david allen

I Don’t Mind What Happens

I discovered a quote the other day by J. Krishnamurti about his “secret” to well-being. “You see, I don’t mind what happens.”

What power is there in that simple statement! How much of our pain, anxiety, heartbreak, and stress are the result of putting meaning in what is happening? I often speak about this concept in relation to money. Imagine you have $100 in your bank account. This is a fact and has no emotional meaning. Your bank statement can not cause you pain. But what if you add in the painful thought that you only have $100 in your account? How does that feel? What does that mean about you? What fears does that meaning bring up about your future? When I do my talks, I would invite people to find gratitude instead by perhaps focusing on that they still have $100 in their account after paying all their bills. I am a big fan of gratitude and how it can make us feel secure and happy. But Krishnamurti takes it one level still.

280_give creditIn his quote, he releases any meaning, judgement or expectation – bad or good. It reminds me of the farmer and the horse story that David Allan tells and explains so well here. Both Allan and Krishnamurti make the case of staying calm and non-judgmental in the face of bad – and good – events. How many of us ride the roller coaster of life? When something good happens, we expect something bad to be around the corner? When we are in the bad, we look with longing to other times or other people who seemingly have it so good. We are victims to the ups and downs of life that we create with our meaning. But what if we stop defining good and bad?

If you are in a difficult situation right now or if you feel like a yo-yo flying back and forth from good to bad, try these exercises.

Build Proof: Look at your own life. What “bad” things actually led to the good you have now?  What challenge had to be experienced to allow you to grow into who you were meant to be? What difficulty helped you change things for yourself and others? Martha Beck teaches the Backward Life Story to help us see the power of the bad. Look at one of the wonderful things you have right now in your life. Then look at what happened just before the good thing. And then look at what happened just before that and then before that. Keep going until you hit the bad experience behind it all. Nine times out of ten (if not more) you will be able to trace the joy you have in your life right now, to a painful incident. Without that incident, you would not have the joy. If you have trouble seeing this in your own life, look at the real world examples David Allen shares. Build an understanding of how life’s downs lead to life’s ups. Trust that what you are going through now is only leading you to something better.

Just the Facts: Review your current situation. Identify where you are feeling pain – or joy. Now remove the feeling and just look at the facts. Notice how it is your interpretation of the situation that causes the feeling. Nothing has meaning that we don’t bring to it. Focus on the tangible reality of the situation, not your self-imposed meaning.

Go with the Flow: As you go through your week, be an observer, not a participant in your life. Watch what happens as you would watch a movie. Do not invest meaning. Do not create expectation. Do not judge. Simply move from experience to experience. Get off the good-bad roller coaster.

Focus on Gratitude: Even in the most difficult situation, find the silver lining. When my father went through cancer it was difficult on us all. But even in that I found the gift in having a reason to spend more time with him than I would have had he not been ill. Look at your current pain and find the blessing hiding in the background.

Comments (6)

  1. Marilse
    May 18, 2018

    Choosing balance, just being even, no polarities

    • Melissa Heisler
      May 22, 2018

      Marilse it is less about balance and more about staying away from judgement. When we give something meaning, good or bad, is when we get away from the truth and into our interpretation of the truth where we feel pain.

  2. David Jeffress
    January 25, 2022

    I understand the philosophy here. However I can’t seem to accept it completely. If, for example, my little five-year-old daughter climbs up into my lap with reckless abandon to wrap her arms around my neck and show affection towards me, her daddy, I should ascribe no meaning to that? It’s neither good nor bad? I’m not sure I want to live a life of detachment.

    • Melissa Heisler
      January 27, 2022

      David thanks for your comment. Try not to think of this as an all-or-nothing concept. It is more of an instruction in balance and not judging. It is ok and human to feel true feelings. What the story is cautioning about is interpreting the meaning behind something. If we take your example, we don’t want to think your daughter doesn’t love you if she doesn’t show affection. It is ok to feel the affection but not to judge what it means or doesn’t mean. Make sense?

      • David
        January 29, 2022

        Melissa, yes that helps me understand better the point being made. Thank you for clarifying. I like what Eckhart Tolle says in one of his teachings, do not be concerned with the fruit of your action. No longer be attached to results, neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of being (happiness).

        • Melissa Heisler
          January 30, 2022

          Glad it helped David. What the parable and Eckhart are talking about is the Buddhist and Toltec concepts of detachment. Being in the moment, doing our best in the moment, feeling the feelings of the moment – then letting them go. Not replaying the past. Not fearing the future. Not writing stories about anything. Just being. 🙂

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