Why Trying Harder is the Wrong Approach

We put way too much pressure on ourselves for finding our life's purpose. Our minds tell us that life needs to be a certain way in order for us to be happy or successful or fulfilled. So we push ourselves hard or try to fit into a box that is not our shape. We try harder and try harder again. If we fall, we tell ourselves to get back up and keep moving.

We have it all wrong. 

Try softer instead. Trying softer does not mean lack of effort or quality. Trying softer means to listen more to yourself or to others. When we fall, fail or lose something, it's important to take time to heal, learn or grieve. Trying softer means going at a pace that does not burn you out but rather gives you endurance. Trying softer means slowing down instead of rushing around everywhere and getting nowhere. Here's how:

Stop trying to please or seek approval from others - Many yogis work hard at pleasing others. They think that this is the key to being a good yogi or person. Truth is, you can please no one. By seeking approval, you take away your personal power. Every morning try writing down seven things that you appreciate about yourself or qualities in yourself that you are grateful to have.

Nurture your strengths - Your way of being is what people are drawn to. So many yogis try to be better people. Again, trying too hard. Why do you need to be better? Focus on the best parts of you and nurture those. If you need better skills at something, enjoy the company of those that have mastered those skills. Make sure you don't compare yourself to that person. Instead, celebrate your diversity and be thankful that you can find people who are good at other things.

Be honest with yourself - Sometimes we need to just level with ourselves especially when we feel overwhelmed. If we cannot do something or have no time are are simply just too exhausted, we need to say so. The beauty of life is that no one is indispensable. Sure, no one can do a job exactly how we do it, but that's okay to hand it over to someone who is equally capable.

Don't let perfect become an obstacle - This was the best advice given to me by my first boss. If you are already the kind of person that needs to have things perfect, this is the tip for you. Obsessing over whether something is perfect can rip you of all joy and energy. When there is no joy, there is no harmony. You're trying too hard and have tipped the scales over in the wrong direction. When you've finished some work or chore, stand back and let it rest for a while. 

Start trying softer on your yoga mat - This means to forget trying to achieve a pose and rather listen to the story your body is telling you on the mat. Instead of beating yourself up for wobbling in a balancing pose, understand why the body is unsteady and what it needs. Turn within and soak up all the joy that each asana can bring to you in your practice. 

With yoga and all things mindful, the journey is the point of it all. Every single person I have spoken to who was at the end of their life has had the opportunity to look back and reflect. Every single person has the same underlying message, which is they wished they spent more time being rather than doing. So try softer. Pause, breathe and reflect. What is serving you? What do you need more of? 

Here's a beautiful story to illustrate this.

A young boy travelled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist. He was given audience by the famous Sensei (Master). The boy approached the master and requested to become his student, and expressed that he wanted to be the finest Karateka in the land. He also asked how long it would take to master the skills.

The master said, “10 years.”

“What if I studied twice as hard?” asked the boy.

“20 years”

“What about if I study day and night with all my effort?”

“30 years”

The boy stopped and thought. Then he asked, “Why does the time increase whenever I say I will work harder?” 

The master said, “The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.”