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Reaction to Bad News - Dilbert Blog

Reaction to Bad News

When something unexpected and bad happens to you, what is your initial reaction?

I hate to admit this, but my first reaction is usually excitement. Nothing good or interesting happens when everything is working as expected. In chaos we find opportunity, as the saying goes. When one door closes, another opens, or so they say. And of course we have all absorbed the wisdom that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. But are those old saying enough to make you actually feel good when things around you are going to hell?

I sometimes wonder if my excitement in the face of problems is a common reaction. I know I conceal my excitement when I’m surrounded by gloomy pessimists who think the world has ended. It feels rude to exhibit happiness within the context of something going totally wrong. It makes me wonder if other people are closet optimists too, politely hiding their glee when they encounter huge problems.

I don’t know what made me this way, but when things go wrong, it automatically triggers my creative energy and I suppose I enjoy that rush, as well as the freedom that comes with destruction.

When my computer started giving me illegitimate errors saying my copy of Windows is counterfeit, I learned there was literally no practical solution (in my unique case) short of wiping the hard drive. Bad news, right?

But it caused me to add a second monitor to my system just to hold the error message pop-ups. After a week with the second monitor my productivity was way up because I put my useful work on top of the error windows. So I came out ahead.

At the same time, the Windows errors were enough to push me to switch to an all-Apple shop, which I had been putting off. So that is good too. I’m almost ready to cut over.

When i lost my ability to speak for more than three years I did a ton of vocal and speech exercises trying to get my voice back. In the end, the solution was a new and risky surgical procedure. Once I healed, my voice was more functional than ever because I learned proper speaking technique. In the old days, no one could ever hear me speaking above background noise. Now I do it easily because it turns out that technique matters more than loudness in that situation. And since we live in a noisy world, my new vocal abilities are a huge benefit to me nearly every day.

I would be hard-pressed to come up with an example of bad news in my life that didn’t lead to something positive. But perhaps that is selective memory.

My curiosity today is about your reaction to bad news in your own life. Does it excite you or depress you?

Scott Adams

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