Every now and again, a book crosses my path that teaches me exactly what I need to learn. One that comes to mind is The Five Things We Cannot Change … and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them. Written by David Richo, it addresses the realities of human existence called the five “givens.” He assures us that once they are accepted, we will be able to minimize emotional exhaustion, disappointment and stress.
While these five givens of life will be a valuable reminder to us all, for some they will feel like a death sentence. Leading the pack will be the folks who suffer from entitlement issues. They may also be people who have endured a difficult childhood or experienced an unimaginable tragedy. Some, if they feel chronically down on their luck, will fall under this spell . Their belief – or should I say magical thinking – is that they’ve already dealt with their fair share of problems, and don’t mind receiving a dose of pity while they’re telling you about them either. They think that since they have done their “time,” life should be easier, with less strife and difficulty. “Sorry,” David Richo would say to those seeking immunity. “You’re still going to have to deal with the five givens of life.”
Here they are: 1. Things change and end. The only constant is change, so strive to expect and accept it with grace. Now for the end part. Think circle. With every ending comes a new beginning, and God never closes one door without opening another.
2. Pain is a part of life. Breakdowns are breakthroughs so think of pain as the gateway to healing and growth opportunities. Let go of why it’s happening to you. What’s more important is how you’re going to handle yourself with it. The soul speaks to us through our feelings and we heal our wounds by going through, not around them.
3. Things don’t always go according to plan. We’ve all had the experience of looking forward to an event that didn’t materialize only to realize how much time we wasted thinking about it. Maybe the better plan is to surrender to outcomes and expectations.
4. No one is loving and loyal all the time. Love is a wonderful thing but it hurts sometimes. Since we have no control over others, we might as well put our energy into being loving and loyal to ourselves. Just as important is to avoid retaliation when someone wrongs us.
5. Life is not always fair. This might be the biggest kicker in the pants. What remains fair is that everything happens for our highest good and, when we accept this, then we’ll have an attitude that allows us to look in the face of adversity and show the world just who we really are and what we are made of.
Yes, we are spiritual beings having a human experience and, most days, staying grounded is a very tall order. But whether you’re a twenty-something, elder-something, or somewhere in between, the five givens are one area where accepting them will leave you feeling happier and more in the flow of life.
Kater Leatherman teaches yoga at Ridgely Retreat in West Annapolis and has a monthly column in the Home section of The Capital. Her book MOVING ON: Feel Lighter, Liberated, More Alive! One Woman’s Quest to Create S P A C E for Change, can be purchased at

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