February 19, 2014

7 Paradoxes of Life We All Have to Learn to Live With.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zamanbabu/

“Truth is paradox.”

~ John O’Donohu

As if life isn’t confusing enough already, it seems that only the confusing things are actually true.

Here are eight mind-boggling paradoxes that govern our daily life.


1. The key to progress is also the key to collapse.

Einstein once said that madness is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. And yet, each person throughout history who has triumphed over great adversity or achieved great success has taught us that we must be willing to persevere in the absence of any visible results.

So how can we know whether we’re persisting towards success or failure?

The answer hides within Henry Ward Beecher’s quote: “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”


2. The path to freedom is self-control.

To be truly, completely free, we must learn to control ourselves.

The most dangerous limitations are self-imposed. How many people say, “I do what I want” while following compulsive tendencies and obsessive impulses?

Our minds are like cars. We need to learn to drive them before we can go anywhere. Until then, we’ll either stand still or put ourselves, as well as others, into great danger as we try to operate a vehicle we cannot use.


3. The longer we look deeply at anything, the more complex and unknown it becomes.

Stereotypes are simple and concrete. Real human beings are complex and multi-dimensional. We can wake up every day beside the same person and, if we look closely, we’ll find that we don’t know them at all.

This works with knowledge as well. To someone who has never known Geography, it is only a word. It is solid and simple. To someone who immerses themselves in the study of Geography, it is an ever-expanding world of facts and relationships between facts.

If we’re really paying attention, we can spend a lifetime re-discovering what’s already in front of us.


4. To get the most out of living, we must be willing to die.

Our ability to enjoy the state of being alive is in direct proportion to our comfort level with the fact that this state will, one day, end.

If you think about it, fearing death is one of the silliest things we can possibly do. That’s like being afraid of the sun coming up tomorrow. It’s going to happen, like it or not.

Even worse than fearing death is ignoring it. When we act like we’ve got all the time in the world, we neglect to appreciate the world around us and strive for our full potential.

Only by embracing death can we know the bliss of life.

5. The less we own, the more we have.

Material possessions are buffers that protect us from feeling uncertain and afraid. With enough of them around us, maybe we’ll feel safe, but we’ll also be in a protective fortress that doesn’t give us much wiggle room.

The more we allow ourselves to detach from the illusion of external comfort, the more we’re forced to find that comfort within ourselves.

If we are too busy holding on to what we’ve got, we miss what’s available right now. By allowing things to come and go, without feeling the need to own and control them, we can have, touch, and experience a great deal more.

6. The greatest understanding is letting go of understanding.

Just like some people hoard possessions for comfort, others hoard facts for comfort. If we allow our certainty to give us security, then we will not be open to change, which is the force of life.

Most people spend so much time and energy constructing ideas about how things work and, while they’re doing that, things change.

The only ideas that truly last are ideas that embrace the evolving, ever-changing nature of the universe (ideas included).

When we release the need to understand, only then can we touch on glimmers of the truth—once in a while.

7. The harder we try, the less we can do.

The more we try to avoid rejection, the more unnatural we’ll be in social interactions, thus making us more likely to be rejected.

The harder we try to be smart, the less smart we can be. To learn requires us to let go of our need to appear that we already know everything.

Trying is a state of mind that presumes we must fight and struggle to get what we want. To presume that we can and will have what we want will guarantee that we will receive it.

Now, over to you: what other paradoxes have you come across? How have you learned to live with them?

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Editorial Assistant: Heather Hendry/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr 


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