Wellbeing is Our Nature (Book Snippet 38)

Let me tell you about my friend Otto. He is a white Spitz belonging to friends of ours who converted an old castle in the countryside into a small hotel. Otto looks like a canine top-model; his long legs and perfect white fluffy fur make for a distinctly regal appearance. Like any dog, Otto loves being outside and gracefully deems my wife and I to be acceptable walking companions. Having grown up in the countryside, Otto is not accustomed to walking on a leash. For the most part there doesn’t seem to be a need for a leash either since he behaves rather well — that is until he smells a rabbit or a deer. On these occasions there is no stopping him. Like a white flash, he disappears into the forest and when he re-emerges, he looks more like a bear than a Spitz; his white fur is covered in mud and he smells like game — a fact that seems to give him tremendous enjoyment.

The first time my wife and I took him for a walk, we were horrified when Otto raced into the forest, ignoring any of our pleas to stay with us. When he re-emerged from the woods, he was caked in mud and branches and reeking of boar. Upon returning what now looked like Otto the Beast to his home, we begged our friends to let us give him a bath. Unperturbed, they just shrugged their shoulders and assured us that he would be back to his old self in no time. Looking at the sullied creature besides us, we highly doubted that, to say the least. But low and behold, when we saw Otto again two hours later, he looked as if he had never set a paw in a forest ever. It turned out Otto’s fur indeed has self-cleaning properties — if you let him be, the dried mud just falls right off and after a while, he returns to his natural and beautiful self. There is nothing to do. Nature takes care of it.

Otto is born with fluffy white self-cleaning fur. What if we too are born with white, self-cleaning ‘fur’, if we are born well and with the ability to always find our way back to well-being? What if well-being is not a worthwhile destination but actually our origin? When I speak of well-being, I refer to our natural ability to flow with disorder and to respond flexibly to what is in any moment. When we don’t trust in our ability to deal with unpredictable change and chaos, we try to control life; our thinking, our body, other people, or our circumstances. These attempts at control are futile because life itself is chaos.

When we realize that we are an expression of life and therefore designed to dance with chaos, chaos ceases to be so scary. In this sense, well-being describes our ability to dance with life, to dance with chaos. This flexible and responsive dance is arguably less energy consuming than feeling stressed, unhappy, or depressed. Perhaps we are designed for well-being because it is the most energy-efficient way to be in the world.


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