The Practical Buddhist Blog – Practical Advice on Integrating the Practice of Buddhism in Contemporary Life


Our mind wants to control all aspects of our life, because we learn from experience that if we don’t control it, we can’t count on or trust anyone providing for us what we want.   

But this obsession with control has a major practical problem.   Regarding those aspects of our life that involve or depend on the actions of someone else, we in fact have no control.   We can do everything we think we should do, we can carefully plan, we can follow a plan of attack, but ultimately we have no control because it depends on the actions of someone else.

As a result, this obsession with control leads to constant frustration and anxiety.   Because we know that attaining our goal is dependent on someone else over whom we have no control.

What is the way out of this conundrum?  The answer is to free yourself from the control of your mind – which is where the obsession for control resides – and reconnect instead with your true self, your heart, your true Buddha nature (see my post, “How to Free Yourself . . . “) and give up the desire to control.   Understand that whether something happens or not is in the hands of the universe.   

If something doesn’t happen or pan out the way you wanted, it just wasn’t meant to be.   It’s not that the universe or Buddha or God failed you; it just wasn’t meant to be.   In the sense that it wasn’t in your best interest; the universe has something better in mind for you.   This is the lesson to be learned when your goal isn’t achieved.   It’s ok to be mildly disappointed, but you must say to yourself and believe that it wasn’t meant to be.

However, we do have control over our own thoughts and actions, if you are aware, mindful.   As the serenity prayer says, “Grant me the courage to change the things I can,” which I expand upon by explaining those things are the way I relate to myself and others, the thoughts I think, the words I speak, and the actions I take.   Thus you have the ability to control, to make a choice, whether to be at peace and happy regardless of the situation you find yourself in.

If you give up the desire to control what you cannot control, but control the things you can, you will feel a huge lifting of burden and anxiety, and instead experience the advent of peace.   You will not experience panic when you admit that you have no control because you have faith that you do have control over whether you are at peace and happy.

May you experience peace and happiness.


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