Polymath Letters (25/02/2020)

The silly games your mind plays with you

A quick note before we start: In the previous email, I talked about my new ebook Art of Goal Setting. If you haven’t bought it yet, now would be a good time to buy it because the 20% discount ends in 24 hours.

Now, let’s get to today’s email.

Today I want to share with you an important lesson I learned while writing my recent book. When the book was almost complete, I did an experiment. I edited the entire book in one day. I sat down in the morning and worked on it for the whole day, till evening. I took only one break for lunch. I called it Hell Day — inspired by the concept of Hell Week in the training of Navy SEAL officers. I generally don’t work like this. I just write when I feel like writing and stop writing when one idea is down on the paper. But I am always open to experiments, and hence I tried simulating a Hell Day for myself.

During Hell day, my mind tried many times to make me quit. Every time the thought of stopping the work came in mind, I simply saw the irrational, automatic behavior of the mind. I think the reason I didn’t quit was that I was aware that it’s just the nature of the mind; I don’t have to do everything it says me to do. I have this gap between my mind and my life.

Every time the thought to quit came, I thought about two things:

  1. I made a decision

  2. and there’s no negative side to following this decision

Quitting made no sense. Now don’t try to copy that mental dialogue, please. This sentence came to my mind naturally; I didn’t craft the message to tame my mind. Instead of copying the self-talk, try to realize the truth that will organically sprout such self-talk.

At the root are the games that your mind plays. You’ve always let your mind drive your life. I think realizing this truth, and cultivating a gap between your mind and your life can significantly help you quit bad habits and addictions. At the root of your bad habits is just your attachment to your mind. Once you develop a command over your life and stop letting your mind control your behavior, quitting addictions becomes much easier. I talk about this in the book also.

And what about hard work? To be honest, I did this experiment to test myself. I talk a lot about going with the flow and following the path of least resistance. I never really forced myself to work hard on anything. So I wanted to test if I am rationalizing myself to not work hard due to laziness.

Look, situations will come in life when your ability to work hard on something will be tested. You should be able to work hard when it’s required. So, by planning a personal Hell Day, I tested myself for that ability. Turns out, quitting during hard work is just a trap your mind constructs, and if you have a level of detachment with your mind, then it’s easy to avoid that trap. I’d suggest planning a Hell Day for yourself to see the games your mind plays with you. It’s fun to watch, really. You will laugh at those silly games once you watch them from a distance.

See you next week.

Namaste. 🙏

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