I’m the first to admit it. I’m a control freak (as well as being a chronic worrier – actually I think the two are strongly related – I worry mostly about events that I feel like I have no control over)!
When we are young we feel like we have so little control over anything. Our parents, our teachers, everyone else seems to have the power to control us. As we get older, we develop a sense, and an expectation, of control. We start to believe that we control our own destiny. We set goals, we work towards them, and we achieve them. Only, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, despite the best laid plans, despite all that hard work, despite the wishing and hoping and worrying, things do not work out as planned.
Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes we don’t even get what we need. And it’s really difficult to accept that some things are out of our control. We want explanations. We want solutions. We wallow in our misery, we drive ourselves crazy with our frustration. We suffer.
What we frequently fail to realise, however, is that there’s absolutely no use trying to control the world outside, and also that there’s absolutely no need to suffer when the world throws something unpleasant our way. This is because there is only one thing that we need to control in life in order to avoid suffering. This one thing is something that nobody else can interfere with, that will always go to plan if we really want it to.
This hit home to me recently, reading David Michie’s Enlightenment to Go (which, by the way, I highly recommend).
Quoting a passage from Shantideva’s “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”, Michie explains
the impossibility of trying to control everything in the world around us, contrasting it to the more manageable alternative of controlling the way we experience the world… What happens to us is actually less important than how we interpret it.
So I’m dusting off my clouds, polishing up their silver linings and reviewing the rules of The Glad Game. Come on world, I’m ready for you, and I have a great big smile on my face!