Let Go of Stress: Nothing to Cling To

By Leo Babauta

Stress is a killer. It contributes to health problems, unhappiness, depression, relationship problems, and more.

We’re always going to have some stress in our lives, but how can we manage it?

By finding the cause, and working with that cause.

In my mindfulness experiments, I’ve found that the root cause of stress is clinging to things. We cling to the hope that things will go as we expected or planned, and then get stressed trying to make that happen, or frustrated when it doesn’t.

Clinging to things causes our stress and frustrations.

So how can we stop clinging?

By realizing that there’s nothing to cling to.

The things we want to cling to, as if they’re real, solid, permanent fixtures, aren’t there. If anything, they’re fluid, changing, impermanent, or just imagined.

Nothing to cling to.

Imagine you’re swimming in water, struggling to hold on to a solid structure you think is near you. Trying to grab hold of it is stressing you out.

Now imagine that there’s no structure there. Just water. You can continue to try to grab onto something … or you can accept that there’s only water, and relax. Float.

The kicker: we’re just a drop of water too, in the middle of an ocean.

Here’s your challenge for today:

  1. Ask yourself what you’re stressed about today.
  2. Ask yourself what you’re clinging to.
  3. Now imagine that the thing you’re trying to cling to doesn’t exist. You’re just floating in water.

How does that change things?

Mindfulness for Beginner’s ebook

If you’d like help with mindfulness, check out my new Zen Habits Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness short ebook.