If I had to narrow down my goals for the New Year into just one central idea, it would be to experience more ease and flow on a day-to-day basis. I want to stop opposing life and start going with the flow, to work without effort, anxiety or complication. I want to complete tasks for their intrinsic value, not for the outcomes. I want work to be meaningful play.
This all boils down to living in the zone or experiencing flow. Taoists practice a similar concept called Wu Wei. They recommend that we stop struggling to make things happen. This does not mean that we should stop acting all together! It means that we must accept and explore the uncertainty of life and observe how events naturally play out. We should open ourselves up to the mystery of life and fully accept the present moment. This attitude requires us to be alert and at ease, allowing for us to spontaneously respond perfectly to any circumstance without even trying!
When we practice Wu Wei, our actions are effective and effortless. We become more energetic and charismatic. By giving up the following habits, we can experience Wu Wei and live with more ease and flow:
1. Stop trying too hard
When we try too hard, we overexert ourselves. If we achieve our desired results through intense effort and work against the grain, we become exhausted and the rewards are no longer worth it. If, however, we work with the grain, we perform effortlessly and the performance itself is rewarding.
2. Stop rushing
When we rush through a task, we stress and focus on the future. We are not living in the present. All efforts become tedious and contrived. We must be present with our work for the sake of working. Then work becomes magical and feels like play. Savor each task.
3. Stop adhering to a rigid plan
Over planning keeps us in our comfort zones. Nothing is improvised. When life presents an obstacle, it ruins our day. If we are open and alert to the ebb and flow of the present, we can spontaneously respond to difficulties at the right time and in the right manner.
4. Stop trying to control everything
When we try to control every little detail and micromanage everything in our surroundings, we rigidly remove ourselves from the flow of life. To live with Wu Wei, it is necessary to dive into the flow and face uncertainties as they arise. When we do so, our response to any given situation is natural and easy.
5. Stop dwelling on mishaps
Mistakes happen and through them we grow, as long as we are able to move on. Keep going and leave the past behind.
6. Stop anticipating the future
The future is unpredictable. Now is all we have. Focus on the present and the future will take care of itself!
7. Stop taking life so seriously
Life is a learning process. Sometimes we will be successful, sometimes we won’t. However, we can always dive into the present moment and have fun carrying out the task at hand.
8. Stop interfering
There will always be events occurring around us. We must trust that others have lessons to learn and are capable of growing, learning and autonomously solving their own problems. It is best to let circumstances play out and allow life to take its natural course, without meddling, unless our help is solicited.
9. Stop doubting
If we doubt ourselves, we cut ourselves off from the flow of source energy. We must trust that our actions over the years have helped us to develop the skills we need to tackle any obstacle that presents itself.
10. Stop focusing on outcomes
When we are solely focused on achieving an end result, our efforts are tense and we struggle. When we shift our focus from the outcome to the process, we flow and work becomes play. This allows for a fun, relaxed attitude which often leads to more effectiveness and greater rewards.
So this year, simplify your life by giving up these habits and everything will fall into place with Wu Wei. Happy New Year!