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Life’s Not Fair – And Then You Die

life and the universeThousands of people world wide will have lost loved ones over the holidays.

I spent half an hour chatting with a Filipino barman on our cruise ship just recently who lost a brother-in-law during Typhoon Haiyan. A brother-in-law who had 2 kids, a mother living with him and was the sole bread winner for the family.

At this moment thousands of innocent people worldwide are in a prison cells, young kids who only ever brought joy are dying from incurable diseases and total bastards are living life high on the hog at the expense of people they have exploited.

I don’t know about you, but none of that seems very fair to me.

Life’s Not Fair

In fact on closer inspection it seems that life’s not fair at all.

What happened to that phrase I grew up with, “What goes around, comes around” or the rather more recent, “Karma’s a bitch”.

Don’t they indicate that life is fair, that if you say the right thing and do the right thing the Universe has your back?

It must be so I read it on Pinterest!

But the Universe doesn’t have your back, it has slightly bigger fish to fry and is probably, presuming it’s an entity at all, ambivalent to you as an individual.

If it weren’t it would have over 7 billion other people to keep an eye on, not to mention all over life forms both here and maybe elsewhere.

Imagine what its inbox must look like?

You may find this somewhat depressing and wonder why a Life Coach of all people is being so curmudgeonly.

Well the reason is this.

Knowing Life Isn’t Fair Is Incredibly Freeing

It isn’t (or shouldn’t be) an excuse to act like a total dick.

Nor is it a reason to throw up your arms in despair and think things are out of control, because the only thing that matters is very much within your control.

And that thing, is how you think.

How you react to shit when life throws it at you. And by the way, it will throw it at you sooner or later.

For added emphasis, it’s not the shit that life throws at you that matters, but how you react to it.

Life Isn’t Cause and Effect

Life is seldom cause and effect, it’s almost always, cause – interpretation – effect.

That’s why some people seem impervious to the vagaries of life. They interpret it differently.

A failure is a chance to learn. An illness an opportunity to reflect. And the loss of a loved one an occasion to celebrate having had the good fortune to have known them in the first place.

That’s not denial. It’s not being silly or unrealistic. And it’s not acting like Pollyanna, it’s taking responsibility for your own happiness.

I’ll tell you this though. Thinking life should be fair is delusional, pointless and will only lead to a victim mindset and poor mental health.

The first thing I’d teach kids in school would be “Life isn’t fair – deal with it now or forever feel frustrated, bitter and at odds with reality.

16 comments to Life’s Not Fair – And Then You Die

  • Spot on, Tim, now that’s taking responsibility for your mindset!

  • [insert something about make your own rules here].

    You totally hit it when you wrote about the victim mindset. And taking responsibility. Life is either unfair, or it’s your for the taking, right?

    When my Dad died, there was a lot of ‘why? It isn’t fair’ floating around in my head. And I was treated like a victim because he died when I (and he) was quite young. But over time, I’ve moved on. It DID feel like I’d been cheated, but allowing that thought to rule me? Not an option.

    • And things like that are really difficult for most people to deal with because it’s so personal it feels like we are being victimized.

      Having said that, you were upset because you loved your dad. And you loved him because of who he was and what he did. And that brings the natural reframe to the forefront that you were lucky to have had him for as long as you did.

      It doesn’t make it ok, but it makes it bearable.

  • Bravo! Awesome post and very, very true. I especially liked “it’s not the shit that life throws at you that matters, but how you react to it.” Hahaha brilliantly said!

  • Life is difficult in all the aspects. In addition it is too short so I think the main thing is to think positively. Trying to do our best to be successful and to make our relatives happy should be always on the first place.

    • I’m not sure I’d say it’s difficult in all aspects Maria.

      And I think the first priority is to make ourselves happy before we try and do the same for others.

  • Robert

    If you’ve read most of Milton Eroickson’s life story-a turning point when he was a resident at the University of Wisconsin Medical School a young woman died. He decided he needed to come to grips with the fact that life isn’t fair. Whenever I read bullshit about “the universe having my back” I wonder if these people mean the sun, moon, stars, the crabgrass in my lawn, etc. are all there to take care of me. I doubt it. I agree its how we interpret thing that make a difference.

    • I actually don’t mind clients thinking the Universe is on their side. I don’t necessarily agree, but I would say so because it’s a fairly empowering belief.

  • Great post. What does it mean: “Life is fair”? When life is unfair? Well. Probably when it differs from the life as it should be.

    We have a picture of reality, as it should be. Maybe our clinging to that picture makes us suffer. We see life and we conclude that it is not as it should be. And it depress us.

    Thats my thoughts.

  • “We have a picture of reality, as it should be. Maybe our clinging to that picture makes us suffer.

    I’d swap the maybe for definitely.

  • What if life is and isn’t fair? What if life simply is? We can accept what happens or reject it?

    What is unfair is Tim replying and telling me that’s what he just said, how you react to (life) is what matters.

    I love the last line about what you’d teach kids in school, Tim. A guaranteed way to ensure all minors drink, need a mental health counselor or hire a life coach!

  • Another short thought. Maybe it is all about evaluating. By evaluating, we create ‘reality’. Our own, sour. Giving marks is imposing our will on “what is”, is playing God, is a source of frustration.

    But it is nothing wrong in having intentions or moving towards direction we want. There are two separate thing. Evaluation and intention. First gives us “our own perception of reality”, which is mostly and profoundly stained with pain. Second is a positive attitude that moves us through reality, without regret or guilt or feeling as victim.

    sorry for my english, I’m not an english speaker