Are You Putting Bricks in Your Backpack?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

Many people go through life wearing a heavy (metaphorical) backpack, a backpack filled with bricks of life’s disappointments, unhappiness, frustrations, judgments and grudges. The backpack gets heavier and heavier as more bricks are added making each day more of a struggle. This can lead to feelings of unhappiness, depression and sadness.

As I learned in my Boy Scout days, you can’t get very far when you carry a heavy backpack.

Let me explain. Bricks come from your response to the events in work and life that don’t go as you would like. When this happens, most people get disappointed, frustrated and upset. But instead of just dealing with the event or circumstance and moving on, they justify being upset, forge a new brick and add it to the pile already in the backpack. The consequence is that life gets tougher and becomes less enjoyable.

Does this sound familiar?

Consider these two options to stop adding bricks to your backpack and to start taking out the ones already there.

  1. Expand your awareness. Each time you become disappointed or frustrated with something, stop and notice it. You have just created a brick. Since you now see it, you can choose to learn from it and leave it on the side of the road, not add it to your backpack.
  2. Improve your understanding. Understand what bricks are already in your backpack and how they got there. What grudges or judgements make you unhappy or possibly hold you back from your true potential? With a full backpack, the world looks mean, unfriendly and unkind. Understanding what bricks you carry can help you start to figure out how to get them out of your backpack and – here’s the most important part – not put them back.

The burden of carrying the weight of all these bricks makes life hard, heavy and disappointing. So, why do we add bricks to our backpack and go through life with our heavy load? Because we don’t know that we have the option not to. Your response to what life delivers is entirely up to you. Why choose a response that makes you feel bad or worn out?

Life is a most amazing event, especially for those who have learned how to see and deal with life’s challenges, frustrations and disappointments. But not all is lost for those who regularly add bricks to their backpacks.

As I mentioned, the first step is awareness; until we notice this unproductive habit, we can’t change it. Notice how you handle life’s events and what bricks you create. Notice what bricks are in your backpack and how heavy it is. Then every day, make a conscious effort to move some of the bricks out of your backpack and to handle life on life’s terms to avoid adding any new ones. This is how to reconnect to a great, amazing and enjoyable life.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What bricks do you carry? Take the time to identify your judgements, frustrations and grudges you hold.
  2. How will you focus on changing your attitude and beliefs to allow you to unload old and unproductive bricks?
  3. What is one brick that always seems to get added to your backpack? How will you stop this from happening?


Consider reading How to Learn from Any Event

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