What basketball can teach you about life

page45_picture0_slide_1337131010Here’s a self-disclosure: I’m not the best basketball player. I’d like to think that I’m not the worst either though, but I sure do try. Recently, I’ve tried to pick up the sport again after many years. As I began to practice and get help from people who were better than me, I realized something:

Life lesson: The more we focus on the end goal, we lose sight of the present moment. Even when we do get to the end goal, we can’t sustain it because we never learned the tools in the process to maintain the goal.

Let me explain. My brother taught me how to have a better shooting form a few weeks ago and since then I’ve been going to the courts and practicing myself. However, I would get tired after a while and as I got tired I got more and more focused on getting the basket in instead of keeping the right form. I started caring more about whether I made it than whether the process of getting it in was right. I had to constantly remind myself to stop, focus on my form, take it step by step, and then shoot. How often do we get lost in our goals losing sight of the process? It’s often been said that

“If you don’t enjoy the journey, you won’t enjoy the destination.”

Learning basketball, setting a goal, trying to improve some part of ourselves is never a straightforward process. We want the change and we want the quick fixes, but often, it’s not as simple as that. People come into therapy wanting to “fix” their child. They want to “fix” their relationship. They want to “fix” themselves. However, if you don’t pick up the tools or the “form” along the way, you’re not going to be able to sustain the relationship. And just like shooting a basketball, you’re going to get more and more tired and it’s going to get harder and harder. It is in those moments that you need to stop and reorient your energy towards the process. As long as you focus on the end product, you’re going to try shortcuts by doing what you’ve always done, meanwhile, getting the results that you’ve always got, which have been inconsistent and unfulfilling. Even my broken shooting form was able to win me a few baskets, but it wasn’t consistent. It didn’t get me the goal I wanted, which was a good shooting form – a form that wouldn’t embarrass me on the court.

Lasting change is directly proportional to the level of investment in the process. There are certain tools and ideas that are essential we pick up on our way. These tools go in our toolbox that can be used when things don’t go the way we want because things will always falter at some point or another. The choice we have is where do we focus our energy.

The trouble that we get into is that it takes more energy to sow than it does to reap. It’d be nice if all of life was sitting on our laurels, coasting on our accomplishments, and letting life just keep feeding us. Unfortunately though, life involves works. Harvest season is not year round. Every fruit has a particular season and while you may be reaping one season (i.e. your marriage) you may have to be sowing seeds (i.e. seeds for your job) for the next season. Don’t get too lost in the sowing or the reaping because they often happen in conjunction with one another. Focus on the job at hand and the process by which you have to get there and the harvest will come soon enough.

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Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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Categories: Blogs by Rubin, Therapy

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  1. What Maya Angelou Taught Us About Life « Psych Connection
  2. Are You Happy with Your Life? « Psych Connection

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