When Elon Musk was a little kid in South Africa, around 10 years old, there was a boy who was freaking out because it was night time. He was freaking out because he was afraid of the dark. Normal, for kids. And then Elon Musk told him, ‘darkness is just the absence of light.’
That’s the difference between how we see things and how they actually are.
In the April 10 entry in The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday says, ‘An event is inanimate. It’s objective. It simply is what it is.’
There’s also a tactic that William Uri talks about in Getting Past No. It’s called Going to the Balcony.
Yesterday I missed an opportunity to get something I wanted because I was didn’t think quick enough on my feet. And I can name about a hundred times that’s happened. If my wits could swim, and they were in a race with a seahorse, top speed 1.5m/hour, they’d get lapped. But after initial thoughts of ‘God damn, I never think quick enough,’ I then stopped and isolated the incident. Instead of thinking ‘God damn it. I always fuck up‘, you can isolate the incident and think, ‘I fucked up this time.‘ And once I did that, I actually thought of a couple times when I thought super-quick and it turned out awesome.
Instead of distorting the objective image and thinking you’re completely crap at something or you just can’t do anything right, go to the balcony, look at what’s going on from the outside, and see it for what it is. Free of all the anger, disappointment, frustration, and all the other gross emotions, which we just make up in our mind anyway.
I used to hate the expression that’s the title of this post: ‘It is what it is.’ But it’s actually wise and erudite in its simplicity. This thing what you see in front of you –it’s nothing else. What you see is what you get.