In life, many things cannot be changed. We might work to influence some of them, object loudly to others and even spend our lives dedicated fighting certain social causes but fighting the world is tiring. As a matter of self-preservation, we have to pick our fights with care. The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca observed that we become angry at the smallest things because reality disappoints our expectations. We expect our pen to not run out of ink, for our drink bottle not to leak, and for our favourite study space to be available every time we want it.
Feeling frustration and upset when our expectations are not met wastes energy. It is more useful to ask of each hiccup, challenge and disaster life throws at us, “how can I use this?” There is a lesson to learn in every mishap and problem encountered – either that there is a better way of carrying on or simply reminders that we do best in life when we accept and make the most of bad situations we cannot change rather than cursing cruel fate for not being better and easier.
Comparing yourself to others is an easy trap to fall into. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence because we see others through the green-tinted lens of envy. Like so many swans, we see only the easy front they show to the world, and not the frantic scrabbling beneath the surface as they struggle to keep up. We do not see their problems, their cares, their worries, their failures. Most people’s lives seem idyllic only because we do not know enough about them.
“Do not worry about tomorrow… today has enough trouble [work] of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34
Remember the Duke of Wellington’s famous saying: “the work of the day, in the day”. There is no use in worrying about what you might do tomorrow or what might happen in the future. Put tomorrow, and everything else that is beyond your control, out of mind and seize today!