Perhaps you’ve heard of the Pareto principle, the idea that 80% of desired results comes from 20% of your efforts.
Imagine how different life could be if you knew reliably which 20% of what you’re up to is contributing to your success and well-being.
There’s actually a very, very simple way to tell: your state of mind. Simply stated, when you are in a low mood your thinking and choices and behavior will tend to be ineffective at best.
When you’re in a higher state of mind, you tend to see more clearly. You tend to be more compassionate toward yourself and others, which prevents misunderstanding and miscommunication.
In a higher state of mind, you have readier access to insight, and you are simply more creative. You make fewer mistakes, and when you do make mistakes, you tend to recognize them and not make a big deal of correcting them.
The inescapable conclusion would seem to be to pay attention to your state of mind and simply do less when you are in a low mood. In the same vein, it would make sense to step back and decline to engage in someone else’s low mood.
Low moods can be compelling when we believe that they are telling us about the world or other people. If you believe that your mood is giving you reliable information about the state of your life, you’re going to be inclined to act on your thoughts about how to deal with it.
But the reality is that our moods are only ever telling us about our thinking, not our lives. Our moods give us infallible information, not about our circumstances, but about our state of mind and clarity of thought.
If you want to reliably do more of what works in life, learn to recognize what your moods are telling you. Just say no to acting on a low mood–your own or anyone else’s.
That may seem like a radical proposition. If you are like me there will be days when it seems like the only option is to settle in for a House of Cards marathon.
But remember the Pareto principle. You can afford to stop doing a whole lot of things if they are not actually contributing to your wellbeing.
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