It’s Time To Start Thinking Like Adults


By: Robert E. Meyer

I recall having read a book by a famous inspirational author some years back. The title was “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” That slogan may certainly be applied to the current state of affairs as much as any moment in the past. Within a couple years after reading that book, America went through a prolonged period of economic and political woes that shattered perpetual public optimism, and caused a “permanent” lowering of expectations for the future.

So many Americans view their lives and entire expectations for tomorrow, through the prism of unceasing engagement in Iraq, and escalating fuel prices. That is one of the main reasons why we have a booming economy, yet the general public is largely oblivious and unaware of it, and in fact, may profess the opposite as reality.

The tenor of so much of the network news these days, is that we American citizens are just sheep for the slaughter. We are the helpless and hopeless victims–the hapless pawns in the chess game, moved about by the greedy, rich and powerful winners in the Lotto of life.

It is time for us to start thinking and acting like adults. Many years ago, a trusted friend was the first to share with me a saying I’ve often heard repeated since. “There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask what happened.” Of course the inspirational exhortation here is that we seek never fall into the latter two categories.

The “adult” is the analyzer and problem solving persona inside all of us somewhere. The “child” is the countenance that merely reacts viscerally and helplessly to an unpredictable environment. Possibility versus impossibility thinking. So much for defining our terms in the modern mimicry of Transactional Analysis. Suffice it say that I have been both the adult and child, but I now have a greater awareness in order to determine which personality dominates my outlook.

The adult will see an opportunity or possible solution as a problem crops up. A perfect example is the run-up in gasoline and fuel oil prices. I did a few basic things when I realized this problem was coming. I used my nearly 3,000 GM card points and purchased a smaller, more fuel efficient motor vehicle. I also used a programable thermostat to maximize efficiency in heating during the cold winter months. I then looked for credit cards that offered rebate discounts at gas stations, and local proprietors that printed discount gas coupons in the savings brochures. With the latter strategies, I developed a synergy that kept my fuel expenditures at about $2 a gallon. Finally, I decided to purchase an energy mutual fund as a hedge. A hedge is a lot like life insurance. It costs you a premium to buy the insurance, but you don’t complain about losing money if conditions are such that you won’t collect on the policy this year.

This mindset drains over into tax policy also. Every time a bill is offered that would provide some sensible tax relief, some politician complains that it will do little for the poor. Here is a perfect example of the child speaking. The assumption is that tax policy should be to penalize certain socio-economic classes, not to improve and grow the aggregate economy. There is also a failure to acknowledge that a tax cut helps the rich because they pay most of the taxes. Charity is designed to help people in need whether or not it positively impacts the economy. Politicians who confuse the two are really pandering to the child-like mentality among the public masses.

This phenomenon rears its head in the Christian religious realm also. Some people have an eschatological (study of last things) view that caters directly to this problem. They believe that things are not cyclical in nature, but that we are on a continually declining path, which will only be rectified with the “rapture” of believers and the return of Christ himself. Nothing is wrong with this perspective, as many people view it as a biblical portrayal of the end times scenario. However, when it is coupled with, or culminates in an unshakable conviction that the end of the world is no more than a few years off, and that this position is the only possible scenario, then the temptation is to hibernate into what I call a “bunker mentality.” People sew themselves into a cocoon, waiting for the end to come. They usually withdraw themselves from society, ceasing to be salt and light to the current generation, but have given up the cause as lost. I distinctly remember one gentleman who disagreed with my perspective, telling me that he likened his mission in life to that of the Titanic’s captain. He knows the ship is going down, so he tries to get as many people in the lifeboats as possible. But the ship ain’t never goin’ to float as he sees it.

Of course what comes out of this ideological cloistering, is that society and culture are yielded to those with a different worldview altogether, thus you find not only that you are no longer in charge of shaping trends, but you don’t even have a seat at the table of discourse any longer. Those who expected to be “gone,” are still here, but looking out from inside the bubble.

I believe the process of acting like an adult is to adapt, to adjust, to counter, to reinvent, to renew and gird one’s attitude. To act like a child is to become dysfunctional, incapacitated or paralyzed when anything happens to disrupt the usual routine.

We all need to become more resilient in the wake of adversity.

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