‘The One Skill: How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your Life’ by Leo Babauta, explains ‘letting go’, by narrating the hurdles of letting go.
The resistance, most people feel to the idea of letting go, takes the forms of Stress, which is always with us, Procrastination, which shows our fear of Failure, Habits & distractions, which shows our fear of change, Irritation/frustration with people, which arise because others never behave the way we’d like, and fear of Loss. (of dear ones, loved things, job, etc.) But if we let go, the difficulty we face shall lead us to achievement, the discomfort can lead to growth, and the uncertainty (What awaits us, once we let go?) shall surely lead to learning. In the chapters following this, the author explains how to effectively deal with the many imponderables, we find on our way. (That prevented us from letting go) Like how to deal with Procrastination, Fear, Difficult People, Distractions, Habits, Possessions, Resistance from Others, Change, and Loss. Thereafter, the book explains how to practice the necessary skill by breaking it down into smaller skills. The author then goes on to explain the process of practicing these skills, which involves steps like,
• Accept this moment for what it is, be grateful for it, and enjoy it.
• Accept another person for who they are, and enjoy their company. Just be with them in acceptance.
• Accept yourself for who you are, and be content with yourself.
• See that someone else (or yourself) is acting this way because they are suffering, and try to be compassionate with them.
• See that there’s a legitimate problem to be solved, other than the anger you’re both feeling (which is just a symptom). But letting go of the ideal and the anger helps you and the other person to solve the problem more calmly and compassionately.
• Let go of the ideal, see reality as it is, and respond appropriately.
• Just be in reality as it is, without judgment. Just be, don’t try to solve a problem or achieve anything, for a little while.
• Let go of controlling things and just let them happen for a bit, being in the moment as they happen without trying to control things.
• See the impermanent nature of reality … watch it change and flow each moment. This is a fascinating and enlightening learning process.
To make matters very clear, the author the goes on to explain what letting go isn’t. Letting go isn’t about giving up, Letting go isn’t about being a victim, Letting go isn’t about not improving, Letting go isn’t about letting someone else get away with something, Letting go isn’t about letting your house get messy, etc., are some of the possible misconceptions discussed here. Then comes the best part of this book, examples of practicing ‘letting go’. Many cases are examined, like
• Your co-worker is rude to you.
• Your son doesn’t clean his room.
• Your daughter throws a tantrum. She’s not behaving according to your ideal of a perfect child, and so you’re frustrated.
• Your father is dying of cancer.
• Your wife seems distant and uninterested in you.
• You have too much to do today.
• You want to exercise but keep putting it off.
The book ends with an interesting question to the reader. ‘Will you nod your head at this book, and say “interesting ideas” and then go on with your life as before? Or will you make a commitment to practicing letting go, and see if it has any benefits in your life?’