Paulo Coelho tweeted today (and he does many time a day)
My internal GPS uses faith, intuition and discipline every day to calculate my position
It’s presumptious to re-phrase his words but I know a lot of people who are bothered by poetic language and who might find “faith, intuition and discipline” so “unscientific” and “contradictory” that they tune-out.
Let me provide some behavioural examples
Imagine that I am doing a piece of work that I dislike. It doesn’t engage my attention. It is unchallenging. It’s not sociable. I learn little. I don’t think it adds value to the world. These conditions seriously challenge my ‘faith’ and fill me with ‘despair’.
In “History of the World in 100 things” running on BBC Radio 4 at the moment, I heard instructions given to icon-makers. Say a prayer. Forgive your enemies and remember God is watching you at work . . .
This is apt when we have a dreary task, not so? Clear my mind of other grievances (my lousy work is grievance enough). And then start my work imaging that “my god”, or my destiny, is watching me.
Feeling “my god” watching me do whatever it is that I do, will bring all that I value to that work, however awful or even terrible that it is. Thinking that “my god” is watching, having a conversation with “my god”, helps me concentrate and shape the work more in the image I believe appropriate.
If you scientific in your thinking, then test the idea. Try it. Do you not have a mental image, however abstract of what is right about the world? Doesn’t bring that image into the room with you help you find value, not matter how dreary the circumstances?
I understand intuition to mean very simply that our brain processes information at many different levels. Much of our processing is unconscious and much is actually . . . inaccurate. It helps to take a moment to let the whirring of my brain catch up with itself and to determine what I think and why.
If I don’t make time, I am likely to be confused (not become confused, be confused) and take wrong turns.
I need to slow down. I need to take time to close my eyes and listen for the furthest sound. I need to label your emotions an let it all come together. What is the rush anyway? Ah the clock, the boss! Funny how we always have time to do things twice but never have time to get it right the first time. I tested what I am saying by staring at those old ropes, Instead of feeling mild irritation, I became clear about what I would do and why.
Slow down and get sorted. And don’t forget to close my eyes and incorporate the most distant sounds.
I am not to sure what Paulo Coelho meant by discipline and I deeply suspect that the meaning I learned in childhood is wrong. I’ll take a stab at it and put it this way.
Most of the time, when we are out of sorts, we think the world is not being kind to us. The secret is this. The world is not about us. The mountain is there whether we are here or not. The mountain doesn’t care so much about us.
Discipline, possibly, means mindfulness and being in touch with what is happening around us. It helps to feel the carpet beneath our feet and the keyboard below our fingers. What is happening around us? Then we know what we need to do.
I’ve always regarded myself as disciplined. I keep my promises. I do my share of unpleasant tasks. I put in extra work. But goal orientation and conscientiousness isn’t discipline, I think. Respecting the right of everything to have its own existence, independent of mine. Respecting everything around me rather than ignoring what does not serve my goal – that is possibly the discipline of which Paolo Coelho speaks.
What do you think?
My internal GPS uses faith, intuition and discipline every day to calculate my position.
I am here. It is right that I am here. All the things I perceive make sense, if only I take time to sort them out. And everything else has a right to be here too.
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