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Three Ways to Guarantee Your Life Will be Terrible

From Leonard Buhler

June 27, 2012

A while back, I had the privilege of addressing a group of students at University of Toronto.  I decided to have a little fun, and come at things from a different angle of view.  Hence, my topic:  three ways to guarantee your life will be terrible.  I thought you might find it interesting it applies whether youre a college student or a grandfather.

You probably have all kinds of dreams for your life.  What will make your life fun?  Rich, and full?  Perfect?   Here are three ways to guarantee your dreams for a good life won’t come true.

1.     Dont give commitment, and dont expect it either.

If you want to be miserable, avoid commitment at all cost. Instead, open yourself up to anyone and everyone.  Just hook up.  Be casual in your relationships.  You will be surely end up feeling lonely, used, empty, and worthless.

My son Mark refused to listen to this advice.  He’s a young man with enormous potential: a degree in business, his own company, a passion for enjoying life.  His girlfriend, Tatiana, is a beautiful woman – spunky, smart, and loving.  If Mark had been aiming to have a terrible life, he would have held off on proposing to her.  He would have decided to keep his options open, focus on himself and his business for a while.  If Tatiana had been aiming for a terrible life, she would have decided it was too big a risk to say ‘Yes.’  To give up her independence, and trust him to be faithful to her.  Instead, Tatiana decided to give herself to Mark, one hundred percent.  Now they’re incredibly happy, experiencing the true love that comes when you’re willing to commit one hundred percent.

2.     Make sure you take a little more than you give in every transaction.

 One of my friends is an expert at taking a little more than he gives.  We used to go on trips together, and he always managed to give less than he took.  I would end up paying more of the gas, chipping in more for our restaurant meals, bringing along more supplies.  It wasn’t just with me, either.  In every business deal, he made sure the deal would go his way.  In every community project, he made sure he was the one doing a little less work.  He did this so well, in fact, that people in town started to be on their guard whenever he was around.

I, on the other hand, didn’t manage to live up to this advice.  I usually tried to be ridiculously generous in all my dealings with people.  So I didn’t have a terrible life.  This one time, I bought a piece of land and I was just astonished at how quick and easy the deal went, and at how fair the price was.  “Do you know why I sold you the land, Leonard, and not someone else?” the seller asked.  “Because I see you being generous with the people in our community.  I want to support you.”  So much for being miserable.

3.    When the going gets tough, forget your commitments and just quit.

 I’ve almost listened to this advice.  A while back, I desperately wanted to bail out on a close friend of mine.  I was doing everything I could to help her – offering all kinds of emotional and practical support during a really dark time in her life.  What did I get in return?  At first, lots of yelling.  She was suspicious.  Refused to trust me.  I really wanted to just forget it and quit.  But I couldn’t do it.  I hung in there.  A few months later, she invited me to sit beside her at her daughter’s wedding, she thanked me for caring about her, and we had an incredible time together.  I failed to end up with a terrible life, again because giving up on people always leaves you lonely. A few scars in life make for deeper friendships and strong working relationships.  So hang in there when the going gets tough.

So what I’m encouraging you to do is the exact opposite of these three things.  Common sense, your peers – might tell you not to trust or to commit, to take more than you give, to give up and quit when things get hard.  But that’s the path to misery.  If you want the opposite, do the opposite.  Make commitments, even when they’re scary. Always aim to be generous.  Give more than you receive, even if it means being on the losing end of a deal now and then.  Stick it out and go the distance with people, despite how hard it feels.  I guarantee you an incredible life.

7 Responses to “Three Ways to Guarantee Your Life Will be Terrible”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi R, I am not sure I understand what your point is here. How has the author represented the sexes differently? How is his message undermined?

  • R says:

    So Tatiana “gives up her independence” and “gives herself completely” to Mark, and Mark… proposes. Don’t represent the sexes differently. It completely undermines your message.

  • Sharon says:

    dear bryan prayer–father God i do pray for bryan to get closer to you, i do pray for open eyes and open ears to hear you on what you want him to do, i do pray for courage for him to follow you more closely and listen to you God give him dreams and visions of you loving him more and how much you love him with an everlasting love i do pray for a miracle too for his marriage open the wifes eyes to see on what she is doing i pray for forgiveness and reconcilliation for this erlationship i pray all of this in JESUS name amen i am praying for you.

  • Bryan says:


    Thank you for sharing your comments to the students, so very much. I am praying that the Lord will get this message out to my wife, who walked out of our marriage, not without some justification, three months ago.

    I have been a believer for many years however, earning a living to allow my wife the opportunity to start a small business for seniors, crowded Him out of most of my life. The result being that my relationship with Him was reduced to 10-15 minutes of daily prayer, attendance at church on Sunday and singing in a Christian mens’s choir. He has opened a path through layoff, so that I can now spend the time with Him, that He wanted me to have.

    I am also praying that the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to what He wants me to do and that He gives me the courage to follow His will and the courage to pray, “Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.”, a VERY difficult prayer to pray!

  • Brenda Miller says:

    I could not agree with you more, Rose; giving our all, committing in our relationships, and refusing to give up on life and people, no matter how hard the going gets, all lead to a life filled with the love, peace, justice, truth, and light of Christ. It also shows us His hope for us shining through in the most beautiful way possible, as His Presence indwelling our hearts is so evident! Thank you for your comment on this wonderful blog post, Rose!

  • Rose says:

    there is a kinder softer way. not going the way that holds back, doesnt commit and gives up when life and people are too hard may seem hard for a season, but the result and the Purpose according to God and His love for us is peace, justice truth light.

  • Brenda MIller says:

    Thanks so much for this, Leonard! It is easy to expect nothing, or to expect the worst in life; it is natural to take, take, take; and quitting can be the first thought that comes to mind when the going gets tough. I know this was the way I lived most of my life until I met Jesus Christ, and, praise be to God, He has taught me that, exactly what you are writing about here is so very true! There is no better way than to give my all in every situation, every relationship, every circumstance I find myself in – all for the glory of God, because He gave His all for me in a way I can never come close to repaying! What am I waiting for? He is with me every step of this journey, and I have nothing to lose but my self! And that is a good thing. Amen!

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