I used to be a productivity geek and a proponent of GTD, getting things done. I used to think that in terms of achievement, action was omnipotent. I don’t believe that anymore.
It is true that without action, nothing “gets done”. It is also true that doing the right things at the right time for the right reason is essential for keeping ones priorities honed on your true north. However, what is more important than action is who we are becoming.
Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves. (Eknath Easwaran’s translation of verse 2 from the Dhammapada, Buddha)
Further it states “Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.” This teaching frames an important distinction about the mind. This is about how our experience becomes habitual. The danger in simply responding to life instead of choosing is how easy it is to become so habitually entrained we become lost in our thoughts and emotions. This is especially true when we are automatically rebelling against what happens to us throughout our day due to clinging, grasping or aversion. When this happens we will experience increased states of stress, tension and as the Buddha said “suffering”. On the other hand if we can train ourselves to respond with mindfulness, patience and compassion we will experience greater joy.
Our mind’s habitual cognitive and volitional patterns shape the kind of mental states we experience. In addition to meditation, being present, learning to respond versus react and view life through the lens of compassion — we can also practice curiosity. The process of inquiry a.k.a asking questions can instantly reframe our conscious attention and focus our mind towards greater sense of equanimity.
Questions Reframe and Refocus the Mind
Reflective, curios and probing questions instantly reframes and will realign our attention. It does this by forcing us to examine our intentions. Intention precedes attention. Attention precedes action. Therefore, if you are not getting the results you need or were hoping for, it is time to ask a better question to force your mind out of its habitual experiences and patterns.
Power Move Question
Now this is a question I’ve been using with my business coaching clients for decades. It is subtle and its power lies in posing the question to yourself and listening for an answer, then acting upon the answer.
Ask yourself “What does the business or my life need from me today?”
My co-founder and wife Amethyst has a slightly different take on joy and makes some interesting observations about Fully Inhabiting Your Life. I found it an interesting and worthwhile read and it gave me something to think about, “Finding meaning and significance in life is the key to fully inhabiting it with joy and creative self expression.”