- The Right Effort – Positive Focus for Positive Outcomes
By Joe Giordano
The final three folds on the eight-fold path deal with one’s own mental development. It is the constant practice of helping oneself have a balanced mindset, so that you can achieve a heightened awareness of what is around you.
Many see the sixth fold, The Right Effort, as a precursor and necessary mastery for the other principles of the path. Without the Right Effort, we lack the self-awareness to achieve anything. The Right Effort is different from effort focused on ill-advised outcomes, which often create confusion and self-misguidance, and distract us from achieving a positive outcome.
Mental energy is the force behind Right Effort. It takes conscious mental acts to deflect negative feelings and provide ourselves with positive energy to focus on achieving positive outcomes. As we explored in my other posts, we only have so much mental energy to give to ourselves, as it is typically focused on self-keeping and preservation when we feel negative.
For me, the Right Effort is about cultivating an enthusiasm and a positive attitude for any task. It is being balanced in such a way as to produce steady and cheerful determination in the face of any action, no matter how mundane we may think it is. The goal is to lead oneself to positive thinking, which will lead to a focused positive action.
The issue with our effort is that it can occur in either healthy or unhealthy states. The same efforts that fuel self-discipline, honesty, goodwill and kindness, can also strengthen desire, envy, aggression and violence. Having a mindset that encompasses the 8-folds, however, is apt to keep you in the healthy and collaborative state.
According to Buddhist practice (and thebigview.com), the Right Effort is detailed in four types of endeavors that rank in ascending order of perfection:
1. To prevent the arising of un-arisen, unwholesome states
In the practice of Synectics, we do this by establishing a climate of openness and safety, for every interaction and collaborative setting.
2. To abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen
In the practice of Synectics, we use the notion of Practical Intimacy and Deliberate Synergy to uncover reticent issues that may rear their heads in a collaborative setting. We have a framework to bring opposing forces together, so that they can share issues, and collaboratively solve for a positive outcome.
3. To arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen
In the practice of Synectics, we employ various climate setting techniques, energizers, and communication practices, so that intent and affect match for the positive outcomes, and keep the interpersonal field in a positive charge.
4. To maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen
In the practice of Synectics, we create an air of collaboration and building. We never look to tear down one’s thoughts or actions. We look to find ways to enhance and evolve an already established notion, so that it grows and spawns newness.
In the end, we must facilitate our own climate and field, so that it helps drive action and results. We cannot let our negative thoughts or desires, such as as vengeance, out-doing someone else, one-upping or showing someone up, get in the way.
Our efforts should be used as a tool for creating balance and nurturing.
See earlier articles in this series