Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Levers of the Mind

Levers of the Mind

The upcoming two months will be hectic ones for me. I have lots of personal projects lined up, to be completed before the end of the year. Not a single second is to be wasted.

It is tough to maintain self-discipline. We procrastinate and we slacken whenever we are faced with a not-so-enjoyable task. How do we motivate ourselves to move forward? Millions of self-improvement books have been written to address this. But one must still possess the willpower to read these books and practice what they preach.

In the end everything boils down to how well we control our minds. I have written in a previous posting on how everything stems from a thought. Our minds are the wellsprings of thoughts. We must learn to master our minds.

It is the mind that strays. It loves to entertain diversions. Our minds latch on easily to things that give us immediate self-gratification--a bite of junk food, a lazy evening of TV and an idle chat with a friend over the phone. Finish that 100-page report? That's painful. It can wait.

But how do we control our minds and summon the willpower to tackle these unpleasant but necessary tasks? We need to find enough push and pull factors: Pain and Pleasure again.

We crave for certain food because we are very good at imagining and dwelling on the thought of how good the food will taste once it enters our mouths. We excrete saliva the moment we mention certain types of food. Why can't we use the same "ability" that we have to entice us to finish our work?

Advertisers know how to manipulate us by exagerating the good qualities of their products. We need to learn how to run similar "commercials" in our minds so that we see a difficult task as a cool adventure that leads to a glorious outcome. Dwell over and over again on the pleasures of completing the task.

The push factors? Remind yourself how difficult life will be if you don't execute the task--loss of credibility, money or reputation; also the utter sense of hopelessness of having wasted your life. Dwell on the pain. To me the biggest push factor is the fact that time is always ticking away. The meter's running. So use your lifetime wisely.

But I can't control my mind! These stray thoughts keep barging in. I can't concentrate! Well, that's why we need rituals. Rituals help us to start something without us having to even think. Writing daily is a ritual for me. Writing is a "mechanical" task: I type, and voila, thoughts appear in my mind. My fingers become the levers of my mind.

Let your fingers do the thinking.

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