Is life hard? I mean for you personally? You will surprise me, if you tell me, that you have no hardships in life. We all have some, and sometimes it is even pleasant to overcome a hardship, but more often people dream about “how to make life easier”, “how to have fewer and fewer hardships”.
They think that those hardships will be solved with money, a job with passion, or a perfect relationship. But here I want to share one shift of thinking, one trick of the mind that helps to make the life easier. This trick of mind changes the behavior significantly and therefore changes the reality around. This idea is not new, it is not invented by me or some recent life coach. It has been there for thousands of years.
First of all, what is hard?
Before talking about easy life, let’s describe what is hard, why it is hard and what should we remove to make it easy.
Hard are the actions we must do in everyday life. Sometimes they require lots of energy, plenty of preparation or a huge amount of effort, so huge, that simply shouting “Just do it!” will not help. We need some quiet transformation here.
There are three types of actions, so there are three types of hardships:
Hardships of the body: hard to endure an exercise, to adopt a new habit or follow a diet. To punch someone in a face is a hard thing too!
Hardships of communication: might be the hardest for introverts. Might be hard to speak in public, to ask for help, to deliver bad news or even to say you’re sorry.
Why are all those things hard?
The first and foremost reason is a complicated network of thoughts and judgments in our mind. How can we do something if we are not sure if it is good or bad, should we do this or should not, do we want to do it or don’t we?
My mind is always busy with such things blocking all my actions even if I really want to do them. Before posting a new article I always think: “will readers like this article, is it relevant, is it beautiful, is it epic …” and so on and so on. It might be a good idea to consider these questions for a while before posting something on the internet, but when there are too many doubts, I’m losing motivation, and then I must find ways to get energy and overcome overthinking. The action becomes sooo hard, and I better go scrolling through cat memes instead.
Some smart advisers shout “Just do it!” “Do it now!” “Do not hesitate!” “Kill your doubts!” and some other hyperenthusiastic bullshit. But shouting helps only if you have no brain to deal with. And with brains, we must deal gently and quietly.
Now listen carefully.
A one thousand years old principle
You only need to stop judging and labeling things. Stop giving names to things, classifying, rating, comparing, describing, evaluating, stereotyping them.
Accept everything as it is without words.
Why do I say that this principle is 1000 years old? “Judge not, lest you be judged” is written in the Bible. If you will not try to put everything into some tiny frames of your thinking, your will be free from those frames yourself. Buddhists talk about the void (shunyata). They mean that every object in this world is empty, only we, using our minds give them meanings. And now read this incredible Chinese fable – the essence of not judging and not evaluating is revealed very well → 塞翁失马 (don’t worry it’s in English).
Anything in this world is not good or bad just by itself. It is our mind which gives the evaluation. And that requires energy. And makes everything hard, because instead of doing what you need to do you are trying to evaluate:
- Is it right to quit my job and start pursuing my dream career?
- Is it right to leave the party right now?
- Is it right to say to that girl that I like her?
- Is it right to say to an asshole that he is an asshole?
- Is it a right thing for me to post an article I enjoyed writing on my own website?
How does this way of thinking make life easier?
First of all, you will have only an action to do. No fighting yourself to decide is it right or wrong, to classify, to compare, to label, to evaluate. Only decisions how to make an action are needed.
So, If you stop judging:
1) You will have more energy
Judging needs energy. Instead of trying to decide is it right or wrong to quit the job, leave now if you want. If you are not sure, stay there until you really want to quit. Instead of trying to decide is this or that idea worth telling to everyone – put that burden of evaluation on others – tell, and let them decide. Don’t try to evaluate how much fat will you lose if you exercise today. Just exercise and calculate your fats later.
2) You will have fewer fears
If you will not try to evaluate how many people are there in the audience, it will be easier to give a public speech. “Almost empty room” sounds better than the exact number of “50 people!”. If you will not try to evaluate chances of surviving the flight, it might be less scary to board the plane. Often, it is easier to do things if you just prepare for failure, and do not hope for a tiny 50% chance of success. Prepare, not judge.
3) There will be less distracting emotions
If you stop judging stupid people posting stupid shit on facebook, you will have less negative emotions and will have a better day. Let them post whatever they want. If you stop trying to evaluate how intelligent is your boss (or client) it will be much easier to deal with their demands (oh why do I need to do that stupid shit!).
4) No need to fight with yourself
If you define your job as meaningless, it will be difficult to wake up in the morning and force yourself to go there. If you like ice cream, but define yourself as a vegan – you are doomed to fight the craving for ice cream. Stop eating meat without defining yourself as “vegan”, “vegetarian” or anything and the craving for ice cream will fade away. This applies not only to the diet.
5) No need to fight the judging of others
If you define the work in an office as a “rat race”, you will think of yourself as “a rat” if you work there. And feel like shit. For others, an office might be an area for growth, achievement, and collaboration. If you define those who speak their mind as “shallow chatterboxes”, then you will have difficulty in speaking your mind. For others, those who speak their mind up to the point might be prudent and brave. We are rarely afraid of an opinion of others – we are afraid of our opinion about ourselves.
6) You will be more creative
We do much of the judgment based on what we have learned – on common ways of thinking. When we stop thinking in common ways we unlock the creative power of our mind to find NEW ways of thinking and dealing with things. New recipes, new business ideas, new pieces of art come from a new approach to common things.
One of the essential principles of the brainstorming technique is not evaluating the ideas the moment they are spoken, evaluation is done later. The less you evaluate, the more ideas you have.
People keep telling me: “Hey, but if you stop judging and try to do business, you will go bankrupt! You must judge!” But those people are not businessmen. Businessmen analyze and make decisions, they do not spend time wondering is it the right thing to do or not, they just do. But that’s true, sometimes they do things against the common conception of good or bad and think only about profit. That’s how little they judge.
So, what should I do?
To stop judging is hard. So hard that 90% readers of this article won’t try it and keep complaining about how hard the life is. Our mind has this habit of thinking, and to get rid of it might be even harder than get rid of smoking. (Some ideas how to change your thinking habits are in this article) But it is worth trying. Here’s the idea:
- Have a plan – From this moment I am accepting everything as it is without trying to judge it or label it.
- Have a trigger – If I feel that I have a difficulty to do what I need to do, I will think: “Is it because of judging or labeling?”
- Get a feedback – When I find that I was judging something I will write about this in my diary.
- Have a reward – I guess getting things done will be rewarding by itself. Celebrate achievement!
If you stop thinking what is the purpose of your life, only then you will find the purpose of your life (I explained it here). If you stop thinking what is the meaning of your life, it will be easier to create that meaning. If you stop judging or labeling people (Atheist, Vegan, Muslim) – it will be easier to communicate with them. If you stop labeling yourself (I am always like this, I am an INFP, I have this and that fear, I cannot do this and that) you will set yourself free from pre-defined roles and many things will become easier.
Don’t try to define who you are. You are what you do, so go and do. Those who are going to write your biography will label you.
I’m a writer because I write. I’m not sure if I write well or not, but I’m trying to shift my thoughts to other questions, like “how to write better?”.
So, who are you according to your actions?