In a week when my boiler stopped working and my car failed its MOT, I’ve been thinking about the idea of entitlement. Specifically, the idea that things should be one way rather than another.
At various points this week you might (if you were in the vicinity) have heard me thinking aloud that there should be hot water and central heating in my flat. Or that I shouldn’t have to wait for a bus – particularly a late bus – in the rain.
But of course there aren’t actually any shoulds at all.
When I act as if there are, I can feel quite out of sorts and grumpy. I can do self pity and victim-ing and all manner of pointless things, none of which makes me feel any better, gets my boiler working or helps my car pass its MOT.
Whereas when I remember that there’s absolutely no reason to expect things to be other than they are, it’s a lot easier to feel ok and get on with dealing with the issues at hand.
A step further would be to consciously practise what Friedrich Nietzsche describes as ‘amor fati’ or ‘a love of fate’. In Ecce Homo he writes:
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it… but love it.”
Which is an echo of what Stoic philosopher, Epictetus (who knew more than most about dealing with adversity) said around 1800 years earlier:
“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.”
Embracing – rather than fighting – the reality of things as they are doesn’t mean doing nothing. (Believe me, I’m still getting the boiler and the car fixed.) It’s simply a way of creating more gentleness in the moment. And from that place of gentleness, it is often easier to find good solutions.
So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. And now, thanks to two new O-rings and a helpful local garage, things are looking up.
So I’m curious…anyone else had one of ‘those’ weeks too?
If so, what’s helping you to get through yours?
*I’m sure I read somewhere that cold showers are supposed to be good for you…