The Effective Mindset of a Peaceful Warrior
There are four basic mindsets that you can have when it comes to taking on life. Which mindset you use will make a huge difference on how you experience your life. This isn’t about just a positive or negative mindset, it’s a little more robust than that. Instead of just positive and negative, I’d like to introduce a simple 2×2 table that illustrates four mindsets and make the case that the Peaceful Warrior mindset is the most effective of the four and encourage you to adopt it more often in taking on the projects of your life. When I say most effective, I mean a better way to get more done, enjoy the process more and enjoy the inner experience of aliveness, action, peace and purpose regardless of external outcomes.
The four mindsets are illustrated in the simple quadrant table where the two axes are “Engagement” and “Attachment”
Let me define what these two terms mean in this case:
Engagement is how fully your attention is engaged in the present moment in doing whatever it is you are doing.
Attachment is how dependent your inner sense of well being is to the outcome of whatever it is you are doing.
So there are basically four mindsets from which we can engage in anything we engage in. Each is shown in the diagram as a quadrant and I’ve given each a name that summarizes the mindset.
1) Victim Mindset: Low Engagement – High Attachment
In the victim mindset, you have a low level of engagement of your intention and your attention. You are doing something because you feel you have to, not because you want to. Your attention is often very distracted or barely present in the moment of the doing of what needs to be done. Instead, your attention is often dwelling on all sorts of thoughts that have nothing to do with doing what needs to be done. This can include thoughts about the past such as resentment, remorse, guilt, blame, etc. It can include thoughts about the future such as worry, anxiety, hopeful wishing that things will be more to your liking in the future than they are now, etc. It can also include self-diminishing thoughts about the present such as comparing yourself to others, wondering what others think of you, or just wishing you were somewhere else or someone else.
At the same time that you are in a low level of engagement, your inner sense of well being is highly attached to things working out the way you want them to. If whatever you are working on doesn’t go your way, your perceived sense of well being takes a big hit. It feels like it really matters a lot how things turn out, but you don’t see how there is all that much you can do about it or even if you see you could, you don’t feel motivated to.
This is the least effective kind of mindset there is and you’re better off either becoming more engaged in what you can do to effect things or less attached to how things turn out, or both.
2) Hippie Mindset: Low Engagement – Low Attachment
The Hippie mindset is an improvement over the victim mindset in that you lower your level of attachment so you care less how this particular endeavor turns out. You’re still not highly engaged in the doing and your attention is still not very present and focused, but at least your sense of internal well being isn’t as fragile. If things turn out the way you want, great, if they don’t, no bid deal.
3) Roller Coaster Mindset: High Engagement – High Attachment
The Roller Coaster mindset is one that many highly goal oriented people find themselves in much of the time. It can be a productive mindset that can motivate you to take massive action in order to achieve a goal. In this mindset, you bring a high level of engagement to bear on whatever it is you are focused on doing. Your attention is highly focused on the task at hand and the end goal and where you are currently at in relation to it.
At the same time, your feel highly invested in the outcome. Your internal sense of well being is strongly tied to how things turn out. If things turn out the way you want them to, you have an great sense of accomplishment and self-worth. If things don’t turn out the way you want them to, you feel like a failure and your sense of self-worth takes a hit. High highs and low lows and lots of gut wrenching turns and twists in between with lots of drama and a strong sense of the need to attack and defend in order to earn your worth and make stuff happen.
4) Peaceful Warrior Mindset: High Engagement – Low Attachment
The Peaceful Warrior mindset is the ideal mindset and also the most effective. Your attention is highly focused and engaged in the present moment of doing what needs to be done and you get a deep sense of pleasure and satisfaction from the internal feeling of being highly engaged on working towards some plan. It is the joyful feeling of being highly engaged in a worthy pursuit that is actually more meaningful than how things may or may not turn out on this particular project.
While you are highly engaged in the project at hand, you simultaneously experience a low level of attachment to how things turn out. This is because your internal sense of well-being and worth is independent of this particular project. The more your internal experience of well being and worth becomes self-sufficient and independent of any external project or outcome, the more you’ll be able to take on any project you want from the mindset of the Peaceful Warrior instead of the Roller Coaster, the Victim or the Hippie.