I have figured out the easiest way to attain englightenment.
A simple way to be happy. A cooler path to be joyful.
And in fact, a scientific way to create peace.
It is to be grateful.
To be grateful for the experience that life takes me through… To appreciate what has offered you.
But what about when one is going through moment of fear, anxiety – a time full of stress. Robert A. Emmons has an answer.
“It is relatively easy to feel grateful when good things are happening, and life is going the way we want it to. A much greater challenge is to be grateful when things are not going so well, and are not going the way we think they should.”
~ Robert A. Emmons in his book, Thanks!
So, what’s bothering you right now? You get a parking ticket? Lose your job? Relationship not working? Kids being a challenge? Get sick? My personal recommendation? Flip it around and think about all the things for which you’re grateful.
- Get a parking ticket? Be grateful you even have a car. Be grateful you’re going to be able to help pay for someone’s wages for part of the day.
- Stub your toe? Be grateful you HAVE a toe to stub and such a great life that that’s probably the worst thing that’s going to happen to you today.
- Kids being a little challenging? Be grateful they’re healthy enough to make so much noise and honor them for the growth you both experience together.
In fact, in their New York Times best-seller, The Tools, Barry Michels and Phil Stutz takes this to the next level. They recommend to discipline your mind to *always* see the amazing things in your life. They suggest to get your grateful flow flowing. There’s no (!) better way to connect to the Source of all higher forces/joy/love/all-things-good than gratitude.
For me, 2016 was year of success, it was year of failure. It was year to cherish and a year to learn. A lot did happen over the past one year. I am using this post as an opportunity to capture this. I did a similar exercise at the end of 2015.
Because it is the easiest path to joy.
As David Steindl-Rast captures this his TED Talk ‘Want to be Happy? Be Grateful’
“The root of joy is gratefulness… It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.
Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted.”
He says ‘Look closely’ and you will find ‘people are happy because they are grateful’. The opposite for being grateful is just taking things for granted.
My goal is simple – to take a moment to reflect, to thank. I want to be happy. I want to one among those who are happy. So, without much further adieu, here are the list of things that happened last year and I am grateful for.
- I had a major career leap this year. I changed job (in August 2016). This meant changing places, plans and lot others. There were many a reasons for the shift, but the most important was to work on my strengths, rather than on my weaknesses. I know that I’m not a people-friendly person, in fact I’m so shy to the point that I fear human interaction, sometimes. I needed a more quieter, less interaction intensive job. The new job seems to fit well.
- We, I and my wife, celebrated our second Wedding Anniversary. With lot of quams that showed up in between, with restlessness from different areas of life, I was indeed not a very calm and easy partner to live with. But things did work out, thanks much to the patience of my wife.
- We celebrated our little girl’s first birthday. Yes, while we invited her into this world in 2015, we had moments to cherish with her during the past 1 year. The little angel brought us, me the family more closer, more lovelier and more entertaining. The cute hands, legs and her ever warm smile doesn’t fail to melt a heart and render happiness. Thank God to make her part of our lives.
- I learnt to let go. This time more strongly and more maturely. I had trouble, but I realised that life does go on and this time I didn’t push life to go on, but it did go on to surprise me. I am feel more grateful than ever before for this wonderful cherishing moment to have me let go of the past, of guilt and regret.
- 2016 got me proud on achieving few key goals. One of the best was in achieving my writing goal to post 100 articles at SathyaWrites.com.
- I learnt to say enough. I have become less ambitious, aiming more for meaning in life than achievement.
- I have joyfully contributed some good money. Though small, it was a contribution to my family and to a social cause. I thank God for the opportunity given to contribute.
- I took a choice to be a more of a follower, as an employee, than being a leader, or a boss or an entrepreneur. I’m going to someday write a post saying ‘Dear Internet! Stop asking me quit my job!’
- I lived a relatively minimal life – there is no cable, internet connections at home. I don’t or more correctly can’t (because my daughter doesn’t allow to) use my laptop at home. Though it sounds puny, but I have mentally prepared or preparing myself to shut myself off about work at home. It’s a big achievement in my life. I am using ‘StayFocusd’ chrome app to allow only 10 minutes of Facebooking per day.
- My obsession for productivity is slowly reducing. I now use something called ‘enough list’ or sometime a ‘no-list‘. Though I do tinker around exploring the two big areas of — productivity and financial independence, I guess in the coming year I will be more fortunate not to be obsessed by it.
I did fail in certain areas. And I’m sure I will use those opportunities as a learning path in the coming year.
Gratitude Exercise 2016
The famed humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow notes
“The most important learning lessons… were tragedies, deaths, and trauma… which forced change in the life-outlook of the person and consequently in everything that he did.”
Whether 2016 was year of success or failure, I recommend you to try the gratitude exercise. Take a moment to record those moments and appreciate for the opportunity to have faced it. More importantly be grateful that you have bestowed with such a blessing in your life.
Steven Pressfield, author of the inspirational book ‘The War of Art’ (download the free pdf here) tells about how he wrote his first novel. He locked himself away for a year and worked day in and day out – until he finished it. When he told his mentor, he finished the novel, mentor replied: ‘Start your next one tomorrow.’
That’s what I call keeping up the momentum.
The hardest part is getting going, but once you get started there is no stopping you. That’s what Steven’s mentor was hinting upon – start your next one – not next year, not next month or next week, but tomorrow.
It’s the same thing that is happening with me now. With great force and effort, I did get to complete 100 posts by end of 2016. But I lost almost two weeks to get myself back on track to conquer the next objective.
Don’t be a fool like me. Start on your next goal, next initiative now.
Danger of losing Momentum
Tynan from Superhuman by Habit warns about the danger of losing one’s momentum.
“Missing two days of a habit is habit suicide. If missing one day reduces your chances of long-term success by a small amount like five percent, missing two days reduces it by forty percent or so. Three days missed and you may as well be starting over. At that point you have lost your momentum and have made it far too easy to skip in the future.”
Habit suicide. Wow! That was hard.
But haven’t you heard of those who succeeded miraculously in their first endeavor and simply vanished from the pages of History then-after. Beginner’s luck the world would call it. And you could very well be one of them.
John McDonald in his book ‘The Message of a Master’ offers a solution for this:
“When the first objective is reached, what then? Set another one beyond that, immediately.”
Yes, set the next one. Immediately.
- Because you are in danger of losing momentum.
- Because you are one big lazy pauper
- Because it is a simple law of Physics
You see the entire world is conspiring to slow you back into inertia. An object in motion will continue in motion, as per Newton’s First Law of Motion, in space – where there is lack of friction. But on earth, you have more than enough things conspiring you to stop, to rest. Steven Pressfiled has a name for this – ‘Resistance’.
Value your momentum and cling to it.
Do you know that the space shuttle uses more fuel during the first two minutes of its flight than it does the rest of the entire trip.
Why? Because it has to attain escape velocity – literally to escape, break free from the pull of earth’s gravity. Once it does, it can glide in orbit.
The hard part? Getting off the ground.
No wonder, Aristotle says ‘Well begun is half done!’
‘I was simmering. Emerson brought me to boil’ says Walt Whitman talking about the inspiration he took from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He had Emerson, the Father of the Transcendentalism to help him keep the momentum.
Even Whitman needed someone. We just got each other.
“But once you get momentum,” as Darren Hardy writes in his book ‘Compound Effect’, “you will be hard to stop—virtually unbeatable—even though you’re now putting out considerably less effort while receiving greater results.”
The Next Telephone Pole Wisdom
But sometimes it can feeling daunting.
- Another 100+ posts in 2017
- An entire book to write
- Quite an amount of money to earn and save and invest
Ultraendurace athlete and founder of the Spartan Race, Joe De Sena, offers the “next telephone pole” wisdom in his great book Spartan Up!
“The way to get through anything mentally painful is to take it a little at a time. The mind can’t handle dealing with a massive iceberg of pain in front of it, but it can deal with short nuggets that will come to an end. So instead of thinking, Ugh, I’ve got twenty-four miles to go, focus on making it to the next telephone pole in the distance. Whether you’re running twenty or one hundred and twenty miles at a time, the distance has to be tackled mentally and physically one mile at a time. The ability to compartmentalize pain into these small bite sizes is key.”
The Domino Effect
A domino can, by the law of physics, knock over another domino that is 50% bigger than it.
So, if you line up 13 dominoes, you can start with one that’s about the size of your little pinky fingernail and, by the 13th domino, you have a 3 foot tall, 100 pound domino. Continue that for another 13 or so and you’re looking at the Eifel Tower.
Identify the next domino! Your next goal!
Break your big goal down into micro goals and you can knock it over. And when you do, you’ll have the momentum to knock over the next progressively larger domino.
So, if you have gotten off the ground? Achieved your 2016 goals (at least most of it). Good for you!!!
That was the hardest part.
Now keep on flying! 🙂 Start your next project, tomorrow. You got the entire 2017 ahead of you.
This is a guest post by Brian Johnson of Optimize.me. He is the creator of PhilosophersNotes + Optimal Living 101 + en*theos. He is also the author of the book, A Philosopher’s Notes, was featured in the documentary Finding Joe and have an Optimal Living column in Experience Life magazine. This article is posted with permission from Optimize.me.
“One-dimensional thinking: ‘Managing your time’ by doing things fast and efficiently in order to try to squeeze more into whatever time you have available. This is like running.
Two-dimensional thinking: ‘Prioritizing your time’ by the Urgent and Important grid to borrow time from one area of your life to focus instead on another. It’s the skill of putting one thing in front of the others.
This is like juggling.
Three-dimensional thinking: ‘Multiplying your time’ by adding in the calculation of Significance. And to specifically give yourself the emotional permission to spend time on those things today that will create more time tomorrow.
This is like planting seeds.”
—Rory Vaden from Procrastinate on Purpose
Rory kicks the book off walking through his thoughts on the three dimensions of how we can relate to time. We want to move from trying to manage our time and/or prioritizing our time to MULTIPLYING our time.
Most of us are familiar with Stephen Covey’s four quadrant model of time management where activities are either Urgent or Not Urgent and either Important or Not Important. See the Notes on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for more.
Basic idea: We want to spend more in Quadrant II (Important but Not Urgent) and less time putting out fires in Quadrant I (Important and Urgent). That’s an improvement on the prior model that simply had us work harder and, hopefully, more efficiently.
Rory adds a third dimension: What he calls Significance.
We need to analyze our activities based on the LONG-TERM benefit and, specifically, whether that activity will increase the amount of time we have tomorrow. Helping us identify the next most Significant thing we can do so we can Multiply our time is what this book is all about.
Here’s how Rory puts it:
“Once ultra-performers realize that you can’t manage time, and there is a limit to borrowing time, they intuitively learn how to multiply their time.”
How in the world do you multiply your time?
Simple. And the next sentence is the singular core message of the entire book:
“You multiply your time by spending time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow.”
P.S. Let’s take a quick look at the 5 Permissions that help us do that!
“It really isn’t about time management; it is about self-management. And as I started to research and ask, study and observe exactly how it was that these people were going about spending time on things today to give themselves more time tomorrow, I discovered that the most successful people in the world have all given themselves one big thing that the rest of us have not…
Specifically, they have given themselves five permissions that the rest of us have not. It is those five permissions and the frameworks they use to determine when to employ them that enable them to do what no one else can: multiply time.”
The 5 Permissions!
Here they are:
- Eliminate: The Permission to Ignore.
- Automate: The Permission to Invest.
- Delegate: The Permission of Imperfect.
- Procrastinate: The Permission of Incomplete.
- Concentrate: The Permission to Protect.
After setting up the three dimensions of time and establishing the importance of learning how to multiply our time, Rory dedicates a chapter to each of the 5 Permissions.
Essentially, we first need to ELIMINATE all the things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place—all the time wasters, low priority tasks that don’t serve us and/or move the ball forward.
Then we need to AUTOMATE all the repetitive tasks that we don’t need to reinvent each time. Then we DELEGATE stuff that doesn’t require our unique set of skills to get it done. Ask: Does this require my unique set of skills to get it done? If not, delegate!! Then we PROCRASTINATE on the activities that are important and require our attention but aren’t quite ripe for action yet. And, finally, after we run a potential task through what Rory calls “The Focus Funnel,” we CONCENTRATE all of our energy on the next most Significant activity that will help us multiply our time and achieve our desired results!
Here’s to multiplying our time as we optimize and actualize!
It is the sole purpose of human existence to achieve Mukti. The idea that man had to evolve to next greater being has been part of the Indian psyche for many centuries.
Sadhguru talks about the evolved personality – called Shiva – who taught the secret to attaining Mukti to the 7 disciples whom were later named as Saptarishis (meaning seven sages). Agastya was one among them who roamed the Southern India.
Spirituality and its exercises should become part of living – our life. Consider the idea of using the body and maintaining it and/or replenishing for using it as the tool to help the human being achieve Mukti.
The profound answers to the numerous questions that the modern man has – had been answered in the ancient wisdom literature. I should embody it within my sole and let it not loose sight.
It is a commitment for me in the next year to explore how the age-old wisdom can make practical relevance for their everyday living.
In case, if you haven’t noted it, this is my 100th post on this blog.