It happened again yesterday, and it’s happened many times before. One of my coworkers, a fellow sushi man, decided he didn’t want to be an adult and show up for work.

He’s done this many times, leaving me alone in the sushi bar for the whole day, having to fight off the hungry hordes by myself.

The dude has problems. Big time. Family problems, drug and alcohol problems, you name it and he’s probably got it. I used to get really pissed off when he wouldn’t show up. Running the sushi bar alone can be stressful and overwhelming when the restaurant gets busy, which it normally does.

I would spend all day thinking negatively about this guy. He should be more responsible because he has a family. He’s always hungover and grumpy. He has no self-control. Yada yada yada. Negative. Negative. Negative.

Suddenly, I became aware of how negative I was being. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in negative thought patterns, especially when anger is involved.

I remembered the teachings of my shidoshi, and told myself that I had to allow him to disturb my inner peace. I resolved to be the master of my own emotional state. I resolved to do my best and not to make assumptions about why he didn’t show up.

I told myself that the pressure I’ll be under will forge my skill like a fire and make me stronger and increase my capacity. I shall be a sushi sage and handle it all because I can, and I must. What’s going on with him is not important, what is going on in my head and in my heart is what is important.

And so I did what I told myself to do. I cheered up and stopped feeling sorry for myself and did what I had to do. I didn’t get overwhelmed. I was cheerful and ended up having a good day at work and went home feeling accomplished.

I turned a loss into a gain. I used a poor situation as a tool for growth. This story is just an example of a way to turn suffering into happiness or at the least relieve some of the pain that comes with it.

Victor Frankl, a psychologist and concentration camp surviver, created a form of psychotherapy called logotherapy. What he did was to ask his patients what they thought the purpose of their suffering was. Once the patient had created or decided a purpose for what was creating suffering for them, the patient would be healed.

This is the art of turning a loss into a gain. This is the way of taking a loss as a lesson to lessen the burden of suffering that comes as a natural part of life. Pain is a great teacher, and most of the time a necessity teacher if there is to be any sort of evolution of body, mind, or spirit.

Take a look at your life and ask what loss can you turn into a gain. Find purpose for your suffering and use it as a tool for your betterment.


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