Be Like Water

In my last post, I stated that positive thinking could hinder your success. And success is different for different people. Some see being a great parent as successful, even if their job may not look like it. Or that success is more than being on a professional sports team, but winning the championship.

It doesn't matter how you define success, but the path to it will always require some level of ingenuity or creativeness that is innate within us all. And this is where positive thinking can hinder any endeavor.

How you may ask?

There's a state of mind called no-mind, mushin in Japanese. It's a state of flow where you're acting upon the present moment, and anything that stops that flow will take you out of that moment.

So imagine a Samurai immersed in a sword battle. If she kept thinking, "I can kill him, I can kill him...," then she would not be present to a sword swiping across her neck. But if she were to free herself of thinking and allowed her thoughts to flow, then she would have seen the sword set for a death strike because her mind isn't blinded by thinking.

In other words, she'd be in the zone.

But being in flow can happen anywhere. Take a screaming child. Wait. Don't take children. That's a crime. But let's imagine a father at the grocery store, and he pushes the cart down the magazine isle, and the swimsuit issue catches his eye. His son is sitting in the seat and starts fussing about wanting a new toy. Let's face it. He has enough toys, so he ain't gonna get another one.

The father is admiring the artistry and framing of the scenery to the swimsuit models and begins to read the articles. I know, this is made up, but come along anyway.

His son yells and screams.

The father is embarrassed and doesn't want to be seen as a bad father and tries to quiet his son by showing him a picture of a woman laying on the sand looking wantonly, despite the cold ocean water.

His boy slaps the magazine out of the father's hand and shrieks louder than a fire truck siren. People in the next county are calling child services.

The father is blinded by what other people think of him, tells himself he's a good father, and holds back the greedy need to slap his son. Obviously, he's not in flow. His mind is cluttered. He commands his son to be quiet, which we all know how well that works with children. He tells his son that this is bad behavior. Logic and children often do not mix. He's reacting to his own thinking, which only stokes the fire in his mind—more panic—and his son's screeching can be heard in the next state at this point. 

However, if he were to take a moment, and let those cluttering thoughts flow on by like water in a river, then he'll get a new thought. And a small voice suggests to just stand there and stare at his son.

Single mothers are now looking at the father, other children give dirty looks, a manager makes her way down the isle toward him. But all the father does is calmly stare at the fruit of his loins. And like a balloon running out of air, the child's wail weans. The father strolls down the isle and reminds himself that he needs to buy that swimsuit issue. The manager is upset because the magazine wasn't picked up and put back on the rack.

If the father had cluttered his mind with positive thinking, or any kind of thinking, he may have never received the wisdom to just stare and wait for his son to be done. It's sort of like pumping the river with more water, while the thought up the river doesn't get a chance to come down stream, or if it does, he misses it because he's too busy pumping the river with more positive water.