A great deal of psychological stress comes from the rush and hurry of a frantic mind, which jumps recklessly to unwarranted conclusions, rushes to judgment, and often is going too fast to see events and people as they truly are. Such a mind keeps the body under continual tension. It is constantly on the move, desiring, worrying, hoping, fearing, planning, defending, rehearsing, criticizing.
Lately, this passage has made a lot of sense. So what I’ve decided to try at work (at life in general, really, but work is a good example) is to focus on the state of mind I’m in, specifically the quality of my attention. My thought is that if I can get this right, the rest of work will follow.
Often, I start rushing by the time I reach my desk. In this rushed state of mind, if I have a shred of self-awareness left, I can feel my body get tense. I hunch forward towards my computer screen. I flip from program to program, window to window. I prioritize more and do less and work only at the surface level. Rushing moves me right past any desire to dig into something important and get it done. Instead my work is about trivialities.
This past week I’ve tried to work against this and purposefully slow down my mind. My mind goes a bit slower and I get a bit more relaxed. I sit and watch a slow internet page load, just sitting, my mind quiet instead of cycling through pending to-dos. I come to a near complete stop. At this point I can leisurely ask myself, “What important job can I work on right now?” With this question in mind I pick up a thorny issue and start working through it without the noise of so many non-priorities drowning out my thoughts.
I tired this last week and its working well enough to try it some more. Going slow means I’m working on the more important stuff. I leave work relaxed as well, not high-strung and feeling unaccomplished after a day at the office.
I’m already convinced this is the m.o. for me. Slow and steady, giving the highest quality attention I have to everything that I do, keeping my mind always in a good state.
Finally, there’s a story that sums up this idea better than I can in my own words. I think Ghandi got the point that any task, approached with soundness of mind, doesn’t have to be draining but instead can be energizing.
A reporter asked Mohandis Ghandi, “You have been working at least 15 hours a day, every day, for almost 50 years, Mr Ghandi. Don’t you think it’s time for a vacation?”
Ghandi replied, “I am always on vacation.”