an experiment in alignment

I tried something weird this week, applying an ‘alignment’ principle in personal life for six full days.

Over the last few years, I have often observed that the same action can have different outcomes and of late, I wonder whether the outcome is not just because of the action taken, but also the intent behind the action. Now, that’s purely my hypothesis though perhaps it already exists as part of something somewhere else…

My question: does the outcome of an action depend on the intent/ emotion behind it? That is, does an action work out better if performed with a purely positive (or neutral) intent (as against the intent including fear/ anger/ helplessness or other negative feelings)?

Now we can’t run control experiments with our life, so I decided to try a small aspect of it…

For six days, I would only do things that I wanted to do, or at best felt neutral about. I would not, not, do anything I did not want to do, or had bad vibes about. Nothing I disliked, nothing I felt queasy/ nervous about. What about external obligations/ deadlines? I would work on them only after feeling at peace about doing them. If I felt compelled/ angry about them, I would shelve them till I could change my mindset/ emotion.

Before I started this experiment, I had a list of stuff I planned to do in that period. I kept that list available as a reminder (of course, I would look at it only if I wanted to 😉

Now the six days are over.

My most salient observation is, parts of these days felt like a vacation.  That perpetually present twinge in the chest? It’s absent. I am feeling lighter, much lighter. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being miserable and 10 ecstatic, I was always at or above 5 (neutral) for all the six days, and often at 8 or above.

So, did I do anything other than feeling light?

Yes, surprisingly I did more than half of what was in my original list (which is only slightly lower than what I usually end up doing from a given target list).  More important, I felt good doing most of it. I also handled some unexpected admin stuff that was time-bound and boring.  True to my terms for the week, I reached a state of benign relaxation and neutrality before embarking on them and went about them in an unhurried way. The excess time spent was only a fraction more. The feeling at the end was quite, well, cool.

There were stretches when I was unable to act. This typically happened when I had a running conflict:  am I wasting time in this silliness when I could do work? Usually, such a feeling stirs me into acting in a half-angry, half-hurried way, or results in my thrashing between multiple activities. But for the duration of this experiment, I desisted from action. Instead, I worked on my jigsaw (a 1000 pc one, now over thanks to those stretches 🙂 ). I worked on other things when I felt happy or neutral about the work.

I have no data on the outcomes of the actions I took during the 6 days.  Though that was not the focus of my experiment, it may be interesting to see when the data becomes available.

Looking back, I don’t think I handled myself optimally. During the conflict/ doubt moods, I managed to reach sufficient neutrality to work on the jigsaw, but could not convert the mood into an energetic positive one and do other work. I need to figure out that part. Even so, enough work got done. I had no twinges of anger or frustration. The days expanded with spaces I never knew existed.

Of course, this was an experiment. One reason I could do it was, I told myself I can rush and catch up next week. To consider it for longer durations, I need to find practical ways to capture the best of this into my routine.

It may be worth the effort. The thought of a life-long vacation seems good…

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About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India. I have also been a dementia caregiver for well over a decade, and am deeply concerned about dementia care in India; on this blog I share my personal caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care. For structured information on dementia, for discussions, tools and tips on caregiving issues, for resources in India, and for caregiver interviews, please check my website http://dementiacarenotes.in (or its Hindi version, http://dementiahindi.com). For videos on dementia caregiving (English and Hindi), check the youtube channel here.

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