Right Effort

Here is what my current favorite online Buddhist resource has to say about the precept of Right Effort:

Right Effort means cultivating an enthusiasm, a positive attitude in a balanced way. Like the strings of a musical instrument, the amount of effort should not be too tense or too impatient, as well as not too slack or too laid back. Right Effort should produce an attitude of steady and cheerful determination.

In order to produce Right Effort, clear and honest thoughts should be welcomed, and feelings of jealousy and anger left behind. Right Effort equates to positive thinking, followed by focused action.

Drop a stone into still water, and the water will respond with exactly the right amount of ripples for the size of the stone. A smaller stone will produce less ripples. A larger stone will produce more. But, it will always be in proportion and never more or less. In a similar way, Right Effort encourages us to apply the appropriate amount of action dictated by the intention.

In the last few months, I have worked hard to apply this idea to my social media approach as well. I’m certainly not perfect at it. There have been many times that I have failed. But, in general, if you were to look at my feed you’d find that I try not to post too often or too infrequently. I do my best to find balance between the two. I participate when directly engaged. I try to make sure that what I’m posting is of a positive nature. I try to only post things that I believe are worth the time of those who might be reading it. I rarely engage in debate or argument— and when I do my intention is to try to learn from an opposing view, not to rebuke it. And, more than anything else, I try to be helpful in any way I see that I can be.

Applying Light Packing to Light Living

As many know, I’m a light packer for most trips. I recently returned from a trip where I didn’t need to go as light as I usually do and therefore did not. What I found was that there were a few pieces that I brought with me and ended up not wearing. Not for any particular reason — just an extra sweater and an extra pair of pants that I just ended up not needing. It caused me to question whether I really needed either of these items at all.

Here’s the thing about packing light, it’s about more than being able to take only what you need in order to carry less and move fast. It’s not just about knowing what you really need (versus what you think you need) while on the road. It should also help you evaluate the truth of what you need most days at home too. Because, if you can live out of one bag for a week or more while on the road, with some minor additions there is little reason you could not live with the same amount all the time.

For instance, here’s a guy who travels with one backpack all over the world full time. There is no reason he can’t do the same if all of that were in one box and he lived in the same place.

I know some people have jobs that require them to have wardrobe or other items that are a bit more than others. I get that such an idea in not for everyone. I’m also not arguing everyone should live out of one bag. What I am saying is that there is likely little reason why many couldn’t do so. I’m also saying that if you have developed the skill of packing light when you travel, perhaps you could use that as a starting point to apply the same intentions when you are stationary.

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Random Notes and Recent Thoughts #3

I haven’t done one of these in a while. Here are some short ideas I have yet to fully flesh out but are complete enough to share right now anyway. Perhaps in doing so they will drive a discussion that will lead to a longer post.

  • When “No” is your default, the things that fight their way to “Yes” have a deeper value and meaning. They not only have to earn their place, they have to maintain their worth to keep it. “Yes” is important. “Yes” means that something really matters to me. But, this is only the case — and I would argue only can be the case — when “Yes” is not easy and “No” is the default.

  • It is not enough to simply accept, put-up-with, or ignore those things that might drive us nuts about our partners in a relationship. We must learn to appreciate them. Find the ways in which those things might, in fact, be a part of what makes the other person so great. Unless we do, we risk it becoming the chink that becomes a hole that, under pressure, breaks the dam.

  • Like wide margins in a book makes it easier and more pleasurable to read, leaving wide margins in your life makes it easier and more pleasurable to live. Also, having margins in a book leaves lots of room to make notes, observations, doodle, and offer your thoughts. So goes margins in life, too.

  • The reason for quantifying your commitments, and making the time and space for them on a calendar, is as much about committing to your tasks and projects as it is to committing to the margins.

  • The gulf between irresponsibility and opportunity is bridged by intention.

  • Kindness is a habit. One that is strengthened and improved the more you are so.

  • Always get the best paint you can buy. The difference between the good stuff and everything else is measured in decades and, in some cases, centuries.

  • Just a little bit more effort goes such a long way because so many do so much less than the minimum required.

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