Val isn't playing life coach by sharing some useful ideas gathered over 7 decades of life experience and hundreds of books on human nature.
Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.
-- Edgar Degas
An Instant Champ
How could I ever forget my future father-in-law on that day when he was teaching me how to play a card game which required some combinational skills, and which happened to be quite popular in that family.
Not that it was to become a part of my official initiation as a new family member, but it could have proved useful to know how to play it -- even if only on those days when I would be a passive observer.
Well, he was undoubtedly an expert at it, except that, after having learned those basics, I happened to get dealt a strong hand, so all his expertise didn't help him at all -- as he lost to that beginner.
And then I beat him again and again, now already running out of humble words ascribing it all to my "accidental luck", after seeing him increasingly frustrated. I made sure that even a slight shadow of a smirk wouldn't appear on my face as I kept winning against that pro.
What can I say, other than he had no luck with cards -- except if something much more "spooky" had been at work there, which I learned about many years later.
Allegedly, in circles of those professional gamblers, it's called the "beginner's luck", and there must be something to it, because many years later it repeated itself at my first visit to casino.
Just like at that game with my father-in-law, god bless his good soul now, I didn't "count on" winning anything -- just finding that dynamic ambient of a casino very entertaining, and resolute to relax and have some new fun.
Of course, not being a gambler by nature, and not coming in with some hundreds of dollars to waste -- I played on a two cent machine. And I won. Then I won again -- if you could call it other than a symbolic winning, with those small investments.
As I am thinking now about some other times when Lady Luck smiled at me without any effort on my part, I remember how, in my teen years I was almost regularly attracting those girls that I was not targeting.
So, while entertaining a group of neighborhood friends with my guitar and my romantic Pat-Boonish voice, I would hear sighs from all other girls except for one that I wanted to be affected by that horny, begging cries of my guitar.
It was too early in my life to see any regularity there, so I kept "trying hard" and kept reaping same mediocre results out of it. How could I have noticed that "easy did it", and the more we strain in life, the less of good outcomes we get.
With the right vibes and the right people, it's easy to create something magical.
-- Dinah Jane
A Case of a Mocking Lady Luck
Now, fast forward a few decades, and here I was in Canada as a fresh immigrant, now sitting in my car in front of a small manufacturing business and wondering if the owner could possibly invent a reason to hire me.
With my limited experience as a junior machinist I had to give up any serious ambitions in that field.
And yet, there I was, mobilizing some fake courage to step in and try my luck, since it had to be only a luck that would get me that job. So, as usual in all similar situations, I started rehearsing what I was going to say, and after no version of it sounded convincing enough, I just shrugged and decided to be myself, and then whatever happens -- happens.
My inside connection was right -- the owner looked like one humorless, tired, almost depressed dude, and it came as a great relief to me when his raspy voice said how "they didn't need any junior machinists at the moment".
Now, totally unburdened, I almost danced toward the exit, when that same voice spoiled it all by calling me back.
To this day I didn't know why he called me back. Only now, as I am thinking about all this crazy apparent "law" of winning by not trying -- I am beginning to understand the whole deal.
Namely, at that moment of a total indifference about the outcome, that short interview happened to take that sudden turn.
Well, as life was progressing with new opportunities appearing, I didn't stay there for long, with Lady Luck evidently having had some better plans for me.
O.K., where am I going with all this? Am I, by any chance, trying to tell you how you can get ahead in life without striving hard, without a constant keeping an eye on the ball, without a forced confidence to provide wings for your life's ambitions?
Yes, your honor, I am guilty as charged of this terrible heresy -- with an explanation, if I may.
Now, needless to say, I have already been found guilty in many other forms of heresy, so, by now I am a veteran -- and just watch how I am going to wiggle out of this sin without getting stoned by believers in hard work.
Trying hard in life doesn't work -- unless you are planning to get rich and prematurely old with a few serious diagnoses as a reward for all that. Look at most of those billionaires and overachievers -- can you spot one healthy and happy looking one glowing with vitality and satisfaction?
Back in seventies, I picked a few smart ideas from then popular but short-lived "psycho-cybernetics".
"Short lived" I say, albeit -- so much these days is nothing but the same bunch of ideas called "Law of Attraction".
It basically stated that our executive subconscious is a goal striving mechanism, and our conscious role is rather short -- merely to supply a goal with a mind's vivid picture of that end result.
Then we were supposed to relax, step out of the way with any conscious concerns about the outcome, and just "allow" it to happen.
Thus, the harder we try, the more we are interfering with subconscious execution and sabotaging the desired outcome.
Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it's easy to thwart.
-- Adam Grant
Letting It Happen Vs. Making It Happen
Indeed, the whole mindset of controlling every step of the way is doomed to turn counterproductive.
Back in your teens, did you ever rush down a stairwell stepping on every other stair? I did many times, also picking up some dopamine rush, or a "runner's high" in the process.
But interestingly enough, I could have only done it smoothly providing that I had allowed my feet to do it -- for as soon as I became "careful" where I was stepping, I almost sprained my ankle a few times, by "confusing the flow of subconscious execution".
While I was learning meditation and self-hypnosis, the instructions of those days were so straightforward -- but so much harder was learning this art of "getting out of my own way".
All that self-coaching about how to breathe, what to think, what not to think, and how to relax my body -- was simply translating into "trying hard" -- instead of just allowing it to happen.
It was somewhat like sitting behind the steering wheel for the first time -- well, after the tenth time as well -- and as you were thinking about steering, your foot was not at the right place applying right pressure, and you still had to register everything about the configuration of the traffic around you, plus obey all signs.
Likewise, during my alpha-training of producing blissfulness at will, I was encountering the same problems by giving an undue significance to my resistance to a new mental skill.
Also, by spying on my progress and being impatient to feel results -- instead of just allowing myself to do that ecstatic emoting, since I had a mental sample of what it was supposed to feel like.
To round it up, winning in life is much more about minimizing the strife and allowing that creative subconscious to assemble and mobilize that best in us available. Providing, of course, that we know, in the first place, what the heck we want of life -- not expecting the universe to choose it for us.
Now, having mentioned universe, I never pray. If I ever did, I would pray for not losing what I already have, not for gaining something that I don't.
Praying, in the terminology that I like better, is more like addressing my higher self which is connected to the quantum field of infinite potentiality. Our brain is said to process some 400 billion pieces of information per second, and we are aware only of about 20,000.
What is brain doing with the rest of it, but maintaining our bodily functions and arranging our outer connections with "things" of a similar frequency to our own.
I like "spooky." I like mystery of the unknown, and like a physicist said: "There is so much more going on in reality than meets the eye".
Those 90-something percent of our subconscious operations are our Aladdin's lamp, with 98% of unused genes that are our genetic library to choose from. There is so much that we can do, only when we ALLOW ourselves to do it, instead of pushing and pushing like Sisyphus was pushing his rock up the hill, only having to start anew after it rolled back.
Let's have more trust in our unknown nature.
A Video Depicting the Theme of Not Trying Hard in Life
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© 2022 Val Karas