How To Stay Positive When Life Doesn’t Go According To Plan

Puppets in a Well-Orchestrated Drama

“Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes heading in a new direction can be scary until you realize you’re headed toward a new and exciting destination.” — Susan Gale

Reflect on a current experience not working in your favour. Imagine the details as best you can. You might have expected a particular outcome or your well-laid plans did not turn out as expected. Though frustrating, life doesn’t always go according to plan and you can take comfort in not getting what you want at times. Let me ask you: Do you believe everything happens for a reason? Is it for your greatest good or merely a matter of life conspiring against you? Your answers will indicate your perception of life and how you respond in those situations. All human suffering is rooted in the need for control. Determinists and fatalists maintain that a greater force is at work in the backdrop of our lives, beyond our limited perspective. They maintain we are mere puppets in a well-orchestrated drama acting upon us. Whilst we have free will, we have little control once the die is cast.

To believe we are in control in an ever-changing universe is illogical and similar to chasing a stubborn cat. The harder we try, the less likely it is we’ll catch it. However, by yielding to external forces, we allow life to flow through us. Every experience, thought and emotion becomes an extension of living from our core self. Spiritual masters emphasise the difficulty faced by people connecting with their hearts. They believe we are too invested in our thoughts to identify with our core self. You needn’t be spiritual to co-operate with life’s forces, for everything in this world is spiritual. However, aligning with your heart invites you to become acquainted with the silent inner voice, instead of the egoic mind. In the West, surrender is met with apathy and vulnerability. It is interpreted to mean inaction when it really means co-operation. It requires letting go how life should unfold and allowing infinite possibilities to emerge. How could we possibly know the limitless ways life can provide for our needs?

To co-operate with life requires faith and trust. Faith that our needs will be met. Trust that they will arrive at the right time. Once more, how is it possible for a benevolent universe not to look after you? After all, if you’re reading this, you have made it this far given your past choices. You handled every problem, disappointment and dare I say tragedy, and will continue to do so. Faith is knowing your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to your organs each day. You needn’t worry it will fail its job or oversupply the arteries. It delivers more blood to your working muscles when you exercise and less when you’re asleep. How does it sense the variation in activity? What is it connected to or receiving instructions from to manage these resources? Are you beginning to realise the underlying current apparent in your life that supports your very needs?

Change and Impermanence

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Life is replete with change given the law of impermanence. Nothing remains the same, even the cells in your body have a finite lifespan. With this in mind, rest assured that transformation is part of the human condition. Rather than oppose it, work with it. The more you resist what is taking place, the less control you have. The essence of this principle is portrayed in the passage: “Life is like sand held in your hands. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers…” Instead of holding on, yield to the forces of life. Go with the flow. This does not imply resignation nor indifference, but detachment. Practice patience when things don’t go as planned. Do not mistake this for inactivity, but bide your time to allow the pieces of the puzzle to come together.

Universal order sweeps through your life, so trust in this force. A greater plan is unfolding in the backdrop of your life which requires your trust and patience. Contrast is apparent in all of life and is the framework of the entire universe. Focus on what is going right, however small by allowing it to be the focus of your attention until something better emerges. If you are struggling with an unpleasant situation, release the need for a particular outcome. Yield to the forces of life and allow it to take you where it needs to. Create a new path. Try something new, while moving forward towards your goals and plans. I’m drawn to a passage from author Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear in which she writes “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” Within that simple message is the realisation that your struggles, pain and disappointments are calling you to Awaken Your Authentic Self. Sometimes, the wrong turn will bring you to where you need to be, if you are willing to trust in the process of life.

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