03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Kick-Ass Advice To Deal With Life's Crap!

Life is filled with crap! What's a nice person to do?!

Cheer up! The worst is yet to come.

Let's face it: there's an enormous amount of crap on this planet and it has to be dealt with on a daily basis. Buddhism teaches that to be human is to suffer, but I think that to be human is to shovel. We're a species bound to shovel life's challenges twenty-four seven. So, let's get going!

I wrote my new book, "Shovel It! Kick-Ass Advice To Turn Life's Crap Into The Peace And Happiness You Deserve" after one of the most difficult chapters in my life. Circumstances that shattered my belief that good things always happen when good people are doing good work in the world. The "story" of what transpired is not important - and I can't share it anyway because it got entwined with our lovely, legal system - but suffice it to say, it changed my approach to life.

Before life crapped all over me, I believed that hard work and caring about others would earn me lots and lots of happiness. But it didn't. The minute one challenge resolved, a new one showed up. It took a while, but now I get it: Our existence on this planet is a classroom with never-ending lesson plans, nice teachers, mean teachers, pop-quizzes, unfair grades, inedible cafeteria food, and people who don't flush the toilet. Graduation day is death.

Unwilling to go down for life's count, I decided to fight back. Utilizing all my training, (Rockport Institute Of Career Coaching/Washington, D.C., Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology/University of Santa Monica, PHD in life's crap) I developed seven tried and true crap-shoveling techniques to help me get back to the peace and happiness I believe is our divine right. You can add these techniques to your coping repertoire if you have one, or use them as a jumping-off place to build your own survival kit for when the crap hits the fan.

When you embrace the strategies in my book, use them, and repeat them often enough, you will see phenomenal results. They will earn you a M.C.S degree: Masters in Crap Shoveling. Your M.C.S. will help you keep yourself happy instead of sad, accepting rather than angry, and making choices you will be proud of in the morning instead of ones that will increase your pain after the initial elation of pepper-spraying someone with four-letter words has worn off. All you need is a shovel. A good sense of humor. And the commitment to dig!

Here's my crap shoveling technique #2, excerpted from "Shovel It! Kick-Ass Advice To Turn Life's Crap Into The Peace And Happiness You Deserve." If you want to know what crap shoveling techniques #1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are -- buy the book!

Crap Shoveling Technique #2 -- The "what if" technique.
Here's how to use it:

Situation:I'm driving on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. I like to drive carefully and under the speed limit. Call me crazy. A man in a black Porsche (most fancy cars driven by men in LA are black--a Darth Vader thing) zooms up behind me. I look in my rearview mirror and he's obviously on his hands-free cell phone, having quite an animated phone conversation, one hand on the wheel, the other gesturing boldly. I accelerate a little to help him feel we're getting wherever he wants to go faster, but this is clearly not good enough for him. He pulls up beside me, revs his engine, and cuts in front of me. A woman now in front of both of us, with two kids in the back of her white gas -guzzling SUV, apparently gets scared by the sound of his engine and brakes. So does he. So do I. We come inches away from multiple fender benders. Instinctively, three things happen: my right hand reaches for my horn, my left hand quickly rolls down my window, and my mouth prepares to let him know exactly how I feel. Remembering that peace is a choice, at every age and in every circumstance, I take a breath and use my "what if" technique.

  • What if he's on the phone with his mother?
  • What if his mother's name is Sylvia, like mine?
  • What if his mother has just told him his father is in the hospital and that the medications he's received for his heart problems have caused renal failure?
  • What if his bold gestures are his upset, fear, and anger toward the ineptitude of the doctors treating his father?
  • What if his father is the same age as my father, who is also sick?
  • What if the reason he pulls ahead of me is that he's desperate to get to his father's bedside before he dies?

Poor guy. Drive on. Go with speed.

Does it matter if my story is true? No. In fact, I'm sure it's not. He probably is a total piece of work who deserves to be hung upside down by his Dockers. What matters is that the "what if" technique helped me get back to my peace and not add more rage to the road that day. It will help you too.

Remember, use everything to your advantage, including your unique human ability to tell stories to survive the annoyances, inequities, and poor decisions of others that may affect your life.

If life has crapped all over you, let's talk. Visit my website at: and buy "Shovel It! Kiss Ass Advice To Turn Life's Crap Into The Peace And Happiness You Deserve."

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