A fish swims in a chaotic ocean that it cannot possibly control — much as you all do. The fish, unlike you, is under no illusion that it controls the ocean, or other fish in the sea. The fish doesn’t even try to control where it ends up — it just swims either going with the flow or dealing with the flow as it comes. It eats, and hides, and mates, but does not try to control anything.

Unlike fish, our attempts to control the world can be seen through our daily lives and activities, viz.:

  • Tracking every little thing, from spending to exercise to what you eat to what tasks you do, to how many visitors are on your site, to how many steps you’ve taken today and to how many miles you’ve run , as if your selective tracking can possibly include the many complex factors that influence outcomes.
  • Obsessively planning projects, trips, days, parties, as if the outcomes of events are things you can control with your powers of manipulation of the world.
  • Trying to control employees with many motivations and whims and habits that you don’t understand as if humans aren’t more complex than you can possibly understand.
  • And finally, trying to control how your own children would turn out, as if you can mold their destinies.

You are no better than that fish, yet your thinking creates the need for an illusion. You constantly make plans that never actually turn out the way you envisioned. It’s amazing how often you think you’re in control of something when really you aren’t. Actually, control is an illusion. When you think you control something, you’re generally wrong.

Did you know five years ago that the world would turn out as it has — that Obama would be president, that the stock markets would have crashed, that you’d be deep into a recession, that earthquakes , tsunamis and droughts would hit the world , that you’d be doing exactly what you’re doing today? Of course not. You don’t know the future, much less control it. You like to think you do, but that never turns out to be true. And yet you continue to believe in the illusion of control. You face a chaotic and complex world, and seek to control it however you can.

Let go of this illusion and see what are you left with? Let go of that thinking. Learn to be the fish.

When you are in the midst of chaos, let go of the need to control it. Be awash in it, experience it in that moment, and try not to control the outcome but deal with the flow as it comes. It’s a completely different way of living, once you let go of the illusion.

You stop setting goals, and instead do what excites you. You stop planning, and just do. You stop looking at the future, and live in the moment. You stop trying to control others, and focus instead on being kind to them. You learn that trusting your values is more important to taking action than desiring and striving for certain outcomes. You take each step lightly, with balance, in the moment, guided by those values and what you’re passionate about rather than trying to plan the next 100 steps and where you’ll end up. You learn to accept the world as it is, rather than being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it, despaired by it, or trying to change it into what you want it to be. You are never disappointed with how things turn out, because you never expected anything — you just accept what comes.

To some of you this might seem like a passive way of living – against your aggressive, productive, goal-oriented cultural nature.  If you can’t accept this way of living, that’s alright — many people live their lives with the illusion of control not realizing what it is that makes them unhappy or frustrated. But if you can learn to live this way …you would experience it’s the most freeing and  happy way of living in the world.