“Once we fall into the trap of believing that things are ‘supposed’ to go well, we tend to think something has gone terribly amiss when they suddenly don’t.”
So writes Dr Kristin Neff in her book Self Compassion.
It’s a favourite quote of mine because it takes the sting out of the fact that in everyday life things don’t always go right.
Naturally we’d like things to go right but it isn’t the end of the world (usually) when they don’t. And as Buddhist psychology reminds us – and this is very much part of the mindfulness philosophy – everything is impermanent so we simply cannot assume that things will go the way we want them to.
I try to remind myself that if 51 per cent of things go right in a day I’m ahead of the game and with luck the ‘success’ rate will be even higher. After all demanding say 90 per cent success can actually put us off moving forward and even trying because we’ve set the bar so high. Aiming for 51 per cent gets us started and gets things done.
I wouldn’t recommend this approach for brain surgery or landing planes but when it comes to the small change of everyday life, 51 per cent will do.
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