Sep 21, 2020

How to interpret an idea?

 In my previous post on The Seeker's journey, I had made this statement - Never take any idea you hear at plain face value. I wanted to explain this statement with an example.

I recently completed this course on Coursera - "The Science of well-being". Brilliant course with a lot of takeaways. One of the points the instructor mentions in the context of happiness at work is that we feel happy when we experience the state of "flow" more often. 

"Flow" is this state where we are completely immersed in an activity, we lose track of time and we find the activity itself to be rewarding.

Though I'm yet to read the original book - "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I have come across this concept in multiple books and courses in the past few years.

I have experienced this state of "Flow" multiple times while I'm putting together a software product plan, reading a good book, writing a blog post, or cooking an elaborate meal. And yes, I can vouch for the happiness it brings - to be engrossed in an activity for 1-2 hours without getting distracted is such a blissful feeling. I have applied and validated this idea for myself.

A few days back, I came across a different idea in Durgesh Nandhini's Online Minimalism Workshop that I've been attending.

We collect numerous thoughts in our mind every single minute and we carry them in our mind backpack. Journaling and meditation are tools that help release the weight of this backpack we carry. But if we use these tools once a day, say before bedtime, we are still carrying the weight of these thoughts all day long. This weight can make us feel jittery and exhausted. Instead of waiting to empty this backpack once a day, we reflect every one hour to check how we are feeling. A few seconds of awareness and self-reflection can reduce the weight we carry.

When I heard this idea, I was nodding my head as it made so much sense to me. I agree with this idea of frequent self-reflection and the need to be aware of our thoughts more often.

Now, if I were to implement both these ideas, there is a possibility of conflict - when I'm in a state of "flow", I don't want to be interrupted by external distractions or the need to self-reflect every hour. If I had to set an alarm that rings every hour for self-reflection, it might come in the way of my "flow".

Instead of keeping an alarm to become mindful every waking hour, I have consciously planned to incorporate multiple moments in the day for self-reflection - while doing chores, going for a walk, do-nothing times, etc. It may not be 16 times in a day but it is not once a day either.

Understanding the intent of each idea we hear is extremely important. Once we understand it, we will start to implement it consciously, without the need for an external trigger. How we implement it can vary from person to person, depending on various factors.

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