You’re Not Entitled to the Outcome

Jay McLaughlin Stoicism Seneca Stoic Philosophy Book Reading

I always pride myself in trying to do the right thing. I feel it’s important. That being said, I don’t actually believe in karma. I’d like to, but it seems to miss far too many people for my liking.

Last year, before I had my surgery, I started getting into philosophy, and it really helped me with my recovery, and has continued to help me with my general mindset going forward.

One thing that I think it’s important to understand is that you’re entitled to the labour, but not the outcome. Nowadays, we base our happiness or measure of success entirely on the basis of outcome. Well you can work your arse off, do your best, get nothing wrong, and still lose through no fault of your own. Maybe someone was better, maybe your product was no longer required, or maybe the game just changed. If you focus your happiness on the outcome, your happiness can often be out of your hands. 

To illustrate my point, I had a date for tonight. As I was getting ready, had second thoughts on what I was going to wear. Originally, I’d planned to go with a tan leather jacket, but then thought maybe a double breasted blazer. I tried it on, but it looked way too formal, even with Nike Air Force One’s, so I went back to the leather jacket. As I was waiting for my date, I saw a random drunk old guy talking to a girl. I moved towards her in case she needed rescuing, but he moved off. We looked at each other and shared a moment of amusement at the drunk though.

A few minutes later, this girl approached me and then complimented me on how good I looked. I thanked her and told her to stay away from strange drunk men, and then checked my phone to see if my date was on her way. A few seconds later, the girl complimented me again, and kept loitering near me. I figured at that point she probably wanted me to ask her out, but obviously I was on a date, so that just wouldn’t be right.

Eventually the girl’s friend arrived and she left, smiling at me as she went. I smiled back and then checked my phone to discover that my date had stood me up. 

I did all the right things. I was there on time, I looked good, I smelled great, I behaved properly, and I still lost, but you know what? I’m not even phased by it! Another thing I’ve learned in my studies of things like stoicism, is that every situation in life is neutral. It is what it is. It’s only how you feel about it that makes it good or bad. You have control over how you feel about things. 

So sure, I got stood up! But it gave me a topic to blog about. I save money. I decided to go do my food shopping for the weekend, and I may still watch a movie before the night’s out. Not the Friday I’d planned, but like I said in the beginning, you’re entitled to the labour, you’re not entitled to the outcome. It’s about making the best of what you have, and seeing the positives in everything.