Live and let live is one of my favourite slogans of the recovery movement. So simple and yet so challenging, for we all have opinions on how others should function.
Most of the time, what other people do is none of our damn business. Putting this thought into practice can radically change your life for the better.
Does a certain family member drive you up the wall? How about a neighbour? Or a parent at your kid’s school? Maybe it’s a co-worker, your boss or a particular client?
Live and let live. You get to make any choice you want in life, with your words, your actions, the expression of your thoughts and feelings. And guess what – so does the person you makes you utterly bonkers.
It’s infuriating and freeing, at exactly the same time. It’s not up to us to decide how other people should live. They get to choose and they also get to deal with their unique consequences. And the same is true for us.
Learning to practice this has been one of the hardest but happiest experiences for me. When I find myself in a negative cycle of criticizing someone whose decisions make zero sense to me, I step back (often midway through my rant) and remember to say, “Live and let live.”
I’m not responsible for what other people do and say and neither are you. Why should we waste even a moment of our precious life worrying or fretting about something that’s not our responsibility? This is where the “live” part of the slogan comes in. It’s up to me to make my own decisions and look after the words I say, for good or for evil, and make a conscious choice to allow the other person to be responsible for theirs.
Try it. Write “live and let live” somewhere and look at it to remind yourself not to get involved when it’s someone else’s life. As I improve at this, I’m working on adding, “I wish you well” to this phrase so I can extend a bit of goodwill to the person who might baffle, irritate or anger me. I do this because it’s healthy for my soul and also because it makes the world feel softer, gentler, more loving. This is a Step Two kind of thing, however, so I don’t recommend starting with it. Build up to it.
The goal is to be busy creating a life that we love living, so we have less interest in criticizing anyone else’s decisions. If it has nothing to do with me, I’m really trying to simply leave it alone. And where it does affect me, I get to choose how I respond and then let go of whatever the other person does or says.
If we all work at living how we want to live and letting others live how they want to live, our world will be a more peaceful place. And that’s good news for everyone.