My heart raced. I could feel my chest tighten, my muscles tense up, and nerves vibrate throughout my entire body like an engine running on overdrive.
I had a huge list of shit to do sitting just to my left. Some of it I wanted to do. Some of it was nothing more than a pain in the ass but it had to get done. And some it was stuff that I needed to knock out to reach my goals.
I couldn’t wait to get it all done so I could just hit those fucking goals. Every obstacle that got between me and the goals agitated the shit outta me. And there were a lot of obstacles.
The urge to get to the other side of the to-dos was overwhelming.
I felt like I was racing against the clock. A clock that always seemed to be winning.
I envied my friends who were blessed with Type B personalities. I bet they wouldn’t understand the obsessive compulsive madness that consumed me. The undying need to get things done that always seemed to get the best of me. The low-grade panic attacks I brought to each task.
The need to accomplish. To get shit done. To get to the greener grass on the other side. To control.
After all, I don’t get paid by the hour. I get paid for done.
I have probably felt the exact way I just described over 10,000 times.
It was my operating mode. My default setting—factory installed.
And it did help me get a lotta shit done.
But it also caused me a lot of unnecessary suffering while I did it. And I didn’t do things nearly as well as I could have.
I would tell myself it’s just the curse of being a Type A personality.
Or that it’s because we’re living in a world that’s going too fast for its own good.
Or that it comes with the job description of being an entrepreneur. Ya gotta hustle, right?
Well, not exactly. Not unless you wanna sacrifice your life—your very existence—for the great pursuit of more.
The truth is—with time—I’ve learned that being is actually much more important than doing.
Sure, you gotta get shit done. And yes, having goals and dreams and things to work towards is important. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for accomplishing stuff… especially great big stuff where you’re tested, tried, get to overcome a bunch of challenges; and get to learn about yourself and grow.
And who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishment. Knowing that you fucking did what you set out to do.
But the energy—the state of being—that one brings to the doing is much more important than the things that get done.
The “things” are actually pretty trivial. Even if you’re out there changing the world.
The good news is, one doesn’t have to “do” anything to get better at being. Because you already fucking are. The fact that you exist means the being part’s been handled.
Problem is, it’s actually so simple most of us overlook it most of the time.
It’s only our minds that complicate it, not the outside world. It’s not the tasks or the goals that cause the stress—that rushed feeling of having to get things done—it’s our thinking that puts the piss in the lemonade…
… Thinking that we “need” to do this and “gotta” do that…
… Thinking that there’s not enough time…
… And thinking that we can somehow control the outcomes of what we do… attaching ourselves to the results of our actions.
When actually, we don’t need to do shit, we choose to. There’s plenty of time. And once we do what we do we have no control of outcomes… zero, zilch, nada. Once you’ve thrown the ball, that fucker’s gonna land where it’s gonna land and no amount of mental Olympics is gonna change that.
A better way to live—and do—is to bring 100% of your attention to the thing you’re doing right now. And bring that attention from the place of your being.
It’s not about thinking what you gotta do next, or how things are gonna turn out. It’s just you and the thing you’re doing.
It’s about becoming fucking one with it.
Life is meant to be a quality thing. Not a quantity thing.
The funny thing is, the more I’ve slowed down—bringing the ease of being into what I do—the more I get done and I the better I do it.
It’s kinda like when I used to ride motocross… back before I lifted a bunch of weights, ate a bunch of food and turned myself into a man-child too big to have any business riding a damn dirt bike.
But back when I used to ride, there were times when it was like my body wasn’t separate from the bike or the track. It’s like the bike and even the dirt I rode it on were all one and the same. I was me, the bike and the track. Kinda hard to explain, but I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar doing something you love.
Those were the times when I rode the best and enjoyed it the most.
Call it the “zone,” the “flow,” being present, bringing awareness into what you do, living the Tao, chopping wood and carrying water (a popular Zen saying), or just slowing the fuck down.
It’s not as easy to get into the zone when doing something like checking email—probably my least favorite thing in the world to do—as compared to when you’re doing something you love… like painting, writing, running, working out, or playing sports or whatever.
But there is a level of presence that can be brought into everything.
Being present with what you do makes life about fifty three thousand times more enjoyable, puts the kibosh down on stress, makes you more productive when it’s time to produce, brings more creativity to what you do, and gets a better end result. But only 100% of the time.
At least that’s been my experience.
It’s the balance—the sweet spot—between both kicking back and kicking ass, at the exact same time.
Grandma was probably more to the point when she laid it out for you… saying something like “It’s about the journey, not the destination”
God, I wish I could be as direct as Grandma sometimes. Oh well…
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P.S. If you’d like be more present in your life, probably the best book on it is The Power of Now. I’ve gone through that thing more times than I can count over the last 13 years. Powerful stuff and to the point.
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Photo of guy meditating by vramak