Journeys and diversions

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I’ve been reading Srikumar Rao’s book, ‘Happiness at Work’, over the weekend. He argues that in the journey we take through life, we also take many ‘side trips’, each of which is a journey in itself. The choice of side trip is entirely up to us, it will be where we focus our attention for the length of the diversion. Rao suggests that before we embark on such trips, we ask ourselves a couple of questions:

Where is this journey taking me, and is it a place where I want to spend time? Is it a place that makes me happy to be alive, that brings out the best in me and inspires me in some way? Or is it a place that brings out hidden fears and insecurities and makes me more of a dissatisfied clod who whines about how the universe refuses to adapt to my whims?

By consciously thinking about where those side trips take us, we begin to make changes. Instead of mindlessly watching TV, reading trashy novels and newspapers, eating junk food, Rao argues, we begin to mindfully choose how we spend our time, and in the bigger scheme of things, how we spend our lives.

I’d never heard of Rao until last week when I heard him being interviewed for a BBC business programme. He teaches a course ‘Creativity and Personal Mastery’ at business schools around the world to MBA students and executives. As with all good teachers, his message on the surface sounds astonishingly simple. I guess it takes a long time to learn.

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4 thoughts on “Journeys and diversions

  1. As you say – a profound point, simply made. I’ve been thinking about happiness recently, and this idea of ‘mindfulness’. It seems such a simple idea – be aware of your choices in each moment so you can actively choose the option that most positively takes you forward, yet doing it 24/7 is quite some task! The habits of the old hamster wheel are so easy to jump onto … A glass of wine and a few nibbles in front of the TV can seem so appealing at the end of a busy day… and occasionally that is exactly the right thing to do. But I’ve noticed that sometimes I get up with a heavy heart and wish I hadn’t – the trick is to spot up front whether doing something else will be more satisfying (so asking Rao’s question about where the journey is taking me is very useful). Last night I chose to go to bed with a good book a little early instead of ‘filling the time’ with whatever was on TV, and it felt really good. I enjoyed the read and felt really relaxed and ready for sleep when I put the light out. It takes time to build a consistently ‘mindful’ approach, but I’m working on it. And probably will be for some considerable time!

    • idcoach

      Thinking about this, I believe that this mindfulness is maybe something that we will never perfect, only aspire to. I’m trying to approach it as a kind of game – catching myself out when I find myself ‘off piste’!

  2. just to let you know – i’ve emerged… 🙂
    sometimes trying to live mindfully in deeply hard – like my ongoing funk…
    that’s certainly a ‘side-trip’ i didn’t like 😦
    altho’ it just might be a place i simply had to pass through… and may need to visit again – and again…

    • idcoach

      Hi Claire – glad to hear you have ’emerged’ from the side trip. I think the creative journey is full of these diversions – hopefully they’ll become easier to navigate or bypass once you recognise them for what they are, simply diversions 🙂

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