My mother used to tell me many stories about the Korean war when they were ruled by the Japanese. Food was rationed, so my mother and her family were given very little rice to eat. All she could think about was having a full bowl of rice, which, she said, would have made her feel so wealthy. Even though she endured so much hardship, my mother was always content. Rather than feeling frustrated or resentful by her situation, she fully accepted whatever life provided and made the best of it. To this day, my mother still lives her life fully appreciating whatever comes her way. My siblings and I are always in awe of my mother’s accepting attitude, so we call her the ultimate optimist.
How many times have we felt frustrated, resentful or even angry when things did not go your way? It happens so often in our lives that it feels more like a nasty habit, rather than a rare occurrence. I believe that our biggest challenge in living is to surrender and accept to what life provides. And when we do not fully surrender to life, it creates enormous stress and unhappiness in our lives.
I discovered in my life that the only times when I felt truly peaceful in my mind and soul is when I surrender to the Universe. In other words, it is when I fully accept people and situations which I have no control over that I feel any sense of calm. It is hard for many of us to simply accept because it’s like handing over the steering wheel to someone else in the car, so it feels like we’ve lost control, which makes us feel vulnerable. We also manipulate people and situations to have control, but, again, we are just fooling ourselves with a false sense of control. In reality, manipulation always makes the situation worse, not better, because we’re resisting the natural course of life, so we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot. That false sense of control is really an illusion created by our egos. In fact, by letting go, we are gaining the most control within ourselves and in our lives because we’re not resisting the natural flow of happenings.
Some may take this message to be confusing and receive it as accepting bad situations. For example, if someone is being abused by their spouse, surrender does not condone acceptance of abusive behavior that is harmful to you. It means to accept what you can not control, which, in this situation, means that you are accepting that the abusive spouse will never change. So rather than living in an illusion that you can change your spouse, you are taking positive action to leave the situation, instead of staying in an abusive relationship. So acceptance is a way of protecting you from harm.
Surrendering also has enormous power because it allows you to live in the natural flow of your life, which is when we feel serenity and happiness. By living in harmony within ourselves, we are placing our life on the right path to discover our true calling. Lao Tzu said, “by letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.” Whenever I let go of situations I can not control, it always turned out better than before where new and better opportunities sprouted, which I could not have foreseen. We tend to be shortsighted in thinking that if we let go, then we are losing something valuable, but in reality, we are gaining more than we had before. Even though we may not be able see the obvious benefits in front of our eyes, it does not mean there isn’t a blessing in disguise down the road. Steve Jobs said that when he got fired from Apple, which was so devastating to him at the time, it was the best thing that happened to him and a blessing in disguise he realized many years later. By letting go, we are practicing blind faith that the Universe knows and provides what is best for us even when it is not initially obvious to us. It is only in 20/20 hindsight that we can clearly see the brilliance of the Universe’s plan and design.
Whenever I surrender to the Universe and accept my life as is, I discover the window to my true Being, which clears the fog in my life and shows me the the road to my true purpose. Lao Tzu said, “when you let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” It is only in surrender that we can realize our highest potential and radiate each of our magnificence to the world.
The greatest joy I feel from surrender is love — that love is growing stronger within, so I can accept myself for who I am and share more love with others. With love, we naturally become more compassionate and understanding of human trials and tribulations, so our desire to serve and help others grow deeper and stronger. Love is the ultimate answer to all of our problems, so by accepting, we can nurture love at the highest level, which becomes a powerful force for change in the world. I leave with you inspiring words by Marianne Williamson: “Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.”
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living