This article by Srikumar Rao originally appeared on The Rao Institute
You probably do not think of yourself as a control freak – but you are!
As you go through life notice the number of times that you would like things to be different than they are.
The soup would be better with a dash more salt.
How lovely it would be if your son put the dishes in the washer instead of the sink.
It would be so nice to have an extra bedroom and perhaps a bigger backyard.
Life would be perfect if your promotion came through and your son got accepted at Harvard.
Why doesn’t someone invent chocolate that makes you thin?
How sad – vacation is almost over. Wonder where we should go next year.
Do I have to go to dinner with those bores? Why did my partner set up that date?
This is, of course, a snapshot of your mental chatter. But your mental chatter is obsessively pre-occupied with telling you how ‘wrong’ the world outside is.
The universe just does not unfold the way it should.
This is true on a huge scale with global problems like climate change, rising polarization and wobbling economies. It is true on a personal scale with your life situation.
Seriously, do you even recall a time when there was nothing bothering you?
What makes you think the world is not perfect as it is without your incessant attempts to change it?
Try this experiment: Note how many times your mental chatter tells you that things need to be changed and you need to change them.
Just observe this without judgment.
Then, see if you can simply accept what comes without imposing your will on it.
You are working on a project and your friend calls. Don’t tell him you are busy, and can you talk later? Just chat with him even if briefly.
You want to see a thriller and your wife wants to see a romcom? Go with the romance and try to enjoy it.
Don’t throw up your hands in horror. Won’t life degenerate into chaos if you did this? After all, you can’t let your daughter stay up late if she is to get up in time for school the next day! You have to impose your will.
You cannot do it all the time. But you can do it a lot more often than you do.
See how your experience of life changes.
- Dr. Srikumar Rao