There are times in life when we try to control the uncontrollable, change what can’t be changed and resist the divine order of the universe. At this encounter, every aspect of our life becomes a major problem. This problem then starts to portray as unsolvable but still, we start to search for ways to solve it. We forget that rather be solved it is a process that could be enjoyed.
It’s similar to the feeling of waking up on a morning and hoping to surf but instead discover rain and storms. We then wish that it wasn’t raining, but this is a pointless wish. Simply because it is raining. Wishing to change something you can’t is a fool’s effort.
Nature has its own rhythm. Whether we read self-help books, meditate in ashrams or chant mantras and affirmations. It will still rain and snow. It will still be hot as hell in the summer and bone-chilling in the winter. The primary experience of being a human being has a parallel rhythm to nature. To further understand this, here is a list of essential elements to help you gain direction for lifelong spiritual practice
To surrender means that you need to let go of all that we can’t control and stop changing what we can’t.
Everything you fight has power over you; everything you accept doesn’t.
What is the point of resisting something you can’t control or change? You can resist the rain or the snow, but it’s not as though your choice to resist is a light switch. You can’t turn off the rain at will. You can resist someone’s opinion of you or your art. But why put so much energy into something you can’t control?
In our attempts to control the uncontrollable and change what we can’t, we put on masks and become false or bullshit versions of ourselves. We water down our work in hopes that the audience will clap. But if they do, we now have a facade to keep up. We can change who we are to please another person but we lose ourselves in search of their validation. When our true self emerges, they will be gone and we will be disappointed.
Surrender is not resignation. Surrender is a spiritual victory. Resignation is defeat. Resignation is resistance. Surrender is acceptance. It’s the difference between giving up on the outcome and letting go of your attachment to the outcome.
When you give up on whatever it is you want, the world becomes dark and you walk around the world as if somebody spat in your coffee. But when you let go, you realize that when you expect nothing, everything comes to you.
Our ability to survive is a test of our faith, patience, resilience, and conviction. Regardless of what we are trying to do with our lives, we need all of these.
Without faith that things will unfold in a way that serves us, we become bitter. Without patience, we can’t persist through the inevitable parts of every hero’s journey that suck.
Without resilience, we will give up on what we want at the first sign of difficulty or the first setback. We lose our capacity to turn shit into sugar and obstacles into opportunities.
Without conviction, we are persuaded by others to live our lives according to their opinions. If someone can talk you out of something in one conversation, your conviction is questionable. When your conviction is unwavering, you develop the ability to take the world in your head and impose it on the world around you until it looks like the world in your head.
In a noisy world, solitude seems like a luxury. But, it’s not. It’s a necessity. It’s why Ryan Holiday says, “Stillness is the key.” Without stillness, we run around the world at a frenetic pace, missing what’s important.
We rush through dinners with close friends, checking our phones, and asking for our tabs. It’s a perpetual sense that there’s somewhere more important to be, and someone more important to be with. Sadly, that’s not much different than not being there at all.
For instance, I had breakfast with a friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years when I was on a 17-hour layover. We only had an hour because he was catching a flight. Because we were friends long before the iPhone, there’s no digital trail of our friendship; just the moments and memories we shared 20 years ago. The only time he took out his phone was to show me a picture of his daughter.
When we allow for stillness, we connect to an inner voice — one that isn’t just the echo of our social programming. It’s not the voice of reason, but the voice of faith and unwavering conviction.
Stillness teaches us to pay attention instead of seeking it. Paying attention brings us joy. Seeking attention plants the seeds of discontent.
Time is a precious commodity, but we treat it as though we have an infinite supply. At my age, I’m assuming that I might be halfway through this one and only life. Maybe there are a few years on the tail end. But once my bones are brittle, I may not be able to surf, snowboard, and make this much of a ruckus.
But the significance isn’t just about accolades and accomplishments. It’s about spending time with people you care about. It’s about the only metric that’s really worth anything in this life: time well spent.
Time with my friends and family is well spent. Time surfing and snowboarding are well spent. Time making good art that might or not make a difference in people’s lives is well spent.
If there’s one regret I’ve had in my life, it’s the time I’ve spent trying to change what I couldn’t and controlling the uncontrollable. It’s crying over other people’s opinions, which I could not control (bosses, romantic partners, readers, and audience members).
Parents, peers, society, and advertising define success for us. These are the colleges where you should apply; careers you should consider; people you should date; boxes you should check, and life you should live.
At some point, we might abandon this definition of success, falsely believing we have our own definition of success. Our new definition of success is non-conformity, the four-hour workweek, or whatever the latest message is from internet celebrities, life-coaches, and self-help authors.
Success is a series of false horizons. Nothing you accomplish will alter your self-image; nobody will fill the holes in your heart, and everything you acquire can be taken away from you.
We quickly adapt to improved circumstances. Because of the hedonic treadmill, every single thing we once believed was the holy grail becomes our new normal. Nobody who has achieved success far beyond anything they could have imagined wakes up and says, “I’m done. There’s nothing wrong with me. I have no problems. My work is done here.”
Success doesn’t undo our flaws. It reveals them. If you’re an asshole, it makes you a bigger one. If you thrive on validation, that desire is amplified along with your insecurity.
It doesn’t make you immune to problems. It expands your capacity to handle them, which in turn, expands your capacity to take on bigger challenges. You’re able to take on bigger projects. Instead of simple creative ideas, you build empires. Instead of long shots, you become capable of moonshots.
But if success brought us everything we thought it would, there would be no need for self-help seminars, religion or any other search for meaning.
This is all easy to say and hard to do. We all spend time trying to change what we can’t and control the uncontrollable. My dad always says to me, “Whatever happens is for your own good.” And when the shit hits the fan, I’d say, “How can this possibly be for my own good?” But a few years later, that punch to the face ends up being a gift from the universe, and my dad ends up being right.
Letting go of this tendency is not an item on a to-do list or months at an ashram in search of enlightenment. It’s a practice and the work of a lifetime. I hope this post served value to your life and mindset. Do let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.