We like to believe that we have more control of our lives and emotions than we really do.
When something doesn’t go as planned, most of us get angry or agitated.
But could it be that we set ourselves up for this anguish?
Is it possible that these emotions primarily stem from us focusing too much on situations out of our control that really should be pushed to the side and not worried about at all?
Imagine yourself working hard to achieve something very important to you, but it’s causing you to lose sleep, increase your stress levels and isolate yourself from those you care about the most (potentially the people who you may be doing this task for).
Most of the time it wouldn’t be worth putting yourself and those you love through this agony, regardless of what you’re attempting to accomplish.
According to William Irvine, (author of A Guide to the Good Life) setting up expectations and goals that we have complete control over (and partial control over) internally beforehand, versus those that we have no control over, can save ourselves from negative emotions that can arise.
An instance could be a goal that is easily obtainable that has lesser odds of failing or causing disappointment versus the example prior that can lead to suffering during the process, even if you end up achieving it.
F the BS: It’s time to steer our emotions towards the path that leads to embracement
We need to become indifferent to our feelings and emotions, regardless if they are positive or negative.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t feel joy or displeasure from certain events in your life, but more so that whatever happens happens and to not take things too seriously.
Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Simply put, he believes that nothing in this world should be labeled into these two categories. If you can learn to accept this, you will begin to navigate your life towards a more peaceful state where your emotions are in your control (versus being completely situational and based on conditions out of your hands).
In the big picture, it’s a complete waste of our time and efforts to weigh heavily on past or present events that we have no control over.
The impermanence of life is real. We are very fortunate to be able to live.
So take a second to realize that in this moment there’s a very important decision to make. You can either fill your thoughts with hopes and wishes of it being different, or you can learn to embrace it for whatever it is.
If you choose to embrace it, your life will be well lived.
I’ll leave you with this 2,000+ year old story…
One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he let his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life.
Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, “What a shame. Now your only horse is gone. How unfortunate you are!. You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?” The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see”.
Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.
Word got out in the village of the old farmer’s good fortune and it wasn’t long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck. “How fortunate you are!” they exclaimed. You must be very happy!” Again, the farmer softly said, “Who knows? We shall see.”
At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer’s only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer’s son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer’s latest misfortune. “Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won’t be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You’ll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad”. they said. Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, “Who knows? We shall see”
Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor’s men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor’s army. As it happened the farmer’s son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg. “What very good fortune you have!!” the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. “You must be very happy.” “Who knows? We shall see!”, replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.
As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. “Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you”! But the old farmer simply replied; “Who knows? We shall see.”
As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: “Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy”, to which the old farmer replied, “Who knows? We shall see!”