Category: 200 words project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!
All 200 word project posts in this blog


On Habit Formation


“ Everything without exception requires additional energy in order to maintain itself, ”

Kevin Kelly in The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

Everything requires additional energy, including habits. In the self-help, self-improvement world, habits are considered this “holy grail”. You take baby steps, you suffer, and you cultivate a behavior till it becomes a habit. Then you are done. You can now continue to enjoy the habit and its benefits for the rest of your life. And then you turn towards “habitifying” the next behavior.

Except, that which is not advertised. Habits require maintenance. Constant maintenance. I have found newly formed habits to be that barely-domesticated feral cat. You did the hard work of domestication, training. You showered love, attention. Still, you need to practice eternal vigilance so the cat doesn’t develop feelings of wanting to escape.

But really, is all this effort worth it? Is there an easier way? Is there a way to work with our tendencies than against them? I don’t know… Tell me if there is.

So, for now, I have started to view “building habits” as “test-driving” that behavior. Or more aptly, ‘working on a short project with that behavior’, noting down its pros and cons, and evaluating if the benefits of maintaining this behavior are worth the expense of maintenance.


On Vacations – 200 words project

Here is this week’s 200 words project:

“People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like.
By going within.”
 
Marcus Aurelius in Meditations: A New Translation

Why do we go somewhere else, on a vacation?
Because where we usually live, our normal habitat is a constant reminder. It cues us sub-consciously, unconsciously and consciously our habitual way of thinking and doing. Going away to a new place removes these cues – and we feel free to act / behave in a new manner, maybe just for a little while before our habitual patterns take over again.
The change of scenery also makes us pay attention to, evaluate, and maybe appreciate or detest our nuw surroundings. We do not take many things for granted when on vacation in a new place. We tend to not be immersed in our heads. We look around – we are outside ourselves.
When on vacation, we know that we are on vacation. The intention is to relax. So it is easier to relax, with intention

The shock of change, the excitement and curiosity that change engenders – and the break away from our habits and our physical possessions – that is what helps us when we get away.

A break from our habits, a break from our stuff, a break from our intent, a break from our heads, being in the moment, back to that excitement and scare of being in the unknown – that is what going away on vacation provides, and it renews and refreshes us.

So, the question is this – how can you get away without actually going away? As Marcus says, “By going within”. But how?

The sub conscious cues are all still there. Maybe if we become aware of all our cues? Maybe if we own lesser stuff? Maybe if we can just be in the present moment? Maybe if we look at the world with new eyes with pre-conceptions stripped away? Is it even possible?

About the 200 Words Project
Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!


The goal of happiness – 200 words project

Here is this week’s 200 words project:

“ I find the notion of happiness rather strange … It has never been a goal of mine; I just don’t think in those terms.”

“ I try to give meaning to my existence through my work. That’s a simplified answer, but whether I am happy or not really doesn’t count for much.”

         – Werner Herzog in Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

When it seems like the whole world is engaged in the pursuit of happiness, when the media sells happiness, when it seems like the ultimate goal of humanity is trying to be happier, to read Herzog say that happiness has never been a goal of his – it is quite a shock.

How can you not want to be happy? I want to ask him. How can you say that happiness is not a goal? Truly, how can anyone not aspire to be happy?

But, assuming this were the case, if like Herzog, I was not concerned about my happiness as a goal to aspire towards, how would life be? Would I make the same choices I do now? Would my bad habits and distractions fall to the wayside, since then the brief pleasure of these distractions, the instant gratification, the guilty pleasures – these wouldn’t mean anything? Would I be content with the way the my life is?

If my work was the way I find meaning in my life, what would my work be? What would you and I do?

Would we just toil away towards our work and not worry about things like happiness and contentment? Would the only question be – are we going to do our work or not? Would we make the hard choices easily?

An interesting thought experiment indeed.

About the 200 Words Project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!


On Point of View – 200 words project

Here is this week’s 200 words project:


“ Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.”

Alan Kay quoted in Badass: Making Users Awesome

I was listening to the Glenn Beck interview with Tim Ferriss, where he talks about short circuiting the system: “Short circuiting the system is a lot easier when you are somebody who is not trained to think like everyone else.”. He talks about Steve Jobs as a prime example on how he used what he learnt in calligraphy and other areas of life to change Apple. People like Steve Jobs and Glenn Beck – they were outsiders, not trained by the academy / industry. That is they have a different point of view.

And then there is Einstein, Newton, Galileo – all greats – all who have made these great contributions to the world – who all had a different point of view.

It is well known that travel, life-changing experiences, near-death events, harrowing, challenging, exciting events in our lives – these have the capability to trigger a paradigm-shift, to totally change your point of view – and look at the world differently.

There are no doubt immense benefits in learning to look with different points of view. But so far, they seem to be a product of who you are, and what happened to you, and your environment.

This begs the question – can one learn the art/science/skill of trying on different points of view? Not in a superficial, vague way, but in a deeply profound, original way? Is this even possible? Can a “trained” person throw off the tinted glasses of learning and see the world in a “fresh” way?

The only inkling I have found – that something like this is possible is in the Buddhist literature and philosophies. This is the idea of ‘beginner’s mind’ – that you start illiterate, then you learn and gain expertise. Then you need to unlearn everything – retain the skill-set but forget your conclusions and look again. Almost like climbing a spiral – where you end up at the same point – just a bit above the point you started, and the view is the same but different.

Can this be applied to other areas of our lives – work, play?


About the 200 Words Project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!


Three Tenets of Essentialism – 200 words projects

Here is this week’s 200 words project:

“I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.”

– Greg McKeown in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

The first tenet – “I can do anything but not everything”
– The idea of confidence in our own abilities, to do anything that we really want to do and set our mind to. At the same time acknowledging and embracing the limits of being human, the limits of having just 24hrs in a day, and also acknowledging the all-pervasiveness of our greed, our tendency to “do just one more thing&rdquol, to “ldquo; want just a a little more”

The second tenet – “Only a few things matter”
– The idea of knowing that though we can run around in a thousand different directions, if we want to get to one place, we need to use those thousand steps to head in the direction we want. Tis is recognizing that, ultimately, doing something that doesn’t matter to us is just a waste of our time and energy. And what matters to us may not be what matters to someone else. This is the idea of recognizing this, and following our own beat towards what matters to us.

The third tenet – “I choose to”
– When we realize that only a few things matter, and we decide to give up on others, it is a choice that we are making. It is not a lack of ability or scarcity or time. And once this choice is made, we empower ourselves, give ourselves permission to really do what matters to us the most.

These three tenets of Essentialism is a great process for the over-achievers, the super curious, the uber-doers who want to do more and are frustrated in the process due to lack of time etc. This also seems to be the real process for all those who really achieved something – the greats, the Einsteins and Benjamin Franklins and Thoreau’s who are looked up to and who have contributed something great.

So, why not try it?

About the 200 Words Project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!