Trans4mind Home Page
~ A Journey of Self-Discovery ~

Looking for a better life?

Trans4mind Training, our series of online, interactive video workshops, presents the most effective methods of holistic personal development, combined with personal support from expert life coaches.

The Puritan Work Ethic, Wu-Wei, and Is Life Really Meant to be a Struggle?

By Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D.

"Work hard and you will succeed. Little by little does the trick." --Aesop
"Do every act of your life as if it were your last." --Marcus Aurelius
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." --Aristotle
Sound familiar? Many of us were taught sayings such as these and others along similar lines from early childhood. We know we have to work hard in order to succeed. We know that the hardworking ant will be able to survive the winter, while the grasshopper will not (and might try to scam the ant in order to get some free "stuff"). We know we will sow what we reap, and in order to reap a good harvest, we have to put in a hard day's work.

Or do we? Maybe we're just looking at the whole thing through a pair of smudged glasses.

Puritan Work Ethic
The Puritan (or Protestant) work ethic is a work ethic that was based on the moral values of hard work. It meant that working hard entailed giving service to God. It implies, albeit by inference, that the harder one works, the more moral one is. Hence, having been raised to believe this, some people feel guilty if they are not working hard all the time. It is as though hard work were equated with being a good person, and furthermore, if one works hard enough, one will in all likelihood have a positive result not only in the moral arena, but also in the more mundane, worldly one.

This can play havoc with the manner in which people deal with their vacation or free time, as during such a period, theoretically, one is not working, And yet we've all seen people working on their laptops at the beach, or reading a heavy business tome or corporate financial statement on a pleasure cruise. Are they all workaholics, or simply people who feel guilty if they aren't working most of the time?

This can also confuse your sense of self esteem and accomplishment, because evidently many people work very hard, and are very good people indeed, and yet they are nowhere near financial or professional success.

Thinking Out of the Box
Far be it from the purpose of this article to convince you to slack off and become successful by lounging in a hammock on a palm-studded beach as you sip a pina colada. My intention is not to separate you from your hard-working self. It is simply to help you think out of the box with regards to how you look at hard work. Perhaps hard work is not all it's made out to be. Perhaps we need to focus on working less in order to make our hard work bring greater success. If that sounds like a conundrum, read on.

Wu-wei is a term from Taoist philosophy meaning "non-action" or "non-doing." In Fritjof Capra's Uncommon Wisdom: Conversations with Remarkable People, it is referred to as "not working against the grain of things, of waiting for the right moment without forcing anything unduly." Capra speaks of remaining alert and focused on one's purpose in order to achieve success in one's endeavor. You might say that wu-wei refers to working hard at going with the flow, or simply, at going with the flow.

An example from everyday life might apply to someone who is starting a business. Working hard in the Puritan work ethic sense would be to start early every morning and work until late every night, going down every possible road, and if pitfalls arose, to batter through them, to break down any impediment, and to keep on until every avenue were explored. Hardships would be endured, obstacles annihilated, no stone left unturned in order to find the way to make the business a success. Should, despite such hard work, success still be elusive, one might say "well it wasn't for lack of trying."

Going With the Flow
Here's how the wu-wei alternative might play itself out: the same person is starting a new business. Working hard would not necessarily mean the long hours as much as long thinking and being alert to opportunities. Realizing that when one avenue gets blocked, rather than trying very hard to break up the blockage, it might be wiser to go down another, more readily flowing and open avenue, in order to find a potential benefit there. It might mean working hard at becoming aware of what was playing itself out around one, in order to flow with those particular circumstances and benefit from them, rather than going against the flow and having to work so hard to break down obstacles and barriers.

Remaining aware of the focus; remaining aware of the intention, and being open to whatever may open up at any given moment seems to make much more sense than to blindly "plug on" simply because hard work reaps success. The next time you are out in the countryside, watch a leaf floating down a stream. What happens when it gets stuck in some rocks? It allows the current to left it off the rocks, away from the obstacles, and continue down where the water runs smoothly, where it can travel more easily, because it is going with the flow.

Is Life Really Meant to be a Struggle?
Stuart Wilde wrote an extraordinary little book in the 80's called Life was Never Meant to be a Struggle. In it he extols the virtues of understanding that if most of your life you have been told, and then continue telling yourself that life is meant to be a struggle, you will most definitely end up believing that. So then, if something works easily for you, you won't want to believe it's for real... you will mistrust the ease with which you accomplished it, and hence, needing to feel that in order for you to accomplish something worthwhile, you have to work hard for it, you will sabotage your easily won victory. Why? So that your outer life conforms to your inner expectations or beliefs.

Sound familiar? Apply this to business, money, love and relationships, spirituality, health, keeping age at bay, body weight, and any other area of potential struggle you care to name. So what does Wilde suggest?

Inner Freedom
Identify the causes of struggle in your life, and recognize that struggle is actually a programmed response. Struggle is akin, in many senses, to anguish about the area of life in which you are struggling. Whenever there is a programmed response - in this case struggle - it will take some time and practice to re-program yourself - in this case to a more flowing response. Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) writes "Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life." (See also my January 2006 Newsletter: Living in the Now: Use it to Enrich Your Life).

Going to a state of instant peace whenever you feel anxious, worried, angry, or afraid moves you from your body to your mind and emotions, and finally to your spirit. Similarly, Wilde says that in order to achieve freedom from struggle, you just need "the ability to place yourself in a non-confrontive mode" with all issues in your life, both internal and external to yourself. As you become more and more positive and balanced, struggle begins to give way to inner calm. "Inner calm allows you to pull more and more opportunities to yourself because energy seeks its own kind." James Allen in As A Man Thinketh says "All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts."

Imagine dealing with life and all you do in it as though you were a child playing a game. Is there any reason it can't be like that? Any reason it shouldn't be like that? Imagine if your work; whatever it is you do in life were like an enjoyable game. That every day when you got up, you would be looking forward to playing this game again. And imagine furthermore, that this wonderful game were what gives - in part - meaning to your life! (See also my article Finding a Meaning For Your Life).

So it stands to reason that keeping your thoughts balanced, positive, and energetic will go a lot further towards bringing you that which your strive for, rather than arduous struggle. Achieving inner freedom by getting such a handle on your thoughts will go a long way towards achieving the outer freedom for which we all yearn.

Dr. Kortsch is a psychotherapist, clinical hypnotherapist, relationship coach, author, and professional speaker. She broadcasts a live weekly radio show in English that is available on the Internet or for listening on her website, and has appeared in numerous television programs in English and Spanish. She can help you move towards greater personal and relationship success with her integral approach to life and offers training and workshops in the field of self-development and choosing responsibility for the self. Visit Advanced Personal and sign up for her cutting-edge newsletter in English or Spanish, or visit her blog for more timely articles.
More personal development articles at the Counterpoint Article Library

From our extensive site, you'll find good info on many topics using this search:
Visit the INSIDE-OUT Blog
Wallace Huey & Peter Shepherd
Imagine if - with the help of personal development - the values of the heart could be brought into our families, communities and businesses... What kind of a world would this create?
By Wallace Huey & Peter Shepherd, Trans4mind Founders

Support your personal development with these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

  • Sweet Tooth ~ Train your brain to lose your sweet tooth.
  • Finish What You Start ~ Sprint all the way past the finish line.
  • Do It Now ~ A hypnosis audio to trigger deep, emotionally driven activity.
  • Life Priorities ~ Hypnosis can help you clarify what really matters to you.
  • Stop Thinking About Someone ~ A session to help you move on from thoughts that have been constantly pestering you.
  • Public Speaking Fear ~ Banish speaking anxiety and nerves with hypnosis.
  • Motivate Yourself to Exercise ~ Build a powerful exercise habit that you can't break.
  • Get Rid of Fear & Anxiety ~ Stop worry and apprehension wrecking your life.
  • Self Esteem ~ Break the negative trance of low self esteem and give yourself a chance in life.
  • Create Your Own Reality ~ Use the power of your unconscious mind to transform your life.
  • Deeper Self Respect ~ Use hypnosis to connect with your true inner worth.
  • Detach From Fear ~ Tune out nervousness and anxiety with hypnosis.
  • Improving Concentration and Focus ~ Learn how to discipline, direct and command your mind to improve your performance.
  • Exercise Motivation ~ Give you powerful keys to getting back on track with your exercise - and staying there.
  • Overcoming Shyness ~ Provides an invisible security blanket allowing you to develop social ease and overcome shyness.
  • Quick Confidence Booster ~ An audio hypnosis session that's specifically designed to get you (quickly!) back on track.
  • Stop Negative Thoughts ~ Learn powerful hypnotic techniques to stop negative thoughts before they start.
  • Overcoming Procrastination ~ Let hypnosis help you get on with what you need to do, when you need to do it. Let nothing hold you back.
  • Think Thin ~ Use hypnosis to re-train your brain and lose weight naturally... that's how to get and stay slim.
  • Fall Asleep Fast ~ Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night's sleep.
  • The Next Level ~ Designed to radically boost your performance in any field. It's based on a technique used by top athletes and other successful people to help them make a big stride forward.
This is our selection of favorites, but there's a session for every need! Choose from over 800 Hypnosis Downloads...
Search now on an issue that interests or concerns you...

View all the Hypnosis Downloads here

Get a free Hypnosis Download at Facebook

Welcome to the New Wave in Meditation Technology

Click here to learn more about the iAwake Profound Meditation Program
The iAwake Profound Meditation Program
is a way of enhancing your meditation practice, making meditation not only easier and more enjoyable, but also more efficient and effective.
Profound Meditation provides the smoothest, deepest, richest, most profound meditation experience available anywhere...
Here is a link to a free 20-minute track from iAwake Technologies - a sample of the type of tools that will deepen your meditation immediately and help you quickly become a successful meditator. It's the opening track of iAwake's flagship product, the Profound Meditation Program, called the iAwake Experience...
Learn More and Download the iAwake Experience
I think you'll find this technology a tremendous aid on your transformative journey of becoming your best and most creative self - and you can get started today!
Copyright © 1997-2017 Trans4mind Ltd