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Life as System

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I optimize my life?

“Think of your life as a symphony of systems.

I call the systems that make up your life, life-systems.

Life optimization is systems optimization.

Gain clarity on what the highest-leverage life-systems are, and optimize them one by one.

Should I focus on one at a time?

You can have one as the primary focus and several as secondary foci.

And you can focus on optimizing one thing at a time within every life-system.

What is the most important life-system?

Your beautiful BodyMind because it creates your reality.

What are the most important life-systems?

For me, they are four:

BodyMind System

– Thinking / Awareness System
– Self-Care System

Meaning System

– Beliefs System
– Identity System
– Values System

FUNdamentals System

– Sleep
– Nutrition
– Movement

– Self-Awareness
– Breathing
– Meditation
– Celebration

The Big Three

– Energy System
– Work System
– Relationships System

Masterpiece Days 3

Make each day your masterpiece. (John Wooden)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Live your masterpiece day every day of your life.“

How?

“Make it depend only on things within your control. And make it antifragile.

In terms of structure, you have most control over the beginning and end of the day – the AM and PM bookends, as someone called them. Treat the bookends as sacred time and endlessly optimize them. Make the bookends the first and last win of the day regardless of how the rest of the day went.

In terms of content, gain clarity on the things that are most meaningful to you, those things that make you feel most radiantly alive. 

What are those things so meaningful that you see yourself doing them every day for the rest of your life? 

Those are your daily life-quests. Treat them as sacred and make it a habit to do them every single day regardless of circumstances.

Life Design Document

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What do you start your day with?

By reading my Life Design Document (in Google Keep). It’s a deeply meaningful document with a specific structure:

General Life Purpose
Who do you want to be?
How can you use your Gifts in greatest service to the world?

Specific Life Purpose
What are you pursuing over the next few years?

Mastery
What are you mastering over the next 10 years?

Identity
How would you express the essence of who you are?

Strengths
What are your top strengths?

Zone of Genius
What is it that you and only you can do? (Onlyness)
What feels like play to you but work to others?

Virtues
What are your core values?

Feelings
How do you want to feel consistently?

Goals for the Year
What is the most important goal for the year?
What are the most important secondary goals for the year?

Why is it important?

Reading it activates me for the day – it has a powerful energizing effect.

Every section is a prompt. I start every day by reflecting on what’s essential, to gain more and more clarity on it.

So there’s value in both reading the answers and in asking the questions anew every day.

Yes.

Every day I also seek to optimize the document itself. It’s been through quite a few iterations. The document is modular: I can add or remove sections, I can change the order of the sections to maximize the impact while reading (Sequencing), I can add, remove, or modify questions.

Why-Priming 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Why do we so often fail to live up to our ideals?

One reason is that we forget.

At a certain moment in time, you choose to do something because you know Why you’re doing it, it feels important, you’re connected with the Meaning of it.

At a different moment in time, when confronted with the same choice, you choose differently. At that moment, it doesn’t feel important, the Why is absent from your mind.

This is an access problem.

You have the knowledge, but the knowledge is not available when you need it. I call the process of making knowledge available when you need it, operationalizing knowledge.

How can I operationalize knowledge?

Make it a habit to ask yourself often about the things you’re considering doing:

Why is it important?

I call this practice, why-priming. You can think of it as a themed micro-meditation – a meditation that helps you reconnect with Meaning.

On Balance 5

Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectations. (Seneca)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I lost balance.

Why is that a problem?

I don’t want to lose balance.

There’s your problem right there. 

Losing balance is inevitable. What you want is an impossibility.

Losing balance is outside your control. Something external happens which triggers an unconscious internal response – oft-times unpleasant. You can’t control the internal response. What you can control is how you respond to and how fast you recover from it.

Expect losing balance, my dear. Greet it as an old friend. Thus you ensure it never takes you by surprise.

Losing balance is a beautiful opportunity to practice recovery. Every time you lose balance is another rep(etition) of this vital art.

Losing balance is a beautiful opportunity to learn something about yourself. Every time you lose balance ask yourself:

What is the lesson?

Find the lesson, then express gratitude for the beautiful gift. 

There’s always a gift.

Two Fundamental Principles of Learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What are the two principles?

I call them Beautiful Mindset and Beautiful State.

Beautiful Mindset

Beautiful Mindset is about how you think. Learning is profoundly influenced by your mindset.

I’m thinking of two mindsets in particular:

Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) 

Has to do with belief:
– the belief that you can learn 
– the belief that, with persistence and consistency, you can learn anything you set your mind to

Learning Mindset 

Has to do with how you approach learning.  The optimal way to approach learning is playfully, by connecting with your inner child. We might call it the Playful Mindset.

Beautiful State

Beautiful State is about how you feel. Learning is profoundly influenced by your mental/emotional state. 

A beautiful state is one in which you’re relaxed and experiencing one or more of the (what I call) transcendental feelings: Joy, Curiosity, Wonder, Love, Gratitude, Playfulness, having Fun.

When you’re in a beautiful state, you’re most open-minded and receptive to learning. 

To optimize learning, you need to optimize both your mindset and your state.

Reminds me of Piotr Wozniak’s Fundamental Law of Learning:

Good learning is fundamentally pleasurable. Without pleasure, there is no good learning.

You can think of pleasure as feedback. It’s the sign that you’re doing it right.

Random Reading

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I’m reading over 50 books at the same time. (Parallel Reading [<link; short read])

Really? How?

I have them in PDF format and I use a little program I found on GitHub called RandomFile [<link] to randomize them.

I have the books in two folders called ’20’ and ’80’. The program allows you to pick multiple folders and select a weight for them – that is, the probability of extracting a random file from each folder.

What weights did you set?

80% probability of extracting a book from the 20 folder. 
20% probability of extracting a book from the 80 folder.

A little aesthetic touch.

I’m most likely to get books from the 20 folder, but once in a while, I get a book from the 80 folder which is a nice surprise.

You mean on top of the surprise of not knowing what you’ll be reading from next?

Indeed.


P.S. If you want to download the RandomFile program from GitHub, click on the green button labeled ‘Code’. (I had to look it up.)

The Joy of Learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How engaging is your learning?

Pretty engaging.

Don’t settle for mildly warm, my dear.

Burn!

Is your learning deeply joyful? Are you having fun? Are you rapt in wonder? Are you having mental orgasms?

If not, there’s room for optimization.

On Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What’s the difference between you at your highest and you at your lowest?

“Connection with Meaning.

To navigate life, we build a Map of Meaning for ourselves to give us a sense of purpose and direction. In the absence of a Map, we drift through life, from distraction to distraction, in an effort to temporarily extinguish the gnawing emptiness within.

Without a Map, the challenge is forgetting.
With a Map, the challenge is remembering.

We can’t help temporarily forgetting what’s essential. Balance is a perpetual homecoming – endlessly losing ourselves and finding our way back to Meaning.

By Meaning are you referring to God?

For some, it is God. For others, something else. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it opens your heart to the Beauty of existence.

The Quality Game

Always do your best. (Miguel Ruiz)

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. (Henry Ward Beecher)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the Quality Game?”

“It’s a spiritual game, with a double meaning:

the game of playing every game well (Wisdom, Character, Moral Excellence)

the game of doing everything well (Mastery, Technical Excellence)

I like to think of them in aesthetic terms:

Play beautiful.
Do everything beautifully.