This article by Srikumar Rao originally appeared on The Rao Institute
Ask yourself repeatedly – “Is this a journey I wish to take?”
Yesterday was a good day.
I got a lot done and much of it was something that really felt good. A coaching client shared that, after she began working with me, she stopped feeling anxious and was definitely much happier. Others noticed the change as well and her husband asked her what was causing her unusual ebullience.
After dinner, my wife suggested watching a thriller. I assented readily. I like thrillers.
This one was dark. It had lots of gore in it. The violence was awfully realistic and unsavory characters dished out a lot of it.
After forty minutes, my wife decided she had enough and left.
I finished the darn movie. And regretted it.
It did not leave me with a pleasant feeling. It was neither pleasurable nor profitable.
I advise all my clients to move and behave with deliberate intent, and here I was acting with flagrant disregard for that excellent principle.
Think of your life as one long journey. You are born and, one day, you will die.
In between, there are lots of smaller journeys that you take, and each is a diversion.
When you read a book or watch a movie or hang out at a bar or go to play tennis, you go on a journey.
Just ask yourself, “Is this a journey I want to take? Does it take me to a place where I want to spend time?”
If you sincerely ask yourself that question, your life will change.
Everything will alter – the kinds of movies you watch, the books you read, the friends you hang out with, the topics of conversation you bring up with the friends you hang out with, the leisure time activities you indulge in and more.
The kind of thriller I watched? It took me to a place where children were abused by relatives and greed for gold turned friends into rivals and then enemies and ruffians thought nothing of driving nails into prisoners’ flesh to extract information on where the gold was hidden.
No, it was not a place I wished to inhabit. Not even for a few minutes.
But I spent a couple of hours there because of inertia.
That is where deliberate intent comes in.
Consciously, deliberately decide what emotional domain you would like to occupy. Then examine the tools at your disposal that will help you get to that space and select an appropriate one.
In my case, I had an excellent book on the life and teachings of a sage I greatly revere. His insights have had a profound impact on my understanding of life. I had the book at hand, and I loved reading it.
But I watched a crappy thriller instead.
I was hijacked.
And this is what happens to all of us and will continue happening unless we exercise deliberate intent.
So, in advance, consciously, mindfully, decide which are the journeys you will take. And when you will take them.
You will still be derailed often and also hijacked.
But this will happen less frequently.
And you will find your experience of life improves. Dramatically.
- Srikumar Rao
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