Lucas Brenner » Articles » Enjoy Life, Because It's Not Fair



Life is not fair because it does not recognize the principle of fairness. People evaluate the things that happen around them by relating them to their values, expectations, feelings and desires. But the universe – or whatever you see as the driving force of events – does not know these concepts. The sudden death of a loved one, a layoff, an accident or some other negative event may seem unfair to you personally, but you still can't change the fact that these things happen. You have no control over what happens at what time and in what form. This insight is a central building block of stoicism.

But even if life can sometimes be unfair, cruel and cold, there are just as many beautiful, warm and joyful moments. We have no influence on the distribution or proportions of these moments, we can only take them as they come. Of course, we can increase the chances of happy moments and control our expectations, but none of this has a direct impact on the “fairness” of life.

The concept of balance plays an important role in many cultures. Whether it is Jing and Jang or the scale of Lady Justice, we are familiar with the principle that life is in balance. We should also look at our own lives in this way. Of course, positive and negative feelings will not always be in balance, but a certain oscillation can be observed. Happy moments and phases tend to be followed by sad ones – but, and this is the important thing, sad moments or phases are followed by happy ones, too.

In order to perceive this oscillation of feelings and use it to your advantage, you should above all try to remain open. If you get emotionally caught up in your negative feelings and reject everything else, life will seem much grayer than it actually is. On the other hand, you shouldn't let yourself get caught up in positive emotions either, because then your own expectations will be disappointed sooner or later.

What I want to convey in this admittedly less structured article is that the events in our lives are first and foremost just events. As humans, we assign meaning to them, evaluate them and weave stories to explain the things around us. In doing so, we also tie our feelings to external events and feel that life is unfair if we are often confronted with negative things. To avoid this, we should realize that positive and negative feelings are two sides of the same coin; without one, the other cannot exist. We should also try to be open to the emotional vibrations of life. Negative phases are followed by positive ones and vice versa.

Don't despair if you are going through a difficult time! You can still enjoy life (or try to) and you can be sure that good times will follow. If you are having a good time, enjoy it, but be aware that at some point something negative will happen again. If you are prepared for these changes, you will be able to face them with more strength and perseverance.

No matter where you are in life at this moment, with the stoic philosophy and the knowledge that life may be unfair, but remains in balance, you can better master your challenges.