Resource Center


Making a Good Life Happen – Good News/Bad News

by Bonnie Bell, MA, MDiv., Principal, and Director of Career/Life Coaching

October 2010

We were long overdue for some good news, weren’t we?  It’s been a very long time since the world has sung in perfect har-mo-ny–but that’s the way it seemed last week as just about everyone everywhere watched the trapped Chilean miners emerge triumphantly, one after another, from what could have been their grave.

The news about them after they emerged into the light just kept getting better: they organized while below, rationed food, cheered each other on, sang songs, played jokes on each other.  One guy played dead one day, apparently, and then burst out laughing once he’d faked everybody out. “Just kidding, just kidding,” he laughed. Isn’t that funny?

The miners themselves and the people who saved them are the heroes of the day, and we needed them. We will be curious now to see what happens to them as they move back into their lives. No doubt there will be some good news and some bad news about them. It’s what life is all about. Do we have a part to play in the outcomes? 

Several years ago, I knew a woman who held a leadership role in a large corporation (good news), when she was diagnosed with breast cancer (bad news). As a result, she was fired (more bad news). In the midst of her illness, she found the courage and energy to sue her employer (good/bad news), and won (good news).

But that’s not the end of the story. As a result of her cancer treatment and eventual recovery, which brought her into intimate contact and relationship with a number of medical professionals, Elizabeth inadvertently stepped right into the field of her future career bliss: nursing! Now she is privileged to be among the very special group of individuals to be found within the helping professions, referred to as “wounded healers.” 

“Wounded healers” are people who know more about what they do than books alone can teach; they know through their own experience of suffering what it is to suffer. As a result, they bring with them deep compassion to their work. The alcoholic becomes an AA counselor; the student with learning disabilities becomes a reading teacher; the abused child becomes an advocate for abused children. These are all people I am privileged to know.    

The point is that, like it or not, it is often our personal pain that becomes The Great Teacher in our lives. Whatever is most painful, once grieved and accepted, can become a source of wisdom–a compass that can point us in the right direction in career and life. Sadly, and understandably, unresolved pain can be a source of bitterness and despair.

I am deeply inspired by what I call The Heroic Option: the good news/bad news story that results in transformation and meaning. 

No matter what we humans do, we can’t seem to escape the realities of life. Love happens. Joy happens. Pain happens. We can’t control our experiences no matter how hard we try, and if we try to, we suffer from not being fully alive. But there are some things that we can do in response to whatever our circumstances in life are:

1)    we can be proactive, not passive;

2)    we can be thoughtful, not thought-less;

3)    we can respond to what happens with courage and dignity (the heroic option);

4)    we can turn meaninglessness into meaning;

5)    we can get help along the way when we need it.

This, in part, is what it takes to Make a Good Life Happen.


Bonnie Bell, with husband Jim Bell, CFP® , owns and manages Bell Investment Advisors, Inc., 1111 Broadway, Suite 1630, in downtown Oakland. The firm has been providing personalized financial planning, investment management and career and life coaching services since 1991.  510-433-1066  

Published in Piedmont Post on October 20, 2010

Piedmont Post

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