The profound Buddhist teacher Josei Toda often said, ’Do the hard things first and win in the morning.’
Like so many of my artist and entrepreneur friends in the current world climate, it can be easy to feel lost or unsure of our purpose. That is code for, I feel freaking lost.
Lately, I find myself asking the questions Why, What, How?
This could be in part due to the onset of spring (yay), or the fact we are over a year into a global pandemic, and the world continues to feel like it’s coming unhinged (or so the media presents).
This is a dangerous but easy rabbit hole where we can jump, or not.
I have said it before, and it’s worth repeating, the best solution for discomfort or fear, or complacency is ACTION. Think about it. If you get up and do the laundry or the dishes or make the bed, as much as we may complain about these menial tasks, I reckon we all feel better having taken some action towards something that simply needs to get done.
We indeed live in an instant gratification society. But real work, real artistry, real transformation comes with really facing what we must do and doing it. We all know the definition of insanity: right? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
It’s natural to want to avoid the ‘hard’ things. Our brains are wired for protection. What I’ve learned is that if I avoid what is hard, I will never complete my bigger goals or be able to create any positive change.
I saw this in myself recently on a project, on which I had gotten far behind. I am working on my second book and the thematic evolved into something new. This meant I had to add an entirely new book of updates for my editor.
My avoidance wasn’t so much because of the work. I love working and feeling productive is one of my biggest daily goals.
What was blocking me was the emotionally charged content. For those of us who have survived any major trauma dredging all that stuff up can be a hotspot of PTSD and anxiety. Or not.
The days and weeks passed, and I was the person holding up the process. I love my editor, but she can’t work with what she doesn’t have. I knew I was just afraid to do the hard stuff. I finally spoke with her in person. We discussed the narrative, and I was able to share what was important to me in the messaging. Part of the problem was I had gotten way ahead of myself.
I have my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I am grateful that with my SGI Buddhist practice, therapy, and codependency recovery, I have tools to tamper with these thoughts that, frankly, take up way too much space in my mind. I have become aware that I need to take a breath and redirect my mindset. Yes, it takes work and action tools.
Realizing my overactive mental scene writer was doing the directing, I shut that voice down. I verbalized my thoughts and feelings about my work; and what would be the ultimate goal of the book.
If you have ever written or produced a book, you know that it is a timely process. We haven’t even started re-writes or edits, and here I am not even writing an original draft because of imaginary scenarios in my mind.
Does this sound familiar?
The conversation was productive and soothing, and at that point, I said to myself: ‘Self, you need to knock this out. Put everything else that does not require immediate attention away and GET IT DONE.’
And so, I did. I started typing without fear or judgment. I took it easy on myself, made sure to rest and take exercise breaks, and have some downtime watching mindless TV I could tune out.
The moral of the story is with a week and a half of focus and determination; I got it done. All of it.
It was a huge victory on a lot of levels. We can move forward with the completion of the first draft of the manuscript.
Personally, I was able to verbalize and let go of hurtful moments and appreciate them for the lessons. It would seem easier to hold onto resentments or trauma. Or, as I have done in the past, stay in what I call a comfortably uncomfortable situation. Sometimes if we have been in the mud for so long, it starts to smell like lavender flowers.
You know what they say, denial is not only a river in Egypt. Putting pen to paper or fingers to keys was like a lightning rod of opportunity to take responsibility for my karma and make new and healthier causes. One definition of the word karma is habit or action. Want to change our karma, adopt a new habit or action. Simple yet not.
Things may seem ‘hard’ for a reason. Maybe it’s also time to change the perception. What if we face the challenge head-on with a sense of accomplishment in the action?
We know perception is everything.
In my own trauma and addiction recovery, it was the moments I stopped running and just did the work, the hard work, that the transformation happened. It doesn’t have to be some parade or bells ringing either.
After I pressed send on the final notes (113 pages total) I sat back and said WOW.
I was exhausted but exhilarated. I was relieved the work was off my plate and grateful I could relax. I felt like I had lost 100 emotional pounds overnight.
When we are determined and accomplish a seemingly impossible or impassible task, we set a difficult boundary. When we do the work rather than scroll through Facebook, when we say NO and mean it, when we workout rather than channel surf, this is simply a change of action, a change of habit.
Simply put, do the work. That is the ultimate change of karma.