How do you define surrender?

Do you view surrendering as an act of defeat, or an act of strength?

Many of us are programmed to think that the harder we try in life, the greater our results will be. But what is the cost of this full throttle approach to life?

At the end of our journey, will we be grateful for having lived a fast-paced life? Or will we long to have more space and time to linger in the in-between moments?

I sense that the moments we’ll cling to, and want more of, are the delicious moments that were disguised as ordinary and repetitive. We’ll remember the feeling we had in moments where we weren’t trying or wishing we were somewhere else – we just were.

It’s our act of surrender that allows us to drink in the experience of being alive. It’s the ‘not’ rushing, pushing, and trying overly hard to live, that makes a life worth living.

Here are a few practices that help me remember why it’s more than okay to surrender and stop trying so hard. If they resonate, see how they fit for you.  

#1: Go at Your Own Pace

Let the Joneses be the Joneses. Live life by your design and aim to align with your unique pace. It’s not sustainable to push all the time, or attempt to match the pace of everyone else but yourself. The pressure we put on ourselves to keep up, is exactly the kind of push that leads to burnout and overwhelm.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, or previous versions of who you were, surrender to the current version of yourself – embrace who you are right now.

#2: Listen to Your Body

“In our time, we are still breaking free of the collective delusion that burnout is simply the price we have to pay for success. Calling burnout what it is — and just as important, ending the era in which its existence can be minimized or even denied — represents a step forward.” – Arianna Huffington 

Exhaustion and burnout are real. We aren’t robots, we are human beings. I live in a body, and so do you. It’s important that we nurture and take care of our bodies. Thankfully, we are equipped with physical senses and emotions. Our bodies will give us cues when we are tired, hungry, thirsty, happy, sad, overwhelmed, etc.  

We have to actually tune in, listen and take action though. It doesn’t work in our favor, when we ignore our cues, and instead keep pushing or numbing out. It’s okay to surrender and give our bodies what is truly needed – often this looks like rest and nurturing.

We all also have our own circadian rhythm to account for. According to The National Sleep Foundation, “Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.”

We are living in environments where we are perpetually plugged in to our devices. Many of us trade sleep for sensory overload. Then we drag ourselves through the day, feeling depleted, emotional and confused as to why we have to try so hard to get through the most basic things.   

As shared by The National Sleep Foundation, “The more you pay attention to your body and notice feelings of alertness and drowsiness, and the more time you spend developing good sleep hygiene habits, the better your slumber will be and the better you’ll feel.”

It’s more than okay to unplug and surrender to solid, regular slumber.

#3: Be Open to Play

Are you having fun yet? If not, find your best way to slow down and make room for more play. A playful attitude is something we can bring with us everywhere we go. It’s okay to lighten up and approach our days with lightheartedness and a willingness to have fun. It’s fun to have fun!

See how it feels to let go of the idea you should approach your day with great effort and force. Instead, surrender to the notion that life doesn’t have to feel hard. It can feel softer when we are open to play.

I’m using Microsteps to make more room for play in my daily life. For the last few years, I’ve enjoyed creating a weekly intention. I set my intention as a word or phrase that I feel emotionally attached to. My weekly intention serves as a quick reminder and reset. I bring it to mind throughout the entire week, as a way to stay aligned with how I want to feel.

For the duration of summer, my intention is to be open to more play, and to allow the magic of my life to unfold. Translation: this basically means I’m going to stop trying to make life harder than it needs to be. Instead I’ll have more fun, and it’ll be more fun for my family and loved ones to be in my presence.

What about you? How might you let go of the idea that life has to be hard? What might change if you decide it’s okay to surrender to more play and rest on your terms?

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  • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse;; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: