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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Surrender and Accept Life . . . or, at least, "Pick Your Battles Wisely"

"Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou
art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary
deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee
to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." 
Matthew 5:25
I found the following article in my varied reading. Although it does not deal specifically with why it is easier, healthier and more effective to accept that life is, in fact, unmanageable, but rather it deals with "picking your battles wisely," the lesson is much the same. You attempt to manage your life - as well as everyone else's - at your own risk. If you do, you will continually be prey to a life of "irritability, restlessness and discontent," irrespective of whether you drink or use drugs to relieve such toxic feelings.

As the great Roman Emperor and renowned philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, observed, "Life is inherently unmanageable."

The following excerpt - "Choosing Your Battles Wisely" - is from Richard M. Carlson's book, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff . . . and its all small stuff."

"Choosing your battles wisely" is a popular phrase in parenting but is equally important in living a contented life. It suggests that life is filled with opportunities to choose between making a big deal out of something or simply letting it go, realizing it doesn't matter. If you choose your battles wisely, you'll be far more effective in winning those that are truly important.

Certainly there will be times when you will want or need to argue, or even fight for something you believe in. Many people, however, argue, confront, and fight over practically anything, turning their lives into a series of battles over relatively "small stuff." There is so much frustration in living this type of life that you lose track of what is really relevant.

The tiniest disagreement or glitch in your plans can be made into a big deal if your goal (conscious or unconscious) is to have everything work out in your favor. In my book, this is nothing more than a prescription for unhappiness and frustration.

The truth is, life is rarely exactly the way we want it to be, and other people often don't act as we would like them to. Moment to moment, there are aspects of life that we like and others we don't. There are always going to be people who disagree with you, people who do things differently, and things that don't work out. If you fight against this principle of life, you'll spend most of your life fighting battles.

A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone. If your primary goal isn't to have everything work out perfectly but instead to lead a relatively stress-free life, you'll find that most battles pull you away from your most tranquil feelings. Is it really important that you prove to your spouse that you are right and she is wrong, or that you confront someone simply because it appears as though he or she has made a minor mistake? Does your preference of which restaurant or movie to go to matter enough to argue over it? Does a small a scratch on your car really warrant a suit in small claims court? Does the fact that your neighbor won't park his car on a different part of the street have to be discussed at the dinner table? These and thousands of other small things are what many people spend their lives fighting about. Take a look at your own list. If it's like mine used to be, you might want to reevaluate your priorities.

If you don't want to "sweat the small stuff," its critical that you choose your battles wisely. eIf you do, there will come a day when you'll rarely need to do battle at all.
 In Twelve Step parlance, this is about (Step 3) turning one's will and life over to a power greater than the "small self" of ego consciousnesss, with its constant nitpicking and dissatisfaction;(Step 10) continuing to examine what we make into a "great big deal" as the result of our remaining defects of character; (Step 7) letting go of such defective thoughts and way of thinking by adjusting our attitudes; and, finally, (Step 11) improving our conscious contact with a power greater than our "small self" egos by hesitating and meditating before going off fully cocked on another ego gratifying battle.

As is noted on page 417 of the Big Book of Ă‚lcoholics Anonymous, ". . . acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or siyuation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unlesss I accept life completely on life's terms,  I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes. [Emphasis added.]

These passage once again touch the timeless themes of all the world's great wisdom tradition. "We have no monopoly" on these spiritual insights and truths.


  1. It's true, we need to be the change we want to see.

  2. please keep writing your blog. you have an immense understanding and hope you continue to share your insights. I wish I had your email address.