Day #365: It’s Already 365 Days of Inpiration

Just like yesterday I wrote the first post for a 30 days challenge that later became a 1000 days challenge and some 300 days later I wrote the 300th post. Today is the day 365. Simply that means I have been writing this blog everyday for the past one year. Who would have thought. Something that started from a dare. Now I can simply say I surprised myself.

After doing this for one year I am tempted to share 365 wisdom of writing a blog post everyday. However, I am going to restrain myself and just summarise everything I have learnt in the last 365 days into one lesson. Yes one lesson only.

It’s not about Inspiration; After writing a blog for 365 days about inspiration the most important lesson I have learnt is that it’s not about inspiration. Woody Allen says: “80 percent of life is showing up”. I believe this guy. In the end, it’s not about feeling inspired to write a post. Most days I never feel like writing a blog post. ‘who cares anyway?’I would say to myself. But I care. I write not for a lot of people to read but to keep my commitment.

Many thanks to everyone reading and writing those comments and emails about how the blog could be better. I am grateful.This blog for me has become my little obsession. Something I must do everyday. I wish for you an obsession. Something that would capture your attention everyday and you wouldn’t want to go to bed if you haven’t done it. Muchas gracias.

Day #363:Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives

One of the most fascinating studies about success and human potential in the field of psychology is Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck‘s work on the mindset that sets successful people apart from other people. Carol synthesized in her findings in her remarkably insightful book  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success , which explores the power of our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, and how changing even the simplest of them can have profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. Carol says:

For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life? Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics. […] I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . . There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience. Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.

This idea, of course, isn’t new — if anything, it’s the fodder of self-help books and vacant “You can do anything!” platitudes. What makes Dweck’s work different, however, is that it is rooted in rigorous research on how the mind — especially the developing mind — works, identifying not only the core drivers of those mindsets but also how they can be reprogrammed.

Day #362:Seth Godin on How to Be Productive

“Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done. There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better. Tactics are idiosyncratic. But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.

The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.

There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice. For example, some people wear a white lab coat or a particular pair of glasses, or always work in a specific place — in doing these things, they are professionalizing their art.

The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.”

-Seth Godin from the book: Manage Your Day-to-Day

Day #357:Dan Gilbert on The Psychology of Your Future Self

Philosopher Joshua Knobe recently posed a perplexing question in contemplating the nature of the self: If the person you will be in 30 years – the person for whom you plan your life now by working toward career goals and putting money aside in retirements plans – is invariably different from the person you are today, what makes that future person “you”? What makes them worthy of your present self’s sacrifices and considerations?

That’s precisely what Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explores in this short and pause-giving TED talk on the psychology of your future self and how to avoid the mistakes you’re likely to make in trying to satisfy that future self with your present choices. Picking up from his now-classic 2006 book Stumbling on Happiness , Gilbert argues that we’re bedeviled by a “fundamental misconception about the power of time” and a dangerous misconception known as “the end of history illusion” – at any point along our personal journey, we tend to believe that who we are at that moment is the final destination of our becoming. Which, of course, is not only wrong but a source of much of our unhappiness.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’re ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.

Day #355:Simplify and Do What You Love!

I have written a lot in the past few day about doing what you love, following your dream and getting out of your comfort zone.

Saying you should move out of your comfort zone so you can do great things is easier said than done and I myself find it difficult to take very difficult steps and try new things when the outcome is uncertain. In the book The Start Up of You, Reid Hoffman, co- founder of LinkedIn counsels that it’s good to inject a little risk into our system to help us prepare for big risk when they happen in our lives.I find this very useful.

Most people naturally have a fear of “nothing” and feel most comfortable and safe holding on to what they already have or what they already know. No matter what the past holds for them—good or bad—it is where they are most at home. Their box is their security, and the walls around them give them plenty of opportunity to admire barriers. This is why most people find it easier to stay put or simply change or add on to what exists, rather than creating what could be. It’s why people or businesses stay stuck or simply achieve incremental improvements, rather than breakthroughs.

So if I may offer an advice to close this series on doing what you love. You don’t have to make things it so complicated. You don’t need to quit your job and embrace a life of poverty, writing poems or painting to follow your dream just like you read or see in the movies. It’s a very romantic idea but I don’t think anyone needs to be homeless and penniless so they can have a story of following their dreams and doing what they love.

Simplify. Figure out what you really want to do that qualifies as ‘what you love’. Find a way to work on that thing part-time while you keep the boring job you have. Once you gather more learning and momentum, you can decide to switch to what you love full time. It sounds rather simplistic. I assure you, it’s not. However, it should help you keep body and soul together while you figure out a way to start doing what you love in a way that it’s good enough to pay you to quit your job.

Day #351:Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Hailed as one of the great books of our time, Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is a powerful read.  By understanding the horror of life in a Nazi concentration camp that he survived, and then applying his psychological and spiritual understanding of life, some great perspectives are attained.

Viktor Emil Frankl, MD, PhD was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. His best-selling book chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living.

I recently had cause to reread this book again and I want to share some of the most interesting part of the of the book:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom—-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 86

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 88

“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.” ~ Viktor Frankl quoting Spinoza’s Ethics in Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 95

Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 98

It is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 98

A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.” ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 101

It can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 127

I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 127

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 131

The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 133

Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal “footprint in the sands of time”? At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 143

Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 154

How can we dare to predict the behavior of man? We may predict the movements of a machine, of an automaton; more than this, we many even try to predict the mechanisms or “dynamisms” of the human psyche as well. But man is more than psyche. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 155

Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 156

A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes—within the limits of endowment and environment—he has made out of himself. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 157

Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 162