Nobody is happy all the time. We experience the ups and downs of life. We feel the highs of being in love or getting a new job. We feel the lows of breaking up or getting fired. These are definitely extreme examples of the peaks and troughs, and most of them are of course much smaller, a small number of them more impactful. One of the clearest lessons I have learnt over the years is that basically shit happens… and you can’t fight it. No, that’s not a defeatist attitude. Hear me out.
Many of you out there are, I’m sure, under the impression that you are in control of what happens in your life. And to an extent, that’s an understandable assertion. We make decisions, take some action, and something happens. With most of the everyday things that most of us do, the idea that we are in control bears out. You wake up, and bleary-eyed make a decision. Hit snooze, or maybe get up. And your decision here gives you the distinct impression that you have control over what happens from here. But then, what happens if you do hit snooze, and you leave five or ten minutes later for work? You might be a little late, but maybe nothing to worry about. You might also get stuck in worse traffic than you would have, had you left just a few minutes earlier. The thing is, that while each of our decisions will dictate what we offer to any given situations, too often the outcome is reliant on something else, or someone else, for us to be able to say that we truly have control.
But for those control freaks out there – and I know a few – there is some good news. Of course you still have control over your own decisions. That’s a given for most of us. But that’s not the good news. What we do have control over… what we will always have control over is our own response to whatever happens in our lives. Now I don’t mean that you shouldn’t celebrate hard when you hit a peak, nor that you should pretend that everything is ok when the faecal matter hits the fan. It’s important as human beings to really feel the feels. Let yourself feel that high of love and really enjoy it. Or celebrate with friends when your team wins. Just as we have to sit with a broken heart and let the tears roll. Or cry ourselves to sleep when we lose someone dear. Letting ourselves do these things just mean that we know that these emotions, these highs and lows, will pass.
Don’t worry. I’m getting to the point. Someone very dear to me said I need to drag back the length of my posts a bit.
So here it is: it’s not about how you celebrate or what your trackie pants look like when you’re sitting in the dark eating triple chocolate fudge ice cream. It’s about what you do the next day, and the day after that. It’s about your humility in victory. About your rise from the ashes. How you respond to your peaks and troughs will dictate how much control you really have over your life. Because only you can decide how softly you come back to earth after a win, and how hard and long you fall after a loss. We’ve all been through a challenging time of late, of course to differing degrees, but how you come back from it is up to you. Will you worry about the things that are out of your hands? Maybe a little, given how serious some of those things are. But where will your focus be? Mine will be firmly on making good decisions, and coming back stronger.