How To Turn Crap Into Gold

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Everything runs its course.

Relationships end.

People die.

You lose interest.

Businesses close up shop.

Friends lose touch.

But instead of honoring the process and coming out the other side having learned something we can carry with us, we tend to come out bitter, confused, sad, lost, and resentful.


But just because something comes to an end, doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable.


It’s like going to get a massage, and then being so pissed off when it ends that you don’t even let yourself enjoy the way your previously tense muscles now feel like soft jello under your skin, or the way the oil has made your body glow, or the fact that your massage therapist was a total babe.

You would never leave a massage feeling resentful, like it was all for nothing.

So why would you leave a career, a relationship, an academic program, or anything else in your life, and look back on it negatively?

Nothing in life should be a regret. NOTHING.

When you dismiss the experiences you’ve had just because they didn’t turn out the way you had planned, you’re missing out on a whole lot of room for this thing they call “personal growth”.


Let your past help inform your future, instead of hold you back from it.


Now, to practice.

Pick 5 really shitty experiences you’ve had. List them out. And next to each one, write ONE thing you learned from this that has been/will be valuable to you going forward in your life.

I’ll start.

1. My mom lived a really crappy life, and then she died.  And growing up with(out) a mom changed the way I see the world and the way I chose to live my life. It’s partly responsible for me starting The Uncaged Life in the first place.

2. I got fired from my job for taking too much time off, at a time when I had no backup plan and no idea what else to do. Obviously my employers were trying to tell me something, because it forced me to see that all I really wanted was time off – to travel, so nap in the park, to explore my city. And it gave me what I needed – namely, the time – to do that.

3. I crushed my foot and ankle when I fell rock climbing. I had to learn to just be ok with where I was at.  I couldn’t walk and climb and do yoga the way I wanted to. I had to learn to scale it back. And to this day my foot gets tweaked, and reminds me that the best I can do, is whatever my best is on any given day. That I can’t force myself to be something I’m not.

4. I spent years dating someone I wasn’t happy with. I learned what I want and need in a partner, and now I get to be picky.

5. I spent tens of thousands of dollars and 7 years in academic programs that I ended up “not using” for my career. But they were still valuable in helping me get more clear on what I DIDN’T want to be doing. Also, what I learned in school about my resilience and resourcefulness, my preferred methods of learning, and all the other little life lessons (like don’t sign up for Saturday morning biology labs), has shaped the course of everything I’ve done since.

Your turn. Comment below and tell us one shitty thing that happened to you that you can flip into something positive. You might be surprised to find that you wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Read 5 Comments & Leave Yours

  1. WellnessWithin

    I was engaged for 24 hours to my high school boyfriend.  The line from you’ve got mail hit me when I finally said, I can’t marry you.  “There isn’t anyone else but there is the dream of someone else”.  If I hadn’t said no I’d be in a loveless, unexciting marriage.  Instead, I met my husband 2 weeks later and we’ve been together for 13 years!

  2. @WellnessWithin 24hours!? Ha! Thanks for sharing!

  3. MarkAnderson1

    my mother and father used to have very,very heated arguments when i was a little boy.   this bothered me deeply. i swore to myself i was not going to get in heated arguments and especially not in front of my own kids. i know how it affected me and vowed not to do it.

  4. MarkAnderson1 And were you able to stick to that Mark?

  5. dalerog

    I had a period of time that seemed ONLY full of shit!  My marriage of 17 months was over, I got canned from my job and I almost lost my house!  My sister, with six-month-old twins and a 22 month-old was soooo very happy that for the next six months I spent my days with her.  I was sorta not really looking for a job yet and took the time to enjoy my nieces and nephew AND my sister.  Then, after this 6-month break, I found my dream job (which I’ve since lost as the company moved to Toronto – another story!) and met my future husband whom I’ve been with 18 years this June. 
    I learnt the marriage was a total sham (I felt I MUST be married before 30 – was 29 when it happened); the job was oh so not for me and I hated it and the house? Well, we saved that one!  I take each and every experience as something good, no matter how negative it seems at the time.  It’s how we grow…