Mindfulness Monday

Today I am just writing a short little “blip” about chains of “coincidences;” things to which we often ascribe some kind of “intent” or “meaning” when they occur. When I say this I mean something like if you were to find a $5 bill lying in the middle of “Main Street” and you took that $5 bill and bought a lottery ticket and won $50 and then it just so happened that the bag or shoes or whatever you wanted went on sale for that price and you met a to-be great friend while buying said item. We do not interpret these events as “random” “coincidences;” we think that finding the $5 initially ultimately led US to finding OUR new best friend.

I cannot speak to the “rationale” behind these sorts of chains of “coincidence;” I am in something of the middle of one such very LONG chain right now. Although I do believe that the Universe is inherently chaotic, I also believe that everything affects everything else, even in a very minor way – of course, the “Butterfly Theory” is in lime with “Chaos Theory” to the best of my knowledge, so there is no necessary conflict in believing both in absolute chaos AND in every chaotic event having a causative effect on something else. Where I find “trouble” is in the “egocentric” way we think about these sorts of events. I realize everything we do is necessarily egocentric; even seemingly unselfish acts to do good or help others rewards the “giver” in some capacity. It is only natural for us to view the things that happen to us as things that happen TO US; it is very difficult to objectify a scenario such as that described above and to genuinely believe there was no INTENTIONAL causative factor affecting it from inception to conclusion (wherever or whatever that conclusion might ultimately be).

As an exercise in “Mindfulness,” I think it is important to take a minute to step back from ourselves when we encounter these kinds of situations. I think this is especially important when we consider the positive feelings that arise from these kinds of “fortuitous chains of events” – things like hope, optimism or a “positive” belief change (toward things like the future), happiness, &c. I say this because when things INEVITABLY DO GO WRONG, for example, you get into a fight with the friend and find yourself not speaking with this person for an extended period of time, we/you tend to take the “agency” away from the UNIVERSE and place it onto ourselves. This, again, deals with the very human way of viewing everything from an egocentric perspective. It is also very human to believe things that have seemingly “gone wrong” have done so because of something WE did to alter the otherwise “positive” course of events. If we are going to ascribe meaning to a chain of events (again, such as that described above), we must also learn to ascribe the SAME meaning to the consequences of those events – whether they are “positive” or “negative.” In order to do this, we have to take some of the “we” out of that “meaning” and to learn to look at the scenario from a slightly more “objective” perspective. In the above example, one could view the chain of “positive” events leading up to finding a good friend who then suddenly turns on you STILL AS POSITIVE – perhaps the friend went on and found what he or she considered to be “better” friends for himself or herself. If we do not take ourselves out of that position – i.e., if we believe that the ultimate “goal” of that series of events was for ME to meet my new best friend – we are bound to be disappointed somewhere down the line – whether it is from the betrayal of that friend or something that happens to that person or the friend ending up being related to someone you hate, &c. There is always a “but” somewhere in these kinds of chains of occurrences – given enough time, each and every event CANNOT be viewed as supposed to have had a “positive” effect on the person to which they seemingly happened. By objectifying these events just a little bit – by seeing that perhaps your befriending this new acquaintance enabled that person to have more self-confidence to go out and meet other new friends or allowed him or her to have the confidence to take a more satisfying job or meet the love of his or her life – there is ALWAYS a positive and negative to every part of the chain. Even from the beginning, the person who lost that $5 on Main Street probably was not too thrilled about losing money – even if he or she were “rich.” The person who sold you the winning lottery ticket might be proverbially bashing his or her head against the cash register that he or she hadn’t bought that ticket when he or she had the feeling that it might pay off. Perhaps that bag you bought was the last one and it was the dream bag of a 14-year-old girl whose parents didn’t have a lot of money and had been waiting for it to go on sale to give her a really amazing surprise. Although these are all very feasible “alternative” perspectives to the events that led to the friendship or whatever was construed to be the “end” of the chain, we rarely think of them in this way. We think of them in terms of OURSELVES – how we have BENEFITED FROM THE POSITIVE THINGS AND HOW THE SEEMINGLY FORTUNATE SERIES OF EVENTS ENDED ABRUPTLY WITH A SAD ENDING WHEN THE FRIEND STOPPED BEING THERE FOR US.

For “Mindfulness Monday,” I just want you to think about these sorts of things from ANOTHER perspective, like in the above “example.” Even if you are just thinking about the ultimate “outcome” of whatever scenario you’re imagining, think about what it means for the other person or other people involved. Think about the gains the “new friend” might have made by befriending you rather than what you have gained by befriending him or her. It is a great way to step back from everything and to see the dual truths that “things” that happen “TO US” are both inherently chaotic AND meaningful – in many, many ways! It is also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety when they arise over any situation – if we look at things from the perspective of another person or other people involved in basically any “encounter,” we can see there are, at the very least, alternative ways of interpreting any given situation and any given situational “outcome.”

I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world! For your sake, I hope you are in the middle of a “happy” chain of coincidences – perhaps a less esoteric one than the one in which I currently find myself! At any rate, thanks much for taking the time to read this and REMEMBER, MY HEART IS ALWAYS WITH YOU!

❤ Always, Beth

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