by Laurel

 Life is one tough business.  We are thrust at birth into a harsh environment
where we are instantly overwhelmed with light, sound, and new sensations.  As we
gasp our first breath of cold, strange air and are cut off from our life-nourishing
umbilical, we must learn to survive on our own.  It would certainly be nice to be
back in the warm, safe comfort of the womb, but once out there is no turning back.
As we frail humans grow, we are constantly learning new skills in order to survive.
Our almost hairless bodies adapt, and we learn to clothe ourselves to keep from
being overcome by all sorts of assaults from the environment.

 As we make our way through life, we must also clothe our psyches in order to
adapt to tremendous pressures from society.  This adaptation is called coping, and
we learn to do this from the day we are born.  We learn to cope with physical
discomfort, and we learn to cope with emotional deprivation by finding ways to
satisfy ourselves.  Some people learn this mechanism better than others, and those
who fail at using this wonderful mental tool soon find that they are at a

 During our everyday lives we are inevitably faced with crises and problems
that must be met head-on.  As we look at the people we know, all of us are aware
that personality type plays an enormous role in determining how we handle
situations.  There are some who fold under pressure and there are a few who
instinctively take the lead.  Scientists have conducted tests for years trying to
determine the psychological makeup of various individuals.  They have labeled people with "Type A" and "Type B" personalities, and have assigned various characteristics to each.  These scientific geniuses have even labeled different body types, such as endomorphic and ectomorphic, in order to explain why we act as we do.  They constantly argue whether environment or heredity has made the largest impact in determining our personalities.  All of this psychological labeling offers a fine explanation as to why we do the things we do, but in the long run we are still stuck with ourselves and we must make the best of it.

 It is a good thing to know and understand ourselves.  In this way we can
better understand others and be able to get along with them.  In social situations
we can cope with others' foibles and in the workplace we can cope with everyday
pressures.  We all know what it is like to have the phone ringing off the hook,
while at the same time your attention is demanded by others who need something.
Those who have not learned to cope with this kind of pressure soon display physical
discomforts, such as ulcers and headaches, and find that they would rather be
somewhere else rather than at work.  Those who remain at home to raise families are also faced with difficult situations and must use this coping mechanism in order to survive.  Few men can appreciate the pressure created by having to run a household and cope with demanding, whiny kids at the same time.  Only those who have developed a strong coping mechanism and are highly organized are able to come through this situation unscathed and with their sense of humor intact.

 Life is one tough business.  People use many different methods of trying to
get through the day.  Some turn to the Bible and religion, while others use
crutches, such as drugs, food, cigarettes, or alcohol.  The majority, however, have
learned to be strong and are able to cope with all the vagaries of life.  People are
amazing in their individuality, and like the proverbial cat that always lands on its
feet, we have learned to adapt by using this most wonderful coping mechanism.
Without it, most of us would still be huddling in our caves, afraid and tentative,
not willing to step out into the light of day.