Friday, January 11, 2013

Embracing 70%

Some weeks back, I posted in passing about a class I was taking called 18 Therapies, a mixture of tai chi and qi gong. It was a gentle class of "shapes," not stretches or movements or activities, though all of those were involved. The shapes stimulate the meridians in the body, another Chinese idea.

Our teacher encouraged us to give 70% to the shapes, to the class. "No need to do 100%," she said. "70 will keep you from injury and work just fine." And I got to thinking about the American way of striving always to be the best, where even 100% effort isn't enough but has to be 110%, which of course doesn't really exist, not with effort anyway, as 100% is all you've got to give.

I've been talking in my groups the last few weeks about this idea of doing 70%. At the base of the Chinese idea is reserving chi, or life energy, for later. Instead of burning the candle at both ends, as we tend to do, the traditional Chinese assume they will need and want energy for a vigorous old age and so they consciously work less to save energy for the future.

I'm curious what this might mean for me. I can't imagine giving my editing jobs 70% of my attention but I could work 70% of what I'm working now. Or take 70% of the projects that come my way. Or say yes to 70% of the social invitations. Or eat 70% of the food on my plate. I would certainly like to weigh 70% of what I do now. And I would like to give up striving.

How might 70% show up in your life?