Hi friends! Today I am going to share with you a concept that has brought me so much peace in my life. That concept is called the “both and”.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “destination addiction”. It’s used to describe the belief that happiness is found in some future destination.
I see people fall into this trap all the time and I’ve done it myself plenty of times.
We tell ourselves things like…I’ll be happy when I get married, or when I buy a house, or when I get a better job, or when I have more money, or when I retire…the list goes on and on.
We have this strange idea that when we achieve whatever goal we’re trying to accomplish, all of our problems will magically disappear and everything will be better.
But that’s not reality.
Let’s say I win the lottery and this solves all of my money problems. It won’t solve my other problems. No amount of money will exempt me from experiencing challenges related to my relationships, my health, or any other area of my life.
So if I win the lottery and I feel frustrated and unhappy, I might start beating myself up for feeling that way. Shouldn’t I just be thankful? I won the lottery. That’s incredible! Why wouldn’t life be awesome all of the time now?
Because that’s not the way the world works.
No matter how amazing and blessed your life is, you will still have problems.
The opposite is also true. No matter how awful and painful your life is, there is always something to be thankful for…however small.
Brooke Castillo, founder of The Life Coach School, calls this the 50/50 contrast of life. Instead of striving for some amazing, happy, unrealistic life, we can find so much peace in knowing that life will always be 50/50.
Life is not either/or. It is both/and.
Half amazing, wonderful, blessed, incredible…and half awful, heartbreaking, and messy.
There is no need to beat ourselves up or to tell ourselves that we “shouldn’t” feel a certain way. You do not need to apologize for being a human being who experiences the full range of human emotions.
No matter how awesome your life, it’s 100% okay to feel negative emotion half the time. And, no matter how awful your life is, it’s okay to feel positive emotions some of the time. You don’t need to feel guilty for feeling that way.
We waste so much time resisting reality and wishing that life was different than it is. Byron Katie says “When I resist reality, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”
There is so much peace that comes from truly accepting the 50/50 contrast of life.
Admiral Stockdale explained the 50/50 contrast of life in this profound quote: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Both/and thinking is also helpful when it comes to thinking about other people and ourselves. Instead of thinking about people as “good” or “bad”, we can think about them as both good and bad. We all have strengths and weaknesses.
This type of thinking allows us to have more love and compassion – both for other people and for ourselves.
In the middle of an argument with your spouse, for example, consider that maybe it’s not as simple and black and white as you being right and your spouse being wrong. Maybe you are right and wrong AND your spouse is right and wrong.
Perhaps you both have a valid point of view and you both are bringing up some good points. And maybe there are some areas where you are wrong and some areas where your spouse is wrong.
Here are some both/and thoughts you may find useful when it comes to thinking about yourself.
- I am a masterpiece and a work in progress.
- I am a sinner and an adored human being made in the image of God.
- I do an awesome job half the time and I get it wrong the other half the time.
- I’m scared and brave.
- I’m thankful and sad.
- I am amazing and a mess.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, other people, and our circumstances. We often want to change things we have no control over, but that’s simply not useful.
Instead, let’s accept reality.
Life is half amazing and half mess.
Other people are half amazing and half mess.
You are half amazing and half mess.
And that’s okay.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend the following podcasts:
- Living in the AND – Natalie Bacon, Design Your Dream Life
- Good AND Bad – Brooke Castillo, Life Coach School
- What Happy People Think – Jody Moore, Better Than Happy