Feel free to stop striving: learn to relish being an amateur | Psyche Ideas - Deepstash
Striving Hard To Live

Our daily lives are filled with ambition, deadlines and competition.

  • It is taught to us that we have to strive for everything: accomplishments, prosperity, or happiness.
  • We have to do stuff: act, think, eat, dance, slog, sleep or practice, trying to optimize our ways of being.

It is a never-ending rat race where the faster we run, the more we have to sprint ahead, as there is always someone ahead of us.

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The word amateur came to the English language in the 18th century, making the distinction between the newbie and the professional. The amateur does the particular activity (painting, music, sport)without any spirit of mastery or competitiveness, making the pursuit itself the reward.

Once we remove goal-seeking or constant competitiveness from our aspirations, we come into the optimal experience zone, which according to many psychologists is akin to happiness.

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In the state of flow, our attention is on a limited perceptual field which gets our full attention and investment, not bothered about the score, we are fully into the action and awareness of the activity, doing what we love.

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  • It is often found that practising hinders progress and that real, authentic and individualistic mastery emerges when one gives up formal practising and gets completely natural and experimental.
  • The 10,000 hours of practice formula, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers, has the stamp of ambition and goal-seeking.
  • Our inner amateur turns the teaching upside down, and instead of ambition, injects fearlessness, spontaneity, aliveness and commitment to the activity.

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