Bad luck and happiness are not evenly distributed among people and you’re right, that’s not fair. The Austrian philosopher Thomas Macho knows how philosophers have been looking for explanations for that fact of life for ages. He writes about it in his (German) book 'Das leben is ungerecht' (Life is unfair).
Usually, people looked for answers outside themselves. Life wasn’t fair, and that was due to the gods, who were unpredictable and unreasonable. Life was suffering, and that had to do with the original sin, that made God expel man from paradise. Or perhaps, life was unfair, but after this life, things would be OK. Your heart would be weighed and if you had lived right, you were promised eternal bliss.
A cycle of death and rebirth is another comforting thought. Perhaps this life is unfair, but if you work hard to live as well as you can, in the next life you’ll do better.
But in the meantime, we’re in the here and now. It’s frightening to think how fate can accidentally strike. The fact that chances, talents and other gifts of nature are unevenly distributed, can make you quite unhappy. Thomas Macho doesn’t give practical advice in his book, but the art of living presents us with three strategies that may work to soothe the feeling of inequality.
1. Stop comparing
Comparing brings unhappiness. All these people with their happy stories on Facebook and Instagram who live far happier lives than you do, may be severely unhappy – secretly. Just focus on your own situation, and make the most of it.
2. Know that it’s not personal
We tend to say it often: ‘it’s unfair’. If you open the door and the rain starts pouring down. Or with big setbacks: ‘Why does this have to happen to me?’ But there’s nothing personal about bad luck. Listen to this touching speech by Facebook-COO Sheryl Sandberg, shortly after her husband suddenly passed away.
3. Be grateful and accommodating
Life isn’t fair, but there’s a lot of things we can do to make things better. By helping eachother. By listening, not judging, and helping people who have had a setback. By holding on to the little things. Of course, simply being grateful for everything you have and everything that’s going well, helps too.
Text: Anne Wesseling - Photo: Riki Ramdani