The Harder You Try, The Less You Succeed
The lyrics of this song by Slightly Stoopid continue, “Don’t try at all and get everything you need.” (It’s good, by the way. You should check it out.) In the years since I heard that song I turned that sentence over and over in my mind. I thought it was a song about being a slacker. Later I started to view the song as their own experience. A paradox for them, I thought.
This song was the very first thought in my mind today when I awoke. It came after a dream I had last night about relaxing into writing. How appropriate. I had only written one post last week. It took five hours. Trying too hard? And indeed, the post did not succeed. No one read it.
I was fortunate to come across some truly fantastic work which really inspired me. It was exactly what I wanted to be writing. But though I was really inspired by it, I thought, “Wow, I have a long way to go before my work is that good.” This put a barrier between me and writing.
One of the articles I was fortunate to come across was this one in which she recommends waking up before dawn, rolling out of bed and meditating immediately, followed by automatic writing. The practice sounded magical to me, so I woke up at 6 am, meditated, did some cat cow exercises and made my way immediately to my computer. I closed my eyes, waited for something to come through, and just typed it. It was a completely different writing experience typing at this time of day when my mind was still coming out of sleep mode and letting everything flow out. It flowed better. The sentences were more whimsical and full of raw feeling. I could go back and edit it and rearrange it later.
I started blogging in February. The reason I started writing the blog is because I’m so passionate about self improvement. I was sure my friends were tired of reading my self help facebook posts, so I had decided to start blogging. Somewhere along the line writing started to become a big “thing” for me. An event. I would think about it all day. “What am I going to write?” There was fear around it. I started to have to put effort into it. I would think about it throughout day.
But as my message from the universe via Slightly Stoopid reminded me today, writing is something that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Everyone has their own interesting and unique stories, perspectives and knowledge that other people can benefit from. How can we write as easily as we breathe?
After all these years I now realize this song is steeped in ancient wisdom. It encapsulates the spirit of wu wei, an ancient Taoist philosophy of doing not-doing. Hard to wrap your head around, isn’t it? What the hell is doing not-doing? To the western mind it might appear that the Taoists encourage us to do nothing and be lazy. As westerners, our programming says that anything worth having is difficult to get. We glorify hard work and struggle. We believe the way to succeed is to try as hard as you possibly can. The surest way to success is to work yourself until you’re exhausted day in and day out. It’s an attitude of control that’s steeped in a paradigm of fear- fear that the universe is lacking. We live in a state that’s separate from nature and from life and we think we have to push against the natural flow of life to get our needs met. And we must work even harder to receive abundance.
We’ve forgotten that we’re part of the flow of life. We don’t have to effort. In fact, our efforting impedes on the flow of life. In Taoism the flow of life is called “The Way.” It is essentially nature. It’s kind of like Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Go all in on yourself.” When you’re going all in on yourself, when you’re aligned with your true nature, you’re aligned with life, with nature and “The Way.” You do what you love and there is no efforting. No push. No resistance. As Gary elaborates, “In America we’re always being sold ways of being what we’re not.”
Great performers, athletes, musicians speak of “the flow,” this state that they get in in which time doesn’t exist anymore. They disappear, and the work flows through them. This is a process of non-efforting. As westerners we effort to try to not-effort. We get in our own way, so to speak.
Doing not-doing means it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything because you’re flowing naturally in your activity. There’s no force or push. There’s no reisistance. You’re doing what you love to do and what comes naturally to you. It doesn’t mean that to be successful you can be lazy. To be successful you usually have to be devoted and committed to your work and passion and invest a lot of your life in it.
It seems success isn’t a process of learning, but of unlearning and peeling back layers to reveal our true natures.
Now get out of your way and share your passion!
Thanks, Slightly Stoopid, for the lesson in wu wei!
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