Monday, June 17, 2013

Going Slowly



There is something to be said for doing things slowly. It may seem, at least initially, that with some things (particularly with what most people would consider mundane tasks) it is better to do them quickly and to get them out of the way. I don't think so. I think that there is something to be said for taking your time. Experiencing all of the feelings that may be associated with a particular act. In a way, perfecting things, even mundane tasks, will lead to them becoming faster and more enjoyable over time. And if the goal of life isn't to enjoy ourselves while we are on the ride, then maybe I don't know what life is about at all.

I read a while back that some of our ideas of what it meant to be a stoic, to the stoics, was very different than the idea that most of us have about them in the present day. I have to say that this entire idea intrigued me. It calls back to a lot of what I have read about Buddhist and Zen practices; living in the moment, trying to focus on exactly what you are doing and not what is happening in the future or in the past. The idea that the stoics had was to focus on experiencing things in the present, because you may never experience them again.
Imagine, if you will, what that glass of water you had earlier would have been like if you had, in your mind, the idea that you may never have another glass of water for the rest of your life. How would it have tasted? How large or small would the sips have been? All of these things may have been different. Conscious. It is this type of thinking that can help to bring us to a greater enjoyment of the present. Not held back by the past and not pushed down by the future. Just living in the present. There isn't anything wrong with this.

I think that society places a bit too much emphasis on thinking and planning for the future constantly. It is to the point where a lot of people, even those well prepared, feel as though they are being weighed down by the pressure of making all of the right decisions and subsequently beating themselves up about everything if anything doesn't go the right way. The idea is not to stop planning or thinking. The idea is to have goals and to work toward them by deciding what to do now. Too much planning and thinking is just as bad as no planning at all. So the next time you decide to set a goal like cleaning up your house, just do something to get doing and focus on that. Go do the dishes. Focus on getting them as clean as possible. Focus on how it feels. If you find your mind drifting, just let the thoughts pass on by and go back to thinking about what you are doing. This will help build discipline and will, ultimately, help you become a more focus driven person.

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