Want to Do More? Do Less.

Andy, Steve Carrell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, had a problem on his hands. As the move title suggests, he was 40-years old, and a virgin.

Throughout the movie, we are taken back to Andy’s youthful mishaps that set him on hisperpetual path to celibacy. He had reached a point of no return, resigned to his virgin fate.

His problem was that the made sex out to be this big, anxiety inducing thing. He put the pussy on a pedestal, as they say.

I’m a novice meditator. I took a Transcendental Meditation course, where I learned to recite my mantra in my head, over and over, to transcend to equanimity.

However, my overactive brain would prevent me from focusing on meditation, causing me to try harder to meditate. Obviously, that’s not a recipe for success.

Siddhartha didn’t try hard. In fact, he really didn’t do much at all.

I’m also a believer in having an internal locus of control.

For those unfamiliar, internal locus of control is when one believes they can influence events and outcomes, whereas one with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything.

What that often means for me, though, is that I feel a need to be active, if not hyperactive, to solve a problem I’m faced with.

Can’t get through to that person? Keep calling.

Struggling with your dating life? Keep swiping.

Can’t meditate? Try harder.

It’s in my control, and therefore I must do — and do hard — to achieve.

Through conversations, study and practice, I have learned that the key to overcoming my challenges with meditation is precisely to do less.

Rather than worrying about reciting my mantra or fighting my thoughts and restlessness, just breath. Focus on the breaths — in and out — and when the mind wanders, bring it back .

That’s beginner meditation.

And it works.

Similarly, how often do we hear about relationships forming when the couple wasn’t looking for one.

Or, a prospective client expresses interest in what we’re selling not long after we stop incessantly following up.

All of us — especially those with an internal locus of control — believe in trying. But often, that leaves us trying too hard, to ill effect.

In addition to doing more at one task, those in question may also struggle with doing more tasks, to achieve more goals.

So with greater mindfulness, how can we be sure to do less, especially in moments when it feels like we need to do more?

Take time to reflect on what are doing.

This services two purposes. Firstly, the act of reflection takes away time that you would otherwise be spent doing more stuff.

Secondly, it’s an opportunity to ask why — why am I doing these things? Why do I want to do these things? Are they serving me well? Is the way I am approaching the situation serving me well?

With reflection, you’ll undoubtedly gain the wisdom to cut out the wasted effort and activities.

Say no to most things.

Doing less requires developing the habit of doing less.

When reflection and asking why gives you the courage to say no, say no to (almost) everything!

Daily habits are important but you’re allowed to take a day off.

Accomplishing your goals typically involves compounding and accruing effort, especially through daily habit formation, day in and day out.

But when habits feel like a burden it means it’s time to take a break.

A day off — a rest day — facilitates the ability to do more tomorrow.


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