Hardwiring Happiness: Let Be, Let Go, Let In

Photo in her home by Gayle Smith

Photo in her home by Gayle Smith

Imagine that your mind is like a garden. You can simply be with it, looking at its weeds and flowers without judging or changing anything. Second, you can pull weeds by decreasing what's negative in your mind. Third, you can grow flowers by increasing the positive in your mind. In essence, you can manage your mind in three primary ways: let be, let go, let in


Letting your mind be, simply observing your experience, gives you relief and perspective. It's like stepping out of a movie screen and watching from twenty rows back. You can explore your experience with interest and (hopefully) kindness toward yourself, and perhaps connect with softer, more vulnerable, and possibly younger layers in your mind. In the light of an accepting, nonreactive awareness, your negative thoughts and feelings can sometimes melt away like morning mists on a sunny day. 


Think of all the stuff - physical & nonphysical - we cling to that creates problems for us and others: "shoulds," rigid opinions, resentments, regrets, status, guilt, the past, bad habits. Letting go is a conscious choice to not buy into thoughts that cause suffering, to let go of tension in your body, to surrender to the way it is as opposed to the way you want it to be, to accept the constantly changing and impermanent nature of life, to snap out of a self-centered view and broaden perspective into the wider world. Remember that this requires a conscious choice to make these efforts and you may have to go against your natural instincts at first. 

"If you let go a little you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely you will have complete peace." - Ajahn Chah


As you can see, just being with your mind may not be enough. You also need to work with it, making wise efforts, pulling weeds and growing flowers. You can't expect these inner strengths to spring into being on their own. There need to be active, goal-directed efforts to nudge your mind one way or another. The following posts will focus on Letting In ... 

Here is a helpful article by Rick Hanson on letting go of bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions, wants, and of the self.