Making things happen vs letting things happen

Making things happen vs letting things happen

I believe in working hard to make things happen, with the understanding that some things can’t be forced. You can’t make those things happen: you can only let them happen.

Sounds straightforward, but sometimes I get these things confused. This happened recently, with our backyard hummingbirds.

I’ve lived in the same general area for sixteen years now, but I didn’t realize we had hummingbirds nearby until two years ago when we moved a mile down the road, into our new house. The people who lived here before us spent a ton of time on their yard, and it showed.

The landscaping was more intricate than anything we’d lived with before. They’d planted a big butterfly bush and bright yellow lilies right by the back back, and they attracted hummingbirds regularly. That first sighting was magical. The tiny birds didn’t come to visit as often as I would have liked, but they came regularly.

Flash forward two years. A month ago, I was telling my sister-in-law that we’d only seen one hummingbird all summer, quite possibly because the lilies needed deadheading and the weeds were choking the butterfly bush. We missed them. She suggested a feeder. I looked online—they were $9. $15 for the good ones. Definitely worth a try.

I hung the feeder, and we immediately spotted a hummingbird. Then another. Then nothing for a week. (I followed all your tips you shared here. Thank you!)

Then they showed up.

Nearly a month later, it’s hummingbird city in my backyard. They’re here all the time, sipping from the feeder, perching on the branches of the redbud tree it hangs in. We’re no longer measuring their visits in seconds, but in quarter hours, maybe even hours on some days.

I thought hummingbirds were one of those things that you had to let happen. To a certain extent, that’s true. You can’t force them. But you certainly can give nature a nudge.

We made a small change: a ten-minute, ten-dollar change. We didn’t make anything brand-new happen, but we’re getting a lot more of what was already there.

Now I’m scanning my surroundings, asking myself what other simple things can I do to help the good stuff happen more often?

What else can I do, not to make things happen, but to make it easier to let the good stuff happen?

I’m thinking about cultivating the kind of relaxed, low-stakes environment at home that makes it easy to have good conversations: the kind of atmosphere that builds trust and encourages truth-telling, like when Seth Godin talks about why he makes dinner for his family every night. Or when I’m driving my kids many miles in the car. With the right environment (and without the earbuds) you still can’t force a good conversation, but it’s more likely that one will unfold.

I’m thinking about a million romantic comedies where I’m certain the sidekick quips about giving love a push … but I can’t think of any specific examples. (It’s driving me bonkers! Help?)

I’m thinking about leaving a stack of good books by the bed, or on the coffee table, so you’ll be inspired to actually read them.

I don’t want to force anything, but if there’s a small change that could generate big results, I want to do it …. as soon as I can figure out what it is.

Talk to me about making things happen vs. letting things happen. Have you made any small changes in your life that have helped a lot more good stuff happen? Please share in comments so we can borrow your genius ideas!

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