ends."
Of course, we all know this on one level or another, but it's a worthy reminder. The story is ongoing. Whatever you're experiencing now is only temporary.
In both good times and bad, I think we all have a tendency to tell ourselves our current state is "what everything was leading up to. This is what it was all about. This is how this story ends."
But that's not really true. It's how the *chapter* ends. Depending on what you believe, the story either never ends or it ends when you die. So whatever you're experiencing right now is transient.
Now that may be good news or bad. Because you might be on top of the world right now. Maybe you've just landed a new job or given birth or maybe you're just in a really good place. It's temporary. Of course, the reverse is true, too. You might be miserable today. And that's temporary, too.
Thirty years ago, there was a little girl who spent her childhood in and out of hospitals because she had serious chemical allergies. Between her allergies and asthma, she was hospitalized a couple of times a year. But the story doesn't end there.
She grows up to become a successful actress, but that's not where her story ends, either. She founds the Honest Company, a company that offers hypoallergenic homecare and childcare products. Her earlier struggles in life begin to make sense. But that's not even where the story ends. Jessica Alba is a wife and mother, an actress, and the founder if a $1 billion business—a pioneer, even. But she's not even 40 yet. Her story isn't over.
So we need to understand the transient nature of things. Jessica Alba could have accepted a life where her label was "really beautiful allergic asthmatic" and then spent the rest of her life locked in a room with an air purifier. She could have decided that her story ended with her disease and that was it for her. But she pushed herself out onto movie sets where everything from makeup to the cast and crew had smells that could send her into an attack. And she could have easily decided that the story was over there. "Beautiful actress." But then she reinvented herself again.
There is no lot in life we have to settle for. There is no limitation placed on us that we can't find a way around. Look at Stephen Hawking, for example. The man can't move his body or even talk, but he is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists. He didn't see his disease as the way the story ends.
So whether it's something big you're facing or something smaller, know it's only temporary and it's not where the story has to end...unless its where you decide the story ends. Emotions like joy, fear, anger, jealousy, sorry, contentment—all of those are temporary states.
If it's a good time, enjoy it while you're there. Try your best to be in the moment so you can sop up every last bit of juicy goodness. And if it's a bad time, know it's only temporary and consider the opportunity available in that moment. For example, money woes, for me, are just a matter of discipline and budgeting. That's the opportunity—a new practice that can do nothing but benefit me in the future.
This moment is just that. A moment. And this moment can color your life in a destructive way. It can be an opportunity for improvement. Or it can be a glorious respite that you dance within. But what it can't be is the end.