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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.

Modular Meditation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Remember Kenton Whitman’s wonderful GLOW meditation [<link, video]?

Yes. Remind me what GLOW stands for.

  • Gratitude – bringing to mind one or more things that you are grateful for, focusing on the feeling.
  • Love – bringing to mind one or more things that you love, again focusing on the feeling.
  • Oneness – releasing your sense of self and feeling the connection with any and everything.
  • Wonder – accessing curiosity: ‘I wonder what magical amazing wonderful unexpected surprises are going to come into my life today.’

I’ve recently discovered another wonderful meditation by Vishen Lakhiani. He calls it the 6-phase meditation [<link, video]:

  • Love and Compassion feeling the energy of love and compassion radiating from you, and gradually expanding the feeling to all humanity and every living being on Earth.
  • Gratitude – bringing to mind multiple things that you are grateful for, to produce an emotional flooding [<link; short read] effect.
  • Forgiveness – bringing to mind someone you haven’t yet forgiven and forgiving them.
  • Future Dreaming (Creative Visualization) – thinking of some aspect of your life a few years into the future and imagining yourself experiencing the ideal outcome, feeling the joy you would feel as if it were already happening.
  • The Perfect Day – thinking about what you want/have to do today and visualizing each of them unfolding in the most perfect way possible.
  • The Blessing – imagining there’s a loving higher power above you that’s supporting you in your vision and intentions and giving you endless strength and energy.

I notice a pronounced imagination component in Vishen’s meditation.

That’s the beauty of it. It’s also imagination and visualization practice.

Which one do you like more?

“Notice how both have the same structure in that they are made of several components. I like to call this kind meditation structure modular meditation. Each of the components that make up the meditation is an interchangeable module

I like both meditations, so I’m taking pieces from both and creating my own meditation.

What does it look like?

It’s a play in progress. I’m experimenting with it.

The Language of Play

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I practice Play?

To practice is to remember to practice. One aspect of the practice is to make Play more present in your mind. One way to do that is through language, by using words and phrases evocative of Play. I call the collection of all such words and phrases the Language of Play.

There are two aspects to it: 

– using existing words and phrases – identifying such words and phrases from your play history and using them more often
– creating words and phrases – playing with language to create words and phrases that remind you to play; we might call this languageplay

One type of such languageplay for instance involves substitution of various words with the word ‘play’.

eg 

pay => play
Paypal => Playpal (reddy2go [<link])

work => play
workout => playout

Another one involves adding ‘playful’ before various words:

eg
Playful Awareness
Playful Learning

This a an instance of what I call Generative Play – playing with coming up with new ways to play.

Filtering Newsletters

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I used to be subscribed to too many newsletters. In Gmail, I automatically filter newsletter emails and group them under a label called ‘Learning’ – which acts a bit like a folder. Whenever I checked the ‘Learning’ folder, I felt anxious because there were so many unread newsletter emails. I just couldn’t keep up with them.

How did you solve this problem?

I unsubscribed from most of them and kept around 20% of them. 

Whenever I received a newsletter email, I asked myself:

How do I feel when I see a newsletter email from x? How exciting is the prospect of reading it?

If the answer was ‘meh’, I unsubscribed.

The outcome is beautiful: every time I receive a newsletter email, it feels exciting.

Reminds me of Derek Sivers’ ‘Hell Yeah, or No’.

That’s a wonderful way to think of it.

Parallel Reading

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is parallel reading?”

“By parallel reading, I mean reading from multiple books at the same time during a reading session. By contrast, sequential reading is reading from one book at a time.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“There are two benefits: variety and creative serendipity – it increases the likelihood of connecting ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

“Can you give more details on how it works?”

“Let’s take the idea as the information unit. You’re basically reading from idea to idea. If you read optimally, you skim through unuseful ideas and read only the useful ones. So in optimal reading, you proceed from one useful idea to another.

In sequential reading, you proceed from one useful idea to another within the same book. In parallel reading, you likewise proceed from one useful idea to another, but across different books. You read from one book until you find a useful idea. You process the idea, and then you change to a different book, repeating the process until a pomodoro passes.”

“So if, say, during a pomodoro of sequential reading you go through 10 ideas, during a pomodoro of parallel reading you go through 10 ideas from 10 different books.”

“Precisely.”