Yesterday, I wrote this on my Facebook and Instagram profiles:
Social media is a great tool. It allows us to be connected in a way we've never been able to connect before. But, it has also opened up the door for "life-porn."
We scroll our feeds and it looks and feels like everyone else has it all together. The body. The career. The business. Unlimited time to spend on sandy beaches. The spouse that never makes any mistakes. Spotless kitchens with no dishes in the sink. All that stuff ya know?
But life, real life, doesn't work that way. It's not linear. Things go sideways. Plans fall apart. Laundry piles up. Deals don't go through. Unexpected disappointments happen even when you've done your part.
With stuff I write about - health, human-performance, and happiness - I feel like it's my responsibility to be transparent with you.
And today, things didn't go my way on several accounts.
I'm not going to verbally vomit all over you, but I will say this: Today sucked.
I'm not going to deny this reality, but I'm not going to blame anyone either. I thought of a quote that has helped me today from Marcus Aurelius:
"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
I've got to accept reality, but not make it worse than it actually is, and then keep putting one foot in front of the other. #mondaymotivation
I woke up today and the realities of yesterday haven't changed. All of yesterday's events cannot be undone. So I sit here in front of the blinking curser trying to unravel what happened.
I do have a sense that everything will be okay. Perhaps I'm more nonplussed than hurt.
The cocktail of confusion and shock feels dangerous though. It bears a potency that I can't take lightly or else it'll floor me like the head kick Holly Holm gave to Ronda Rousey.
In John 16:33 it reads, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble."
The Stoic philosophers point to a similar concept. Epictetus said, "Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.”
Lao Tzu penned, "Anticipate the difficult to manage the easy."
There seems to be a connective tissue across these teachings and it's this: Obstacles are a part of life.
Maybe I've sensationalized my stupefaction. Perhaps my reaction is sophomoric. If hurdles are embedded into our lives, then why should I act surprised when a stumbling block appears on my journey?
Instead, I should focus my energy on the areas where I do have agency rather than marinating on past events.
I can lean into loving people.
I can pour into contribution with my writing.
I can spend time meditating.
These three things - love, contribution and spirituality - are the things I declare as priorities in my life. They also happen to be the things I can control.
During times of adversity, the mind can run amok. Identifying the essentials and focusing energy on the controllables is the only way I know how to keep moving forward.
If you are aware of any other methods on how to manage setbacks, let me know.