A long time ago, when I was the same person but different, I was going through one of those life transforming periods. My wife, whom I loved very much, was leaving me. If that wasn’t enough, the business we had started together was failing. It felt as if I had no anchor to reality anymore. I was lost and feeling alone.
In attempt to regain my balance, and my marriage, I began reading many books on relationships and personal growth. I remember my mother at the time asking me what I hoped to find. I told her that by studying the collective thinking of the authors I expected to eventually find some fundamental truths. Then armed with that truths, I could change everything.
However, my journey led to a surprising destination. It was as if I had started on a trip to South Dakota and ended up in Hong Kong. Mysterious destination full of new sights, sounds and boundless energy.
What did I discover? I accidentally discovered the Chinese philosophy that there is no reason for me to change the world, only my perspective. What I discovered was Taoism.
1. Be spontaneous in one’s actions
According to Lao Tzu, considered the father of Taoism, straining and striving are not only vain but counterproductive. In other words, if you are so focused on getting what you want, you may be pushing your goal away from you. One should learn to discern the natural forces and to follow and shape the events. Flowing with the situation you can influence them, like a potter creating a vase. Then, instead of arguing with someone, you are flowing with them, like a dance, and you are likely to have a better outcome. Without the pain of confrontation.
2. Live in the moment
If we truly realized, on an experiential level of existence, that change is always, we would be much happier. Imagine that you are holding in your hands a beautiful crystal glass. It reflects multicolored light as you hold it up in the air to admire its beauty. At that moment, we feel the truth in our heart, that one day it will be broken. That realization will focus our attention and we will greatly enjoy the crystal glass so much more. For we know the moment will pass. Relationships are the same as the crystal glass. Beautiful and fragile. One day, they may change. But at the moment, they are to be admired and enjoyed to the fullest.
3. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like
Change is going to happen. It is our resistance to change, or potential change that causes us distress. Realizing the inevitability of change is the first step to a better life experience. Your beloved pet will pass away. The paint will fade. You will age. However, if we worry about the change, before it occurs, we are only causing ourselves pain.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
4. Be still and do nothing
If you were to imagine yourself doing nothing, what would that look like? Are you sitting in front of the TV watching a movie? Or maybe reading a book? Are you enjoying yourself? What are you thinking about? How does it feel to do nothing?
Now, imagine being still. You are not watching television; you are not reading a book. Instead, you are sitting, not moving, trying to be perfectly still and silent. It is a totally different feeling, isn’t it? Your thoughts are turned inward and you are alert and watchful. Every sound you hear and every feeling you have is stands in sharp relief.
Meditation is a great way to begin practicing the art of being still. By being still and contemplating on that moment you learn to be quiet, letting the world flow around you.
“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.’ ― Lao Tzu
5. Changing direction
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu
Many of you reading this article may agree with Lao Tzu. Yet, knowing is not changing. To change direction you must experience being centered and letting events happen. React to the moment rather than what you want the moment to be. Learn the Chinese philosophy of doing nothing, of striving without striving. You will find greater peace and that many of the things you wish for will begin manifesting in your life.
Featured photo credit: عن مدينة نصر نتحدث/Ahmad Hammoud via flickr.com