I’ve neglected to add any new posts to this blog in a long while. I’ve had fleeting inspiration and ideas here and there, but I haven’t felt motivated to continue writing here.
I’ve spent the best part of this year thinking about what I want, personally, professionally, creatively and more. Some things are clearer to me than they were before and others are still being developed and pondered.
There is one thing I still believe in deeply, and this is the power of thoughts and ideas.
While The Meaning Experiment has partially been about exploring new thoughts, it has more been a documentation of my own experiments. I want the focus to be on transforming your thoughts to enable you to live a life of your own creation, that reflects the beliefs you most want to hold.
So I’ve started a new blog, and it is still very new. It’s a bit prettier, a little more polished and I’m still sorting out the structure. The writing will remain the same, with the focus on transforming your thoughts in the various areas of your life.
If you’ve been a fan here, I hope you’ll join me and follow me there, and spread the word to others if you think it worthwhile.
Come on over and visit www.transformativethoughts.com
Can’t wait to hear from you
November 20, 2012 No Comments
I had a conversation with my brother today as we chatted about what we should be doing with our lives. We have this conversation often, but today as I drove home reflecting on what we had discussed I realised something central about how I have figured out where I’m going next.
In our conversation my brother was trying to convince me that I should be focussing on ideas and solutions that involve robotics and the associated technology since he feels this will be the next big focus in our lifetime.
I could understand where he was coming from but this idea didn’t spark my interest at all. I don’t have the same curiosity and passion for technology and inventions as he does. My interests lie in the human condition and our evolution both individually and as a species. I told him that I’m more interested in discovering solutions to bringing all humans to a similar level of intelligence and enlightened consciousness. He thought I was thinking about the key to the future from the completely wrong angle.
On the drive home I realised that my brother’s interests and passions are very much inspired by the people in history (and in the now) that fascinate and impress him the most. Ever since he was little he’s been fascinated by famous inventors and scientists and even went to a school fancy dress event dressed as Doc Brown from Back To The Future. It’s the life stories of these people he admires – how they came to be who they are, how they live their lives, how they think and how they were often able to discover amazing inventions without the sort of education or training we would think necessary today – that has spurred him on to think about life and what he wants to achieve.
I don’t have a personal history of admiring certain types of people and their stories since I was very young, but in more recent years my interest in the life stories and contributions of certain individuals or types of individuals has been consuming. I can’t seem to get enough of discovering how those I admire came to be who they are and came to have their influence on the world.
When I look at these individuals they tend to fall into at least one of the following categories: feminist, atheist, social commentator, personal/spiritual development advisor/inspirer, historical novelist, entrepreneur. What they have in common above all is that they are all writers with large followings. Their ideas and thoughts inspire and inform others and they are greatly valued for the contribution of their ideas.
As I drove home today wondering whether I really should be turning my focus more towards science and its applications I quickly realised that no, that wasn’t for me. What I want is to be like those I most admire. I want to be a prolific writer, whose ideas and contributions help inspire and inform the choices of my readers throughout their lives. In this way I think I will be able to contribute to the development of humanity, even if only through a small handful of people.
You can achieve this same understanding by thinking carefully about those people who most inspire you and spark your intense curiosity. Whose lives interest you most? Who do you most find yourself wanting to be like and why? Whose status updates or tweets can you not get enough of? Whose blog posts do you wait for eagerly? Whose biography can you not wait to read? Who have you read about most recently on Wikipedia?
Investigate this and you will be one huge step closer to figuring out what you want to do with your life and what sort of person you want to be. If you study those that inspire you closely, you’ll also figure out a few different strategies about how you can achieve your dreams.
I’d love to hear what you think about this strategy and whether it will hold much merit for you in your search.
August 4, 2012 13 Comments
I recently learned about The Daily Practice as suggested by James Altucher. I have linked to a few posts by James in recent times and if you haven’t read any of his posts yet, I think you’ll find yourself feeling uplifted and awakened by his point of view and outlook on how life can be lived.
In brief, The Daily Practice involves doing one thing each day from each of these four areas: Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. I have integrated this into my goal of achieving more self-discipline and achieving more balance in my life.
James says that the times in his life where he’s completed the Daily Practice each day have resulted in better luck. He says he has found himself to be more open, receptive to great ideas and focused on those things he finds most important in life.
It is this last one that appeals to me most as I often find myself feeling scattered, without focus and unsure of exactly were to aim my efforts. I tend to lose touch with my values and soak up too much influence from what’s going on around me rather than being clear on what I need and what’s best for me and my path.
James has a whole site dedicated to helping you log your goals in each of the four areas and suggestions for what goals in each area might look like.
For example, in the Mental area he suggests building your mental muscle by learning to develop your ideas and imagination. His simple method to achieve this involves writing lists of ideas, perhaps ten at a time, on all sorts of topics and in particular ideas that involve ways you can make money and contribute to the world. I have found this to be really fun and I’ve started to really understand what James means when he says ideas breed more ideas and tend to grow exponentially. On a recent trip away I found a cute notebook to carry around to write my ideas down as they occur to me, as they tend to do so more and more often.
In the Spiritual area I am working on building up my meditation practice each day. Reading inspirational writing is another great way to develop this area of your life. Sitting and just being, idly and without thinking of anything in particular, is another great means of adding a spiritual dimension to your day.
You might develop the Physical dimension by improving your diet and exercise, adding healthier options in small doses as the weeks go by. Each time you go to eat or drink the thought of physical attention and improvement will be foremost in your mind and you will inevitably make better choices for yourself simply through reflection.
The Emotional aspect is what I at first found more challenging to grasp as it seems difficult to find something tangible to focus on. By simply keeping the thought in my mind that I wanted to work on emotional aspects of myself it became more obvious through observing my thoughts on what I need to focus on. Reading James’ posts also helped with this a lot, especially as he writes often about his more fearful and angry thoughts that he works on daily to soften and heal.
I see in me, as you might see in you, constant thoughts of judgement against others, or suspicion, of fear, of anger and of hurt. Each day I become aware more often of these thoughts and am able to let them pass as just another thought, rather than focusing on them and giving them any more power or influence. I also find myself more disturbed by negativity and look for ways to add and allow more positivity in my life.
If any of this seems interesting or attractive to you, or maybe you are a little bit curious, then I suggest you read more about what James has to say and try out the Daily Practice for yourself. I’d love to hear what you think you might try or how it makes you feel. Perhaps try some days doing the Daily Practice and others not and notice how you feel. I have been doing that lately to measure how effective it really is, or whether it’s a temporary improvement only. So far I can see that when I don’t engage in the whole practice I feel a bit at sea, a bit lost and without clarity. The days that I do complete the whole practice I feel like I have made a small step in the right direction and that I am in control of shaping my life in a way that will delight and inspire me.
I hope you find something here that will be useful to you and will improve your life beyond what you could imagine.
July 14, 2012 No Comments
Whether you love Seinfeld or not, you can’t deny that Jerry Seinfeld has been, and still is, a huge success both on the Comedy scene and also in business. I’ve read often about his very simple approach to holding himself accountable to get tasks done and I find it appealing in its logic and simplicity. He attributes this method to becoming a better and more successful comedian and it is the advice he gives to others to help them achieve their goals.
The ideas is this:
You have on your wall or in some prominent space in your house a calendar for the entire year. (I printed beautiful monthly A4 calendars from The Organised Housewife for the remainder of this year.)
Each day you do something physical to move yourself towards your goal – it can be small but it must be something real and tangible. Once done you can cross off the day on the calendar.
After a few days you see a chain of crosses starting to appear on your calendar and your focus is to not break the chain. Don’t break the chain! The visual representation of your goals coming to life is right in front of you and you will not want to cause a break in your success.
Throughout the day, you will have in your mind that you want to put a cross on that calendar so your goals will be foremost in your mind and you will be itching to do something productive rather than finding ways to put off the life you want until tomorrow.
Here is how I have implemented Seinfeld’s method in my own life this week:
Last Sunday I printed off those calendars for the rest of 2012. I spent that day brainstorming four goals that I wanted to achieve each and every day and I’m calling this my Daily Practice. (I’ll be sharing more about this Daily Practice in my next post – it’s a borrowed idea from someone else I really admire). I wrote the goals on my calendar (if you use those that I suggested you’ll see there’s a section for doing exactly that!).
My four goals are:
- To eat whole foods (non-processed) and mostly gluten-free, to eat two meals a day and perhaps one snack and to stay away from sugar. If there is a special occasion (wedding, birthday) I can indulge in a nice dessert.
- To exercise each day via body weight exercises – at the moment these consist of either push-ups or squats
- To meditate each day from anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes.
- To work on creating passive income.
I’ll likely be adding a fifth goal to this list this week as amazingly it has become increasingly obvious that there is an area of my life really holding me back. Now I say amazingly because although I expected subtle shifts of improvement in my life from following a Daily Practice and the Seinfeld Approach, I didn’t expect the changes to be quite so dramatic and obvious. Again, more on that in the next post!
You don’t need to have four goals per day, just one will do. You can use the Seinfeld Approach to be more productive or to help you get you diet straightened out. The first thing you want to do is organise the calendar and once that is done you can choose your goal. Have a brightly coloured marker available to start crossing off the days. I personally put a big asterisk in each day on the calendar, probably because as a teacher crosses mean something else to me!
Give it a try and let me know whether this method of accountability works for you and how it changes the way in which you approach your day.
Gotta love Seinfeld!
June 17, 2012 6 Comments
The biggest thing that frustrates me about me is that I seem to be seriously lacking in self-discipline. What frustrates me the most about this is that I see myself as someone of immense discipline. And then today I realised, with the help of Steve Pavlina, that I am only disciplined in certain contexts.
Currently, at my place of employment, I work industriously and reliably all day on dozens of tasks that I couldn’t care less about. I’m preparing worksheets, working through maths problems, updating spreadsheets, tracking homework completion, coercing students into working and it goes on and on. I personally place no value on these tasks. I don’t believe they are enhancing my life or enhancing the learning of my students. And yet I fulfil these tasks with discipline and vigour. Odd isn’t it?
How about you? I’m sure you can think through a day recently at work where you slaved away on things you don’t care much about but apply yourself to as though the end result would be both personally rewarding and communally significant.
Then I arrive home and I feel the prickles of excitement that it is now “me” time and I can work towards my own goals. Almost immediately a sense of deep tiredness comes over me, I eat, I check Facebook and my personal email, I read the inspirational work of others, I nap and I let the hours float by.
I don’t apply myself. I don’t work on my passive income goals. I don’t exercise. I don’t meditate. I don’t read my books. I don’t work on a blog post for my dear and neglected blog. I don’t work on any of the things I’ve craved for throughout the day or pined after upon waking up and I want to shake myself or give myself a good slap in the face!
And you? Can you relate to any of this? Do your dreams, personal plans and projects take a back seat when you have the best of intentions? Do you give the best of yourself to others you don’t care much about during the day and then give yourself nothing at the end of it and nothing much remarkable on the weekend either?
Why? Why are we like this?
The answer is both simple and a little pathetic.
The fact is that social responsibility has a greater influence on us than personal responsibility. That’s it.
Undoubtedly we have been raised this way, taught that how we behave in group settings is more important than how we behave on our own. When we check ourselves we often do so thinking of how others might perceive us. Schooling teaches us to work for external praise and recognition (or avoid reprimands from our teachers and parents) and we are fortunate students if we happen to derive personal satisfaction from our learning also.
Our motivations come from group dynamics and we haven’t learnt how to maintain motivation for those things that are personally meaningful and important.
We work hard on projects and tasks that we couldn’t care less about because the environment at work is set up for it. You look around you and everyone else seems to be busy with their tasks and it’s a familiar environment. In fact doesn’t it remind you suspiciously of school?
When you get home what is the environment set up for? You have your TV, your computer, your couch, your bed, your music, your movies and so on. It’s set up for doing nothing much at all! It’s set up for relaxation, for distraction, for escape. And if you live with others, chances are they are just as absorbed in these activities as you are.
As Dr Phil likes to say, you need to set up your environment for success instead of failure. If you’re dieting you don’t successfully do so by exercising your will power every time you open the cupboard or fridge. Instead when you open them there’s nothing there to take you away from your goal. Your environment supports your success.
Now Steve Pavlina, in talking about setting yourself up for success in achieving passive income goals recommends installing a social accountability component. In his words, “You will find it much easier to discipline yourself to take action when you might otherwise have stalled if you have a greater social reason to succeed. And with some decent social pressure, you can’t just quit. People won’t let you quit. In your moments of weakness, someone else will give you the needed pep talk.”
While I understand what he means and I trust his advice, it doesn’t sit well with me. I instead what to build my self-discipline muscle and succeed in projects that are meaningful to me and also happen to be a useful contribution to others.
I don’t want to rely on social pressure, worrying about my self-image if I were to quit a commitment. I don’t feel that builds me up in a positive way. Instead I feel it is more of the same, more of what we have been raised to think and believe. I think we can all build self-discipline for ourselves alone, and come to a position of strength where we are accountable to ourselves first and foremost in all situations.
Do I have something in mind to build this muscle? Of course! And I will chat more about it with you in the next post
June 4, 2012 4 Comments