Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
Activities, interests, and social interactions are things we absolutely thrive on. Jobs, hobbies, activism, family . . . any number of focuses can be added to the list of personal drives. Sometimes, when feeling overwhelmed, I have referred to my five-gallon bucket being six gallons full. I think the point really is to learn to NOT add that sixth gallon to the bucket (as it presently exists)..
We persist in thinking “more is better”. It seems we almost never know what is happening till we reach the “more” stage. This is when we see the damage or spillover. And for some reason, even when we KNOW the limits of our personal container, we continue to add. Perhaps this is human nature.
Regardless, understanding our container is the key. Any time we assume our five-gallon bucket, in any circumstance, can handle six gallons, we are simply fooling ourselves. I understand that sometimes we are handed more than we can handle. Truthfully though, more than we can handle is exactly that. Its MORE than we can handle. (“Realistic expectations’’ is its own wonderful topic). Naturally we have options.
One option might be to get another container to help with the efforts. Think of it as a helping hand. Someone else pitching in. Or, simply asking for help. Another choice is to never put in more than your container can handle. Maybe this notion could be akin to setting healthy boundaries. It could be time to improve your container. Increasing capacity, reliability, or quality is a genuine possibility in most respects. This is likely the one thing that can be done as an individual. This is something any one of us could work on daily. It is, quite frankly, self improvement.
How do we actually know the specifics of our limits? How do we go about understanding our container? We evaluate wisely and practice awareness. We work diligently at understanding ourselves. We do our work, then step back.