“When you can begin to view everything that happens to you as ultimately serving your growth and evolution then you will finally be free of suffering from your circumstances.” — Gina Mollicone-Long
I find it incredibly useful to view my circumstances as part of a feedback loop that is a basic component of my life. This is a very simple thing to do, although it is often not easy. Simple as in easy to understand; not complicated. However, it goes against human nature, culture, and a life time of habit and that is what makes it difficult. Thinking of circumstances as feedback that you use as part of your continuous growth is an excellent way of detaching from your outcomes. When you are able to detach from outcomes you are well on your way to a life of peaceful well-being (see Choosing Real Freedom).
The Hawaiian islands are peaks of isolated volcanic mountains sticking up in the middle of the vast Pacific. When a plane takes off from Dallas, TX on a 4,000 mile flight to the islands, any deviation in heading, even by the tiniest degree, would result in the plane missing the islands by a wide margin. And yet despite encountering winds and other conditions that throw it off course, the plane will touch down on a tiny strip of concrete in the middle of the Pacific about 100 yards wide. How is this possible?
Due to “circumstances” in the environment and the over-correction of the system itself, the aircraft is off course most of the time. Do these circumstances frustrate the automatic pilot in the aircraft? Is the system stressed out at having to deal with all these circumstances? Is the aircraft the “victim” of crosswinds? Is the life of the automatic pilot unfair? Of course not.
The automatic pilot system in the aircraft is constantly correcting itself based upon feedback from its own instruments. The circumstances of the flight are just there; neither good or bad. The automatic pilot system uses that information to make continuous adjustments. Regardless of current location or what has happened in the past, the circumstances each moment are used to determine the adjustments necessary to get to where the aircraft needs to go. Without the feedback the plane would not arrive at its desired destination.
The same thing is true of your life. Those circumstances are there, regardless of how or why they are what they are. They might be the result of things you could not control like the winds pushing a plane off course. They might be the result of things within your control but which you misjudged. The important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the reason, you must accept them. Instead of getting upset, you treat them as valuable feedback for your personal growth and evolution.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor E. Frankl
You may think this is silly, and my response would be that it is useful no matter how silly and simple it may appear. Looking at your circumstances as information instead of something negative is a very powerful and peaceful way to look at life. Instead of getting upset and angry, ask yourself what should you do with this information. We can navigate through life much like the plane navigates through the atmosphere; constantly checking our bearings and making the necessary adjustments that will get us where we want to go. It is no more useful for us to get upset at our circumstances than for the plane to get upset at the wind.
When your circumstances are what you want them to be, you know you’re doing something right. You may decide to do even more of the same to amplify the results or you may be happy right where you are. No matter where you are though, the winds of change are blowing and even to stay in place you must constantly adjust your course based upon available feedback. When your circumstances are not what you want them to be, you know you need to make a change in what you’re thinking first and that will lead to a change in what you’re doing. You don’t have to get mad, frustrated, upset, depressed, or into any other negative state. Instead you can view your circumstances as valuable input for your own evolution and growth.
Read more with Think or Sink: The One Choice That Changes Everything
“Letting go is not giving up; it is going up.” — Guy Finley
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