It’s human nature to seek control. Of course we want to know how things are going to turn out. Am I wasting time at a job that will never lead to a promotion? Am I dating someone who will never commit? The list goes on and on.
We spend so much time planning and coming up with all of these rules and expectations for how things should be and what we want to happen. And then when something unexpected interferes with our plans – which is inevitable – we become stressed, anxious and frustrated.
As I writer, I can’t help myself sometimes. My imagination is always running wild with elaborate fantasies and I tend to write the entire story before it happens. When I was young, I wanted to predict the future so badly that I called way too many psychics trying to get the answers (thankfully, my psychic addiction is behind me now).
In all seriousness, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that when I focus too much on my imaginary future I unconsciously become attached to it. But the future is a fantasy. Period.
For example, let’s say you’ve been dating the same guy for five years. You’re very happy together, you both are on the same page with marriage and kids, and in your mind, the future is pretty set. But then one day he tells you he’s been seeing someone else and wants to break up. In that instant, your envisioned future together just went up in flames.
I’m not saying we should live our lives expecting the worst to happen. I’m saying we shouldn’t expect anything because nothing in life is a guarantee.
When life doesn’t go the way we want it to go, our natural reaction is to get angry and disappointed. But as the Dalai Lama once said, “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
It’s pretty liberating when you think about it. When you can view life’s disappointments as blessings in disguise, you will feel much happier and more at peace.
As with anything, however, you have to truly believe it for it to work. You have to believe the reason that relationship ended is because someone better is coming, and the reason you lost that job was because you needed a change and change will be good for you.
Looking back on your life, I’m sure you’re grateful for all of the so-called failures and disappointments. It’s during life’s setbacks that we grow and learn the most, becoming stronger and better versions of ourselves.
The bottom line: You can try to control life all you want, but it won’t make a difference. The only thing you do have control over is how you react to what happens to you.
Happiness comes when you learn to go with the flow and be present. Life is too short not to be spontaneous, so take risks and enjoy the ride. When you think back to the greatest day of your life, it probably started out like any other day…
The unknown doesn’t have to be scary. It can be exciting if you choose to see it that way.