Tag Archive | Opportunity

Natural Pauses

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Appreciate natural pauses.”

What are natural pauses?

Pausing is an essential (and subtle) life skill. By pausing, you’re creating space for awareness and connecting with yourself, for love and play and gratitude and beauty, for reflection and accessing your resources. You can think of it as a micro-meditation.

Think of an impulse, for instance. Much of the time, they are invisible. An impulse arises and we immediately act on it. Sometimes it works for us, other times against us. Pausing after the impulse arises creates a space between stimulus and response to ask yourself:

Do I want to act on this impulse?

Every impulse is an opportunity to practice the skill of pausing.

Natural pauses are pauses that arise naturally when engaged in an activity or when transitioning between activities.

Let’s say you’re browsing the Internet and a page takes too long to load. By default, we tend to think of it as an annoyance. Instead, learn to see and appreciate the opportunity, and make the most of it.

Breathe, connect with yourself, smile, and, for a moment, contemplate all the gifts and miracles that you’re taking for granted: technological wonders like the Internet and your computer and language, the biological wonders that are your BodyMind and all life forms, the beautiful interconnectedness of the world, the cosmic ocean and the universe of the very small, etc. Take a moment to find your way back to wonder.

By creating pauses and taking advantage of natural pauses, you’re creating space to take in the beauty of the world.


On dealing with unresourceful states

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

Prime your state first. The biochemistry will help you proactively tell yourself an enabling story.

To change your state do something physical.

(Tim Ferris)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“When you’re in an unresourceful state, changing it becomes your absolute priority.”

“I’d rephrase it to:

When you’re in an unresourceful state, dealing with it becomes your absolute priority.

If you change state or distract yourself, you miss an opportunity to learn from it.

Stay with it for a while.
Explore it, with compassion and curiosity.
Converse with it on the page.
Then kiss it goodbye, 
and… let it go.”

Learning by Doing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’ve been reading a lot about emotions to learn to deal with unpleasant ones.”

“To learn to deal with an emotion, you must actually feel the emotion.

This is a fundamental principle of Learning. I call it Learning by Doing.

To learn to do something you must actually do the thing. 

No amount of reading can replace direct experience.”

“How does this apply to emotions?”

“Every time you experience an unpleasant emotion is an opportunity to practice.

The natural tendency when an unpleasant emotion arises is to distract yourself from it. 


Prioritize it over anything else. 

With Love, Compassion and Curiosity, give it your full attention. Immerse yourself in it. Allow yourself to fully experience it.

Turn every unpleasant emotion into a meditation.

This way, every unpleasant emotion becomes a deliberate rep(etition). The more reps you put in, the better you’ll get at it.

The natural tendency when you anticipate an unpleasant emotion is avoidance of the thing that triggers it. 


Deliberately move toward triggers to create opportunities to practice.”

The Lens of Opportunity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I get rid of the impulse to check for likes?

Look at it through the lens [<link; short read] of Opportunity.

Opportunity To Learn (OTL)
– Why do you want to check for likes?
– What can you learn about yourself?

Opportunity To Practice/Play (OTP)
– Why don’t you want to check for likes?
– What can you practice?

I can practice Letting Go.

Letting go of desires.
Letting go of expectations.

I can practice Discipline (Self-Mastery).

Don’t forget the Opportunity To Celebrate (OTC).

Artfully replace the dopamine hit of checking for likes with the dopamine hit of not checking for likes. (Inversion)

Values Thinking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Values Thinking?”

“Knowing what your values are is not enough.

Every value is a practice

Let’s say in a certain situation you can practice a specific value. I call this an OTPOpportunity to Practice

An important part of the practice is noticing the opportunity.

To notice the opportunity, the value must be active in your mind.”

“How do you make it active?”

“By thinking about it. This is an instance of priming.

To notice the opportunity to practice any value, your values as a system must be active in your mind.

Think in values. Actively evaluate everything in terms of your values.

Think of your values often.

Constantly ask yourself:

What values can I practice in this context?
What values can I practice now?

What values could I have practiced?

I call all these practices combined, Values Thinking.”

Life-Stackings 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I don’t know what password to set.”

What if you created funny passwords?

You can use password-setting as an opportunity to practice humor and word associations.”

The Inversion Game 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I turn every loss into a win?”

“Realize that every loss, every mis-take is a beautiful opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to practice Equanimity, regaining Balance.

It’s an opportunity to practice Centering, finding your way back to your Center, coming home to yourself.

It’s an opportunity to practice Loving Kindness, and Loving Compassion.

It’s an opportunity to practice Letting Go. A mis-take is a sunken cost. By clinging to it, you increase the likelihood of making another one, and then another one, in a downward spiral pattern. By letting go, you can break the pattern.

It’s an opportunity to practice changing state, returning to the Beautiful State. Remember Tony Robbins’s triad of human emotions [<link; medium read]:

Physiology (Breathing, Posture, Movement)
Language (Meaning)
Focus (Attention-directing)”

“Which is the most powerful?”

“The first one. The last two involve thinking, which is hard to do clearly when in an unresourceful state.

It’s an opportunity to practice Humor

What’s funny about it?

Our default frame of mind is a serious pattern. We tend to take it all so seriously, as if our continued existence depended on it. By taking it unseriously, by seeing the absurd of it, you can break the pattern.

It’s an opportunity to practice Learning. Once back to the Beautiful State, immediately reflect on it.

Do a PMI (Plus Minus Interesting) on it.

What’s positive about it? What did you do well?
What’s negative about it? What needs work?
What’s interesting about it?

Find the gem [<link; medium read] hidden within and express Gratitude for it.”

On dealing with negative thoughts

To give one small illustration, whenever somebody is unkind to me, I can immediately unroll the panorama of that person’s good qualities. Instantly the balance is set right. As with most skills, this is a matter of practice. When you are having trouble getting along with someone, a simple first step is to sit down quietly and recall how many times that person has given you support. You are using positive memories to drive out negative ones before they have a chance to crowd together and form a mob, which is all resentment really is.

The first strategy is literally ‘changing one thought for another’: a negative thought for a positive one, an unkind thought for a kind one. ‘Just as a carpenter uses a small peg to drive out a bigger one,’ the Buddha says, ‘you can use a right thought to drive out one that is wrong.’

(Eknath Eswaran, Conquest of Mind)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s your practice for dealing with negative thoughts?”

“The essence of the practice is, in Eknath Eswaran’s words,

changing one thought for another: a negative thought for a positive one, an unkind thought for a kind one.

Whenever a negative thought arises, I think/feel ‘Loving Kindness‘, and say to myself: ‘I love you Dani‘.

“You can take it one step further.

Turn negative thoughts into creative inspiration.”


“Think of the negative thought as a seed, from which you branch out to create a beautiful tree.”

“Like a mind-map?”

“Precisely. A mental mind-map focused on positivity and beauty.

You can even have a word or phrase that initiates the process.

For me it’s Connections.

What if you’re dealing with recurring negative thoughts?”

“Think of each as one more rep(etition), one more beautiful opportunity for practice.”


I am a mover, I am a thinker, I am a teacher. (Ido Portal)

The (only) reason why I chose to work in a bar is to develop my social skills. So it’s part of my adventure to actualize my potential.

I did, to a certain extent, but as a dear friend astutely observed, I became exceedingly effective at avoiding people while being in their midst.

However there’s an opportunity in every failure. In this case, it was a beautiful instance of serendipity.

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

I did gain something extremely valuable out of it: it (re)kindled my love of movement, and made me fully embrace my identity of “mover”. 

I am a mover, I am a thinker… and I’d love to be able to say about myself some day: “I am a teacher”.

I haven’t received this much attention in my entire life, working as a nightly bar aid at Belushi’s Hammersmith.

For someone who is not very social (yet), this is quite overwhelming. People seem to like what I’m doing. And what I am doing is move. A lot (and maybe in an aesthetically pleasing way). I move very fast and dance around the tables (and people) while collecting glasses. I’ve been jokingly thinking of inventing a new branch of Parkour:

Crowd Parkour: navigating a crowd of people at high speed

People have been asking me if I’m a dancer. No, but I’d love to be. I want to express myself through movement, and dance is a beautiful direction to explore, next to Parkour.

Interestingly, I didn’t know I can move like this, and (to my mind) I didn’t know how to dance before I started working at Belushi’s. When I started working here I had no idea what to expect. Basically I ended up here by chance, it was the only thing I could find, given my lack of previous bar experience.

Who’d have thought it would end up being such a transformative experience, and one of the most important experiences of my life.

The value of injury

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the best way to think about injury?”

Creative limitation [<link, short read].

The tendency is to focus on the negative, on what you can no longer do.
Turn it upside down, antifragile style.

Focus on the positive.
Focus on the beautiful learning opportunity.
Focus on what you can do, given your current limitation, and start exploring and playing with possibilities.”