Mind Like Water

Sigh! I’m still in a blue mood because of the loss but I’m forcing myself to get back into a normal routine.

I have to say that doing anything – even washing my hair or talking on the phone – feels like a humongous effort so sitting still and staring at the TV did bring a measure of comfort for a while. However, I’ve decided that two whole weeks of stepping out of my routine is enough. Anything more and I’m afraid of treading into dangerous “I’m Feeling Terribly Sorry For Myself And It’s A Great Excuse To Do Nothing” territory.

In the spirit of getting back to ‘normal’ I have attempted to start on one of the many books I bought earlier this year – remember this post? I’ve started on Getting Things Done since I feel that I haven’t done much of anything over the last couple of weeks.

The book has turned out to be a good choice. I’m only on page 14 and I’m already inspired by David Allen’s approach to productivity. His style is a comforting mix of practical and surprisingly (especially for a book on organization) spiritual ideas.

Allen talks about the “Mind Like Water” Simile :

In karate, there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input, then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact. The power in a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle; it comes from a focused “pop” at the end of the whip. That’s why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands: it doesn’t take calluses or brute strength, just the ability to generate a focused thrust with speed. But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.

Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your email, you staff, your projects, your unread magazines, your thoughts about what you need to do, your children or your boss will lead to less effective results than you’d like. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.”

Wise words indeed. It applies to work and to life as well. I’m now trying to use this principle to deal with what I’m facing. It hasn’t put a huge smile back on my face but I have to say that it has certainly brought a tiny sense of balance back into my life.

I can’t wait to see what else David Allen has to say….

photo credit: http://www.ojaiwordfest.wordpress.com



I ran out to get hold of some new books on happiness from Kinokuniya bookstore in Suria KLCC. This wouldn’t be a problem for most people. It’s good to read, right? Well… that depends.

I don’t know if I mentioned this before but I’m a book addict. I mean a serious addict. I’m the kind of addict who needs to belong to a group that starts its meetings with the phrase “Hello, I’m Trisha and I’m a bookaholic.” I have books I haven’t read coming out of my ears. I spend loads of cash on books. I’m afraid to add the book bills at the end of the year. All I know is that I have enough book receipts to get the government tax relief, many times over (the Malaysian government allows each individual to enjoy up to RM1,000 on tax relief per annum for books – so you do the scary math!)

Despite these disturbing personality traits, I couldn’t resist buying even more books ‘in the name of research’ for my Journey To Happiness. To be fair, I’ll probably read them all but I already have 2 books on the subject (The Geography of Bliss – ¬†Eric Weiner and Hector and the Search for Happiness – Francois Lelord, a best selling French novel that’s been translated into English) which I haven’t read yet.

Either way, I came away from Kinokuniya yesterday with two brand new books (oooh! the thrill of it ….the scent of new books, the faint rustle of untouched printed paper!).

1) Stumbling On Happiness – Daniel Gilbert

2) Getting Things Done – David Allen

Alright…technically the second book is about organizing your life (with emphasis on work) but I figure organizing your life has got to go toward making you happy. At least, I think so. It’s hard to feel joyous when you have a to-do list stretching back to 2007 that hasn’t been completed yet.

Okay, enough with waxing lyrical about nothing. Time to hit the books so I can reduce some of this book buying guilt so I can get happy again!