important concept in life that seems to be going the way of the
brontosaurus and its compadres: the concept of living our
own lives and letting other people live theirs without judging
them or trying to tell them what to do. It's a shame that we
seem to be losing this ability, for it's one of the most important
elements of living life fully--allowing others to live their lives
in the best ways that they see fit.
When we try to impose our expectations or desires or judgment on
others, we most definitely miss the boat on what it means to be
living our lives. The key concept to grasp is that we must
live our lives, and not the lives of anyone else.
When we try to live the lives of others for them, we set ourselves
up for much frustration, preoccupation, and annoyance. We
set ourselves up to be disappointed constantly, and to feel that
others are somehow doing us wrong simply because they're not doing
what we expect them to do, for whatever reason.
But our lives can be much less stressful if we just let others do
as they will, without judging them for what they do, without
trying to tell them what they should do. We need to let them
make their mistakes, deal with their own prejudices and biases,
and find their own satisfactions and delights. Just because
we like chocolate ice cream doesn't mean that everyone should eat
Try reading some of the online comments about reviews at Amazon or
about news stories on any of the major home pages. I do this
from time to time more out of curiosity than anything else, and it
often saddens me to see just how much anger is expressed there
just because someone thinks differently. I've seen people
called dreadful names because they post a negative review about a
movie, and when I see that kind of unkindness, I have to wonder
just how happy a life the unkind person can be living.
Personally, it's taken me a long time to be able to let people do
their own thing without feeling that it's my responsibility (it's
not) or my right (it's not) to try to "steer them in the
right direction," as if I could possibly know what the right
direction for them is. I remember a student who seemed to be
making some dreadful mistakes, and I was very tempted to butt in
and tell her to knock off what she was doing, but I held
back. In a short time, she realized the mistakes she was
making without my input. But the most important thing to me
was the fact that she thanked me for being one of the few people
in her life who didn't try to tell her what to do, and for that
she was grateful.
Yes, I did experience some stress watching her take a
self-destructive path, but I also knew that she was intelligent
enough to learn on her own. And her words of gratitude more
than made up for the stress that I felt (which was nothing
compared to what she was going through!).
"Let." It's a very important word. It means
"allow." When we let go, we allow something to do
its own thing, without our interference. When we let live,
we allow people to live their lives without our
interference. If they ask for advice, then by all means give
it. But otherwise, one of the most important elements of
living life fully is to let live--to allow others to live their
lives, learn their lessons, and become the people they were meant
The sun will rise today without my assistance. Other people
can live their lives without it, too.