Published on September 25, 2021
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There once was a young Japanese man who wanted to become a Zen master. So he sought out a famous Zen teacher and asked him how long it would take to reach his goal.
“If you study really hard and give me your complete concentration and attention twenty-four hours a day, it will take ten years,” said the teacher.
“Ten years!” exclaimed the pupil. “Suppose I really give it everything I have day and night; then how long will it take?” asked the young man.
“Twenty years!” replied the teacher.
“No wait, you don’t understand. I’ll give it everything I have, I’ll follow every instruction to the letter; then how long will it take?” asked the pupil.
“Thirty years!” replied the teacher.
“How can this be!” exclaimed the pupil. “Each time I offer to put in more work, you say it will take me longer.”
“A man in such a hurry learns slowly,” replied the teacher.”
Most of us live such fast paced lives that we learn slowly. We are in a rush and so we focus on the ends rather than the means, taking little time to focus on the process. We look for shortcuts; we delegate as much as we can, including responsibility—especially responsibility. After all, responsibility means effort, time-consuming effort.
Looking outside yourself for the answer to your problems will not work. Not only are you susceptible to fads and frauds, but you are also wasting valuable time that could be spent learning how to take care of yourself. In addition, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Nowhere is the cycle of despair more evident than in the area of weight management. A majority of people, women especially, have tried dozens of weight loss products. There are NO weight-control “products” that address the real issues of lifestyle change and, as a result, produce only temporary results at best. The result is a cycle of repeated failures that have a devastating effect on self-esteem and hope. Research on yo-yo dieting has shown that the main negative effects of continued weight cycling are on the psyche rather than on the body. Quick fixes lead to long-term despair . . . and desperation is the mother of delusion! The more desperate you are, the more you need to believe in the answer so that more and more power is given over to products.
One of the ironies of the search for the quick fix is that even if there was one, it wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t work because when it comes to making lifestyle changes that are affected by many decisions in the course of a day, a person needs to be in conscious control, completely vigilant—not pursuing blind faith in some outside force. All magic bullets and quick fixes are defeatist because their implicit message is that the person is powerless to change him- or herself. Magic bullets ALWAYS keep you dependent and helpless.
How many of you embarked on the latest fad with the dream that THIS is the diet, THIS is going to be THE pill or program that will finally make the difference? It can take a long time to see through that fantasy, but when you do, you will discover a powerful and promising message: There are no shortcuts . . . only blind alleys.
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” ~ Beverly Sills
Quick-fixing something is like speed-reading or skimming the words in a book. Very few mere mortals can actually learn anything from the text or retain it. Going slowly is a much better approach to retaining information that you need for a long time.
If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, with the best chance to keep the weight off for the rest of your life, take responsibility and give up the illusion of the quick fix.
Take it from the zen master: Go slowly. Learn quicker.