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Making An Effort vs. Taking It As It Comes

As a photographer, I made an effort to go out exploring when the light was best.

Making An Effort vs. Taking It As It Comes

When you first start doing The Work of Byron Katie, it can be confusing: should I let go of things or make more of an effort? This is especially true when doing The Work on areas where you have some control. 

For example, I could do The Work on the thought, “I should exercise more,” and I would find the turnaround, “I should not exercise more.” When used in a balanced way, this turnaround loosens my attachment and guilt. 

But you might also conclude that never exercising is better. In fact, never exercising may actually be better for me if exercising is stressing me. Even just thinking about it that way can bring balance. But there’s often another side to it. 

The Value Of Making An Effort

There is often a “hump” to get over when doing something valuable. And by valuable, I mean something that has long-term value: exercising, doing The Work, learning a language, etc. 

These activities do not usually give instant gratification like sensory activities do: eating, watching a movie, or doing something fun. Long-term-value activities are more like investments. It looks like you’re giving your money away when you invest (not as much fun as spending is). 

You have to make a little effort to get over the hump with these kinds of activities. But when you do, the investment of time and energy starts to pay off. And it is usually more deeply rewarding and enjoyable than the fun of immediate gratification. We call it discipline, but for those who get over the hump is very gratifying.

So Where’s The Balance?

If I’m too disciplined, my life can dry up while I’m waiting for long-term development. But if I’m too easygoing, I may never structure the elements of my life that could be really rewarding for me. 

The Work helps me find balance because it clues me into my stress. Stress tells me when I’m out of balance. If I’m too far out of balance in the direction of discipline, I’ll have stressful thoughts like these:

I should do more.
I have to keep going.
I shouldn’t have skipped my workout.

But if I’m too far out of balance in the direction of taking it as it comes, I may have stressful thoughts like these:

It’s too much effort.
I don’t really need to exercise.
I don’t have any control anyway so there’s no point.
It’s more fun to watch TV.

If I question my stressful thoughts on either side (trusting that feeling of stress to guide me), I can loosen my story on both sides.

What Freedom Looks Like

Freedom is a place where I don’t have to do any discipline ever again but I’m not opposed to doing long-term projects either. In other words, if I do The Work, I’m not going to end up just sitting around watching TV because doing anything else would be too much effort. 

Instead, I end up more aware of what actually interests me. If it’s TV, then I’m going to enjoy TV in a totally guilt-free way. But it’s doing The Work or learning a language, or exercising I’m going to enjoy that. 

It doesn’t even feel like discipline. It is both. I’m taking it as it comes (listening to what I want to do next) and I’m enjoying being drawn into subtler forms of activity that are often more rewarding. 

Making The Work A Habit

Just like exercise, doing The Work can be very rewarding when it’s done regularly. About four months ago, I started keeping track and doing The Work every day. I have been very disciplined with this, not missing one day in four months.

It took a little effort at first, but now it is a part of how I live. And I love it. There is a lightness in my mind and spirit that comes from this regular practice and it becomes its own reward. I’m now over the hump and it is easy to maintain.

I invite you to this kind of daily practice of The Work as well. You may find it as enjoyable as I do. In fact, I invite you to join my Inquiry Circle group where we do this work daily (or less frequently) with the support of a beautiful community. There you will also find The Breakfast Club which is an extra support for those who wish to build up slowly to doing The Work daily.

Start The Year Off With Work on Money

Last summer, my friend, Grace Bell, and I created a course called “Living with Money.” If you have any stress around money, or if you would like to prevent future stress, I highly recommend this course. It contains 12 hours of video.

And to increase the value of this course for you, Grace and I are offering six additional free one-hour seminars for anyone who has purchased the course. If you haven’t enrolled, sign up on the Living with Money webpage today.

We have completed two seminars. The additional seminars will be 25, Feb 1, 8, 15. Don’t miss this one-time opportunity to join us and question your thoughts about money. Purchase the Living with Money course today and sign up for these seminars after you enroll.

Have a great week,
Todd

“The fear of not being fearful is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people beginning inquiry. They believe that without stress, without anger, they wouldn’t act, they would just sit around with drool running down their chins. Whoever left the impression that peace isn’t active has never known peace the way I know it. I am entirely motivated without anger. The truth sets us free, and freedom acts.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Further reading: All Work and No Play

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.