Shit happens. How many times have you heard that? Better yet, how many times have you said it? That used to be my answer to all the conflicts that would pop up in my life, and it was also the advice I would pass onto friends. As far as advice goes, I thought it was pretty concise…bad things happen, and we have to accept that they happen and move on without letting ourselves get caught up in it all. Good advice, no? Well, as I’m blessed to still be living and learning, I’ve recently expanded onto that to not only my friends and students, but to myself as well!
To a very large extent, I see the events of our lives as pre-existing, and in keeping with that, I can honestly say that I believe that events don’t happen, they already are. They may not have made themselves apparent to us yet, but when they do it’s more of a reveal than it is an occurrence. And so when they reveal themselves, if we know that life is a series of said reveals, then we don’t find ourselves immediately and unconsciously resistant to whatever it is that has made itself apparent. I’ve said before that if we want to change the way we live, then we have to change the way we think. This is a perfect example of that. Re-establishing how we see the events of our lives and the relevance we choose to attribute to them makes all the difference in how we are affected by them. If we can get through the dramas with less shock and stress to our bodies and minds, why not give it a go and see how it works for us?
The best way to infuse this concept with a little light and understanding is to look at every stressful or demanding event that we have experienced. Look at all the sadness, disappointment, resistance and dread that immediately welled up when we were faced with it, and then the subsequent waning of those emotions as we dealt with and lived through whatever was going on. Those initial reactions are no longer with us because they were the products of our approach to life, not the products of the events themselves. Things are. The way we see those things, the way we react to those things, that’s where our attention needs to be. If we knew when the stressful events initially appeared that our negative responses to them would be fleeting and that our initial feeling of apprehension would pass, then we can clearly see that we had the opportunity to move through the suffering from a place of neutrality and equanimity. What this approach allow us to do is to identify adversity as fleeting, which in turn conditions us to not “rise to the bait”…when we see the bait as having less significance then we had previously attributed to it, then we can gain comfort in knowing our reactions and responses to it won’t drum up as much suffering as we had experienced in the past.
So with all that being said, I think that my old expression “Shit happens” has morphed into a new piece of über-advice – “Shit is”….when it is, and how it is remains to be seen…but it is…the key is looking at how we approach it and react to it…
I love that “shit is”. You really hit the nail on the head – there really is rarely such thing as a “surprise”. If we attune ourselves to the universe we will see the events of life are like a wave. There will be highs and there will be lows and it is always changing. Why resist a down when an up is on the way? If we maintain an openness to what is, we will find deeper contentment with life.