How often have you used this phrase? When have you used it? Have you said it when you’ve felt helpless, that nothing more could be done or as a way of accepting someone’s apology? This phrase cannot be attributed to anyone; however, the phrase first appeared in a column written by J.E. Lawrence in the Nebraska State Journal in 1949: “New land is harsh, and vigorous and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing or sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without an apology.”

I’ve found myself shying away from using it because it seems to simplify what could be complex–almost as if using it as an excuse, rather than digging deeper into causality. However, if you can see events and circumstances as simply what they are, without adding any interpretation, the phrase speaks truth.

Things happen all around us, all the time. If we care about what happens, we put our own tone to it; for instance, when someone dies, it is a fact. The circumstances around that death and the impact that death has on us, others and the community is dependent upon our interpretation, our beliefs and values. When we see injustice, violence or catastrophes that we recognize, we may interpret these events in ways that make us angry, anxious, depressed or remorseful. Yet, there are other cases when these things happen and we do not react to them. Why is that?

In the Course in Miracles, the book speaks to us about the “stories” we create about events around us. Those “stories” are the result of our experiences, beliefs, values and worldview. It is important to realize, however, that we have a choice on how to react to the events around us. We can see those events as facts, without emotion or judgment attached to them. Events themselves do not have inherent meanings. We can see an event “as it is” –that it happened. When we think something shouldn’t be as it is, we suffer. Scientists suggest that each of us has about 60,000 thoughts a day and that 95% of them are repetitive from previous days. They also suggest that 80% of those thoughts are negative. Those statistics are staggering and of course, we cannot stop all of those thoughts; however, we can make an intention to catch ourselves when we start interpreting an event. We can ask ourselves why we have interpreted an event in the way we have. Are there other ways of looking at it? Can we accept the event for what it is? We always have choices on how we think about and respond to life’s experiences. We can choose peaceful thoughts instead of suffering. The choice, always, is ours to make.

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