Le présent article a été rédigé par Jacquie Bridonneau, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée ultérieurement.
You know sometimes you don’t always get a good deal, things don’t go as planned, and even the plan B takes a nosedive – that’s life, sometimes you don’t always get what you want, and there is not too much to be done about it. This is what I call a “make lemonade” situation, from the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s not easy, and is much more than seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty, because it calls for action at a time where you don’t often feel capable of doing anything, but the do nothing, head-in-the sand position is not going to dig you out of your rut, so, make lemonade and do something about it yourself!
This, I would say, is a typically American philosophy of life, much more than a French one, where we are protected by the vast umbrella of our government’s costly social services, and often do not have the incentive to make our own lemonade; it will be served to us, in the form of unemployment compensation, assistance from your local government, child support money, bonuses if you take a job. The choice is almost endless and ever-changing, as not too many of these programs have succeeded in getting kids back into school, adults back to work, or more generally, people off the dole leading to more money in the State pocketbooks and debt-reduction.
Another typical American point of view is to often read and refer to what we call “self-help” or “self-improvement” books or articles. There are books about anger-management, eating disorders, career development, making a recomposed family from two families into one, communication, health and wellness, just to mention a few. The value of these books is of course very subjective, and is not meant to replace professional advice, though it often does, but what I think is important is that the person makes a proactive gesture to tackle his or her issue by buying the book in the first place. The person who buys such a book is trying to make his or her own lemonade.
In France because of the abundance and low expense of medical care, going to see a general practitioner who will prescribe medication for which you will be almost completely reimbursed if you have a good complementary health insurance, which most people do, has become your one-stop-shop for self-help issues. The person needing help no longer takes an active position, but a passive one, help no longer comes from an outside source, is read, slowly digested into the system, put into practice, but is in the form of a pill or two to be taken once a day. I am not talking about someone who is suffering from cancer, cardiac problems or a host of other serious diseases here; they of course do need proper medical care, but about the vast majority of patients you see in the waiting room when you have an appointment with your doctor.
And I cannot close this short French and American comparison without saying a few words about the Japanese population who have lost so many of their friends, families and possessions in the recent tsunami. Nana-korobi Ya-oki (七転び八起き) means roughly translated, “fall down seven times, get up eight,” and this is exactly what they are doing. Though not at a moment yet where they are able to make lemonade, they eventually will be there and these very dignified people in all their sorrow should be a lesson to us all when considering our little problems.