In the immediacy of a disappointing workout or race, we do not make good decisions or see clearly. We are blinded by emotion and act reflexively to take immediate action.
There is a story of the Buddha walking past a lake with a group of his disciples. He desires a drink, so he politely asks one of his party to draw water from the lake; however, as he approaches the water, he notices a few other people washing their clothes in the lake and others splashing around. As a result, the water is muddy and dirty. The disciple returns to the Buddha and tells him that he cannot possibly drink the dirty water from the lake.
A little later, the Buddha asks the disciple to return to the late to draw water. The disciple, though confused, returns to the lake. This time, he finds crystal-clear water because the mud has settled down, making the water fit to drink. He returns to the Buddha, who says,
“See what you did to make the water clean? You did nothing. You just let it be. The mud settled on its own, and you got pure water. Your mind is exactly like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it some time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put any effort into calming your mind. It will happen. It’s effortless.”
This same lesson reoccurs in Christianity, Chinese Proverbs, philosophy, American Literature, Poetry…and even a popular country song.
If you are overwhelmed by emotions or an important decision, wait a bit. Allow the feelings and complexities to settle like mud in the water. Give yourself time and distance from the issue to see more clearly and make better decisions.