05/10/2010 07:09 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2015

Why on Earth Are You Reading This?

Over these many months I have written numerous articles extolling the virtue of focusing on what you might realistically imagine creating for yourself in your life. I have tried coming at this from multiple points of reference, all sharing the same basic tenet that positive action stems first from a positive focus - not some kind of lame let's-pretend-everything-is-just-fine nonsense, but taking life as you find it right now and doing what you can to improve.

In recent months, I have tried pointing out the difference between persistence and being stubborn. I have shared some thoughts about being doomed by your circumstances. Most recently, I have tried to draw a distinction between what happens to you and what you choose to do about it.

I have shared examples from people who have survived horrific tragedy and come to prosper later. There also have been simpler and more ordinary stories of everyday folks who work their way back from the miscarriages of a society gone greedy beyond belief. No matter the example, there are still those readers who come back each week only to disparage the examples, suggesting that somehow these very real stories of very real people taking charge of their very real circumstances somehow don't matter. And, of course, they also get to paint me with any color of brush they might choose, as though I were the enemy somehow.

It matters little whether you think these writings are silly or sophisticated, worthwhile or worthless because the truth of the matter is that the only way to know the truth is to experience it. Believing or disbelieving doesn't make anything real or not real.

I have to wonder, though, why those who would denigrate both the ideas as well as those who have managed to put them to good use would keep coming back to these pages week after week? What could you possibly be getting from reading these kinds of ideas each week, knowing as you do that the message is one of self-improvement in spite of circumstances?

One explanation might simply be that many critics have resigned themselves to their current lot in life. So many people seem so willing to lay all blame at the feet of George Bush, Goldman Sachs, or any of a litany of bad guys. Perhaps if this kind of advice and support is condemned enough, the critic will find reason enough to remain confined in the "Ain't It Awful Club."

I know I have my fair share of whipping boys and girls out there for whom I laid off significant helpings of blame over the years. The only thing I have ever gotten from blaming the bad guys is a sense of righteousness and anger; for some, it would appear that righteous indignation is sufficient.

However, as I have witnessed others make huge differences through their involvement, I have noted that although many can be blamed, rarely does blaming alone make a difference. Whether we look to Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, we will see examples of people who had much to condemn but who chose acts of involvement over verbal expressions of discontent or outrage.

Hopefully, one of Gandhi's great quotes is bearing out here: "Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress." I'm also fond of "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

And, of course, one of the all time greats: "You must be the change you want to see in the world" coupled with "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

If you have either personally experienced one of the many injustices that have befallen so many over the past (decade, decades, century, etc), what would you recommend we do to improve, to move forward?

So, for those who keep preferring to attack, for those who keep wishing to berate the greedy and the tyrannical, I would ask: how does the constant attack and heaping of blame change anything? Let alone improve it.

Please understand that I'm in no way trying to suggest we apologize for the Bush's and Goldman's of the world, or let them off the hook. I'm just asking, what are you doing about it? If complaining, blaming, or raising angry voices were sufficient I should imagine all manner of changes would have been brought to bear by now.

Clearly it takes more than angry rhetoric. Caring, yes. Rhetoric without action? Perhaps not.

What do you recommend?

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at)


If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

You can buy Workarounds That Work here.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at)