It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling.
-Aldous Huxley

The science of effort brings good news for idlers everywhere: Trying too hard really is counterproductive. Growing up many of us were drilled to try harder. Work harder. Put more effort in. Pay more attention to what you’re doing. Do more. Give 110 %. Don’t be a slacker.

Actually, trying to hard can interfere with our own natural learning capabilities. Forcing things, isn’t the way to get results. A book that beautifully illustrates this concept is -The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Galloway. It is much more than a book about tennis; it’s filled with techniques and insights we can apply to any challenge. The underlying message of the book is really about overcoming the external obstacles we create that prevent us from succeeding. You don’t need to be interested in tennis or even know anything about it to benefit from this book. The Olympians we are watching this summer all know this strategy; it helped them get where they are.

In what part of your life are you trying to hard? Notice this and see if you can release the pressure just a bit and instead try and let it flow. In psychology “flow” is often associated with a peak experience. It’s the state we all want, but the irony is that working hard doesn’t assure it.

We usually teach children that effort pays off, and that hard work is the way to achieve. However, just as important is the understanding that when we are enjoying something, fully present, we can often elicit a feeling of ease that can be just as productive and much more satisfying. As adults we can model living joyfully in the present moment.

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