“You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.”

~ Josh Shipp

Josh Shipp (1982 – present) is an American youth advocate, public speaker, best-selling author, and is often called The Teen Whisperer. He has dedicated his life to helping teens develop vital life skills and chase their dreams.

Right from the first sentence, Shipp pulls no punches, “You either get bitter or you get better.” This is a life issue, not just for teens, but for everyone. It is a challenge to make choices. I believe that for many people, their first instinct when life throws setbacks and difficulties in their path, is to wallow in their disappointment or bitterness for a while. A person can choose to become a more bitter person with each new failure or hardship until they quit trying altogether.

When I first read the words of this quote, I thought immediately about how the “culture of entitlement” pervades our modern society here in North America. It seems to me that there are way too many people who feel that the world owes them whatever they happen to want. They don’t feel they should have to work hard to be successful. Josh Shipp’s message here should be particularly meaningful for them, but I’ll bet that those who feel entitled are more prone to ignore such advice.

The key to Shipp’s message is that life will always throw roadblocks in our path. For some, those difficulties can be quite formidable, even tragic. Unfortunately, there are those who accept this fact and choose to adopt a negative attitude because of it. One of the things that cause me to pause is that all too often it is people who endure the greatest hardships who manage to adopt the most positive attitude towards getting on with their lives. I admire their courage and their faith.

It really does take courage to take life’s punches and pick yourself up ready to keep working at achieving your life goals. I also believe that this courage has to be built upon something rock solid – like faith in yourself and in the achievability of your goal. When I see someone who gives up easily, I am not inclined to offer that person any assistance. But the person who gets knocked down and scrambles back into the fray is the person who has faith and has something very substantial upon which to anchor their courage. That’s the kind of person to whom I want to offer a helping hand.

Shipp closes by stating that the choice to become bitter or better does not rest with fate. Some believe that everyone’s destiny is pre-determined and that they are powerless to change it. Hogwash! I believe that God is all-powerful, but I do not believe that He stands by watching and directing the events of our lives. That flies in the face of the concept of free will. No, I must choose. My life is my own to cherish or to hate. Difficulties are good because I believe that they give us opportunities to learn, to grow, and to flourish.

When we choose to believe in ourselves (yes, that’s a choice) and act courageously in the face of adversity, we will achieve something far more important than a particular life goal. As Josh Shipp attests, we will become better persons. Isn’t this far more valuable than any individual goal we might accomplish? To be a better person means that you will be a happier person. It also means that you will have far more influence on others as you live your life. Finally, those that you influence will, in turn, become better persons and they will be your legacy as they pay the goodness forward.


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

20 thoughts on “BITTER OR BETTER? #RRBC”

  1. Such a great reminder that we have a choice every day at every moment actually to choose to see the good in everything. We can make a choice as to what our response will be to even the most terrible moments.A life full of bitterness is sad and unnecessary when we can choose happiness and moving on.If we all give up easily how can anyone reach their better self.


    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Jo Ann! I agree that life is all about making choices. Although we can’t control the circumstances of our life, we do choose how to react. Giving up is always an option open to us, but I don’t wish to travel down that road.


  2. We cannot be reminded too often of our blessing of choice and Buddha’s reminder to cling to nothing for everything changes! Thanks a bunch!


  3. Great post, John! Words to live by. Life is too precious to be wasted being immersed in yesterday and things we can’t change. When tough things come along, my belief in God tells me, “This is good, I just don’t know why.”


  4. This is a powerful saying! Indeed, our destiny is in our own hands… in how much we are willing to fight for it. of course, God has a lot to do with this. He puts all the possibilities out there, but it is up to us to go forward and own it. Thank you John for sharing. :).


  5. Fantastic post, John! I mirror your thoughts and beliefs in every way. There are times I’ve allowed myself to cry, it’s a natural and necessary response to tragedy, but not a place to dwell. I’ve seen what bitterness can do to people. How sad to be alive, but lost in self pity. I always enjoy your posts, and I’m glad I didn’t miss this one. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂


    1. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Natalie. I appreciate your kind words and I’m glad you are enjoying these posts. It certainly is difficult to drag yourself out of a sad place, but as you say, that place is no good place to dwell.


    1. I agree, John, in the long run it is more difficult. Unfortunately, it seems to be the one many of us default to as an immediate reaction. The trick is to see the problem and then choose the other path. Thanks for dropping by with your thoughts, John!


  6. I have experienced this dilemma having lost twin boys in the same year. I made the choice not to be bitter but try to become a better person. I think there are two major factors that allowed me to move on:
    1. I do not think I am entitled to a life without challenges and hardships.
    2. I do believe that things happen for a reason even though the reason or reasons may not be very clear.

    I think it is natural to wallow in despair but it should not be for an extended period of time because it will create a poor negative outlook on life that will swallow you up like a dark Black Hole – one that you will never escape from. When something really bad happens I think because we have freedom of will we do make a choice to remain bitter or try to become a better person.

    Your Friend of 50 Wonderful Years,

    Frank from Rome, NY


    1. Thanks for sharing that painful chapter in your life, Frank. I remember it only too well and I salute you for choosing the high road to recovery and growth. I know it hasn’t been easy for you, but you have demonstrated the faith and courage I wrote about in this post. I appreciate that you took the time today to leave this personal comment!


  7. Choosing your path to move onwards is crucial for all kinds of things, but most of all your happiness and peace of mind. Never getting over something and ranting away at ‘fate’, or the injustice(s) of the Universe mean you don’t grow and stunt yourself of valuable lessons and new opportunities – it’s the ultimate form of self-harm I think.
    I’m with Mark Twain and Josh Shipp – the World owes you nothing! 😉


    1. Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts today, Jan! Living well truly is a struggle and it is characterized by the fact that it requires great effort and the job is never done. There can be no resting on our laurels because new challenges await just around the corner!


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