Stuck in Life? Why Don’t You Just Surrender?

An alternative approach to success and happiness.

“The reality is that tomorrow is most certainly uncertain and no matter how many expectations we form, tomorrow will come, tomorrow will go, and it will be what it will be.” — Lori Deschene

Growing up as an aspiring entrepreneur, I was hooked on Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. To date, I’ve read it 5 times cover-to-cover and then some more.

There was something inspiring about Steve. It seemed as if he achieved everything he decided to achieve by a sheer force of will. He believed reality could be bent.

As a young kid, this level of tenacity impressed me. Naturally, I decided to operate the same way when I started anything — my business, school/college projects, and even spiritual activities.

  • I’d push hard on my clients to convince them of the utility of my product

  • I’d finished projects way before the deadline and convinced my peers to do the same

  • I learned meditation and immediately started on a mission to convert my friends and family.

All of these scenarios went south:

  • I couldn’t build a successful business pursuing clients like a hawk

  • Working at a breakneck speed, my friends not only couldn’t keep up but started feeling distanced from me. There seemed a bridge between my attitude towards life and theirs. And no one was willing to cross this bridge.

  • Finally, I kept getting disappointed when my mother and friends wouldn’t take meditation seriously.

All these experiences made it clear that this way of thinking wasn’t bringing any results.

I started to look for something different.

Humans have a quirky need to control everything. And even though we have a deep desire for control, we don’t know about it.

A major part of the reason we acquire this desire is by observing those who’ve come before us.

No matter which field you want to succeed in, it’s likely that your idols were go-getters, ambitious personalities who persevered enough to find success. At least that’s the narrative of any biography you pick.

In an effort to emulate that success, we start to pick on the subtle cues we get from observing our idols. Just like I idolized famous startup founders.

We work hard and push ourselves towards what we want. In other words, we try to achieve our goals by brute force. After all, that’s how all go-getters work right?

But in our effort, we forget that there’s a higher reality at play. We forget that Life or the Universe also has a plan for us.

For those of you who haven’t had such experiences, all of this would seem new-age and woo-woo.

Yet, if you think about it, your existence is inconsequential. In the grand scheme of things, you’re just a monkey on a blue ball that we call planet Earth.

We’re intelligent enough to realize that 99.999% of the things around us are not in our control. The traffic, weather, our heartbeat, metabolism, skin color, place of birth, and so on. Similarly, planets stay in their orbit, meteors don’t collide every day, and the Universe functions on its own.

Everything in life happens perfectly, without our intervention.

When it comes to our small (in the grand scheme of things), individual lives, we forget this.

How Surrender Propelled Michael Singer to Success

Michael Singer, the author of [The Surrender Experiment](, says:

If the forces of creation can create and maintain the entire universe, every moment, are not the moments unfolding in front of me part of this same universal perfection?

Michael was the exact opposite of many striving and ambitious millennials. Early on, he dropped out of college, learned the technique of Kriya Yoga, and led a hermit-like lifestyle. If you read the early chapters in his book, you wouldn’t have guessed that he would’ve found multiple companies with one of them being a multi-million dollar tech company.

How did this happen? Did he get up one day and decided that his calling was to build a great business?

No. He committed to saying ‘yes’ to what life was bringing in front of him.

He built his own home, got a few offers to build others’ houses, and then had a construction company.

On another fine day, he fell in love with a computer in a store, learned how to code, and digitized the accounting process for his existing business. Soon after that, he said ‘yes’ when others approached him to build custom software for their business as well.

This is the brief story of how he started out. But as you can see, he didn’t push for growth, growth pulled him.

He lived a life of surrender. And at heart, he’s always been a yogi. He says,

“I never took my eye off of the spiritual path, not even for a moment. My every breath is yoga; the very beat of my heart is yoga. Yoga has not played a role in my journey — my entire journey has been yoga.”


“When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety; if I sit in my own place of patience what I want flows to me, and without pain. From this, I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and attracting me. There’s a great secret here for anyone who can grasp it.” — Rumi

The term ‘Isvara Pranidhana*’ *is made up of two words; Isvara**, *which translates as ‘Supreme Being’, ‘God’, ‘Brahman’, ‘Ultimate Reality’ or ‘True Self’ and **Pranidhana, *which means ‘fixing’.

It’s one of the Niyama’s mentioned in Patanjali’s Eightfold System.

In essence, it tells us to fix our minds on God and surrender to him.

The reason it’s so difficult is the same as we discussed above. It’s the nature of the ego to feel separate and want to control everything.

The yogi who has surrendered the ego has not failed. In fact, he’s done possibly the most difficult thing in this world.

You see, within Ishvarapranidhana, to surrender is to sit back, watch what’s happening and go with the flow.

This means that instead of trying to make things happen, you see what’s trying to happen and then align your actions to flow with life’s current.

There was once a man who lost all his fortune during the great depression of 1930s. Looking at his calm, and composed attitude a young boy asked him about the secret to his attitude.

He walked to his cupboard and took out a shell saying to the boy, “This is my secret.”

The boy was perplexed and asked the man to explain further.

The man then told how he’d lost his fortune before and was ready to commit suicide by walking into the ocean. Yet, every time he tried, the waves pushed him back. After a few tries, he saw a fragile shell going through the same fate.

Even after the strong blows of the ocean, the shell wasn’t broken. The man then realized his folly.** The shell didn’t break because it was going with the flow of the waves and not against it.**

And so it is that in our lives, we need to learn to go with the flow.

The first step in that process is to be open to see where the flow is going. We spend most of our time resisting the flow or trying to create our own flow.

This tendency to resist has to be replaced by the calm attitude of observing the flow and then going with it.

Ultimately, the goal is to surrender the ego. The ego is what does things. It’s what resists the flow.

Surrender on the other hand sits back and allows things to happen. To surrender is to be free from the compulsion to act. It’s the ability to rest in stillness knowing that what has to happen will happen.

There’s a deep truth in this for anyone who can understand this.

Surrender In Life

As we all can learn from Michael’s story, surrender is not about sitting and not taking any action. It’s about pushing the cart downhill than uphill — that is, going with the flow.

In the case of Michael, he did get opportunities to start businesses and offers from clients. But if he hadn’t taken action on what was trying to happen, nothing would’ve happened.

In other words, he took the reality as is and joyfully accepted what came to him.

To have this level of deep understanding you need to develop your intuition by meditation and other spiritual activities.

Surrendering* *is quite challenging because it means transcending the ego, and the ego will do everything it can to hold on to some control.

Without the conditioning, worries, perceptions, and judgments that we falsely hold so close to us, the ego would not exist, and therefore it tries desperately to cling on when we try to get rid of it.

Above all, you need faith to surrender. Faith in your Higher Self, and intuition. When you know in your heart that things will turn out to be okay, that nothing can hurt your soul, you feel free to follow the Divine Plan.

Surrender In Your Meditation Practice

We try so hard to be good meditators and yogis. But in our effort, we often go too far.

Surely, the spiritual path is not about applying force to get results. It’s about relaxing ever more deeply into our Self. This, as we talked about, is where we can see things from afar and know what’s happening. This is where our intuition flourishes and we see the flow of life.

But how can we do it? Here are some examples:

  • Make your practice an act of self-offering. Offer your desires, ambitions, needs, deeds, and everything else to the higher Self with love.

  • Let go of expectations of divine experiences. Those are not in your control. And clinging to them is another form of ego-attachment. Focus on your practice and be present.

  • Rest deeper and deeper into your Self. Be free from the compulsion to do anything. If things aren’t working out, become calmer, and see what’s trying to happen.

  • Detach yourself completely from the fruits of your action. While meditation (or other practices) can give you peace, awareness, and joy, don’t attach yourself to them.

The Takeaway

All of the world’s problems — collective or individual — can be solved by reaching a higher state of consciousness.

But you cannot reach these states by doing, trying, and pushing. You can only reach them through surrender.

Be like the shell that doesn’t have a will of its own — it just tries to align its will with the will of the waves.

We’re all like small shells floating on the Ocean of Infinite Consciousness. The problem is we’re deluded to think we know better than Ocean. So we try to break out and do things our way. And you know very well where that leads us.

So let go, see what’s happening, accept it with love, and go with the flow.

You’ll be surprised to see where the road leads you.

Suggested Readings:

  • *The Surrender Experiment *by Michael Singer

  • The [Yoga Sutras]( of Patanjali

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Written on January 5, 2021