or... How to live a stress free life in one easy step!
Surech Kuppusamy has a philosophy of life that he feels is responsible for much of his personal and professional success. His idea is powerful and applicable to everyone in all aspects of life: Avoiding Micro-Avoidance. Simple!
Back in March of 2010 I was fortunate to attend a TEDx conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One of the speakers, Surech Kuppusamy – an avid high altitude mountaineer, spoke on this topic which made me sit upright then and continues to resonate with me. He put to words an instinct I always had and a practice I didn’t follow.
What is micro-avoidance? You know that unwashed cereal bowl that has been sitting on your kitchen counter all day? Or maybe a paperclip on the floor under your desk? You might have been annoyed all week by a spot on your car’s windshield left by a bird… These things could be dealt with easily – it might take 1 second to pick up that paperclip or 1 minute to wash that cereal bowl. But so often we ignore these things, we avoid them. They are so insignificant that it is not fair to call it avoidance – let’s call it micro-avoidance.
To be clear, I’m not talking about real procrastination here. If you’ve been putting off doing your taxes you can’t bang that out in a couple of minutes. I’m talking about the little things in life that you ignore, look the other way, choose to forget and put off.
Surech felt that a key to success is avoiding micro-avoidance: taking care of these little things as soon as they’re noticed. By doing this we prevent the piling up of the minutia that overwhelms us. Our environments and minds remain clutter free. When applied fully to life we become doers, always accomplishing and we break bad habits that can lead to greater procrastination.
For a long time I recognized little pangs of guilt within me whenever I micro-avoided. Whenever I passed that cereal bowl or saw that spot on my windshield I could feel a small bit of stress or guilt. Micro‑guilt let’s say. Every time I caught a glimpse of that paperclip I felt it. A pang each time I opened my inbox and saw that e-mail I should send a quick reply to. A small internal sigh each night looking at the toothpaste splatter on the bathroom mirror.
Imagine throughout the day, little pangs of guilt and stress affecting you. You’re barely conscious of these things. You easily ignore them and forget them – but they do affect you. Again and again, day in and day out. I firmly believe that these small stress responses add up – they add up to a larger low level stress that permeates your life. A little higher blood pressure, a little more cortisol flowing through your veins, it can’t be good. You’re mentally and ever so slightly physically diminished because of a paperclip.
The answer is ever so simple – when you catch yourself micro-avoiding, stop, backtrack and take care of it. By recognizing when you micro-avoid you can’t help but correct it. It’s so damned easy and costs nothing. You will turn into a doer – you will be less stressed and just maybe even happier.
Pick up the paperclip – avoid micro-avoidance!