Do More By Doing Less

“He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty.” – Lao Tzu (The Character of Tao, sixth century B.C.)

One of the things you learn in Jiu Jitsu (and you can learn everything that is worth learning in Jiu Jitsu) is that when your opponent is holding you down and pressing his weight against your face, aiming to suffocate you, the worst thing you can do is struggle to remove him. Such efforts would be ineffective against even a middle-level Jiu Jitsu practitioner, and the struggling would rob you of what little breath you have and make your defeat all but inevitable.

The proper response is to remain — for the moment, at least — passive. You retard your breathing while you make small, almost imperceptible movements to turn your head to the side so that you have a passage of air to breathe. Then you make certain slow and smooth adjustments to your body, depending on how his body is positioned, until you are in a position to reverse him.

When the reversal comes, it comes quickly and efficiently. To your opponent, it may seem as though you effortlessly turned him over in one explosive and inspired movement. But you know the truth: The counter was the result of a series of small and easy movements done in a relaxed and fully aware state of mind without ever any impulse to struggle.

You can’t control the external events of your life. But you can control your reactions to them. When you are faced with a complex or difficult situation at work, you may feel angry or in a panic and want to fight — but if you can resist that urge and relax, you may discover an easy way to accomplish your purpose.

Think about how you would react if your boss criticized you in public … or if a customer blamed you for some problem you had nothing to do with … or if a fellow worker tried to undermine your advancement. What would be your immediate reaction? What would you do?

In “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” Deepak Chopra explains that the natural way is easy and that we make things unnecessarily hard for ourselves because we get caught up in our own egos. Being successful in life, he says, is not difficult if you follow your inborn nature. “If you observe nature at work,” he points out, “you will see that the least effort is expended. Grass doesn’t try to grow; it just grows. Fish don’t try to swim; they just swim. Flowers don’t try to blossom; they bloom.

“In Vedic Science, the age-old philosophy of India, this principle is known as the principle of economy of effort,” Chopra says. “Do less and accomplish more.”

One of my partners is a natural Vedic master. He never gets upset, never seems to struggle, never fights or shouts, and never says things he regrets later. His disposition is serene. When he encounters a problem that needs a solution, he recommends action but does not insist on it. When he asks people to do something and they don’t, he seems more amused and bewildered than angry.

I, on the other hand, am a lunatic about getting things done. I’m always scratching and pulling, fighting and shouting, saying foolish things and then begging for forgiveness.

We both have accomplished good things, and we’ve both made a lot of money. But in the 10 years that we’ve worked together, he hasn’t aged a single year — whereas I feel like I’ve turned 100.

There are two roads when it comes to being successful and making money. The road most traveled by is definitely that of the struggler. But the other road takes you in the same direction. It may sometimes seem like a long and winding road — and maybe it is — but if so, it’s a road through a slower time, one that takes less out of you and gives you more air to breathe and more time to make adjustments.

It’s all about giving up what Don Juan calls “the illusory idea of our grandeur.”

If you want to try the less-traveled road, if you want to become wealthy the truly easy way, try these actions next time you are challenged by a disappointment or opposed or obstructed:

1. Accept the situation as one that “should be.” Try to see it as a natural and just part of a benign universe. Do not fight or push or strain. Instead, slow down your breathing and try to relax and accept. “OK, here is where I find myself. And that’s fine.” Wait for the answer that will surely come to you.

2. Resist the temptation to curse your fate or blame others. Instead, accept responsibility for the problem. Even though you didn’t cause it, take responsibility for it.

3. Don’t try to defend your position. Stay clear and focused on the present. Pay attention to the details. Make small moves — easy, effortless moves — toward a solution that feels right. If it starts to feel wrong, shift to something else. Stay focused. Stay relaxed. See the problem as an opportunity.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]