Mini Wisdom Nuggets
Our greatest instrument for understanding the world—introspection . . . . The best way of knowing the inwardness of our neighbor is to know ourselves. Walter Lippmann (1889-1974)
So you go about your daily life and might not think too much about your every action. In martial arts we say that "He who conquers others is strong, but he who conquers himself is mighty." In order to really understand the world around you and make it work for you, you must first understand - and conquer - yourself. Conquer your fears, answer your own questions, find truths that are critical to your existence and understand them.
Easier said than done? Indubitably.
In my last post I suggested that you "question everything". And didn't really explain it. Sorry about that. What I mean is:
- Question the answers you're given even if it is from a "reputable source". No one is perfect and if the world is to be your oyster, you must be the one to understand the answers. If that requires that you create your own answers then that is the best way.
- Question your own capabilities. At first this will lead to doubt --> then understanding --> then confidence.
- Question your own solutions to problems. How did you come up with that solution? How were you influenced?
- Question your own subconscious actions. Why do you sit in a certain place at your dinner table?
- Get out of your routine. Take a different route to work. Read something that you would normally be put out by.
- Keep an objective attitude. Don't be put out by anything. Don't fall back on reactions you would normally use. Treat each moment as if it is entirely new and create responses to situations as if you had never experienced them before.
- Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Erase all of your notions of someone you interact with and create entirely new notions as if you were THEM observing YOURSELF. Watch yourself objectively as you proceed to live your life. Notice the details of your movements, your thoughts, your reactions.
Question yourself like you question others. Forgive others like you forgive youself.
It's only when you understand why you do the things you do that you will start to see better ways. Be open minded and take influences for problem solutions from anywhere you can. Don't let pride get in your way - immediately admit when you are wrong, or when you start to question yourself. No one is perfect, so learn from your surroundings.
Man has come a long, long, long way over the process of evolution and development of our kind. From communication to simple tools to building large structures, creating and adhering to political infrastructure, creating currency, creating and supporting new businesses, venturing into outerspace, etc etc… Through all of this, it would be pleasing to think that mankind, by nature, has “good” intentions overall with respect to life and the universe on a broad scope. What that means exactly, I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that it’s false.
Over the course of evolution in any species, beings tend toward actions and behavior that best contributes to their individual survival or the survival of their family, loved ones or species. Currently, the speed of our technological development (otherwise known as “physical impact and modification to life and the universe”) is increasing very rapidly. Currently we are at a very volatile juncture in our development. We are at the “knee” in the curve, or the turning point where population, technology, knowledge and impact will be increasing far more rapidly than ever before. If we can see the errors of our ways and look beyond our own personal prosperity and look beyond the prosperity of our species, we will be able to identify a better way to live life that is less impactful to the universe and will make us a stronger more intelligent species in the long run.
Developments have been made over the millennia that, if gone unchecked, could mean the downfall or worse yet, the corruption or our species. Below, I’ve listed some of these developments and ways that you can address them in your life in order to take control of your part of the universe and the development of your offspring.
- Blind faith in technology. Don’t use or support a product until you know everything about what it does and how it works. This includes how it was made, who will be impacted by its use, who was impacted by its development and construction, negative impacts to yourself when using the product.
- Reliance on others. Due diligence means finding your own solutions to problems and personally making sure that all of the details have been covered in a manner that is satisfactory. Relying on others’ choices, products, opinions means that you have made the assumption that you agree with all of their beliefs.
- Question everything.
- Find your own answers to every question. Don’t be satisfied with an answer you’ve been given even from a trustworthy source.
- Write down the elements of humanity that are important to you. Writing them will solidify them in your mind and they will emerge in your actions.
- Keep yourself physically and mentally healthy in order to be able to make clear decisions and also be able to act on them.
- Acknowledge a major personal flaw. There's got to be ONE! Personality traits, over-eating, violence, lying, cheating, sub-optimal performance, etc... Acknowledging a flaw is an absolutely critical step to take in fixing it. Once you have acknowledged it, you will find it immensely easier to make realizations on how to fix it.
- Never take anything for granted.
- Whatever you do, act as if the whole world was watching.
- Always aim for improvement
- Double check all actions against your ethical beliefs. You may be in the habit of doing something that is contrary to your ethics, and not even realize it. Double check your every move and you'll most likely find things about you or your actions that you would just as soon change.
Everyone has the choice to enjoy every single day as it comes. No matter how you’re feeling or what your circumstances are; no matter what has happened or what is happening in the immediate future or immediate past, as a human being, you have the privilege to make the choice to appreciate the present moment.
When I was about 16 years old, I realized that I could make a choice at any given moment that would determine whether I was content or unhappy. If I made the right choice, I would be absolutely content with myself and my surroundings no matter what. If I made the wrong choice, each moment of anger and misfortune would be compounded on one another as the day went on. I would be more prone to hurting myself, breaking things, making mistakes, etc. I never really knew what the “choice” was, or how to define it but, with practice, I knew that it was as easy as flipping a switch.
I stood in the parking lot this morning stretching in the cool morning mist, as I like to do after the commute to the office, and as I took a nice long breath of fresh air, a van came careening into the parking lot and pulled into a spot right beside me. Even thought there was no one else in the parking lot, the van still missed the spot and had to pull out and pull back in. Then I listened as the front bumper crunched up onto the curb and was dragged off when the driver pulled back.
He got out of the car and shook his head, saying to me “It’s gonna be one of those days, isn’t it?” Then proceeded to walk quickly toward the building with his briefcase in hand and head down at the sidewalk. He walked past this:
Had he not noticed what a gorgeous morning it was? What was he thinking about so hard that took his attention so far away from his surroundings (not to mention his driving…)? Always thinking about the previous mishap, misfortune, or feeling, he was never present enough to prevent the next. I can imagine what kind of a day he is having today (although I’d rather not).
To this day, I continue to practice flipping this switch. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it comes more easily every day. And I can often see this turning point in others’ days as well. A point at which, if they closed their eyes, wiped the chalkboard clean of all the past misfortune and anguish, took out a fresh piece of chalk and opened their eyes, that they would be able to start fresh from this moment on.
It is man’s natural state to be content, it requires only attentiveness.
There will always be discomfort in your life. On some level, in some facet, either physical, mental, social or otherwise, discomfort will always be a part of our lives. Is discomfort uncomfortable? By definition... yes. Does it have to be all bad? No. Here is a list of items that will hopefully help you to keep your eyes open and see some of the benefits that your discomfort can provide you.
1. Learn about the world around you.
Where does it come from? When did it begin? What are all of its constituents? Can you learn anything on the basis of observation alone?
2. Ponder interconnectedness.
What is the direct and indirect impacts of this discomfort on you? What is its impact on others? Is this discomfort caused by others? Is it caused by you?
3. Realize how your accommodations can improve.
Look around. Are there other methods or strategies that could be implemented that would not require the problem to be solved, but rather would render the situation non-existent?
4. Practice awareness.
Practice bringing attention to the situation in order to really understand it before trying to rectify it. Bringing your attention to a particular sensation and avoiding other thought patterns can help you to isolate the problem. The sensation of having a rock in your shoe is far different than the thoughts of "Why do I always get rocks in my shoe?" or "I really can't afford a better pair of shoes".
5. Understand your tolerance for pain.
This can apply physically or mentally. Ask yourself. "Okay, how much is this really bothering me?" See Pain is Only What You Make It.
6. Increase your tolerance for pain.
While pain is a signal to your brain that your body is in danger of being damaged, it often overcompensates. After understanding what your pain tolerance is, make it a personal challenge to ride that line and accept it as a simple indicator to your brain.
7. Brainstorm a solution.
What can you build/make/modify, to rectify the situation? Think about the items at your disposal. Try to challenge yourself to come up with an inventive and unique solution. By patching the problem with a carelessly thought-out solution or something that won't quite work, you're only giving yourself something to complain about and fix again later.
8. Practice "creative experimentation"
Example: There's a painful wart on my foot. How can I change my stance, foot placement, stride, etc to ease the pain? Are there other objects nearby that I could be supporting some weight on to take it off of my foot? How many helium balloons do I have to hold to alleviate the pain? This will help you with creativity, as well as take your mind off the situation and it may also provide a reasonable solution.
9. Practice acceptance
Harboring "The serenity to accept the things you cannot change" is a very powerful skill. You may need to find something, a phrase or thought, to constantly remind yourself of the goal of being more accepting to avoid getting frustrated with the practice.
10. Harbor compassion
Somewhere out there, there is someone with the same discomfort as you. Somewhere else, there is someone far worse off than you.
Do you commute to and from work every day listening to the radio or spacing off thinking about useless things? I was on my way home from work the other day and I approached a turn trying to guess how many times I had made the turn. It was far more than I wanted to admit, so I shut off my blinker and kept going straight. It was a road I hadn't travelled before; I'd never had a reason to. And as soon as I strayed from my normal route my eyes and ears awoke to new sights and sounds that weren't necessarily awe-inspiring, but they were new and different. And the turns I made were new as well; they weren't a part of my muscle memory. I instantly starting paying more attention to my driving and became more aware of the things around me.
I saw some kids playing by the road whom I'd never seen before, and I drove by an old barn that looked like it would make a great martial arts school for when I am ready to open my school. This got me thinking about what the school will be like, and all of the details that I love to daydream about anyway.
I only drove a couple miles down the road, turned around in a driveway and headed back home, but it made such an impact in my commute to have discovered a new part of the world, and also to have triggered new thought patterns about my future martial arts school plans.
The point is: Do something different. If you've become complacent with anything in your life, mix it up a bit. Give your mind something new to think about. A new perspective can awaken new thought patterns and stir up mental and physical energy in a very healthy way.
Great love is born of a deep understanding of the thing loved. - Leonardo DaVinci
Learning new information, new skills, new tricks, is something that is so highly reverred and encouraged among our young, but our lifestyles generally tend to steer us away from learning as we grow older. Other priorities and responsibilities become too abundant to avoid, and we are gradually weened from the intrinsic desire (and even instinct) to learn.
In today's wonderful world, humanity and the technology industry is brining so many new and useful tools into your home to make it easy to pick up where you left off and keep learning. Podcasts, video classes, free encyclopedias, and a myriad of other sources of knowledge is only seconds away from you right now.
You can find free math and physics classes online at http://www.academicearth.org These classes are actual videos of a full semester course at the top academic institutes in the country: Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc.
USC Berkely now has tons of podcasts online for free at http://webcast.berkeley.edu/courses.php
Learn out loud also specializes in podcasts and other media designed to teach you new and interesting things.
What is the Importance of Learning?
Learning (anything) offers a great opportunity to increase your appreciation for a certain subject, or life in general. If you have ever had an appreciation for something - and I'm certain that you have - you will inevitably by knowledgable on the subject, at least to some extent. This can work in both directions, if you find that you're depressed, or stuck at your job, or can't find the happiness that you'd like, try picking up some new knowledge on a subject.
For instance, I recently took a course through The Teaching Company, on Ancient Egypt. And having no prior knowledge on the subject, I was clueless as to what I would take away from it. The course was 24 lectures, each 45-60 mins, and I learned all about the pharaohs Normer, Hatshepsut, Ramises and all the way through Alexander the Great. It was a great lesson and now that I'm finished, I have a great appreciation for life in 2000 BC and the struggles that people faced.
No matter what you learn there will always be something that will give you some sort of appreciation.
Leave a comment about something you're learning now, or something you'd like to learn about.
Getting to know yourself is a major turning point on the way to truly enjoying your life. In order to understand the world around you, you must first understand yourself and how you react to stimuli in any given situation. Physical awareness is the very first step to take on the road to full awareness of mind and body. Mental and spiritual awareness would follow, but for now let's just focus on the body. This helps us to realize what we can and can't do and also how others perceive us. Here is a short list of 10 questions that will, if you take the time to honestly consider them, will help you to better understand yourself and become more physically aware.
- What is the distance from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my little finger when my hand is outstretched? (This can be very useful when taking quick measurements of objects around the house.)
- What does my normal sitting posture look like? What would I need to do to improve it?
- What is my average reflex time? (Take this online test) Is it above or below average?
- What is the speed of my resting heartbeat?
- What is the duration of one full breath? How does it change depending on my mood or activity?
- How much weight can I lift without injuring myself?
- When standing or sitting, is my center of gravity perfectly centered over my feet or chair? Is my weight naturally shifted? This could mean issues with your posture.
- How high can I jump? How far can I jump? (See Always Challenge your Limits)
- How long is my normal walking stride? This will increase accuracy when pacing off distances.
- What volume of food is comfortable for me to eat and not be stuffed, or left hungry? (See 10 questions to avoid over-eating)
Feel free to add your own questions to the comments.
Image by KayVee.INC via Flickr
One-hour meditation too much to handle? 20 minutes? 5 minutes got you beat? Here's a new approach to meditation with one very westernized quality about it. It's very fast.
This method is less focused on meditation, but more about trying to sit peacefully and achieve a brief moment of clarity, or clarity of presence. This way of thinking comes from Zen philosophy. The idea here is to create an instantaneous state of mind, or state of being wherein your awareness or understanding of your immediate surroundings or situation is increased. Try not to exert effort when attempting this. It will inevitably lead to failure and regret. Failure to do something that you didn’t “try” to do, is not really a failure. If you want it to be a sunny day and it turns out rainy, you did not fail. If it rains, it rains; if it’s sunny, it’s sunny.
Hints to help you achieve a moment of clarity:
- Focus on your heartbeat until you can feel it pushing the blood throughout all of your arteries.
- Create a phrase or sentence that describes what it feels like to be alive.
- Look at your hand and try to understand that no matter what happens in this life, all that's sure is that you will have this body.
- Picture yourself from a bird's eye view. Visualize whatever you're doing at the moment and zoom out little by little to picture the room, building, trees, street, town, state, country, continent, planet, galaxy, and all of the cosmos.
- Imagine you have just been born and are seeing all of the things around you for the first time.
- Do not concentrate, just pay attention.
- Do something you absolutely love doing. Something that engages your mind and body 100%.
- Rise to a challenge that is slightly more than you think you are capable of.
- Breathe silently and listen to the other sounds your body may be making.
- Focus on your skin until it begins to tingle.
Have a nice day!
I woke up this morning and the words "Inspiration Age" were ringing in my head. Not sure why, but when I got to thinking about it, akin to the industrial revolution of the 18th & 19th centuries or the Space Age which began in the 50's, it does stand to reason that the first part of the 2000's will forever be remembered as the "Inspiration Age".
Our world is on an extremely fast and volatile evolutionary path, and wherever we end up 50 years from now, what we do TODAY will have been the inspiration that crafted it.
In this article I've listed what I believe to be the major contributors to today's inspiration.
Of course today's buzzword is "Green". This is getting engineers optimizing existing products and creating new technologies across the board as well as take a closer look at the entire Earth, its processes and their interrelations as a system. But this inspiration is not just limited to engineers, everyone conscientious enough is taking a fresh look at their daily life and coming up with new ways to optimize it that would have less of an environmental impact.
Budding New Technologies
So many technologies are in their infancy right now and there is much more research and learning being done than actual development or commercialization in the fields of cloning, consumer space flight, nano-technology, thought controlled devices and many more.
Revolutions in personal communication devices present an interesting topic for inspiration as well. New developments in everyday devices are revolutionizing how we go about our lives. What this means to me is the combination of all of our cool new gadgets into one tiny little device: Phone, Camera, PDA, Music player, and any other form of communication available “out there”. This has been on the horizon and greatly anticipated ever since cell phones started taking pictures and on the forefront of this effort is the iPhone which has been the first to really nail this. (it sounds to me like everything else pales in comparison – sorry Blackberry users). All of you people (myself included) who have been expecting this product for some time now, have provided a great deal of inspiration and motivation for product development engineers. Thanks everyone! From all of us.
These devices allow creative minds to focus on creativity, drawing inspiration and creating inspiration rather than organization of thoughts or communication.
There seems to be a large presence of people out there who have become very interested in optimizing every facet of life. Relationships, chores, work, parenting, making money… or just day-to-day tasks - hence the creation of this blog. ☺ I think this is a fascinating concept and, like the convenient devices discussed above, the idea is that if you can optimize certain tasks so that you don’t need to spend as much doing them, you have more time to spend focusing on the more enjoyable things in life. Enjoyable things inherently offer more inspiration to people because you can generally allow yourself to contribute 100% of your focus to these things. If you are attempting to enjoy something against your natural instinct you most likely won’t allow yourself to be completely immersed in it.
Another benefit to "life hacking" is that it offers an entirely new subject to scrutinize – The optimization of life itself. This is completely new and very creative in itself. It provides inspiration for the scrutinization of a vast number of other subjects that we currently take for granted or accept for what they are.
Otherwise known as the Net Generation, Generation Y, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration, Millenials are basically the generation following the baby boomers. Many business owners are afraid of Millennials because they are known to expect too much of the work place and they have the desire to shape their lives according to their own personal schedule and goals as opposed to committing to a life and goals dictated by a company's progress. I can understand why this would be frightening to an employer, unless of course the employer is, themselves, a part of the millennial generation or at least understands them.
This leads to an exciting evolution of all businesses adapting this millennial mindset and being able to happily accommodate a world that moves faster than ever. Daily market changes, trends and expectations will be accommodated much easier and with greater success.
Life is extremely tenacious, we’ve been reminded of this throughout 300 million years of evolution. When life struggles it pulls out the heavy artillery. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, if you will… In our current economic state there are a lot of business tactics that are being used to ensure a company’s success through this hazardous economic environment. There is creativity being used everywhere in business right now to build stronger practices and keep companies alive. This will undoubtedly contribute revelations on heartier methods to the western industrial world that can be used in the future that will better accommodate a more diverse economic environment.
A New Awakening
This is along the same lines as the life hackers and millennials. Overall, it seems like today's society is becoming more aware of the intricacies of daily life and is making "living happily" more of a priority. I recently read by Eckhart Tolle. It is an amazing book about the new spiritual revolution of today’s world. It coincides directly with the rise of eastern religion in the west and life hackers, and living happily. As stated above, when we are enjoying what we’re doing and living contently overall, it is easy to become completely immersed in all that we do. This then makes it easier to draw inspiration and create inspiration for all others. – Awakening to your Life’s Purpose
Sharing of Ideas
Digital mediums such as blogs, e-books, networks, social groups, etc, make sharing ideas and knowledge a snap. This is pretty simple, the more ideas, the more inspiration available.
Cheers, to the inspiration age! It's a lot of hard work that we've got to do now to create a better future for everyone.
What do you think? Is this possible? 50 years from now, what will you be calling today's years?
Read this article at MiniLifeHacks.com
You've had the "oh-man, I-don't-feel-like-I'm-doing-anything-meaningful-at-work-and-can't-bring-myself-to-stay-on-task-for-the-life-of-me" blues. I know, so have I.
No matter what your job is, it is most likely important that you have it, if not for the community or the planet, at least for the survival of you and your family. So whether or not you actually find the immediate task at hand entertaining or otherwise captivating, you must convince yourself that it is worth the battle if not for the sole purpose of your own survival.
Oh yeah, and if you really don't like your job and think you could do better, have more fun, contribute more to society at another job, by all means, QUIT and get another job! But that's a topic for another post...
If you do, in fact, enjoy your job (as I do) and feel that it is the right place for you to be right now, but sometimes have trouble staying on task or motivating yourself, I've come up with a list of little tricks I've tried to keep up a good work flow and avoid the bosses raised eyebrow that says: "Really, what is your purpose here?"
1. Make a to-do list. Write all of your tasks down on a piece of PAPER; not on the computer or in your PDA. Something that will remain right in front of your face no matter what you are doing.
2. Listen to music. But not just any music, and certainly not your favorite music (that can be distracting) find the right music to motivate you. I find that I work best to fast music with no lyrics. I also find Japanese drums to be invigorating, and there's always the old stand-by: Iron Maiden. Great for productivity.
3. Play games with yourself. Get in touch with your inner child and make believe that it is your duty to save the world and the only way to do it is to press a button at the bottom of your stack of papers (or something else relevant to your tasks).
4. Compete with peers. Maybe not outwardly, not if it would be awkward, but play a game where at the weekly meeting you have 2 more things to report than everyone else in the room. Or maybe you have assembled more product, or stocked more boxes than anyone else.
5. Stretch. Take a few minutes a few times a day and do some stretching. Feeling relaxed and avoiding fatigue is critical to getting good work done. Read this article on Eye Exercises that can be done at your desk. And here is a link to some stretching you can do without leaving your desk. (and here )
6. Try standing up. Stand up at your desk for a new perspective and a better posture. Read Try Standing up at your Desk for more info on how this can be beneficial.
7. Include yourself in more tasks - Force yourself to partake. Take on a challenge and give people something to expect from you. If there are short term results that people are expecting, it will be much more difficult to slack off.
8. Offer your services in other areas - Carry water jugs, refill the soap in the bathroom, fix someone else's computer, etc. IE: Take on some task that is not technically yours. This will give you a little variety and should make it easier to come back to your position with a new perspective.
9. Take a "Dry Bath". This is a technique that originated in ancient Chinese Kung-Fu. Rub your hands together vigorously until the palms heat up. Immediately rub your arms, shoulders, head, torso and legs. This is said to be good for blood flow, metabolism and internal organs. I find that it is also useful in waking yourself up or bringing you into the present moment.
10. Take a "Brain Bath". Also a concept from ancient China, a "brain bath" is removing yourself from an arduous environment and giving your senses something more soothing to experience. This can be listening to birds or a stream, looking at artwork or flowers, petting an animal or otherwise giving pleasure to your senses. This is good for invigorating the functions of the brain. Upon returning to work you may find that a portion of the dullness of your tasks has been eradicated.
There may be another list a little later since this was kind of fun. But for now, let me know if you use any of these or if I missed any big ones for you.