I enjoyed this post over on the Positivity Blog, and I thought I’d give it a quick mention here. How true that positive emotions lead to positive emotions, and negative emotions lead to negative emotions. How to Create Positive Emotions
Yesterday was the midpoint of the year. Half of 2008 has come and gone. While the midpoint may not be as obvious a time for reflection as, say, the very end of a year, it’s still a good time to stop for a moment and assess how the year has unfolded thus far, and what your hopes and goals are for the rest.
Albert Einstein once said: “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” I’ve only just today encountered that quote. It’s quite thought-provoking. Do you believe that happiness is better achieved when you pursue a goal rather than a person or things? How, if at all, does that influence your mid-year reflections and your vision for the balance of the year?
Those of you who have been following DevYou know that I’m a huge fan of the Zen Habits blog. Leo consistently comes through with terrific, useful posts. Today he posted what he describes as: “the list to surpass all lists. The productivity guide you’ve been waiting for your entire life. The only resource you’ll ever need.” He’s kidding of course, but, seriously, this is a tremendously useful list.
A character in Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Rant cooks dangerous objects — things that can break your teeth, stab the inside of your mouth, or cause you to choke to death — into her family’s meals. Why would a caring mother do such a terrible thing?
She does it to force her family to eat slowly. To be utterly focused on the current moment. As they carefully chew each bite, all their attention is in their mouths. They don’t rush through their meals, thinking of what next thing they want to do, living in the future. They don’t read, or watch tv, or do anything at the table other than experience the food in their mouths.
Of course, putting dangerous objects in food is a horrible thing to do, and you mustn’t do it, but this fictional, extreme behavior draws attention to an intriguing question. Namely: how present are we? When we eat, are we really eating? When we walk are we really walking? When we listen to music, are we really listening? Listening with our full attention, aware of every step, chewing as if a thumbtack were hidden somewhere in our meal?
I know I strive to be present, and I know the benefits I will reap, and yet I also know how far I commonly stray from clear awareness. I know I let my attention wander to the future. The next thing. And worse: multiple next things. Whole strings of them, stretching out into the future, further and further away from this, here, now.
I may not crack a tooth on a booby trap in my apple pie, but I miss the sound of the wind in the leaves above me, the flash of affection in my companion’s eye, and the awareness–the centeredness–that dissolves the worry that plagues and torments my future-dwelling self.
What’s to be done? It’s fairly simple. Come back. Be here now. Meditation helps. Being creative helps. Doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy exercises helps. And even GTD helps. How? Because you don’t need to store and hold the various things you must do in your mind if you know that they’re already captured in a trusted system. There is indeed a next action, but for now–chew that bite of food with all your attention, just as if Rant’s nutty mother made it.
Lately, I’ve been gathering new GTD “next actions” faster than I can complete them. This is a problem. As my next actions list grows, I’m experiencing that annoying feeling that not enough is getting done.
In the past, I’ve tried to alleviate this problem by being aggressive about moving non-critical stuff to my “someday/maybe” list. This helps because it keeps my list of stuff that really, truly needs to be done down to a minimum. However, for a variety of reasons, being aggressive about moving stuff to someday/maybe isn’t alleviating the problem well enough lately.
For the next week or so, I’m going to try attacking the problem from the other end. Specifically, I’m going to be more aggressive about limiting my inputs. Toward this end, I’m following the GTD flowchart with the “Is It a Want?” decision box (as opposed to the simpler version without the “Is It a Want?” decision box.
Wish me luck!
If worrying were an Olympic sport, I would have a good shot at a medal. Not gold, but I don’t think bronze would be out of my reach. I do worry quite a bit.
That’s why I was glad to discover Mike King’s guest post today on the Positivity Blog: “Why Worry Gets You Nowhere, and How to Get a Handle on That Destructive Habit.” In the article, King discusses the benefits and costs of worrying, its causes, how to recognize it, and he describes techniques for controlling and limiting it. Good stuff. I highly recommend this article to anyone who has trouble managing worry.
I’m making a bunch of changes behind the scenes, so the layout of the site may be a bit… well… plain for a while. Soon we’ll have a nice new look to enjoy. In the meanwhile, enjoy the articles!
Oh and here’s a special thank you to all of you who’ve told your friends about DevYou. I appreciate it!
Today on the Psychology Today Enlightened Living blog, Michael J. Formica describes a Yogic breathing technique that can be help combat anxiety. He explains the basis for the technique and how to do it.
Pranayama is a highly complex discipline that has many different aspects and includes a variety of very specific practices. One of the most common, and useful, pranayama practices is called nadi shodhana (pr., nah-dee SHOW-d’nah) or alternate nostril breathing. According to Ayervedic medicine, this practice is intended to purify the pranic channels of the body. From a less esoteric viewpoint, nadi shodhana brings the body — and by association the mind — into a state of balance and neutrality by activating the same energetic pathways that in acupuncture are associated with balancing the hemispheres of the brain. On an even less esoteric note, Western medicine has long known that, while mouth breathing tells the body it is in a state of stress, nostril breathing tells the body it is in a state of homeostasis. This strategy of nostril breathing=homeostasis has been employed by elite athletes for decades.
Hooray! I’ve been looking for ways to integrate exercise into my morning routine better, and I just ran across this great article on the Dumb Little Man blog called 2 Simple Ingredients That Will Boost your Morning Energy. The author (guest poster Dan Boyle) has an energetic writing style, and describes two fast exercises that can easily fit into even the busiest morning.
Realizing that money is tight and time is tighter, let’s discuss a quick workout that doesn’t cost a penny and can be knocked out in no time. Short and free, this routine will boost your morning energy level exponentially, especially if your current workout only consists of a shower.
I’m going to try his routine right now.
As a fan of naps, I’m always delighted to see positive stories about napping! Here’s one from Psychology Today titled “Nap Your Way to the Top”:
The evidence is overwhelming: Napping on the job is great for you and great for your boss. A power nap of about 20 minutes has been proven to increase alertness and overall productivity in workers. Siestas also boost mood. “Remember when your mother told you to take a nap because you were cranky? She was right,” says William Anthony, who co-authored The Art of Napping at Work with his wife Camille.
And happy napping!