More than 2000 years ago Confucius said, “To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”
Many people have a hard time letting go of the negatives in their life. We know we’re supposed to suck it up, persevere and get back in the game in the face of adversity and failure. But getting up when we think we have been wronged or even just moving forward when we feel discouraged and inadequate is a whole lot easier said than done. So, why is getting back up so difficult? Why is throwing in the towel so much easier?
For most of us no matter what happens in our lives we tend to think of it as either good or bad. And most of us tend to use the bad label much more often than the good label. Science tells us our brains are naturally wired to focus on the negative things in our lives. In general just about every one of us has the tendency to remember negative things more strongly and in more detail. And while it might be true that our lives can be hard and we may sometimes legitimately have to face terrible situations and circumstances we do have a choice about how we see and deal with it.
According to Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and a member of University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center’s Advisory Board, we can train our brains to appreciate positive experiences. And when we take the time to focus on good things in our lives and instill them in the brain we are likely to be happier and able to have greater success in the things we do.
I absolutely love training my mind to be upbeat by reading and telling stories of people who take unfortunate situations, circumstances and events and use their mind, their imaginations and their actions to turn them into something positive. Every time I do I find some nugget of information that I can focus on that helps me to be better, happier and more able to help others do the same. The life of Bill Bartmann is another of these stories for me.
Bill Bartmann went from being homeless, broke, paralyzed and an alcoholic to become, at one point, the 25th richest person in the United States. Bartmann grew up dirt poor, dropped out of high school and soon after moved out of his parents place. He joined a traveling circus, joined a gang for a place to stay and was an alcoholic by the time he was 16. He got so drunk one evening that he fell down a flight of stairs and was paralyzed. This was all before the age of 18.
Through sheer determination and perseverance Bill Bartmann ended up walking again, getting his GED and later college and law degrees. On the heels of several failed businesses he wound up founding Commercial Financial Services (CFS) when he was dead broke. With CFS he created a multi-billion dollar debt collection industry. In the process he became a billionaire.
In 1998 an anonymous letter was sent to regulators which started an investigation into CFS. Bartmann was indicted for fraud by the U. S. Department of Justice. He was investigated, exonerated and received an apology from the government. Unfortunately legal and other costs forced CFS into bankruptcy and he lost everything. But guess what? That was not the end. In 2010 Bill Bartmann began CFS2 and later Financial Samaritan to provide services to consumers for debt negotiation, job search, social services and financial literacy, at no cost to the consumer.
Following his death in 2016 Bill Bartmann’s obituary summed him up as an untiring executive, a man of faith, a warm, caring boss, owner of a big and kind heart, a loving family man and blessed with a stellar mind. All great lessons in life are simple. A nugget to think about from Bill Bartmann’s life story is the message stated well by Confucius. “When we think we are wronged it is nothing unless we choose to remember it.”
William “Bud” Hart is a certified “Mindset” Coach, Accountability Partner and Business Consultant. Visit Hart Group, www.hartgroupma.com for more on coaching.