Keep calm and enter the Void

If you saw the Netflix show Stranger Things, then you’ll get my next analogy about the Void. The Void appears as a vast infinite expanse of black nothing abyss. It is entirely empty and black, except for the character Eleven herself and whatever or whoever she is trying to locate. Next time you meditate, close your eyes and imagine entering the Void within your mind. It’s entirely still and dark. Thoughts will appear in the distance. Observe then and then keep moving. If you get a freaked out, then open your eyes and start again.

This is a refuge inside of your mind, just for you. Your thoughts will still appear, but this isn’t their home, so let go as smoothly as they arrived.

Remember to breathe.

Lagging indicators and leading indicators

“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.”  – Warren Buffett

Don’t give in to impatience. People give up because they don’t see results and confuse leading indicators with lagging indicators.

Physical health is a lagging indicator. Daily exercise and a healthy balanced diet is a leading indicator.

Financial independence is a lagging indicator. Persistence, simple living, and long-term saving habits are the leading indicators.

A happy marriage is a lagging indicator. Being in service to your spouse, compromise, kindness, and humbleness are the leading indicators.

A midlife crisis is a lagging indicator. Not being true to yourself and not having the courage to do what’s right for you when you are younger is the leading indicator.

Low stress is a lagging indicator. Controlling smartphone / screen time, daily meditation, spending time with friends, getting eight hours of sleep and cutting out the booze are leading indicators.

It’s never to late to start, but realise where and when you need to start if you want a certain outcome for yourself.

 

 

 

Flee from them

If you have a gambling problem, then don’t go to Las Vegas even if the best show in the world is playing on the strip.

If you can’t say no to that last drink, then stay away from bars.

If you are addicted to nicotine, then don’t hang out in the smoking lounge.

If you are trying to kick caffeine, then stay away from coffee shops.

If you are addicted to the endorphin kick from social media, then delete the apps like Facebook or Instagram that suck you in. Turn off push notifications and opt out of the email. There are brilliant people at these companies whose sole job, compensation and bonuses are centered on getting you to spend more time scrolling through the feed. Sadly a lot of them could be applying that same expertise to nobler causes, but money talks and principles walk out the door.

If there are people you follow on Twitter who spew negativity, hate, and decisiveness and in the process make you feel pretty shitty then unfollow them.

Don’t try to control these vices; you need to flee from them. Keep away from the hooks, and you won’t get sucked in. Addictive vices are seductive, so to counter the gravitational pull you have to engineer your life and habits to avoid them. Associate with people that reinforce good habits and keep you on track. Sometimes the best way to beat something is to run away.

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.

Mushin

The difference between the first time you do something and the next time is incredible. Muscle memory kicks in after a couple of times. Repetition increases confidence and creativity, and it’s easier to get into the concentration flow. With enough repetition you don’t think anymore you just do. In martial arts, this mind state is called Mushin. It comes from the term mushin no shin which means the mind without mind. This flow state is possible anywhere whether it’s hiking, exercising, working, playing. Rinse and repeat.

Exercising the flow muscle

Have you found that you can hardly get through a long news article these days? Reading a multipage document or an op-ed probably means skimming through the highlights before you click on a link, switch tabs in the browser or context shifting to another app. Reading a legal document is even more challenging. We’ve started to browse and snack through information versus sitting with it and digesting the message. It’s like fast food vs. a home-cooked meal. The home cooked meal takes longer, is more work and washing up, but it’s better for you and you understand the ingredients. Fast food with a quick bite and probably followed by a sugar high.

Concentrating takes practice. It’s a muscle. Fight the urge to context shift. Notifications on your phone are probably the most significant culprits. How many times have you been deep into something and are yanked out of the flow by a text message or a phone call? Start using Airplane mode and the Do Not Disturb function on your phone.

The stronger the muscle tissue becomes, the longer you can concentrate. This means getting more out of activities you enjoy, but it also means you can spend more time on things that don’t interest you but are essential like a tedious legal contract, safety manuals, assembly instructions.

Carve out the time and get into the flow.