Life Isn’t Working Out As I’d Like It To Work Out


Life isn’t working out as I’d like it to work out. The question that I am left with is this one, how to be about what is so?  I have been grappling with this (including some help from Gregory Bateson) and I want to share with you what showed up for me.

Lets imagine that I am at a disco and the DJ is playing all kinds of music: pop, soul, rock, disco, R&B, ska, country, jazz…… etc.  Further, let’s imagine I am at this disco to dance – to just dance. What is my experience if I insist that I will only get up and dance to say R&B music?  Is it not likely that I will spend most of my evening dissatisfied – sat in my chair, being dissatisfied with the music being played, complaining that the DJ has not taste, getting drunk ….

Now imagine that I have two normal dice in my hands. And I roll the dice. What shows up? Any combination: two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, or twelve.  Right?  That is simply what is so given the nature of the dice and the game that I am playing.

Given the design of the game, I know that if I play this game or find myself playing this game, I will end up with one of eleven outcomes. I know this beforehand. Yet, I cannot know nor determine what I will end up getting when I roll the dice.  Nor can I know what will show up if someone else rolls the dice for me.

two-dice-one-red-and-one-black-landed-on-double-six

What happens to my experience of living if I make my self-expression, happiness, aliveness, fulfilment, conditional on getting two sixes every time I throw the dice?

Have I not limited myself to being happy-fulfilled, on average, once every 11 throws of the dice? Have I not, at the very same time, condemned myself to the experience of dissatisfaction even misery for the other ten throws?  Have I not stacked the odds against myself?

What happens if I put myself in a position (through being and doing) where I am as expressed, as happy, as alive, as fulfilled, if I get an eleven as well as a twelve?  It occurs to me that I have doubled the occasions for experiencing being alive, being self-expressed, being happy, being fulfilled.

Now imagine that I have arrived at a place where I am ok with whatever the roll of the dice generates.  What is my experience of living in this case?  Is my experience not transformed?

Knowing this, I have a choice in the matter of how I choose to show up, live and thus experience my life.  I can choose to:

  • dance with whatever shows up and in dancing I can became a better dancer;
  • act on others and the world to get them to conform to my wishes – each and every day; and/or
  • resign myself to being self-expressed, alive, happy and fulfilled when life shows up exactly as I insist that it shows up.

What does it take to be special?


You and I want to feel special

I want to feel special, you want to feel special and just about everyone wants to feel special.    That is just what is so.  And all would be well if we could just be with what is so: wanting to feel special.

For some or even most of the time you and I do not feel special.  That is also what is so.  And all would be well if we could be with what is also so: not feeling special.

You and I do not leave it at that.  Instead, some of us look for people in whose company we feel special.  When we are with these people then we feel special – life simply shows up as great, we laugh, we feel lighter,  our worries seem to fall away….. Others turn to roles, titles, or positions of power to feel special.  Some of us get to feel special through the triumphs in organisations we support like sports teams and political parties.

“There is something wrong!”

Sooner or later we find ourselves without the company of the people who makes us feel special.  Or without the roles, titles, or positions of power that makes us feel special.  And from time to time our sports teams lose.  Then what shows up?  We experience not feeling special!

What do you and I do with that experience of not feeling special?  Do we accept it? No!  We make it mean “Something is wrong!”  Something is wrong with me, with you, with the world….  And when we do that what shows up in our experience of living?  Misery shows up: we create misery for ourselves and these ripples of misery infect others that we come in touch with.

Masters of creating misery

Then there are some amongst us who are masters of creating misery for ourselves.  Those of us who are ‘masters of misery’ insist that we can only be happy if we have someone in our lives who makes us feel special. Or that we can only be happy if we have certain roles, certain titles, certain positions of power etc…

Notice what has happened here.  We, the masters of misery, make our happiness conditional on someone else and/or something else showing up in our lives and making us feel special. And in the process we give up our responsibility and our freedom. Instead we  enslave ourselves.  Why do I say that?  Because it is the world that then determines how we get to experience our lives.

Is there a way out of this prison?

If you/I find that we are one of these ‘masters of misery’ then you/I can let ourselves out of the prison that we have created for ourselves.  How? By giving up the demand that we feel special.  And by giving up our commitment, our addiction, to the point of view that we can only be happy if someone/something makes us feel special.

Look around you and notice that it is the ‘ordinary person’ who is at ease with who he is, what he does and the circumstances of his life, that shows up as special.  Notice, It is the person who is at ease with his ‘ordinariness’ that shows up as special.  Notice, it is the person who can be with people or be with him/herself that shows up as ‘special’.  Notice, it is the person who can be with and make the most of the sunshine and the rain that shows up in his/her life that shows up as special.

The paradox of special

Here is the paradox, when you/I give up the need to feel special and the demand that the world makes us feel special it is then that you/I become and show up as special.

It takes a special person to be totally ok, and even delight in, being ‘ordinary’.  It takes a special person to choose to show up in life happy – to put happiness into life – for no reason whatsoever except that he has chosen to live this way.