Unplugging

SOURCE: http://www.fastcompany.com/3012521/unplug/baratunde-thurston-leaves-the-internet

“It is essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman’s knock”.  -C.S. Lewis

Sometimes we just need to get away from it all.  

But I’ve found that when this feeling manifests, it’s one that is almost impossible to satiate.  
I could go for a walk, go fishing, or even take a whole week long vacation, but alas, I could never escape the pull of my phone.

Always crying out, beeping and booping, screaming out for my attention.

I would hear it call from my pocket as it shook on my thigh.
I’d try to put it out of mind and go on with whatever it is that I was doing.  But steadily lingering in the back of mind, questions of curiosity would slowly push themselves to the forefront.   

And eventually, I would answer.  Every. Single. Time.

The symptoms I was showing were so in-line with those of common addictions, that I had to take action.

I knew It was time for a digital detox.

It’s not that I want to be alone. I just want to free myself from the obligations which present themselves digitally.
I realize that I don’t like the fact that I am expected to be available 24 hours a day.  It’s too much pressure and can become the cause of anxiety.

So I simply turned off all of my alerts.

 
Now, if you text or e-mail me, I’ll have no idea until I consciously make the decision to open up my e-mail or messenger app.

It’s been liberating, to say the least.

Now I check my messages only once a day, and twice if I’m working on a project.   The first time is right after I’ve had my morning stroll and coffee, and the second is between 4-5pm.   I’ve made everyone in my circle aware of this, and they will come to learn that these are the only times they can expect responses from me.

On my walks now, I can happily have my phone with me, comfortable in the fact that it will never be calling out for my attention.  

Less distractions leave me more time to easily enjoy all the beauty that surrounds me.

_____________________________________________________

Please feel free to share my entry.  If you enjoyed it, please follow me on Twitter or give my Facebook page a like.

 

Getting the Ball Rolling

Final-Momentum-LogoMomentum is one hell of a thing.

Sometimes all it takes is a small nudge in the right direction, and the metaphorical snowball starts barreling down a hill at blinding speeds.

Little successes in one area of life, can easily and often translate over into others.

That’s why whenever I find myself in a rut, I try to learn something new.   It doesn’t have to be something cumbersome, or entirely practical even, just something novel. There are lots of small or fun things you can learn to do in less than a day.

Here are 24 skills you can learn in under 48 hours, with pretty amazing instructions.

I have tried my hand at many of those skills listed in the past year, and have had success with several of them.

Most notably though, would be my adventures in juggling.  If I had to suggest any one skill for you have a go at, this would be it.

beautiful-woman-juggling-apples-and-oranges-on-a-white-backgroun
I remember being younger and trying to juggle.  I would grab 3 balls, start throwing them in the air at once, and watch as they all inevitably landed on the floor.   And that was that.
Nope. Not me. I can’t juggle.

My problem was not that I didn’t know how to juggle, it was that I didn’t know how to learn to juggle.    As is with most skills, we have to learn how to learn.

Jason’s instructions below are great.  He breaks down the skill of juggling into very small, manageable steps and encourages you to master them before moving on.  You start with one ball, learn the proper techniques, and slowly add on from there.  It’s very accessible.

The benefits of learning this skill are multifaceted and amazing.

First, you are going to greatly enhance your eye-hand co-ordination and reaction times.   The benefits of this are numerous, from preventing trips and falls to becoming a better, safer driver.

It also sharpens your focus and concentration, all the while making you smarter.  You are building bridges between your left and right brain, which impoves cognition and goes a long way to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

And lastly, it’s exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise!  You will burn about 300 calories per hour doing it, and can do it anytime and anyplace.

It’s a great activity for all age groups and body types.

It will be a challenge at first, but you’ll get it.  I’m sure of it.

And once you do, maybe you’ll see that any undertaking can be accomplished when you break it down and put a little effort into it.

And that might just be enough to give you all the momentum you need.
_____________________________________________________

Please feel free to share my entry.  If you enjoyed it, please follow me on Twitter or give my Facebook page a like.

Our Greatest Source of Unhappiness

http://craftworkla.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/annie1.png?w=636&h=436
Hope, memory, and how our chronic compulsion to flee from our own lives robs us of living.

It is too often the case that we spend our lives fleeing from the present moment.  Instead of being ever-present, we find ourselves occupied with overplanning the future or ‘recoiling with anxiety over its impermanence‘. This preoccupation robs us of the vibrancy of life.

This is something that I ofttimes find myself struggling with, and have blogged about in the past.

What I find helpful, is to step outside my own thoughts, and step inside of those of someone else.

Lately that has been the works of Alan Watts – more specifically his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity.  I have found it quite therapeutic and will try to summarize what I have gathered from it.

The art of living well consists of being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and being wholly receptive to it.

There is no where else to be.  You are here — so be here.
Smartphones, and this new culture of over-availability, have exasperated this issue.

When I am out for lunch and look around, it is not rare to see a couple sitting together while one (or both) are clicking around on their smartphones.   That person on the phone is effectively saying to the other that ‘you are not as important as anything that could come to me through this device’.   Put the phone away, put your problems aside, and just enjoy the company you have for those precious 30minutes.

Smartphones keep you so well connected to the world, but also to all your problems and anxieties.

You will be a great deal less anxious if you feel perfectly free to be anxious.  The same may be said of guilt and any other human emotion, for that matter.   So turn those phones off and feel the liberation that comes with it.

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.

Please feel free to share my entry.  If you enjoyed it, please follow me on Twitter or give my Facebook page a like.

 

The Game of Life

Image

I heard this today and it resonated with me so much that I decided to share in a short post.

Life is like a game of chess. You make your move, somebody else makes theirs. Some pieces fall, others don’t. Everything is in constant motion. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Remember that life is beautiful and everybody experiences it differently, but at the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.

The Optimism Delusion

Image

Is optimism just a delusion?

Are optimists merely happy fools, floating around, oblivious to all the pain and suffering in the world?

Can it be that pessimism is a more accurate perception of reality?

I personally feel that optimism and pessimism are both delusional by nature. The difference being that the former can serve our needs, while the latter works against us.

So it’s true that delusion is not always a bad thing — it can actually be very useful!

Optimistic people take chances, reach beyond their grasp, and refuse to quit. These qualities can help lead them to greater success in life.  Sure, it can easily bring about failure as well, but an optimistic person will not stay down. They will just take that hit and keep moving forward towards the bright light shining beyond the darkness.

That is someone we should all strive to be like.

So feel free to allow yourself to give into positive delusion sometimes.  See both the light and the darkness, but choose the light.
As long as you’re realistic, and prepared for the worst, expecting the best is never a bad thing.

On Decision Making

Coin-Toss

How many decisions have you already made today?

Ten?  A hundred?  Thousands?

Our lives are filled with choices, from the very moment we choose to open our eyes.

The multitude of simple every day decisions consume much of our energy and focus, and those important ones can stay with us for extended periods of time.

Success in my line of work comes when you are able to make numerous logical and mathematical decisions in a very rapid manner.

That being so, I’ve read up on and reflected extensively on the decision making process.

One of my favorite books on the the topic is “Blink”, by Malcom Gladwell, which posists that spontaneous decisions can often be better than carefully planned and considered ones.

While his research is great, and has helped me better understand the process, I think the best advice I’ve ever received on the topic was also the simplest.

When faced with two options, just flip a coin!

Now, this is not to simply relinquish your power and submit to randomness, but instead, it’s in that brief moment which the coin is in the air that you’ll know for what your heart truly desires.

And the truth is, when a decision is very tough to make, it’s usually because the options are actually very close. You’ve weighed the pros and cons extensively, but are still unsure of what to do.

While the repercussions of your choice may be long lasting, you just don’t have enough information available for the correct choice to make itself clear.

And most likely, you won’t until it’s too late.

So make your choice bravely, and worry not about regrets.  Have faith that you’ve made the right decision with the information available at the time,  and know that is all you could do.

If you’re going to worry, worry about getting those easy decisions right  -  the choice to be engaged, the choice to love, and the choice to be happy.

I love Mondays

And why not?

There is something so beautiful about a blank canvas.  The possibilities are endless.

This week will be what you make it.

Whatever you have to do, do it with passion and focus.

If you need any motivation this beautiful Monday morning, have a look at this video and get ready to be inspired!

 

Making Peace with the Worst Case Scenario

“Negative thoughts!? But haven’t you read the secret?”

I know, I know  – negative thinking is bad, right?

If you bring negative thoughts to your mind, the Universe will give you exactly what you’ve thought of!

Image
I’ve heard this for a while, but it’s just not something that works for me.

For even a very optimistic person like myself, I find it freeing to imagine the worst and work backwards from there.

If there is something going on in my life, and I find myself stressed out, I often bring this to mind.

I think of the worst thing that could happen as a result.

Maybe I fail, maybe I don`t get that promotion, maybe I have to move in with my in-laws!

My goal is to then make peace with the fact that this is indeed a possibility. Although this worst thing is usually not going to occur, even if it does, I will not be surprised.

The truth is that with most things in life, the worst case scenario is actually not all that bad. And guess what? It’s something that I know I’m perfectly capable of dealing with.

This clarity allows me approach the situation with a sense of preparedness.  And when you are well prepared, there is nothing that can shake you.

You will no longer to afraid of the situation, and be able to attack it with all your might -  to give the best effort you have within you.

Do not let fear hold you back from accomplishing the things you dream of.

Failing is not all that scary when you face it head-on.

Mind Full, Or Mindful?

When are you most happy?

It’s a tough question, I know, but just take a moment and think about it.

Personally, I always feel most happy when I’m deeply engaged in something.  It could be anything really, but always something that requires my complete and utter attention.

Whether it’s writing an article, a deep conversation, playing a video game, or preparing an elaborate meal – - I get into a zone and never want to get out of it.

I’m most productive in this state, and it is often accompanied by a sense of  accomplishment.

But apparently this is not the only reason I end up in a happy state.  A study by Matt Killingsworth posists that “stimulus-independent thought”, or “mind wandering”, actually causes people to be substantially less happy.

The reason for this is mostly because when your mind wanders, it usually goes to an unpleasant place.  But in fact, the study showed that even if a mind wandered towards a pleasant thought, people still reported being slightly less happy on average.

You can read more about his method and findings here:  Science Mag – A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind

So what can we take from this?mindfull-or-mindful

I think the most important lesson is to live in the moment.  To be ever-present and engaged in whatever we are doing.

Even if you are just watching TV, do it with some passion and focus!

Enjoy the moment, don’t waste it by thinking about something that you need to get done later.

Time is your most precious commodity. If you’re deciding to spend it on something, make sure you maximize the enjoyment.

How Happiness Directly Impacts Your Success

Happiness is a choice. It’s not always an easy one, but it is always one you can actively make!

Shawn Achor is an extremely accomplished teacher and author of who focuses on positive psychology.   In the TED talk embedded below, he speaks on happiness being the secret to greater levels of success in our work.

I’ve outlined his 5 key steps to increase our experience with happiness.   Do these 5 things for 18 days and watch how much more positive your mindset becomes.

1)      Bring gratitude to mind – Write down three unique things that you are grateful for each day

2)      Journal – Write about a positive experience you’ve had within the last 24hours

3)      Exercise –  Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity

4)      Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day

5)      Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness –  Write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media

Check out the complete talk below, and take the first step towards increasing your happiness!