zen habits : breathe

The Unpredictable Freedom and Sweetness of Chaos

‘You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’ ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Post written by Leo Babauta.

I’m going to share a productivity, planning and organizational hack that will change your life. It will yield some unpredictable results, but if you approach it the right way, it could bring some of the most amazing work of your life, along with freedom, joy, exhilaration.

What’s this miraculous hack?

It’s a simple one: let go. Let go of control and allow yourself to be swept away by the powerful currents of life. Let go of planning and embrace not know what will happen. Let go of productivity and be open to new ideas, new opportunities, spontaneous creativity.

The Case for Chaos

Consider what we’re doing when we plan our day, our week, our year: we are trying to exert control over life, and predict with our plans the course our lives will take today, this week, this year.

We are saying: this is what I’m going to do today. This is how things will go. If I get these things done, life will be good. This is my idea of what this day will hold.

Now consider this: we have absolutely no idea if any of this is true. We cannot predict the future with any kind of certainty, and the idea that we can plan based on these shaky predictions is a nice fiction, but a fiction nonetheless. We do not know what will happen today, much less the rest of the week or month. Knowing what will happen this year? What a crock!

And consider: what if we could know? What if we could accurately predict every single day, and plan each day exactly? Would this be a great thing? I submit that it would suck infinitely more than not knowing. Having foreknowledge of the future means we know what will happen each day, which means not only will our days be ridiculously boring, but we’re stuck on one unshakable path. Foreknowledge means a crazy lack of freedom.

So we don’t know what will happen, nor should we want to. We can try to plan, but those plans are not based on real knowledge and probably won’t happen, so planning is a waste of time.

What can we do instead of trying to predict what will happen, instead of planning? Learn to embrace uncertainty, and be open to change. Learn to let go of control, and surf the ever-changing wave. Let unpredictability rule, let randomness be the force of our life, let spontaneity be the rule.

Embracing Chaos for Good

Some random thoughts based on my experiments with letting go:

‘It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.’ ~Hiromu Arakawa



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