Lao Tzu Explains Why One Should Not Be Overzealous

Who hasn't experienced it: you want to achieve something at all costs and put a lot of energy and effort into it. But just as quickly as the action picks up speed, it also loses it again. In this case, wouldn't it be better to work slowly but steadily?

"An overly sharpened sword won't last long."

- Lao Tzu

An overly sharpened sword will not last long, but why is that? For a sword, or any type of blade, to be sharp, the edge must be as thin as possible. This is achieved by removing a portion of the blade. If you repeat this process of removal too often, in not too long you will have no more metal to remove.

In addition, a blade that is very thin is more easily broken or at least damaged. A thin blade does not have the resistance that a thick blade has. A good example of this is that a razor blade loses its sharpness much faster than a pocket knife.

However, this would not be a philosophy blog if it were only about the correct sharpening of blades (even if I frankly find the topic quite exciting). But how can you relate this quote to your own life and actions?

Often when we start new hobbies we usually give way too much in the beginning. We give 110% energy to the new project and before you know it, you hardly put any energy into it. You lose interest or practice only very spottily.

When I started playing guitar as a teenager, I played every day for about two weeks. When those two weeks were up, I didn't pick up the guitar for months. A year ago, in my renewed attempt to learn to play guitar, I played guitar for about two hours every other day. The difference is that this time I didn't stop, I'm still at it.

Even with sports, it is important to give your body breaks. You can't do several hours of sport every day and expect your body not to get in the way at some point. The same applies to studying, reading, hiking, eating and drinking.

When you try to get as far as possible, you don't sprint, but you constantly put one foot in front of the other. Of course, a sprint can be good for short distances, but the rarest tasks in life are like a sprint.

So it can be an advantage if we manage our energy better, or don't always try to go full throttle. Sometimes it is better if we shift down a gear and move forward a little slower.

So the next time you find yourself doing something again, whatever it is, whether it's sports, studying, or any other project of your choice, remember that an overly sharpened sword will not last long.

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