Actually, I don’t think life should be fair. Because without challenge, our personal development is often slowed or halted. In the great mythologies we’ve created over the ages, the hero is blessed with obstacles to overcome. Heroic stories are meant to remind us that obstacles, once conquered, are what ultimately create a self-assured and confident human being.
However, very often people have an insidious underlying message when they say “life isn’t fair.” The implication is: not only is life not fair, it’s actively unfair. Many people believe there’s “something” conspiring against humanity, working against us to make life a burden. It could be malevolent spirits, a devious political party, or even a belief that people are intrinsically “evil.”
There’s a nasty fallacy lurking here. Sure, “bad things” happen to “good people,” and we shouldn’t expect everything in the world to revolve around us. But that doesn’t mean that the universe is a nihilistic nightmare that seeks to suck the souls from our bodies at every opportunity. The world is not naturally or supernaturally biased toward unfairness. We only see it that way. We add a deeper malevolent meaning to events around us.
Human beings have many defense mechanisms, and one of them is trying to blame external forces for our problems. We often don’t want to take responsibility for the choices we have made or the direction we’re headed in life. But when you blame something outside yourself, you give up your personal power and free will. This harmful mindset is a part of learned helplessness.
The Secret of Life is to Live It
So, instead of debating whether life is fair or unfair, how about we accept that it is neither. LIFE JUST IS. This earthly realm we inhabit exists, period. And no matter how it came to be, we have to deal with life as it comes to us.
We need to stop thinking of ourselves as just “pawns” being manipulated by the whims of “fate,” “evil,” “bad people,” etc. We need to see ourselves as independent and capable, just like the traditional hero, who decides to take charge of their fate and make their own opportunities.
Yes, there are times when external forces do work against us. But even though we can’t control what others do to us, we can control how we react to what is done to us.
Take the example of Viktor Frankl, a man who lost his entire family in the Nazi death camps. Through his horrible experiences, he learned that people can endure pain, torture, and deprivation by believing there was still a future for them. Those that gave up hope for the future perished.
After being freed from the camps, Frankl created logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that helps people create meaning in their own lives. Frankl chose to take the terrible events of his life and use them to create something for the benefit of humanity.
A better approach is to see life as a blank canvas for our actions and thoughts. Whatever we do in the world, whatever we project outward from our minds, will be “painted” on our reality. Life is an arena in which all things are possible, and it’s up to us to choose what possibilities we follow because the possibilities are endless.
The trick is to avoid giving away your personal power by believing the possibilities of your life are somehow limited. Your only limits are those you impose on yourself. Even if there are people who are actively trying to thwart your plans, it’s your choice to see that as a reason to throw your hands up in despair and give up … or to use that as more fuel for your determination.
So, the real question is: what world are you going to paint for yourself?
Cooperation is our Salvation
Let’s apply some logic: if existence here on Earth were so horrible and full of inevitable conflict, why are we still here? If human life was as chaotic and violent as some people think, then why are we not extinct?
Look around you. None of the people you see, or the creations of civilization we take for granted, would be here if we were nothing more than awful. It is self-evident that we would have destroyed ourselves long ago if our species was merely inherently evil.
The simplest answer is usually the correct answer. So, here’s the simple answer: humanity is still here because we have a fundamental need to cooperate and succeed together. Community is how we have survived this long. In the moments that we have accepted the fact that “life just is,” we’ve accomplished great things together.
So enough with this fixation on the negative and “inevitable” entropy in human relations. Save that for thermodynamics. Forget about what’s fair and unfair. You’ve got some living to do.
A version of this article was originally published at Live The Hero
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