Mental Preparation: How Everything Can Go as Planned

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I remember reading a few years back War and Peace, there was a scene, where the battle didn’t go probably go as anticipated. Yet the Russian army officer in charge looked at the result and said “everything gone as planned.”

Life is full of uncertainty. Ability to build the mental preparation and flexibility to be ready for whatever happens and think of everything that happens going as planned is a quality which I admire and strive to.

One of my favorite phrases in the recent times is that the hurry is just lack of preparation. We need to be preparing the right things at all times. What kind of preparation this is then that allows us to have the peace of mind under pressure?

In Buddhist terms this could be called “right action” and “right knowledge.” Right knowledge, knowing that you’ve thought of all the possible scenarios, sought help and a different perspective and right action because you know you’ve done everything in power to prevent this outcome. You have done everything, so therefore everything is as it should be.

In the game of Go, the side that has more liberties usually ends up winning. Same in life, where liberties mean more plans. More freedom to execute these plans and choose the best from all the possible options.

Mental preparation is anticipation for future scenarios. Do not attach too much to a plan or a result. Let your mind seek more opportunities with less attachment. Be mindful and present. Only thing we can really lose is the present. The future nor the past cannot be taken away from us, only present can.

Everything you need is in the moment, you do not need more. Let everything that appears in your present to be part of your plan and everything goes to your plan 😉

What If…

…You are capable?

…You have the energy?

…You could see things through?

…There is hope?

Be careful where you direct your attention. We often have more answers, solutions, actions and decisions within our reach than we see that there are. We could get better results by doing things differently and asking for other people to help us to do these things in better ways.

Limiting Beliefs: Are You Really?

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Mostly what prevents us from doing the great things, is our own beliefs. Because of beliefs we choose not to do the small things, which with enough repetition lead to the great things.

For example: “I cannot go out walking, because I am hungry.”

Are you really? When did you last eat? If it has been within today then you do not have a problem. If you haven’t eaten today you probably should figure out that first.

Since I am writing from the first world perspective, I try to remind that human beings can go about a month without proper food if it needs to be. So taking the walk today isn’t really going to make you die out of hunger.

Do the things in priority order: if you’ve been sitting  at office all day and you are considering  if you should eat first when you come home or go jogging, the choice is obvious: go jogging first. You can survive another 30 min or one hour without the food, but what are the chances to crash to a comfy position and never get out of the door?

I have to say the probabilities to stay at home during winter time here in Finland are quite high, although on every day I think possible it is possible to get out there. Much of what we seem unpleasant is not that much about it really, it’s how we interpret it.

Challenge your beliefs! Are you really what you think you are?

Takeaway from Bhagavad Gita: World is Us

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Arjuna – pic by Ilussion – Own work, CC BY 3.0

Bhagavad Gita is a book that is little known in western world. It’s called the holy book of Hinduism, however it’s actually just a part of greater epic. Bhagavad Gita or Gita just in short is rather practical guidebook to living a life.

Gita is written in the form of dialogue between an Indian Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna. Krishna represents selfless servant, who gives advice to the prince who struggles with the questions of life: love and war.

The themes in the book are very practical. As example, Arjuna is in a difficult position where war seems inevitable and yet he wouldn’t want to go into a war where he would have to face his relatives and in the end he wouldn’t be happy even if he would go to war and win, so he is struggling with the fact that should he then just accept defeat and be done with the life?

Krishna teaches and clarifies Arjuna’s thinking through giving Arjuna a better understanding what really matters. As Krishan is representation of something greater, his advice has perspective about purpose of life.

Krishna helps Arjuna to see his life as part of something greater as well and therefore helps Arjuna to see purpose.  Basic message is that there is a greater self beyond what we can see. A self, that is interconnected.

World Is Us

World is us, even though we live ourselves in the illusion of separateness.

Also because we can observe ourselves, it means we are greater than merely our thoughts, emotions and our bodies. While this concept is a bit difficult for me, it could be either the greater self, or soul in more Christian way thinking. The greater self or soul is indestructible unlike the body.

Because of this indestructible part, our purpose is longer term than just this life. This life is wonderful opportunity do take this longer term perspective and start doing the good and right things for the whole interconnected system we are part of.

This concept could be described best as the middle way saying no the bad options, yet being courageous about values and virtues. From this kind of thinking, the greatness has risen, as example the non-violent movement: people remain courageous while still withholding their human rights and not succumbing to the oppression.

Because world is ourselves, it would be foolish to hurt ourselves purposefully. When we hurt another, we hurt ourselves. Therefore the suffering we cause the others is also suffering caused upon ourselves. Cycle of suffering continues and increases. This was communicated in such clarity that I decided to go vegetarian.

Rediscovering Enthusiasm

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Enthusiasm can be rediscovered. It means you can get enthusiastic about something that you have been doing for a year, a two or decade.

I am beginning to suspect that enthusiasm is a sort of skill even.

Often in my work I meet people who get bored of the task within a week, month or a year. While this is natural and understandable, I am also amazed how much people are in the convinced belief that they do not have anything anymore to learn about the task.

Mastery comes through pushing the layers of resistance and rediscovering enthusiasm. Learning to look at the ‘familiar’ activity for example through different perspectives (like six thinking hats) is key here.

Enthusiasm is a form of curiosity and how it is connected to everything else, a skill to see and always look again with fresh eyes.

Fruits of Growth

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I feel like I’ve reached a new level of gratefulness in my life. The key has been to understand that the sense of reality is limited: my view or others point of view it does not matter, both are rather just slices of the reality at best.

Yet what I’ve learned is to appreciate the other peoples’ point of view: people do what they do because it makes sense to them. It does not help anything at all to judge or scrutinize their decisions.

All the good things in life come with and through other people. And everything starts with by how we are with other people.

When we are able to understand their world, and create value in there, we will get also a slice from there in time. The fruits of life come from other peoples’ growth.

Why to Grow?

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While growth happens naturally until we reach adulthood, the potential does not really stop there at all. As we mature to the adulthood, most of us also are blessed enough out of the powerless state of a child, to a powerful state of an adult.

Power means the right to choose and make decisions. We make a lot of decisions through one day, we can choose between many alternatives which we categorize simply as “good” or “bad.” Misleading part with our simple categorization is that it’s too simple: good now might be really quick satisfaction, however once that quick satisfaction is gone then what? Was the decision still good?

We ought to make good decisions and take proactive actions today, in order to enjoy more tomorrow.

Necessity for growth comes from the external pressures of the nature. If we purely seek present comfort we are surprised by the winter, flood or any other random occurrence.

If we grow, we have more time and energy in our hands to prepare for the future, for the upcoming. We have more time and experience to make calculated decisions, and thus overall we will make better decisions.

External pressures put the stress of growth to us. Often times, when we forget this, relax and start to enjoy too comfortable lives a sudden change may break our reality all at once. It has happened before, great collapses do not necessarily come to those we are struggling in the storm, it might happen to those we are chilling in the calm.

Why Do I Choose to Grow and Develop Myself?

I used to be satisfied with the comfort of the day and perhaps even several days, weeks and months ahead. That used to be enough for me. It was too much to think about how one could take charge of the destiny (rest of the life). Yet that is exactly what I am currently planning to do, this is what I understand as a total responsibility over my life. Earlier I had understood responsibility very differently. Now I choose to take a very long and wide time perspective, taking account not only my own satisfaction, but that of others as well. These thoughts help me push myself to grow each day.

Each time I grow and learn, I get to keep part of it and share it with the world. World has taught me something which I get to keep, use and share further. So therefore each time I am striving to grow everybody gets something, a win-win deal.

Without the external pressure to grow as an adult then requires conscious effort and maybe even mental exertion.

So either internal conscious force, or external force can create the pressure required to grow.

I guess each of us requires different levels of pressure for an optimal performance: some perform better under extreme pressure while others collapse there. In any case, I guess we all need a bit pressure to get started?

“Whatever you see – any good results – are all from the pressure.” – Ziyi Zhang

Life is most satisfying when taking small steps to the right direction.

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Language is the Key to Understand the Culture

 

 

The deeper access to the culture requires there language. Nothing creates the sense of connection better than few familiar words.

When we purely think from our own culture, we cannot get very far. We have to start speaking the language. There are all kinds of barriers in speaking the language, including the cultural barriers.

While learning Vietnamese, I’ve had challenge getting my head around the idea that I need to be really respectful of elders. Compared to my native Finnish language there is little distance between speakers, even the formalities that Finnish language has are not that much used.

From Eastern languages Japanese has come naturally to me, probably because the anime, I can understand conversations and I’ve quite good vocabulary. I used to take some beginner courses as well, but from those times I’ve forgotten most things. I really like the deeper understanding I’ve gained of Japanese thanks to immersing myself into that culture.

Same could be said about Russian language and culture. I put a lot of effort to my Russian studies during the college, however I haven’t really kept up the skills after that so I cannot speak much at all and even barely read.

I love the idea of deciphering the unknown, especially this has been the case with the Cyrillic script that I see quite often, but haven’t been able to understand.

Furthermore, has been helpful to understand that why things happen to be so as they are. Cyrillic script for example has come long way from the Greece and spread with the Eastern Orthodoxy, whereas Latin Script spread to west.

With language we can gain deeper insight in to the context we might be already familiar with. More importantly we can gain another perspective to the how things are. Learning with a one language is awfully limited world view. I guess this is why the academics encourage learning languages.

 

Influence and Advice

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I’ve been always bad at listening to myself, and this has caused me to suffer.

Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself. —MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO

This should be the line to live by.

What I need is more insight. Advice is ok input of different perspective, however there the inner voice is still the strongest guide. Just need to listen to that more often.

Hearing the inner voice is more difficult than thought. Much of ourselves is also constructed by our environment. We are heavily influenced by our environment, therefore it’s difficult to know who I am and is this me?

There are strong tendencies, up to 50% of our personality consists of our temperament, rest of it is influenced by the environment. Our environment and expectations can become very big part of us, whatever we want it or not.

I don’t think there is impregnable mind in the sense of messages and repetitions, we all get affected. So we might as well choose an environment where we are more likely get positive or desirable influences rather than something unwanted.

To conclude, we rarely make the best decisions for ourselves in the long run. How we can even make good decisions from here? We would have to have much experience to make good decisions. We need guidance and influence, and yet we should forget our own path.

Negative is positive

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Sometimes I am amazed at my mind’s capacity to produce suffering. Even after achieving what I initially wanted, I notice I am not happy for very long. Happiness is very fleeting emotion, quickly displaced by dissatisfaction of the new normal reality.

On other hand my mind has been quite resilient against shortcomings of life. I guess that’s the advantage of having mind tuned to a more realistic-pessimistic setting by default.

All things have two sides, and remembering this and being happy with what I’ve I always find the calm and satisfied sense of being.

Life follows ups and downs, there is always another angle to look at things, you can literally find something positive in anything. We just need to remember this lesson:

Negative isn’t separate from the positive, they are the same.

Accept what you have and find the positive!