A friend posted this image on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and it really resonated with me. I've been thinking about it a lot since then, so I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you here.
Back at the end of July, I was really riding the struggle bus. Everything seemed to be going wrong all at once. Nothing was coming easy. Every day felt like a fight. I was working incredibly hard to make things go more smoothly, and was wrestling with trying to make good decisions. But no matter what I did, nothing was solving my problems. Like an animal caught in a trap, the more I struggled, the more entangled and in pain I became.
I slowly began to realize that I was going to lose the fight. So my decision was, was I going to lose my mind in the process, or was I going to just stop fighting?
I chose the latter. I made a conscious decision at the beginning of August to stop resisting, and start taking it easy instead. But "taking it easy" isn't really as easy as it sounds! We live in a culture that celebrates hustle and grind and overwork and excessive productivity and perfection. It's actually pretty hard to resist that pressure to achieve and excel.
But I have done a pretty good job of letting go of it all. Many times each week, I've found myself in a situation where I've had to be aware and remind myself to take the easy way out. For example, as my kids returned to school, I found myself getting stressed over buying school supplies, wanting them to have everything they could possibly need and then some, and trying to find the lowest prices by shopping multiple stores. But then I stopped and reminded myself that if they didn't have everything the first week it wouldn't matter, that they were fully capable of organizing things themselves, and that if I paid $1.50 instead of $1.35 for pencils, my budget would survive. Besides, in the grand scheme of things this year, should binder sizes really be my main concern? Probably not!
Without realizing it, I've been putting the principles illustrated in that diagram above to work. I've been disciplined when I needed to buckle down, but I've also channeled my inner Bart Simpson and said "Don't have a cow, man" as often as possible.
I gave myself two months to stick to my "if it doesn't come easy, let it go" plan, and so far, I like it. I'll likely keep it up. Because let me tell you, that middle part of the diagram above -- the flow -- feels really good when I'm in it. And amazingly, most everything has somehow miraculously worked out OK. And the stuff that hasn't, well, I'm not letting it get me down so much.
I challenge you to try this, too. Identify where you're struggling too much, for little to no reward. Then experiment with ways to let it go. Where can you stop fighting and start flowing? And what does it feel like when you do?