There is the phrase “Life is not supposed to be easy,” and another phrases “We’re living on Easy Street,” and “Living the Life.” All of these are commonly used but misleading. The common phrase about life which is most accurate is “It is what it is.” Although the phrase is overused today by our youth, it is absolutely the most accurate. Life” is what it is” and no more.
It means that one should not become attached to the events in our life because they are transitory. There should be no judgment as to the positive or negative aspect of events because everything is really neutral. Once we label them, we distort their very existence and worth, “worth” as a learning tool on our path. If we call something negative then typically in our minds, the event becomes of less value, something to shy away from, something to be ashamed of, or even something to hide or deny.
If the event is “positive” we might not see it in its true form by giving it a more glowing aspect, it might play to our enlarged ego, our sense of who we are and distort that too. It may give us a sense of security, acceptance, or love that makes us feel better about ourselves or others.
The interesting thing is that the exact same event can trigger all of these interpretations depending on how we color the event through our own biased eyes.
There is another common phrase “I only believe what I can see.” This one is really misleading because it is very common for a dozen witnesses that see the same event, to describe it differently. There will also be a dozen different interpretations to the meaning of the event. So what is true and what is false? The short answer is that all of the various interpretations of the event are true and false. Each person’s interpretation is true for him or herself but false for others. If this is the case, then clearly there are many “truths” that result from one event, so don’t become attached to any one of them.
When we accept an event as neutral, “it is what it is,” and without judgment as to its positive or negative nature, we are better able to provide an authentic response. We are better able to learn what we are meant to learn from the incident and move on. It is the judgment that we place on something that keeps us attached to the events and to the results – results that we alter depending on our biased judgment.
Our subsequent action can be very different depending on how we judge an event. Any action that we take based on that judgment will have a higher probability of being inappropriate when we are responding to our judgment rather than to the neutral event.
Instantly judging all that we see, do, and think is a very human response. But it is what keeps us from living a stress free life. It is impossible to shed stress if one minute we are being bullied one direction by feeling negative and the next minute being pushed another way feeling positive. Pretty soon we have whiplash!
There is another common phrase “Stay on the straight and narrow.” The only way to do this is to not respond to our biased judgment of events. “It is what it is” and we respond in an appropriate and authentic response.
One might criticize this suggestion with another common phrase “You are taking the joy out of life” when the emotional roller coaster is berthed. This is a myth. You will find that your life will be much more joyful when you are on an even keel and can better trust that the world you see around you is there for you to learn from, there for you to interact with in stress free intimacy.
Pavlov trained his dogs to respond in a certain way to repeated stimuli to obtain a reward of food or avoid a shock of electricity. When the rewards and punishments were removed, they still responded in the same way to the stimuli. Unfortunately human behavior is entrenched in the say way. When we feel the rush of a high of a strong emotional response due to positive or negative judgment of an event, we automatically know how to respond –because that is how we have trained ourselves to respond. To change our patterns in life, we have to change our response to events.
Life is not positive or negative, it is just so, deal with it and move on.
A man, let’s call Joe is sitting in a waiting area just reading a magazine. Another man, let’s call Mike, comes, he is clearly agitated. Mike, who does not know Joe, growls something to him that is unintelligible. Joe could have several different responses
- Ignore it.
- Interpret the remark as a personal affront and get upset. He then challenge Mike with “What did you say to me?!”
- Become frightened and leave.
- Feel sympathy for Mike because he is obviously distressed and say something to try to diffuse the situation.
All of these options, except the first could lead to a more dangerous provoked response from Mike. No one knows why the man is agitated so any judgment or interpretation on the part of Joe will most assuredly be wrong. Simply noting the events and staying alert for a possible potential second action that might put him in danger, is the best course of action.
The agitation is not about anyone or anything in the waiting room. The event is related to Mike so why should Joe take it as his own stress? Merely noting it and letting it go is best. This is how to live a more stress free life – note events and let them go. Don’t judge events; as soon as you do, you personalize them when 99.9% of the time the event has nothing to do with you. Don’t you have enough stressors in your own life, why take on the stressors of others?
“Life happens” and “it is what it is” and no more.