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There are some things that are certain in this world.  Not to be a downer here, and we tend to not spend time dwelling on the subject but these two things are certain....

We all will die.  We are on this Earth for a relatively short amount of time.  Some will die sooner then others.  You will outlive some of your friends.  Some people outlive their children (I can't imagine the pain that causes).  But the reality is we are all going to die.

The other thing that is certain is that "bad" things are going to happen to us.  We are going to go through struggles.  EVERYONE has them.  In today's world of social media, everyone puts on this facade of perfection.  We only see people's good side.  In societies of the past, the people we were connected to were face to face.  We knew about their struggles.  We knew they were having a hard time because they typically confided in us.  So then, when bad things happened to us, they didn't seem so bad because we knew everyone was going through struggles.

When bad things happen we tend to think we are on an island and we are the only one who bad things are happening to.  That's simply not true.

In the book Solving For Happiness, Mo Gadawt talks about the certainty of both of these things.  We typically have no control over whether death of a loved one happens, or whether "bad" things are going to happen to us.  The ONLY thing we can control is our response to those things.

We have several options here.  We can dwell forever in misery.  We can think that we are on an island and nothing bad ever happens to someone else, only us.  I want to be clear here, grief, and feeling negative emotions are perfectly acceptable, and understandable.  I'm not downplaying them. 

What I am advocating though is that you can not stay here forever.

The other option we have is to understand and expect that sometimes "bad" things do happen.  In ancient Stoic philosophy they talk about the idea that nothing that happens is either good or bad it just is.  Then we as thinkers assign meaning to it.  We decide if it's good or bad.  One of my favorite quotes from Stoicism is this:

ta eph'hemin, ta ouk eph'hemin

Translated it means: What is up to us, what is not up to us

Their point is that there are some things that just happen to us.  It wasn't up to us for it to happen but it did.  The only thing we can control is our response to those things.  Basically, it means control the factors that you can control and let go of the rest because you have no affect on that outcome.

It's a hard place to be sometimes.  We want so bad to be able to positively affect everything, but the truth is that sometimes that's just not possible.  Sometimes we can only control ourselves.  When you can adopt this philosophy it can be life changing.  I first read about it, in the book The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday.  This book was life changing for me.  In the past two years, I've been through a lot, and this phrase has gotten me through it.  So much so, that I'm getting it tattooed on my arm.

We control ourselves, we can control the immediate situation around us.  Focus on that.  Focus on outcomes you can address, and let the rest go.

With respect to death think about this.....

If you were told that in the next 48 hours you were going to die, what would you do?

Would you call your loved ones?

Would you forgive the person you're mad at?

Would you go on a vacation?

Would you be more loving to your spouse?

Would you hug and kiss your children more?

Would you be present with your friends and put your phone away?

What would your world be like if you did these things anyway?  Why not do that today?  Why not focus on the now?  Ekhart Tolle in his book the Power of Now says that all strife and worry and come from two things.

1) Focusing on the past too much which we can not change


2) Focusing on the future too much which hasn't happened yet.

In reality, the only thing we can affect is the present.  Right here, right now, and everything we do right now affects the future.

So how much better would your day be if you focused on the present, if you lived your life today like you won't be here in 48 hours?  Try that for the next 48 hours and let's see.




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