I have always believed that the many side business projects I have engaged in over the past 25 years were to make more money, work towards self-employment, and have alternative revenue sources for more financial security. And these are all true, but the greatest benefit of all, which is what I just discovered, is the distraction these highly emotionally driven projects have been from me turning an idle mind inward and becoming lost is depressing and destructive thoughts.
As part of my quest to discover myself, I try to reexamine different aspects of my life, even areas I have looked at numerous times. I try to come at them from a different prospective to see if things look the same as they did from the other angles. This week, I was doing that regarding times wen my mind is somewhat idle. I have known for many years that when I have idle time, such as during school breaks or when I am really sick, my mind dwells on negative thoughts of how my life is less than perfect, instead being constructive. I would think that time away from my regular rushed life would give me time to examine and improve, and this is true if it is done in a structured manner, but left to just wander, my mind quickly gets lost in bad places – places that have little, if any, positive benefit. There is even the temptation during these times to take the time to focus more energy on these problems and try to solve them, but because there is not clear path or solution, all that happens is more negative thoughts.
So, thank goodness that in my life, I have always been strongly motivated to pursue projects, usually business ones. Most of these projects have not taken off and been what I envisioned, but I have in a way saved myself without realizing it. I gave my mind what it needed. Now, I want to qualify these projects. They must have a strong emotional motivation. So, working hard on a long project to tile the house does not count for me, because it is not something I enjoy; it is only logical to do to save some money. This distinction is very important. So, if you look at my yard and see what awful shape it is in, a project to make it look great would improve the eyesore that it is, but does not help my idle mind problem that much, unless I can find a way to get really excited about it.
Now, all of this is not to say that taking time to just think or reflect is bad – not at all. These activities have a clear purpose and objective, for example, thinking of a way to help John with his challenge or deciding what to do to save some extra money to pay for that unexpected expense. The problem arises when thee is no objective, or there is one, but we really don’t plan to do anything about it, such as wondering why we have a certain health problem, being unhappy because we were born in a certain country, feeling upset because we do not have a certain color hair or eyes, or wondering why we do not have better friends. Not all of these have to be issues. Some are only issues if we focus on them in our minds, but we do not do anything about them. We just let our mind fixate on it for no useful end.
The thing that helped me come to this discovery is the realization that I have really been struggling for quite awhile now with things in my life that are not going well, like work, health, relationships, finances, etc. During the same time, I have also not taken on any major emotional projects. I have been trying to simplify and get my life back in order after my illness a few years ago. Well, simplifying was helpful in part because I did have a medical need to reduce stress in my life, but it has gone on longer than it needs to. I need to get back on the horse and charge into another project, even if that project never makes me rich or financially secure, it will give my mind a place to play and keeps it from wandering off into badness. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” is truer for me than I ever thought possible, and now I guard better against it. Onward to my next project, which I already have the idea for. Here are a few other good quotes on the dangers of an idle mind:
- To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent. – Buddha
- It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man. – Benjamin Franklin
- A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle. – Khalil Gibran
- Idle people are often bored and bored people, unless they sleep a lot, are cruel. It is not accident that boredom and cruelty are great preoccupations in our time. – Renata Adler
The following is kind of an appendix. I want to list some of the many “life saving” projects I have worked on over the years:
- FrontPage themes
- Baby Gender Predictor
- Technical Writing for Non-technical Writers
- Technical writing style guide
- InfoLink Utah BBS
- Kiosk Utah
- Stock photography
- Fred the Fish and Starting a Freshwater Aquarium
- Web Site Promotion
- Ebay battery and other sales
- Search engine optimization book
- Several motivational books
- Microstock photography blog
- Investment technical analysis
- Ballroom photography
- Banner ad sales
- Amazon affiliate sites
- Deals site
- Product review blog