Inspired by this post: Why Losing Control Can Make You Happier
I admit it, I have a strong tendency to be in control. It feels scary to not feel in control. I have this false belief that it says something about my character if I can not control a situation. I want to constantly prove I am worthy, that I am capable, and I do this by having high standards. Which includes having control.
However, the stark reality is that we have very little control over external circumstances. Sure we can try to plan around the possibility of things going wrong (leaving early to avoid traffic, for example), but ultimately the world is a very creative place, meaning that anything can happen at any moment. You may leave early to avoid traffic but because of that you end up in a car accident that may not have happened if you had left later.
That’s an extreme example, but we are constantly changing reality by the large and small decisions we make all the time. There is no way to control all the factors. What I am constantly working to remind myself, is that most things are not in my control, so allowing myself a false impression that I can control them leads to suffering.
I don’t meant to suggest we don’t try to plan for obstacles or try to do things in an integral manner. I mean to suggest, that besides our best intentions, things may not go the way you hope. And it’s not your fault. And you have to loosen expectations. Your life will be much happier for it.
Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, said it best,
“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”
So I work to focus on the process of life. To trust in a greater order that I cannot even begin to see. Whether you believe in a deity, or just the collective consciousness of the universe, or something in between, I invite you to work on trusting because you cannot step back far enough from the human existence to see how seemingly bad things can turn out good or vice-versa.
Another parable that helps me trust in the process that is life is that of the Taoist farmer.
One day the farmer’s horse ran away. The neighbors condoled him over his terrible loss. The farmer said, “What makes you think it is so terrible?”
A month later, the horse came home–this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, “What makes you think this is good fortune?”
The farmer’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, “What makes you think it is bad?”
A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. “What makes you think this is good?” said the farmer.
So know you have a role to play, honor that you may only understand it so much, and know all you can do is get to know your intentions and motivations as best you can and do the work you set out to do from this place of deep love and not-knowing.