What is living you?
Give over to good.
In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else – from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves – are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.
We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, “I seem to be a verb.”
This fact is amazing, but it’s corroborated by both modern physics and deep ecology. We can get silly-cosmic about it (done this myself – not only as a college sophomore!), but the implications are very down to earth.
As unique standing waves, you and I are constructed each moment by the currents – the forces and factors, both internal and external – flowing through us. We have no choice about being lived by these currents, continually given over to them.
But we can choose to give ourselves over to the good ones.
By “good,” I mean that which leads to happiness and benefit for you and others; “bad” means the opposite. (Of course, honesty about what is actually turning out to be truly good is important; history holds many cautionary tales about people giving themselves over to things they thought were good – e.g., Nazism – but weren’t.)
Giving over to good means relaxing into, opening to, being buoyed and guided by things like your own naturally good heart, the impulse to take the high road, love, compassion, vitality, courage, the longing for justice, and the wisdom and support of good friends.
Then your life’s wave becomes simpler, happier, and more beneficial.
There are two steps: knowing what the “good” is for you, and then giving yourself over to it.
So, first step: what’s the good that would serve you to give yourself over to these days? For example, as I’ve written about in the past two JOTs, I’ve had a health scare recently that seems (fingers crossed) to have turned out fine, but it’s prompted me to remember the big things that matter and to empty the cup of the things that don’t.
In your mind, on paper, or talking with a friend, make a list for yourself. Probably it won’t be long. Listen to your inner knowing of what the good is for you. If appropriate, open to counsel from others (e.g., parent, friend, therapist, I Ching, prayer), but don’t let anyone push their view on you.
Your list might include: self-nurturance, the peacefulness of nature, more self-expression, a long-deferred dream, sobriety, inner strength, certain health practices, meditation, the needs of your temperament, the simple truth that a particular job/career/relationship is not right for you, or the wisdom of your body that knows when it’s full and needs no more food for now.
For what it’s worth, these “goods” have been important for me personally to give over to lately: the need for true down-time . . . self-soothing . . . the love and loyalty of friends . . . an underlying deeply peaceful sense of truly being nothing but a standing wave and that’s alright . . .
Next, the second step: pick one of the good currents you’ve identified, and open to it in your mind and body. Relaxing, receiving, surrendering to it . . . notice how this feels. Try to find pleasure, ease, and comfort in this current. Notice any reluctance to being carried by this force for good in your life, and then see if you can let that reluctance pass away.
Imagine letting this good live you . . . what would that be like? What might change for the better – for you, and for others? Let the impact of those positive changes land in your mind; let yourself sense their rewards; let yourself become more motivated to lean toward them.
Then, for the next minute, hour, or day, focus on this one good thing and giving yourself over to it. In effect, “willpower” becomes redefined as yielding: as surrender to the best within you and around you.
Let this good be your guiding principle, your North Star. Let it be what gets you out of bed in the morning, fills you, breathes you, animates you. Enjoy the contentment, relief, and sense of integrity that swell in your heart through living from and as this good. Let yourself know that you know what’s good. Feel yourself becoming more committed to this good. Feel yourself becoming this good.
As you like, repeat this process with other good things.
Love the wave!
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Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 20 languages) – and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report and he has several audio programs. His blog – Just One Thing – has over 30,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.