The Evil You Don't Know or Why You Should Stop Running From Your Problems

There is an ancient story about a man who came to the sacred mountain and started praying to God. God saw it, came down to earth, and asked him what he’s praying about.

The man said: “God, I have all these problems. I have a bag of problems I’m carrying all day long: my wife is not feeling well, my children want to go to the war, sheep are always being eaten by wolves, my legs hurt, and my neighbor is wealthier than me…” and so on and so.

God listened carefully and asked a simple question: “What do you want me to do?“. Being inspired by God’s words, the man replied: “Please, just take away this bag of problems!”

God looked at him for a second and said: “Sure, let me give you any other bag…”

I know that such kind of stories sound a little bit cheezy because they are so overused. I stopped reading them a long time ago because there are much easier ways to convey hyper-practical knowledge. This is understandable, though. Such stories were created either in ancient times or modern times.

In ancient times, the paper was a rare resource or even didn’t exist at all, and stories are the best medium to pass wisdom. Our minds perceive stories naturally, and you can remember them without any effort.

In modern times, it’s basically a copycat to grab attention and create an image of a sage person (pardon my cynism here).

Anyway, this story shows a curious idea: the evil we don’t know about. Think about it for a second. Let’s even run a thought experiment here: if you trade places with someone else - you will get not only the person’s upsides but downsides as well, right? It just works that way.

Reality has a lot of edges, and nobody can really get all pluses without minuses (because we invented such sides of good and evil, but that’s another story).

We can only imagine such the world, but it will always be only an imaginable world. The image in the head will not have the level of details that reality has. I would even argue that we overuse our imagination because imagination is mostly a tool for solving well-defined problems. Not for creating some crazy worlds that confuse us.

In terms of a story above, any other bag of problems is probably significantly worse (because of the unknown unknowns). The same idea goes to avoiding your specific issues in life by saying very familiar to every human phrase: “Oh, shit! Not again! Why me?”

Em, why not? It’s all life, and it is what it is. We didn’t choose it, but we can adapt to it. Suffering, pain, loss, and other shit we define as bad are all part of life. The only thing is how we look at it and whether we accept it or not (adaptation). People can run from acceptance all their lives, and it’s easy to understand. It’s just painful.

However, the strange fact is there is a piece in acceptance. I don’t know how it works, but when you accept what is happening to you - you get this interesting feeling of being calm. Facing problems become much more manageable.

By accepting that life is full of joy and elation, misery and sadness, the good and the bad, we expand our emotional range. We become more resilient (or what I like to call it - indestructible mentally).

I could even argue that the more emotional range a person has, the more human that person is (for example, psychopaths or sociopaths are people who have the lack of emotional responses to some situations).

We are just not complete human beings if we throw out some parts of life.

So, I believe it’s a good approach to take some time (a couple of months, maybe) to understand a simple fact once and for all: running from your problems will lead to some other problems (the other bag of problems which might be even worse).

Isn’t it better to solve your problems that you already know instead of waiting for problems you don’t know?