I am not a religious person. I am also not a spiritual person, and quite frankly, I never really understood what that meant (being spiritual). I admit to being philosophical. I love dwelling into philosophy, and thus, sometimes expression of my ideas encroach into the realm of religion or “spirituality”, because religion is mostly steeped in philosophy.
I do not claim to perfectly live by these principles, and I have had no sudden epiphanies about these. Each principle was revealed so to speak over time and contemplation. Somehow I knew for a very long time and we all do in some form or another. However, it is funny how the mind works; when we see or hear ideas that have always been floating around in our heads, we finally “see” or realize.
What I ask of you is to ponder upon these principles, and try to start applying them slowly and see how they change the way you live.
You are Responsible for Your Experiences
Whatever you have experienced, are experiencing or will ever experience is your responsibility. Your thoughts, your choices, your actions that were made by you, led you to experience each and every event that has happened in your life. The same will be true for anything and everything that you have not experienced.
I know that this becomes tricky when people start giving counter arguments like, “Oh what about that car accident?” Or “What about the hurricane that destroyed my home?” or some other negative or bad thing that they experienced.
Has anyone ever blamed anyone or anything for something good happened to them? When good things happen, it is always, you worked hard, or you are smart, or it is your abilities, or your luck made it happen. If you are not responsible for all the bad that happens to you then you are also not responsible for anything good that happens to you.
This principle is not about blaming the victim, but empowering them. Accepting that all your thoughts, actions, choices and decision led you to that specify point in time and space to experience that event, releases everything and anything that you do not have direct control over. Moreover, accepting and knowing that you are responsible for what you experience, you can choose what to experience next. You become the master of you destiny so to speak. You are in the driver seat; not your mother, father, friend, lover, boss, weather, stock market, or anything.
There is the physical aspect of an event, and then there is the after effect of that event. The event itself you may not have control over, however, how you experience that event is up to you. I will give you an example of what I mean by that.
There are two people at a concert. One person is annoyed that they did not get the seats that they wanted, that people are jumping around and blocking their view and it is too loud or not loud enough. This person will have a completely different experience then the other person who is filled with joy because they are at a concert of their favorite band, they do not care about where they are seated because they just wanted to be at that concert, and enjoying the fact that there are other people who love this band just as much as they do and they are enjoying the experience together.
These two people are in the same event in time and space, but their experiences of that event are drastically different.
So there are two distinctions of this principle. One is that your thoughts, actions and decisions bring you to an event in time and space. The event that occurs is something that may not have control over, because the chain of cause and effect was already set in motion. Second, although you may not have control over the actual event when it happens, what you experience because of that event is because of you.
There is a theory that time is such that everything that has happened in the past, is happening now and will happen in the future is happening all at once. I am not going to get into that.
What I mean by being present is to have your focus on the present. Do not live in the past, do not live in the future; just be present.
This is very important in relationships. Every relationship has ups and down, there are arguments and there are differences. What most people tend to do is bring out the past. Because 20 years ago someone said something that offended you, you decided to get back at them by doing something else.
A lot of times, you keep dwelling on your past mistakes and because of fear of making the same mistake again, you fail to move forward in life. Or that feeling of, ‘oh things were so great. I was so good in basketball, or I wish I could go back to being young’ or something of that nature.
By being in the past and dwelling on what could have, should have, or would have been, you forget to live in the present. On the other side of the spectrum are futurist who keep living in the future. “When this happens, I will do that.”
Some might feel that if you do not look at the past, how will you learn the lessons of the past? For this I will remind you of the first principle, which is you are responsible for what your experience, and so it is important if you want to change your experiences in the future, you must learn from your past and then make changes so that you have a different experience in the future.
When watching a TV show, you watch a recap of what happened in the previous episodes and then you continue watching the show. Do you keep watching the previous episodes again and again without moving forward to the next episode?
Learning from your past is vital to have the optimal first principle, which is “You are responsible for your experiences”. But dwelling on the past is disservice to your experience.
Likewise, planning for the future, and setting goals is vital for your experience as well. If there is something that you would like to experience in life or also importantly not experience in life, you must plan and set goals for the future accordingly. But once that is done, your entire focus must be on the present.
Truly experiencing the present sets you free from the past and future and in my opinion of the ultimately way of living.
The third principle may seem like a direct contradiction to the first principle. Before that, what do I mean by “let go”?
Let go is the concept of letting go of expectation, of control, desire, hate, bad feelings and even good ones. It is a form of detached way of living. It should not confused with the idea of letting go of all your possession and relationships and duties and responsibilities so that you can go live in a forest, or high up in the mountains. I am very much against that way of “letting go”.
Let go has more to do with letting go of expectations. You are responsible for your experiences and thus you have a right to want to experience certain things in life and for that you must be present and work on those goals. However, you must not be attached to events that either fulfill those experiences or go contrary to desired experiences.
Letting go also applies to the other two principles. Sometimes, you may not be able to focus on the present. Sometimes an event forces you to focus on the past or the future. You must not become angry with yourself for losing focus on the present. You must not be attached to the outcome, do not expect that you will always be able to focus on the present, doing so will create anger and frustration, and this will then affect what you experience.
Likewise, after accepting that you are responsible for experiences, you must let go. Do not keep holding onto the thought because if you do, every little action, every little thought is going to force you evaluate whether or not it is going to start a chain of cause and effect which will ultimately lead you to have a good experience or a bad one.
Being attached to these principles must also be abandoned. These 3 principles must be kept as a reference, as a guide that you keep to remind yourself about what is important in life.
Letting go of expectation in work, business, sports, and especially relationships will bring a serene kind of balance which will be hard to experience without this principle. You have the right and ability to chose your experiences and work towards them, but you do not have the right or power over the faculties of other people and things, and therefore, the only solutions is to let go.