Wait and see, don’t push it, see how things go: These words don’t really sum up how we do things. Of course, in the ten years that we’ve been publishing Flow, we’ve learned a thing or two from all of the articles about the importance of letting go—but we still fall into the trap of believing things will turn out better if we just take charge.
Letting situations resolve themselves instead of being over-involved: Why is that so hard for us? Why are we the first to volunteer when we are buying a collective gift with our group of friends? Why do we want to take responsibility for resolving issues at work as soon as a project starts to flounder? Why are we trying to make love work out so that it meets all of our expectations (Irene)? And why do we get involved when one of our kids gets into a fight at school (Astrid)?
We often get the feeling that we are not as good at it as others are. We envy those laid-back people who buy their gifts last minute, research the best way to get to their vacation destination one day before leaving and let arguments with friends just be for a few days instead of immediately engaging in energy-draining discussions of minutiae seen from all sides. And you know what? Things (almost) always work out in the end.
One of the best tips we got about how to just let things be had to do with our email inboxes. Instead of checking it every hour, you can let it go unchecked for a full day every now and then. ‘Half of the issues the emails want you to address have often already been solved by then,’ was the insight. And what do you know? That’s exactly what happened. One colleague had already resolved something herself, and other messages weren’t important anymore one day later.
Just saying: If you always want a quick fix for everything in your life, you’re giving yourself a lot of unnecessary extra work. This inbox rule can be applied to everything in your life. Letting things just be for a while really works like a charm. So ‘wait and see’ is our new magic phrase. Or, as philosopher Massimo Pigliucci advises: “Do what you can and accept what you cannot.” Wise words that we will continue to try to live by.
Illustration Amy Blackwell
- This editorial can be found in Issue 25.