Tag Archive | Anchoring

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’.


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

work => play
workout => playout

Another one involves adding ‘playful’ before various words:

Playful Awareness
Playful Learning

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

The Pause

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor Frankl)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space only if you create it. This is a practice. Brian Johnson calls it Response-ability. I call it Creating Space.”

“How do you create space?”

“There’s a quote I love by Josh Waitzkin:

The small things are the big things.

It’s such a beautiful and critical principle, and most people think they can wait around for the big moments to turn it on. But if you don’t cultivate “turning it on” as a way of life in the little moments – and there are hundreds of times more little moments than big – then there’s no chance in the big moments.

This quote expresses a key aspect of the practice – and of Mastery more generally:

Practice in the little moments of life. Practice when you don’t need it so that you are prepared when you do need it.

You create space by pausing. I call this aspect of the practice, The Pause. What this means is creating brief micro-pauses throughout the day. Think of them as metaphoric ‘break-points’.

To practice is to remember to practice. The more often you do it, the more often you’ll remember to do it. It’s a positive feedback loop.

Surround yourself with reminders.

Put written reminders in various places in your environment.

Turn things in the environment and experiences into reminders. (Anchoring)

For instance, a great thing to anchor pausing to is the transitional space/time between activities.”

“What do you fill the pauses with?”

“Start by practicing only The Pause.

Pause, breathe, and smile.

Stay with it as long as you need until you deeply internalize it. Think of it as the seed. Once the seed has been planted, you can grow it into the next stage of the practice.”

The Art of Anchoring 6

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can remember what’s essential?”

Make the unessential a reminder for the essential.

Identity-Affirming Habits

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What habits do you track?”

“In Superhuman by Habit, Tynan makes a distinction between new habits and old habits

All habits start as new habits. Starting a habit is the most energy-intensive part of the process. Through daily consistency, new habits progressively take less and less energy to maintain, until, eventually, they reach a point where the maintenance energy reaches zero.

An old habit is a habit that has become effortless. An old habit has become identity.

A new habit is something you do.
An old habit is something you are.

I see identity as a modular structure. I call the elements that make up your identity, identity-blocks. Identity-blocks, big and small, compound in making you who you are.

I track most habits temporarily. That is, I track new habits until they become old habits.

A select few habits, however, I want to track forever: the highest-leverage habits, and those corresponding to the most powerful identity-blocks. These are my non-negociables. I call them identity-afirming habits.”

“So they’re also reminders.”


“Which are your current identity-affirming habits?”


Writing (Playing with ideas)

Movement (Daily walk(s), Parkour, Perpetual Motion Machine [<link; very short read])

Non-Zero Progress [<link; very short read] – No day without progress towards my most important goals. 

Cold Shower

“Which of them has the longest streak?”

“Writing and cold shower: they’re both 651 days old.”

“Which is the oldest, and which is the youngest?”

“The oldest is meditation. Currently, it’s 395 days old, because I missed a day and I started back from zero.

The newest is non-zero progress. Currently, it’s 28 days young.”

The Art of Anchoring 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the best Memento Mori reminder?”

Your breath, because it’s always with you. Imagine the last breath you’ll ever take, and savor this breath as if it was your last.”

“What is the second-best reminder?”

People. Acknowledge your common humanity. Imagine the last breath they’ll ever take, and revel in the shared moment as if it was their last.”

The Art of Anchoring 4

Our goal should be to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed. (Abraham Heschel)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“That quote by Abraham Heschel expresses one of the most important life practices. I call it radical amazement

But even though I recognize it as one of the most important practices, I keep forgetting it.”

To practice is to remember to practice. Remembering is the bottleneck in any practice. It’s not a matter of knowledge – which you have –, but access.

It is impossible not to forget. Thoughts are fleeting. Your conscious mental space is limited. 

Forgetting is outside your control. What you can control is the frequency of remembering.”

“How can I maximize the frequency of remembering?

Fill your life with reminders. This is a design process.

I like to distinguish between several types of reminders: direct and indirect, external and internal.

Direct reminders are explicit reminders. You can write physically on pieces of paper, or digitally in various places on your computer: 

What gifts are you taking for granted?

Indirect reminders are things that you turn into reminders. You can write it on the sky – make the sky a reminder for the practice. You can make a color a reminder for the practice. You can surround yourself with human reminders, people who embody the practice and thus constantly remind you of it.

All these are external reminders.

You can also use internal reminders – turn certain thoughts and feelings into reminders for the practice.”

The Alphabet Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the Alphabet Game?”

“It is the game of turning the letters of the alphabet into reminders for the most important things in your life.

You can think of each letter as a little solar system, and of the meaningful things that start with each letter as the planets gravitating around them. Together they form your little galaxy of meaning.

In practice it looks like this:


– Lenses
– Leverage
– Light(ness)

– Patterns
– Perception


I start by generating as many as possible for each letter, and then I narrow them down to only the most important/powerful ones.”

“So it’s a form form of abbreviation-stacking [<link; short read].”


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.”

On dealing with intrusive thoughts

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I deal with this intrusive thought?”

Turn it into an reminder.

What do you want it to remind you of?”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is abbreviation-stacking?”

“It’s the practice of using the same abbreviation for multiple concepts.

For instance one abbreviation I use is MM.

Memento Mori
Moving Meditation

“What are the benefits?”

“An abbreviation-stack is an access-point for retrieving multiple things from memory.

In being unexplicit, it forces you to engage in active recall. In other words, it has a built-in challenge, which aids memory consolidation.

Another benefit is that you can resignify already existing abbreviations, turning them into reminders.

For instance the logo LG reminds me of Loving Gratitude [<link; medium read].”