THE BLOG

Learning To Live With Uncertainty

24/03/2017 12:01 GMT | Updated 24/03/2017 12:01 GMT

With so much ambivalence surrounding Brexit and the EU, President Trump's new world order, the refugee crisis, bioterrorism, uncontrolled artificial intelligence, the North Korean crisis, climate change and stagnant wages for the masses, it is understandable that so many people feel intensely anxious with regard to global and domestic affairs. Compound these fears with personal problems (health, family, finance) and there is a very real danger of becoming pessimistic and cynical.

Uncertainty has always been a part of the human experience. For instance, in 1962 during The Cuban Missile Crisis many believed a global nuclear war was inevitable. Last century Britain was directly involved in twenty-five wars (two of them brutal global conflicts). In other words, security is an illusion - there are no guarantees. The paradox is that it is often during times of great uncertainty that creativity is unleashed. A good example of this was the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous. Post World War I and shortly after the Global Depression, at a time when alcoholism was annihilating the very fabric of family life, Alcoholics Anonymous was born (this life-saving movement burgeoned while Hitler was plotting to dominate the world). After centuries of oppression, a few enlightened men and women led the civil rights movement.

As long as people hold differing views and opinions, conflict will inevitably arise and in its wake, uncertainty. The question is: how do we live with uncertainty and transform our anxieties into creative solutions? It is often in moments of great turmoil and upheaval that people access intuitive ideas and find innovative ways to resolve their difficulties. A solution might manifest as a "light-bulb moment" or, conversely a solution might simply be surrendering to what is. When uncertainty arises in my life I repeat the mantra, "Accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can". This sentence is inspired by the classic serenity prayer. I have wasted many hours trying to reverse or change things that are out of my control (i.e. past events and other people's behaviour).

Yogis, Zen masters and the wisdom traditions have long been in unanimous agreement that life is a balance of holding on and letting go, changing what we can and accepting when the outcome is beyond our control. Thus the saying, "You have control over action alone, never over its fruits." By applying this simple ancient Eastern philosophy, my everyday reality has become more productive and far less stressful.

The cardinal principle with respect to addressing uncertainty is to consciously and emotionally let go of trying to control results and to anchor oneself in the present. It is by bathing oneself in the present moment that one can access infinite potential and creativity. Daily meditation and yoga have helped me to let go of outcomes and to be reasonably comfortable in times of uncertainty and as a consequence, my mental health and relationships have greatly improved.

Christopher Dines' new book, "The Kindness Habit: Transforming our Relationship to Addictive Behaviours," co-authored with Dr Barbara Mariposa is out now. http://www.christopherdines.com

MORE:lifestyle