How Do I Accept And Build The Hard Stuff?

March 25, 2021

Dripping paint, curveballs of life, and the secret to true satisfaction...these are just a few of the golden crispy nuggets you can look forward to on today’s episode of the happiness playbook as we accept the good and the bad, and build upon life to create awesome-ness!

Neal shares some profound “Accept and Build” lessons learned during a duplex renovation that took place over the past few weeks. He shares below in the transcript.

This Week’s PRO TIP is: Think of something you are struggling to accept and build upon right now...and reach out to someone who can provide experience, tools, or insights into helping you accept and build your way through the situation.

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Not sure if I’ve brought this up already but my wife and I decided to renovate a duplex and jump into the homeowner scene and it has been a LOT of work. I couldn’t help but think of the beautiful play theory principle of accept and build as we quite literally accepted, tore down, and built upon a duplex to make it even more desirable place to live for our future tenants. 

There are all kinds of reason why the principle of accept and build was one i learned so much about as we embarked on this ambitious project and I am grateful for everyone of them:

First off you have to realize exactly how big a project lay before us and how little time we had to pull it off…

It didn’t take long to realize just how limited my skills were and how desperately I would need to accept my lack of skill and build as best I could using the collective knowledge of my family and YouTube DIY channels. A particularly tricky part of the renovation was cutting the countertops to fit the cabinets along side a not perfectly flat wall. I immediately knew that cutting the countertop just perfectly to fit against the sloping wall was going to require some advanced measuring and cutting that was beyond me. Thankfully I had my father-in-law there who provided not only years of experience that would come in handy, but also the very nice and effective tools including a table saw, squares and measuring tools, and many other gadgets that made it not only possible but infinitely quicker than it would've been if I were trying to accomplish the task by myself. This experience lead me to ask myself: “When there is a particularly hard or undesirable offer before me that I know there is no way around, am I seeking out those with the experience and tools necessary for me to accept and build upon these situations? We’ve all been there, seemingly insurmountable tasks and scenarios that make us want to curl up into a ball and sleep until it’s over. Maybe a hard test or project, maybe it’s a breakup or loss of a loved one. These hard and trying times can be mourned for sure, but it’s only in the acceptance and building upon them that we can continue creating and progressing in this beautiful life of ours.

The next accept and build lesson was learned several times during the project. We had several unexpected things happen that threw off our very strict timeline and made the project much more difficult. Whether it was cabinets not getting shipped on time, finding out the wall we were tearing down had concrete and chicken wire in it, or even discovering that the drill bit we JUST purchased was the wrong size for the hole we had to cut. There were so many curveballs, as we now know are inevitable during remodel projects, that came up and gave us the choice: to accept and build? Or to reject and remain unskilled. You can imagine how horrified I was when after loading up the paint gun we borrowed from my father-in-law and doing an entire coat of fresh paint, seeing that several walls had the paint run off completely due to the material and temperature of the wall. I begrudgingly accepted that what was going to be a rather simple 2-coat paint job taking only several hours, was going to turn into an all nighter requiring me to bring in heaters to dry the running paint, renting a sanding tool to grind off the paint and texture the walls, put on a thick primer, and only THEN be able to finish the paint job. I did indeed pull an all nighter but thankfully I had lots of good audiobooks, podcasts, and caffeine to get me through it. What helped me take the plunge on this undesirable turn of events was partly due to realizing just how high the stakes were since the flooring crew was coming in the next day and I HAD to have the painting done for them to get going on it. But it was also because I was able to stay present...this is where we see some of the principle overlap as we often do. If I had freaked out and gave into my anxiety, I’m sure I would’ve become paralyzed by the enormous task at hand and not gotten the job done, but it was only as I doubled down on the present and, again, relied on the knowledge, experience, and counsel of others much wiser than myself, that I was able to perform. How often in your life do you give in to the anxious stories about your future and become immobilized by the task at hand? It’s hard not to, but that’s why be present is the first principle in the PLAY THEORY soup and actually helps us accept and build especially on the curveballs of life and we all have those...curveballs can be especially hard because of the excitement and hope that dies with dashed dreams and goals, but being present, letting go of the fear and ego, and then accepting and building upon these curveball offers that come our way truly is the way to progress and move forward. 

There were many lessons learned this past month as we embarked on this journey in the unchartered waters of renovation, but overall the biggest lesson learned was that it’s only in the accepting and building upon the offers, as crazy and stretching as they sometimes are, that you feel the satisfaction and growth that deep down our souls are always craving. Looking at the completed unit with brand new flooring, cabinets, paint, and appliances, and hearing the delight of our tenants as they saw their new home, it reminded me of a quote by Gandhi who said: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” It’s as we accept and build upon both the seemingly insignificant AND the grandiose offers that come our way that we are growing and experiencing the satisfaction that accompanies such effort.

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