When I was young I thought you had to hold onto everything you cared about as tight as you could. To think of it, my stuffed turtle Speedy was probably locked in a stranglehold most nights I fell asleep. Being scared of the dark sucked. Combine that with a flowing imagination and you have some interesting evenings.

As I grew older I realized just how little control you really have over life. Things slip and sift through your fingers without your control and you begin to learn what the feeling of loss is like. When you are used to having a grasp on everything, that feeling of having no control can come as quite a surprise. Eventually, songs like Hold On Loosely by .38 Special became pretty relevant.

So life moved on and it continued to teach me some pretty valuable lessons about not holding on too tight to things. I lost my first love – baseball – with no valid explanation. That broke my heart. I lost myself once. I lost an angel. I lost friends. Things just continued to slip – and not because I was destroying anything – but because that was the natural cycle of life. And then, for most of us, we play the guessing game of “what if?” or “why?” But the only thing you gain from asking yourself those questions after something is already done is wasted time.

In some ways examining the past is great. It helps you avoid making the same mistakes in the future and teaches you the lessons you need to learn to live fully in the present. But at some point, you have to put it all behind you and realize that it is just part of your story now. You have to turn the page and inscribe your life on a new piece of paper.

But as a quote lover, I always found refuge in the wisdom of those who came before me and the media I consume today.

This quote from Moneyball put a lot of things at rest for me. “We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t… don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.” 

So what makes a man? Open palms. It reminds me of a quote from an old mentor of mine. “We must hold the people we love with open palms so they are free to fly away – and if it’s right – they will eventually come back to us.” It’s hard to let things go sometimes. You wish they weren’t the way they were or start saying to yourself “it should be this way.” Unfortunately, life doesn’t work on your terms.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

So keeping that in mind, you have two paths to take. You can either be a victim of that 10% or be a champion of the 90%. When we are hurting, we love focusing on how we have been wronged and that we should be treated better. We look at the world as a very mean and dark place instead of focusing on adding to all of the good that is happening out there.

Wherever you go, you will always find negatives. Your mind is naturally inclined to see them. However, if you start shoveling positive thoughts into your head, eventually you can turn things around for yourself. You can beat up that negative emotional Mike Tyson in your head. And to prove that statement is true – just look at his record.

You have the opportunity every single day to feed your mind with positive or negative thoughts. If you are hurting right now, it becomes especially important for you to see the brighter side of life. Because if you don’t you will continue the madness forever. It’s a cycle that is hard to break.

Now I just want to say this before I leave. Open palms don’t mean not loving deeply, laughing hysterically, and passionately doing everything you can to enjoy this one life we have. It means that everything has its time in your life, and sometimes the ticker on one thing runs out faster than you expected. Don’t try to change it. Appreciate it for what it was. Sit back in the sun and think about all the good times you had. Then tip your cap and move forward.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project