One of the practices I idealized at a young age and have continually tried to nurture relates to social progress. That is: a person cannot seek improvement only for oneself and forget about encouraging it in my community and elsewhere. Our dreams can be broad enough to include others in our aspirations for their and my own sakes. In other words, the greatest good for the greatest number but done without dogmatically trying to force others to conform to my personal philosophy. In modern parlance–not being a “gate keeper”.
It is unwise to acquire wisdom, only to hoard it for oneself alone unless one is engaged in competition or war. Otherwise, to seek and to engage in dialogue about wisdom and pithy topics with others in a way so as to avoid placing one another on pedestals is a healthy practice.
Generally speaking, we think of progress as having a plan or dream , then acquiring the ability and freedom to work towards achieving that plan or dream. We develop or discover the motivation to empower ourselves towards finding solutions to problems we encounter. This helps us during the process of working towards our goals. It is akin to enthusiasm; perhaps “enlightened enthusiasm”. One keeps not only one’s own progress in mind, but the effect of that progress upon other people. Will it help or hinder oneself and others?
If one is especially fortunate, one can mindfully go with the flow for awhile yet not be complacent in doing so. I like to visualize an accomplished surfer. He or she must ride the optimal part of an incoming wave. The surfer must go with the flow, not ahead of it nor behind it. The surfer must maintain steady vigilance of the forces and shape of the wave as it advances and evolves when it travels towards the shore. The surfer learns skills that enable him/her to find and maintain the “sweet spot” within the wave in order to successfully maintain forward motion without falling off the surfboard or becoming engulfed in the wall of water.
There are times when we hope for and eagerly put forth effort to complete our plans too soon. In our haste, we neglect important considerations and steps that must be taken care of before advancing. Our hasty impatience clouds our judgment making us prone to error and making poor decisions. We rush in without investing time, discernment and focus; leaving us with faulty or even no strategies.
It’s common for us to resist change, trying to resist the flow of the wave. This might be through stubborn adherence to prior techniques and narrow-mindedness. Perhaps fears of the unknown, failure, or success impedes progress. If this is the case, it is probably time to pause in order to reassess one’s attitude and skill set. This may also be a good time to enlist the help of allies and learned experts if one has not already done so. It may also signal us to try different techniques, learn new routines, or even move to a different venue.
It is common to encounter obstacles and difficulties while progressing towards goals. It is important to remember this fact while maintaining enthusiasm and effort. One can pause to consider alternate ways or invent new techniques and tools to enable completion of the plan or project.
Importantly, one must take care of one’s physical and emotional health along with getting one’s life in order, so as to optimize one’s energy and efforts. With one’s personal life in reasonably good shape, one can look forward to taking care of necessary adjustments and tasks that align with and enable progress towards completion of one’s plans and goals.
There will be no procrastination when motivation and situations are aligned with intelligent application of mental and physical efforts. Coupled with the desire to learn and improve, we are less likely to get stuck in inertia and frustration. Adding a fair measure of persistence will keep us in that “sweet spot” on the wave.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes former U.S. President, Harry S. Truman. “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”