As we travel through our lives, we know that we will encounter ups and downs, joy and grief, pleasure and pain. We get better at life as we go along. We get life experience. We understand that we cannot control everything, but it is also true that our efforts will help us lean in the direction of the outcomes we want. So it matters that we keep trying to be better and do better. We know that it matters how we go at our lives.
There is no secret that will once and for all provide us with certainty about our own well-being or about our safety, health or happiness. We have no guarantees about the well-being of our loved ones, either. The truth is that we are in an ongoing, uncertain, and fluctuating reality. Our best bet is to remain flexible, keep learning new skills and systems, and develop our understanding of the current reality.
What we want to develop is the capacity to be sturdy. To trust in our own competence and values, and to engage with what life throws at us. It is not possible to avoid pain and not wise to simply seek pain relief. We cannot prevent losses or unexpected change. What we can do is build our robust sense of optimism, take the best care we can of ourselves and our loved ones, and trust in the inherent reasonableness of the larger picture. The wonderful book Unraveling the Mysteries of Health, by Aaron Antonovsky, describes salutogenesis, a sense of robust well-being, which rests on 3 concepts: Life is Comprehensible, Life is Manageable, and Life is Meaningful. If we can arrive at a place of endorsing those ideas, we can develop an internal health that will be constructive both in our psychological and our physical experience.