Life, with all its unexpected twists and turns, often unfolds in ways that are outside our control. It serves up a smorgasbord of experiences, some delightful and others challenging. Despite this unpredictability, there’s one element that always remains firmly within our grasp: our response.

We cannot choose what happens to us. We cannot dictate the circumstances we encounter, the setbacks we face, or the unexpected hurdles that pop up along our path. These are the cards that life deals us. What we can control, however, is how we choose to play these cards. Our response to life’s various scenarios is entirely within our power.

Each response we give is a reflection of our perspective, our attitude, our resilience. It shapes our reality and our worldview. It also has the ability to influence the outcome of situations. A positive response to adversity can help us overcome it, while a negative response can hinder us.

I still remember my first SEAL application being denied.

I had my sights set on becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL, and the first application was filled with anticipation and excitement. I put everything into it, only to be met with a crushing rejection. That denial cut deep, but it also lit a fire in me. I knew I had what it took to be among the elite; I just had to prove it. So, I hit the gym harder, studied more diligently, and molded myself into the kind of candidate they couldn’t refuse. When I applied for SEAL training the second time, the acceptance letter came, and it wasn’t just a personal victory. It was a lesson in resilience, a testament to the fact that setbacks and failures are not the end, but merely a part of the journey. That initial rejection, as painful as it was, helped shape me into the SEAL I would become. It taught me never to give up on my dreams, no matter how unreachable they might seem.

Sometimes, as Ryan Holiday put it, the obstacle is the way…

Our response is our greatest power. It can transform a setback into a comeback, a trial into a triumph, a difficulty into an opportunity. Every response is a chance to learn, to grow, to evolve, to transcend the boundaries of what we thought possible.

Remember, it’s not about the cards life deals us, but how we play them. We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can change our reaction to them. Embrace your power of choice, positive thinking, and watch as it transforms your life.