Deliberate way of living

http://zenhabits.net/deliberate/

Set intentions at the start. When you start your day, or any meaningful activity, check in with yourself and ask what your intentions are for the day or that activity. Do you want to be more present? Do you want to move your mission forward? Do you want to be compassionate with your loved ones? Do you want to practice with discomfort and not run to comfort? Set an intention (or three) and try to hold that intention as you move through the day or that meaningful activity.

~ Leo Babata

Long ago—maybe ten years?—this idea of setting intentions made a huge impact on my life. I’ve talked about first learning the twin skills of self-awareness and self-assessment as the first steps on my journey. Once I began developing those skills, I was able to begin setting intentions and that lead to the long period of growth I’ve recently been experiencing.

But there’s a problem, or at least there’s a problem for me. Once I started down the road of setting intentions I’ve fallen prey to a vicious cycle. Practicing continuous improvement by setting intentions and assessing progress makes me focus forward, treating my intentions at targets before me. I used to think the “focus forward” part of that was a good thing. After all, it clearly has led me on a long journey of improvement.

I set good intentions which force me out into my un-comfort zones and it turns out that I usually don’t quite reach the goals. If I do reach a goal, then I realize I could have set a better goal by stretching for a farther intention. In that way, every assessment ends up reporting that I fell short, didn’t make it, didn’t live up, didn’t achieve, didn’t succeed, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t… and that leads to a dark place.

Recently I’ve been more intentional about what intentions I set.

(That’s a red flag right there; I’m still intentions based.)

None the less, I’ve been trying to set easier-to-achieve intentions so that I can check off more wins. I find this very hard to do since it feels like artificially lowering the bar so I can cheer-lead myself away from the dark place. Worse, this is still looking forward and assessing progress made towards goals.

I wonder what would happen if I could manage to turn around, make progress towards the goals, (they now being behind me,) while staring back at the INSANE MOUNTAIN OF AMAZING THINGS I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED?

Maybe I should try that for a while?

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Traditions you love

https://zenhabits.net/simplify-holidays/

Make a list of the traditions you love, and that you don’t love.

~ Leo Babauta

A couple of less-usual ones that I particularly love: The idea of having Friends-giving dinners, and a randomly-scheduled, rotating hosts, dinner party thing I have with a group of my second-cousins.

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What if

https://zenhabits.net/numbed/

But what if we blocked all of our exits, and stopped ourselves from numbing out or escaping being present to our feelings and the moment in front of us?

~ Leo Babauta

What if indeed!

Much of my personal changes arise from observing my habitual behavior and then putting up some sort of road block (or at least adding some friction) to derail me when I head for the habitual behavior.

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What’s wrong with the world?

http://zenhabits.net/2008/08/whats-wrong-with-the-world-not-a-damn-thing/

This type of view of the world — and like I said, I think it’s the prevailing view — stems from an ideal that many people have in their heads of what the world should be like. They might not realize they have that ideal, but it’s there. And the world will never reach this Platonic ideal, because it’s just this image of perfection that does not match reality. Reality and this ideal are incompatible.

~ Leo Babauta

This ties in with yesterday’s comments about the Beatles’ Let It Be. There’s certainly a peculier passion associated with youth. But there’s a much nicer circumspection of age. When things are going badly, relax for they will not last. Whent things are going well, relax for they will not last. The error is in not relaxing, not in the circumstances being observed.

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The Feeling That You’re Always Behind on Work

https://zenhabits.net/behind/

For example, if I’ve slowed down, I might take a look at my todo list for today … and realize that it’s a complete fantasy. I’m not going to get all of that done. Let’s move one thing to tomorrow, one task to a “Later This Week” list, and one to “Later This Month” (or even, “Do Next Year”).

~ Leo Babauta

I also suggest setting up a shortcut for doing this: I use the Delete key to move as many items as possible to my special “Do Never” list.
 
The real mistake is saying “yes” to too many things. I had to learn to be honest enough to say “no.” Curiously, the “no” feels harder because I don’t want to disappoint people. I used to do anything to satisfy people and to get my little dose of approbation. In fact, saying “no” is far easier than saying “yes.” Every choice changes your future options. Each “no” closes off just one thing, but it preserves space in your life. Each “yes” invites in one thing, but by allocating that space in my life, I’ve closed off a huge number of other things that I might have chosen. “No” is the small, easy choice that gives me the most flexibility. “Yes” is the huge, life-altering committment that closes off an infinity of other options.

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Letting go of possessions

https://zenhabits.net/letgo/

In theory, we can let go of every single possession. Sure, for practical purposes, we’ll need at least one outfit and shelter and a way to eat and use the bathroom. And even more practically, we’ll need a house and things to wear for a job and so on. But letting go of a possession that you don’t absolutely need for practical purposes is theoretically possible. So what stops us?

~ Leo Babauta

This skill—and it is totally a skill that I had to practice and practice and practice—is one I USED to struggle with. Years ago, it was definitely fear that was holding me back from letting go of possessions.

Today is it 100% the guilt that I do not want to incur by throwing things into a land-fill. I have a cubic yard of books… not worth a dime, and I’ve already spent a ton shipping hundred of books all over the world racking up points in bookmooch.com—you want these books? I have TWO Davis Mark 15 marine sextants, …want one? I have a great chain saw that’s probably worth a couple hundred if I had a few hours to waste [I do not] dealing with idiots on Craig’s List. …want an old Jeep that’s fun to play with off road? …how about a perfectly working ink-jet printer? …a swage-fitting tool? …how about a one-hundred-year-old, fully restored billiard table?

I’m serious. Hit reply, or join the mailing list and hit reply tomorrow…

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How to be mindful

https://zenhabits.net/always/

Slowly add mindfulness bells. A mindfulness bell can be anything in your environment. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested using traffic lights as a mindfulness bell — when you see one, instead of getting caught up in the stress of driving, allow yourself to become present. You can slowly find other mindfulness bells — your daughter’s face, opening your computer, having your first cup of coffee, hearing a train going by.

~ Leo Babauta

Finding ways to trigger making conscious decisions is the key to increasing the amount of time you are mindful. The possibilities are endless!

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Put it in full-screen mode all the time

https://zenhabits.net/simple-living/

Single-task by putting your life in full-screen mode. Imagine that everything you do — a work task, answering an email or message, washing a dish, reading an article — goes into full-screen mode, so that you don’t do or look at anything else. You just inhabit that task fully, and are fully present as you do it.

~ Leo Babauta

http://randsinrepose.com/archives/everything-goes-in-a-context-bucket/

Whenever I perform a save or equivalent preservation action, I stop and spend a second determining the context that needs to be associated with this artifact. Every single artifact has a bit of context.

~ Rands

Another idea: Long ago I cleared the home screens of my devices. I wake my phone and the screen is empty; Just the background image. At first, I opened my phone—a lot—and went, “wait, why did I…” AND THEN I CLOSED IT. Now I think, “what’s the weather tomorrow?” Wake phone. Swipe down w-e- … touch, read weather, hit home (back to clear), close phone.

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The kind of training I need

https://zenhabits.net/purposeful/

The truth is that if you can push into the discomfort, with love, and keep going … it’ll be an amazing breakthrough for you, an opening up of your habitual patterns. It’ll be a place of growth, of learning, of tremendous change. This is the kind of training that you need to put yourself in if you want to grow. Not a meditation retreat, necessarily, but any kind of practice that makes you want to retreat. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, just something that causes you to be uncomfortable, that causes your old habitual patterns to come up.

~ Leo Babauta

Leo’s Zen Habits has helped me tremendously over the years. His was one of the first useful sites I found about 10 years ago when I started changing my life. The idea that hard work– not a retreat per se, but anything that makes you want to retreat– is exactly what I need to work on, is one of the pillars upon which I began rebuilding. When things start to crack– when I feel my grip on my reasonable demeanor slipping– it’s this idea which I try to pull up.

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Calm

https://zenhabits.net/becalm/

You have a million things to do an not enough time to do it all? Not a big deal: pick the things you can do, and get to work. That’s all you can do anyway, so it’s not worth adding some stress to the already difficult situation. Have a huge task to do that is going to be very difficult? No big deal. Just take the first step. Just get moving. You’ll deal with the difficulty.

~ Leo Babauta

Frenetic activity. Fits of rage. Tidal waves of guilt. Mountains of frustration. Spasms of activity. Rivers of self-doubt. Occasional moments of calm. Thank you Leo!

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