If there is silence, let it increase, something will emerge. If there is a storm, let it roar, it will calm down. This is a Taoist saying, expressed more than 2500 years ago by Laozi, a Chinese philosopher considered the father of Taoism. But how can such an ancient saying come to our aid today? Let's try to better understand and deepen how to apply this ancient philosophy to daily life, so that it can help us when we have to make difficult decisions, or when everything seems to oppress us and we don't see a way out or simply when we are in too much of a hurry.
Wu wei and the principle of non-resistance
In everyday life we ??get stressed out running after solutions that are often very difficult to find or we are struggling to understand something that escapes us, we are often put under pressure by problems and doubts, big or small. How many times have you ever wanted to find a way to solve a problem at all costs and not find it? And how many times, despite all your efforts, have you not achieved what you wanted while remaining sad and disappointed? Well, the principle of non-resistance, of which the saying we saw at the beginning is part of, can be a way to face life. Not fighting against the tide, but waiting. The wu wei, which means learning to flow or non-action, is connected to this principle (Zu et al, International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, 2019). Here, this is what Taoism teaches. Learning to accept that within us there is restlessness, worry but also joy or serenity, to welcome these states of mind and not to judge them. Let things and situations flow and in case of a problem, do not try to find the solution immediately but make a void.
It does not mean passivity
If wu wei and the principle of non-resistance teach us not to act impulsively by forcing things and people around us, this does not mean that they lead to passivity and resignation or even to infinite waiting and evaluation without substance. This is not the case and they indicate something else. By going with the current, without directing the energy to a constant mental strain, we keep our strength for when we really need to act. While we wait, our talents and our resources can come to the surface and, spontaneously, the solution to the problem that torments us will be clear, the choice to be made will be simple, effortless. At this point the action will not require any effort and we will achieve that self-confidence that allows us to stop, wait and act only when the time comes. As scientific studies have shown, applying the principle of wu wei has allowed to obtain an adaptable mind, which therefore does not fight reality but becomes one with it, allowing the body to save energy, and able to find effective solutions (Banner et al, Issues Ment Health Nurs, 2018). After all, when it snows a lot and snow piles up on tree branches, what happens? The more flexible branches, such as those of the willow, when the weight of the snow threatens to break them, bend and cause the snow to slide off. The stiffer and stronger branches, such as those of the oak, on the other hand, break. This is precisely what was observed centuries ago by a Japanese doctor, Shir?hy?e Akiyama, and this has become the symbol of the principle of non-resistance, flexibility and adaptability, which do not lead you to fail but, on the contrary, to survive.