Tag Archive | Templating

On Daily Reflection and Templating

When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by. For why should I fear any consequence from my mistakes, when I’m able to say, ‘See that you don’t do it again, but now I forgive you.’ (Seneca)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I end every single day with a reflection on the day.”

“What’s your process?”

“My process has two stages: Reflection and Design.

What went well? (Celebration)
What needs work? (Understanding; Failure-Points; Decision-Points)

What can you optimize? (Optimization)
What will you do differently next time? (Implementation)

To make the process more efficient, I’ve created a daily-reflection template [<link; medium length]. 

My daily-reflection template

The template is an attention-directing tool. It directs my attention to specific points of interest. In my case, those points are:



Then I look at them through various lenses [<link; medium]. 

One lens is Brian Johnson’s wonderful Big Three framework:


Another lens is Balance. I check how balanced the Three were against one another, and the balance between Input and Output [<link; medium] (Input/Output Ratio).

Another lens is Quality. I’m interested not only in doing them, but in doing them well, and in constantly increasing Efficiency.”


On Gratitude and Templating

The soul becomes dyed with the color of your thoughts. (Marcus Aurelius)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“If you were to choose only one thing to be grateful for, what would it be?”

My beautiful BodyMind.

This immensely intricate system of systems is the one that most influences the quality of our life. 

I think a deep appreciation and concern for our BodyMind is the highest expression of Self-Love, which has three components:

– Self-Awareness
– Self-Care
– Self-Mastery

“Then start every Gratitude practice by expressing Gratitude for your beautiful BodyMind.

You’re familiar with the idea of expressing Gratitude for three things. Turn it into a template [<link; medium read].

Fixed part: (Monad, One Thing)
Thank you for my beautiful BodyMind.

Variable part: (Triad)
Thank you for being Alive. [
Memento mori; Contrasting]
Thank you for my computer.
Thank you for the food.

The fixed part of the template you’ll be accessing most frequently, thus making it most present in your mind.
The variable part, less frequently.

And you can use the template with other things as well.”

Project Question-Templates

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I LOVE questions.

I want to master Questioning (The Art of Asking Questions).”

“What’s your approach?”

“I practice it constantly. I have a special notebook only for questions. 

Another thing I like to do is deconstruct questions. One outcome of this is the creation of question-templates [<link; medium length], which are a practical tool for generating questions. 

One of my latest projects is gathering all the question-templates in one place.”

“How do you organize them?”

“I have a document for each of the question-kernels:


Their structure looks like this (x, y, z are variables):

What x ?

What x now?
What [do you want to focus on] now?

What x next?
What [do you want to focus on] next?

What x y ?
What [beautiful opportunities] [are there around you]?
What [problem] [are you trying to solve]?
What [book] [do you want to implement next]?

What are x ?

What are [the answers]?

What are the fundamentals of x ?
What are the fundamentals of [Learning]?

What are the [superlative] x ?
What are the [most powerful] [resources you have]?

What can x ?

What can you x ?
What can you [add]?
What can you [subtract]?
What can you [play with]?

What can you x y ?
What can you [play with] [in this context]?
What can you [practice] [now]?

What do x ?

What do you want to x ?
What do you want to [feel]?

What do you want to x y ?
What do you want to [master] [in the next ten years]?
What do you want to [master] [in this lifetime]?

What does x ?

What does x y ?
What does [a quality rep] [look like]?
What does [a quality rep] [feel like]?

What if x ?

What if you eliminated x from y?
What if you eliminated [activity z] from [your life]?

What is x ?

What is [the answer]? (One Thing)

What is [essential]?
What is [exciting]?
What is [the next step]?

What is your x ?
What is your [compass]?

What is [superlative] x ?
What is the [most powerful] [resource you have]?

What makes x ?

What makes [you come alive]?

What makes x y?
What makes x [fun]?
What makes x [funny]?

What might x ?

What might [this look like from their perspective]?

This is but a very small glimpse of it.

As a mind-map it looks like this:

On Love and Templating

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The Buddhist virtue of Loving-Kindness is interesting. It’s a composite structure, joining together what could be conceived of as two distinct values: Love and Kindness.

We could think of it as expressing Kindness in terms of Love. Or, metaphorically, viewing Kindness through the lens of Love.

This has practical application.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Viewed as a template [<link; medium length], the structure looks like this:


Using the template, we can expand its application, obtaining similar meaningful structures:


Further deconstructing it, we get a structure of the form:


This opens up yet more possibilities.”

On Beauty and Templating

Regain the freedom to create like a child. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I beautify any day?”

“The day is but a string of moments. Beautify as many as possible.”

“How can I beautify any moment?”

Have a system for it.

For instance you can create a practical template [<link; medium read]. 

Start with the fixed part of the template – the framework. Something like:


And then start adding your (idiosyncratic) details:




– Life-Artist / Creator 

Connect with your Inner-Artist/Child.”

“But I’m not an artist.”

Everybody’s an Artist. They’ve just forgotten it.


Meta-Values [<link; short read]
– Love
– Play
– Gratitude
– Simplicity
– Balance

Purpose / Ikigai (expressed with one word)
– Connect 





That’s your moment-to-moment map. The tendency (or at least my tendency) is to add a lot of details to it, but the goal is to have as few as possible.

Eliminate all but the most powerful ones.

The Meaning part represents the Macro level. 

SEE the Macro in the Micro [<link; medium read] of the moment.

Moment to moment to moment, seek to align the Doing with the Meaning through the Being and the Feeling.”

On Practice and Templating

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize this practice?”

“By creating a template [<link; medium read], you can optimize not just this practice, but any practice.

A template I’ve been working on has three components: Action, Meaning, and Feeling.

Visually, it looks something like this:

Action refers to the actionable components of the practice, expressed as verbs. 

What do you want to do?

Taking my Presence practice as an example, they can involve physical actions:

Stand tall (Posture)

or non-physical actions, some of which operate on a metaphorical representational level:

Slow down
Create Space

Meaning refers to things that make the practice meaningful. 

How can you make it meaningful?

There’s two aspects to it: 

– integrating the practice with the Macro level, for instance by connecting it with your values and your identity
– at a Micro level, creating meaningful representations for the practice

As concerns the latter, for instance, you might think of your practice as sacred, as deliberate practice, mental training, spiritual training, etc.

The most powerful representations are those that operate at both the Micro and the Macro level.

Feeling refers to your desired emotional state as you engage in the practice.

How do you want to feel?

You can think of it in the context of the Beautiful State [<link; medium read], which we’ve talked about a while back.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the Density model?”

“It’s a conceptual-model from Physics applied outside of Physics.

In Physics, the density of a substance is its mass per unit volume. Using another conceptual-model, the particle-model, density is the number of particles per unit volume. 

The density-model in Physics

Through metaphor, we can expand the density model outside its initial scope.

Density is the number of items per unit space.

This is what I call a template-model. As you remember from our discussion on templating [<link; medium read], a template is a structure with two components: one fixed, and one variable. In this case, ‘items’ and ‘space’ are the variable components. 

By replacing them, we can create all kinds of useful conceptual-models:

connection-density [<link; medium read]
life-density [<link; medium read]
practice-density [<link; medium read]
rest-density [<link; short read]
time-density [<link; medium read]

“Models Thinking as a creative process?”

“That’s the ultimate goal of it.”

Beautiful Tools: Introspection/Reflection-Checklists

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Checklists are a beautiful tool.”

“They are. Our memory is so unreliable. Checklists make sure you remember what needs to be done, and tell you exactly what to do at a glance. They’re inherently practical.”

“That’s one reason, and one type of checklist. I like to distinguish between physical/digital-checklists and mental-checklists.

Both help you remember, but the latter also help you retrieve the information more effectively from memory. Grouping the information together allows you to access it as one unit.

Another reason is their amazing flexibility. They can be adapted to a wide variety of practices, from flying a plane and performing an operation to… introspection and reflection.”

“Introspection and reflection?”

“That’s one of my latest ideas.

I look at checklists [and everything else] with a Designer’s eyes. I see them as a design-space, a space of possibilities.

Checklists can be used to structure a practice. In this case, introspection and reflection.

Checklists can have a temporal dimension.

Focused on the present, you get one checklist, like:


Body (Body-Check, Embodiment)
– Am I breathing?
– How’s my posture?

State (State-Check)
– Am I centered?
– How am I feeling?
— Where am I feeling this in my body?
– How’s my Inner Fire? (Motivation)

Energy (Enegy-Check, Movement)
– Am I moving?
– How’s my energy level? (low/medium/high)

Focused on the near past, you get another checklist, like:


– What went well?

– What didn’t go well?
– What were the failure-points?

– What will I do differently next time?

And you can focus the checklist by identifying specific areas of interest, like:



– How present was I?

– How much did I move?
– How well did I move?

– How well did I oscillate?
– Did I take breaks?

– How focused was I?
– Did I procrastinate?

You can think of these as templates [<link; medium read] that can be tailored to your specific practice and circumstances.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What is templating?

Templating is the practical use of templates. You’re familiar with the template in computer-use.

You mean the preset formats for documents and such?

Yes. That’s but one application of it.

In essence, the template as a model is a structure with two components: one fixed and one variable.

Can you give some examples?


You can use templating to create an optimal structure for the day (day template). The fixed part of the template is the part of the day you have most control over: the beginning and end of the day. Someone called them the AM and PM Bookends. And you can go granular. You can have templates for the bookends themselves (AM/PM templates) and for your working hours as well (deep-work template).

You can use templating with movement (movement templates). You can have a fixed part of a few selected movements, and play with building on and around them.

To optimize any activity, you can turn it into a template.

You can also use templating with language (linguistic templates).

My favorite linguistic template has to do with questions (question templates).

For instance let’s take the question,

How can you optimize Optimization ?

We can transform it into a template by identifying the variable part:

How can you optimize z ? (Template)

z‘ here is a variable. You could replace it with… well, anything.

How can you optimize Learning ?
How can you optimize Conversation ?
How can you optimize Questioning ?

And we can further deconstruct the question:

How can you y ? (Template)

‘y’ here is another variable.

How can you beautify z ? (Template)
How can you play with z ? (Template)
How can you turn z into creative inspiration ? (Template)

The furthest deconstruction level is:

How x ? (Fundamental Template)

This is the most basic question template. I call it a question kernel.

I presume the other question kernels are:

Why x ?
What x
Where x ?
When x ?”

Indeed. These are the fundamental seeds from which the Art of Asking Questions (Questioning) grows.

Beautiful Habits: Appreciating Interconnectedness

Remember those who dug the wells.‘ (Chinese proverb)

In other words, remember those who came before you and made your life possible. And be grateful.

Someone, some time ago, took the time to dig that proverbial well from which you’re now drinking.

Thank you.

I like to practice this when I turn on the faucet to take a shower. A ton of anonymous people I’ll never meet going back generations were involved in making that water flow.

Thank you.

It only takes a mindful moment but when I do it, I feel my soul expand.
See the objects you take for granted and see the anonymous souls who made them all possible. And say thank you.

Then give back as you make today a Masterpiece with them in mind.

(fragment from one of Brian Johnson’s +1s)

This beautiful idea enriched my gratitude practice immensely.

I used to express gratitude FOR numerous things throughout the day.

eg Thank you FOR the food.

Now I added a TO component to all of them.

eg Thank you FOR the food and TO all people involved in me having food.

When I say “all people” I evoke in my mind the image of the entire network of people involved, which is beautifully illustrated in the video “I, Pencil” (I remembered/made the connection with the video immediately after watching the +1).

So the takeaway is the following gratitude-template:

Thank you FOR x and TO all people involved in creating/me enjoying x.