Happily Ever After. Fact or Fiction?

Today I read an article by a very well-read, reputable writer, someone who I don’t know personally but whose work I enjoy. Laura Vanderkam had a great article on the Yahoo! News page the other day that caught my eye. After all, I’m in the self-help industry and wanted to read what others have to say about what we do. It was a great article bringing up some good points about some of the authors, or Gurus, if you want to call them that.
There are fewer and fewer people out there who are truly out to help anymore – not just in our industry but in every occupation from doctors to house cleaners. So many people are getting caught up in “how can I make this into a formula or patent design to get my name out there?” I know that in every business on the planet, we have people who are really bad, or they are scammers at what they do. This makes the business of news and media people even harder because they have to separate the good from bad, the truth from the fiction.
Last week I posted about the shame of Charlie Sheen and the life destruction mode I feel he is in. (I’m not here to blast him, or praise him. He just seems to be great to use lately to get points across.) Well, after I posted my blog about his life, it appears he created a Twitter account and quickly set a new record for the most followers in a 24-hour period.
After reading that, I checked into some people who have done great things with their lives and had movies made about how they chose to help people change their lives for the better. All three of them did it by first setting an example of how to live a better life. The three men I’m going to list here all had movies made about how they struggled to make it through a great challenge. They wanted their stories to be told to further their causes, but mostly to encourage everyday people like you and me to stand up and push through the trials we are facing and move forward with our lives, not to let failure – no matter how small or big – to keep us down and make us give up.
So let’s start with Rudy Ruettiger. He is a man who had no talent to play football, but from a young age he still wanted to play football for his favorite collage team, Notre Dame. And the only way to do that was to go to college there. For Rudy, it was a near impossible thing to do either. He had no athletic talent, low grades, no money – triple whammy. Yet he never gave up on his dream and ultimately, he achieved that dream through perseverance. Many of you are familiar with the movie made about him.
Where is he now? He still works helping and motivating people. His may not be the biggest movie story in history, but he taught us something with his story and still moves forward with his life.
Then we have Patch Adams, another great movie story about a man who had a challenge in life, and tried to kill himself as a result. He saw no hope in living, no purpose in his life. Then, while in a mental hospital, his life was changed and he decided to go to medical school and become a doctor. Well, I checked out his story online as well. He has been working to provide help for those who need medical attention but can’t afford it. The two great medicines he provides are laughter and love.
Where is he now? Even after all his struggles, he is still working to provide the care he believes people should get. He did not get any money for his story on film. Instead, he uses every dime he makes to help further his cause. He says he has paid to be a doctor for 40 years. Wow would you pay to do what you do for 40 years? Do you have that much love for what you believe in?
Last, I want to use the story of Chris Gardner. His story was in the film The Pursuit of Happyness. He ended up homeless, along with his young son, while he was working at an internship to get a job he felt to be his calling. Of the three men I listed here, he is the one who is the millionaire. He created a business of his own, and sold it. Where is he now? My online checking says he speaks, and works motivating people. If you saw the movie, 90% of it was about the challenges he faced living his life. The very last part of this movie showed a moment of joy in his life. It was a pursuit. Not a feel-good story to make you believe “if you change three things in your life, tomorrow you will be trouble-free.”
Well, so Charlie Sheen got a million followers in one day, but let’s see how many he has next year. I checked Twitter for the three men listed above. Rudy has about 370 followers on Twitter. He is @therealrudy. Patch had about 2,300 followers (the most of these three). He is @realpatchadams. I could not find a Twitter account for Chris Gardner. However I believe I found his son, @chisgardnerjr and he has 1,800 followers.
The point I want to leave you with is this: our stories as self-help people are meant to help you through the small challenges in life. When you get through this challenge, there will be more to come. My greatest hope for you is that you learn from this one. You can handle the challenge; after all, you made it through the last one. Life is a journey, not a destination. If you are still breathing and living today, you have the ability to make it through today’s problems. There is no “happy ever after.” Life is a series of challenges from one mountain to another with valleys in between.
Thanks, Laura, for your article and the idea that I must tell the world to work through your challenges and make your own ideal dream life, step by step.
I’m Tim Gillette, the Rocker Life Coach, make your life count. Live, Love, Rock on.

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