A calm mind promotes creative thinking, better decision making, and productive problem-solving.
When the mind isn’t calm life gets thrown off course. Our eating and sleeping get impacted, we feel moody and lethargic throughout the day, and our focus goes out the door.
The Japanese phrase Mizu no Kokoro is sometimes translated as ‘a mind like still water.’ Still water, like on the surface of a lake, is calm. There are no ripples and the water is undisturbed. When you throw a stone in the lake, you create disturbances, but the ripples quickly disburse and the water becomes calm and still once again.
Mizu no Kokoro encourages us to make our mind like water – calm, collected and relaxed – quickly turning back to this state when the events and stresses of our lives create disturbances in our minds. Adopting calmness makes us happier and better at our work and life.
With so many roles and responsibilities we take on, it’s often hard to feel calm. Our thoughts are constantly shifting from one thing to another. In the last few years, I’ve been working on three habits to help me nurture a ‘mind like water,’ and I’ve found great results in my daily life.
One of the habits I adopted was honesty and openness about my limits. I used to feel guilty declining people’s invitations or requests. But the downside of frequently accepting others’ requests is, as you may have experienced, the askings keep coming, and requests become greater in magnitude and lesser in appreciation. Accepting only those activities I care about and want to partake in not only helps me preserve my calm mind, but I like myself more for being able to stand up and say no for no other reason than I just don’t want to.
I started to take care of myself first before taking care of anyone or anything else. If I have a particularly stressful and busy few days, I’ll decline additional work to take time off for myself. Resetting my mind allows me to find stillness before continuing on with the never-ending tasks. I also started to carve out time during the week to exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get plenty of sleep. Since mind and body are connected, prioritizing self-care nurtures stillness in our mind.
Being impartial to others’ behaviors
The last habit I adopted is not letting others’ bad manners and behavior impact my state of mind for too long. Simple things used to get on my nerves. Getting cut off while driving, a customer being rude, a sub-contractor being unreasonable. We come across many situations where other people’s behaviors threaten our peace of mind. It’s easy to let a few negative incidents disturb our thoughts, make us jaded, or cause us to resent others. But with practice and effort, it becomes easier to let go of negativity quicker. This way, we can continue to show up and be fully present for the people in our lives.
What habits are you changing to adopt Mizu no Kokoro in your life?