Eastern thinking and the idea of just doing things for fun

In our Western culture, we’re inoculated with goals from the day we’re born. Nearly everything compels us and drives us to set high goals.

Commercials, with successful and rich actors.

Movies, stuffed with motivation and ambition, or crammed to the brim with bitter sadness that make us swear we won’t turn out like that.

And toys, such as muscular and tough G.I. Joe’s for boys, and sexy and lean Barbie’s for girls.

All these things, and dozens more, push us to reach, and stretch, and aim as high as we can.

And so we go, and we compete, and we worry, and we … fall short. And yet we know heroes get back up, and so we go, and we compete, and we worry, and we … fall short again.

It’s a murderous and painful path, and it’s one I know well. I’ve lived it and breathed it and have the scars, divorce papers, and saved letters from creditors when I nearly went bankrupt. (Spent a spell living rent free in a friend’s basement, which is one of the most humiliating things a grown man can go through. How many men do you know who can’t afford even $200 rent?)

So I know what I’m talking about with goals and dreams, and I know that even after you win a round — I’ve won a few — you’re already looking to the next goal. The next step. The next challenge.

Why do we do this? Why do we rush and race and hurry off to the next round?

I’m honestly not sure.

It’s partly a rat race. It’s partly insecurity and fear. It’s partly because we seek a challenge. A mountain against which to test ourselves.

Thankfully, in the past couple of years, I’ve learned there’s a better way. It’s Eastern thinking, and there are hundreds of books out there that will help you drop the Western thinking and enjoy the Eastern thinking. (An easy introduction into it is in the P.S. below, which I call the greatest gift I can give.)

Oddly, as you start to read about Eastern thinking, you’ll feel a familiarity to it all. That familiarity, you’ll eventually learn, is the Bible coming back to you. All those verses about “being still,” learning to be humble, not seeking riches, and on and on.

But we lose sight of the Bible in our Western culture. Our million dollar churches with the suits we’re required to wear, and their capital campaigns and cathedral ceilings. Jesus would flip the pews in most of our churches today, just as he flipped the tables of the money changers when he walked among us in his day.

But I’m getting off my point and probably pissing off about half of you (and getting cheers from the other half). As a side note, pissing off people is not a very Eastern thing to do, but I have the rough edges of a Marine to continue hewing off…

My point is this: Eastern thinking has taught me to slow down, and in so doing, to go further. There’s a story from Eastern thinking that I’ve read about climbing a monstrous mountain, and how untrained climbers go much too fast, and thus never finish the climb. Experienced climbers go slow. Take their time. And take a break just twenty minutes into the climb, far before you feel like you need one.

We can, and should, apply this lesson to our lives. Work a bit less today, and make sure you get some exercise and family time in. Don’t spend a full weekend off. Try to do some work from home. Everything in moderation. We know these ideas, just rarely follow them.

But, I’m drifting here… I’ve gone from aiming for a short introduction to going all over the place — Note to self: Good job, Eastern Stan, you don’t need an outline, you don’t need to rush, and you definitely don’t need to go all Western Stan, since Western Stan would beat yourself up, yell at how you suck so bad at blogging, and force you to spend another hour re-writing or just ditching this miserable attempt.

But back to my real point, here is what I want to share. A fellow Eastern thinker wrote a great blog post about having fun with our goals and dreams.

He writes:

While some people like to focus on being disciplined and achieving goals and sticking to their plans, I find this to be meaningless. What’s the point? You’ll fail about a third to half the time, and then feel like a failure for not being disciplined or sticking to a plan or goal.

In contrast, if you do the exact same thing, but let go of the expectation you’ve set for yourself and just have fun doing it, it’s a complete success.

Every waking moment should be just for fun.

It shifts everything. It doesn’t only determine whether something’s a success or failure — it changes your attitude while you do anything, while you’re talking with someone or reading or watching something. Your mood lifts, you are kinder to others, you have a smile on your face.

Read his entire link here. It’s well worth your time. And slow down. And quit beating yourself up.

You’re beautiful. God loves you. And life is so short and precious.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give.

20 thoughts on “Eastern thinking and the idea of just doing things for fun

    1. And make sure you stay on me about it, as well. Sometimes I’m too goal oriented and in too big of a rush — heck, most of these posts, if not all, are for me more than anyone else. Sometimes I hit the topics and re-read things I’ve written.

      Anyway, we should all slow down a bit and have more fun, that’s for sure. Hope you and your wife are doing well.


  1. I’d like to add a plug for Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and Sufi mysticism. Check out Prayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism and Sufism: the Transformation of the Heart.


  2. Hey remember the Newsweek lesson, it does not help readership to piss off you readers (I do not know where the link is but some great editor wrote it 😉
    And for $200 rent and all, we sometime have to be beaten into willingness to change. Ever want to swap stories over coffee, let me know. My thing is having the time and then to remember to read. Actually sitting around the pharmacies right now, that may be a good thing for me to do! Thanks for the idea. Dave


    1. Yeah, I definitely need to avoid the Newsweek path, but I also feel pretty strongly about what I said regarding our modern day churches. Hopefully, the audience reads that part, admits that it’s a valid point, and keeps on trucking. I will always believe that we walk — and often cross — a fine line with our Western churches, and that God smiles far more when He sees us helping the poor and needy than when He sees the latest million-dollar cathedral or church built in His name.


  3. Splendid advice, Stan, and good enough to repost. I am fortunate enough to have remarried and now have a beautiful wife who constantly reminds me to “smell the roses”. Most of us spend so much time trying to succeed – without taking a bit of time to figure out what success really is. And it’s not the Lexus in the driveway…is it.
    By the way…
    Regimental Communications
    2nd Marine Regiment
    Camp Lejeune, NC


    1. Hey Thomas,

      Great to hear from you, and I didn’t know you’d gone through the big D, as well. And I for damn sure didn’t know you served in the Corps. Semper Fi from a fellow gun slinger in Alpha 1/8 (1995-1999).

      And thanks for reposting it! We all could stand to slow down a bit and have more fun.



      1. Oh yeah…it hurt to not have my son in the same house, but other than that, it’s the best thing that every happened to me.
        I can tell you, at 55 I’ve started appreciating things a bit more. I leave plenty of time for my bride, a good cigar, a cold beer, and a mirror-smooth lake filled with fish…


        1. My divorce was the same way. I wanted to work things out, but she kicked me to the door. And after being devastated by it, and rebuilding myself and all that goes along with that, it’s turned into the best thing that ever happened to both me and her. We’ve both remarried and are a million times happier. And we didn’t have kids, so that made it simpler.

          Here’s to slowing down and the lake! (I actually don’t drink, but in a weird twist, generally only like other people who DO drink, and even weirder, I love hanging out at bars.)


          1. Well, there’s nothing wrong with getting high from life – although I WILL say you’re the first jarhead I’ve ever found who didn’t…interesting…
            Yeah, the son part was tough…still is…but we’re in touch constantly, and he’s aware of what life was like with his mother – he gets a lot of hell from her too – so we do have our time…
            I’m headed to the lake this weekend, actually..it’s only 10 minutes away and filled with cats and bass…


            1. I’m probably the only Marine in history who didn’t drink for non-religious reasons.

              The short of it is I was raised in a teetotaler family that was very religious, and I only literally knew one person who drank when I was a kid. It was my uncle, and though he was a good man, he was an alcoholic and it destroyed his life. He lost his wife and two kids through a divorce, as well as a good job, moved home with his Mom, and eventually shot himself with a shotgun to try to kill himself, but he survived that for a bit, and always returned to alcohol.

              Since I grew up not knowing you could drink in moderation, I thought what he went through was the only option and I kind of swore I’d never take that chance. And then by the time I got to the Marines, it become a pride thing of resisting peer pressure and being different — I do like being different, but I soon learned that a man who doesn’t drink turns into a designated driver and a sought out friend by many.

              Every now and then I’ll have a Jack and Coke, and I don’t oppose drinking, just still choose not to — last drink was about three years ago the night before I got married. A couple of friends of mine said we should celebrate, and I agreed it was more than worth celebrating my find (and wooing) of Danah. She’s a huge reason I’ve managed to finish two books. Really nice to have someone completely believe in you.


              1. Yeah, that’s a fact. I’m not a real big drinker, either. Used to be, and purely raised hell in the Marines…and for quite a while after. Too much other stuff to do, now. I dare say, I’d never have discovered writing with the battle axe…my bride encourages me at every turn…pretty nice 🙂


                1. I think another reason I didn’t turn to drinking in the Marines, and since, is I only feel like drinking when I’m depressed. And my ex, who drank regularly, refused to allow me to drink then. Said that was when you SHOULDN’T drink — when you’re down.

                  And it’s true that I saw Marine buddies go through the vicious cycle of drinking to avoid their problems, and in so doing, they exacerbated them, showing up Monday for formation without their laundry washed, having gotten little sleep or rest, and with us planning to step off on a brutal field op, for which they’d be punished for failing to keep up if they fell out of the forced marches.


                  1. Oh yeah..I saw many a grunt spending most of their paycheck on booze and babes..particularly in Oki…I’m lucky..I don’t have the urge to partake when I’m down..I’ve always been a happy drunk…:)


                    1. Yep, love happy drunks. : )

                      And to be honest, I’ve never been drunk — obviously — but I’ve always worried that if I ever did get that drunk, that I’d be a very violent drunk. I was bullied a lot as a kid and I’ve literally spent most of my life since the age of about 8 or 9 learning how to decimate people with my bare hands, and I worry if I ever got drunk, my small man’s syndrome and years of feeling like I backed down too much as a kid would take over, and I’d go try to rip someone’s head off. Which would be bad since I’m about three feet tall and would be plastered drunk and be almost certainly destroyed by whoever it was.

                      And Oki, on man, Oki… That place nearly drove me to drinking, but I was too worried about getting arrested by Japanese police and being put on bread and water for the next ten years.


                    2. One of my good friends on Oki was 5’2″ or something…actually had to have the minimum height requirement waived so he could join…and he was a badass. About as broad as he was high. No one fucked with him, drunk or sober.
                      Yah, I remember JP’s well. More than once, I saw them handle a rowdy group of our boys…easily…they weren’t anything to trifle with…


                    3. Yeah, there’s just something about little dudes. We spend so much time worrying about fighting, that’s it about all some of us think about. I’ve probably gotten 50 or 60 hand-to-hand books, have trained in like five styles, and I still train as much as I can — even though I’ll probably never use it. (I’ve read once you hit 35, which I just hit, your chances of getting in a fist fight are almost nil. It’s only at our younger ages that we go down into the parking lot.)

                      And I know I’ll probably eventually get a concealed carry permit, but I’m still intrigued by the martial arts and have become addicted to the exercise aspects, and the feelign that a thousand years ago in China, some little dude just like me was doing the exact same thing each night: kicking and punching and worrying about walking down that lawless trail the next day.


  4. I’m reposting your reply because I totally agree with it and can’t say it any better. <>


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