When you pray for patience bad things happen.
Never pray for patience. Bad things happen when you do.
Bad things do not happen because you are praying for patience, they happen because if you want patience, you need to practice patience. You can only practice patience when things are happening that require you to practice patience. Usually these are difficult things–things you do not want to happen.
It’s called hyperfocusing.
I learned this studying Japanese sword. Every time I practiced, I’d slice my foot or get bashed across the hand with a wooden bokken. I’d end up bashed and beaten. I earned a couple of nice scars.
I resolved to work harder, practice harder, study harder. I would no longer get hit. Then, BASH, it’d happen again. Still, I studied. I considered every nuance of every angle possible. Every eventuality, every possibility. I made a plan–a plan that didn’t include me getting bashed. It was ironic for someone who can’t plan two moves ahead in chess.
When someone’s swinging a wooden stick at you really fast, it’s a different sense of urgency then when you move two-inch wooden guys on a board for fun. Planning ahead’s more than just winning a game–it’s self-preservation.
Still, I kept getting hit. A lot.
If I wasn’t getting hit, I was being thrown. I got thrown farther than anyone else I knew. Maybe because I don’t weigh enough, but also because I’m not very good. You’d have thought it was opening week of spring training and I was the ball, or that there was a casting call for dead guys in a Jackie Chan movie.
I kept studying the art of avoiding getting hit, looking for the secret to dodge the blows. I meditated. I contemplated.
Should I be faster? Develop better timing? Learn mind reading? I’d try anything…
Finally my instructor told me the secret. “Listen. As long as you think about not getting hit, you’re going to get hit. You have to think of what you’re going to do. Empty your mind.”
He was right. One day, I was exhausted. My mind was empty. It was clear. I didn’t have enough energy left to make a plan. Something magical thing happened. I didn’t get hit.
This is true for Japanese sword, but it’s also true for life, work, patience, and problems. Ducking and covering isn’t a very effective strategy.
I spend a lot of time planning for the worst. Then what happens? The worst. It’s the result of hyperfocusing.
Planning for the bad puts the bad in our minds.
It puts the energy in the exact place I don’t want it to go. Energy doesn’t know whether it’s good bad or indifferent. It just goes where the focus is. It’s my job to take that negative focus away and just do and let the energy go where it’s supposed to go, to creating magic.
[Image credit: Mugen]