The Highs and the Lows

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on January 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

It is human nature to get overly excited when something good happens, and to get down when something bad happens. In many cases, if a little bit of logic was applied to emotional reactions, the highs wouldn’t be as high and the lows wouldn’t be as low. This is not to say that there aren’t events in life that are truly awe-inspiring (like the birth of a child) or truly devastating (like the loss of a loved one). However, many other highs and lows are more about the way that we view things as individuals.

Personally speaking, I have allowed myself to be overly optimistic at times, only to be let down later when things didn’t go as planned. I have also allowed myself to become pessimistic at times, only to realize later on that things weren’t nearly as bad as I perceived them to be. There is something to be said for being a little bit more even-keeled, but sometimes it is easier said than done.

One of the best examples of overreaction takes place in the NFL. Because the season only has 16 games, every game is considered important. Both the media and the fans make bold predictions and offer criticism on a weekly basis. The problem with rushing to judgment is that mistakes are often made, and reality differs greatly from perception (case in point: the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans).

Both the Broncos and the Titans finished this season with identical records (8 wins, 8 losses). Most years this wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s fairly common for a number of teams to end up with this record each year. It usually just means that each was a middle-of-the-road team, better than the struggling teams, but not quite good enough to make the playoffs. But this year is different, as each of these teams took vastly different paths to arrive at the same destination.

The Broncos shocked the football world in the off-season by trading away their franchise quarterback. What they got in return was a quarterback that was thought to be nothing more than a career back-up. The bar was set very low for them for the season, so when they won their first six games, most people were surprised. It didn’t take long before they were being mentioned (against all odds) as a possible Super Bowl contender. Adding to the intrigue was the fact that this was being accomplished with a new head coach (the youngest in the NFL) who had no prior head coaching experience. The Broncos’ season seemed to be unfolding like a Hollywood drama before they went on an unprecedented losing streak and missed the playoffs. The season that started off on such a high ended on such a low that it was considered a disappointment overall.

Conversely, the Titans were one of the best teams in the NFL last season, so naturally, the bar was set very high for them this season. Inexplicably, they lost their first six games, and their long-time head coach (who was considered one of the best in the league) was suddenly in jeopardy of losing his job. When the Titans lost their sixth game by a score of 59-0, their season was thought to be over, and changes had to be made. Enter the quarterback that was once considered to be the future of the franchise before he had a nervous breakdown. With nothing left to lose, and no pressure, the Titans won their next five games (a feat that had never been accomplished by a team that had lost their first six games). And though the Titans fell just short of making the playoffs, only the positives were being discussed as the season ended. The head coach is in no jeopardy of losing his job, and the quarterback that was thought of as a “bust” is once again the future of the franchise.

Life happens and things change – sometimes drastically. Even though I know this, I still tend to let my emotions get the best of me at times. Part of my journey is working towards being more even-keeled. This story will serve as a reminder for me to keep the highs and lows of life in proper perspective, and to see things through to the end.

  1. Adam,

    Interesting correlation, using the vagaries of pro football to describe our own peaks and valleys. Thank goodness we’re not emulating the NBA where the boys draw dueling pistols at twenty lockers.

    Congrats on Waldo 2010!

    • Thanks Andrew. Peaks and valleys is a good description of what I was talking about. And I’m with you on the NBA thing. Nothing worth emulating in the whole league as far as I can see.

  2. Hi Adam~ As a football mom I can totally relate. Ups, downs and everything in between. I just try and see the good in every situation…last year was my year for learning that..alot of changes. Although not quite as much as New York to Texas…sheesh:-) Love Waldo….very catchy!

    • Thanks Laura. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good in a situation. I’m trying harder to do that now. And yes, this change has been drastic from NY to TX, but some good things are happening because of it, so it’s been worth it so far. Glad you like the name of the blog. Thanks for being a part of it.

  3. Ok…so I have almost no interest in football, but this whole piece made so much sense because you related it to a game! I always tell my kids, “it’s not over till it’s over” and this comparison of two teams (who I knew nothing about) nails the point. And that whole “even keeled” thing is something I need to work on myself. I am not great…ok I suck…at keeping things in perspective! Maybe in the new year…

    • It’s funny that you mention that, Laurel. The initial title that I had for this was “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” (Lenny Kravitz), but decided to go with highs and lows. I think that this is the year that we’ll both get better at keeping things in perspective. We can work on it together. 😉

  4. Very interesting blog. You are an excellent writer. Regarding the “even keel” thing: extremes are obviously…well….extreme. Staying “even keel”…although it maybe good for you and your blood pressure…could possibly be taken wrong by others. I have this thing where I do not get too excitied about anything…or too upset about anything…although it is MUCH easier to get upset for me. When I was a kid..begin the music geek I was in school…all I wanted…FOR YEARS…was a synthesizer. I begged my parents to get me one. They used my GPA as an incentive…get a certain GPA…you get a synthesizer. I made a sign that I kept hanging over my mirror to inspire me. When I made the GPA…no synthesizer. Thinking as an adult…I have no idea where my folks were financially…maybe they couldn’t do it. Thinking as a kid…I was pissed that they didn’t keep up their half of the deal…and so…I just gave up and forgot about it. One day…after HS grad…while at a friend’s house…I got a call to come home. When I got there, there was a giant box waiting for me. I unwrapped it to find….of course…a synthesizer. My reaction…was blunted. No jumping up and down or screaming as would be expected after receiving something I have wanted for so long. I was just like, “thanks…it’s great”. My folks…I am sure…were disappointed in my LACK of a response. This happens to me all the time – due to chronic low-grade depression. People do things…or whatever…and expect a response…and get disappointed if they don’t get the reaction they expect. I wish I could organically be excited about something…but I cannot. I TRY to react FOR THEM…the way they expect as to no upset anyone. Maybe I am picking something random out of this whole thing. I totally get trying to keep “even steven”…as to not fly off the handle or to expect too much, and as a result, get disappointed yourself. But..I guess what I am thinking…as someone who is chronically even keeled…sometimes a reaction…in either extreme…is better than feeling nothing. I am enjoying reading about your journey.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, Audra. I’m glad that you appreciate the writing, and I’m also glad that you offered another take on my story. I think that we often times find that the grass is greener on the other side. I would like to be more even-keeled, you would like to feel more emotion. I’m sure that there’s a happy medium somewhere that we would both like.

    I understand why you weren’t elated at getting the synthesizer. Probably a feeling of too little, too late. If your parents weren’t able to keep up their end of the bargain, you deserved to know why.

    I’ve been where you are also with trying to react for others instead of from within. For some people, the fake (or exaggerated) reaction is difficult to pull off because it seems insincere. I’m pretty sure that even when I’ve tried, I haven’t done a very good job of it, as the other person can probably tell that my reaction was forced.

    As far as being more level-headed, I was thinking more about getting too excited about something before it was even a reality, or getting so upset about something without seeing how it all plays out. Someone recently gave me some advice for this. They said, before you get really upset, think about how you will remember the event 5 years from now. If it is still upsetting with that perspective, then something really bad has happened.

    I really appreciate you sharing this very personal story on here. I’m glad that you’re enjoying my journey. Thanks for being a part of it.

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