One of my professors once told the class that at most, 10% of the things that happen in our lives are beyond are control. It was a lesson both in acceptance and in taking control of the direction where we want to put our lives into. I couldn’t disagree with that way of thinking. At the time I heard it, I felt that I was creeping back into depression because of a recent failure that forced me to shift the possible outcomes I had for myself, so I found it helpful to be able to say, “that’s just 10%” when things don’t really go my way.

Recently, however, I began believing the opposite. Maybe at most, only 10% of the things that happen in our lives are within control. One of the contributors to this paradigm shift occurred when I saw a video that exposed a facet of poverty in Haiti. From the video, I learned that there are people who are so poor, they have to resort to eating dirt just to fill their empty stomachs. On top of that, they have to pay for that dirt, which holds no nutritional value at all. I refuse to believe that being born into such depressing circumstances is at most 10%. It was just inhumane to think that.

On a personal level, I’ve been trying out a new mantra. I’m trying not to complain about everything because I’ve been starting to notice that I’m full of negative energy. I’m controlling, which only means that I easily become angry, disappointed, and frustrated once something goes out of plan. It wasn’t easy to start this mantra, but one of the first things that helped embodying this was to avoid comparing my life to other people’s. My realisations about circumstance followed later. I stopped counting how many months it took my classmates to get jobs while I was unemployed because I wasn’t actively looking for one. I stopped mentally listing the abilities my friends had but I didn’t because we had different childhoods and pursued different interests. Really, I just stopped peeking into other people’s bowls and found that mine was already overflowing. Most of all, most of the contents in mine weren’t exactly the fruit of my own efforts.

I’m not trying to discredit myself. I know my capabilities, and I know how much I’ve contributed to my achievements. Still, I can’t discount how much luck and circumstance have contributed, too, and this applies to both achievements and failures. While it may seem that I’m weak for letting things be what they are, it’s made me stronger. I feel happier and more mature, but what I like the most about giving it all for 10% is that it’s easier to accept anything that comes in my way.

I can’t really say I’ve rid myself of negativity. Oddly, I still find it comforting to wallow in it for a moment, sometimes even for a day. But once I’ve reminded myself that the most I’m doing contributes just 10%, might as well make that 10% a good one.

by Royce


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