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Happiness is Letting Go of Outcomes

By Jacob Devaney on Wednesday January 6th, 2021

Image: Cezanne Ali

Stepping into the New Year with Peace in Our Hearts

All of us have had to reconcile when things didn’t go our way, and sometimes that is more important than getting what we originally wanted. Somewhere in our past as children we learned that crying or pouting might just get us that candy bar in the store from Mom. The memory is still there and the urge to try this strategy as adults almost never seems to go away, but it does become less effective as we grow older. Let’s face it… more things seem to not go the way we want them to than actually the other way around, so maybe we can make this aspect of Murphy’s Law work in our favor.

If anything can go wrong, it will… – Murphy’s Law

It’s okay to poke fun at ourselves about it, and maybe occasionally we all need to sneak off and have a private temper tantrum but one of the most respectable things is to see someone handle misfortune gracefully. Grace isn’t about suppressing heart-ache or failure so much as it is about being present and honest about these things while holding your dignity. That’s why we always love stories about the underdog becoming triumphant and how we can empathize when they are not.

Choosing to Love Louder

Many years ago, my dear friend, Al was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor told him to enroll in hospice care because he only had six months to live. He decided to ask the woman he loved to marry him, and began planning the wedding instead. After the honeymoon, he went in to see his doctor and the cancer was in full remission. He told me the story about ten years later when his cancer had returned to claim his life. He had refused chemotherapy because he didn’t want to have a war going on in his body, he was open to what the cancer had come back to teach him.

He stayed at home during his last months, surrounded by friends until his final breath. I sat up with him once as the whole community took turns doing the hospice work with him. His body withered but he kept his spirit high. One night I jokingly asked him if he could play the part of a dying man for just a minute and he said that was the best joke he heard all day. He said to me:

Ten years ago when cancer threatened me, I chose to love louder and it scared the cancer away. If it is coming to take me this time I will have had the last laugh because look at this wonderful party and all my friends coming every day to be with me.

He passed later that month but he must still be smiling because his wisdom continues to inspire everyone who knew him and now maybe you too. He was such a great example of grace in hard times. We’ve heard, “It is the journey, not the destination” or “it’s not about winning or losing it’s about how you played the game” and so many other sayings. They have become so cliché that we often forget to embody them.

Remaining present in a world filled with disruptionsIt is the journey, not the destination. Image: Matese Fields

Changing the World by Choosing Love Over Fear

Right now our global community is waking up to the reality that there are potentially catastrophic changes coming to all of us due to climate disruption. With a massive story of unfavorable outcomes on the horizon we are being called more than ever to embody the spiritual wisdom that invites us to remain present, to love fearlessly, and cultivate compassion. This collective evolution in consciousness may reveal a blessing in disguise.

…it is possible to be at peace if you pierce through our false reality, which is based on the idea of life and death, to touch the ultimate dimension in Buddhist thinking, in which energy cannot be created or destroyed. By recognising the inter-connectedness of all life, we can move beyond the idea that we are separate selves and expand our compassion and love in such a way that we take action to protect the Earth. – Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Naomi Klein has been showing us that this crisis may be a great opportunity to take a look at things that are not working and change our course in history. Pioneers like Bruce Lipton have illuminated how important it is for our creativity and health to choose love instead of fear as a lens through which we see the world.

To the work you own the right, but not to the results thereof. – First Tenant of Karma Yoga, Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 47

Happiness is Letting Go of Outcomes

Stress is almost always the result of fear, or worrying about outcomes. Peace almost always arises when we can be fully present in the moment. If we make now the destination then we will find that we are already here and outcomes in the future will mean a whole lot less. Right action is its own reward, we don’t need to chase dangling carrots.

We might not have this world as we know it forever, but right now the sun is still rising every morning. We have so much that we overlook as we gaze into the future. The solutions we seek may just present themselves effortlessly if we can become fully present and receptive in the moment. If the world ends tomorrow what will it matter if we didn’t take the time to enjoy it today?

Jacob Devaney

Founder and director of Culture Collective, creative activist, musician, and producer.

 

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10 Responses to Happiness is Letting Go of Outcomes

  1. Interesting that you would use the example of someone who died from a cancer that he chose to ignore. Denial did not make it go away. I am not suggesting that everyone should always follow conventional medical advice. Regarding climate change, we are suffering from its damage right now. You speak in very general generalizations. I agree that staying stuck by unsatisfactory outcomes is not helpful. I also agree with what Gary Weidman said. What is the “new story of inspired co-coreation?

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Gary. The article suggests that the author’s friend who had cancer was accepting of his situation and made a very conscious choice to live his life to the fullest. I personally don’t think that’s denial, he even says when it came back “he was open to what the cancer had come back to teach him.”

      Indeed it is important to have a vision of what we wish to create (just as the fellow with cancer would have had) and perhaps that point is not emphasised enough in this article, but I have personally found when I am TOO attached to the outcome I want, it often ends in suffering / disappointment. It seems to me there is a fine balance required between knowing what we want, taking steps towards creating that, but also having acceptance of the fact that we have little control other than those actions and things just might not turn out the way we want.

      Anyway, thanks for reading 😊🙏

      Blessings,
      Team UPLIFT

  2. I disagree that we ought to accept what IS. This seems self defeating and depressing. How do we determine what IS in the first place??? Focusing on what IS will only bring forth more of what IS. If a person is depressed but complaining about being depress all the time, more depression will surely follow. And I also disagree about not focusing on outcomes but there is a difference between specific outcomes and general outcomes. Focus instead on what is wanted. A polluted river cannot be cleaned up unless there is a vision of what a clear river IS. It might not regenerate in a way exactly how we had envisioned, but it would still be a healthy river in many forms. We cannot create for ourselves a better life unless there is a vision of what that better life IS. Accept where we are in the beginning only, and move forward with a clear idea of where we want to be, and carry that vision with an emotional attachment and a sense of allowing at the same time. Working with the forces of nature. Our nature.

    • This is a very valid point Gary, thank you for sharing it. Concepts such as this can be valuable and even useful but indeed, are not necessarily applicable to every situation. Thanks for reminding us 🙂

    • By accepting what is you’re not focusing on it. It’s actually the opposite. What you resist persists. And by accepting what is you’re letting go of the resistance and therefore stop focusing on it.

  3. Excellent article of our human potential! As Tolle teaches, just accept what IS. This is so rarely offered in the event NEWS culture, of instant gratification, all on ‘credit’. A Rumi~nation springs to mind: “Prayer is not enough; you must do something.”

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