You

Stay calm 🙏 and kick butt ⚔️

Here are a few tips that helped me get through times when I felt lost or hopeless. This is my practical, step-by-step guide, hard-earned and tested in real life.

Setting goals

Decide what you want. Pick a small goal for now — anything useful. Take the pressure off. Just pick something to work on that you can do.

Think short-term and what’s in your control. What can do you today, tomorrow, this week, this month? You can act most effectively in this timeframe.

Narrow your focus: Do one (main) thing at a time. You can’t do everything all at once. Once you finish a major goal, you can move on to the next with even more focus, having the first thing done.

Working towards goals

👉 It takes practice.

Visualize the outcome you want. Close your eyes, breath, and picture in vivid detail what you want to happen. This may sound silly, but it can help motivate you and sharpen your focus.

Work towards the outcome you want in small steps every day. Keep your current daily goals modest; keeping a backlog of stuff to do later is helpful.

👉 Doing Great Things is Boring 🤷🏻‍♂️.

Place your happiness in the progress towards the results, not in the result itself. Steady work in itself will make you feel better.

👉 “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.”

Yes, work towards an outcome, but don’t get attached to it; you can’t control everything. Focus on what you can do right now and take pride in your effort, however it may turn out.

Keep your ego in check. Do things because they go with your values and goals and not to look good or to avoid judgement.

Your happiness depends only on you, not on external people, places, or things.

👉 The Secrets to Happiness (Distilled)

Taking care of yourself

Enjoy nourishing foods any time you want: water, tea, bone broth, fruit, avocado, nuts, yogurt…

Try some calming sounds. Listen to some ambient music, nature sounds, movie soundtracks, whatever works. You can find these in your music app or even YouTube.

👉 The Best Music for Working

Freshen up your environment. Get outside for some sunlight and fresh air. Open a window. Light a scented candle or incense. Clean and tidy your home.

Move. Walk, stretch, exercise every day. Find an exercise (or two) that works for you. 🧘🏻

Taming your mind

It takes practice.☝️

👉 Super Summary: Think Like a Monk

Ask yourself – is this useful? If you find yourself having unhelpful, repetitive thoughts, then nip them in the bud. These are usually about a past or future that you can’t control and can’t solve by thinking.

Take a few deep breaths, then work on calming yourself.

Focus your mind on a gameWordle, a crossword puzzle, or a chill app like isowords, Townscaper, paper.io, or MiniMetro.

Work through your thoughts and feelings with journaling. Don’t hold back. Get it all out – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or just write a haiku about your day to make it more fun. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Meditate: Clear and observe your mind non-judgmentally. Scan your body, focus on breathing, visualize success, give gratitude, find empathy for others.

Feed your heart, not your fears

Fear makes you do stupid things and must be conquered.

👉 “Fear is the mind-killer.”“Move, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.”.

Above all, keep faith in yourself. ✌️

👉 “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”

Quotes · You

“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”

I’m going to wrap up my recent Maslow kick with one last little kick in the butt.

You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.

Abraham Maslow

You see people play it safe all the time and end up in the doldrums of easy choices, eventually stagnating and even sinking right where they are.

It’s like when your favorite band tries out a new sound. Sometimes the result is a career changer. Sometimes it’s annoying or just so very very bad. But it is almost certainly better than doing the same crap forever.

Quotes · You

“What a man can be, he must be.”

Good ol’ Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist who gave us a pyramid and a hammer, is at it again with some pretty sensible insights.

This time he’s riffing on Aristotle’s function argument about what the heck we’re even doing here. Basically, we’re here to be useful.

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.

(Apparently he was an old-school fan of the “he/him/man” pronoun. 🤷🏻‍♂️)

It’s one thing to find your purpose — and those who do so should consider themselves fortunate. But the real trick is to actually do something about it.

It refers to man’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming.

Thank you for the reminder, Mazzy. Can I call you that? Because here’s another Mazzy who found her purpose.

Quotes · You

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

This Abraham Maslow fellow doesn’t just have a pyramid, he also has a hammer. Here is the popular phrasing of Maslow’s Hammer.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Maybe Maslow

I love this saying. People often “hammer away” at something the wrong way, wasting time and failing to learn a new skill.

It’s easy to make this mistake.

As a software engineer, I’ve seen this 1000 times. “Well, we have a bunch of web servers, and we need a mobile app, so… let’s make our mobile app using web tech!” At first, it seems to make sense. But you end up with a crappy app, lots of extra work, and maybe even some unhappy developers who leave because they care about their career too much. They want to use Xcode because that’s a great tool for making apps.

(But beware, Xcode could become your next hammer. 🤷🏻‍♂️)

You

How To Talk To People You Disagree With

Lots of people are still hesitant to get the Corona vaccine. Maybe you’re one of them. Or maybe they’re driving you crazy.

If you want to know how to talk to people about this — or really about any subject on which you disagree with someone — then there are some good tips in this example text message conversation.

Hint: It turns out that it’s not helpful to lecture people, judge them, or overload them with information. Who knew? 🤷🏻‍♂️😉

Books · You

Super Summary: Think Like a Monk

I accidentally subscribed to this visual book insights app called Lucid. It promised “Read faster. Remember more.” so I had to try it. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Neglecting to cancel my free trial (oops!), I now have a full year of this service, so I might as well get the most out of it.

So this is my first “super summary” (a summary of the summary) for books I find interesting. You can see if you’re interested in reading the real thing. (audiobook | “book” book).

Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

👉 Luckily, we can take some useful lessons from monks without actually being Christian or abstinent. 😜

The monk mentality

Via Lucid

A monk has an inward focus and moves past pain and anxiety, leading to a happier and more meaningful life.

A monk focuses on core issues, long-term vision, and strives to find meaning. This is in contrast to a “monkey” mind, which is distracted, overwhelmed, and focusing on temporary fixes.

Identity and meaning

Via Lucid

Our core values define who we are and the meaning of our life. Our values should come from within rather than from other people’s influence.

We need to figure out what we’re all about so that we can focus our priorities and goals.

👉 This fits with some things the Savvy Psychologist said about values and meaning.

Dealing with negativity

👉 This section reminds me of the idea that people’s criticism often says more about themselves than the person they are criticizing. 🧐

If you think of others negatively, you think of yourself negatively.

To break this cycle: identity your negative thoughts towards others, stop, and reframe them in a more empathetic, specific, and helpful way.

If you think of others more positively, you think of yourself more positively and make better choices.

Conquering Fear

Via Lucid

👉 I like this section because I learned a while back that decisions driven by fear generally do not turn out well. 😱

Identify your deepest underlying fears. Acknowledge these fears and embrace them.

Then detach from your fears to make smart, independent, intentional choices.

Positive routines

👉 Despite this book calling for an early morning routine, I’m personally finding a relaxing nighttime routine especially useful. 😴

Wake up early to give yourself time to have a positive boost to your day. Use this time to be grateful, read & learn, meditate, and exercise.

Get to bed early and plan how you will conquer the next day.

The battle in your mind

Via Lucid

👉 I love this section because of the wolf analogy. 🤩

In each of our minds are two wolves battling with each other for control. One wolf is consumed by fear, anger, insecurity, and ego. The other is driven by love, kindness, humility, and positivity.

You can feed one of them (yes the good one!) by giving it your time and energy.

This internal battle is normal, and we should view it as external to us. Use meditation to observe your mind and better understand what might be triggering any negative thoughts.

Reframe negative thoughts in a positive way, changing problems and fears into positive actions.

You

“Meaning is what’s left when everything else is stripped away.”

Cool quote from this TED talk about almost dying and then living.

Meaning is not found in the material realm; it’s not in dinner, jazz, cocktails or conversation. Meaning is what’s left when everything else is stripped away.

There are lots of way to interpret that quote, of course.

One way I look at it is this: life is about who you are. If everything in your life suddenly disappeared and you were dropped into an empty field in an unknown country, what person would be standing there?

I’m not talking about some crazy Naked and Afraid survival scenario. Suppose you have some money and some clothes. But not much else. Who is that person standing in the field? What does he know? What does he want? How does he move forward? How will he impact the world around him? That’s who you are.

I’m not actually sure if that’s what that quote meant ☝️, but there’s my take. 😆

This goes with Aristotle’s idea that the meaning of life is what you do — how you impact the real world. As humans, we are uniquely gifted with smart brains and “rational faculty”. We are happiest when we use these minds for some purpose in the world.

A poet should write, a teacher teach, and a doctor heal. Not only should each person do their thing, but they should do it well.

I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty inspirational. 😊

You

5 Things You Don’t Need to be Happy, Fulfilled, and Successful

This Medium post has lots of juicy points.

👉 5 Things You Don’t Need to be Happy, Fulfilled, and Successful

It’s so good that I am just going to summarize it and quote it a lot right here per my own goals, but you should read it for yourself.

You Don’t Need A Bunch of Money – But making money encourages personal growth and gives you freedom and peace of mind. And the personal growth keeps you away from bad jobs, bad bosses, and bad commutes.

You Don’t Need to “Find Your Passion” – Just be good at something. Passion comes from being good at something, not the other way around. Being good at decent job can get you autonomy, a sense of meaning, and a positive work environment.

If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).

Cal Newport

You Don’t Need Everyone to Like You – “The best way to get other people to like you is to learn how to like yourself.”

You Don’t Need (Or Even Want) to Be Famous – “What can you pursue if fame isn’t the answer? Pursue building a tribe instead.”

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.

Jim Carrey

You Don’t Need Your Life to be a Movie – “You want a feeling of accomplishment, growth, and the pride that comes from following through with your goals.”

The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.

Seth Godin
creativity · You

Doing Great Things is Boring 🤷🏻‍♂️

It’s all about consistency, process, and patience… I know, yawn. But also, wow!

Interesting story here about how this guy changed his life in one year.

👉 How I Changed My Life’s Trajectory in Only 1 Year

For him, it came down to a few simple behaviors applied consistently.

  • Being curious
  • Meditating
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Saying no
  • Deemphasizing external approval
  • Doing these things consistently

I’m trying to do the same, but I would add exercising, playing music, and goofing around with the kids to the list as well. 😛


See also

This article about going slow and sticking to the process.

The moment you start enjoying the process, you’ll realize that this is what life is all about.

And this article about consistency.

The world is brimming with ideas, but few act as vessels.

Creating is not simply laying out the concept, but adapting through implementation as many times as needed until it finally works.

You

The Spacing Effect: Forgetting Makes It Stick

I love this simple idea about learning: information sticks better if you learn it in smaller chunks over time and forget a little bit in between.

It’s the exact opposite of cramming like we did in college. 😆

👉 Teach Yourself How to Learn Better

As it turns out, forgetting the information for a while helps makes it stick for longer if you revisit it later. 🤯. It may seem odd, but it make sense.

If you force your brain to bring back knowledge it’s starting to forget, then it puts a sticker to remind itself it shouldn’t forget.

This same idea came up here a few months ago in a different post. And seeing it again now, fittingly enough, really solidifies the concept for me. 🙃