Have you ever tried to solve a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces spread across, seemingly meaningless, unrelated to each other. Just when you start feeling that you have got the hang of it, along come a few pieces that refuse to make sense. You are just stuck and have no idea of how to proceed. You get tired and bored and want to give up the puzzle, because it is not fun anymore.

Sometimes life feels like that, doesn’t it? When things happening around don’t make sense or when you think everything is going according to plan, things go out of control for no apparent fault of yours?

How many times have we questioned our destiny or fate? How many times do we ask ourselves the ‘why me?’ question or ask ourselves ‘where did I go wrong?’. We have always read that our actions or our choices lead to consequences, but what happens when the consequences are seemingly unrelated to our actions?

You are not alone. There is probably not one person in the world who has not questioned the role of fate or destiny in their lives. A man who neither smokes nor drinks develops lung cancer. A woman, who gave everything to a marriage, finds herself alone. A perfect relationship breaks. A trusted friendship is lost. A hardworking employee gets passed up for promotion. A successful businessman loses a fortune. A student who studied hard fails to achieve desired goals. A sudden loss of job or a loved one passing away. A victim of a random crime or a criminal going unpunished. Sometimes it feels as if destiny has played a cruel joke.

Why do these things happen? Is it just Karma or redemption of sins? How do you deal with things which you have no control over?

If we take a philosophical or a spiritual perspective, everything happens for a purpose or maybe as per God’s plan. It is just a lesson that not everything in the universe is under our control. Though all this sounds good to hear but it doesn’t help in dealing with sense of helplessness that we feel when such things happen.

As a species, we are unable to deal with helplessness. It triggers a basic fear response in us leading to despair. Worse still is the ambiguity. We need and demand an explanation for everything that does or doesn’t happen around us. A lack of logical explanation makes us restless and anxious.

So how do we deal with this restlessness and despair?

A large part of it is plain and simple acceptance. Things happen! Without a precedent or an explanation. Do we question when things suddenly go our way? When for no effort of ours we get an unexpected bonus. We accept it as ‘a gift from the Almighty’ or a ‘stroke of good luck’ and move on. We do not seek an explanation. Then why seek explanations when things are not as per our desire.

Acceptance that not everything is under our control. We could do everything and still the best laid plans can go awry. Isn’t that why the term, ‘backup plan’ came by? Seeking explanations does help when we can change or improve on something, not when some things can’t be controlled, be it behaviour of another person, policy of an organisation or maybe just plain bad luck. It is then a choice that we have to make, do we waste time finding nonexistent explanations or spend time finding a solution or an alternative.

Acceptance that sometimes it is not anyone’s fault. A mother who had a baby with special needs spent all her time and energy (and money) finding the reason behind this despite the doctors telling her that there is no one specific reason. Could she have used her resources to maybe work with the child to improve his quality of life?

Acceptance that sometimes we won’t find answers right away. Not everything we seek is found immediately. Maybe these things happen so that we shift our perspective and look at life in a different way. As we move along with life, new experiences and new insight can often provide us answers to unanswered questions.

Acceptance that maybe the philosophers were right. There is a purpose for everything that happens. Maybe we got passed over a promotion so that we move out our comfort zone and look for another job. Maybe a loved one was lost so that we learn to live life independently. A woman whose husband left her after twenty years of marriage, suddenly found that her talent in the kitchen could make her a home chef and she could not only earn her own living but live an independent and happy life.

Acceptance that things happen to keep us on our toes. Imagine driving on a highway, a long stretch of road with no vehicle or a speed bump in our way. We have control over the steering wheel and we speed up, taking for granted that we are fully in control. What could be the possible consequence? Either the driver over speeds leading to an accident or he falls asleep at the wheel because of the monotony. We all need speed bumps in life, to keep us focused. Imagine leading a life with no challenges. Imagine writing an exam below our level or taking part in a completion with no real competitors. How long will we enjoy these situations?

Acceptance that life always offers us a choice even in a situation where we find ourselves completely out of bounds.

Such circumstances offer us two choices, either to look at ourselves as victims and curse the fault in our destiny or pick up those stars of destiny and create a new universe altogether.

 

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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