One of the supposed benefits of Taekwondo training is that, over time, we learn to exercise control; control over our physical abilities, control over a potential antagonist and control over our emotions. Of these three, the latter is by far the most difficult to acquire; at least that has been my own experience – and it is talked about very little, at least in martial arts circles.
Each of us, at some time or other, experiences hurt, disappointment, frustration, fear and a swag of other negative emotions. My martial arts training over the years had taught me many, many things; perhaps one of the most important is that while we may develop the ability to exert physical control over other people, we cannot (nor should we) control how other people act, react or live their lives. The thing we truly can control, is how we act, how we live in the world and to some degree, how we think about things.
It is even difficult to control the outcomes of things; we can plan and act, but then we must develop a certain level of acceptance regarding the outcomes of those plans and actions; especially so, if we want to be happy. Many people take up martial arts training because they want to feel empowered in some way; perhaps they want to feel a little more control in their own lives and feel they can shape the way their lives will unfold and to some extent, the world in which they live. The reality though, is that there are simply an infinite number of things we cannot ever control; in short, we can control our own actions, and that’s about it!
Learning to accept that many things are beyond our control, is I believe, an important lesson to learn if we are to live truly happy lives. This doesn’t mean we need only sit back and watch the world unfold around us; not by any means. What it does mean, is that we make decisions, take action and then try to develop a certain level of acceptance regarding the eventual outcomes of those actions. We cannot control every element of every situation, and trying to do so will only lead to unhappiness and frustration. I like to say, act and behold. Sometimes the outcomes of our actions are highly favorable, sometimes less so and at other times, disastrous. We should all learn to take action and then accept, with dignity, the consequences of those actions. By practicing a little Buddhist acceptance, we can live lives that are more full of happiness and less replete with frustration and anger.
Life can be a struggle; and martial arts training teaches us how to deal and live with struggle; but life is also about being happy, living with less angst and realizing that we cannot control everything. A little acceptance, a little less attachment and the realization that nothing lasts forever can go a long way to making the living of our lives a joyous and more wonderful experience.
See you in class