Humans are always looking for a predictable future. It gives us warm fuzzies knowing what to expect. Why? Because it allows us to relax a little bit, and not be so stressed out all the time.
What if I told you that the best way to prepare for an uncertain future is to focus on the present? It seems like this might be a little counter intuitive, but stay with me on this.
There really is no other kind of future than an uncertain one. Reason being, we do not have control over all of the different variables that contribute to what the future will bring. Sure we can influence some of those variables, but not all of them.
The only way to be able to predict a certain future is to be able to control all of the variables. Our lives, are definitely not a controlled experiment where we can actually do such a thing. So what can we control? Really only one thing, our choices and responses to the conditions we find ourselves in.
If we take the time to focus on what is in front of us, and appreciate each and every moment, we will not take that time for granted. We will try to make the most out of each and every day that we get. This will also give us confidence in ourselves to deal with situations in the moment.
Adding what the Japanese refer to as Zanshin can help us prepare our mind for not only the present but also the future.
Zanshin can be interpreted as: “The mind with no remainder.” It is about focused action. Being constantly aware of your body or mind, and the environment you find yourself in. Building our decision making skills if you will.
You are able to do this without experiencing unnecessary stress. This is what Zanshin is all about. It leads to the ability to be vigilant with your mind and your body without expending a lot of effort.
This illustrates practice and discipline in action.
The samurai did this well; and leaders can also understand and practice this state of mind. When you are experiencing a state of Zanshin, you are focusing only on the current task, not getting lost in a hypothetical future, and learning to stand back up when you are knocked down.
The samurai practiced with their weapons so often, they were able to use them no matter what conditions were present. So much so, there are stories of samurai being able to use their bow and arrow to hit a target in the pitch black dead of night.
They were able to let muscle memory and discipline take over in those moments. For them, the future didn’t really matter because whatever happened they would be ready. They were determined to focus on the present and be confident in their ability to act in the moment without a lot of wasted time.
Approaching life in this manner really takes some of the worry out of an uncertain future doesn’t it? Honestly, the future is near impossible to predict, we already covered that. All we can do is honor the day that we are living right now.
Then when the future arrives, we won’t really care what it looks like because we will be ready no matter what. In my opinion, this is path toward work:life harmony.
If you want to read more about Zanshin and work:life harmony, consider getting a copy of my book “Always Improving: Lessons from the samurai” on Amazon. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B9HR5V92
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