Don’t try too hard. We live in a culture that values hard work, effort, trying, endurance, commitment, resolve, achievement, struggle, and beating the odds. I love America and everything that it stands for. I also love that Americans are self-reliant, and respect good work and a solid work ethic. However, I am going to make a case against trying too hard.
This is something that I learned from meditating for 12+ years. Effort is the killer of realization. You have heard the saying “What you resist, persists”. Whatever you fight against in your life, tends to turn into a bigger problem. Whatever you let go of, tends to diminish or disappear, or comes back in a more harmonious form.
Effort is the expending of energy. When we hit an obstacle in our life, conventional wisdom says to try and try again. Work harder, try harder, make more effort to obliterate this boulder that is right in front of our face. But there is a smarter, easier way to deal with life’s obstacles. Don’t try so hard and simply walk around the obstacle.
Imagine you are trying to get on the road, but your hand brake is still engaged. You step on the accelerator, but the car won’t go. The harder you push the accelerator, the faster your wheels spin, but with that obstacle, the hand-brake still on, you are not going anywhere. It is your effort that is making you try harder against the hand-brake. It is the effort that is burning the rubber off your tires, and it is the effort that is wasting gas in your fuel tank because the harder you try to drive with your handbrake on, the more energy you waste. Instead of trying harder, you should try smarter. Relax and think a little, there’s a good reason why this car, or relationship, or this work project won’t move forward. Your great effort and persistence are probably killing it.
Have you ever been in a relationship with a persistent little bugger who was determined to make the relationship lead to something bigger, but the harder they tried the more you got turned off? Have you ever wanted a job so badly, that you did everything possible, stood on your head, demonstrated your willingness to do anything, and they still gave the job to someone else? In meditation, effort kills the meditation itself. The harder you try to meditate, and achieve a mental state you think you should be in, the more impossible that state is to reach. I always tell people never try to meditate, only relax and get comfy in your own mind.
Working hard is actually not working smart. Have you noticed that there are people out there killing themselves, sacrificing peace for their work, trying so hard but they never earn enough? And then there are people whose work is easy, they make money in their pajamas, and they enjoy their free time as if money grows on trees? They are not working hard, they are working smart. They work when they are in the zone, and take frequent breaks to get inspired. When they hit an obstacle, the last thing they do is try harder.
You want to be VP, but your boss scoffs at the idea, he won’t even give you a chance. You are in a tough relationship, and your partner of 7 years won’t even consider marriage. Of what use is trying to argue someone into wanting you? Has anyone ever won that argument? Have you ever been able to argue your way into someone’s heart? Back off, your effort is killing the situation.
Effort is useful when you are trying to push an inspired idea forward, but only if you have fuel in your tank, and a clear road ahead. A gentle effort or a light tap on the accelerator is enough to move a car forward. But pushing, trying, forcing, is never a good idea in any situation.
Effort kills creativity. To make a beautiful painting one needs inspiration, love, and an idea to express on canvas. All artists know what happens when they try too hard to express themselves- the idea won’t flow out of them. Effort destroys the painting. Pushing yourself to brush paint on a canvas with nothing but effort, makes it look like a paint by the numbers job. But allowing for inspiration to come and then allowing it to flow through, results in a masterpiece. Allowing is the opposite of effort. It is a sure knowing that the right inspiration will come at the right time. It is the confidence that the problem will get solved. It is the knowing that you are worth so much more than this person who is telling you ‘No’ sees in you.
So, don’t try so hard to make everything work. Ease off that accelerator, stop trying to drive with that hand-brake engaged. It is there for a very good reason. It is telling you, this trip is not for you. How do you know to move in a particular direction? The most loving relationships feel effort-LESS. When you are in a state of flow, inspiration and creativity feel effort-LESS. When you have a job you feel passionate about, work is effort-LESS. When things flow to you effortlessly, they are a definite YES!!! Roadblocks, obstacles, rejection and the word NO, exist to give you clarity: This is road is not for you.
Thank you for this piece. As you know, our meditation practice will stall on occasion. Just a few kind words to adjust your approach can be a welcome, bright light. Namaste.
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