There’s a few habits that did more to change my life than most of my “major” projects. So much more. Few repeated actions, done everyday, so discreet that they could easily go unnoticed. These daily actions were taught to me during Buddhist teachings, I stumbled upon some of them in self-help literature.
It took me a while to realize that they made everyday much easier, and in the long run, I hold it for certain that they can determine someone’s destiny.
I’m too lazy to elaborate on these habits, so I made a practical list along with how to apply each of them.
Find them below and if you feel like it, add some more in the comment section:
Meditate in the subway
In fact, meditate anywhere, anytime, for any reason and without any expectation. A great Tibetan Buddhist Master said: “whenever you feel like meditating we should do it right away without waiting”.
That means: if you’re in the subway, you can change a 50 mn commute into a 50 mn meditation session. Don’t worry about having a comfortable pillow or a stick of incense, it don’t matter.
Just do it anywhere, your mind will adapt. It will also love you for that.
Shut down electronic devices
You can live without a cell phone, it’s totally doable, I’ve spent the last two months cell-phone free. Not on purpose, but I’m currently in New York City and I don’t have a phone plan here, so people can’t call me.
Guess what? If it’s important, they always find a way to reach out and I hardly found myself in desperate need of a cell phone during these two months :)
My girlfriend and I also drastically cut down on computer-time when we’re together. Instead, we take walks and we have lunch outside. I can’t say how much better our Week-Ends feel.
Shut machines down, you don’t need them as much as they need you.
Don’t wait for anybody to notice you, pick yourself. If there’s something you’d like to say: write a blog, a book, or make an video and post it online.
If you like someone, don’t wait for her to give you signs of interest: invite her places.
Pick yourself, create the opportunity and the rest will follow, it’s incredible how everything starts working for you when you adopt that mindset.
I borrowed the “Pick Yourself” concept to Seth Godin. Try his blog!
No emotion is real and they can all be changed in a moment. All it takes is trust.
You don’t believe me?
Hasn’t anyone managed to make you laugh when you didn’t want to?
It was upsetting and relieving in the same time, right?
The only resisting force preventing you from letting go is your belief in the reality of what you experience.
Dissolve problems in the “Now”
Your banking account is overdraft. You have at least four impending invoices this month, and your armpit hurts (God knows if it’s not a cancer).
Sometimes concerns become so powerful that we confuse them for actual problems. Concerns are not problems, they’re merely thoughts.
The quick fix for concern based stress is to rely on the Now, as recommended by Eckart Tolle.
For instance, a cancer might be a problem if you actually get diagnosed and have to endure chemo, but what about right now?
Nothing has been diagnosed, so in this very moment, what is the actual problem?
You might find yourself a little disappointed as you discover how few problems you have, and happy to see that there’s a lot to enjoy. That’s what happens to me when I practice this habit.
Trust your mind’s hidden processes
If you go to bed committing your mind to wake up at 7 am, it generally will. We still don’t know how that works.
Use that type of conditioning for other areas of your life, like asking your mind to put you in a cheerful state of mind for tomorrow’s meeting.
It works just as well.
In fact, our mind can do millions of things, we just don’t have the user’s manual for many of them.
There are two rules that will give you more control on your mind though:
Time: don’t expect immediate results, ask and you will receive…later. Let me use an example: when you can’t recall a name from your memory, it generally re-surfaces 20 mn later, right?
Expect the same for other commands you send to your mind, just give it some processing time.
Trust: mind works 24/7 for you, it’s only limited by the trust you put in it. The trick is to use it more and more gradually: the “organic alarm clock” is a good way to approach your mind in order to build confidence in its capacities.
Ask yourself “Hows” instead of “Whys”
That’s a trick I learned from Tony Robbins: if you want to solve problems more efficiently, ask yourself the right questions.
In that sense, asking yourself questions beginning by “How” is more effective than questions starting with “Why”.
Questions starting with “Why” call for emotional and limited answers. If you’d like to know the reason why you end up broke at the end of each months, avoid asking yourself “Why do I end up broke all the time?“, since your mind will generally come up with an answer like: “because you’re a careless imbecile”.
On the other hand, if you phrase it differently: “How do I end up broke every month?”, your mind is more likely to return a map of causes and circumstances that caused this to happen: you might have chosen a bad electricity plan or overspent on food.
In any case, the information will be more objective and actionable.
Cut down on fish and meat
The kind of junk we’re sold as meat and fish is toxic and produced in horrific conditions.
I’ve reduced my meat consumption to once a week, that way I’m much more energetic, my food budget is 30% lower and I know I do something for my fellow animals, whether they’re furry, slimy or feathery.
Give it a try, and record the days when you actually eat meat. We usually consume much more than we think.
Set a Micro-Pattern
If you found a great work out book, instead of paying a yearly membership in a gym-club and schedule unrealistic hours, commit to doing one of the exercises daily for a month. And stick it out.
Chances are your initial spurt of enthusiasm will fade away, but in the meantime, your commited 5 mn a day will have done more for yourself that the planned five weekly hours.
“Don’t judge anybody before spending two weeks in their moccasins” – Native american saying
In Buddhist teachings they say that the best remedy for anger is compassion. It’s true, and in fact, not only for anger, but most daily predicament.
Combine compassion with understanding (that’s what’s worked best for me). In short, imagine yourself in someone else’s situation. If you can’t think of a reason justifying their upsetting behavior, remind yourself that the reason might be beyond your current reach:
When a kid screams in the train (what if he’s an abused kid at home?)
When you’re stuck in traffic with a car stopped in front of you (what if he’s not the one actually blocking the way but an other car in front of him?)
When a woman skips the line (what if she has already queued up and is just giving a form that she filled out?).
Compassion makes you smarter, and nicer, and also happier. And that’s typically the kind of thing that’s practiced in the minute details of daily life.
I used to think that I needed great accomplishments to be fulfilled, now all I need is applying the right habits moment after moment. I’m sure it’ll build up in a meaningful big picture…eventually. For now, trying to sow the rights seeds daily is enough to make me happy. That seems to be the case for most old people, though…
If you’d like to receive more insanely good posts from gr0wing.com, feel free to subscribe to the weekly Fertilizer