"You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." ~ Brené Brown
This is one of Brené Brown's most popular quotes. Ever since her first TED talk went viral, it became evident that her research was capturing a key human experience - the belief that we are not enough.
This "not enough" conversation is everywhere, isn't it? As humans, we are constantly struggling to become something else.
It's not just that we think we're not enough - we are also constantly assessing our situation, finding it lacking, and and busily trying to change it.
Struggling has led to all kinds of progress and success. At the same time, constant struggling is stressful and leads to suffering. So how can we make progress with less suffering?
Since we are "wired for struggle", it is not an attribute that we can get rid of. But we can alter our experience by cultivating a core attititude of mindfulness called non-striving.
The word striving originates from the word for strife which means "to struggle or fight vigorously". Non-striving, then, means that we don't struggle. We "do" without trying so hard. We focus more on being than on doing.
It may sound simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy! Here are three ways to cultivate non-striving:
- Don't "should" yourself - Practice noticing your thoughts throughout the day. How often do you think that things "should" be another way? When you notice yourself making these judgements, you may also notice an urge to make things different than they are. As you recognize these patterns that lead to striving, you can intentionally choose whether to cultivate them, or let them go.
- Create a to-be list - You know that "to-do" list that helps to keep you on track? Make it a habit to also choose how you want to be each day. Don't make it a long list. One or two words that align with your vision should be plenty to inspire you. Choose times throughout the day when you can check in with yourself about that list and re-align.
- Engage without striving - Now about that to-do list - practice noticing how you engage with your actions. What thoughts, emotions or sensations do you observe? Consider what Yoda, the wise mentor in Star Wars said: "Do. Or do not. There is no try." What does it mean to take action without "trying"?
Here's that famous clip of Yoda advising young Luke Skywalker:
What about you? Where have you experienced the ease of non-striving? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!