Pomodoro Technique – The New Way to Enjoy Work & Play

Good day, my friend. You should know by now that my philosophy in life is that the best way to ensure reaching a destination is to enjoy the journey. Today, I’d like to show you one method you can use to put such philosophy into action: Pomodoro Technique – How to enjoy your life at intervals.

People have praised Pomodoro for bringing positive impact on areas such as time management, efficiency and effectiveness, self-discipline, and physical and mental burnout/fatigue.

I. My Encounter with Pomodoro Technique

I came across this technique while searching for one way to fix a health issue caused by computer work. If your job requires hugging a computer like me, you should be familiar with this.

Very often after a long period working continuously on my laptop, I get eye strain. My eyes are sore and blurry, the muscles feel really tired, to the point of making me want to shut them down and go to sleep sometimes.

On some occasions, it might get serious, I’d have a headache, the pain comes from my forehead to the back of my head, and down to my neck.

What’s worse? The condition made me dread the idea of repeating another 8 hours tomorrow. Mind you, I love writing. But when this happens, working on the thing I love still feels like hard work. The eye strain makes me afraid of working long hours. Three hours non-stop is fine, but more than that and I start to have a headache.

So I went in search of a solution. I mean, when it comes to something that I’ve already made up my mind to do, I’m a stubborn kid who refuses to grow up. I’d try every trick I can think of to make it work out. For instance:

I adjusted my sitting posture (sitting with back straight, not hunching over) and the space between me and the screen.

I adjusted ambient lighting in my room. I changed closing drapes, adjusted shades. I reduced interior lighting, made sure it not too bright, not too dark (I switched from overhead fluorescent tubes to floor lamps to light the room and make the ambient lighting just dark enough compared to my laptop screen).

I used artificial tears (its effect is very limited)

I considered changing my laptop, I wondered whether it’s because of the screen that causes the eye strain. But it’s already the best in the industry (Retina MacBook Pro).

I adjust my laptop display settings (reduce brightness, increase text size & fonts, turn on Night Shift 24/7)

I apply dark themes on most of the regular applications (Scrivener, Safari (reader mode), Firefox, OmniOutliner)

And a few more.

Well, they’re all nice helpers, none are definite problem solvers.

Ever heard this conversation between a patient and his doc?

P: It hurts when I do this!

D: Then don’t do that!

Simple right? Exactly what I need! But since I couldn’t stop the doing, the solution I came up with was a bit more complicated.

That was when I first applied the idea of taking frequent breaks to ease my eye strain. Then I heard about Pomodoro technique, I thought that 25 minutes seem like a great length, and I gave it a try.

Result? Big discovery in my life!

II. Pomodoro Technique

This technique is a time management method pioneered by Francesco Cirillo (1). Basically, we break our work down into 25 minute intervals, which are then separated by 5 minute breaks.

  1. First, define what you want to work on.
  2. Then, set a timer of 25’ and start working.
  3. You keep working non-stop (translation: no daydreaming, no diversions, no minor tasks – check/answer emails/messages/tweets/Face comments, coffee-making, etc.) until the 25’ is up.
  4. Then you take a break for 5’ and repeat the cycle again.
  5. After 4-6 cycles, take a long break, and repeat the whole process.

In brief, by breaking down a typical 8 hour workday into small chunks, we become more aware of the passage of time. This forces us to focus on the task at hand and avoid distractions.

Plus, we’d all agree that single-tasking is certainly more productive than multi-tasking.

And that’s how Pomodoro technique works. But there’s no fun to stop here, isn’t it?

So, let me tell you how I’ve benefited from Pomodoro, and how I’ve used the technique in my work and life, and how you can, too.

III. What Pomodoro can Do for Me & You

1. Ease eye strain & back pain

My initial encounter with Pomodoro was due to my motivation to look for a way to ease the eye strain. I’ve found that taking 5’ breaks greatly diminishes the eye strain after each work day.

What’s more? I use the breaks to stretch my body, or perform tasks of different nature (Why? I explained it here). Such activities really help my brain, my back, not just my eyes.

I no longer feel physically burned after work, nor dread working long hours. For those who are working with computers, I highly recommend it.

2. Accomplish more with less

What about productivity? To be honest, at first, I didn’t believe I would do more by taking short breaks IN ADDITION TO the normal breaks.

Suppose a day has 7.5 working hours plus 30 minutes paid lunchtime, then the 7.5 hours give us up to 14 pomodoros, which mean we need to invest 14 x 5 = 70 minutes for the breaks (I said “invest” because it seems to me no employer would allow that).

How are we supposed to get more done in one hour less?

Boy! I was wrong. Paradoxically, I was able to not only write more, but also tackle more challenging tasks, instead of procrastinating by running low-value, low-priority errands.

Now, understand that I have no record to prove my point here. And no, I won’t do the analysis for the sake of comparison. You must try the technique to see for yourself.

This is just one of the many cases showing time and again that, we’ll achieve much more simply because we focus all our might on one single task and avoid interruption.

I’m not the one who said this. Orison Swett Marden (wiki) said that in “Pushing to the Front”. Don’t know who he is? He’s the guy who left an orphan house to establish Success magazine. Think about that!

The world does not demand that you be a physician, a lawyer, a farmer, or a merchant; but it does demand that whatever you do undertake, you will do it right, will do it with all your might and with all the ability you possess ~ Orison Swett Marden

The fact that I must decide what I’ll work on during the next 25’ minimizes my tendency to multitask. And should the need occur, I would defer it until after the break.

What about trivial tasks like returning a message/phone call, or filing documents, I can easily save them for the break.

So, that means better time management, doesn’t it?

3. Prevent daydreaming/mind-wandering/mindless surfing

And I can’t tell you how many times the notification sound dragged my mind back to the present task, if I happened to be lost in the rabbit hole of Facebook/Web/YouTube surfing.

What if I didn’t set the timer? Well, as long as love still lives, my drift is always deep. That’s a fact of life that I can’t remove.

So we need a reminder to drag us back down to Earth at times, don’t you think?

4. More discipline, less procrastination

I have to confess that, I have a weak will, I’m lazy, I consistently search for the path of least resistance to do anything.

I remember a typical part of my university life, which centered around rushing on big assignments and studying for final exams. And like other students, I work better under pressure (ok, I believe that). That means my uni life revolved around two things: procrastinating the whole semester and finally working like a bloody tiger to meet the deadlines.

Even now, after some modest successes, I still feel incompetent in this area.

How do you write a 5,000-word Goal-setting guide?

A wrong question can’t have a right answer!

If I’d asked myself that, I’d never made it. 5,000 words are too much for the subject “you” in that question.

In fact, all I did, I repeat, all I did, was cruising myself over my draft, enjoying the work at intervals of 25 minutes, block after block.

I asked myself different questions:

Ok, remember the time when…what did I do to achieve that goal?

After I mind-mapped my plan in iThought, what did I do?

But at that time why didn’t I give up? What happened beforehand?

Remember that thing that Mahatma Gandhi said that taught me the art of slowing down, where should I put it so that the plan makes sense?

I didn’t plan to write a certain range of word count. I didn’t have a deadline either.

The fact that I set a timer before starting to work during the next 25 minutes naturally nudges me to break the current project down into doable pieces, pretty much like the way we plan steps to reach our goals.

No discipline required. No more procrastination.

5. Harmonize with my Philosophy – Enjoy the Journey

The last point is the main reason motivating me to adopt Pomodoro into my life.

It’s my conviction that

The best way to ensure reaching a destination is to enjoy the journey

Whenever I set out to achieve something, I deliberately design my game plan in such a way that the execution requires as little discipline as possible.

I have a strong belief that discipline or willpower is of limited supply, so I plan to reserve it only for tough occasions.

In fact, I resist the temptation to try too hard too soon. Why? This deserves another post, so stay tuned.

Pomodoro allows this to happen.

At work, I don’t look ahead at the coming hours. I don’t even look forward to the coming break (more on that later). The only thing I care is that I need to work for the next 25’.

If I feel pain (pronounced “bored/lazy/procrastinate”), “oh, I’ll survive, somehow” (another favorite line from Witcher 3), it’s gonna be over soon, and the 5’ break is my savior.

On the other hand, at play, Pomodoro allows me to live the philosophy “Everything in moderation” (I explained it here).

IV. How I’ve used Pomodoro to make Work & Life more Enjoyable

1. When to use Pomodoro

Pomodoro works best with activities that

  • Last long hours, and/or
  • Require discipline/willpower, and/or
  • Require effort, and/or
  • Repeat regularly, and/or
  • You wish to spend less time, and/or
  • [Feel free to add to this list]

2. Select a Timer & Notes regarding its Usage

You can use the timer function in Clock app on iPhone or Android phone.

If you wear a smartwatch or Apple Watch, it’s super convenient to use the timer there by moving the app to the watch home screen.

Note: Do NOT use a kitchen timer, nor a Tomato shape timer like below, nor any kind of clock timer that you can put “in your face” on your desk.

 

Why?

Because it defeats our purpose of making work more enjoyable.

Would you like to have your boss watching over your shoulder CONSTANTLY over 8 hours/5 workdays???

Ok, I did exaggerate it a bit. But think! If you put the timer where you can see it, it would constantly nag you that you’re on the 25-minute countdown.

Now, how fun that is!

Having the timer constantly reminding me that the time is running out makes me anxious. Sure, it helps to boil the adrenaline. But not every time I’m at work. Being constantly on fire will eventually lead to being burned out, right?

Even worse, some people suggest using a kitchen timer, so that you can hear the sound of its clock ticking.

This “clock is ticking” idea is like setting an extra deadline for yourself, in addition to the deadline you already have to deal with on your job.

This clearly goes against my philosophy.

I don’t plan to use Pomodoro to instill a sense of urgency, nor to give me the impression that I must hurry up to get the thing done within this 25’.

No.

I aim at making my hard-working days look a LOT less like hard work, by dividing the lengthy working time into short sessions, and more breathable, by knowing that I’ll have multiple breaks in between.

The enhanced productivity resulting from applying Pomodoro technique should be treated as an added bonus.

However, if you’re all turned on listening to the ticking sound of the countdown, pretty much as being showcased in The Final Countdown song by Joey Tempest, lead singer of Europe rock band, you might be heading for trouble.

Why?

Because you might be using the ticking clock as a countdown to the upcoming break.

This, obviously defeats the purpose of using Pomodoro to getting things done, because we should be losing ourselves in the work, not looking forward to the break.

So, did I make my point clear enough? Don’t let the timer bother you throughout the 25’ duration.

In fact, I prefer a “set it and forget it” approach. I would set the timer on my phone or my watch, then go to work.

Time flies. And bam! Time’s up.

No pressure, no hassle.

Yes, people would argue that no pressure would probably mean slacking off. And what if I daydreamed, or got lost in web surfing?

And they’re absolutely right.

However, my experience tells me that, after a week or two, I got used to the rhyme and became more often aware of my driftings.

In case where I’m totally lost, no big deal! It must be that I’m up to something that means greatly to me, so a simple reminder would hardly make me stop (and so would you, admit it!). By the way, the alarm’s gonna sound off after 25 minutes and my dream will soon be over.

And here’s what you probably want also, to have someone (which is ourselves) to kindly, and occasionally, remind us that we’re at work, not to have a feeling that THAT someone who’s “here watching you kid!” 🤒.

Besides, productivity isn’t my primary motivation here. The most important thing is that I can enjoy my work and life at intervals, not “endure” it at intervals like the way people’ve been applying this technique 😉.

The way people use Pomodoro, in my opinion, seems to be similar to HIIT (High-intensity interval training – check out a comprehensive HIIT training here), a popular method of fitness. It’s a training technique, in which one performs short bursts of high-intensity exercises, followed by low-intensity exercises.

Again, HIIT worked wonder for me, for 2, 3 times a week. However, applying it every day is a different story.

3. How to use the Timer

After deciding the activity, set the timer for 25’, and start working.

If unexpected tasks occur, or if someone interrupts you, unless they’re urgent, either you schedule a proper time to address them, or leave them until the coming break.

Explain to them that you’re in the middle of something urgent, and tell them WHEN you will get back to them. Schedule this to your calendar.

When the alarm goes off, stop working, set the timer for 5’ break.

Now, many times I’m speeding up on the highway, and the timer goes off. I’d admit that it’s hard to take the exit, get out of the flow, then come back later and wonder how to take off again. Moreover, I fear I might forget an important idea I have in mind.

If you’re like me, feel free to finish what you’re doing before taking the break.

I’m fairly relaxed in this respect.

Also, I don’t take notes of how many Pomodoro sessions I complete per day, nor specific things that I did per session. It’s because my work is quite simple, where every day revolves around writing, editing, and developing/fixing EnjoyYrJourney blog.

If you work for clients, maybe it’s worthwhile to jot downs a few notes on the timesheet. Feel free to bend the rules.

Bonus: If you listen to music (any music lover here? I’m in love with instrumental) while working, you can set the timer to turn off the music on your devices.

Without music life would be a mistake ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Instead of getting the same boring reminder when the 25’ is over, the sudden stop of the music playback would kick you out of the zone.

Here I can show you how to do it on iPhone, iPad, or iTunes on your Mac (sorry Windows and Android users, I do have these devices, but I’m an Apple enthusiast).

So, for iPhone/iPad, you can turn off the music by using the Timer function in your Clock app. After setting the timer for 25’, click on “When Timer Ends” option, which opens a list of various ringtones. Scroll down to the bottom, select the option “Stop Playing”, then click “Set” at the top right of your device.

For iTunes on any Mac, we don’t have similar function ready, unfortunately. So, we’ll create a smart playlist, which contains all the songs we want, which duration lasts 25 minutes, so that our Mac stops playing music after running through all the songs in that list. I learn this setup from Alleny Gavin (2).

Please follow steps below:

i. Create a favorite playlist

Create a playlist that contains all the songs you’d like listening to.

In Music category of iTunes, right-click on the “All Playlists” on the left-hand side of iTunes window, select “New Playlist”.

Rename the list. I named it “Songs for Writing”.

To add songs, drag them to your list on the right side of the iTunes window.

ii. Create a smart playlist

Follow the same step above, right-click on the “All Playlists” and select “New Smart Playlist”.

This opens a new “Smart Playlist” window.

iii. Set the rules for your smart playlist

Tick the check-box “Match music (select “music” from the drop-down list) for the following rules”.

In the first box, change the option “Artist” to “Playlist” from the drop-down list.

In the third box, click on whatever shows up there and select [Name of the playlist you made in step i.]. For example, I have “Songs for Writing”.

Tick the check-box “Limit to”. Leave “25” in the fill-in box beside as is, and change the option “items” to “minutes” from the drop-down list. Leave the option “random” in the box next to “selected by” as is.

Your window should look like this

Click ok.

iv. Confirm duration of your smart playlist

Now, if your favorite playlist contains few songs for the Mac to choose, you might end up with a list that has duration UNDER 25 minutes, like me

If so, go back the rule-setting window (by clicking on “Edit Rules”) and increase the duration box 1, or 2 minutes. Try a few times. For me, I get the exact 25’ when limiting to 27’.

v. Ensure the “Repeat” option unticked

Now, the last step is to make sure the “Repeat” option unticked, so that your Mac stops playing as soon as it finishes the list.

Done! Enjoy the music.

You can change the songs by editing the rules to re-create a new list.

4. Take your break strategically, not habitually

A break is meant to give our brain and body time to refresh. So, during your break, it’s best to do something very different from what you’re working on.

I’m writing on my laptop, so if during my break I search web, watch YouTube, or check news on Facebook, etc., it would be taking a break from the work, but it wouldn’t be a break to the brain, nor the body.

Also, refrain from thinking/planning/finding ideas about whatever you’re working on. If you do that, your 5 minutes are not breaks, but rather pauses from your work.

During my breaks, I often meditate while walking around the house, doing housework, or while eating an apple (learn how to incorporate deep-breathing meditation into daily life in my post here). Such activities recharge my energy, clear my mind, and stretch my body.

You can’t believe how many things/activities you can do in just 5 minutes, if you give it some thoughts. Here’re some more to get you start: practice yoga posing, do a quick body massage, drink water, play with your pet/loved ones.

5. Working with colleagues/clients

This one is tricky. If your relationship is close enough, you may explain the technique and its benefits to others, and encourage them to try.

By the way, if you have poor salesmanship, like me, you can always point them to this post (I appreciate it!).

What’s more, everybody wins, when somebody shares (Jim Rohn). The others might consider that you treat them close enough to share something you believe, so that enhances your relationship, too.

Moreover, it’ll give the two of you something interesting (of course, otherwise I wouldn’t bother writing 4,000 words about it) to talk about (other than the “Looks like it’s about to rain today, don’t you think?”).

Plus, it’ll also give you two something to work together with. Working together is a great way to bond a relationship.

6. Use Pomodoro to Enjoy Your Playtime even more

Now, the idea of making playtime more enjoyable by timing and interrupting the activity seems absurd, right?

Well, head to this post to see if I can win you round.

We’ve all heard the saying: “Work hard, play hard”. Although we don’t spend as much time at play as we do at work, the physical and mental energy, emotion, and effort that we spend on our leisure activities and hobbies are equally intense, if not more, compared to our work.

If you don’t believe me, try playing computer game for 8 hours straight like the way you’d spend your time at work, and you’ll see what I mean.

So, for those meaningless harmful vices, entertainment and hobbies, set a timer of 25’ and prepare to stop when your need is 2/3 (65%) fulfilled.

When the time’s up, ask yourself this question

“Am I still feeling blue/hungry/thirsty/drowsy/lonely?”

If you honestly need more, set a new timer for another 25’ or less and repeat the process.

7. Be flexible, set your own rules

By now you’ve already got the main ideas of how Pomodoro works and how to apply it to your life.

Try it out my way.

I’ve got great results applying this technique. It doesn’t work every time though, yet I try to improve the technique along the way.

Once you’ve tried it out my way, feel free to break the rules in any way that works for you.

  • You can vary the duration. Some freelancers prefer 30’ blocks, as they charge clients that way; while others might settle in 10’ blocks. Or you might have only 15 minutes left before jumping to another appointment, then set a timer of 15’.
  • You can set different durations for different kinds of activities, as long as they are not too long so you don’t exert yourself too much, and not too short so you don’t ruin the fun. Practice moderation in all things.
  • You may change the ringtone to be more uplifting and inspiring.

=> Don’t rigidly follow the rules. The technique exists to help you enjoy your work and play, it’s not meant to control you. You control the technique, you master the technique, then bend it to make it work for you, no matter who told you you must do such and such to make it work. Rules are meant to be broken. So, feel free to break MY RULES (I’m happy with that, because you prove that you’re a student, not a follower).

This technique is a major tool that helps me enjoy my journey.

Suppose you buy my philosophy, why not give it a try?

And let me know your twist, and how it works out for you.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. Everybody wins, when somebody shares!

and until I see you again, be a student, not a follower!

 

References

(1) Cirillo, F. (2016). The Pomodoro Technique: Do more and have fun with time management. Cirillo Consulting GMBH. Retrieved from https://cirillocompany.de/pages/pomodoro-technique/book/

(2) Gavin, A. (2016). All You Will Ever Need to Know About iTunes Sleep Timer. MobiKin. Retrieved from https://www.mobikin.com/idevice/itunes-sleep-timer.html

The True Meaning of Gratitude & How to Harness its Power to Transform Life

Last Updated: May.10.18

Gratitude Journal

I’m grateful for the food I eat…

I’m grateful for my friend…

I’m grateful for my partner, who…

 

So, in your quest for finding out how to cultivate gratitude habit, you stumble upon this page. Dear friend! We’re on the same side! But first, let’s talk about what motivate people to practice gratitude and its true meaning.

I’ve been seeking for ways to practice gratitude. So, it must mean that I’m an ingrate, thoughtless kind of guy, who blankly denies all the blessings that my country, the people, and the good Lord have bestowed upon me, right?

Not quite. I’m aware all those. But I’m on the path toward personal transformation, and since I’ve heard all kinds of good stuff about gratitude, so I’m eager to learn more.

Sounds like you?

And to save you the research time, let me hand you my list of all the benefits that people have attributed to gratitude habit. The list is very impressive, indeed. Here it is:

Top 10 Reasons You Should Practice Gratitude

1.Better Health – Improved Sleep, Strengthened Immune System, to

2.Work Harder on Personal Goals, which lead to

3.Better You @ Work

4.and @ Home/Social Relationships, which means

5.Higher Self-esteem & More Acceptance of Others

6.Mind Massage to make the Past/Tragedy more Bearable, in order to

7.Overcome Stress, Loss & Crisis

8.More Contentment

9.Less Depressed & Happier

10.Become more Forgiving & Spiritual

 

But then later, I saw something phony about this list. Well, the problem with this list is that they all end up benefiting ME.

ME!

ME!

ME!

So what, you ask? Suppose you’re trying to cultivate a grateful attitude toward your mom and her unconditional love, appreciate everything she has done so far, all the things that she did FOR you, and BECAUSE OF you…

…so that you will have better health?

……will work harder on yourself and your goals??

………will become happier and more spiritual???

See the phony here? I wonder, isn’t this one of the reasons contributing to the fact that the young become less and less enthusiastic about having babies these days, perhaps because we have first-hand experience of knowing what a bunch of selfish children we are.

Now, let’s take a different approach. Think about someone, whom you regard to be the most grateful person on Earth.

What is he like?

How does he live?

What sort of work does he perform?

Do you think for a moment that he’s practicing gratitude routine daily, asking himself what should he be grateful for, then writing them down in a journal?

Yeah, right, unless he’s a spiritual guru, making a living by teaching the rest of us how to be grateful.

No, the most grateful person on Earth is not busy making a better life for himself. He’s busy with helping other people make better lives for themselves.

The definition of gratefulness, according to Collins dictionary is:

If you are grateful for something that someone has given you or done for you, you have warm, friendly feelings towards them and wish to thank them

To me, the “thanking” part is the real motivation behind gratitude. It’s the one that gives true meaning to being grateful.

~o~

Now, what about the how-to part? I must confess that, I’m super good in this respect. It was easy to be thankful for all the blessings in life. Don’t believe me? I give you 2 examples.

1. Open any local newspapers, at anytime of the year, and read the headlines. In Florida people have been struggling with Hurricane Irma. In Santa Rosa wildfire survivors have no place to live. In Boston, people are struggling with frostbite and extreme weathers. Just last week, 20 people were killed by mudslides in Santa Barbara…A quick look through and all I can say are 4 words: “Thank God, not me!”

2. Every year, we’d like to travel to faraway lands, to under-developed or developing countries, NOT in order to stand in awe of how people could survive with such a low income and under poor living conditions, but to remind ourselves how fortunate we’re, to reside in a rich, developed, and civilized country.

How easy it is, to be thankful for all the blessings in life! In the old days, I used to be guilty of such pervert way of “cultivating” gratitude.

How about this common approach? Often people said to me: “Be thankful because you have something to eat!”, or something like that, whenever I was playing ignorant or showing ingratitude.

I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet (From someone wise)

You might have heard of this Power of Words (YouTube) story about a beggar with this sign:

  

Frankly, I’ve grown irritated about the be-thankful-because-you-have-something-to-eat mentality. That’s not gratitude, but, to paraphrase Paulo Coelho, a sick way to find consolation for our despicable situation, by comparing ours to others’, who are not as fortunate as us.

The flaw in such kind of thinking is that, on our way to make peace with the problems in life, make sure we look down a lot! We need to stop looking up at those who achieve more than us, who are more successful, and seem to be happier (or should I say, stop checking out those vain, self-satisfied selfies flooded on Facebook and other social media networks).

Because if we don’t, our comparison would backfire. How can you be thankful and content with what you have by comparing against others, who are more beautiful, healthier, wealthier, basically more everything, than you?

I. The True Meaning of Gratitude

I’ve learned that:

  • Gratitude isn’t another emotional bandage.
  • Ultimately, cultivating gratitude doesn’t end with having a better life.
  • Cultivating gratitude isn’t about comparing the cards that life has handed me to others’.

Instead,

Gratitude is the highest form of Positive Thinking

The essence of positive thinking is looking for the gems hidden inside every life event we encounter, so that we make the best use of it. When you say “The glass is half full”, you’re not just cheering yourself up by affirming the fact that you still have a half glass of water, but you also focus your mind on looking for ways to make the best use of the remaining water.

And if you practice positive thinking long enough, you would come to an inevitable conclusion that everything happens for a reason, and that reason is bound to move you toward achieving your goal.

Now, gratitude goes much further than that.

You realize not only that life is your ultimate teacher (which means you remain forever a student), but also that you’re obligated to make the best use of the lessons to repay life’s favors

Dear friend, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. Life is the ultimate teacher, forever waiting for our arrival. The thing is, we only recognize this fact, when we have a clear set of problem and go in search of a solution.

And that means we must have goals. With our goals in mind, everything/everyone we encounter is our teacher, whose mission of showing up in our lives is to teach us valuable lessons to reach our goals.

Trust me. With such philosophy, you won’t have to crack your brain days and nights wondering “I’m so miserable, what am I grateful for, anyway?”.

I’m a student of life. Every day I try to see:

  • Every bad deed as a test of endurance, if being done to me; or as a warning of a bad example not to follow, if being done to others.
  • Every good deed as a good example to follow.
  • Every failure as a test of patience and a lesson.
  • Every success as a test of contentment and a warning against greediness.

And so,

  • Thank you, my friend, for giving a damn, about my thoughts & feelings, my lessons & failures, my dreams & obsessions, my inspirations & diversions, my ramblings & psychosis.
  • Thank you, for not giving a damn, about, but you wouldn’t give a damn, anyway.
  • Thank you, for loving me unconditionally, so that I learned that, after all, I’m still lovable, and curable.
  • Thank you for making me love you, so that I learned, after all, I’m still capable of love.
  • Thank you, for turning my love into hatred, so that I learned, that there’s such a thin line between love & hatred; because, after all, they’re two sides of the same thing called selfishness.
  • Thank you, for not loving me, so that I learned, after all, you aren’t the only love of my life.
  • Thank you, honey, welcome to my life. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy your stay.
  • Thank you, friend, for leaving my life in such a hurry, as your departure inspired me to part ways with my miserable old-self, too.
  • Thank you, those who challenged my decisions, as this forced me to question the things that I thought I were passionate about, and reinforced the desire to pursue my dreams.
  • Thank you, those who, despite not choosing it, yet being affected by it, still allowed and supported me on this path.
  • Thank you, those motherfuckers, for giving me one more reason to succeed.
  • Thank you, those who turned my life “upside down, so that I could learn, how to live, right side up”*.
  • Thank you, Rumi the Past, for everything that you did/did not do, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today; every sins you committed, and suffered subsequently, so that I won’t have to repeat them; every mistakes & stupidities you made, in order to teach Rumi the Present & Rumi the Future the proper way to say “Yes Ma’am/Sir” to whomever calling him “Rumi The Fool”.
  • Thank you, teachers, for enlightening the path behind, around, and ahead of me.

Now, there’s no bad teacher, only poor student! And the best way I can thank my teachers is to live their teachings, become an example of their teachings, and spread them as far as I can.

I believe this “student of life” attitude is a more “genuine” and “human” way to cultivate gratitude habit. If we’re truly grateful for whatever blessing that life has bestowed upon us, we wouldn’t let it go to waste. We’d want to make the best use of the gift given to us, and one day pay it back.

That way, success, failure, good luck, or bad luck…all now have deeper meanings, because they teach us valuable lessons to reach our goals. We need to cultivate such attitude, if we want to become an awakened dream-walker.

And for those who are still not convinced of the “pay back” part, then perhaps “enlightened self-interest” is worth considering.

If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path ~ Buddha

II. Tips to Apply the Student Philosophy to Cultivate Gratitude

Here’re some tips that I’ve used:

1. STOP making yourself sound like a hypocrite and thus ruin your day by NOT:

  • starting/ending your day by being thankful that you’re alive & feeling grateful for all the good things in your life; nor
  • pausing a moment before you eat, or throughout your day, to count the miracles and blessings given to you.

2. DO these instead:

i. Start your day by feeling grateful to your past self for one decision/action/endeavor that you made, after writing down your goal statement (Why? Please refer to goal-setting guide part 2). If succeeded, contemplate on its impact on your life; if failed, its lesson.

Then, appreciate the fact that you have one more day to do the work that you love,or to make a new start, this time much wiser (if you’ve already started taking the path). Otherwise, be grateful for one aspect of your current job that allows you to move closer to your goals. Ex: It could be the technical know-how that enables you to find freelance work in the future.

(Use a note app to record these thoughts if you have time, but it’s not a must)

ii. Set a reminder to pause during the day and review one specific incident that has occurred. Ask yourself:

  • In what way does this event help me move closer to my goals?
  • What lesson do I learn here? How to apply this lesson to become a better me?

(Write your notes in a note app, call it a Gratitude Journal)

iii. At night, after writing down your goal statement, end your day by recalling one bad deed/offense/injustice/indignity that had been done TO you in the past, ask yourself:

a. If I were the other party, who committed the offense, what excuse could I give myself to explain for such act? (If you can’t think of any possible excuse, or if you start by accusing how wrong the deed was, stop this incident right now, recall another one instead)

b. With regard to the way I reacted/responded/my emotion/thoughts, what did the event teach me about myself?

c. How differently would I respond, if the incident happened today?

d. What lesson have I learned from this event? How have I applied/How do I plan to apply the lesson to become a better me?

(Record these notes in your Gratitude Journal)

Regarding those incidents that you stop, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do the gratitude exercise on them. It simply means they are still “fresh” in your mind. I’ve found that it’s easier to do this exercise on old events. In fact, the older the better, after trauma had passed, and anger subsided. Besides, time heals all wounds. Sure! But if you fail to give them cosmetic surgery once in a while, you risk having your heart and soul full of bitter scars for the rest of your life.

iv. Review & update your Gratitude Journal weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. Everybody wins, when somebody shares!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

 

* Correct me if I’m wrong, it seems to me this quote was taken from the movie Not Easily Broken?

Eugene the Poet – the Hero of My Life

Last Updated: May.10.18

Transcript for Eugene the librarian’s performance (copied from Librarians on YouTube (1)):

[scene opens with a gangly looking man (with buck teeth and thick glasses) sitting backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: [in voice over] And someone hoping they have what it takes to get them through to the next round is … Eugene.

[cut to Eugene speaking directly to the camera]

EUGENE: My name’s Eugene, I’m thirty-seven, I’m a librarian.

[cut to Stephen and Eugene backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: Eugene … 

EUGENE: [shakes his hand] Pleased to meet you.

[cut back to Eugene speaking directly to the camera]

EUGENE: I’ve come here today to share my passion for poetry with all who want to listen. I understand that the judges aren’t great fans of poetry, but I feel I have the personality and the charisma to win them round.

[cut to Stephen and Eugene backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: What about the “girl” side of things?

EUGENE: I’ve always been a magnet to the ladies.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Yeah? You got a girlfriend?

EUGENE: Not yet.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Right. What sort of girl would you look for?

EUGENE: One that says “yes.”

STEPHEN MULHERN: Nice.

[cut back to Eugene speaking directly to the camera]

EUGENE: I’m gonna go out there, on that stage, and I’m going to be a white knight on the stallion of poetry.

[cut to Eugene on stage in front of the three judges and the studio audience]

EUGENE: Good evening.

SIMON COWELL: Hello, what’s your name?

EUGENE: My name’s Eugene.

SIMON COWELL: Alright, do you wanna get on with it?

EUGENE: I’m here tonight to share with you my passion. Poetry.

[Piers Morgan immediately presses his buzzer, but Eugene provides no reaction and simply continues his act]

EUGENE: May I present to you my ode to “Britain’s Got Talent” …

“You’ll never make it through,” they said

“They’re bound to choose another.

“You are a loser, always were.”

So I said, “Thank you mother.”

But I am no contortionist

I can’t juggle with a ball.

I haven’t got a friendly pet

I’ve got no friends at all.

Or I could do some magic.

Oh, that much is clear

For when I enter a crowded room

The girls just disappear.

It doesn’t really matter, though

‘Cause I’ll try any trick

Just to get me on the show

To tell Piers he’s a … A genius with his finger on the pulse of popular culture.

I may go through tonight, or not

Of that I do not know.

But at least I can say to my girls

That Daddy’s given it a go.

[the audience applauds wildly]

EUGENE: Thank you very much.

SIMON COWELL: I’m gonna hand over to someone who may wanna start with a little apology … Piers.

PIERS MORGAN: [laughs] I’m sorry, for buzzing you. Uh, because actually, that was a very funny act.

AMANDA HOLDEN: I thought it was very well-written, and you made me laugh.

SIMON COWELL: It’s the first time that anyone like you’s ever had a standing ovation, so that was pretty remarkable.

EUGENE: Thank you very much.

SIMON COWELL: Piers, yes or no?

PIERS MORGAN: Uh, I’m going to say yes, Eugene.

AMANDA HOLDEN: I’m gonna say yes.

SIMON COWELL: Eugene, you got three yeses. Congratulations.

[cut to Stephen and Eugene backstage]

STEPHEN MULHERN: Congratulations.

EUGENE: Thank you very much.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Yeah.

EUGENE: Can’t believe I managed to turn Piers around.

STEPHEN MULHERN: I know.

EUGENE: And he apologized.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Says a lot.

EUGENE: No one’s ever apologized to me …

STEPHEN MULHERN: Have they … have they not?

EUGENE: For anything they’ve ever said. And they’ve said some things.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Have they? Well, like what?

EUGENE: Not nice things.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Give me an example.

EUGENE: I’d not like to go into it right now.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Okay, sorry. Do you reckon you’ll get to the semi?

EUGENE: I’ve already had a standing ovation from two thousand people. I can die happy now.

STEPHEN MULHERN: Nice to meet you.

EUGENE: And you.

I’ve always got a burning desire to become a poet. The first time that desire was ignited was the day I met the first love of my life. And the first time I discovered my talent and potential for poetry was when I sat down to write a love poem for her. Turned out, it was a bit shorter than I’d expected. Let me recite it to you:

“I love ?, but she isn’t”

(note that I only edit 1 word in it)

So, you now know how I knew, that poetry will forever remain a distant dream of my life!

Yet I still enjoy a fine line or well-written verse once in a while. Now, it makes no difference to me, whether this guy is real or fake (someone reported (2) that Eugene is an alter-ego of a wannabe poet), this poet has been a source of inspiration to me.

Every time I watch the clip, it relives my enthusiasm, strengthens the courage to pursue my passion. He, in many ways, is different from me; and yet, in some ways, I find myself reflected upon him, in his endeavor to pursue his dream.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a passion for poetry. The art of juggling the lyrics, the meaning of the words, and the rhyme, it’s a mystery to me.

However, and this is where the adventure began, he dreamed of sharing his passion by delivering a standing ovation, in front of thousands of people in Britain’s Got Talent audience, and millions more watching the show around the world. So, in this regard, he’s my hero.

Below are the lessons I’ve learned from him:

  • Eugene wanted to share his love for poetry with all who want to listen. What a clever way to share your passion! Share it, only to those who want to listen. He didn’t wish to win everyone’s affection, he just wanted to share with those who appreciate what he had to offer.
  • This point is further validated by the way Eugene responded to Piers’ pressing the buzzer. He simply ignored it, and started reciting his poem. You can see that he showed no facial expression for the attack (and yes, I’d call it attack, had anyone done the same thing with regard to my passion), he didn’t bother to defend himself, he just moved on.

It’s quite entertaining to watch two parties arguing back and forth about something that matters dearly to them, but we would easily become hypersensitive when someone raises a negative opinion against our own thing. We immediately turn on the defensive mode, go into a rage trying to talk that fellow out of it.

I’ve already passed that class! I mean, I wouldn’t do it anymore, because I’ve learned that’s unwise. There’s nothing to win or lose, right or wrong here. It’s just a matter of different experience, different beliefs.

It’s hard to make me right, and it’s even harder to make the other person wrong. The best way is learning to respond like Eugene, you ignore, and thus evade the attack. Note that you do NOT deflect the attack, because, after all, it’s merely a psychological attack. Then keep doing what you do best.

  • That’s a proper response to attacks by those who hold different opinions than ours. The same also holds true with regard to the “good” advice, given by our negative, cynical, and mediocre friends and relatives, who often pretend to want the best for us.

“You’ll never make it through,” they said

“They’re bound to choose another.”

“You are a loser, always were.”

So I said, “Thank you mother.”

I have to admit, this guy has invented a wonderful use for this phrase, apart from its “traditional” application. “Thank you mom!”, learn to say this kind and sarcastic “thank you” to those who keep pulling your strings with unwanted advice.

 

“…But I am no contortionist

I can’t juggle with a ball.

I haven’t got a friendly pet

I’ve got no friends at all”

  • At this point, the audience laughed. I don’t think they laughed because the lyrics sound funny. I saw a different kind of laugh. It’s an encouraging laugh that comes from empathy, experience things from his perspective, from a common understanding, because perhaps all of us, at sometime or other, used to be like him. So, we know what it feels like, to be a no-body, with nothing to play, and no one to share (any lone wolf around here?).

“How does it feel, how does it feel?

To be on your own, with no direction home

A complete unknown, like a rolling stone”

(Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone)

If YOU were a stranger to such a scenario, I must say that, you’ve missed a great deal in life, my friend. Maybe the wheel of fortune has cast lots of blessings upon you, or you’ve played it too safe. Either way, one day, things may turn in reverse. The wheel could take you down just as swiftly as when it lifted you up.

What’s more, without having been through that scenario, no matter what you do, there would be some souls you can’t ever connect, because you never see what they saw, nor hear what they heard, nor feel what they felt.

Imagine how fun it is to enjoy a wonderful movie, NOT by watching it, but by listening to someone, who watched it, and retell the story back to you.

Thus, I sincerely urge you to start the journey you’ve been putting off, charging your own path. True, it’s a lonely adventure, taking the road less traveled, paving your own path. Yet, taking such a journey is the only way that life could grant us meaning and wisdom.

And yet, have I ever told you, that after all, we’re forever alone, during our most struggling moments in life, our trials between the black and white, the good and bad, and our battles at birth and death?

  • And what do we, the ordinary folks, who appear thriving outside, yet rotten inside, call a man who turns misfortune into fortune?

A genius? A miracle worker? A magician?

Sadly, no. We call him a clown!

We don’t say out loud though, we treat him that way. And if you look carefully, most famous clowns of our times are those who managed to turn the tragedies of their lives and others’ into great comedies (Research (3) did show that comedians tend to use comedies as a form of self-medication). The ones immediately come to my mind are Charlie Chaplin, Richard Pryor, and Robin Williams.

Deep despairs often give birth to great triumphs

“…Or I could do some magic.

Oh, that much is clear

For when I enter a crowded room

The girls just disappear”

Learn to laugh at yourself, to bring more laughter into your life and others’.

 

“I may go through tonight, or not

Of that I do not know.

But at least I can say to my girls

That Daddy’s given it a go.”

  • A lot of us assume success must be achieving something dear, larger-than-life, some big accomplishments that get broadcast on the news. Although this guy didn’t make it to final round, but to him, what he did was pure success, in realizing his dream of performing a standing ovation to share his passion for poetry. He can die happy now, as he said in later interview.

Likewise, out there, many people are silently working to pursue their dreams. It might take them 1 year, 3 years, or 10 years. It doesn’t matter how long. The only thing that matters is that, what they have been doing yesterday, today, and tomorrow matter to them, and that makes all the difference.

Life, however short, is still too long to bear the dullness from doing the meaningless work day by day, merely because that’s what we did yesterday.

What about you? What is your dream? What wakes you up tomorrow, yearning to do? What are you waiting for?

My friend, I wasted 10 years of my life working on things that promise success and prosperity in the future, things that I have little interest. I wasted 10 years being afraid of fighting for something that I really give a damn. I wasted 10 years to learn that, unlike investment, happiness postponed today, won’t bear dividend tomorrow.

Happiness is the juice, that we must squeeze, from the everyday things we do.  

So, if you’re like me, learn my lesson, gather the courage to become a dream-walker, go after your dream. Perhaps you’ve been hesitated because of fear of failure. You’re right. Mistakes and failures are inevitable on any journey to pursue what we want. 

But fear not! For I’ve a comprehensive guide to deal with this issue. I call it the Art of becoming an Awakened Dream-walker. The art shows you how to take advantage of all the challenges and obstacles on your journey, so that failure no longer frustrates, but inspires and enlightens you on your path.

Head here for the guide.

 

It’s a shame that this clip hasn’t attracted that many views, I think it deserves more attention than what it’s currently is. So if you enjoy his performance, hit the like button on the video*, or share it via your network.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until I see you again, good luck on the path!

 

* Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, otherwise I am not associated with any of the recommended products/services/websites on EnjoyYrJourney.com

 

References

(1) Librarians on YouTube (2012). Case Study No. 0304: Eugene the Librarian. Retrieved from http://librarians-on-youtube.blogspot.com/2012/05/case-study-no-0304-eugene-librarian.html

(2) Candice Krieger (2009). Adam Gitlin storms YouTube with his nerd alter-ego, Eugene. The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.thejc.com/news/people/adam-gitlin-storms-youtube-with-his-nerd-alter-ego-eugene-1.10083

(3) Ando, V., Claridge, G., Clark, K. (2014). Psychotic traits in comedians. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 204, 341-345. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.113.134569

(Text retrieved from http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/bjprcpsych/204/5/341.full.pdf)

How To Have Better Sex With Those You Love – Too Much of a Good Thing could be Too Much & What to Do about It

M: “Wise One, have you ever hated the thing you love?”*

Before you start, let me clarify this. First, I thought the word “those” in the title should be “the things” (no, not THOSE things 🤭!).

But on my second thought, since the former appears to be a better “bait”, I decided to leave it there. The title should have been “Too Much of a Good Thing could be Too Much & What to Do about It”.

I had a dream, not noble nor great like the one that Martin Luther King had. My dream was to play Witcher 3 game on PC, when it was released 2 years ago. Playing computer game has always been my passion since I was a child.

And to make my dream come true, I even invested about 3,300 USD to get a top-of-the-line Alienware laptop, a significant amount compared to my income back then.

Actually, $1,500 could play the game just fine. But you know, when it comes to things that you love, “fine” is a shameful compromise. You want only the best.

So, I got the laptop, installed the game, gathered as much time as I could, got myself ready, and enjoyed Geralt’s adventures.

Only for a while!

As best as I could remember, after about a month or so, I lost my desire to play. Although I hadn’t finished the game, I no longer felt that much enthusiastic. Sure, it’s still fun to play. But, besides, I started to feel guilty about playing the game excessively.

I’d fallen into the trap of having too much of a good thing. The same thing might have happened to you. Let me play another scene.

You go shopping. And after turning into a corner, you smell of XYZ, your favorite food. The store is nearby, and you happen to feel hungry (Oh boy! How come such coincidence happens that often!). And so, it’s the nth time, which you’ve lost count, that you bought so much more food than you could eat. You sit there, scold yourself for being too piggy while struggling to finish whatever left, because 

1. Mom told you that it’s bad to throw away food, and 

2. This one’s your favorite. 

Hang on a second. Did you just say that it’s your favorite food? No, I lied about that. It’s my favorite food WHEN I’m hungry.

Sometime, somehow or other, we all are victims of such trap, “desire too much of a good thing”, to quote William Shakespeare.

There’re many meanings regarding what is considered to be “good”, but I’m not gonna start a philosophical debate here. My definition is simple, “good” in this sense refers to something desirable. Now whether such desirable things are beneficial or harmful, that’s another question of our intelligence. So,

You’ve landed that dream job.

You’ve planned lots of things to do and places to visit for the next vacation in that favorite country.

You’ve just discovered your life purpose, and that you have a passion for writing (sounds trouble to me!).

You’ve just quit your day job, and dreamed of having all the time you can get to do the ONE thing that you love. Why? Because “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”, a cliche that I’ve “heard” many people, too many that I care to remember, who said that it’s the one thing that made many OTHER people successful (sorry for the sarcasm!).

So what?

It’s tough luck trying to enjoy 16-hours days on your dream job, or to blissfully rush around to checkmark your to-play list during your holiday.

High hopes are often accompanied by great despairs!

I’ve found out that, unfortunately, no matter how much fun that I have, staying on top of my love is still hard labor to me. And after 8 hours, I’m exhausted.

I’ve learned the lesson. Sometimes, having too much of a good thing is too much.

~o~

These days, I try to practice Socrates’s advice:

Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess

My translation: Don’t overindulge in things that we desire.

Again, whether the things that we desire add to our well-being, or satisfy our vices, it is another question. So, please, don’t twist my words for this.

A common misunderstanding of this wise quote is to take it to be that we can have everything, as long as it is in moderation. No! If the thing is a poison, should you have it in moderation? Of course no! Only a fool would do that! You said?

Yeah right. But you’re wising off on the wrong man, let me show you many others, who had done, are doing, and will be doing so. In fact, there’s one you might be familiar with, Rumi The Fool! If you suffer an ingrained addiction, you should have first-hand experience that any amount is NEVER okay.

So, I think it’s worthwhile to remind you of Oscar Wilde, who said: “Everything in moderation…including moderation”. Take the middle way, practice being moderate in all things.

By moderation, for me, it means 65%, or 2/3, of what would normally give me full satisfaction. Where do I get such idea? From economics, the “law of diminishing return”, which states that:

“…in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant (“ceteris paribus”), will at some point yield lower incremental per-unit returns. The law of diminishing returns does not imply that adding more of a factor will decrease the total production…” (wiki)

Suppose I’m bored to death, the law states that I’d get a lot more fun (my return) during my first 30’ of playing Witcher game (my investment) than the next 30’. Keep playing, and my satisfaction goes up slower and slower (hence lower incremental return on time invested), until exhaustion and guilt set in.

So I’d be better off stopping the game after one hour to get the best value from my time. Note that I don’t necessarily need to be fully satisfied, as reaching that level requires much more time due to the diminishing return.

Besides, I’d rather leave my need unfulfilled to retain my interest, thus ensure high return on my time investment in the next session. Thus,

Stop when you’re 2/3 of the way 

Below is the strategy I use to apply this idea in daily life:

A. For Basic Needs

If it’s a need (or a vice, I should say), stop at 2/3 before your need is fulfilled. Now I know that there’re exceptions, for example, sleep.

One problem with “full” or “2/3” is that they are subjective measurements. And due to my tendency to crave for more with regard to the things I want, I wouldn’t trust myself when I say “My need hasn’t been fully satisfied, I need to have more”.

So, I use this question to know whether it’s time to stop an activity:

“Am I still feeling blue/hungry/thirsty/drowsy/lonely?”

I learned this question from Dan Buettner (1), who promotes the idea of stop eating when we are 80% full, or “hara hachi bu”.

With regard to eating, Gemma Sampson (2), a dietitian specializing in performance nutrition for endurance sports, advises to consume your meal slowly, so that your brain has time to register how full your stomach is. That means for those who have a habit of having lunch at your desk, you need to consciously plan a reasonable amount of time.

Now, how much is 65%? It depends. “Know thyself”. If you do eat your meal slowly, after a while, you will get a good idea of the amount.

Back to the topic, set a timer (use your phone; or, if you wear Apple Watch or a smartwatch, it’s super convenient to use the timer there by moving the app to the watch home screen) of 25 minutes.

When the time’s up, ask yourself the question “Am I still feeling blue/hungry/thirsty/drowsy/lonely?”. If you honestly need more, set a new timer for another 25 minutes or less and repeat the process.

B. For Things that Contribute to Well-being

For those things that are beneficial to us, no matter whether you like them or not, such as working, exercising, moving out of comfort zone, developing good habits, spending time with family/friends, etc., use a different question.

When your 25 minutes is up, ask yourself:

“Am I still comfortable continuing this?”

If the answer is “Kind of”, consider it’s time to stop. Even if you’re confident you can do more, stop yourself when you’re just above comfortable. Move out of your comfort zone, yet not too far. Don’t stretch yourself too much.

Now, how do you know when you’re merely above comfortable level? It’s a subjective question that involves trials-and-errors.

However, if an activity requires continuing for a long time, like working, instead of stopping, you take a 5 minutes break, and repeat the process.

~o~

Follow this strategy, and you will enjoy those things you love, without one day finding yourself, like I used to be, hating the loves of your life.

And what’s more? You can apply this philosophy in sex as well, don’t overdo it.

Uh, I mean the philosophy only, not the “2/3” formula, save me the trouble of having to explain to your partner afterward.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

 

* W: “Yes, whenever I’m mistaken it to be the only thing that I have”.

 

References

(1) Buettner, D. (2011). Enjoy Food and Lose Weight with One Simple Phrase. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thrive/201101/enjoy-food-and-lose-weight-one-simple-phrase

(2) Sampson, G. (2014). What does everything in moderation really mean?. Retrieved from http://dietitianwithoutborders.com/what-does-everything-in-moderation-really-mean/

Deep-breathing Meditation – How to Practice & Incorporate into Daily Life

Last Updated: May.10.18

I have a few interesting questions I love to ask you:

1. Are you aware that you’re breathing, right now?

2. Are you aware that you’re thinking, while listening to me, right now?

3. Are you aware that you’re talking to yourself, right now? (I imagine someone would respond like “What the heck does that mean? This guy is a weirdo. Am I talking to myself? I’m not talking to myself. Wait a second…”)

So, you’re all breathing, thinking, and talking to yourself. Me too. We all are. Now,

Who/What is the entity that is aware of such activities?

You know that you’re breathing, thinking, talking. So that means we are two entities here: 1. You 2. The breather/The thinker/The talker.

And such acknowledgment, we call it mindfulness. By dictionary, mindfulness is, and I quote:

A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique

Today I want to share with you one way to nurture mindfulness – Deep-breathing Meditation.

For me, meditation is not simply a technique, nor a strategy. It’s my way of life. It’s my way of being, living, working, and playing.

Meditation. Now, people tend to have a vision of a saint, very peaceful and serene, sitting quietly on a cushion, meditates. And then they imagine themselves, sitting on their asses, on a bed, rarely a cushion, pretending to be quiet outside, and chaotic inside, striving to be miserably happy, and awake. And because the two imaginary scenes contradict each other too much, they just shake their head, decide that meditation is not for them.

What if I tell you that, you can practice deep-breathing meditation while running, eating, even working?

What if I tell you that, you can meditate, pretty much the same way like you’re breathing, thinking, talking to yourself, all day long, even when you’re not aware of it?

What if I tell you that, meditation has been the key that unlocked my transformation, allowed me to quit smoking, gather the courage to pursue my dreams, and develop all the good habits that have dramatically altered my life?

I don’t exaggerate one bit. Meditation is the savior of my life. In fact, if there’s one activity/hobby/habit that I would do from now on for the rest of my life, it’d be this one.

I used to be in awe and perplexed of all those great saints and spiritual masters of the world, who are enlightened, who seem so calm and serene, who seem to be immune, not affected, nor moved by any disturbance in life, and wonder:

What’s the point of living a life with blank emotion?

What’s the point of being human, yet possessing a heart of stone?

What’s the joy of living an emotionless life?

Doesn’t that make us become like a brainless zombie (I’d been watching too much of Resident Evil and the walking dead series you know)?

So, my curiosity led me to study what enlightenment is all about, and what I’ve found is that: these masters do have emotions like the rest of us. They do have fear, anger, sadness, joy, etc.

However, they are not attached to these emotions. Likewise, they are not attached to their thoughts, nor suppress them. They know that thoughts and emotions are products of the mind’s judgments, whether something is good or bad; whereas they themselves (or the eternal soul if you will) are separate from the thinking mind. An analogy is seeing the thinking mind as a wild horse, and these saints have mastered the art of taming their horse.

It all starts with being aware of, and detached from their own thoughts, becoming an observer.

This is truly an art of living. Words are limited in the ability to express meditation experience, you have to try it to see for yourself. I’m only a beginner on this journey. And with deep sincerity, I invite you to take this path.

Learning and incorporating deep-breathing into daily life is a long journey. Don’t let that discourage you. You’ll see for yourself that, it is not simply a tactic, a hack, a shortcut, a mind trick, etc. that we’d like to put on, as a means to achieve something that we want, and then take off, once we’re done.

No.

Deep-breathing meditation is a way to foster mindfulness, so we can focus on the present moment in a non-judgmental way. By focusing on our deep and rhythmic breaths, the mind remains calm and tranquil.

How?

Well, I give you TWO analogies. It’s extremely hard to keep calm and (ok, not THAT calm 😶!) remain a dead fish while listening to that dance and EDM playlist in your favorite nightclub. In the same vein, it’s extremely hard to get turned on while attending a funeral.

And once you have a taste of its benefits, you wouldn’t believe how you’d lived your life without it.

I. Deep-breathing Meditation    

For starters, aim just 2 minutes for each session. Make it easy, no pressure. Increase the time once you get the hang of it. Go through the following steps:

A. The “Simplified” Version

Basically, find a quiet place, you either sit on a chair or a cushion. Make yourself comfortable. Place one hand (doesn’t matter right or left)  in the other with palms upwards. Keep the tips of the thumbs slightly raised and gently touching. Close your eyes.

Clear your mind. Now, slowly inhale through your nose for 3 seconds. Hold your breath, silently count to 2. Then, slowly exhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Pay attention to your breaths. Repeat.

Whenever you notice your thinking mind wanders somewhere else, gently direct your thought back to the breathing.

Do NOT “try” to keep your attention fixated upon the breathing. Instead, do try to direct your thought back to the activity as soon as you become aware of your mind stray. Make it a goal to get back to the exercise as soon as you can.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many times your mind wanders off, what matters is how soon you become aware of it and get back to your meditation.

B. The “Full” Version

i. The Preparation

Find a quiet place, where no one disturbs you. Sit on a chair or a cushion. Stay away from your bed, or it might seduce you into sleeping.

Keep your back straight, don’t lean forward or backward, don’t slouch. Personally, I like leaning against a wall, or putting a pillow/lumbar support pad behind my back if I sit on a chair to force myself sit up straight.

Follow the points below to get the right posture:

  • Keep your head up and look straight, not leaning backward or forward. One way to ensure this is to check the angle behind your back, from neck to head, is it vertical, almost 90 degrees to your shoulder? Make sure it isn’t tilted forward or backward. Keep your chin slightly tucked in, so that your eyes look a bit downward. You don’t want your eyes casting straight or upward, as that may stir imagination and mental excitement. Looking down makes turning the mind inward easier.
  • Keep your shoulders open, back, and down; open your chest. You can do this by lifting the top portion of your sternum up, keeping it straight, not falling down forward, nor backward. If the top of your sternum is falling forward, that means your upper body is also falling forward, and shoulders are not rolling back. If it’s backward, that means you’re over exaggerating your leaning back (the tips here, which I learned from ATHLEAN-X*, not only ensure comfort over long breathing sessions, but also correct bad postures we don’t know that we have – ex: head forward, round & compressed shoulders, chest).
  • Lean your back against the wall or the back of your chair (or your pillow, if your chair is reclining like mine).
  • If on chair, place your feet comfortably on the floor. If on cushion, cross your legs. Make sure you can sit still and stable.
  • Place one hand (doesn’t matter right or left)  in the other with palms upwards. Keep the tips of the thumbs slightly raised and gently touching.
  • Close your eyes. You can practice with your eyes open, but for starters, closing eyes helps you concentrate.

ii. The Meditation

Relax your body and your mind. Breathe normally with your mouth closed.

After you relax your body and clear your mind, now, slowly inhale through your nose for 3 seconds. Notice how you breathe in, how the air flow into your body, to your chest (or down your abdomen if you practice “stomach breathing”), notice how your chest/belly expand.

Now, hold your breath, silently count to 2. Do count in your mind, so that you keep the mind busy, rather than wandering around.

Now, slowly exhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Again, notice how you breathe out, how the air goes out, notice how your chest/belly contract. That finishes a cycle of deep breathing.

Keep your breathe-ins & breathe-outs naturally, don’t exaggerate, neither force the breathing.

After you breathe out completely, make a mental note that the cycle just finished being number 1. Do NOT count “1” in your mind as this will distract your focus on the breathing; just use your mind to remember which cycle you’ve just completed. Make a mental note from 1-5, then go back to cycle number 1 and repeat.

I’ve found that by forcing myself to remember which cycle I’ve just completed, my mind has less residual mental capacity to wander around.

Now, feel free to adjust the breath-in and breath-out durations as you like, except the holding 2 second duration. Also, take it easy while timing your breath. You don’t have to get the exact durations, because the purpose is to keep your mind focus on the activity.

Soon, a thought will pop up. That’s normal. As soon as you catch yourself straying, gently direct your thought back to the breathing.

Again, remember we’ve agreed that you and the thinking mind are separate entities right? The problem is because we have, for a long time, forgot this fact, we’ve habitually become identified with, and attached to the mind. Therefore, it’s expected to be drifted away from the exercise and get lost in thought. Your goal is NOT to hold your mind constantly fixated upon the breathing. That’s impossible. Instead, make a goal to get back to the exercise as soon as your mind wander around.

However, make your “come back” as calmly and serenely as you can. Don’t criticize, nor scold yourself, don’t indulge in self-pity. Treat random thoughts the way you’d treat unwelcome and persistent salesmen, who keep coming back. Don’t show any interest, nor dwell upon them, nor listen to their reasons. Simply ignore them.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many unwanted thoughts you possess, what matters is how soon you become aware of them and get back to your meditation.

II. Practice & Incorporate Deep-breathing into Daily Life

The beauty of deep breathing is that it’s so simple, yet so relaxing to perform. In fact, to say that it can reduce stress** is underestimating its potential. From my experience, it gives me bliss and joy. Once you master the technique, you can do it anywhere, anytime you like.

From a modest beginning of only 2 minutes per session, increase the duration over time.

Now, when should I increase?

It depends, on the feedback you get. It might take 1 week, or 3 months. Beware of aiming for a specific number of days before you start learning to meditate.

I know some people swear about the idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Not that easy, if that’s the case, I didn’t have to waste 10 years to quit smoking. There’re lots of unseen assumptions there. My experience tell me that it takes around 5 months to build a good foundation for a simple habit.

Anyway, that’s an interesting topic for another post. Now, back to our topic, use your own insight to guide you. Once you feel comfortable doing the exercise, when you feel less resistant to the idea of sitting on your ass trying to act saintly, you are ready. Raise the time of each session slowly, until you get 15 minutes.

Then, you can incorporate deep breathing into all aspects of daily life. As a Buddhist practitioner, although my meditation is different, its concept is very similar to deep breathing. Here’re the steps that I did:

1. Perform 5 minutes meditation between major daily activities   

I believe each of us needs to take periodical retreats during the day, into a quiet room inside our own mind. I’m deeply grateful to Dr. Maxwell Maltz and his classic book, Psycho-Cybernetics, for this concept.

Just 5 minutes, between major activities, find a quiet place and practice deep breathing. This restores your mood to its neutral condition, cleanse your mind from whatever kind of stress/worry that had happened previously.

2. Practice outside

Bring the practice outside. Practice with your eyes open. Start meditating while doing the simplest activity, like walking. You can drop the counting for now, as it might distract your activity.

Initially, I tried this while walking, then jogging and running. If you do this, modify your breathing pattern so that it becomes harmonized with the activity.

For example, I chant Amitābha (pronounce [əmiˈt̪aːbʱə]) silently when I jog, so I try to keep the rhyme of my chanting to correspond with my right foot’s strike. I start chanting “A” when I step with my right foot. Then, depending on my jogging speed, the next sound “Mi” may be continued on the 2nd, or 3rd right foot’s strike. And so on.

So, find your own rhyme. It’ll take some time to get used to practice deep breathing with your eyes open and incorporate it into your movement.

Remember, we don’t plan to learn and practice deep breathing for a month in order to cure ___ [feel free to insert whatever kind of despicable/miserable/stressful condition you’re contemplating right now], and be done with it. No! We plan to learn and turn it into our way of life, from now on. So, we have a whole life to try.

3. Practice while performing simple/mindless/repetitive/routine tasks 

You know the types. Dishwashing, tidying up the room, cleaning, cooking, etc. Those chores that we do every day, and we hate that.

Now, it’s time to turn that around. Just don’t open music, as that would distract your attention. Slow instrumental music is fine.

4. Perform periodical 5 minutes meditations during the day

Being self-employed, I dictate my own schedule. I work in 25-minute blocks (Why? learn how I enjoy my life, either work or play, at intervals here). I take 5 minutes break to meditate between each block. I don’t have to sit still, I can meditate while walking around the house as a way to stretch my body, cleaning the dishes, or having a snack.

If you work with a computer, I strongly advise you to work and take break in blocks. Find the interval that suits you. This recharges your energy, clears your mind, and stretches your body.

5. Incorporate into your work 

Again, select really simple, mindless tasks to practice deep breathing. Try my rule of thumb. If you have to think while doing an activity, it’s not the right one.

I’m talking about data entry, double-checking, carrying stuff, running errands, etc. These tasks do not consume much attention, at most they may involve using short-term memory, like the cases of data entry or double-checking.

And, of course, while pretending to listen to your co-workers’ chitchats (it’s my favorite). But open your eyes and act normal, please, save you the trouble of having to explain why you’re acting silly.

6. Handle stress & emotional turbulence

Keep practicing, and once deep breathing becomes a second nature of yours, you’d possess a powerful tool to handle stress and take disciplined actions toward personal growth.

Why? I’ve found that people take actions based on emotion, not logic. Essentially, meditation allows us to keep our emotion in check.

Even though I’m just a beginner, I’ve used meditation to overcome nicotine addiction; put negative thinking in the right perspective, which is an alert to potential danger; discipline myself to perform good habits daily; gather up courage to move out of my comfort zone; confront difficult situations…to name just a few.

How? Uh, sorry, I’m running out of time. That’d be the topic for future posts. But the main key is to use meditation to be aware of our thought patterns, and take control of our minds to stay in the present, rather than letting them drag us to wherever they want. That’s the essence of the art of becoming an awakened dream-walker.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

 

* Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, otherwise I am not associated with any of the recommended products/services/websites on EnjoyYrJourney.com 

** Disclaimer: This blog is intended to provide general information, which do not constitute medical or professional advice. The blog expresses my experience, which is not tailored to your own specific circumstance. Please seek professional help if you believe you have a condition.

How To Set Powerful Goals That Are Inspiring & Achievable (Part II)

Last Updated: May.02.18

II. Figure out the How

A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us start; whereas daily actions are what get us finish. Follow these steps to set a plan for each of your goal.

1. Write it down on paper. Make a statement to describe your goal in a clear, specific and measurable manner 

Use this sentence format “I + now + verb…”. Make your statement positive, assertive, and in present time. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking by Jun.30.2018, write “I now enjoy my life without cigarette”.

2. Set a definite start date, and, if possible, a flexible due date (if it’s a character or improvement goal, no due date)  

Don’t say “Ok,  I’m so exciting, let’s start tomorrow right away”. No. That won’t do. You must take time to physically, mentally, and spiritually get yourself ready. A long journey, however inspiring, needs preparation. So, set a start date, say a few days from now.

But why “flexible” due date? Because by giving it a fixed/absolute/rigid due date, you invariably defeat the other major purpose of embarking on a journey, which is to enjoy the trip.

Remember the last time you were rushing to finish that report for your boss? It’s stressful, it’s physically, mentally, and spiritually drained, not mentioning that you might cut corners and make lots of mistakes. Anyway, you met the deadline. But you abhor the process. The good (I’m not that sure) thing is that because it’s our job, it’s pretty close to a do-or-die situation, and so under that circumstance, we’ll find a way to make it happen.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of pressure on most of our personal goals. Without joy, it’s hard to stay motivated day after day, no matter how much wonderful the finish end is.

Besides, if you set a deadline for your goal, beware. Beware that, on your journey, you might treat everything you do and everyone you meet to be nothing more than a means to achieve your goal. Beware that, from that day going forward, the only value that is worth considering in all things you encounter, might be whether it will take you closer to your goal, everything else is secondary.

So, treat the due date as a rough estimate, and if you can’t make it, you’d simply create another due date.

3. Break your goal down into milestones

On your mind map, from the final destination, work backward, find out the major milestones that must be achieved to reach that end. Identify potential obstacles, what stand between you and your goal. Again, be flexible on these deadlines.

4. Brainstorm doable action-oriented steps to complete each milestone

You can do some research to help you brainstorm the necessary steps to reach each milestone, overcome the obstacles. In fact, if you have no idea what are required, research is the first step you can take.

However, research so that you know just enough to get started.  Don’t waste time learning everything about the subject. And for those who love to seek advice/suggestions/words of wisdom (you know the term, “the best way to…”), beware.

Beware that, on your search for the best line of thought/philosophy of life, you yourself become a philosopher. Becoming a philosopher is fine, if giving advice (I wouldn’t say wisdom) is your day job. But becoming an idle philosopher will also guarantee you never reach your goal.

Make sure the steps you lay out here are doable. Depending on your confidence, you can stretch yourself a bit. By the way, confidence, in my definition, includes two elements: 1. You THINK you can do it. 2. You KNOW you can do it.

5. Perform what-if analysis for each of the above steps

Now, come back to the plan you’ve just completed. For each of the above steps, brainstorm at least 2 extra actions that you can take, in case something goes wrong.  

Basically, you’re projecting 3 scenarios here: best, normal, and worst. The action you planned during the first brainstorm is the step that you’ll take if the best scenario occurs, where most things go right. Under the normal scenario, in which you make a few mistakes, or there’re some wrong assumptions, you then take the next planned action. And so on for the worst scenario. Depending on each situation, a worst-case scenario might mean a failure or a major lost occurred. Be specific here by setting parameters and providing details for each scenario.   

Whatever scenario you come up with, remember to treat it like that – a projection – and no more. You project different scenarios and plan proper responses for each scenario. Please don’t confuse such prediction, about what might happen, to be a statement of truth.

Now, why didn’t I tell you to brainstorm 3 actions in the last step? Because I wanted to let our imagination run freely! You’re dreaming your dream, so don’t wake yourself up with the “but what if…”. Dream lofty dreams, yearn for the faraway lands, “look (up) at the stars”, like Oscar Wilde said.

And then come back to your plan, but this time you shift gear, to be pragmatic.

6. Set a specific time and duration on your calendar to tackle each of the above steps

I can’t stress this enough, a goal with a deadline without a list of daily actions is as good as a dead dream. A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us start; whereas daily actions are what get us finish. Ideally, I prefer to work on my goals every day including weekend. If not possible, I’d schedule the activity as often as I can.

A note on the duration – think about your journey as a marathon, not a series of interrupted 100m sprints. Do not try too hard too soon. In fact, I would recommend that you deliberately perform at only 65% (or 2/3) of your ability. Reserve willpower only for challenges and obstacles, and for the late part of the journey, when the going gets tough.

So, suppose in the mid of excitement to build your dream body, you plan to exercise 30 minutes daily (by the way, that’s another sub-goal, isn’t it?). If so, set a goal of exercising 10’ daily starting next week. That’s right, just 10 minutes.

If after you reach the 10 minutes goal, and you’re positive you can go much further, then continue until you reach 20 minutes (20 over 30 is 2/3 of your plan). Otherwise, feel free to stop. Then, increase the duration up by 2 minutes weekly, if you exercise consistently for at least 5 days (~ 80%) that week.

7. Keep a daily detailed accountability

Use a note app with a calendar to record the day you miss (I use Way Of Life app*). You know, we sow the seed to bring our dream into reality by planning daily actions, but shits happen. That’s life. Some days, because of my laziness, procrastination, negative friends, cynical relatives, unexpected events, or whatever reasons I couldn’t understand why…without such record, there’s no way I can track my performance and progress.

8. Make a daily commitment to yourself and others

Every day, after waking up and before going to bed, write the statement that you made for your goal in your notebook. Write in a slow, clear, and deliberate manner. Write, as if you were writing to your sweetheart. It is my conviction that “We become what we think about”, as Earl Nightingale said. The act of rewriting the statement daily serves 2 purposes:

1. Remind, and make a promise to ourselves of our goal. If someone suddenly asks you what your goals are, you must be able to respond quickly and clearly without a second of hesitation.

2. Make an impression on our subconscious mind. The stronger the impression, the greater its impact on changing our self-image, beliefs, thought patterns, actions, and finally, our reality.

With regard to sharing goals, do share your give-up goals to everyone. Sharing your progress on these goals hold yourself accountable. However, be selective in sharing your dreams, or goals of similar nature. Make sure to tell only people whom you know will inspire and encourage you to achieve them.

III. Execution

You know what you want, you’ve already scheduled daily actions for it, now is the time to execute your plan. Remember the rule we’ve agreed upon at the beginning? Don’t expect to create a perfect game plan. And because your plan isn’t perfect, what you do during the execution phase is equally important in reaching your goal.

1. Turn your goal into an obsession

Over the course of our lives, we have many ambitions, but we turn very few of them into reality. It’s because daily busy-ness has consumed most of our attention, leaving no room for us to nourish our interests. Without attention, those desires vanish quickly. And after a year or two, they can’t be found. Jim Rohn called this “The Law of Diminishing Intent”.

I’ve learned that once I’d turned an initial interest into an obsession, like in the case of quitting cigarette, I could almost always guarantee success.

To do this, you need to invest time, energy, and emotion. If the topic of interest is new to you, you can study, research, discuss with others more about it. Build up the interest over time, make it become your obsession.

2. Start

When the alarm goes off, start your planned action. Well, I said “start”, not “finish”, didn’t I? And I mean that, literally. You start your scheduled activity. Don’t worry about how far you can go. Even if you just take the first step, consider that as one step progress toward your goal.

Although I wouldn’t say it’s an achievement, I still aim for consistent starts during the beginning of any venture. I learned this from Zig Ziglar. Many people don’t do something because they don’t feel motivated enough to do it. Zig got it backward, he said that you do the something, and then motivation will set in, motivation creates energy to carry you forward.

So, at the beginning, aim to develop a habit to start your planned activity as soon as its time arrives. Increase the weekly duration over time, until you reach the desired outcome.

Now, there’re situations, where it’s not appropriate to use duration. For example, the activity involves many steps. Modify your plan accordingly. You might aim to begin just the first step, but if you get inspired, don’t stop there please, continue the process until you complete the planned activity. Basically, we want to build a habit of starting the planned activity initially. Make this process easy, no pressure. Motivation and momentum will carry us forward.

3. Deliberately perform at 65% (or 2/3) of your ability

Again, do not get too pumped up and stretch yourself too much. Life is not a series of nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets you know. I find that the mantra “Do your best!” rarely works for me. Consistent performance over a long period has carried me much further than uninterrupted bursts of hyper energy.

Even if you’re confident you can do more, stop yourself when you’re just above comfortable. Now, how do you know when you’re just above comfortable level? It’s a subjective question that involves trials-and-errors.

Let me give you my example. I always wear an iWatch to measure my heart-rate whenever I go running (any runner here? Greeting!). My maximum age-related heart rate is 186. My comfortable level is around 145. On those days when I don’t shoot for a personal record, I would aim to maintain my rate around this level.

4. Shape up physically, mentally & spiritually   

Physically – Having enough fuel makes your cruise smoother. Some people don’t work well simply because they don’t feel well.

Mentally – Be sure to set time to take a break. But use your break strategically, not habitually. Select the kind of break that is in different (opposite, I’d rather say) nature from the preceding activity. If you’ve just finished working 8 hours, your mental energy would be depleted. And if your job involves hugging a computer just like me, your eyes, your brain would also be exhausted; your body would love a stretch. So, heading to the gym after work is a great idea.

Spiritually – Take time,  even if only 5 minutes, to meditate (if you belong to a religion); or, if meditation sounds so New Age to you, practice deep-breathing (look forward to my next post). Meditation cultivates our mindfulness, reduces stress, and neutralizes our mood, so that we can focus on the next activity without being bothered by what’d happened previously.

Now it’s easy to cite countless benefits of meditating. But how to grasp such benefits? It’s simple. If you meditate, direct your attention to perform each step in your meditation. If you practice deep-breathing, concentrate your thought on inhaling slowly, then hold for a while (you can silently count 1-2), then exhale slowly.

The mind can only hold one thought at a time, and yes, even if it never seems to stand still. So, whatever you’re thinking about, you can direct your thought toward your meditation. Of course, very soon, another thought will pop up. That’s expected. Your goal is NOT to hold your mind constantly fixated upon the meditation. That’s impossible. Your goal is to gently direct your attention to go back to the meditation as soon as another thought pops up.

If you do that, your mind will temporarily take a break during your meditation, rather than continuing to busy itself with calculating/thinking/wondering/analyzing/worrying/projecting/remembering past/present/future events.

5. Nourish positive thinking 

Beware of negative thinking. Why positive thinking? Because our lives are already full of problems, worries, crises (don’t believe me? Just confer with newswriters), and positive thinking is one way we can balance that. Positive thinking doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand and affirming “No problem! No problem!”. No, that’s ignorant. Positive thinking means that although we acknowledge the problem, we also keep an eye out for the gem(s) hidden inside of each problem.

A positive thinker is a diligent student of life, he knows that everything he encounters, whether good or bad, carries a lesson. Each bad deed serves as a warning. Each good deed sets an example to follow. Each defeat trains him to become stronger, better, and wiser. Each triumph teaches him to be content with what he has, and warns against giving in to greed.

Such attitude will give you a whole new way of seeing, a new way of being. You will become serene and at ease with whatever outcome your trial turns out to be. You will stop hurrying yourself up to speed up the process in the pursuit of your goal. Instead, you will enjoy the journey, enjoy taking the required actions, become less resistant to the idea that “you have to do whatever it takes to reach your goal”, and become less attached to the destination.

There is more to life than increasing its speed. – Mahatma Gandhi

6. Have many reminders

Besides of rewriting the goals morning and night, during the day, create lots of reminders:

  • Timed reminder on your phone repeated at specific interval (I use “Alarmed ~ Reminders + Timers” app for iPhone. The beauty of this app is that I can make the reminder to run at whatever interval, and for however long as I please).
  • Post-it note, like a slogan, to post it anywhere in your room, or in front of your computer.

7. Journal at night about your progress

Every night, after you’ve rewritten the statement, spend 5’ to record your progress.

In case you have no idea what statement I’m talking about, please stop reading, go back the beginning and perform the steps. I’ve already told you upfront, I’m a shameless copier. I merely repeat the teachings of the wises who came before me. So, don’t expect to “scan“ this blog for anything new, nor any “best-kept secret to [enter whatever you’re searching here]”.

So, what to journal, then? 4 things only:

1. What I did today that move me forward toward my goals;

2. What went wrong (don’t write excuses or try to rationalize, you’d feel bad when you review it later; simply what went wrong);

3. How I can fix/improve the situation;

4. What I am grateful for (why? Review step 5).

8. Don’t skip two days in a row 

This wise advice I learn from Leo Babauta’s book (his blog is also great). Skip a day if you must, but not two, because this will break the habit chain that you’re developing.

9. See the reaching 

See what it’s like to reach the finish line. After all, the reward after attaining your goal is what inspires you to start this quest, right? So, keep that desire burning. You get to see, touch, smell, feel it vividly, even if only through your mind’s eye, so that your desire has the power to pull you through unavoidable letdowns and detours.

See the finish line, but don’t glue your eyes on it. Otherwise, the huge gap between reality and your dream might make you impatient, thus it’s tough to enjoy the journey. The impatient are among the first people who abandon the pursuit of their dreams.

10. Review your plan regularly

A fixed plan is a dead plan. Nobody knows what’s behind the corner. There’re gonna be lots of course corrections and detours. That’s a fact. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, let that fact be your best friend. Maybe the journey isn’t that challenging. Maybe taking the path invites many unseen opportunities. Maybe you are much more capable than what you thought. Maybe you will find out a way, when there seems to be no way.

So, review your plan regularly. It could be daily, weekly, but NEVER let a month goes by without reviewing your plan. Be prepared to make many changes. However, resolve that, whatever happen, do not change the decision to reach your goal.

~o~

What a long post! Goal-setting is indeed time-consuming. But for me, the time spent to design my life, to make my dreams come true, is totally worth it, because:

1. As a gamer, there’s nothing more exciting than projecting how my current self will turn into my ideal hero in the game of life.

2. It’s much more exciting to work hard on my own plan than someone else’s plan for me; or even worse, working to fulfill goals that belong to others.

Final notes: 

Don’t expect your plan to be perfect, leading you all the way from beginning till the end. Do expect to have goals/plans that:

1. Inspire you to get moving

2. Are good enough so you have sufficient day-to-day guidance to work on

The best plan isn’t the perfect plan. No. The best plan is the plan you execute and stick with it till the end. Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. I’d say that, if you lack the courage to “get punched in the face”, your dreams will never see a gleam of daylight.

I want to close with my favorite line by Earl Nightingale: “Start today. You have nothing to lose but you have your whole life to win”.

Above all, I wish you a turbulent and exciting journey 😉!

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

* Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, otherwise I am not associated with any of the recommended products/services/websites on EnjoyYrJourney.com