Letting things happen instead of making things happen.


In the rule book that governs our culture, action is always deemed better than inaction. Inaction equals laziness and indifference and worthlessness. Inaction is what couch potatoes do. Or so we’re ld to believe.

Go-getters, on the other hand — they conquer the world! They achieve greatness, they win big, they rack up all the hotels in Monopoly. Doing > Being = the value judgment of our world.

But here’s what gets me about this belief: for centuries, spiritual leaders have been telling us to LET GO. Not to cling and struggle and strive, but to let. stuff. happen. “Let go and let God.” “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” And so on.

That concept seems almost absurd in our modern society, doesn’t it? In our world, the notion of “not doing” is so utterly abhorrent. “You’re not going to DO anything about that situation?!” You must be a) lazy b) worthless c) uncaring.

We’re taught that anytime anything happens that we don’t like, we’ve got to DO SOMETHING about it. Never mind what that something is, we’re just supposed to stand up and act like we’re taking control.

No matter how you slice it, “not doing” has a crappy connotation.

But what if life really is about going with the flow? What if we’re meant to leave desperation and struggle and control behind? What if we’re only supposed to take inspired action — action that feels natural and comfortable and FUN?

In my own life, I’ve seen this at work many times. The moment I stop TRYING to do or have or be something, it tends to flow right into my experience. In other words, things work themselves out much better on their own than they do when I’m meddling. Unfortunately, I have a hard time getting away from society’s push to DO, FIX and STRUGGLE all the time.

A perfect example of this concept at work was my former life as a heavy drinker. For years I knew I should stop or cut back or DO SOMETHING about the issue, but every attempt was met with failure. Until it wasn’t anymore. One day, I’d just had enough. I didn’t force myself to stop drinking, I WANTED to stop drinking. It didn’t involve willpower or deprivation, and it still doesn’t. Now, I’ll have a couple sips of a beer and I’m done. There’s no effort involved, no trying, no clinging desperately to sobriety.

That, in my humble opinion, is how change is meant to happen — naturally. No force, because force only causes resistance.

My weight is another example. For years I’ve struggled with body image issues — from an eating disorder to various crash diets, I’ve been shaming myself about my weight for as long as I can remember. But the ONLY times in my life when I’ve lost weight in a healthy way was when I let go; times when I was really happy or really busy and stopped focusing on my weight. It was when my attention was elsewhere that the pounds dropped off.

These days, I’m still not at my proper weight (and by proper, I mean what’s most comfortable for my particular body). I’m a little heavier than I’m meant to be because I still occasionally overeat out of boredom or sadness or stress. But I’ve given up dieting. I’ve given up TRYING to drop weight, because I know that’s a losing battle. When the time is right, the weight will go. Effortlessly. This, I know.

In my heart, I know letting go is the answer to everything. When we flow with the current instead of against it, miracles happen. Life works out the way it’s supposed to.

The key, I believe, is to surrender. Instead of attempting to orchestrate everything around us, we can open ourselves to the unexpected. We can let things happen, instead of trying to make things happen. Butterflies and flower buds and babies in the womb don’t FIGHT to grow into what they are — they simply unfold. Perhaps the rest of our lives are meant to unfold in exactly the same fashion.

Personally, I’m resolved to do less struggling and more surrendering. That’s when the miracles happen.

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2 Responses

  1. Lindsay says:

    This article could not have been more timely. Learning to let go is so difficult, but I do see so many positive effects when I actually do it. This week has been particularly difficult, so I am very grateful for this article to remind me that letting go is okay to do. In fact, it may even be necessary.

  2. Maneh Leah says:


    Your phenomenal blog post is the beautiful summation of all my thoughts for the past 3 years. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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