Giving Up


I recently heard a woman say that she had given up, giving up coffee. (Give yourself a moment with this one.) When I heard her say this my whole being lit up. At first I went to the most obvious thing I have been intermittently, over the years, trying to give up. That being sugar. When I wondered what would it be like to give up, giving up sugar, I immediately felt great. It was as if a weight had been lifted. And right behind that, a permission, an opening, to actually enjoy something that I actually enjoy.

How often do we engage in our little “guilty pleasures” in ways that do not, in fact, offer any pleasure because we are far too busy feeling guilty? But it gets even better.

I could give up beating myself up that I should somehow know better. Do better. Set a better example. I could give up acting as if this one small act blows up all the amazingly nutritious and delicious food that I make and eat every day. I could give up feeling as though this is somehow bad, and by extension, that I am somehow bad because of it.

We do this all the time. We equate something we are doing, that we don’t think we should be doing, with who we fundamentally are. And while certainly our cumulative actions over time point to how we have decided to live in this world, the sum of these actions is but a fraction of the totality of who we are. In essence, we are way more than whether or not we choose to…(Fill in the blank).

There is such a fine line in life around how we do what we do. On one level, there is nothing wrong with improving. Nothing wrong with trying to do “it” better. Certainly, we could even make the case that in many areas of our world, we would all be better off if we all put some more time into changing the aspects of ourselves that bring harm and disharmony.

But this cannot be the whole story. For this is only one side of a two-sided coin. The other side holds that it is just as valuable to give up trying to give up what we think is wrong with us. Unsightly. Unseemly. Unworthy. Shameful. To give up running on the never-ending treadmill of not enough. Not doing enough. Not doing it right.

On this side of the coin, we do not need a reason, justifications, a set of credentials, a right way of living, or a tangible list of the good deeds that we do to justify why it is that we get to just be. Here. As we are. As is. To do what we do. To love what we love.

What would it be like to experiment with, on the topic of your choice, giving up, giving up how you truly feel, or what it is that you really want, but that somehow you have not been able to give yourself because you believe it will mean something about you that you do not want to be?