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It Is What It Is.....

purple flower and stack of rocks resting on a shrub

"Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” John Wooden

An ancient Taoist parable tells the story of a wise old farmer whose only workhorse ran away one day. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors consoled him by saying, “Such bad luck.” The farmer replied, “Maybe.” The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses and was thrown off, fracturing his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. A few days later, military officials arrived in the village to draft young men into the army. Noting that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him over. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” mused the farmer.

By human nature we tend to label occurrences in our lives as “good” or “bad.” But nobody can see the future so we can never truly understand the long-term consequences of today’s events. “It is what it is,” tends to be a much healthier attitude toward life’s ups and downs. We must mentally adjust to the new reality of things beyond our control, and make the best of situations by controlling what we can. I personally find this to be a very useful strategy for dealing with even routine issues. For example, when my flight was cancelled recently for “mechanical problems,” I reminded myself that a few hours’ delay in my trip would be preferable to an engine failure during the flight.

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Max Ehrmann

Life is a series of highs and lows, windfalls and disappointments; so it’s best to try to maintain a steady, optimistic yet realistic attitude. I try to imagine that we live in a benevolent universe with a grand master plan for me and everyone else. Especially when bad things happen, it is useful to ask: “What if I could trust the universe, even with this?”

Bill suffered a heart attack and needed an urgent stenting procedure to open a blocked coronary artery. Afterwards, he fell into a funk and was feeling sorry for himself. He was clearly depressed, so I encouraged him to start cardiac rehab over. That was five years ago. Today at age 69, Bill has a strong and healthy heart and a whole group of pals he still exercises with three times a week. He is more fit and happy than ever, and considers some of his exercise partners to be among his dearest friends.

So live one day at a time, and enjoy each moment for what it is without labeling it. When hardships arise, as they always do, realize that maybe they represent pathways to a stronger and wiser you.

In Good Health,

James O'Keefe, MD

Photo Credit:  Pixabay Creative Commons