Sunday, 15 April 2012

Say no to excessive commitments

"Men can perish out of excessive endeavours to preserve what has little value," wrote the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu in the year 520 B.C. In our days, it seems that many are indeed willing to waste their lives by devoting endless efforts to helping people who refuse to be helped.

Have you ever wondered why human beings spend time on activities that have zero chance of leading to positive results? These three are examples of hopeless situations:
  • Correcting the same mistake repeatedly instead of eliminating its cause once and for all.
  • Cleaning up the mess that other people have created and that they could have easily prevented if they had listened to your advice.
  • Making countless attempts using the same ineffectual method and feeling depressed about the negative results.
"In life, difficult problems result from complicating simple problems," observed Lao-Tzu. "The wise man prefers to solve problems when they are small, so that they never have a chance to grow." In this light, let us take a critical look at situations that demand our urgent attention. How many of those develop out of our failure to disengage at a time when less tension was involved?

Minimalism and disengagement are rational responses to excessive demands on our time, energy, or resources. No matter how you look at it, welcoming more trouble than you can handle is not a policy conductive to happiness. Helping others is fine but you should try to do it without jeopardizing the basis of your existence. Otherwise, the solution might be worse than the problem.
  1. When a borrowed weight becomes too heavy to carry, consider returning it to its legitimate owner. Disengage and do less.
  2. When you are working without measure on matters that consume every hour of your leisure, reassess their importance and reduce them to proper size. Restrain and minimize.
"Wisdom is not about curing disease, but about preventing it," reflected Lao-Tzu. "From experience, we learn the pain that goes along with sickness and how to prevent it from happening in the future." Overcommitment and anxiety are the plague of our culture. Stay out of their way by refusing to play any game likely to extinguish your flame.


[Image by teclasorg under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]