Finding my Keys

I was running late for work and was frantically searching for my keys. I would be working my 7th overtime shift in 7 days. I knew I wasn't thinking clearly.  Where were my keys? I gave up, picked up the spare keys to the house and car and decided I'd find the real ones later.

When I got off of work, I decided to clean the entire apartment while looking for the keys. That way, when I found them, instead of being upset at wasting a lot of time, I would have the keys along with a clean apartment.

As the cleaning proceeded, I got to thinking. What if I carelessly dropped them while working outside? Someone could find them, see my car on the property and take it. Or steal everything while I was at work. Hours went by, midnight came, and no keys. I had to get to bed.

Just before retiring, I started toward the trash. I took it out every Sunday night. That's when it hit me. What if?  I began rummaging. Sure enough, the keys were buried deep inside, covered with coffee grounds and spaghetti sauce.

Takeaway: Sometimes you have to go through some garbage to find what you need.

Stephen Goforth



The boy with the bread sandwich

Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Each day, he would arrive at school with the exact same sandwich: two slices of bread with nothing in between. At home, there was no other food available, and no one to make any. Even so, Garmezy would later recall, the boy wanted to make sure that “no one would feel pity for him and no one would know the ineptitude of his mother.” Each day, without fail, he would walk in with a smile on his face and a “bread sandwich” tucked into his bag.

The boy with the bread sandwich was part of a special group of children. He belonged to a cohort of kids—the first of many—whom Garmezy would go on to identify as succeeding, even excelling, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. These were the children who exhibited a trait Garmezy would later identify as “resilience.”

If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?

Resilient children (have) what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.

One of the central elements of resilience is perception: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as an opportunity to learn and grow?

Maria Konnikova writing in the New Yorker