Last year a peculiar lesson I got exposed to in my self-learning journey: there are certain areas of your life where being tenacious or following 100% what you decided is easier and gives better results as opposed to giving some leeway and caveating some exceptions. That small discount doesn’t remain small and becomes increasingly more at runtime. And after few weeks you don’t feel any difference whether you are following any self-control or just back to square one.
Yes, I am talking about things like not eating junk, cutting sugar, alcohol or smoking habits etc. After being on borderline in sugar test, I decided to cut down on many sweets and likes and kept few areas and scenarios in exception category. After 2 months or so, I could see myself eating almost everything like before except icecreams. Icecream was the only delta benefit of 2 months of control and attention spent. This cycle of leaving, slipping in bits and pieces and eventually finding self in the nearly same place where started, got repeated 2-3 times last year. And all this firmed up my idea that following relaxed or gradual approach to eliminate bad patterns is not a good solution.
On the contrary, when I had taken total off on sugars except for fruits then the hankering was less, and urges were more or less settled soon. So, if you want to drop anything that is pinching you, then drop it completely. Dropping totally is easier than to do it in parts and parcels.
It may hurt for few days, maybe weeks but it is worth the struggle. Moreover, the harms, dependencies, and compulsions of any addiction become clearer once we get away from it.
But in all cases, you choose to be patient and gentle with yourself. It’s ok to fail many times and it’s real courage to attempt such eliminations. And important thing is to bounce back with renewed strength and learning of how and why you failed.
How this pattern of giving discount may block some of our great realizations to become a day-to-day reality in life
There is one deep pain of truth seekers and super-learners – “we have somehow had some brief but clear experiences of the Truth that we are not body nor mind. But this truth is not imbibed fully and integrated into day-to-day life as we hear about Mystics lives. We appreciate it but fail to apply in challenging situations and can be easily swayed by fears and greedy offers mind makes in every day-dream. Why it is so?”
Because of the same issue of not being tenacious to eradicate false patterns and keep giving remittance. This little leeway dilutes the priority, loosens the determination and consequently makes the internalization of wisdom very difficult. And this way we spoil our nature and lose confidence in self to do anything worthwhile. We feel jittery in taking up anything and lack the belief of succeeding at it.
The Golden mean is to be living with priorities and understand clearly where we can give some commission to self and where we should never let ourselves loose.
The problem with leeways in unlearning false is that when the false and true both are supported simultaneously then this mixed inputs to brain confuses and complicates decision making process and application of it. And we create unknowingly fresh false patterns and assume that application of truth in life is very difficult. That is another false mental pattern and self-defeating feedback to the brain which blocks free thinking and hampers possibility-search attitude.
On the other hand, if the message is clear and firm to follow one and only one direction with no ifs and buts then our brains can quickly rewire and adapt to new mindsets. We make it difficult for the brain with confused messages and ever-changing stances. Below Zen proverb is so relevant in this regard:
“ In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don’t wobble.”
If we are firm then changing mindset is as easy as changing an old password, we mistake entering a couple of times old password and then its over. We don’t need practice in the internalization of ideas, just an inner yes and firm conviction is enough. Although the results may take time to surface in our nature and habits. For example, leaves of an uprooted tree appear green like a normal one but that’s for only some duration. Likewise, the truth, when realized automatically integrates into life if we remain firm and unshaken. When the message to ourselves, our subconscious and unconscious mind is simple, clear and firm then rest follows naturally.
So, this was about where and how following 100% commitment approach makes our life much easier to unlearn detrimental patterns and assumptions.
Let’s take up cases where it is good to relax a little to experience more beauty and fullness in life.
If commuting to your workplace takes on an avg. 30 mins then having some buffer of 5-10 mins extra to drive slowly and mindfully can be rewarding. It keeps us in control, maintains our cool, lets us enjoy our time to self, and enjoy the process of relaxed driving and entertaining ourselves. We can handle traffic jams without being overwhelmed and may listen to some audiobook or favorite music track detaching completely from worrying-threads. This approach is much healthier and keeps us away from getting burned out or always rushing to next moment.
The idea is if you want to feel more time in life, then relax, it really works. I have adopted this for many years and highly recommend it in context I am presenting.
This time padding gives you more life in midst of busy routines. Being in fast mode tires you, ages fast and wanes our power to pull away from worrying threads of office or relationships. If you add up all these time paddings then you will recover much more time than the extra time you spent on padding tasks with relaxedness or breaks. For example, when you are annoyed and agitated then you might say something to your wife or boss, which you repent later and then spend a great time settling with them. All such time savings become easy when we remain cool and composed in challenging situations.
When one is relaxed and at peace with himself then he is more likely to help and be loving in his interactions. Love and understanding is ultimate medicine for all behavioral problems.
Moreover, such auto-pilot-mindsets get stronger as we grow in age and all our postretirement plans to be more and live more intensely is actually at risk if we don’t give up on being busy and over-efficient in managing time.
We should be prudent to choose what to do, how much time to spend and in what manner. Our choices become patterns, habits and then our nature and destiny.
Be slow, savor your day to day experiences, and do not let it leak away in hurry or being over-efficient in not-so-important areas. Stick to your priorities and allocate time as per the degree of importance.
Few more examples:
- When you are talking to someone close or playing with your kid or reading some story to him, then don’t look at watch but be childlike.
- Personal reading of what you consciously choose and find worthy.
- Meditation – we should sit in unrushed mode and extend some more time when it feels like. Because there are very few occasions when it feels so.
Simply put, we have to use common sense and be prudent in choices, in spreading time and keep editing routines for experiencing more life in small things, that occupies most of the day or life. Design every rule of your life based on your experiences, learning, failures, and most importantly in such a way that your peace, harmony and tuning with Self is not lost.
Two simple & profound takeaways:
- Being 100% is easier than the gradual approach in eliminating what you find detrimental to your growth or character. Be patient and gentle, don’t give up on failures. You never know how close you are when thinking of you give up.
- Be relaxed, discerning, and super-present in spending your time, attention, and energy in your priorities and meaningful relationships. All they need is your undivided attention and love. You cannot outsource this to someone else. Selfless and loving interactions replenishes deeply our souls and it requires an unrushed approach to life.