Soul music legend James Brown used the following lyrics in one of his popular songs:
The way I like it is the way it is.
People may interpret these lyrics in different ways, if they try to interpret them at all. I personally find these lyrics to be very profound — seemingly simple but actually reflecting great wisdom and insight.
Brown is expressing the antithesis of a very common human trait, one that causes enormous suffering and shuts off the bounty of the universe: resisting life as it is.
In western culture it is so common, so much the norm, to try and redirect the flow of life that it’s equated with moral character. The person who consistently works to turn life in a seemingly desirable direction is considered a good model for how to live, and is labeled with positive terms like “ambitious” and “hard working”.
What about the person who pretty much accepts things as they are, and makes little or no effort to impose their will on life? Unambitious. Lazy. A loser.
The fact is many, many people are culturally programmed to believe that life should not be accepted as it is — that the whole purpose of existence is to push the life experience in this way or that way. And that pushing the life experience, making it bend to one’s desires, will lead to good results.
Here’s the reality: Life will not be pushed about indefinitely, and will always impose its will eventually. Every person, every thing that is living, will ultimately submit to life. This will happen at the absolute latest at the time of death, but it actually happens regularly — something, somehow goes against “plan”.
Simply a case of life demonstrating that it, not you, is in control.
When you resist life you are exerting your force against the immense force of life. You will lose this encounter. When you no longer resist life, when you accept life as it is, pushback is replaced by a flow that will carry you to the right places, to the right things, to the right people.
It’s an interesting paradox, and a difficult truth for most people to accept, that resisting something feeds energy to what is being resisted and so strengthens it. Resist poverty and watch it persist. Resist loneliness and watch it persist. Resist illness and watch it persist. Push someone and watch them push back.
Stop resisting, stop pushing, and now the obstacle that was there is not an obstacle at all. It just is.
This is not to say that every circumstance should be passively accepted: it is to say that thrashing against the life experience — this isn’t fair! this isn’t the way it should be! this must change! there cannot be peace and happiness until this changes! — will not lead to change but will certainly lead to suffering.
On the other hand acceptance, saying yes to what life presents, does bring change. This change may come through external circumstances: coincidences happen, people show up, money comes in, health improves, the right idea or solution occurs to you, and all of it comes easily and without much effort on your part. It just flows.
Or external circumstances may not significantly change, but the acceptance of what is brings something much more valuable.