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The Unexpected Events of Life

Our society is largely structured on values that favor materialism, logic, and objectivity. It is as if in some way we wish to keep every aspect of our life under strict control in order to derive maximum benefit from it at all times.

The human being is afraid of unpredictability and of what he cannot control. He fears the feeling of emptiness and also fears for his freedom, as if, deep down, he is afraid of himself. On the other side, believing in randomness is not something everyone accepts easily. It’s a way of losing control of things and letting chance and chaos rule everyday life.

In reality, everyday life is not based on these concepts. The human being must also adapt to unpredictable things, to the fact that he does not always achieve what he desires or that he cannot always control others.

Plotting a path does not mean arriving at your destination without ever changing your way, but more likely looking for the safest and fastest way to reach your destination.

The comparison with life is quickly made: we set goals, draw up an action plan to achieve them, then we must be good at achieving them in the shortest possible time. But if it were that easy, we will all make our dreams come true, while the reality is quite different. Destiny (or call it whatever you want) often leads us to do something unexpected, to find ourselves on a path that we had not planned and that we had not thought about minimally.

In recent times I have found myself talking in this group about some characteristics of trees that represent our existence well.

Well, I like to imagine us human beings as the branches of a tree shaken by the wind of a storm. If the branches in question were rigid, the bursts of air would break them over time. Instead, with their being flexible, they undergo, bend, shake, but hardly break.

Terms such as oscillation, flexibility, malleability must necessarily enter our vocabulary if we are to live a peaceful life. We must use tenacity and determination to defend ourselves, to keep ourselves safe when we are under attack. But then we must learn to let ourselves be lulled by the waters, the wind, and relax a little more, savoring the good things we take for granted too often.

The question then might be: what is the purpose of life? Live it or control it?

The first option will always give us satisfaction, the second we will never be able to implement it always and in any case. So, starting from this premise, why not enjoy the experiences to the fullest and serenely express what we feel in every moment?

On the other hand, since unforeseen events will always happen, it is also advisable to try (learn) to foresee and face them as much as possible; this will help us make better use of what we cannot control anyway. The lack of foresight, in fact, always leads to improvisation, which does not always have a positive outcome.

Life is strange and unpredictable and preparing for any eventuality must become our strength, to face it in the best way. Of course, to deal with the unexpected that arise along the way, we can only act on events, and not on what we imagine or desire, since the unexpected, by its nature, is something that takes us by surprise.

But be careful, we must be able to distinguish between an unexpected event and an event that can be foreseen. We can not deceive ourselves by labeling as unforeseen the situations that are predictable those that only through laziness or carelessness, we have not been able to avoid.

The worst aspect of the unexpected is that once it happens, we are so busy finding solutions that we forget to ask ourselves if we could have foreseen it. And realizing that it is too late to remedy what happened, we fall into discomfort and helplessness.

Sometimes life takes a lot of effort to wreck everything. Existence is not what we think or want, but what happens to us. It is not easy to survive the unexpected, but it is not impossible either.

This means that it is better to be ready and have the necessary resources, as for example: we are aware of the fact that it is often not easy to accept that the unexpected can break the balance that we have struggled to achieve; let us not let our success depend only on a single path but prepare the path for multiple options; let’s get used to reflecting on the most likely successes we will be able to achieve and prepare a plan to put them into practice; we make every decision with confidence. Even if we do not have all the necessary data to deal with an unexpected event, we try to have faith in us regarding the possibilities of overcoming it); we ask for help. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that something has taken us by surprise and that we may need someone’s help.

There are people who forget to live for too much desire to control the unexpected. They live thinking that it is possible to control everything. But these people, who worry too much about being in control, are not enjoying life to the fullest. They believe they have an excessive responsibility for whatever happens around them, coming to develop a feeling of omnipotence. And there are also those who, on the contrary, end up believing themselves incompetent in managing problems, coming to think (or prefer) to be controlled by others or by circumstances.

The characteristics just described make these people obsessive, unable to enjoy any relaxing and out-of-context situation. On top of that, they suffer from everything they cannot control.

In reality, although most common situations or events can be managed through a conscious effort, there is a small, but important, percentage of situations in which the exact opposite occurs. The more we try to control them, the more uncontrollable and traumatic they become.

In conclusion, and to think about it, what said can be terrifying but also exciting, at the same time: the idea that there can always be a twist ready to excite us could – on the one hand – push us to new reflections and tell us about new horizons, but on the other – if one is particularly anxious – it could almost throw us into fear of what is unknown.

Ultimately, it is precisely the unpredictability of life that gives it sparkle, gives it color, gives it facets and shades that allow us to amaze and surprise ourselves day after day. We should remember this more often, especially in those cursed moments of despair when, really, we no longer believe in anything!

Maybe, the key could be to adopt, as a mantra, a phrase known as the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr).


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Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

2 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Thank you for your unfailing support.
    It is inspiring to engage with minded individuals and professionals like you, who think outside the box, are willing to explore and eager to share their knowledge, giveng others the opportunity to grow and expand their knowledge base.
    Thank you very much for your (generous) consideration.

  2. Aldo- I read many articles by you and with all honesty none of them has moved me more than this one. Your posts always make sense, but this one I feel your wrote with such passion that it flows like music does.

    Controlling the uncontrollable is like holding smoke in the hand. It is the agile mindset that gives us the wisdom to distinguish between what is controllable and which is not. Like you highlighted, we want to control and feel safe. However, we miss the opportunity to learn and grow. We lose peace with ourselves because we forget the butterfly effect and that small events affect our lives sometimes in unimaginable way.

    You explained the above so beautifully. Only today I sent to BIZCATALYST my post on Rigidity of Minds. Your post covers this so elegantly.

    My deepest congrats for writing this post.

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