The Best Way to Solve a Problem: Give Up

Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. Sometimes the smartest choice is giving up.

I don’t think that giving up should be your primary method for dealing with problems. But there are certainly a lot of cases where it just seems to be the most intelligent answer.

The more I stop trying to force things to happen, the more they just seem to sort themselves out. The more I let things happen, the less time I spend trying to make them happen.

Giving up is really about honoring your feelings. It’s about giving up trying to force yourself into a mold of societal shoulds and embracing your true self.

So here’s an invitation to…

  • Give up trying to be cool.
  • Give up your golden handcuffs.
  • Give up wanting to be a famous musician, artist, architect, thinker, writer, whatever-it-is. Maybe it’s smarter to make your purpose to have an impact, instead.
  • Give up wanting to be different for the sake of being unique.
  • Give up trying to be perfect.
  • Give up keeping relationships with people you don’t really like.
  • Give up trying to be the center of attention.
  • Give up trying to be important. (Focusing on community is usually more fulfilling.)
  • Give up achieving a lot of ego-driven goals.
  • Give up trying to be super-focused. Sometimes the most compelling ideas come from the most messy, unexpected sources.
  • Give up trying to be indie.
  • Give up trying to popular.
  • Give up caring about owning a lot of cool things, which keep you distracted from acknowledging that you don’t like what you’re doing with your life.
  • Give up trying to have a perfectly organized workspace and a zero inbox.

With that said, there are a lot of ways we think we’re doing good, but we’re really not.

Counter-intuitive to what you think, it might make more sense to…

  • Give up trying to be super happy all the time. Instead, settle for being peaceful.
  • Give up needing a reason to share your love. Being alive is reason enough.
  • Give up trying to be everything to everyone.
  • Give up trying to fit the mold of your race, astrological sign, job title, religious group, political party or other erroneous associations.
  • Give up caring about being the smartest, best and fastest. At least don’t let your ego get caught up in it.
  • Give up caring about “being a man” or “being a woman.” Or doing what is expected of your gender.
  • Give up sacrificing your life for an expensive degree that makes you feel important.
  • Give up trying to be ultra productive, especially if productivity is making you miserable.
  • Give up caring about having a respectable job, a respectable resume, and a respectable life. Replace following a template, with freestyling life.
  • Give up trying to constantly improve yourself. Sometimes too much self improvement can cause you to lose sight of the present.
  • Give up caring about doing what works.
  • Give up thinking you don’t have the time or skills to make your dreams a reality.
  • Give up caring about knowing everything in advance before you take action. Put yourself on auto-response instead.
  • Give up trying to always find interesting experiences and interesting things to do. Alternatively, be interesting and be interested.
  • Give up trying to live up to the expectation of your parents, your friends, your boss, and peers.
  • Give up trying to live up to the expectation of… yourself.
  • Give up trying to have a flawless body, perfect face, or an impeccable wardrobe. Care more about beautifying your mind and being a person who takes beautiful actions.

Trying to make things happen all the time creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety. It’s stressful trying to deny what is.

When I give up, I accept life as it is. No strings attached. No wishing things were different. If an action needs to be taken, I take it. But I’ve given up letting my happiness be dependent on a thing.

Most of these problems only exist within our minds. They’re not real physical problems; they’re simply psychic, imagined obstacles.

It’s interesting how we seem to have so many problems, so many dilemmas. But most of the time the answer to solving them is doing nothing. Giving up.

So, what do you think? Has giving up ever helped you win?

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Maarburg December 11, 2008 at 6:11 pm

There are some real gems in here. I’ve realized a few things in the last few trying months. Some things are important, truly important, and they deserve your time and energy. Others only provide the impression of importance. Knowing the difference. Knowing what holds you back, and what moved you forward.


Anchang jaspa August 9, 2013 at 2:44 am

You are right my man , if u can be able to spend time only on those things of great importancwe will achief more in life ,than spending time on things that will not bring any Progress in life

Jay December 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

I once worked for a company where my easy going attitude did not fit in with the type “A” personalities, so I tried very hard to become like them. I started working lots of overtime, skipping lunches, you know the rat race motto! Well it was not working, and I was becoming a person I did not like. So, I stopped caring what they thought and went back to my normal mode of attack, work 40 hours and have a life. You know what- just like Jonathan said, it made all the difference. They still did not like me, but I did not care, I liked myself! Thanks Jonathan- missed your post, but I know the Ebook will be worth it!


Michele February 23, 2015 at 8:34 pm

I’m in the same exact situation. I’ve been with the same company for 16 yrs. the whole time I’ve been employed here, I have always worked many hours and it doesn’t end in the office, it continues at home now that we have to be attached to our phones these days with certain jobs. Today I realized I’m done. Why am I working all of this overtime for free because I’m salary. Why do I even care so much? I’ve done all I can to always go above and beyond in my positions and ur doesn’t matter. They out more and more work on you because they know they can depend on you and know you will get the job done because of my work ethics. So I’m ready to check out. Since I became a lead, in the beginning I was pumped, ready to make things easier and better for my team. But the harder I tried the more angry and stressed I got. Some people on my team don’t care. But I have others that work just as hard as me if not more. Again why? We get shitty raises, more and more work on us and that’s it. I can’t continue to keep going like this at my job. Most corporations don’t give a shit about their employees. They just expect more and more. Maybe one day they will learn how many good employees they will lose in time. But in honesty they don’t care. It’s pretty sad.

But I still feel guilty for not giving my all. However I need to stop and work my 8 hours and get out. Don’t look at my phone and enjoy my family. Sounds easy, buts it very hard.

Dmitriy December 11, 2008 at 6:21 pm


I agree with you on most of it. However, here is the thing…..if you give up you can’t make your dreams a reality. It’s like coach Bobby Knight, sure he was very short tempered but that’s who he is and that’s why Indiana Hoosiers went undefeated and won a NCAA championship. Some say why just Bob Knight gives up on his bad temper, the answer is that that’s who he is and sometimes that bad thing stays with you. Another good example is Dennis Rodman he won like 4 or 5 NBA championships….how did he do it, he didn’t give up on his bad attitude because that’s what makes him…him.



Sami December 11, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I think it all comes down to being true to yourself. If you focus on that (and it is certainly difficult to do so), all of these points that are mentioned here flow out naturally. You become more accepting of yourself, which is the gateway to acceptance of everything around you, which is what leads to real, lasting happiness.


chico May 20, 2011 at 5:41 am


kathy December 11, 2008 at 7:35 pm

What you are saying is not so much giving up as it is to just be yourself.

The more we try to force being something or someone that is not our authentic being, the more we create discord and unhappiness.

It’s much more fun and rewarding to give up comparing myself with the perfect media specimen and just be myself.


Duff December 11, 2008 at 7:53 pm

I’ve often found that giving up came right before a breakthrough experience. This seems to be true of the spiritual path, in that right before the completion of what’s called “1st path” in the Theravadan insight maps comes a complete and total giving up.

But be careful! “Apathy is the near enemy of equanimity.” Giving up and giving in are a razor’s edge difference, and I’ve often fallen into depression and apathy instead of surrender and equanimity. It’s quite the art, and I find myself more humiliated regularly with how I fail to make the distinction appropriately! And how I respond to the humbling again challenges me to surrender instead of submit, be equanimous instead of apathetic.


Josh August 2, 2012 at 5:37 am

I totally respect what you are saying, but I don’t agree with a point you made.

Specifically where you said that “Giving up and giving in are a razor’s edge difference,” although I think there is truth to what you said, it isn’t appropriately applied here. I’m pretty sure that the overall message is to ‘give up on / let go of ego-driven, external BS that you let influence / distract / hold you back from your Self’ but obviously NOT to give up on caring about the thing(s) you LOVE to do…

Matt R. December 11, 2008 at 7:55 pm

I love “Give up wanting to be a famous musician, artist, architect, thinker, writer, whatever-it-is. Maybe it’s smarter to make your purpose to have an impact, instead.” As a musician and songwriter it really hits home. Though I’ve never had a primary objective of being famous, my goals are a lot different now then they were when I first started. I’ve learned that I’m most successful when I do things on my own terms and not try to emulate some one else.


Johnny December 11, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Good post, though I don’t know if I would have phrased it as “giving up.” I guess you’re approaching the Zen ideas letting go and non-attachment, just using different terminology. The idea of not letting fixation on certain ideas is a simple yet incredibly effective way to improve your outlook on life.


Rori Raye December 11, 2008 at 10:07 pm

This is such an incredible post! Giving up on working so hard for your goals is hard to put into words without sounding slacker-ish – what you’re doing here is a sort of re-framing of your goals, a softening of them so that you’re marching with, through and to happiness and contribution instead of some kind of certificate of accomplishment. Self-fulfillment instead of acknowledgment (not that you can’t be acknowledged as a bonus…) Thank you for the wonderful pieces, Rori


Kimberlee December 11, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I so know the feeling! I often face problems where I over-analyze them to pieces. “If I do this, then this bad thing will happen, but if not, then this will happen…” Sometimes, when you let go of the reins, the problems will suddenly fall into place and the path is clear. I often forget what in the world I was so worried about.

Thanks for sharing! Stumbled. :)



rampantheart December 11, 2008 at 11:09 pm

While most of your points are valid ones, I beg to disagree with the whole attitude of it. Well, I am not a psychiatrist but am an avid reader of the genre. Well, IMHO, people, rather than concentrating on something “negative” like this, should concentrate on positive words. Our brain is a complex computer and we need to program it very carefully. “Giving up” is not a negative phrase but there’s a difference between “I will stop doing this” and “I have started doing something else”. We need to program our sub conscious mind saying things that are positive. This especially should help people who’ve been practising self-hypnosis!

Overall, in the physical sense, I think your article is fascinating!


Pablo May 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

“rampantheart” your comment is strange, however valid, since it contradicts IMO the whole spirit of the post. I just find it funny that you even bother to write being the gist so far away from the “programming” concept. By the way, I wouldn’t see why I have force myself to be “positive” while that’s supposed to arise naturally from chosing right, from loving and existing.

Hugo December 12, 2008 at 3:44 am

Good post, Jonathan! I was just re-reading Seth Godin’s ‘the Dip’. One of his main points in this book is becoming the best in your field by giving up a lot of things you know you’re not able to be the best in.

This is not really the same as what you write, but it’s also about giving up and not holding on to everything you do just because you started it.


Vince July 3, 2014 at 5:16 am

Yes, this was similar to my thoughts. Giving up all the extraneous bull shit that holds you back from your offer to the world. I particularly like the point about giving up relationships with people you don’t like. It can be so exhausting sometimes trying to form/keep a relationship with someone just for the sake of it. I’m all for creating strong bonds, networking, all that but there is just no time for people who don’t compliment your journey in life.

Scott December 12, 2008 at 4:20 am

Jonathan…what you say is eerily strange. I think people can read it on a first level and if they stop there it sounds as if you are recommending giving up in this article, not accomplishing goals in others, etc. The thing is, if one is a contemplative soul and can truly reflect on the deeper meaning of what you say, one should conclude that this advice may just be the best advice out there.

I have to accept that I’m pretty firmly entrenched in midlife and I have had my kids taken in a divorce. Today I work harder than ever before and from all outward appearances I have it made. Internally I know the pace is killing me and i know I sacrifice the present for some dream of what the future could be like, yet it is always just out of reach.

Keep up the posts, your work is meaningful.


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Dear Scott – sounds like you could take some of the advice quite urgently – look after yourself!

HoneyB December 12, 2008 at 7:06 am

My take from this is to make sure my priorities are firmly rooted in my deepest values (life principles). I find myself forcing things that I “should” be doing, while letting the truly important things go by the wayside…this is my ego’s attempt to live up to an image that I’ve created so others will “like” me, instead of following my heart’s desire so that I can actually like myself. Giving up on the superficial “todo’s” and the need to please everyone else seems like a good prescription for a happy life. Thanks for a wonderful post!


Jennifer December 12, 2008 at 8:20 am

this is a really great post. in fact, I copy and pasted the “invitation” and put it on my mirror. I often try so hard at trying to make something work that I often end up with the exact opposite result than I wanted. I often find myself trying force things I think I “should” be doing or thinking and letting the things I really value and the more important things to me end up on the back burner. awesome post!


Maria | Never the Same River Twice December 12, 2008 at 8:26 am

It’s the great dilemma of self improvement, isn’t it? How do you walk the line between acceptance of what is, and striving for improvement?

Sounds like you’ve got some solid tactics for doing just that, Jonathan. Personally, it’s still something I grapple with every day.


Sergio February 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Yes indeed I feel the same way as if its the paradox of what life is suppose to be….I have accomplish some valuable goals but failed in the goal that matters the most which is the acceptance of self…now after thinking that I had reached peace and was ok with letting go of staying in a marriage for such a long time that I was miserable with; I reached totally devastation.

Tiffany December 12, 2008 at 8:39 am

I love this article because its the best thing to do but the hardest as well. This statement:”Give up sacrificing your life for an expensive degree that makes you feel important.” really hits home for me because right now I am pursuing a degree that is not sacrificing my time but it is not getting my attention or motivation the way it once did. I tried so hard to find a degree program that I would enjoy doing and now I feel like I wasted my time because I learned a lot less than I thought I would. I don’t feel confident in my knowledge enough to be psyched about the industry I chose and I have other ideas for a different degree but I’m afraid to give up and start again.

Thanks for the inspiration and I would love to buy you a cup of coffee. =)


Thomas December 12, 2008 at 9:34 am

What your are saying Jonathan is basically to ACCEPT some aspects of our life and don’t waste too much energy fighting them.
I agree “nobody is perfect” and you should sometime accept your imperfections.
I prefer to use all my energy to emphasize my strength and let things happen instead of only work on my weaknesses.


LifeMadeGreat | Juliet December 12, 2008 at 10:47 am


I would look at as realising what is in fact important to you, your values and your ultimate goals. And then working from that. Not deviating, not being affected by others. Being you.



Parth December 12, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Give up trying to get a job? Give up trying to please my parents? Give up trying to get a lot of traffic to my blog? Give up trying to make money blogging?

Something to think about.


Silke (Organized Diva) December 12, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I gave up just doing things because somehow it was expected. I now know what I need to do for myself and for others (or I try to.)
I gave up being frantic.
I gave up being friends with people who are just energy-drains (or at least I moved them from close friends status)
I gave up smoking twice. The second time it worked. I think that counts, because it was the best thing I ever did.
I have more but I don’t think there’s room.


Kat December 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I’ve been needing someone to tell me this for a long, long time. You’re definately right: too much focus on goals can make those goals seem unattainable. Thanks for encouraging me to let my hair down.


Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul December 12, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Well, whatever we focus on expands. Sometimes we focus on a problem and it’s all we see. So “giving up” provides us with a new perspective where we can see beyond the “problem” (which often only exists in our own perception, anyway!) and focus on being present.



Tim Tyrell-Smith December 12, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Hey Jonathan – I heard about your site via a Twitter from Heather Mundell. I’ve really enjoyed reading along. I started writing a couple of blogs about three months ago and am still looking for my voice. One of them has parallels with yours. It is called Quixoting – A Quest for New ideas. It is all about impulsively releasing all of my pent up (and stored away) ideas to the world and hopefully inspiring others to do so. Originally intended as an incubator of sorts, it is now that plus a place for creative wanderings and some philosophy. However, unlike my other blog (which is picking up steam), Quixoting is not being read by many. Do blogs of this type take longer to get going? What was your experience?


Brad Spencer December 13, 2008 at 7:29 am

Ya know, I always love reading your articles because they are just chock full of perspective.

Each of these things to give up is a gem and I genuinely feel much better leaving them on the table rather than internalizing all these things. I do way too many so I’m going to try to give up a few of them :)

Cheers and keep up the great articles!

Brad Spencer


george yuen December 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

The notion of “giving up” seems antethetical to solving a problem, however i think your explanation of giving up is an insightful approach. i think that giving up is about acceptance of the problem- this is not being passive- in buddhist terms it’s called, “yielding”
thank you for this perspective on approaching problems- one may not agree with this perspective but it feels plausible


Ioan December 13, 2008 at 2:07 pm

I think that in the moment you give up to something you detach yourself from the outcome and therefore you attract something more meaningful to you. Another thing that can happen is to get what you initially wanted.

I once gave up to push signing a contract for my ex corp, and then suddenly I got my contract signed in time… ;-)

The more you are keen on something the more energy you waste. Opposite, the more you give up, the more detached you are, the more in harmony you live, the more you attract what is meaningful for you as pure human being.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.



pk May 13, 2014 at 5:22 pm

that happened to me once – I wanted a place at a more prestigious college, and was pretty nervous and burnt my socks on the morning of the interview! – didn’t get in. Next interview (second choice college) I had this (mistaken( idea that I was ‘too good’ for the college, didn’t even bother trying to impress them, and got offered a place. That was decades ago.

I can relate to the one about giving up wanting to be a famous artist. It’s like, that’s a mind-set that is contrary to real creativity and hence to real achievement.

Wellsy December 13, 2008 at 3:39 pm

I agree partly with what you’re saying. And I disagree, also.

There are many things in history that would not have occurred had those involved just given up on the issues at hand. Polio was a pretty big deal, and is coming back in some parts of Africa. Imagine if Dr. Salk had just accepted the disease for what it was!

Smallpox. Automobiles. Computers. The internet. Space travel. All derived from the will to do something with our lives and push ourselves ever onward. We could have just accepted smallpox, horse-drawn carriages, lack of super-fast, super-abundant information, and remain stationary here on our home planet. But someone decided that they weren’t going to do that.

So, I agree that sometimes we have to let go of the preconceptions others have given us concerning life and happiness. But I certainly disagree that giving up is a way to progress. Though it may be a way to wipe your slate clean so that you may work forward from there.


Daniel Richard December 14, 2008 at 2:19 am

I just gave up 2 full years of serving the nation! I’ve actually finished my service and am now liberatORD to pursue an abundant life. :)


peter December 14, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Hi Jonathan,
I am new to this game and live across the planet in little old Denmark. All I wanna tell you is that you put out some really cool stuff. I like this last one, and have followed that way of life for a long time myself. It does work.



Natalie December 14, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Thank you. I needed to read that.


Gianluca S. December 15, 2008 at 9:14 am

I completely agree with you.
We want to be what we constantly see on all that advertizing (made to make us feel unsatisfied) and we forget that’s not reality.

“This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.” from American Beauty


Nikolio June 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Gianluca – spot on!

The naysayers will argue that Kevin Spacey’s character met a sorry demise – but dammit – you know what? That Lester’s last days really became the days in which he really lived. And didnt accept another boring turn on the societal conformity wheel.

Heiddi December 15, 2008 at 8:33 pm

This was an awesome post about the important thing in life and getting one’s priorities straight. Thanks so much for sharing it!


Ross December 16, 2008 at 7:14 am

wow, when I read that the smartest choice was ‘giving up’ I wasn’t sure where you were heading with the post, then I read the rest ;) Fantastic compilation, very thought-provoking.


J.C. December 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

This is certainly one of the best posts I have stumbled upon lately. Such a great list out there, and so painfully true as well.


Informat December 17, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Great post J.

What is the point of trying. All is transitory, nothing lasts forever.

Enjoy what you have while you got it, everything you think you gain today you also lose. A gain in wealth for a loss of days left living.


sj December 19, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Come on don’t you guys get it? He’s not saying give up and don;t care, he’s saying accept what is….it is, what it is …..acceptance is the most pure form of happiness….
one way to manage your expectations is to determine what you want….we follow a plan for school, for buying a car, for reading a book, there is a method we follow, so why don’t we plan the most important most obvious readson we are here…which is OUR LIFE! we just randomly blunder through each day without a clear path to get to where we want to go…check out this ebook, designing best year ever



Ron December 19, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Always good to have a bit of perspective. Thanks.


Trudy December 20, 2008 at 8:06 pm

That’s a good point you make, however, i don’t think that giving up trying to achieve something will mean that you will achieve it. I think the point you really make is that you need to give up caring about things that are unimportant or things that are too unrealistic that you will never achieve (eg. like trying to be perfect); come back down to earth and focus on the more important things in life.


Kim December 22, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I think you’re right.
But how do you give up? I just can’t.. But at this moment I really would like to do it.
Why’s life so difficult..


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:26 pm

just try it – give yourself a break!

Jerry J. Davis December 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm

I am glad I stumbled upon this article of yours.

Thank you for playing the Devil’s advocate against the current trends. I may not agree with all of the items on your lists, but several of them made me think very hard about my own goals, and made me step back and examine things I previously took as self-evident truths.

Guess what? They turned out not to be so true.

So please consider this high praise.


Kent @ The Financial Philosopher December 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm

You speak to the idea of “non-being.” Not to take one ounce of energy away from your impressive work here, there are dozens of philosophers, writers and thinkers who have written volumes on this mode of being. You simply put it in a modern frame for your readers, which is a hallmark of an excellent communicator.

Here are some of my favorite “non-being” quotes:

“Freedom from the desire for the answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~ Chinese Proverb

“You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed — and the natural state of the mind is pure love.” ~ Ram Dass


Gebadia Smith December 26, 2008 at 10:49 pm

lol I love that..give up..I am head over feat with a girl in malta…and I keep trying to find a way to make it possible..maybe by not trying life will give me a way…


Carla January 8, 2009 at 11:40 pm

When it comes to business, this definitely applies to me. When I’m trying hard to make something happen for my blog or website, I often feel stuck. The harder I try, a particular issues doesn’t get solved. When I relax, take a deep breath and “give up” everything falls into place.


Gagan Singh January 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm


A lot of people above have commented on the usefulness of this article and some others don’t seem to get it the way I think it was meant to be helpful. Some people above are talking about “Why should I give up on making money…getting a better education…changing the world with better technology etc.”.

I want to remove this confusion some people above have about giving up. PLEASE LOOK AT THE REAL MEANING of this article…


1) “I don’t think that giving up should be your primary method for dealing with problems.”

2) “Give up thinking you don’t have the time or skills to make your dreams a reality.”

Instead what you should give up is your wanting to be a certain way and certain outcomes in life – give up on that want/that desire…that greed. Don’t waste your precious energy in only dreaming..learn to be peaceful with yourself…don’t be lazy, but learn to accept and make positive changes.

Jonathan is NOT AT ALL telling you to give up on meaningful goals, rather TO HELP you achieve your meaningful goals by giving up on being pretentious, giving up useless materialistic goals of wanting to be perfect for the sake of vanity etc..


Gavin January 24, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Jonathan – I really liked this post.

I think it’s important to point out though that most of the things you’ve mentioned here aren’t problems at all. They’re just a result of not thinking clearly; of misperception.

Trying to be cool, to be famous, unique, perfect, to own a lot of cool things etc. is not trying to solve a problem – it’s fabricating a problem that doesn’t really exist.

For a more relaxed, content life, you should learn to discern what your ‘problems’ really are. You’d be surprised at how few you actually have.

This isn’t giving up on a problem, it’s ackowledging that the problem doesn’t really exist.

Have bookmarked.


AJ Kumar January 27, 2009 at 12:55 am

excellent title…really caught my eye and took me by surprise ;). also a very well written article that completely makes sense.

Unless I missed this, but consider adding : give up trying to please everyone – I personally can vouch for the success of that.

AJ Kumar


Jeff February 1, 2009 at 1:09 pm


I am struggling with a lot of things in my life that I do not like – job, etc. But I wonder – is it a responsible, adult action to “give up” or “drop out,” not just in the sence of taking care of one’s dependents, but in terms of society at large. For example, what would happen to the country if every one”dropped out?” Are we doing our part to further our collective goals if we “drop out?” Thoughts?


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm

dropping out of a system that is harmful to find an alternative way is good in the long run. The thought of dropping out of my life pops into my head just about every day, which is why I subscribed to Paid to Exist. I would have to sell my house – which is too big for me anyway, which would enable me to pay off large debts too – but I’d have to live a lot down-sized… The lure of a stable and ‘comfortable’ existence is what’s keeping me in my job and house for now. Need to weigh it up carefully (mainly to see if anyone would be harmed by my actions), and then, take the plunge! Before I’m really too old to do it. (Another thing keeping me here in status quo is that I don’t hate my job all the time. Sometimes it’s quite fulfilling and interesting…teaching, that is. But to survive without a ‘guaranteed’ pay check, based solely on one’s performance – now there’s an adventure!

drew February 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

i love this, someone just put out an album i love, and this was one of the main ideas. giving up and striving, going though the ups and downs are just another form of breathing. what we want is unreachable, but it doesnt mean that reaching is not worth trying

i say, throw rocks at the moon all day if you want


Alan Frost March 28, 2009 at 7:24 am

I loved this article.


Dwain March 31, 2009 at 4:25 am

Well put and I totally agree with what you’ve written. Shortly after 9/11 I was facing a crossroad with my business as it too was leveled during that moment of crisis.

I went quiet for weeks and simply listened to find what would grow in my life if I didn’t make it rain. I wasn’t giving up in the literal sense of the word as it is important to achieve my dreams. No, by going quiet and giving up the energy can you stop false momentum from taking you in the wrong direction.


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:38 pm

nice thought

trice April 20, 2009 at 6:50 am

great list of reminders on how to focus on and find what’s really important. I spent the first 7 years after college trying to be ‘responsible’ about money, wanting to pay back some of what I’d borrowed for school before starting into what I thought I was supposed to be doing. The other half of my time I spent trying to plan so I could be perfectly prepared and would know absolutely positively that I would succeed at the next step. Those 7 years (yeah – do you believe /7/ years?!? crazy!) were some of the hardest and most miserable of my life. I definitely learned a lot. I finally decided to stop with the plans and trying to make things work and just wait and see what was next. This involved a lot of prayer too – I feel like God was saying, ‘Are you ready to listen now?’ And here I am, almost 2 years living in China, feeling a peace and total affirmation that I’m where I’m supposed to be and, wow, are these students I’m working with amazing people. Instead of mucking about in an office job, which for me was sheer torment, doing work that had no real point, I am out and about, helping people in a place and a position that really /uses/ who I am – feel so blessed to be here! Just a note from a nomad.
I’m enjoying looking around your blog – keep up the great work (in the best sense of the word!!) :)


Dawid May 8, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for this


Arne May 9, 2009 at 12:41 am

Once you quit it becomes a habit. If there is a chance to change bad things – change them.


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

just ‘given up’ tea and coffee for one month – just to see if I can – it’s the first day and I feel somewhat liberated already, to know that I can live outside of my comfort zone

Sandy McMullen May 9, 2009 at 6:27 am

I declared a week of follow through to try to get some things checked off my non-existent but very long list. Ended up adding multiple extra things to do for every completion. This left me feeling both energized by the freed up space in my mind and overwhelmed by the new more to do.

Thanks for this post – perfect timing


riot-zine May 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm

You are so right. I have decided to give up to get back into a relationship with the person I deemed most lovable and compatible. And guess what: It feel much better than I had expected;-)…. this trying to get back thingy is very exhausting. Love does not saturate your needs, no it makes you even more hungry because It is only hope.


Ruby May 11, 2009 at 10:01 am

From 2001-2006 I was obsessed with going back to college and finishing my degree. I went back to Community College for several semesters, earned a bunch of A’s and started studying for the SAT. I moved to Chicago and started visiting local universities. I even dressed up and went in for an interview. But then, the more I thought about it, the more I remembered how much I hated the idea of paying a LOT of money to read books I could read for free, and to do things that other people think I need to do to educate and inform myself. I remembered how much I resented my first two years of college and how little control I felt I had over my choices, despite paying through the nose. Once I released myself from the expectation that I had to get a bachelor’s degree to feel like a valued member of society, I realized how much free time I had to write, travel for dancing, play music, and essentially… follow my dreams. And none of these dreams require a college degree in order to fulfill them. Do I still fantasize about being an academic? Of course I do, but I don’t have to put myself through the ringer to be intellectually on par with the rest of the world. Will I go back to school someday? Maybe… but it’s not a pressure on me anymore, and that is a great relief.


P. Smith May 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

How does this work for people who are married with children who would face the wrath and criticism of not only her spouse but also that of her in-laws and her own father if she should DARE to try something different and (in their minds) risk the welfare and well-being of the family. I am paralyzed by their fear and beliefs about ‘the way things should be done’ and by my own fear of their disapproval. How’s that for social pressure?

So, after all that, anybody have any suggestions?


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm

talk over your deepest feelings lovingly with your husband

Cliff June 3, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Thanks, man!

I was all ready doing some of this but there were a lot of ideas that I have yet to implement.


Christian June 7, 2009 at 9:29 am

“Give up trying to live up to the expectation of… yourself.” This will be my personal motto for some weeks now, I’ve always beaten myself up, now it will stop! :)


DearClaudia June 15, 2009 at 1:04 am

But never ever give up on life and love. ^^


ecureuil June 28, 2009 at 3:52 pm

“Give up trying to be super happy all the time. Instead, settle for being peaceful.”
thank you.


Andrew June 28, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Thank you very much for this – it’s exactly at the right time for me in my life and reminds me of how any success and happiness that I had came to me. Thank you for this permission.


Michell June 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm


I think that what you are speaking to is the ability to be authentic, to pursue and realize your individual goals, and to separate yourself from the internalized expectations and socialization of an often sick society. In essence, all we have is a matter of minutes and the choice of how we will “spend our time” here. It is really an existential question that begs to be answered, who am I and what am I doing here, what is my purpose, and what will I leave behind? Giving up the egoism that steals our precious minutes, energies, and resources is the first step to truly waking to our authentic self. Thank you for the fabulous reminder.


Pam June 30, 2009 at 8:03 am


I just found your blog by way of zen habits. Just reading this post, I could feel so much pressure and weight melt from my shoulders. It is so exhausting to keep up with the Joneses. This post is a gift. Thank you.


carol July 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

You just saved my life. I typed “giving up” in google, to find ways to give up on life, and read your article instead. Now its posted on my bathroom mirror – I’m giving up on worrying and trying, instead Im going to live to have impact, to be connected, to be truly interested in life itself! Thank you.


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:45 pm

all the best

ved sharma July 11, 2009 at 3:44 am

hummmmmm…now that means we all should follow our own instincts and choose our goal should not follow a perticular path just becoze its difficult for him or her. Those who achieved geniousness are the ones who followed there interest and had a strong feeling towards there purpose in life which made the journy rather adventerous and fun without getting carried away from what others think or opine about them eg are…picaso,newton,einstine,amithabbacchan,and the latest one stephen hawkins…as is said if u realy feel the need for something the whole universe conspires to help you in getting it…the important thing is to believe and have faith…very good artical.


Betty July 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I am about to have my supplementary exam for one of my subjects today and I just wanted to give up this opportunity because I just cant do it. I feel like such a failer right now and after reading your post it made me feel that giving up so many things will make me fail more.


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm

best thing would be to try it, but don’t feel too despaired if you don’t do brilliantly. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up if you fail. Jonathon is not trying to get you to give up trying to achieve things, but mainly to give up on the negative thoughts and attitudes

Rohit Prakash August 5, 2009 at 12:57 am

Sometimes that is the only solution. Let life handle it better.


Bella August 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm

thank you I needed that.


Evan August 27, 2009 at 8:30 am

I just stumbled across this page accidentally. I have been stressed for months and months about this economy and getting into a certain degree program. My life has been miserable with responsibilities I put on myself. I think I am following a path that everyone else has told me to pursue. But inside, I feel when im free of these normalities…Im at peace. This was weird how I found this site. But it has saved me…


pk May 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Yes I have noticed a trend to push people into very expensive degrees (by such means as promising higher wages for graduates, and also suggesting the prestige attached). I got mine in England when it was free, but I wouldn’t recommend it now unless you love the subject anyway. Higher education used to be about people pursuing a passion for their subject. Seems like now it’s more about colleges trying to rake in the bucks, and sometimes not offering such a great deal in return….(just my impression, though)

Conelius Lou September 21, 2009 at 7:23 am

I was not sure what I was going to read when I stumbled onto this page earlier today. However, I am very glad I read it and all of the related comments. It was nice to know that I am not the only one struggling with this concept and it is wonderful to have someone saying, “Just feel the power to let it all go?” This was not an article about throwing your life away and living in a cardboard box at the end of your street, it is all about taking stock of what one really wants i life and being quiet long enough to be sure you go the direction you want to go and you are happy with that. Great article! Powerful.


john September 30, 2009 at 10:52 pm

I have to admit that this site makes alot of sense to me. For the last one year my life has been a nightmare. I had a good life before last august. A good job, money, a good home…then everything just fell apart….and i have lived a lie for the last one year…living in debt to keep up with the lifestyle i had… in the process i have destroyed a reputation i built, relationships i had and the work i did. And as sat today feeling miserable with myself i happened to find this site….i have decided to give up on this lie that i have lived for the last one year. Somehow i feel like its a good, new beginning…where i can find new happiness…


morel October 15, 2009 at 4:56 am



Bernard Devlin November 28, 2009 at 4:17 am

Just google for Epictetus.

Stoicism is making a comeback. It’s probably more useful to western buddhists than buddhism. If only they knew about it.


Jose November 28, 2009 at 7:10 am

When I have a problem and like to solve it and it takes so much effort, I always give up. But I really don’t give up, I just focus my interest in other things.

Some day, a brilliant, simple solution, appears in my mind. My subconscious had been working in the shadow.

It works because when something doesn’t work, you need to change your strategy, if you continue doing the same things, you get the same results, no matter how much effort you apply. Worse, you get burned.


Julien November 28, 2009 at 8:42 am

Recently i gave up on many opportunities, because they were not what i wanted to do, or (by doing them) to be.

I just feel better to see that i’m not the only one who thinks that sometimes, the better think to do is to give up on something that does not make you happy.

My favorite quote :”Give up caring about owning a lot of cool things, which keep you distracted from acknowledging that you don’t like what you’re doing with your life.”

Thanks a million for this.


WOPR November 29, 2009 at 3:49 pm

A strange game. It seems the only winning move is not to play.


Dr. Ada December 1, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Great post! Very well said. Will refer some of my clients to read it! Trying to “keep up” with things does not work. It resonates with me because it’s part of my daily philosophy, just wish I had found as good a way to talk about it as you did!

Dr. Ada


Susan March 24, 2010 at 5:29 am

Awesome article!
difficult to keep in practice :)


Sonny April 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Give up trying to be indie & popular?!? Who wrote this and are you 12?


outstanding April 23, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Life is full of problems.

The more you solve them, the more new ones come up.

And you can sweep problems under the carpet or run away from them.

Wherever you go, sooner or later there will be problems for you to solve.

Since this is a fact of life, you may as well develop some skills on how to handle problems in life.

Here are some insights on how to deal with problems in life so that you may achieve success and happiness.

One of the best ways to handle problems is to have the right attitude towards them.

Sometimes problems may be blessings in disguise.

Problems may be a way that existence is trying to assist us to create opportunities for us to grow and become better human beings.

Problems can hide opportunities not only for personal growth but also to create wealth and success.

For every problem, there should be a solution.

Whenever you encounter any problem that has no solution, you may well understand that it is not a problem to begin with.

Problems are also the first step in a new invention.

great post thanks for sharing this


Maria June 2, 2010 at 9:06 pm

This is a beautiful post.. just thinking “give up” gives me so much of peace.. The man I love just got engaged to another woman.. At moments of clarity I realise I have been fighting for something not worth fighting for.. giving up, letting go and moving on is really making me feel happier!


Scott Dinsmore July 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Wow. Reading that felt like a great weight of my shoulders. I just took a nice deep breath…ahhh. I guess the real answer is to ‘just be’ and let life come as it does.

I love it!


Jake February 25, 2011 at 7:29 am

Giving up means winning?

If you still care about winning, then you didn’t give up.

If you truly gave up, you now longer acknowledge a “win”.

But giving up, in the way you describe it, isn’t giving up, its relieving yourself of pressure and taking it easier in an attempt to still WIN.

Actually giving up means you lose.

In terms of Robert Downy Jr. – “Everybody knows you never go full retard”


Shreyesh February 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

I have realised so many things by reading yours words, there is ‘good’ in your words. Many of the simple things of human life are done in so complicated way that we lose touch with our ownself, we forget that greatest gift is life, and we should embrace it. Thank you so much for all the kind words because it has impacted me deeply. keep up the work.


griz February 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

Folks this post rings so true because it is WISDOM. It is knowledge, gained through life experience, extracted by introspection and articulated simply that is applicable to bettering the human condition.

It’s so GD anti-consumerist-competitive-american-corporate mantra to be amazing. And I am printing it, framing it and placing it in my office right now!

Lastly, If you know a person suffering through “quarter life crisis”, have them read this. Perhaps if I had this post, and read it to my ex-wife we’d still be together. I’ll take responsibility to my portion of “us” falling apart, her unrealistic life view was key. I hope she comes to realize some of the points made above. While we will never and should never be a couple again, I still wish her peace.


james lee burns March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Well, it’s about time that somebody “shoots from the hip” and tells it like it is. You hit on a lot of points that have a direct effect on me and my life and what I’ve gone through and what I am now experiencing. Your “insight” is spooky. Are you sure you’re not a part-time paranormal psychic? You could definetly qualify. I look forward to more of your “gifted intuition”. Thanks.


mike March 4, 2011 at 11:43 am

this philosophy is what got me through my computer science degree :)


Kid April 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm

“The more I stop trying to force things to happen, the more they just seem to sort themselves out.”

This is the most important point in any roadblock. The more you leave your mind alone, the more it will work on a problem in the background. Our subconscious minds are like processors constantly working and ordering things for us. Solutions happen best when you are in the shower, or walking, or in the restroom…


stacy-ann April 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I love the first line of this article “Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. ” This holds so true for me because I gave up on my bank job that I had made unhappy for too long. Ironically, I reached my breaking point and I told my boss, “I give up.” While that may signal defeat, it released me from the bondage of a job that was stressing me to illness. And guess what, the problem has been solved. I quit my job and they filled my position with two people instead of one. So everybody wins (and I honestly mean that) and I get to be who I really want to be. So thanks for the article Jonathan, that’s exactly how I feel. Give up on the “should’s” and step in to the life you were meant to live.


MS May 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Excellent post. It reminds me of the Zen Proverb:

“When you seek it, you cannot find it.
Your hand cannot reach it, Nor your mind exceed it.
When you no longer seek it, It is always with you.” ~Zen Proverb.

This applies to love, fame, coolness – all manner of things which are false goals.


Jake May 21, 2011 at 7:49 am

This is good and inspiring stuff man, Really Like Youre Post!


gerhard May 22, 2011 at 8:15 am

yeah great post dude. thank you. Its amazing how you stumble on something very valuable when you need it. for the past couple of years i was trying my hardest to be the best person i can be. i exercised, read the right books, newspapers and magazines, socialized with the right people, focused on my religion/spirituality and balanced my work and studies. the truth is i stopped doing that this year. i made a promise to myself at the end of 2010 that this year will be my year. my year meaning to let go of everything society wants and expects of you. i still believe their is a fine line in giving up all those things that you want to control, but the truth also is you tap into a realm of yourself that is beyond anything that you have experienced. that downside of trying too much is the feeling of failure. something just kept telling me that i should let life take its course and enjoy the ride. everyone has his own purpose on earth, and had it before you were born SO you will eventually become the true personality when you let go. But as i said, there is a very fine line. determination feeds me. this year is the first year that i feel more relaxed, studies going very well (its a first). So yeah, i agree 100% with you!


love May 24, 2011 at 12:47 am

hi….please sort out my predicament. Ive been a faithfull religious person since young, i also practice law of attration. M divorced for 7 years, i pray to God i want to get married again but horifyingly my ex who is obvious sinner and cheater and unresponsible father got married again. I ve sacrificed alot for God and trying hard to believe that God will be on my side but m so dissapointed now it is always my ex who got it all ….now everytime i think of God i just keep thinking why not make my ex realised and be a happy family again instead of allowing him to get married …..or make him go thru what ive gone tru because the stronger he gets the more abusive he become towards me and tease me that God did not help me. If i call Gods name my ex will come into my mind…….i hate to give up but i think i should give up in faith


Faith February 20, 2012 at 5:03 am

Maybe then giving up is not an answer? The Lord works in mysterious ways. Don’t let your ex be the problem between you and God. It might be you have not learnt yet what He has intended to happen. If you give up in the Lord. You are giving up in yourself. This is difficult thing. But when I went through something similar. I gave up on trying to be perfect and chasing what I was going after. But I never gave up faith. Instead I came to acceptance. It was difficult as I could not even pray, but that’s ok. Sometimes things don’t go our way, but God has his plans. Learning acceptance is not giving up faith. It’s accepting yourself for who you are. When you do that you learn the higher meaning and what He has installed for you. All the best and God bless! :)

love May 25, 2011 at 9:27 am



tianastar June 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! Awesome job!!!! I’d love to post it as a guest writer on my blog- let me know if that’d be ok with you! Thanks for this!


happyrobot September 5, 2011 at 4:02 am



vickiwalkden October 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I think this is a great article to help people in these times of troubled economy, lack of care, fear etc. People are holding on so desperately to things in their life for fear they’ll lose a part of themselves – jobs, home etc. but if it causes stress it doesn’t make sense. Stress only leads to personal unhappiness and global malaise. Thanks for your article, I will share it with my tweeters and fb firends


Arisa October 12, 2011 at 6:32 am

I give up a lot on problems I don’t really care about solving, and so far they always magically solved themselves. My mom is always really good at pressing me to take action. Often times I don’t listen and don’t take action and stuff works itself out, even if it’s a day later than my mom would’ve wanted. It makes me much more peaceful anyway, which I think is more valuable.


drumsvstabletennis October 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

And your credit card number is….?


VesoneD January 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Great post, really great timing when I read it. I’ve personally given up chasing someone elses dream of becoming a doctor to pursue the things I’m actually passionate about.

If I’d seen stuff like this in high school, who knows, maybe I would have been doing what mattered to me right out of high school rather than 3 years into a pre-med curriculum right before applying to medical school.

I’m in the process of reading your book and it’s great, keep up the good work.


nvivanda January 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm

this is amazing. it felt like a huge weight got lifted out of me after i read it. your my inspiration.


TylerGetaway February 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Like I always say…Sometimes giving up is the only choice. Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it,and the majority of our ‘problems’ really are in our minds. ‘Couldn’t agree more.


kikikat March 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I googled ‘giving up to solve a problem’ and came up with your blog. I found what you have written to be very insightful and it’s made me feel a bit of something like peace. There’s something I’ve been worrying about for a long time. I’ve been worried about action. I’ve been worried about inaction. I’ve worried about what people with think if I act and if I don’t. I’ve debated whether certain things I would do to ‘solve’ this problem would be a response to the situation or just a reaction. I’ve had so many mental arguments with myself and now I’ve just decided to give up. Thank you for reinforcing what I’d been thinking and for helping me head in a direction that seems more peaceful than the one I’ve been heading in for quite some time.


marjoriegabionza May 7, 2012 at 1:40 am

Uhmmm. I’m not really a fan of giving up. And maybe we gotta stop looking at things as problems when they’re just common situations we find it hard to deal with. :)


MyChanceRuined July 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Wow really makes me want to follow my dreams of being a singer!!! Yeah right.For me and apprently all of friends agree that it sounds like ur trying to make someone quit at what they want and I hate that.How are you ever asleep knowing that? Oh yeah..You just give up.


catfox July 27, 2012 at 10:19 am

Thanks for this post… I feel like it’s just what I needed to read.


Josh August 2, 2012 at 5:41 am

Thanks. Clearly this is a pretty polarizing topic and super interesting theme to delve more into. I’m feeling super curious about it and also clueless.

What I find particularly interesting on this page, this topic, is that it’s easy as a reader to let the sort of weight of everyone’s style of writing, the certainty with which we express our deeply held opinions on here influence the ‘truth’ of the situation.

Like a bunch of cats batting a ball of yarn back and as it unravels, for some reason that image pops into my head, nothing personal meant about it, I’m a cat too!

Great site!


Matt Dronkers August 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

This is beautiful! It is great that people have diverse opinions on the subject. It seems that to be most clear to everyone, people can replace the words “give up” with “let go of”. Keep up the inspirational writings!


Tammy August 22, 2012 at 2:51 am

YES!!! This is awesome.. All our lives we are told “never give up.” Sometimes, that is the very thing that ruins your life. I think a better way to put it perhaps is “learn when to let go”. This is especially true with relationships. I have recently cut ties with someone who just wasn’t bringing anything positive to my life. The stress, anger and irritation of trying to deal with someone who was not going to change and didnt care how they affected those around them, was too much for me. I decided to cut all ties after a year and a half of fighting an uphill battle. “you cant just give up on people” is all im told. Well, Im not going to let this person continue to drag me down. I tried, its not working, I let go. I feel so much better, calmer and actually at peace. The drama in my life has also been cut in half! Sometimes it really is the best thing to “give up”!! If you force a square peg into a round hole, one of them will break.. its better to “give up” and go find the round peg.. ;)


Missy September 1, 2012 at 10:02 am

Totally agree with you. Sometimes it´s easier to give up. Sometimes it´s the only possibilty. Fighting steals a lot energy. And sometimes you don´t have this energy. Giving up is easier. But you have forgotten something:

Give up believing in the ultimate true love. Give up believing that your prince will ride to you on a white horse. Girls this will never ever happen. Better realize it before it´s over.
I´ve wasted too much time in believing in true love and waiting for the one and only. I wish I could turn back time and get my wasted youth back. Don´t make the same mistake I did.


Aviva September 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

This is stellar. I have read this post before, but I just read it again because it’s that good, and cannot wait to share it with others this time around. I have let go or given up before with positive outcomes, particularly in relationships – with my parents, my girlfriend, my friends. I stopped trying so hard to be the friend that always calls enough and writes enough and visits at the right time and focused on simply channeling my love and appreciation for those friends in ways I knew could reach them anyway. In turn I have such wonderful quality-over-quality friendships.

I recently took the same approach with my girlfriend. I was trying so hard to be healed instantly from being hurt, to be cavalier and up for anything at a time that I really needed to heal, thinking that if I could just be the cool, laidback partner that takes wrongdoings and small heartbreaks in stride, that I would be more desirable. But I stopped trying that, got back in touch with my profound love for her and what we have, and my, yes, vision of what I hope to continue sharing, and I let go of these methods in favor of being a better listener – not just to her, but to myself. I let go of the idea of always feeling positive and nimble, and leaned into being transparent and compassionate with us both. I’m still learning to give up on expectations that only bring anxiety, resistance and stress, but I’ve come a long way.


Beryl September 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

Wow – what an awesome list. I definitely share with my yoga students that if they ‘force’ themselves into an asana they will literally hold themselves back. And the inner world is reflected in the outer world.

Love your insights Jonathan. Please keep sharing. Food for the soul. Yum yum.


Fred October 8, 2012 at 4:12 am

These are great points altogether. And they are skilfully presented. I like this kind of writing, as it hits the nail on the head every time. Keep up the good work, I will keep this on my bookmarks. :-)


Jen October 26, 2012 at 6:24 am

This article is definitely something I am going to share! I only wish I’d seen it months ago! :-)

I spent 6 years total in a cubicle…can so relate to many of the things stated here! The last 2 years were the most awful years I have ever spent in any position I have held in my working life–EVER. The main reason? Trying to fit myself; the square peg, into the round hole of a corporate culture that I knew with every ounce of my being no longer suited me. I kept trying, kept trying to live up to someone else’s idea of who I should be, and quite honestly, I made myself miserable to the point I was suffering physically from migraines almost every day, anxiety and depression that I had to be medicated for, and high blood pressure. I thought holding on to that job was an exercise in noble perseverance, when in reality it was an exercise in futility!

We had a change in not only organizational culture, but just about every process for how I did my job changed, and the leadership changed as well. I consider myself pretty comfortable with change. I adapt well and normally can roll with whatever comes down. I am NOT well versed; however, in dealing with changes to ethical or moral values. When my leadership changed it was replaced with individuals who were definitely lacking these two important facets of character. Still I stayed. I voiced my opinions, but I stayed. Why?? 3 kids to feed and bills to pay…

I had started “looking” for another job, but not honestly or truly looking. Every day I was faced with a director whose sole purpose was to get rid of me. Looking back, I know I was right. I had this gut feeling that she was trying to make my work life hell in order to get me to resign. I felt it was personal, so the stubborn part of me refused to give up. I refused to allow someone like her to ruin my reputation with the company I had built in the 6 years I had been there. I know now I’d have been much better off cutting my losses and leaving.

Ultimately she got what she wanted. I got a stellar annual review because I deserved it. She did; however, put some things on it that I didn’t agree with. Taking the opportunity afforded to me through our HR Department, I submitted my rebuttal for those things. I knew in my gut this director was gunning to get rid of me. I decided then and then and there I wasn’t going to give up that easily and if she wanted me out, she was going to have to fire me. I wasn’t going to leave “with my tail between my legs.”

I felt so strongly that she wanted me gone that little by little I started taking my personal effects home. Pictures, awards, little nicnacs from my desk, etc. I would get emails from top level executives telling me how I was an outstanding performer and shining example for others in my department–I started sending copies home to my personal email–just in case. Then, on 7/10/12 at the end of my work day it happened. For the first time in my life I was terminated from my job.
What was the reason? I had just come back from vacation and was still in catch up mode. I’d been back a few days and she took that opportunity to contact HR and tell them I was behind in my work. Who has ever come back from a week off and not been behind and had to play catch up?

When you’re terminated from a Fortune 500 company, they know how to make it so you cannot take legal action. She called me in the office with my manager and told me I was being terminated for my performance. Honestly after she said that I heard nothing else. I left in a daze and was furious and stuck in the “Why me??” Frame of mind for some time afterward. When I finally read the papers she’d given me, I was offered a severance package; however, in order to receive it, I had to sign away any legal rights to pursue action against the company for wrongful termination. They had given me a 30 day time frame to sign and return the forms. Those forms lay on my desk for 21 days before I signed them. Honestly, who has the funds to pursue litigation against an organization that makes billions a year in revenue?? I looked at it like a David vs Goliath situation, only I would go bankrupt and probably still lose…

I gave up. I gave up my self righteousness and sense of being wronged and signed the damn papers! I needed the money since I was to be unemployed for an undetermined amount of time. My unemployment benefits were not going to come close to even 1/4 of what my salary was when I worked there, so I gave up and gave in…and I’m still here.

Since then they’ve had 2 reduction of forces. One happened a week after I was terminated and the next happened a week ago today. Looking back, I know I should have listened to my gut. Live and learn!

Since this experience, I have given up on several things. I’ve given up fitting into some corporate conformist mold and being anything but who I am. I have given up the idea of my livelihood being anything less than something I can picture myself doing long term. I’ve given up expending energy on anything that doesn’t make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve given up being miserable every day wondering why I was treated that way and have started looking at it from a place of gratitude and perspective of “what was I meant to learn?” I have given up the notion of a “real” job and instead am working toward having my dream job; which is rewarding and has a purpose in the world. I have let go of my attachment to the outcome of any wants. I have given up on doing anything other than something that fulfills me and makes me happy.


pk May 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I think some people sacrifice their whole soul to a company and it turns around and kicks them in the butt. Better not try that – don’t half-kill yourself to perform well in a job, and someone with petty motives runs you out anyway. Just do the best job you can whilst at the same time keeping you sanity, happiness, spiritual fulfillment etc. Then if the worst happens (and that may be redundancy too through unforeseen circumstances) at least you are still a mentally, emotionally healthy person fit to try and get back on your feet again.

Meghan Kerner October 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

I love this post and your message. Letting go of the drive to achieve to “prove yourself as worthy”is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It is incredible hard to do if you are living according to the values and beliefs that are popular in our society. But living to impress other people, or to make yourself feel proud in an ego-based way will never bring true joy or peace. Thank you for sharing this and being true to yourself. Doing what you want and going with the flow is the best thing you can do.


designer clothing shops December 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm

This is my first time visit at here and i am
actually pleassant to read everthing at one place.


Kate February 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Effort yes. Struggle No. Thanks for the reminder.


Jennifer March 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I really love this post. I need to give up lots of the things on your list. I think it’s also important to know what NOT to give up… maybe we need some sort of bartering strategy, ala: I’ll give you my need to fit into this dress if I can keep my love for chocolate. Or something like that. I think I tend to give up the things I love most first, and keep the annoying needs alive.


Annie March 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Wow, I love this post. I have a big sh*t-eating grin on my face. In fact, it’s the smartest thing I’ve read today. Thanks!


ScrewtheSystemJoe May 20, 2013 at 7:29 am

Great post. I found my life radically changed when I stopped trying to control the outcomes and just let go.


Exo May 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Has giving up ever helped you win?

Not really to be honest. There was a point in my life where things got so hard for me that the stress was making me physically ill. I was basically trying to “be something” and I was missing the mark so I gave up. I gave up trying to be something and what I can say for sure is that I am less of a something than when I was ever trying to be something. So in that sense I haven’t won anything but loss a great deal.

What did happen though is that the physical illness slowed down. I’m not better but I am calmer, happier and more peaceful. Those closest to me are happier too and I laugh more. One even commented “how comes you’re not grumpy anymore?”. So it all depends, I don’t think giving up gets you anywhere other than to make you realize there is nothing you need that you don’t have already inside yourself. Basically giving up made me love myself more.


Erlinda Shen May 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I’ve given up caring about what people think. They may judge me anyway and there is nothing I can do about. I’ve given following the rules to a game that is rigged so that I always lose. I am a winner. I’ve given up my uptight ideals, my awful relationships and living in a place that I hate. So yeah, I would save giving up has served me well, and allowed me to keep more of my energy for the things that matter.


Island Girl May 30, 2013 at 4:01 am

Nice Blog! Saying life is simple, not complicated and LIVING FOR A MOMENT! That’s why I started travelling solo.


Abigail June 20, 2013 at 4:14 am

Hmm. How bout if I have a lot of business ideas yet, I cannot action them because I have work. Does this meant I have to give up?


Nikolio June 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm

“If I had but a moment to visit my past self at those pivotal moments in my life when I thought a decision would lead me to the greatest road of good – and just stop him and say hey! why are you REALLY going that way and that fast – my life would today be all the richer in all senses of the word.

Still and all, the best we can do is to accept, and move on.


Philip June 25, 2013 at 3:18 am

I love your stuff here. Its a surrender to what is. Its a surrender to life and a trust in life and in yourself to be ok just as you are. It an invitation to life to take over as you let go control.
It feels scary because of the ‘old programmes’ running in our minds about what makes us or will make us ok. What will offer safety and comfort? How can we protect ourselves from the ‘dangers’ of life?
A Course in Miracles puts it like this: In my defenselessness, my safety lies.
Lovin it Johnathon,
I’m in!!


Hugh June 25, 2013 at 8:12 am


Why didn’t you post this 50 years ago? Brilliant advice for all who want to listen.


Carol Malone July 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

I finally reached the tolerance limit with my boss, The Blamer. I was blamed for nearly losing his biggest deal of the year, which was a lie, that deal was never in danger, but that’s what he saw and on Monday, last week, he humiliated me with his accusations. Wednesday, while helping a customer, I was again castigated and walked out for good. I’ve never felt so free. I can no concentrate on my writing and get my first book published in August. You are absolutely right, sometimes you need to walk away from your problems.

Thanks, Carol M


Ryan July 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

One such article that helps you to give up, its great! People try and try and finally when they are frustrated, they give up, so why not give up before the frustrations eats you. Once you give up, you start living a peaceful life. I know its hard to give up, but its this one decision that makes your life meaningful Accept the fact and move forward. At you know how to move on and accept the fact that you have tried your best.


Jeffon Seely July 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Beautiful post.

It is of the utmost importance for us as individuals to look within our own selves and understand, that all we are seeking to become, we already are within.

Be true to yourself. Unlock your passions, cultivate your gifts, and believe in your inherent greatness.

Thank you PaidtoExist for your inspiring, empowering, and truthful posts.

Blessings & Respect


erik July 24, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I’ve struggled with this in various ways for most of my life. However “giving up” can be addictive. I’ve now become used to my mundane every-day life, and sometimes I wish I had a passion for something. The ironic thing is – I am undeniably happy. People (friends/family/etc) keep trying to change me, voicing disapproval of my life, providing undesirable alternatives – but again I tell you, I am happy. For once in my life (for the past 2.5 years since I’ve made a big change) I am happy.


Vinnie Tan July 31, 2013 at 7:04 am

I do not agree that by giving up things would be in a brighter position. By giving up your are not accepting what is given to you, but instead, you are not caring. By ignoring the things that is happening to you in your life can cause many problems to arise. Many that we may not see now, but when it balls up, the problem would be something that we cannot help anymore. When this happens, it is too late for anything to be done.

I would say that instead f giving up in things, you should find the true happiness that can be found. Everything is a choice. We can choose to be either happy, angry, upset, or even to choose to give up on an issue. I would like to share an article that help me to make the right choices and be happy daily. No more complaining and feeling lousy about myself.


Amy August 19, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend? Make me it! Because your articles so far have been amazingly insightful.


Brandon September 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

This is a very inspiring post! I love many of these ideas, and in fact have been dealing with a lot of these problems lately. Too much beating myself up about random things. I need to just be and give up on the excessive “self improvement” thinking do.

PS: The link to returns a 404.


Ffion September 19, 2013 at 6:26 am

So much truth here… It’s giving me something to think about, especially, because I’ve just realised that my energy and time is limited and I just can’t do everything. Now I need to figure out what really is important… what really deserves my time and energy.


Kelly September 26, 2013 at 6:05 am

Sometimes the pursuit of happiness itself should be something you let go of. Not that its not possible but more so because it can often be an illusion in itself.


Al Collins October 2, 2013 at 3:17 am

So much of what you say resonates with me, but at age 72 what I never want to do is give up.

It’s not giving up that keeps my brain active and keeps me alive.


Matthew Bauman November 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

Sometimes knowing when to throw in the towel is the best bet although it can be tough to swallow your pride.


Angelica February 7, 2014 at 12:14 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you….. dead serious. I don’t recall the last time I read something that was so spot on, so raw, so real. I literally leaned in closer to my laptop because I was so energetically “pulled in” by your words. And incredibly useful and much needed.

You rock.


Jenna Amundson April 10, 2014 at 8:03 am

I enjoyed this post immensely. I call it “pressing”. Stop pressing to be something you are not or to try to make something happen. I have been frustrated with my job for a long time and pressing, trying to make myself promotable at a company I was not really suited for in an industry I could care less about. In the last few weeks, I had to admit to myself I didn’t want to move up, and then realized I needed to be honest with my boss. I gave myself one more year here, and decided to quit on a specific date regardless of if I knew what the next step would be or not. I had that conversation with my boss a few weeks ago and let her know if things didn’t change, I would probably need to make other plans. Not one week later, I had brokered the best deal of my life for myself, allowing me the freedom and resources to spend some time writing and traveling. I gave up the illusion of what I thought I should be in order to allow a more authentic version of myself to be heard. Once I was honest with myself, and then honest with my boss, that allowed me to let go of what I thought I should be. I am one week out from saying good-bye to this dead-end job and getting on with my life. Thank you for posting, you are a constant inspiration to me on my journey.


pk May 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I like not trying to be cool. Like, walking around feeling like this kind of weird person, but then, isn’t everybody?


Zdravko L. February 23, 2015 at 5:03 am

Sorry that I have to disagree with your tips, but this is probably the worst advice I’ve ever had. Why? because I believe that giving up (on the most of the things listed above) is the WORST not the BEST way to solve a problem…

Why? Because the problem won’t be solved all, we’ll just forget about it and neglect it.

Anyway, there are some things that I can agree with. Like “Give up keeping relationships with people you don’t really like” or “Give up trying to live up to the expectation of your parents, your friends, your boss, and peers” and several others…

I know that most of you will not agree with me, but that’s my opinion and I stand by it!


Sarah February 25, 2015 at 9:58 am

Reading through this I was stopped dead by my own mental reaction to “Give up on trying to be ultra productive all the time” In my head I responded with: “What do you mean give up on being ultra productive all the time, what else is there to life if you aren’t productive?”

Then I had a…”Woah that is a value that needs to be investigated” moment.

I started to think about it and realized a limiting belief that I have that the only valuable life is a productive one. Meaning that I think my life is only valuable if I am being productive. Making this realization helped me to understand why I feel so guilty whenever I am not being productive and see why productivity is actually making me miserable. I have been pursuing productive occupations just for the sake of productivity, and limiting any actual impact I can make.

Now that I have made this realization however, I still don’t know in what way I can be valuable to the world without being focused on productivity. That answer will come with time and reflection.

Thank you for unlocking a limiting belief I had about my life and my value to the world.


JOntotheworld March 10, 2015 at 8:13 am

I will re-read this over and over again.

This advice is just what I need. The reason why I get so stressed out with work and with my life is that I CARE so much. About my company, my clients, my colleagues, my boss, my relatives. The worst is I also care about what they might say or think about me. :(

The truth is sometimes we just let things happen. Let it be. let it go. Thanks Jonathan


Mathias May 12, 2015 at 6:16 am

Some really inspiring advice!

I find it especially beneficial to give up on the lower-priority problems in your life in order to free up resources to better deal with your “make-or-break” problems!


Jason May 15, 2015 at 9:06 am

Brilliant. This follow closely to my favourite quote:

“Never regret anything in life, because at one stage it was exactly what you wanted”.

We all want certain things in a moment, and it’s equally OK to not want them in another moment. You can choose what you focus on though, so it’s great advice here to practice diligence and self-control in your decision making.

Let it go, move on to bigger and better things. Time’s short to waste on the time wasters…


Lisa May 25, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Yeah, well, the only problem here (based on my experience) is actually giving up all these things and attaining a certain bliss that is otherwise unknowable, then realizing you don’t want anything. That really nothing in particular is so interesting that you must do it, and there are no consequences for not doing it because you’ve made peace with caring about what anyone things, how you look, making mistakes, getting worked up over things. What’s left after giving up on the list that, for whatever reason, keeps your life in line? Sure, there’s stress involved with the list, and a good possibility of feeling indifferent to half of it, hating half of what’s left, enjoying a quarter of that and not minding the difference. One could cut the hates, the blasé, and everything save for the loves. But what’s to stop them, then, from innocently setting into motion a plan that fills their day with pleasures that eventually flatline and become something to shrug at? How do we know it won’t turn out like everything else we love if indulged and result in projectile vomit (Halloween candy overload) or worse, become the new baseline? I’m here to say those things can and often will happen, and if they do will be difficult to retrieve. That’s what apathy does to us.


Linda Coussement June 24, 2015 at 12:02 am

So right…the only way to break through anything is to let go of your own shields. Open up and be vulnerable, be YOU and love being you whilst doing so.
I’ve had to go through the process countless times and even though I’m not always able to recognise it in the moment, the fact that I’m actually causing the problem for myself becomes clear faster and faster :)


Motivational Speaker March 26, 2016 at 1:11 am

Thanks for such a nice post. That’s what called inspiring….


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