I Don't Smoke


Effort is also important in life. You know that already. Though you may be trying to hide the fact from yourself, perhaps in the fear that you will not be able to muster the effort necessary. Expending effort is, like most things in life, an acquired ability, the more you practice it the better you get at it. So do not worry about how much mental or conscious effort you can generate now, just do a little every day until you succeed.

Nobody thinks for a minute that they can hit a perfect home run, tie a perfect fly or bake a perfect cake without having put a little effort in somewhere in the past. You know that when raising children, maintaining your garden or training for some sport or hobby that effort is needed to keep things moving along the correct track. Unattended and left to their own devices, children, gardens and physical skills all tend to fall into a state of disrepair resulting in them being something quite different from that to which you desired.

Why should your mind be any different?

You only need to look at something that you are, or have been, good at in the past to realise that what kept you good was the effort you put in. You may not realise you are putting in any effort now because expending that effort has become natural to you, but if you think back carefully you will realise that you were not always this good, and yes you did put quite a lot of effort in at first.

New mental efforts always seem more difficult when you are first using them the same as using physical muscles in new ways tires you out and gives you aches much more quickly than using your muscles in ways you normally use them. I relearned this a few years ago when I went to play cricket for an afternoon. I had not played cricket for 15 years, but I was playing football, basketball and a lot of tennis so I thought nothing of bowling 20 or so overs that afternoon. Despite the fact that I was in pretty good condition, and the fact that serving in tennis is an over-arm action, like bowling in cricket, the using of my muscles in this different way left my right arm so sore I could hardly log on to my PC the day after. If I had been sensible and bowled 3 or 4 overs every couple of days for a week or so before hand, as I would have had I been taking up cricket again on a regular basis, the response of my muscles would have been quite different.

So yes, effort is necessary, but it is the effort of a little put in every day that counts, not a huge effort for two or three days and then nothing for a week because you are too mentally exhausted. All things in life are iterative, or as the old saying goes, the longest journey begins with a single step. It is also a ends with a single step. Not suprisingly it is also single steps that fill in the space between the beginning and the end. Like the stitches in a shirt, individually they are not much but together they add up to something quite impressive.

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By gjramel@hotmail.com
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