“Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, So what. That’s one of my favorite things to say. So what.” Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Funny, how we always complain about the weather, ranting against the heat, the rain, the cold. Although it is a time-honored tradition it is also a waste of precious time and energy. As opined by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), “For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
Simple enough, just let it rain! A frequent criticism is that the world, like the weather, is not fair. We argue that the world should operate in a more predetermined and cooperative manner. It is difficult to accept the way things are and accept life on life’s terms. Like children, we shrug our shoulders and stomp our feet. We resist. We rebel. We do not accept life raining on our parade.
Life is not fair
Life is not fair. That basic law needs to be immediately acknowledged. There are numerous “isms” that we encounter during our journey. They are spelled and pronounced differently, but collectively include negative philosophies of racism, sexism, ageism and classism. They are the malevolence philosophies of prejudice and animosity that seek to deny those who are marginalized and different. All of these “isms” are constructs created to keep us in our place, to hold us down, and prevent us from reaching our goals. They are designed by those in positions of influence and authority as a means of retaining their power. Refuse to allow the isms to dictate.
The playing field is not level. Being more qualified may not be enough to trump those who are more beautiful, charismatic or politically connected. Some sell their soul for a handful of gold coins, eagerly discarding principles for economic gain. The widespread culture of “office politics,” unjust and unfair, is an example of the harsh reality of “the way of the world.” Many can identify disconcerting examples of individuals who were promoted, not because of skill and aptitude, but because of nepotism or some other unspoken rule preventing the best qualified individual from grasping the brass ring. It is the classic con, the flim flam; the slick hand dealing under the table.
Bad things happen to good people. Everyone can relate to the evil that surrounds us. Think back to the decade of the 1990’s — Rodney King and the L.A. Riots, the Oklahoma City bombing, Susan Smith’s horrific murders of her two sons, Andrea Yeates systematic drowning of her five infants. Innocent lives torn apart and destroyed randomly; examples of an evil pattern that emerges in spontaneous and unpredictable form.
Those atrocities are difficult to comprehend and accept as our reality. Thus, we protest. We whine and moan. We carp to anyone who will listen. We mentally list all of the grievances surrounding us. Numerous examples abound. There is a widespread notion that the rich are getting richer. The powerful continue to amass more power and control. Violent crime has gotten worse. Those beliefs leave us feeling frustrated and angry.
As written by ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Refusing to accept the way of the world leaves us bitter and frustrated. It does nothing to benefit us. What it does do, however, is allow us to continue a pattern of complaining and ranting about situations that are out of our control. A person who demonstrates anger is, after all, an individual not focused on conflict resolution but on expressing anger as a short-term solution. Anger feels good. It gives us immediate control. It becomes a powerful process addiction with elements of increased tolerance and withdrawal. In a never-ending cycle the anger is repeated over and over again; a process that never finds conclusion.
Mitch Albom, writing in “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” offers “Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”
Continuing to complain that the world is unfair is a negative expenditure of our precious energies. Rather than accepting the challenges set before us and seeking resolution, we wish and hope for a different outcome. We expect that our hard work and focused energies will be immediately met with expected success and applause.
The phrase “immediate gratification” became a cultural buzzword after the youth of Generation X (1965-1978) were introduced. Many X’ers expected to hit the proverbial home run the first time they stepped into the batter’s box. Their expectation was that instant results and cheers of approval would automatically materialize. That magical thinking has engrained itself as a major postulate of the post-modernist era, an ongoing and persistent theme.
Feelhappy.com warns that, “Escapism, or withdrawing from the pressures of the real world into a safer fantasy world, is pervasive in our culture. It comes in many forms, some rather subtle,
and prevents us from doing what we need to do to improve the circumstances of our real lives.”
Instant gratification is an unrealistic expectation, a maladaptive fantasy. We dream and fantasize about the possibilities. We create another world, a mental Utopia where magical thinking conjures wonderful accomplishments representing our wishes. But it is a false reality, an unfulfilled promise.
You can level the playing field. A more pragmatic methodology is to observe the way of the world and to understand this intricate and delicate system where things operate in a dynamic give and take. There are ways to open doors. There are ways to create opportunity. Learn and educate yourself. Begin with a cornerstone of knowledge as an initial forward step. Then, learn how successful individuals interact in the real world. Study the behaviors of those who have garnered success. How do people succeed and how do they reach their goals? How do individuals facing huge challenges overcome these obstacles and eventually arrive at what has been defined as success?
One strategy for survival and success is to network. Meet people. Get to know them. Forge relationships. The amount of energy you place into cultivating relationships will be equal to the support and opportunities you receive from these individuals.
Still, the concept of happiness is one that continues to elude us evenas we desperately search for it. What is this thing we call “happiness” and can we be happy if we refuse to accept the way of the world?
Happiness needs to be defined individually. It is special and unique. Many of us are unhappy with the way of the world. We hate the violence, poverty and corruption that we see every day. Many of the most creative and productive people are those who actively work to change the world and to make it a better place. Unhappiness begets action that brings about positive change.
Despite the negative energies that exist in the world, it is possible to reject the sorrow and instead choose a positive outlook as the cloak we drape upon ourselves. That is the psychic garment worn into the world, a vestment reflecting our positive spirit, energy and acceptance of the way of the world.
Maxim W. Furek, MA, CADC, ICADC is passionately researching
the essence of happiness. His rich background includes aspects
of psychology, addictions, mental health and music journalism.
His book Sheppton: The Myth, Miracle & Music explores the
psychological horrors and miraculous survival experienced by two
entombed Pennsylvania miners. Learn more at shepptonmyth.com
References Provided Upon Request