Recently I was involved in a discussion on the topic of Live and Let Live. The term live and let live can be viewed in several ways, but basically it means letting go and stop trying to control others. Let them live their lives just as you want to live yours. Guess it’s sort of back to the golden rule.
I think the Free Dictionary sums it up nicely, “to accept other people as they are, although they may have a different way of life”
The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear someone say “live and let live” is the song “Live and Let Die” by Gun’s and Rose’s. I know it was originally performed by Paul McCartney and Wings for the James Bond film, but that’s where my head goes. But the next place it goes is the Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
For me, this prayer and mindset can be used in almost any situation. So my list of 9 ways could simply be, say this prayer 9 times. But that’s too easy, so here’s a list of ways you can practice live and let live:
- Say the Serenity Prayer (you knew that one was coming!)
To try and dissect this passage into its most important parts is difficult if not impossible. You cannot seem to have one without the other and they all seem so important. Using this prayer as an action in the middle of traffic or stressful situations, reminds me to concentrate only on things I can control.
- Ask Yourself: How Important is it Really?
Tell yourself, “I’d rather be happy then right.” Or if that’s not the case, try being right all the time and see how far that get’s you towards true happiness. The feeling that we have to be right, is a way of separating ourselves from others. Feeding our fear of inferiority and propping ourselves up as better than everyone else. Either way, you’re separating yourself from others.
- Be Understanding Rather Than Understood
Step outside yourself and try putting yourself in the other persons shoes. Try viewing the situation from their perspective.
- Realize That Most Things Happen Around You, Not TO You
If the thing you can’t let go of began as an action someone did to you (or at least your perception of it was), ask yourself if you’ve ever done the same thing to someone else. More than likely you have. Take a step back and remember the world does not revolve around you. It’s pretty arrogant to think the entire world is conspiring against us.
- Prayer and Meditation
Prayer is asking for guidance, from whatever higher being you choose. Meditation is listening for the answer. When I’m having trouble letting go of something, I will pray about it for days, weeks, or even months. Eventually the answer just intuitively comes to me.
- Stop Being A Victim
A victim is a spectator in their own life. Let go of things that continue to take up rent free space in your heart and mind.
- Make A Decision
Many times we forget we have choices in life. A few days ago I was asked to do something I wasn’t quite comfortable with. Initially I agreed, but then realized I had a choice. I can choose to let go of my need to please everyone and stay true to my values. The goal is to have the right decision be the first and only one that comes to my mind. Progress not perfection. I may not be responsible for my first thought, but I am responsible for my actions. We are judged by our actions, not our thoughts or intentions.
- Stop Holding On
Many times we have an emotional investment in the outcome of a situation; this causes us to hold tight to something we may not have the power to change. Identify the attached emotion to let go of it. If you stop holding on, gravity will take care of the rest.
- Lend a Helping Hand or a Solution
Sometimes we do have the solution. Better yet, sometimes others trust us enough to want our solution to their problem. Providing a solution or suggestion is one thing, but avoid doing it for them. Enabling someone, or robbing them of the opportunity to grow through action, tends to keep us emotionally attached to the outcome; making it difficult to detach later if we need to for ourselves.
Letting go is easy when we have no emotional investment in the outcome. I was listening to a Wayne Dyer CD a friend gave me several years ago and he listed three things that lead to total enlightenment. I’m paraphrasing because I haven’t been able to find the resource since, but one of the three things had to do with emotional attachment. That part of reaching enlightenment was having no emotional investment in the outcome of situations or relationships with others.
Detaching ourselves emotionally from the outcome of situations is easier said than done. It does not mean we don’t care, we’re just taking responsibility of what we do have control over while allowing others to do the same. Live and let live.
Photo credit: justmakeit