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Bret Beall

The Logic of Letting Go
by Bret S. Beall

When we are children, and someone tells us to “let go,” it is usually in reference to something material, and when we let go, we can either feel empty, as if we are being deprived of something, or we can feel full, knowing that we have allowed someone to have that something, and s/he must really need it.

As adults, “letting go” can still leave us feeling empty or full. Both feelings may occur simultaneously. Ultimately, letting go will allow us to feel free, unburdened, healed, happy, even joyous. I intend to address how we can reach these ultimate feelings.

The concept of “letting go” is very complex (though ironically, the goal/result of “letting go” is simplification). When trying to understand a complex situation, the best first step is to break the problem into easily perceivable pieces. For the sake of this discussion, I will divide the various aspects of “letting go” into three categories: 1) physical, 2) psychological, and 3) spiritual. These three categories are so related that they are not mutually exclusive, but I believe that is logically impossible in this situation. I have suggested that when a soul occupies a body, their intersection is a mind; in other words, when the spiritual level interacts with the physical level, the psychological level occurs. While the properties of each level are not entirely discrete, there are some properties of each level that seem to be emergent, and I will focus on them in the following discussion. Also, while each level can be addressed in isolation, they really have both linear and recursive (back-and-forth) relationships. By “linear,” I mean that, if one makes progress at the one level, progress will automatically be made at another level. The recursive relationship occurs because sometimes one must make progress in one area before making progress in another, and then another, and “back and forth.” As I’ve written before, ANY mindful effort must be considered “progress,” so instead of focusing on “how much” we let go, let’s just focus on the very act of “letting go.”

Additionally, before writing about the actual process of letting go, I want to call your attention to another factor. Specifically, I tend to think of “letting go” as a gradual, gentle, almost passive process. Therefore, I’ve decided to introduce a somewhat more aggressive, intentional, active term as a counterpart: purging! Consequently, part of this article will be about letting go, and part will deal with purging … sometimes in the same sentence! “Get rid of” is another phrase that may creep in.


When I discuss the “physical” realm, I am talking about anything tangible, whether it is our bodies or our environment. Our environment can often be cluttered, so purging of much of this “stuff” can be truly liberating. Our bodies may not please us, so we can choose to let go of extra weight. We can choose to let go of bad habits and addictions. We can choose to free ourselves of the indiscriminate materialism and consumerism that requires constantly acquiring more and more of “anything.”


Moving from the physical to the psychological, we moved to the “why” of those items that we could let go of physically. For example, why do we have all of the “stuff” that needs to be purged? What has caused the rampant materialism that has allowed us to fill up our lives with objects and beings? I almost wrote “inanimate,” but there are those who fill up their lives with pets and children and casual acquaintances rather than “real” relationships. All such acquisitional behavior is symptomatic of a psychological need that longs to be filled, but which should be purged. The same is true of other unpleasant emotions, like anger, fear, jealousy/envy, even hate; when a psychological need exists, it causes these emotions to manifest in an attempt to satisfy that need. Guess what? The very same is true for any bad habits and addictions we want to let go of; while there may be a biochemical (ie, physical) component to these, they also are indicative of some sort of need or self-perceived deficiency or pain that, in turn, is symptomatic of needing to spiritually let go.


Truthfully, one could argue that if one “lets go” and “purges” at the physical and psychological levels, spiritual level purges and progress will automatically follow (one can also argue the reverse: spiritual purges and progress will automatically create physical and psychological purges and progress). Instead of dealing with those two arguments, I am going to run to one common expression: “Let Go; Let God.” When we consider the spiritual level, by definition we are dealing with the Divine by whatever name we wish to call him/her/it/them. Also, by definition, we are exiting the scientific arena that forms the foundation of most of my work, and moving into the realm of faith, which happens to form the foundation for the remainder of my work. Most spiritual advisors argue that happiness and joy are the natural state of our souls. Therefore, if these are not what we feel, what must be purged from the spiritual realm? Because every single major faith has reincarnation as one of its major tenets, and the purpose of reincarnation is for the spirit to achieve a higher state (nirvana, to use the Hindu and Buddhist vernacular, by “letting go” of karma). Ridding ourselves of karma is the ultimate purge!

Now that we have seen the different levels of letting go and purging, how do we begin the process? To quote Nike, “Just do it!” That’s not particularly helpful, though.

Try beginning with just one small step in one aspect of your everyday life (which is usually of the physical realm described above). Identify something that you don’t need, and let go of it. Perhaps it will be your décor? Even though I embrace much of Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is More” philosophy, one does not have let go of an overall personal style that you might enjoy more in order to simplify and streamline your life. However, it may help to examine “Why” you have a particular décor, and whether it might merit “letting go” in order to have a more life-enhancing physical environment. Mostly, this is about just getting rid of accumulated material items (“stuff”) that aren’t needed any more (if they ever were!).

The same is true with cooking, another everyday activity (at least, it should be!). At some point, we are indoctrinated that “good cooking” must be complicated and time-consuming, and require lots of potentially expensive equipment (and gadgets). Let go of those notions immediately! Which do you imagine is more difficult, concocting a fabulous dish from fifty ingredients, or from a mere five? If you guessed “Five,” you win! You are beginning to let go of indoctrinated assumptions. And you now have permission to make simpler food daily!

For a portion of my life, scientific research was part of my everyday activity. As a scientist, one of my guidelines for evaluating the validity of my own and others’ research was whether ad hoc (unsupported or unjustified) rationalizations were present in the work, and to what extent. When trying to determine between multiple possible explanations of a phenomenon, one uses the philosophical principle commonly known as Occam’s Razor. The essence of Occam’s Razor is that the simplest answer is the best. Of course, the simplest answer must be supported by data, and what made it simple was that it required the fewest number of ad hoc justifications to explain away any inconsistencies in the data after imposing the “answer.” Occam’s Razor tells us to let go of complex explanations when we don’t have data to support the complexity; simpler, evidence-based interpretations are the way to go. This was my motivation when I undertook a reanalysis of a problematic fossil called Tullimonstrum (the Tully Monster, once believed to be unrelated to anything else); the prevailing interpretation required unsupported complexity, so I let go of prevailing beliefs and developed an approach that relied less on opinion and more on objectivity to the extent possible. Those interested in science let go of their preconceptions and accepted my reinterpretation; those interested in hanging onto old dogma did just that. Had I not let go of previous workers’ interpretations, I would not have been able to make the contribution I did.

Think about the motivations you have for selecting a career, a hobby, a car, a house, even a spouse. Are those motivations from your own internal dreams and drive, or are there some external pressures? This is moving beyond the realm of “everyday activity,” and into the realm of “special activity”; these special events are most often psychological in nature. Here’s an example: from childhood, I was indoctrinated with the notion that I would go to college (external pressure) but that I could pursue any career I desired (internal dream), though there was one family member who wanted to dismiss my internal dream because he believed I could not succeed without majoring in engineering (I let go of that external pressure, thankfully). In today’s society, getting an education is as much a necessity as breathing clean air and eating a healthy diet, so there are sometimes practical, logical reasons for paying attention to external pressures. Remember, though, that there are many ways to get an education, so temper all external pressures with your internal dream. Loosen the influence of external pressures, Learn what your choices are, Listen to your own internal dream, and then Let Go of what isn’t part of that internal dream.

Now that you have identified your internal dream, what is holding you back from achieving your greatness? Money? Fear? Inhibitions? Overwhelming anger? Frustration? Laziness? [Insert your favorite excuse here.] Yes, I said “excuse.” Whatever it is, you must start to “let go” of what is holding you back. For instance, I have a beautiful relative who is very intelligent and artistically talented; she once told me that her dream was to write children’s books. When I asked her why she didn’t “just do it,” she said she was afraid of failing. I urged her to let go of her fear of failure, but that fear had its hooks in too deep. I wish I had known the words of pastor and author Henry Van Dyke, who said “Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best!" Twenty years later, she has still not written a children’s book.

Sometimes we need some external help (not pressure) to have the tools necessary to purge whatever is blocking us and to begin singing our own birdsong. This external help can come from family, friends, coworkers, the random comments of strangers, or a professional (therapist, counselor, psychologist … try to avoid Freudians [just an intellectual bias that I’m making explicit]). Here’s another personal example: At one point, I found myself in a job that I knew was truly toxic, but I was psychologically blocked from moving forward. It took one jarring comment from a coworker to shake me up: “Bret, are you always so negative?” I was shocked to the point of being speechless (a rare happening, I assure you!). Of course, I wasn’t always negative, but that was how she perceived me! I had been known as positive and upbeat most of my life; in graduate school, I was even dubbed “Pollyanna” because of my (sometimes outrageously) optimistic outlook. It took this colleague’s comment for me to realize I had healing to do, that I had to “let go” of residual pain and trauma that were blocking me.

I will spare you the details of my personal issues that I had to let go. What is important is the context of recognizing the how and why of letting them go. One of the key changes that is required is to let go of the fear of asking for help. Try to imagine that we are all on this planet to help one another, and there is no shame in asking to be helped. I personally believe that everything happens for a reason, and that it is our purpose in life to learn what we can from everything that happens. Because of that, I believe there had to be a reason for my personal pain, and for everyone else’s personal pain, and part of that was to learn to ask for help. Once acknowledged, it can be addressed. I also found (with help) that I had to go through a period of grief and mourning for that child (me) who didn’t understand what (and why) things happened. Then I had to forgive those involved, so that I could let go of the pain. It worked!

Once I truly let go of the past, I could see the present so much more clearly, and from there, the view of the future seemed much brighter. This change of perspective took time, but I emerged happier, healthier, more optimistic, more Pollyanna-ish than ever before! I felt true joy on a regular basis, when I had only glimpsed it before. I had to believe that I had not only purged my pain, but had purged some of my karma, thus moving into the spiritual realm of “letting go.”

What does it take to let go of karma? The psychological purging described above provides an example of the linear relationship I mentioned at the start, because when mental purging occurs, karmic/spiritual purging occurs automatically. We can also work directly at the spiritual level. I believe we need to think big. Specifically, I tend to think in terms of how I can leave the world a better place when I depart it than when I arrived in it. That involves thinking about what I can do for others (and the world) before what I can do for myself (abandoning “ego”). For whatever reason, I have had this perspective since I was a small child, but most recently I have found my perspective summarized by the Sustainability Movement’s “Think globally, Act locally.” The key, though, in purging karma (and purging ego is part of that), is to do whatever you do because it is the “right” thing to do, not because you are trying to clean your cosmic slate. In fact, to gain some perspective, consider this quote by Mother Theresa: “There are no great acts, only small acts done with great love.” Love for all (and I would argue that “respect” is a form of love) is the key to purging karma. Respecting yourself means loving yourself. Respecting others means loving others. Respecting the Earth means loving the Earth.

Once you start letting go of what you don’t need, and loving all, you will have fewer blocks in your spiritual Path! As you begin to “Let go,” you automatically begin “Letting In.” Both are processes, so please don’t expect overnight success. Start small, and change will occur incrementally. Let go of the need for perfection and the physical, psychological and spiritual baggage that embodies. Let in the goal of self-improvement throughout your life. Let in Love. We are all works in progress. Make a pact with yourself to show just a little more love every day. Let in the Divine.

Gradually, Letting In will create a shift in how you perceive the world. Just go with the natural flow of that shift. Soon, you will feel One with the Universe. You will feel Love. You will feel “full” because you Let Go and Let In. If you haven’t already started these processes, please start right now. You’ll thank yourself! And I thank you.

© Copyright 2004 Bret S. Beall, MS, PhD (Cand).  All rights reserved. 

Bret Beall
Bret S. Beall, MS, PhD (Cand). As the CEO of GOD-DESS, I help people live fantastic lives with minimal time, effort or money. I have used my rigorous scientific training to synthesize psychology, sensory input, and logic, with global cuisine, décor, lifestyle concepts, indoor gardening and travel for each individual in an easy-to-understand, easy-to-create and easy-to-maintain style. For more information, please visit my website, www.god-dess.com, or call me at 773.508.9208, or email me at bret@god-dess.com.

Let’s start at the beginning, though. I was born in California’s San Francisco Bay area and lived there until I was seven. During this time, my family often took vacations to the seashore and to the redwood forests. There, I first felt the great interconnectedness of all life. At seven, I moved with my family to St. Louis, Missouri, where I continued my environmental interests (including growing houseplants). When I was twelve, we moved to the Ozarks of southern Missouri, where I lived on a farm and witnessed intimately the cycle of birth, life and death. We raised cattle, ducks, geese and rabbits, and I worked on our neighbor’s pig farm; we also grew a variety of produce and I first learned about preparing and preserving food. It was also at this time that I truly began acting on my interests in art, design and esthetics.

I did my undergraduate work in geology at the University of Missouri - Columbia, graduating with general honors and honors in geology; my coursework included a typical array of liberal arts courses (art, philosophy, history) along with the sciences (geology, physics, chemistry, biology, anthropology). By living in an off-campus efficiency, I learned the basics of simple cooking and living. After graduation, I went on to Masters and PhD work in evolutionary paleontology at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; my studies included geology, paleontology, biology, ecology and evolution, all presented within the framework of proper scientific methodology.

Ann Arbor has a terrific Farmer’s Market, which inspired me and helped me to act on my interest in ethnic cuisines and entertaining; this had to be done on a budget (given my graduate student salary) and efficiently (given my graduate student time requirements). I satisfied my artistic inclinations by doing extensive scientific illustration to accompany my original research. Teaching courses and speaking publicly at student seminars, at national and international meetings, and at various clubs and organizational meetings provided a level of excitement I had not experienced previously as I shared the information and data that I had collected. “Sharing” was the key, I realized, and this is when the seeds of GOD-DESS were planted.

I left Ann Arbor for Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to accept a position as Curatorial Coordinator of Mazon Creek Paleontology. My long hours working on both museum responsibilities and my own research required living both time-efficiently and cost-effectively. In a very short period of time, I realized I did not want to spend the rest of my life within the academic world. I had already experienced a high level of international success, praise and recognition, for which I am grateful (including making it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and having Johnny Carson make a joke about my research on The Tonight Show). I eventually left the rarefied world of paleontology. This is when the seeds of GOD-DESS began to sprout and grow.

I spent the next decade in the field of not-for-profit healthcare association management, honing my skills in efficiency maximization, streamlining, prioritization, customer service, budgeting, organization, communication and simplification, and applying the rigors of my scientific training to the needs of my clients. My clients experienced extraordinary growth and profitability.

Although my salary was better than it was in academia, I still practiced my cost-efficient living, including preparing meals at home to eat at work. The hours were often very long, so time-effectiveness and efficiency-management continued to be important, if not vital. I traveled extensively in my various roles (including organizational representative, event organizer, executive manager, and lecturer); often, I tacked on vacation time to cost-effectively explore the various cities and regions that I was fortunate to visit, which further enhanced my travel planning skills. On my own time during this decade, GOD-DESS grew into a fledgling company, relying on the empiricism of my own experiences and my research.

After more than a decade of helping my clients experience almost 900% budgetary growth, 900% membership growth, 400% meeting attendance growth, and enhanced visibility that cannot be quantified, I knew it was time to become my own boss and devote myself 100% to GOD-DESS.

I believe we are always in the right place at the right time. Because of that belief, everything that I do, whether paleontology, or executive healthcare management, or lifestyle counseling, I do well, to the absolute best of my abilities. A lifetime of experience and research has now created GOD-DESS and everything it can do for you. I am grateful.



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