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Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” Mark Twain
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Discussion Forum > The Right Attitude

“Is it hard?' [This line is referring to maintaining a motorcycle]
Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes thats hard.”

I recently finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and the quote above has stuck to my mind because I know this to be true in my own experience. What makes a task feel hard is not the task, but how you approach the task.

I want to discuss what the right attitude is, or if it even exists, when completing tasks.

Some thoughts:
1. The right attitude could possibly be finding the right task which lines up with your current attitude. Therefore when you have found the right task, you have found the right attitude for the task you are currently doing.

2. The right attitude or mental state could always be achieved by being aware of what attitude is present right now, and having the ability to step away and change it on a moments notice.
November 28, 2017 at 23:48 | Unregistered CommenterConnor
I was given that book as a teen, as a gift from a relative who didn't know me well. I made through about half. What I remember most is the dripping tap metaphor, and knowing how to adjust something on the bikes for altitude.

The dripping tap metaphor made a bit impact on me. Fix it! (Later, learned fixing it includes asking someone for help, or even paying someone to do it.)

One of my jobs included rewriting procedures, and it was like pulling teeth to get people to believe that we could make their jobs easier! Often, they used both the old, official system, plus created an informal system that worked better (then made it look like they used the old system), or a system set up by the someone who didn't realize how much extra work for little benefit he created. Some thought asking maintenance to adjust the height of the expensive adjustable-height desks that all office staff had was asking for special treatment. The person with carpal tunnel would never dare ask for an electric stapler, even though stapling caused the problem.
November 29, 2017 at 2:00 | Registered CommenterCricket
Right Attitude:

If it bothers me, try to fix it. If I don't know how, ask. If no one I know knows how, ask them who would know.

"I don't know" is not a valid reason. "I choose to spend my time doing something other than learning" is. (Dad was shocked when I used the second one, when, at age 49, I told him I wasn't interested in learning how to save a few dollars on a once-a-decade car repair.)

It is my responsibility to let my boss know what I need (before he spends the money on something I don't need).
November 29, 2017 at 2:06 | Registered CommenterCricket
Conner:
I notice when I'm in the right attitude and state of mind that any tasks just seem to become easy.
It feels like being in a flow and I action every task without hesitation or defer when that is the right thing to do.
However, that seems to last for a while and from time to time things just seem difficult. Even when thinking more about the task, I know it is not that hard really.
I wonder if we all just have a limited amount of "doing" time and should pick easy tasks from now and again and not feel guilty about it. Then perhaps that lovely flow mentioned above will return?
November 29, 2017 at 12:38 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
I think what works best for me is simply recognizing if I'm in a state of well-being. Because from that state, most anything is possible and I tend to get better ideas uncontaminated by my changeable emotions.

i think trying to define or achieve a 'right attitude' is a form of 'doing' and just adds more pressure. Which may be why it's not a sustainable strategy for the long term.

I like to fall back on Mark's "How good am I feeling?" question and then scoring it (I tend to be at 6 or 7, which is OK for me). And as he recommends, don't do anything about it. Just observe, and the feeling will take care of itself. The higher the score, then generally the easier, or less onerous, life and tasks become for me.
November 29, 2017 at 14:55 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Jim Rohn would say self-discipline becomes easy when you are strongly motivated. And the way to do that is to every morning spend a chunk of time thinking deeply about what you really want. Having done that, you now find the tasks you want done easier to complete because you want them more. You also find less-valued tasks less enticing and you do them less.
November 29, 2017 at 16:18 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
When I was learning to drive, I was told, "Never look at the lines on the road." Professional race car drivers are taught "Never look at the walls!"

Why? Wherever your eyes are, that's where you are going.
November 29, 2017 at 16:57 | Registered Commenternuntym
nuntym:

When I was learning to drive, I was told to look at the vanishing point, that is to say the furthest point at which you have an unobstructed view of the road you are driving on. When you do that you automatically take corners with the correct speed and line, and approach obstructions at a safe speed.

Applied to time management, that would translate into "Aim as far as you can see ahead - and by the time you get there the next stage will have opened up in front of you."
November 29, 2017 at 17:49 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<<i think trying to define or achieve a 'right attitude' is a form of 'doing' and just adds more pressure. Which may be why it's not a sustainable strategy for the long term.>>

I like this. Don't change your current attitude, it creates another task to do.


<<spend a chunk of time thinking deeply about what you really want. >>

This made me think, maybe the right attitude is simply wanting to do something. In which case, if everything on a list are things we want to do, then we always have the right attitude if we are working from the list.
November 29, 2017 at 20:04 | Unregistered CommenterConnor
It's good to want.
November 29, 2017 at 20:12 | Registered Commenterubi
Having desire is natural. But Connor, the point Rohn was making is, what do you **really** want? You may want a superbly polished nicknack, but that isn't that big a deal for you. So maybe polishing is a task you could drop. And the attitude of I'm just gonna do what's on this list is somewhat lacking in precision.
November 30, 2017 at 21:42 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Mark Forster -
<< Applied to time management, that would translate into "Aim as far as you can see ahead - and by the time you get there the next stage will have opened up in front of you." >>

Thanks for this. Very good analogy. I'm going to use this. :-)
November 30, 2017 at 23:31 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Two thoughts on wanting:

1. ADHD. Our reward circuits are different. Small things, or things with future rewards, don't reward us as much. We need to generate excitement for things, and also to accept that things we have to do often won't feel rewarding, no matter what we try. A routine, change, variety of rewards (unpredictable is good) and, yes, a bit of fear, in an ever-changing balance seems to work best. Ladder and safety-nets.

2. Buddhism. Clinging and craving, when taken too far, are sources of dukkha (suffering). Wanting the world to be as it used to. Wanting a million dollars before you're happy. Wanting the project to be a huge success and get praise and promotion. Wanting everyone to like you.

Not that all wanting is bad. Without any wanting, we stagnate and even go backwards. Entropy rules. Dan Harris describes his experience in the book 10% Happier. Finally, he talked with his teachers about it. Working towards a goal is good. Tying your happiness exclusively to reaching that goal creates suffering in yourself and others.
December 1, 2017 at 16:36 | Registered CommenterCricket
Aha!

Want it enough to work for it. This goal is worth working towards, whether I reach it or not. As opposed to I must reach this goal in order to be happy.
December 1, 2017 at 17:38 | Registered CommenterCricket
Cricket, that's a good insight. It would also make a good question for "standing out."
December 2, 2017 at 8:53 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher
Not everything you do will be so easy. Sometime it can be because of the state of our mind when we find easy things complicated. You need to accept the stress and carry on to get the outcome that will make you happier.
December 11, 2017 at 16:16 | Unregistered CommenterRoy Moore