When I was ten years old I started playing soccer for a coach who taught me something that has been stuck in my memory ever since.

The one specific phrase I always remember him telling me throughout the years was “that’s just life’’. When things went wrong on or off the field, he was the first to accept the reality of the situation and it helped the entire team move forward. His trademark phrase later became a principle that I chose to incorporate into my lifestyle as much as humanly possible.

One fact that couldn’t be truer is that many of the events in our lives will be entirely beyond our control. Don’t get me wrong; I completely believe that each and every person can possess an incredibly high internal locus of control. My point is, if something is not within your control, accept that fact and “let it be” just like the Beatles did. No amount of stress or energy is going to give you the power to change the universe, so let it be.

Expect the best, and accept the worst. A chronic habit in modern society is the tendency to get extremely stressed about something that is already in the past. When all is said and done, clinging to that event is not going to make you feel any better. Start focusing on letting go so that you can live a low stress life.

I also know many people who have made a habit of constantly worrying about the future. If you want to spend day after day worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet, then so be it. You are then making a conscious choice to be miserable. Not to mention, you will be attracting the events that you fear right into your life. Fill your head with positive perceptions of how things will happen and let them flow naturally. If they do go wrong, take the approach of acceptance.

Living in the present can go a long way toward a healthy mentality.

I am a firm believer in a theory of least resistance. If you go to backbreaking lengths resisting an event that is relatively self-governing, you are simply adding fuel to the fire. It will be more likely to happen, and because you have invested so much thought, you will also perceive it to be much worse. Unless you want to exhaust yourself, fighting the inevitable is completely useless. Accept life’s obscurities and they will no longer affect you in such a severe way.

True acceptance is a skill of its own, and those who learn to master it are able to immerse themselves in an abundance of potential.

In Colombia I met a backpacker who was incredibly skilled at spinning staff. Staffing is essentially the rhythmic swinging of a pole the same way the western depiction of a samurai might. He would swing this giant flaming stick around his head and body so fast that it would likely knock him unconscious if it were to hit him. When I asked, he told me that the only times he would hit his head was when he thought about it happening. His solution was to accept that he might get smoked, and it never happened again.

All unfortunate events have some sort of purpose to them, so take them in stride and absorb the lessons they provide. Nobody before you has figured out all the little “whys” of life, so don’t waste your precious energy trying to do the same.

Although I’m not going to say I have had the most traumatic life, adopting a “that’s just life” philosophy has not only helped me deal with a list of major challenges including serious injuries, bad breakups and my parent’s divorce, it has also facilitated many of my very best memories.

For most of us, being stressed is a choice. It is the silent killer. In this day and age, being mindful of your mental habits can be just as important for your health as physical well-being.

Take control of your thoughts, they are far more powerful than you may realize.


Originally published at www.elephantjournal.com

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