With so much out of our control these days, it’s easy to think that the way to feel “better” is to exert more control.

But if you ask Judith Orloff, M.D., a psychiatrist, empath, and author of “The Power of Surrender,” that’s a recipe for struggle and suffering—and quite the opposite of what we want. “Surrender is all about winning,” she writes. “It gives you maximum result with minimum effort.”

That doesn’t mean that when a challenge arises, you simply give up and go lie down. In fact, the beauty of surrender is that it’s a choice you make to let go of fruitless effort and find, rather than fight, flow. “There is a fine balance between knowing when to exert effort and when to let go,” Orloff says. “Learning when to move forward and when to surrender are important life skills to learn.”

Here are a few ways Orloff recommends in her book to build that skill—and flow through your days without as much friction.

1. Surrender Your Stone Age Instincts

Our survival impulse is hardwired into what’s called the “reptilian” brain, which fuels our drive to get ahead, assert ourselves, and guard against threats. It’s so deep in our wiring, says Orloff, that we may not realize what a hold it has often over more enlightened thinking (i.e., getting defensive when a more thoughtful response would do).

To shift out of “Stone Age brain,” as she calls it, become aware of those instincts and urges as they arise, and check them. For instance, if someone cuts you off in line at the store, rather than pick a fight, smile instead. When your sister picks a fight, rather than try to one-up her, concede for a change. This not only makes your life a little easier but, in the case of your closer relationships, can pave the way for positive interactions going forward.

2. Surrender the Need to be Right 

The urge to prove that you’re not wrong can be especially stressful (and usually, a hollow victory). Consider every Twitter war you’ve ever had the misfortune of finding yourself in. The itch to prove a point can cause a spike in stress hormones, says Orloff, with no end in sight.

“Letting go of the need to be right is one of the foundations of the power of surrender,” says Orloff. At some point, it doesn’t matter if we’re right—because the other person simply isn’t open to it. (And sometimes we are the “other person.”). Relieve yourself of that effort, says Orloff, and allow them to have their point of view. Chances are, your life will not suffer because of it (even if your ego does).

3. Surrender Effort 

We may think that persistence wins the day, but relentless effort does not always work in your favor. “If you get to a point with, say, a project or a relationship, where you’re pushing too hard and nothing is changing, it is wise to stop, take a breath, and give the issue some room,” says Orloff.

How can you tell whether you should push or pause? Listen for what your smarter, calmer inner voice tells you. Many of us don’t stop long enough to consider our sixth sense, let alone heed it—often because it’s at odds with what we “think” is the better, stronger move. But don’t mistake a decision to follow your intuition as an act of weakness. “Surrender doesn’t mean being passive nor is it a sign of defeat,” says Orloff. “It’s a discerning choice to practice “non-action” and let your life evolve with integrity, without forcing the issue.”

4. Surrender to Uncertainty

If the only way you believe you can relax is by knowing exactly what will happen, you’re setting yourself up for endless stress. “My patients wind themselves into knots, trying to control the future. They want to know what’s going to happen,” says Orloff. “I understand this, but the nature of life is that we just don’t know and can’t know what will happen. Accepting this and being able to surrender to uncertainty will bring you more balance and happiness.”

What does Orloff recommend? The serenity prayer—the basic law of surrender (and which it wouldn’t hurt to say right now): Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.