“It is what it is.”
This phrase has been uttered many times and by many people over the last couple of years – and it’s easy to understand why. There’s a lot going on.
I recently took inspiration from a friend who is facing a challenging situation. At one point, she said “It is what it is” – but it wasn’t passive. She wasn’t feeling meek and helpless. Rather, she was accepting the reality of her circumstances, and then figuring out what she was going to DO about it. It was an active acceptance.
Thinking this way is a version of the ‘Serenity Prayer’:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
This connects to Viktor Frankl’s maxim that while we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can always choose our response. There is also Stephen Covey’s distinction between the Circle of Concern [all the things that happen] and Circle of Influence [the places our actions can make a difference] to consider.
We see the same overlapping ideas communicated in different ways, at different times – with the same essential goal: to help us move forward. But before we take action, it helps to first understand – and then accept – our situation.
After acceptance – “it is what it is” – comes a decision.
Will our response be passive, or active?