Wandering around the airport bookstore looking for reading material because, alas, I had gulped through all my books on an eight hour flight, I lit on a bright green book by Marc Lesser, with an intriguing premise, Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less.
Lesser, an entrepreneur and Zen teacher, asks us to examine five self-defeating habits and see how engaging less in these behaviors allows us more time and energy to engage in activities that can enrich our lives.
Fear. Fear can be a help to us by keeping us safe and out of danger. Fear can also paralyze us or divert our actions from positive outcomes. We need to conquer our main fears of losing our state of mind, humiliation, losing our reputation, losing our livelihood, and death. Lesser offers strategies to lessen fear in order to free our energies to achieve our goals.
Assumptions. The human brain fills in the gaps in our reality. As we cross over a bridge, we assume that the bridge continues to the other side. As we walk down stairs, we assume the next step will be there. When our assumptions and reality are not aligned we start working from false assumptions and create a tangle of misdirected efforts. Practicing self-awareness and communicating with others, among other activities, aid us in creating a clearer and more easy to traverse picture of reality.
Distractions. Beep. Ding. Ring. The distractions and interruptions of everyday life rob us of the attention and focus we need for productive and satisfying lives. Lesser shows us methods to gain and retain focus and use our energy to meet our objectives.
Resistance. Change is part of life and we can spend too much time being upset by the change instead of embracing it. When we are open to change, life seems to flow in a way that aids our focus, self-awareness and fearlessness.
Busyness. Sometimes we try too hard, allowing fear, assumptions, distractions and resistance to sabotage our efforts. Lesser ask us to connect with the “one who is not busy.” Once we familiarize ourselves with that state of mind we can tap into it at will and be more effective. Ever notice how a walk, a hot bath, or other favorite activity summons this state of mind? Our “eureka” moments come from that alignment of body and mind. Insights from “the one who is not busy” help us define our objectives and find inspiration.
As we work on engaging less in these five self-defeating habits, we will also model for our children a different way of thinking, doing and being. As we give up these five habits perhaps we will see that we are perfect just the way we are, and with renewed focus and awareness we can accomplish more by doing less.