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My Niche

Make yourself useful.
Make yourself scarce.

(Jack Butcher)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is your niche?

Express it as one skill, and three skills.”

“Expressed as one skill, my niche is Thinking/Awareness. I consider it life’s most important skill.”

“Why the pairing?”

“I’ve integrated them together into one concept (Concept-Stacking [<link; short read]). Another way of expressing it is Thinking/Non-Thinking.”

“Like Yin/Yang?”


Expressed as three skills, my niche is:

Meta-Thinking Deconstructing and creating meaning and mental tools of thought, optimally directing attention, QM (Questions and Mental Models), …

Creative Thinking Creativity and Design

Meta-Learning – Optimal Learning”

“If we think of these skills as tools, what is their ultimate output?”

Artful Living – Life and Experience Design

Over the coming years, I want to discover ways of making myself useful in all these areas.”


Life Patterns

What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits. (Carl Jung)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What current aspects of your life are an evolution of previous ones?”

“I’ve identified three major aspects:

Moving as a child

I love moving.

I used to love moving as a child. Running, jumping, climbing, creative physical challenges… I realize I was doing Parkour long before I knew Parkour existed. Discovering Parkour was actually a rediscovery. Parkour is an evolution of my playful childhood adventures, and something I see myself doing forever. As I like to say, ‘Traceur forever’.

Soul Quest: Parkour Mastery
Identity: MoverTraceurAthlete
Mantra: Move beautiful.

My gaming years

I love playing.

Video games have been an addiction for me for many years. Many people play games as a temporary distraction from the real world. For me, they were my reality. I lived in imaginary fantastic worlds, and the real world was a temporary distraction.

I left video games behind and finally discovered the game of my life: my own life. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; medium read]. The game is a meta-game, which is made up of a myriad lower-order games. I engage in it as both a Player and a Designer.

Soul Quest: Playful Living – Life as Play
Identity: Dani, the Ever-Playful
Mantra: Play is destiny.

Thinking as passion

I love thinking.

I lived in my head most of my life. At some point, I jokingly remarked that if I were to visually represent what the world looked like for me, it would have been mostly empty space and curves of attractive women.

I’ve been playing with ideas for a long time – one of my favorite pastimes. I disregarded other areas of my life, but in the process I got pretty good at it.

The next level in my evolution as a Thinker is meta-thinking, a concept I created to describe the (practical) process of creating conceptual tools and deconstructing meaning. It also involves balancing Thinking with Awareness. I realized that in order to master Thinking I also need to master Non-Thinking, disengaging the mind.

Soul Quests: Thinking Mastery – becoming a Super ThinkerArtful Living – Life as Art
Identity: ThinkerLife-Artist, Explorer and Creator of Meaning
Mantra: Think beautiful.”

The Parkour Walk 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The tube (underground train) in Bucharest is beautiful.”

“What do you like about it?”

“It forms a continuous moving path littered with human-obstacles. It’s a beautiful movement challenge.

Whenever I go by tube, I walk back and forth from one end to the other for the entire duration of the journey.


“You must be getting quite a few stares.”

“This is an integral part of the practice. It’s also a beautiful emotional challenge.”

Thinker 7

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“If you were to express one thing as art – x as Art –, that thing which best captures who you are, what would it be?”

Thinking as Art.

Or, expressed as a directive,

Think beautiful.

Everything in our life is an outgrowth of our thinking. 

Thinking shapes reality. 

Thinking, and by extension, our beautiful BodyMind is the most powerful tool we will ever possess. 

I’ve dedicated my life to mastering it.”

Quotes Collector

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I collect quotes. My quotes collection has exceeded 6000 quotes, and it’s growing.

Without the ability to randomize them, to extract quotes at random, a quotes collection has limited value.

“You can search for them.”

“Searching is useful but limited. To search for something, you have to know what you’re looking for. When you have so many of them, most you won’t remember you have.

Randomness helps you constantly rediscover quotes. And, in not knowing what to expect, it creates a little surprise every time.

That’s (partly) why I created the CommonBook [<link].”

“What are the most valuable quotes in your collection?”

Inspirational Quotes: quotes that influence how I feel, by reminding me of what’s essential. Mementos.

Reflectional Quotes: quotes that stimulate my mind.”

“Like Zen koans and such?”


The most valuable are those that fall in both categories, that both inspire and stimulate.”

Two random quotes

Loving Breath

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is a loving breath?”

A breath imbued with Meaning.

We’ve talked a while ago about macro-meditation [<link; short read].” 

“I remember. Seeing your life as meditation.”


Just like in regular meditation you have a point of focus – an anchor – you keep returning to, in macro-meditation you have an anchor for your life which you keep returning to throughout the day.

For me the anchor is Love. 

Whenever I notice I lost sight of my anchor, I take a deep loving breath and a smile. I often follow it with a love mantra [<link; short read].”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“A few years ago, I used to have a beautiful little practice. Every day, I used to draw a little sun in a corner of the page with Love written inside it.

Love is the central value of my life. I metaphorically think of it as the Sun of my life. The drawing served as a little visual reminder. 

But then, one day I forgot to do it. 

And the next day. And the next… And the practice was lost.

Until now.”

“How did you remember it?”

“I didn’t. If I hadn’t kept some of my old notes – that had been waiting for me to process them for a long time –, I wouldn’t have.”

“But you did rediscover it.


Prolonged absence makes the joy of rediscovery all the sweeter.”

“Still, I don’t want to lose it again.”

“Then do some system optimization to make it a reality.

Process your notes the same day instead of letting them pile up. And keep yesterday’s note at hand as a reminder.”

“The funny thing is, I used to do that. But then I forgot about it.”

“Then maybe you need to document your systems. Have them written down.

Think of it as entropy insurance.”

Creator of Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is your blog about?”

“I read it’s important to find a niche to focus on, but I have so many interests.”

“Take a big-picture view.”

“My Ikigai / Life Purpose expressed in one word is Beautify [<link; short read]. At a macro level, I want to make my life a work of art. We might call it Artful Living.”

“Is that why you call yourself a Life-Artist?”


I’m expressing myself through my living – I’m creating Life-Art.

At a lower level of magnification, my Life-Art is beautifying the day every day.
At the lowest level of magnification, my Life-Art is beautifying the moment every moment.

My primary value is Love. All other values flow from it.
My secondary value is Play.

Combined, they form the twin value of Loving Play [<link; short read].”

“A ‘value combo’?”

“Nice way of putting it.

Viewed through this lens, the name of my Life-Art is Playful Living. I think of my life as a spiritual game which I call The Beautiful Game [<link; medium read].

Within the context of the Game, I call my ideals – my guiding stars – Soul Quests

My central Soul Quests are Wisdom – in the ancient sense of the word – and  Self-Mastery.

Self Mastery has two components:

Mental/Emotional Mastery: Thinking/Awareness Mastery
Physical Mastery: Breathing and Movement Mastery

My ultimate goal is to develop a Beautiful BodyMind and a Beautiful Character.”

“How would you express all this as a mantra?”

“Live beautiful.
Think/Feel beautiful.
Move beautiful.”

Reminders for reminders

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I have ‘Connections’ and ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ tattooed on my forearms as reminders of two central ideas of my life.”

“Does it work?”

“Yes. I have a reminder on my morning journaling page to look at my tattoos.”

Mastery Map

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you want to master in this life?”


“If you were to depict it as a map, what would it look like?”

“Like this: