It Is What It Is: Wonderful, Joyous, Beautiful

The words we use casually reveal our hidden assumptions. When we encounter something that disappoints us or causes hardship, we often say, “Well, it is what it is. That’s how life goes.” 

On the one hand, this attitude displays an admirable kind of perseverance, a willingness to grit our teeth and accept the knocks of life. But it is a one-sided perspective that hardens our expectations. At its worse, it can warp us into a perpetual flinch, bracing for the next setback. I have known people who walk through life in this posture, perhaps you have as well.

We do not meet the world neutrally. We carry our life history just beneath the skin. Our expectations are like filters we wear over our eyes, affecting how we view the world and the people we meet. We interpret events according to these filters. This is not a bad thing, it is how we make meaning out of what we experience. But these filters carry assumptions about the world that are always partially true but never completely true. The key is not to eliminate our assumptions, which is impossible, but to remember our assumptions are always present and not be ruled by them.

When we experience something positive, what if we meet it saying, “Yeah, it is what it is, that’s life, that’s how things go,” exhibiting a sense of optimistic joy? Wouldn’t that also help us persevere, building a foundation of resilience?

The phrase “what it is” is often reserved for adverse circumstances. But in its truest sense it is a nonjudgmental observation, which is a fundamental principle of presence. If we can open to “it is what it is” in all events, perhaps we can unwind the internal bracing we have constructed from our past conditioning. As we do, our perceptual filters will loosen, letting us see more of the richness that is all around us.

Photo by Luca Nicoletti on Unsplash

2 Replies to “It Is What It Is: Wonderful, Joyous, Beautiful”

  1. I love this perspective and I use that phrase often and have never thought about using it when things go well. thanks for giving me another way of looking at the world

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