Tag Archive | Compounding

Compounding Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“For how long do you meditate daily these days? Is it the standard 20 minutes in the morning?”

“I meditate for 15 minutes in the morning.”

“Why 15 minutes?”

“It’s another facet of my life-art.

I meditate for 5 minutes during every hour of the day. I consider every hour sacred, and I want to make the most of it every day. 5 minutes may not sound like much, but over the course of a day, they compound.

There are 16 hours in a day. 5 minutes every hour over 15 hours is 15×5 = 75 = 60+15 minutes. Add the 15 minutes in the first hour of the day, and you get 90 minutes. I meditate for an hour and a half every day.”

Befriending discomfort

Mentally and physically train yourself to live on the other side of pain. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I befriend discomfort?”

“Practice in the little moments of life.

Practice in the small things.

The small things are the big things. (Josh Waitzkin)

The small things compound [<link; short read].
The small things prepare you for the big things.

Take itching, for instance.

Make it a habit to never scratch.

Whenever you’re feeling an itch, pause, breathe, inhibit the impulse, and smile.

Bring to mind the idea of impermanence.

This too shall pass.”

“Such a small thing.” 

“The small things are common.
The big things are rare.

Life is mostly made up of small things.

To live artfully is to beautify and make the most of the small things moment to moment.”

On pleasure 4

The art of living is the art of cultivating the right pleasures.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Take any of your pleasures.

Will you remember it tomorrow? In a week? Ever?

Does it persistently change something about you for the better?

What if you had never done it? Would you have missed anything?
What if you never did it again? What would you miss?”

“Do all pleasures need to be useful?”

“They don’t, of course.

What I’m saying is, unlike the rest, useful pleasures compound [<link; short read].

Pleasures are not fate. They’re merely habits – persistent patterns of being. Habits can be cultivated and changed.

What if you only cultivated useful pleasures?
What if you changed all pleasures for useful pleasures?

Who could you become?

Thinker 9

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I love ideas. Playing with ideas is one of my favorite pastimes.”

“What are the most valuable ideas?”

“It’s important to realize how huge the universe of ideas is. It’s far beyond the scope of any one individual.

It’s also important to realize that engaging with ideas is a collective process. Humanity is enriched by the compounded effect of a myriad little individual contributions.

The chief task of the Thinker is to discover their area of contribution – the area they can contribute most in.

Within the realm of ideas, I’m mainly interested in practical ideas, by which I mean ideas that have practical application for the Art of Living. The Practical is my macro-filter, which narrows the universe of ideas considerably.

Within the realm of practical ideas, 20% are big ideas (Pareto Principle) – the most insightful kind.

Within the realm of practical big ideas, 20% are highest-leverage – the most impactful kind.” 

“So highest-leverage big ideas are 20% of the 20%.”

“Yes. Those are the most valuable.

Viewed as a hierarchy, it looks like this:

Highest-Leverage Practical Big Ideas
Practical Big Ideas
Practical Ideas

On Meditation and Compounding

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Your breaks after a pomodoro (30 minutes) of deep work are 10-minute long, right?”


What if you did a 5-minute meditation during every break?

All these little meditation rep(etition)s compound [<link; short read].

You start and end the day with a 10-minute meditation. That’s 20 minutes. 8 breaks – 4 hours of deep work – mean 40 more minutes. That’s easily one hour of meditation every day.”

“Beautiful idea.”

The Movement Game 4

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I move more?”

Play with building little challenges into everyday activities.

Take putting on your socks for instance. The default is doing it by sitting. You can do better.

Put on your socks while standing.
Put on your socks while standing on a balancing board.

You thus turn an everyday activity into a little movement snack [<link; medium read]. 

When people think of movement, they usually think of infrequent relatively large sessions.

I’ve inverted the paradigm: frequent short sessions throughout the day.

Taken individually, they may not look like much. But over the course of a day, all these little snacks compound [<link; medium read].”


All the real benefits in life come from compound interest. (Naval Ravikant)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by compounding?”

“On one hand, I mean exponential growth.

The best known example is compound interest in Economics. A sum of money grows by a percentage of the entire sum. As the sum grows, so does its rate of growth. This is a positive feedback loop.

Another example is a snowball rolling down a mountain. As it rolls, it gathers an amount of snow proportional to its size.

On the other hand, I mean incremental growth.

Another name for it is marginal gains.

Small changes add up. Taken individually, a single drop of water is insignificant. On a long enough time-frame however, drop by little drop fills an ocean.

Moreover, small incremental change is invisible. It takes time for its cumulative effect to become manifest.

In the realm of personal growth, both meanings of compounding are important.

Incremental growth means having the insight to see the invisible, to see that every little one of your actions adds up [<link; medium read].

Exponential growth means having the insight to focus your efforts on the things that produce exponential returns.

I expressed it in terms of growth, but it goes in the other direction too.

Effective productive time compounds. Wasted time compounds as well.”

Inspirational Materials as Resource

Every day you have to feed your mind. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I take Tony’s quote to mean two things.

Learn every single day.

Go to bed every night a little wiser than when you got up. (Charlie Munger)

Get inspired every single day.

You know how powerful words can be, how they can kindle the fire of motivation within you.”

“I also know that it doesn’t last.”

“Yes, the effect is temporary. That’s precisely why you need to do it more often.

Think of everything that inspires you as a micro-moment of positivity [<link; medium read]. All these micro-moments compound. The goal is to increase the density [<link; short read] of these micro-moments over the course of a day.”


“This takes some optimization design.

Think of inspirational materials as a resource. Don’t go looking for them every time. That is time wasted. Prepare them ahead of time.

Become a collector of inspirational resources. Over time, create your own powerful selection.” 

Be selective. Focus only on the 20% (Pareto Principle).”

“What is your way of doing it?”

“Whenever I encounter a powerful quote, I save it in my CommonBook [<link]. 

From time to time throughout the day, I extract two at random. This accomplishes two things:

I trigger a micro-moment of positivity.
I practice creativity by forcing myself to make connections between them.”

The most productive week of my life

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can you measure progress?”

“There are many metrics you can use. One of them is Productivity.

How productive are you in the things that matter most?

In my case for instance, this was the most productive week of my life. 

The deep-work hours can be seen in the bottom right

Granted, I’m between jobs, so I have more time to dedicate my work than I would otherwise. What’s important however is the persistent structures I have set in place, which will stay with me for the rest of my life. They’ve become part of who I am.”

“What’s your secret?”

“There is none.

I like to think of Productivity as a system. I’ve been optimizing it for a long time now, and I will continue to do so indefinitely. The system has four components:


I call the capacity to maintain Attention on ONE thing Deep-Focus. This essentially means the capacity to deal with distractions, both internal and external.
You can train to deal with internal distractions through Meditation.
As for external distractions, you can deal with them in two ways: eliminating distractions, and building resilience to them.

The heroic level here is being able to maintain Deep-Focus despite distractions.

The Energy system is one of the most important systems of your life. It’s an enabler, which impacts EVERY area of your life. The system has four components:


Energy management is the reason why I track my work/rest oscillation every day [<link; medium length].

Effectiveness means being productive in what matters. This is a matter of gaining clarity on what matters, prioritization, and sequencing [<link; short].

Efficiency measures your actual productive-output. Optimizing productive output with the goal of maximizing productive-density [<link; short] is what I’m focusing on at the moment.

Then there’s also wasted-time minimization. We might think of wasted time as dead time, to use Robert Greene’s vivid terminology, which he contrasts with alive time. Dead time has a hidden opportunity cost because it steals time away from alive time. Although you may not see it in the moment, dead time compounds, and over the course of a lifetime, it amounts to a LOT of time.

The heroic level here is eliminating wasted time entirely.”

“Don’t you take any days off?”


If you manage your energy properly, you don’t need to.
If you work on what’s most meaningful, why would you want to?”

Micro-Moments of Positivity

The frequency of your successes is more important than the size. (BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Why is the frequency of successes more important than the size?”

“When acknowledged and celebrated, every success, even tiny ones, produces a pleasant feeling. ‘Acknowledged and celebrated’ is key here because, by default, they usually pass us by unnoticed. In the context of habit creation, this can be used to enforce a habit. However, this extends beyond habit creation, into the realm of well-being.

There’s a conceptual model I like from Barbara Fredrickson’s book Love 2.0: Micro-Moments of Positivity. Acknowledged and celebrated successes produce micro-moments of positivity. Taken individually, they may not seem like much. However, over the course of a day, they compound.

All feelings are temporary. 
If you have a big success in a day, you feel good for a little while, and then you’re back to baseline. 
If, however, you have a big number of small successes, each of them makes you feel good for a little while, and their effect adds up. 

We can think of it in terms of density [<link; short read]. The higher density of micro-moments of positivity over the course of a day, the more powerful the effect. 

You can produce such micro-moments of positivity in various ways: Celebration, Gratitude, Love, contemplation of Beauty, Play.”