“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”—Epictetus
There are so many things that happen to us that are out of our control. We get sick. We suffer during national disasters. The people in our lives betray us.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the mind and have learned a great deal. Each of us has an internal filter. This filter causes us to miss, alter, or even delete the inputs we receive from our environment. This filtering is both unconscious and automatic. If our filter is healthy, there are no problems. If our filter is unhealthy, there are all kinds of problems.
Some people can look at a situation and see the good in it, regardless of the circumstances. Others could look at the same situation and see the worst. All of us do this. We test our environments and make judgements. These judgements affect the way we interpret our lives.
Have you ever noticed how some people are always experiencing one disaster after another? Everything seems to go wrong. Their health is bad, their outlook is mainly negative, and they expect the worst. The people in their lives cause problems, their decisions cause problems. All of this occurs because of their internal wiring. Because their perceptions and filters are on automatic, they cannot change what they see. Their lives perpetuate a vicious cycle because that’s all they can see.
The opposite of this person is someone who walks through life in bliss. Everything they touch turns to gold. Anything they try to do yields results. Their relationships are healthy. They are healthy. Their outlook is positive. Like their counterpart above, they automatically look for the good and this is what they get.
Most of us fall in between these two individuals. Some things that happen to us we feel bad about while other things happen that we feel good about. All of us have that weakness or outlook that plague us.
Regardless of our internal filters or maps, we all deal with reality. Reality is. Things happen to us. Our reaction to this reality dictates our mood. Some will look at a bad situation and see the good in it. Some will look at a bad situation and only see the bad. Some will rail against this reality and try to change it. They fail, become frustrated, and continue to complain about reality, which will not change.
What’s the solution to this problem? Acceptance and detachment. If we accept reality for what it is, we adapt to it. Detachment eases suffering. We expect nothing; we accept everything as it is. We can still set goals, pursue our interests, and strive for what we want, but remain in a detached state about our results. This detachment allows us to continue to strive and accept the results we have attained. Then we adjust and push forward again. We don’t get pissed; we don’t get ecstatic. We accept things for what they are, make the changes we can, and live with the rest in peace. We are in peace because our detachment allows us to be happy with what we have without expectation.
If you react to something in an inefficient or unhelpful manner, stop. Examine your internal processes. What triggers your reaction? If you can sit back and observe yourself being triggered, you can locate how you create this feeling. Once you understand how you create these inefficient feelings, you can change them. In most cases, once you realize something inside you that does not serve you, it will fade away. Your awareness is key.
I hope all of you have a terrific day!
Until next time…