The Olympics have been cancelled, throwing thousands of athletes into a depression. Why were they cancelled? Because somewhere in Wuhan, China, a bat bit an exotic animal which was then ingested by a human shopping at the Huanan Market.

Obviously, the Covid 19 pandemic didn’t just affect the Olympics. It has literally shut down planet Earth. All because a bat in China bit an animal that was eaten by a human.

The lesson that the universe or God (or whoever you think is in charge) is teaching we mortal earthlings is patently unsubtle: Trying to control the outside world is an absolutely futile endeavor.

This is particularly harmful when people tie their self-worth to their career status, which is significantly influenced by outside factors beyond their control.

Depression on Wall Street

Let’s take the world of Wall Street as an example. There are probably thousands of Wall Streeters who feel thoroughly dejected right now because the 16% average annual return they’ve made their clients has vanished. They feel deeply wounded because they derive an inordinate amount of their self-esteem from one little number. Are they responsible for that investment return number plummeting? No. A bat is.

So what does the universe want you to focus on? The process. Not the outcome. The part that you CAN control. For the Wall Street financial person that means doing the best you can with understanding the companies you’re investing in, poring over the data, etc. In other words, doing the work to the best of your ability.

For the Olympic athlete it means cherishing the training and eating right, etc., and not getting so fixated on winning a gold medal that the whole endeavor will feel worthless unless you do.

Be like a golfer

The universe wants us to treat life as golfers do in a tournament. The golfer gives their best on each shot for 18 holes then posts a score. If someone shoots a better score, you don’t win the tournament. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You just focus on getting the most you can out of yourself and then let the chips fall where they may.

My favorite American, Teddy Roosevelt, embraced this philosophy fully. He prided himself on working his tail off on whatever the issue of the day was. He knew if he did that the future would take care of itself. He had contempt for politicians that spent most of their time scheming on climbing the political ladder and little on the actual work of public policy.

It’s ALL about the inside

But beyond careers, there’s an infinitely more important lesson the universe is teaching us in this pandemic. And that is that it is futile to try and manipulate the outside world in every area of our lives.

Some examples. “If I can get this man to love me I’ll be so happy.” “If I buy my dad a new BMW he’ll love me because he’ll think I’ve really made it in life!” “If I lose twenty pounds people will like me more which will make me feel better.”

It doesn’t work. Trying to control the outside world so you feel good inside is a destructive, dead-end venture.

Work on what you can control

What does work? Focusing 100% of our life’s efforts on the only thing we do control: Handling what life brings us from the inside out. How does this manifest?

Don’t work on “landing” some guy. Work inside on why you don’t feel complete without a man in your life.

Don’t try to buy your dad’s love with a BMW. Work inside figuring out why you feel his love needs to be bought in the first place. You’ll probably determine that it’s his inner damage that’s the problem, not yours. And then you come to terms with that from the inside.

Don’t focus on your weight or body image. Go inside and work on why your weight determines your self-worth.

The work of your life

To be blunt, this is the work of your life. Taking what the universe gives you and working from the inside on how best to respond.

I can tell you from personal experience that life is so much better when you deal with what you can control and let go of what you can’t. It really is the key to living a peaceful, fulfilled life. What I’d give to have learned this as a kid.

Finally, they say that God/the Universe works in mysterious ways. Well, that is not the case with this Covid 19 pandemic. There is nothing subtle or mysterious about a bat in China shutting our world down.

The sheer absurdity of that fact is the universe screaming at us from on high: Don’t try to control the outside, your work is on the inside.