By February 18, 2011No Comments

I decided to take a break from the CrossFit series to write about something that’s been bothering me for awhile.

Back in the days of XSport, I was walking from my car into the gym.  As I neared the entrance, a Porsche sped by me and came to a screeching halt in a handicap space.  The guy inside hung a handicap sign on his rear-view mirror before jogging into the gym ahead of me.  Maybe he thought that I was going to get his treadmill.

But what got my attention was his license plate: FMYLIFE.

I don’t have to tell you what the “F” stands for.  This phrase usually gets abbreviated to “FML”.  The acronym got traction when someone started a website for people to share stories of their everyday failures.  Every post ends with the letters FML.

I see it in Facebook statuses all the time.  I know it’s not meant to be taken literally.  According to Urban Dictionary, it is “an easier, faster way of saying something when nothings going your way.” I usually read it as, “here’s another reason why my life is the worst.”

Seems harmless, right?  But what happens to us when our primary reaction to everyday failures is not to learn from them, but instead to say, “FML”?

Maybe what happens is that we become people who buy Porsches and still write FMYLIFE on the license plate.

In other words, we are blind to our blessings.  We focus on our deficiencies rather than our abundance.

If you have ever been to an impoverished country, then perhaps you have had the visceral experience of realizing that the people have so much less than you do and yet seem so much happier.  Why are they so happy?  Is it because they don’t know what they’re missing?  Is it because they have killed their desire, taught themselves not to want anything anymore?  Maybe it is because they approach life with an attitude of thankfulness instead of entitlement.

I read about a study involving Olympic medalists. Its findings: bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists.  Why?  Because the silver medalists tended to focus on the fact that they could have won a gold medal and it produced feelings of disappointment. The bronze medalists tended to focus on the fact they almost didn’t win any medal and it produced feelings of gratitude.

Where is your focus?  Is it on the stuff you aren’t, the stuff that you don’t have?  If you compare yourself to other people, there will always be people with more, and you will always feel empty and incomplete.

But if you realize that everything is a gift, you will approach your life with a grateful joy, a holy greed to take the years that are given to you and to spend them well.

Think of the life that you have been entrusted with.  You don’t have to be here.  You are.  It is a gift that you are here.  Be thankful.

The other day I listened to a story about a blind dad who tried to take his newborn baby on a walk.  It made me thankful for my eyes.

Here’s to eliminating FML from our vocabulary.

Question: What’s a good acronym to replace FML?


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  • johnin423 says:

    Good blog…remember that guy a long time ago who tried to make that ministry? I went with suin and nobody showed up? This blog reminded me of him. Also the name of his event could be an answer to your question. TGIF: thank God it’s free

  • dave says:

    here! here!

    a GREAT post.

    “FML” has irritated me from the moment of its world wide web arrival. this is one of those things where i have very strong feelings against (like keith bogans in our starting lineup). So I’m glad you touched on it. I also feel like it was very well needed.

    as for a replacement for “FML,” i’m not so sure. what about “for many live…” as in “for many live… with much less” or something like that. then we wouldn’t have to change the letters in the acronym either. but really, i’d agree and say let’s just be rid “FML” all together.

    quick side note: what are your thoughts on the once famous acronym, “WWJD?” or even the “Hip Jesus.” You know, the one that winks and is perpetually thumb-upping everything. I, personally, was once a “WWJD?” fan. I even had a neon green WWJD woven bracelet in junior high and this is before I knew what it stood for. I just wanted one. I wasn’t even saved! By the time those words had meaning to me, the bracelet was long gone and even worse, WWJD was no longer considered “cool.” It SEEMED He had fallen off of pop culture’s ever changing, ever moving radar. Enter, the winking bearded face printed on every other neon colored shirt and trucker hat around the nation, “hip jesus.”
    Anyway, to wrap it up so I accidentally write a comment longer than the post, we all know pop culture is the epitome of how fickle we all can be, i would perhaps even argue that it is even a model for it. “FML” and “WWJD?” are two completely different, even polarizing, acronyms. Yet, these were both products of what was once popular amongst our culture. It is scary how post-modern and fatalistic today’s “youth” can be without even realizing it until it is too late. My question is, is there even room in today’s post-modern pop culture for an absolute all-for-good being anymore? If not Jesus then someone like Him? Or do we just wait until the tiny brooding Zumies and Hot-Topic wearing Nietzsche’s wear out post-modernity until isn’t “cool” anymore?

    • Thanks for the comment, Dave. I share your skepticism about various representations of Jesus in popular culture. Almost always it is a stripped down version of Jesus, a flattening of his three dimensional character into just one dimension, i.e., example (WWJD) or buddy (homeboy). In other words, pop culture versions of Jesus are pretty sentimental. The only value of them is as a foil; it can start a conversation about “the real thing” (oh no! a pepsi slogan!)

      I don’t think we have to wait until the pop culture is “ready” for Jesus. I think that pop culture is a little bit like junk food. At the end of the day, you are hungry for more. And so people who are really seeking truth and depth will be inclined to look beyond the sentimental. As silly and superficial as our culture is, I think there is a ton of hope.

  • esther says:

    Thank you for this post PJ (: I feel like God has really been convicting me of what it means to have a true heart of thankfulness lately. I watched a video interview on Youtube on Nick Vujicic and he made the point that “thankful people are not bitter and bitter people are not thankful”. And now your post! 😀 I feel like this is something I need to remind myself daily, so thank you– it reminded me a lot of our Trinidad missions trip and the people we met there. Dave, I like your point too; it reminds me of the “Jesus is my homeboy” phase. As for the replacement.. I say we use PTL! Praise The Lord for He is GOOOOOOD, although we may not always see the big picture. And besides, being able to say “Praise the Lord” when it’s hardest is always a moment of great blessing because you know it’s an indicator that you’re growing (:

  • Holly says:

    Great post Justin. I had never heard of FML before (I know, I know, where have I been, right?). When I first read it, I thought it stood for “Family Life.”

    I’ve been thinking about blessings lately too. Watching Egypt and the plight of women world-wide recently has stirred me. A cousin just returned from Haiti where she taught women how to read the Word of God and care for orphans. Then I got a Valentine from my son. It had his name, his sister’s name, and Mom and Dad written in shaky, sometimes backwards letters. And I thought, wow, my son can do at four years old what probably half of the world cannot do. I felt immeasurably blessed. And that’s just for starters.

    I recently saw a quote that connects loosely to this concept: Get rich fast–want less.

    • Holly! Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad that you have been spared from the FML phenomenon. You probably aren’t Facebook friends with too many junior high girls though either. 🙂 I visited your blog and read your movie reviews. I need to see almost all those movies! Having kids makes it hard.

  • Adam Kayce says:

    How about “LML”, for “Love My Life”?

    For me, at least, it affirms the positive, and even when things are tough, reminds me to focus on what’s good. Works for me – or will, since I just thought it up – thanks to your post!

  • Dave says:

    Let’s go with “GTB” Grab the bar. It’s what we all say when we are bent over with our hands on our knees as we try to set that PR.

    GTB It means I can’t be stopped, I’m going to keep going, and I can get through it and set a PR! GTB!

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