Tuesday, 25 August 2020

"Many of us go through life with a list of made-up obligations. We wake up in the morning with a long list of 'must do' items. Such phony obligations get in the way of clear thinking." #QotD


"Another way many of us think unclearly is by going through life with a list of made-up obligations. We wake up in the morning with a long list of 'must do' items. After a while, our feet start dragging and we feel a heavy burden on our shoulders. But we 'must' press on. Such phony obligations get in the way of clear thinking. 
    "There is very little in the world that we actually must do. Let’s face it, unless we are in jail or otherwise detained, we have complete freedom about how to spend our day. The reason we don’t just pack up and go sit on the beach every day is that our actions lead to outcomes—and many of our 'have to’s' give us the outcomes we want. Going to work, for example, provides camaraderie and a feeling of importance, as well as the money to buy the things we need and want. The 'I must' person tells himself that he must go to work. The clear-thinking person says, 'If I work at this job for another year, I’ll be able to buy a house. I could quit my job today, but if I want that house a lot, I’d better show up for work on Monday morning.'
    "The 'I must' attitude increases our burdens and lessens our humanity. When we have goals in mind, we should reframe the issue from 'I must' to 'I want.' I want to go to work so that I can feed my kids, buy a car, buy a house, or change the world. If my goals don’t seem to justify the effort, then maybe I should rethink my goals and my overall strategy. When we act with clarity of mind, we cease being a fake prisoner and realise our true freedom."

~ David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper, from their book Making Great Decisions in Business and Life

[Hat tip David R. Henderson 'He Didn't Have To

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1 comment:

  1. That's a very good point. You could argue anyone who thinks 'I must' go to work know there's not literally someone forcing them, and they only 'must' do it to get things they want or need. But thinking 'I must' in that context encourages a negative mindset from the outset - of playing not to lose, rather than playing to win - of being on the defensive in life rather than the offensive. The difference is sometimes subtle, but very important; not only in whether you can enjoy your current course of action, but whether you can see alternatives to it to get what you want.

    To switch contexts though, once you've committed to a course of action - something you know you should do, but is going to be uncomfortable or scary - then you 'must' do it. Progress rarely comes without challenge and discomfort, and you usually need willpower and discipline ('I must') to push through it. The compulsion is not imposed by someone else though, but by yourself.

    I'm listening to ex-Navy seal and extreme endurance athlete David Goggins audiobook biography currently (highly recommended). He he has some very interesting observations about how pushing through the pain/discomfort barrier makes that task easier next time, and builds both physical and mental resilience. In the purely physical sense for instance, your body could be sending out an alarm that the activity you are undertaking is potentially dangerous. But once you survive it, you remind yourself next time in the middle of a similar challenge you have survived it previously. He's recounted numerous cases where after doing that, the pain has just gone away, as if like magic.

    You don't have to be an endurance athlete to apply the same principle to both physical and mental challenges.

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