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Turn Shit Into Sugar

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The following is an excerpt from The 50th Law, adapted for HuffPost.

Every negative situation contains the possibility for something positive, an opportunity. It is how you look at it that matters. Your lack of resources can be an advantage, forcing you to be more inventive with the little that you have. Losing a battle can allow you to frame yourself as the sympathetic underdog. Do not let fears make you wait for a better moment or become conservative. If there are circumstances you cannot control, make the best of them. It is the ultimate alchemy to transform all such negatives into advantages and power.

Events in life are not negative or positive. They are completely neutral. The universe does not care about your fate; it is indifferent to the violence that may hit you or to death itself. Things merely happen to you. It is your mind that chooses to interpret them as negative or positive. And because you have layers of fear that dwell deep within you, your natural tendency is to interpret temporary obstacles in your path as something larger--setbacks and crises.

In such a mind-frame, you exaggerate the dangers. If someone attacks and harms you in some way, you focus on the money or position you have lost in the battle, the negative publicity, or the harsh emotions that have been churned up. This causes you to grow cautious, to retreat, hoping to spare yourself more of these negative things. It is a time, you tell yourself, to lay low and wait for things to get better; you need calmness and security.

What you do not realize is that you are inadvertently making the situation worse. Your rival only gets stronger as you sit back; the negative publicity becomes firmly associated with you. Being conservative turns into a habit that carries over into less difficult moments. It becomes harder and harder to move to the offensive.

In essence you have chosen to cast life's inevitable twists of fortune as hardships, giving them a weight and endurance they do not deserve.

What you need to do is to take the opposite approach. Instead of becoming discouraged and depressed by any kind of downturn, you must see this as a wake- up call, a challenge that you will transform into an opportunity for power. Your energy levels rise. You move to the attack, surprising your enemies with boldness. You care less what people think about you and this paradoxically causes them to admire you--the negative publicity is turned around. You do not wait for things to get better--you seize this chance to prove yourself. Mentally framing a negative event as a blessing in disguise makes it easier for you to move forward. It is a kind of mental alchemy, transforming shit into sugar.

Understand: We live in a society of relative prosperity, but in many ways this turns out to be a detriment to our spirit. We come to feel that we naturally deserve good things, that we have certain privileges due to us. When setbacks occur, it is almost a personal affront or punishment. "How could this have happened?" we ask. We either blame other people or we blame ourselves. In both cases, we lose valuable time and become unnecessarily emotional.
In places like the hood or in any kind of materially impoverished environment, the response to hardship is much different. There, bad things happening assume a kind of normality. They are part of daily life. The hustler thinks: "I must make the most of what I have, even the bad stuff, because things are not going to get better on their own. It is foolish to wait; tomorrow may bring even worse shit."

This hustler mindset is more realistic and effective. The truth is that life is by nature harsh and competitive. No matter how much money or resources you have accumulated, someone will try to take them from you, or unexpected changes in
the world will push you backward. These are not adverse circumstances but merely life as it is. You have no time to lose to fear and depression, and you do not have the luxury of waiting.