William Liao

January 17, 2022

exchanging 'and' for 'but'

“But” is the quickest way to introduce resistance and get stuck in your mind. 

I’m working on a project, but there’s a roadblock. 

I’m looking forward to the weekend, but I have this challenge at work is on my mind. 

I’m on vacation, but it’s raining. 

By saying ‘but’, Rosamund Zander suggests in her book The Art of Possibility that “you might find yourself railing at the heavens, asking why you, personally, are being punished.” 

Thankfully, she does offer a way forward, saying “there is another choice: letting the rain be, without fighting it. Merely exchanging an and for a but may do the trick.” 

I’m working on a project, and there’s a roadblock. 

I’m looking forward to the weekend, and have this challenge at work that is on my mind. 

I’m on vacation, and it’s raining. 

By exchanging and for but, Zander says, “you are now free to turn to the question, ‘What do we want to do from here?’ Then all sorts of pathways begin to appear.”

The possibility of looking for resources to address your roadblock; the possibility of learning to fully embrace thoughts about work instead of fighting them and exhausting yourself; the possibility of “going to the movies or walking in the rain.”

Finding a way forward is sometimes about changing how you perceive the problem. Or, in this case, recognizing that maybe there isn’t a problem but, rather, possibilities.