The entire purpose of this article is to make you aware of a choice you have in how to conduct your life. It’s a choice between two paths, the second of which most people don’t know exists.

Why don’t people know about option #2? Because they believe, reasonably, that there is only one way to go through life: Pursue what we want and avoid what we don’t want.

What does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like. We get up in the morning and the entirety of our day, every day, is spent asking and answering the question: What do I want?

From the mundane, like:

“I want a venti latte with 2% milk and a chocolate croissant,” or

“I want my kid to put her clothes on and brush her teeth in the next five minutes or we’ll be late for school,” or

“I want to go to the gym to work off all this nervous energy coursing through me.”

Then there are the bigger things that hover in our minds, on and off, all day:

“Do I want to marry this guy?” or

“I want to be a millionaire in the next two years,” or the biggest one of all,

“What do I want to do with my life?”

What about avoiding what we don’t want? Michael Singer calls these ‘not wants.’

“I’m not going to run for city council because I don’t want people to think I’m a loser if I don’t win.”

“I’m going to work 24/7 to make money because I don’t want to be poor like I was growing up.”

“I’m going to pour a ton of money and time into looking good because I don’t want to be single my whole life.”

That’s how virtually everybody lives their lives. All day, every day. From cradle to grave. Try and get what I want and avoid what I don’t want.

‘How else should we live?’

Many of you reading this are saying, “Yeah? So? How else are we supposed to live?” Good question, which I’ll answer shortly.

First, let’s examine the efficacy of this life strategy. The answer is…it doesn’t work.

How do we know that? Because most people on planet Earth aren’t very happy most of the time.

When we ask people how they’re doing, we usually get something like, “I’m hanging in there.” “Not too bad.” “Could be worse.” How often do we get, “I’ve never been happier!”?

We want because we’re not okay

The reason we all live this way is because we’re not okay inside. That’s the point people don’t realize. That wants and needs are not natural. I wrote a piece about that very subject (link here).

In our natural state, all we need is food and shelter. For proof, look at the most ecstatic, beaming people in the world: The gurus from India and people like Eckhart Tolle. Their needs are bare bones, and they feel great most of the time.

What does Eckhart have that we don’t?

So why do these lucky few higher beings feel great all the time while needing almost nothing? What do they have that we don’t?

It’s not what they have. It’s what they don’t have. It’s what they’ve shed. What might that be?


They’ve let go of themselves, aka, their egos. All the slights, insecurities, emotional scars, prejudices, judgments, comparisons…the whole kit and egoic kaboodle.

I hope you see where this is going. Because if running around all day going after what we want and avoiding what we don’t want doesn’t work and letting go of our egos does…Hmm.

Life option #2

That brings us to ‘how we live our lives’ option #2: Letting go. That’s what we focus our lives on. Just letting go.

Really? That doesn’t sound like much of a life. It is.

It’s the essence of the spiritual path. As I’ve written many times in many different ways: Letting go of our stuff is the holiest endeavor we can pursue.

Specifics of the letting go life

You might be wondering: What are some specifics on how we live this life of letting go? My answer won’t surprise many of you.

We do practices like meditation to help quiet the egoic chatter rattling around our heads. Why? Because the quieter we get, the easier it is to become aware when our emotional baggage arises, which allows us to let it go.

And instead of looking at the outside world as a place we use to satisfy our wants, we look at it as a place that gives us opportunities for letting go. Red lights, drivers cutting us off, girlfriends pushing our buttons, parents urging us to count our calories…All of these provide invaluable openings for us to let go of the egoic gunk holding us back.

So if I choose this way of living, does that mean I lie in bed all day doing nothing but letting go? No. You can still go out for sushi. And get married. And play golf.

Making it priority #1

The difference is that when we choose this path, letting go shoots to the top of the pyramid. It becomes our number one priority. All day. Every day. ’Til death do we part this world.

Meditation isn’t something we fit in if we can find the time. It becomes the priority. Same with taking walks in the woods or on the beach or in the neighborhood and myriad other activities and practices that help quiet and center us.

Regular practices come first

It’s about prioritization. Our sadhana (the Sanskrit word for daily spiritual practice) comes first. Everything else is below it in the life priority pecking order.

That is the second way we can live our lives. And I highly encourage you to shift into that life living mode. Why?


When we shift from focusing on wants/not wants to getting quiet and letting go, good things happen. We feel lighter. More content. More compassionate.

We get better at our jobs. Our marriages. Our parenting. Our golf games. Our writing.

The takeaway

So now you know. There’s a second, more effective way to live life.

It’s your choice.