Persistence and a Creative Lifestyle
by Art Ramsay, PhD

 Whenever we pursue a task, whether it is long and complex, or short and simple, we have the choice of two responses: frustration or persistence. Of course, there are many more ways to respond, but these two are predominant and include others.

 Everything we do can be viewed as an undertaking of some kind. Examples include washing dishes, riding a bike, driving a car, repairing an appliance or other device, participating in some sports activity, writing a book, building a house, and so on. The kinds and numbers of such tasks are infinite.

 When my son was in his teen years, I sometimes gave him a job to do that to him, seemed endless. Responses like “it will take forever” or “I will never get this done” showed his frustration. He would either eventually get it done or give up. Today as a husband and father, he usually persists at completing a chosen job.

 My own response to mostly self-imposed chores can be similar to the above. I either persist or become frustrated. I spent five years remodeling my house 25 years ago, while helping to raise two kids and working for the Government. Twenty years before that I spent almost ten years getting a BS in engineering going to night school and working.

 It took commitment and persistence to complete the two examples I gave above. But what does this have to do with peace or spiritual growth? While the examples were physical tasks, it took a mental attitude and mindset to complete them over a long period of time.

 To me, physical tasks seem easy compared to the daily routine of doing what seems necessary to maintain a mindset of peace. There seem to be too many daily distractions in ‘life’ to stay fully focused on a mindset such as inner peace. Of course, you have to first have the intent to do so.

 Spiritual growth is one of the most challenging and often frustrating missions you can undertake. Attempting to change the way you think, especially when you have stored so many beliefs in your subconscious, and established numerous habits is monumental. It is not a task you complete in a few days, weeks, or months. It sometimes takes years, even decades of commitment to a new way of thinking.

 To avoid frustration, what pays off is persistence, because it is not about getting the task done quickly so that you can move on to something else; it is about staying the course no matter what. How can you do that?

 Suppose you have a task using all the aspects you can think of that will take about 80 hours. If you worked at it 8 hours a day, as you might in a weekly job, it would take two weeks.

 Well, let's say you do not have that kind of time, because you already work an eight hour day. You must now break the task into bits of time over a longer period in order to complete it. Given all the activities that you 'normally' do each day, sort out their priorities, their time span, and what one(s) could be delayed or eliminated.

 You may view all that you do is important, and you cannot possibly eliminate or delay anything. That may be how most of us view our daily lives. But it is all an 'illusion' anyway, and nothing is really more important than anything else. Your current job is the only one that you must continue at this time.

 If you are raising a family, exercising, meditating, and even running a part time business, there is still a small time period where the new task will fit. Let's say you have 12 minutes of time five days a week, and 30 minutes each day on weekends.

 Given the above, the 80 hours would take 2 hours a week for 10 months. Does it have to be completed sooner in order for the undertaking to be of value? Then redo the previous juggling of time and recalculate.

 The foregoing is the easy part. The hardest part is keeping at it even after you have figured the allotted period. Persistence requires a focused mindset on the particular task you have undertaken. You must hold yourself 'captive' to begin, continue to participate, and finally complete the project.

 Promising yourself to act on or make a commitment for as long as it takes to stay with and finally finish your mission. Changing and getting past old habits takes effort and dedication to get the job done no matter what. I do not know what else to say for you to take that first step and move on with this new task.

 Like anything else that will change your life even a little, persistence keeps the contract you may have made with yourself. Keeping on with the same habits, and living a life that replicates the same existence, stops you dead. It keeps you stuck and traps you.

 Persistence is your way out. Make certain that you move on to a new paradigm and follow the path you choose. You will never regret it and after awhile gravitate to gratitude and peace.


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