In the current issue of The New Yorker magazine writer Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers) writes about the connection between dogfighting and the NFL. NOW, DON’T CLICK OFF JUST YET…WAIT FOR THE POINT!
Gladwell notes research that an increasing number of NFL alums suffer from dementia of a special type. It looks like Alzheimer’s, but isn’t. The condition isn’t a neurological problem, its source is external. It comes from the repeated trauma of getting hit in the helmet. Linemen seem to suffer more than backs and receivers. Every little hit seems to have a cumulative effect that sets these guys up to suffer from this debilitating condition. The UNC-Chapel Hill football program is providing research right now.
Life is like that. Every little ding, each emotional slap, all the negative hits you take tend to mount up. I believe the hits we take go a long way in determining whether we have a positive/optimistic outlook on life or a negative/pessimistic view of the future. Unless you’re careful it’s easy to let all that stuff take the joy out of life and put you in a hole so deep that it sometimes seems impossible to dig your way out.
The key is to understand that you make the choice whether or not to dig yourself out. You can stay in the hole and look up and see a sliver of blue sky. Or, you can start chipping footholds on the hole wall and little by little climb out.
Others can help you. They can stand at the top of the hole and beckon; but, only you make the decision to climb.