The In-Between &

The Real Reason Things Happen

John Gutekunst | April 19, 2016

10-12 Minute Read

The In-Between &

The Real Reason Things Happen

John Gutekunst | April 19, 2016

10-12 Minute Read

The In-Between &

The Real Reason Things Happen

John Gutekunst | April 19, 2016

10-12 Minute Read

So, Mr. "Life Coach", what about this!?

2016 has been an interesting year for me thus far. I've experienced quite the range of emotions.

 

On the more enjoyable side, I've experienced the joy and excitement of being an entrepreneur and fully launching a new business that I'm incredibly passionate about. I've also been filled with awe and at a loss for words while observing the magnificent beauty present on the islands of Oahu and Kauai in Hawaii.

 

On the way less enjoyable side, I've felt the grief, anger, and frustration from hearing that a friend and high school teammate of mine lost his sister (28 years old) and niece (4 years old) through an absolutely disgusting, baseless, and remorseless murder. Today I also found out that I lost another friend (31) that was an absolute bright spot on this planet. I was fortunate to serve with her while we were on an executive board for an organization we were both involved in during college.

 

Talk about putting things in perspective. Death sure can do that.

 

As a part of my new business as a Life and Success Coach, I have publicly committed (and therefore deliberately put the pressure on myself) to help others enjoy their lives as much as humanly possible. I have also committed myself to experiencing as high of a quality of life as possible. To me, a "high-quality life" is a life that is full of joy, bliss, happiness, laughter, euphoria, and many other desirable "happiness emotions" (as I call them).

 

How am I supposed to personally feel an enjoyment for life, let alone help others enjoy their lives, when such tragedies are present in my own life? No one wants to work with a gloomy, sad, bitter, resentful, and/or distressed "life coach".

 

Let me fight back some tears and share some thoughts.

 

 

So, Now What?

In times of distress, I find it very helpful to return to the fundamentals, the core concepts, the basics, the call them what you want, but it's the stuff that is at the base and supports everything else.

 

A "fundamental" that comes to mind is one of the four facts that I believe are at the cornerstone of not just my business; I believe these four facts are a key piece and presupposition that supports the fields of psychology, self-development, self-improvement, philosophy, and many others.

 

I discuss all four of these facts in another post: Four Facts and the Jungle. Of these four, the fundamental fact I want to emphasize in this post is this:

 

The more you understand "how life works" the more likely it is you will enjoy your life AND the more successful you can be.

 

Let's set aside the "success" part for now. Grieving people aren't too concerned with goals, accomplishments, and success. They want to get back to that happy place, ASAP.

 

 

Why This?

The reason why this fact comes to mind is that I have been painfully reminded of a major dynamic that occurs as a part of what I call "the human experience". It is helpful to think of "the human experience" as "What is it like to have the experience of being a human being on planet earth?"

 

While being a human being on this planet, many things happen to us. We are born, we eat, we laugh, we cry, we cultivate relationships, we travel. There are many things we do as humans. There are also many things that are common to all humans. One of these dynamics is the fact that we won't live forever on this planet in our current form. Said differently, one part of the human experience is the fact that death is a part of it. That is just "how life works".

 

Entire fields are devoted to studying the human experience. This is because one of the key fundamental forces that drive the professionals in the fields of psychology, self-help, self-improvement, etc. is the fact that the more any individual understands the human experience and what it is like to be a human being, the more that individual can enjoy her/his life.

 

Countless studies and observations have been made to support this dynamic as being true. Actually, if this fact were not true, all the psychologists, researchers, clinicians, self-help authors and speakers, life coaches (myself included) and many others in these fields are completely wasting their time.

 

Whether it was my many personal near death experiences or my German heritage, those of you who know me know that I value time and efficient use of time very highly. I am not a big fan of wasting it.

 

My chips are on the table: understanding the human experience and "how life works" is not a waste of time. It allows you to enjoy your life more. Period.

 

 

Why does this come to mind?

A few years ago I read an interesting book called The In-Between by Jeff Goins. I thought the book had a useful concept and dynamic to remember, as this dynamic is often prevalent throughout the time we experience being a human being on this planet.

 

That dynamic is this: whether we are trying to obtain that dream job, or are contemplating moving to a new city, or are single and (often, impatiently) waiting to find "the one";  as human beings on this planet, a great portion of our lives is spent "in-between" big events in our lives.

 

The reality is that a great portion of time during our lives as human beings is spent in-between experiencing big events.

 

The "big events" could be positive, such as the moment you find that dream job, the moment you move to a new city, or the moment your wedding day finally comes. Certainly there are a ton of other positive possibilities, and the book "The In-Between" focuses primarily on the positive events that we humans are often in between experiencing, and how to make the most out of our lives during those (very frequent) in-between times we experience in our life. I think you will agree that is a shrewd perspective and strategy. IE: make the most out of the normal times while we wait for the big, fun, positive events.

 

However,  even though it didn't focus on it, there was something I realized while reading that book. That realization was that the big events that we're often "in between" definitely are not always positive. Sometimes they're quite negative and hurt a lot. The recent deaths that have been part of my life clearly exhibit that truth.

 

 

Why Emphasize "The In-Between" Dynamic?

Remember how I said that I am committed to experiencing a "high-quality life... full of joy, bliss... and other happiness emotions"?

 

Well, I suspect that many of you reading this think that's not a bad goal and want something similar for your life. I imagine that's a fair assumption. If it's not a fair assumption for you, we should talk.

 

I, and many other professionals in the psychology and self-improvement world, have found that. . .

 

Having certain skills, values, disciplines, and beliefs allow you to experience these happiness emotions as often as possible.

 

Instead of saying skills, values, disciplines, and beliefs; for simplicity's sake, let's just group all of those together and call them "happiness skills". This means that it can also be said that anyone can become "skilled at experiencing" the happiness emotions.

 

There are two reasons why I highlight these happiness skills:

 

#1.  The more skilled you are at creating the happiness emotions, the more often you will experience them while you're in-between the big events in your life.

 

Remember, these "big events" can be both positive and negative. Which is why reason #2 is so important:

 

#2. The more skilled you are at creating the happiness emotions, the quicker you rebound from the negative big events that you will inevitably experience in your life. 

 

I sure as heck am putting my happiness skills to the test today.

 

 

Which skills are the most useful and beneficial?

As I am sure you are aware, becoming talented at any topic or subject matter takes a wide variety of skills. For example, if someone could only run really fast in a straight line, but couldn't catch or make precise cuts; he may be better of pursuing track instead of a career as a wide receiver in the NFL.

 

Very broadly speaking, there are certain skills that become relevant in certain situations.  The happiness skills that come to mind right now are the ones I call  the "focus and meaning" skills.

 

Picture yourself driving along in one of the right lanes of the freeway, minding your own business. Suddenly, some guy merges from your left and into your lane causing you to slow down. That person then promptly takes the next exit.

 

How would you react? More specifically, what would you think about that person?

 

Let me give you a few ideas. Which person below best resembles your likely reaction?

 

Person A:  "That Jerk face idiot must have gotten his drivers license at the dollar store!"

Person B: "That     expletive(s)    mother  __more expletive(s)      just cut me off!"

Person C: "That person might have just been mislead by Siri and just realized that was his exit. Haha! Poor guy, I hate it when that happens!"

 

Be honest, which one is your likely reaction?

 

I provide this simple scenario to highlight the simple yet profound fact that what you allow yourself to focus on creates a certain meaning.

 

All three people had to slow down when the other driver merged into their lane. Persons A and B focused on the fact that they slowed down a little, and to them this meant they "got cut-off". To Persons A and B, getting cut-off means a federal offense has just occurred, and this offense is punishable by countless derogatory comments combined with an infinite amount of profanity-laced character assessments.

 

To Person C, slowing down didn't mean much. This is likely because Person C also focused on the fact that the driver exited shortly after moving into her/his lane. Focusing on this fact too allowed Person C to assemble the meaning that Siri snuck up on him, that happens to me too sometimes, how funny!

 

In addition to looking at (your?) road-rage a little differently, I am sure you can see from this simple scenario that:

 

What you focus on and the meaning you give to it has a huge impact on the quality of your life.

 

The focus and meaning skills (and related behavioral patterns) of Persons A and B resulted in them experiencing frustration, anger, and even (road) rage. Person C was able to create sympathy, compassion, humor, and joy out of the e-x-a-c-t same scenario.

 

 

Why is This Important?

At all points in your life, whether you're in between time in your life and waiting for a big event to occur, walking down the aisle to finally say "I do", or grieving the loss of a loved one; this is one of the most important and powerful happiness skills you can have and cultivate:

 

At all points in time, you have control over what you focus on and the meaning you give to it.

 

We human beings are constantly being exposed to different experiences- many in between times in our life and also many big events. We also are constantly able to focus on what each event means. We have control over this.

 

As a part of the human experience, there are many things we humans cannot control. We can't control the fact that gravity exists, we can't control the fact that we're born at a certain height, or into a certain race, or certain background. We can not control that as a part of the human experience, sometimes the big events that happen in our lives are negative. We can not control that people die, many times much sooner than we want or are expecting.

 

We can look at all the facts about what we can't control, decide to focus on them, and interpret those facts to mean that we should just give up. Or we can focus on what we can control,figure out a way to kick butt and take names, and have a fricken blast while we're here on this planet!

 

We cannot control death, but one of the most powerful things we can control is the fact that we human beings always can control what we focus on and what that experience means.

 

Cultivating, practicing, and becoming a professional at any skill is not easy, especially during times like these. . . but it sure as heck is worth it! This is  because, as discussed above, the more you cultivate this skill the higher quality of life you will experience, the more happiness emotions you will have, and the faster you will recover from the big events that kick you in the face.

 

This is why I am not a big fan of the saying "Everything happens for a reason". That can make us seem powerless and at the complete mercy of life, or at the mercy of some other greater force outside of ourselves.  I personally am very spiritual, so I'm not denying that these forces are relevant. However, I think this statement can easily mislead people and allow them to misinterpret and misuse it, giving them a reason to believe they are powerless, and/or a victim of life and their circumstances. . . In short, saying "Everything happens for a reason" can take away control from many people, when in fact they do have some control.

 

Again, let's focus on what we can control and figure out a way to kick butt using it. We can control what things mean. Thus, I believe it is much, much more useful and empowering to say...

 

Things happen for the reason you give to it.

 

I know Amelia would want a positive reason and meaning to come out of this experience.

 

------------------------------------

Amelia, you will truly be missed. You were a constant bundle of joy and a beam of positivity that the world can not get enough of. Your smile lit up the room, and I will never forget how selfless, persistent, and hard working you were when we served together on the e-board back in college. It was an inspiring example that I will not forget.

 

Even though we are understandably sad and hurt to see you go, I am grateful to have known you, and I know many others are fortunate enough to be able to say the same. As I shared with some friends earlier today, heaven got a little brighter today.

 

I am glad you are no longer in pain.

 

Rest in peace.

 

 

Amelia
The Gute Life
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Gute (Goo-tee)

John Gutekunst is an educator, coach, writer, and speaker. He also is a CFA Charterholder, a certified yoga instructor, a depression expert, an entrepreneur, and a "retired" corporate banker too. Most people refer to him as a Life Coach, and quite often as a Love Coach too. He is dedicated to guiding others through completely eliminating their most difficult personal challenges AND to assisting others with achieving their most passionate goals and dreams. Feel free to learn more about him here, and learn more about working together with him too.
Headshot 200 tall

Gute (Goo-tee)

John Gutekunst is an educator, coach, writer, and speaker. He also is a CFA Charterholder, a certified yoga instructor, a depression expert, an entrepreneur, and a "retired" corporate banker too. Most people refer to him as a Life Coach, and quite often as a Love Coach too. He is dedicated to guiding others through completely eliminating their most difficult personal challenges AND to assisting others with achieving their most passionate goals and dreams. Feel free to learn more about him here, and learn more about working together with him too.

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