Feeds:
Posts
Comments
Positive questions, quotations, and thoughts aren't necessarily to turn you into a happiness robot.  It's about shifting your internal tipping point.   Photo:  particle man from unprofound.com.

Positive questions, quotations, and thoughts aren’t necessarily to turn you into a happiness robot. It’s about shifting your internal tipping point. Photo: particle man from unprofound.com.

Though I am still on the fence about Words Can Change Your Brain, reading it inspired me to keep a “happiness journal.”   Once a day since mid-October, I’ve been reviewing the day or the previous day and searching for three events or observations that made me happy.   Nothing revolutionary is happening but what I find is that asking these questions and changing my focus and taking me towards a “tipping point”  that often leads to a more positive direction for the day.

Lately, I’m finding a lot of “tipping point” thinking in a lot of the top holistic career books.   What Color is Your Parachute explains for example:

In any situation, no matter how much we may feel we are at the mercy of vast forces out there,that are totally beyond our control, we can always find something that is within our control and work on that.

Laurence Boldt in Zen and the Art of Making a Living devotes a significant portion of his book asking readers to think about and tap into memories of when they have been powerful by recalling:

  • Times of great creativity.
  • Moments of commitment in the face of obstacles.
  • Decisive moments.
  • Times when they accomplished something in the face of discouragement from others.
  • Times of being so absorbed in projects that they didn’t notice the time passing.

I just stumbled across all these great thoughts in my samurai mind notebook.   The great thing about keeping positive projects, thoughts and inspirations and reviewing them regularly is not that I turn into a “happiness robot” but that by reviewing and creating my notebooks, I regularly get challenged into a proactive stance.

Apparently these practices of searching for the good and powerful is endorsed by a field called positive psychology.   Apparently, it might be good to build up your strong points and focus on daily moments of happiness, rather than focusing on what is “wrong” with you.

Obstacles and trying times will come.   As Bob Marley wrote, “Life is one big road with lots of signs.  So when you riding through the ruts don’t you complicate your mind.  Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.   Don’t bury your thoughts.  Put your vision to reality!”

Ask powerful questions.  Find three happiness moments.  Find your samurai tipping point.

Be the poet of your life’s song.  Laurence Boldt, Zen and the Art of Making a Living

Create Your Own Mix

Making the music of your life is a lot easier with a samurai mind notebook.

When I first started teaching up in the South Bronx, I started to notice that some of my students had notebooks where they worked out their rhymes.   They treated these notebooks with a heck of a lot more care than the work I was giving them, but I respect that.

To create, shape, and save your words means that you get to create your vision, create your own song.   To keep a notebook is to create your samurai sword.   To review it regularly is to polish it with love.

I just hit a patch of inspirational material that has been overdue for a six month review.    At the time I was reading Zen and the Art of Making a Living and copied the best ideas and quotations.   One more time I got to hear William James say,  “Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

The Samurai Mind Notebook is a way to do what James is asking.  By taking time to write ideas and inspirations into your little notebook and gently review them, you systematize on-going cultivating.   It’s like you are leaving little treats or positive “bombs” to challenge or steer you in the future.

I’m also coming across little bits of music theory in my notebook.  Lately, I’ve made a conscious decision to give less attention to music, but coming across these snippets in my samurai mind notebook is challenging that decision in a fun way.   I know that the holiday sale at jamplay.com is happening again, and I just might pull out the guitar and the five minutes a day to make it part of my song.

There are no obligations with a samurai mind notebook.   If reviews aren’t interesting to you, you can gloss over them and call it a success.   But every now and then elements and ideas pop up that want to be part of your life’s song.   Review.   Trust your joy.  Play your life’s song.

One little step.  Take one small action.  Make small the new "big."

One little step. Take one small action. Make small the new “big.”

Right now it is December 10th but it feels like the New Year has already begun.   I’ve joined a gym and I am actually going.   I’ve initiated the process of exploring a spiritual community.   I’m not waiting for the New Year to get moving on projects and ideas.

It all started by going through my book shelves.   I finally realized that I was getting tired of having so many books that I hadn’t read.  I made the decision to go through each shelf methodically, reading at least page in each book and stopping when I got bored with the whole process.   Part of what has sparked so much learning these past few years has been my experience with All Japanese All the Time, which emphasizes working with working with the “neutrino” of small actions accumulating to immersion in Japanese.   The “mediocre choice that leads to excellence” can be applied to other things that you want to shift in your life.

Once I started going through the simple act of one page of every book on my shelves, I experienced a quickening.  I gave myself permission to stop but as I went through my books, the old dreams and inspirations were rekindled and I continued.   When I got to the bottom of the shelf in my bedroom, I decided to make a pass around the whole apartment, slowly reviewing, cleaning, reorganizing, tossing, and reigniting ideas, projects and resources.

The new year is approaching and for some people it is a time to set big goals and make major transformations.  But why not start the New Year now with some small action.  Make small the new big and start by picking one “corner” to begin with.   Clean out your purse (or murse).   Be gentle with yourself.   Celebrate and move on.   Repeat.  Make every day a New Years Day.

 

 

Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 7.12.51 AM

How can you water your dreams? Your mind? Your soul? Set up gentle “systems” for yourself to sustain growth and wonder.

I just finished my Building Your Personal Foundation course through CoachU, taught by Susan Abrams.   I was excited and challenged and by the idea of creating “automatic sprinkler systems” to fulfill various needs.   For example, I realized that one of my needs was energy.   Last week I joined the YMCA located near by job.  Oh yeah, and I actually went.  Y-M-C-A!

Needs may not be completely satisfied but it seems that you can at least create systems that challenge you in that area and increase the potential of moving forward.  For example, one of the needs that I isolated was the need for motivation and inspiration.  I may not be motivated or inspired all the time but I have started to play with  some systems and rituals that have the potential of kicking me back into motivation and energy.    Here are some of my “systems”:

  • What I read–I’ve always been kind of a self-help book junkie but I’ve added a few titles to my kindle:   Words Can Change Your Brain and Loving What Is.   Both of these books were suggested by Susan Abrams.   I keep the reading process fun.  When I am no longer inspired by what I am reading I move on to the next title and then switch back.
  • Who I hang out with:   people provide the frameworks and conversations that can motivate and inspire you.  Part of the benefits of starting the coach training program is that I get to talk to people who are focused on moving forward  I’ve also been experimenting with finding a positive spiritual community.
  • What I write and say:   I am not censoring myself but I am playing around with something I call “Happiness Journal.”   Inspired by a little page from Words Can Change Your Brain, I am taking time in the mornings and evening to write three things that made me happy.

Finally, I realized that my samurai mind notebook is actually one of my automatic sprinkler systems.  If I put ideas from projects and quotations that excite me, review them regularly, I have those thoughts as part of the conversation.   I may not listen to them but at least they may challenge the crappy mood and change the terms of what I think is possible.

What I like about everything that I’ve been hearing and encountering is that none of it commits me to becoming a happiness robot.   All the work I’ve come across acknowledges that there will be periods of darkness and –err–shades of gray.   I think the trick will be to set up “systems” that challenge the darkness without becoming inflexible or ignoring the depth and color of life.   Join me.  What are your sprinkler systems?

 

 

Building your financial reserves is also about cultivating your samurai mind.

Building your financial reserves is also about cultivating your samurai mind.

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you know that I am taking a course called Build Your Personal Foundation through CoachU.   I am currently on a unit about building your “reserves.”   According to the guide book “the more our needs are handled the more we can stretch and grow.”   The course emphasizes building reserves in 10 areas including:  time, space, money, energy, love, information, wisdom, self, and integrity.

Just beginning to read this chapter made me turn to my internet banking account.   It’s been about ten years that I learned from Phil Laut that it is really important to have multiple savings accounts.   I use different savings accounts not only to keep my financial resources focused, but more importantly as a way to train my brain to think about myself and my potential.

The Building Your Personal Foundation course explains, “part of you is so focused on survival that there isn’t time to stretch and move and say no.”  Creating savings accounts in different areas, even if you only add small amounts, is a way to send your brain a message that you are creating room in these areas.  Having an internet account like the one I have at capitalone360.com (no plug intended – do your research) allows me to create accounts and nickname them for different purposes.  I have many accounts including:  cash flow, business development, clothing, apartment, classes, financial independence, freedom days, large purchase, and impulse.

I’ve explained the purpose of multiple savings accounts elsewhere.   Each account serves a different purpose and not only let’s me save money, but it also helps me energize different areas and projects in my life.   However, I have automated most of these savings so they happen on a regular basis without me expending my time and effort.  However, reading the article on reserves made me realize that I should also openly think about where I am putting my resources instead of going on auto-pilot.

So the other I put $20 in four accounts–not only to save money but also to put a mental bookmark on projects and processes that I want to make happen.  “Business Development” is to invest in making a better blog or increasing my skill set.   “New Apartment” is for our future three bedroom or townhouse.   “Financial Independence”  is an account that Phil Laut recommended for training yourself to live off investment interest.   Last month I made a whopping $.15 in this account, but I think the big pay off is that it opens you up to the possibility of becoming someone who can live off of investment income.

The last account I invested in was the “Freedom Days” account.  This is an account that I can use for thinking about creating days, months, or years where I won’t have to work.  Part of the energy behind this account is fighting the “part of you [that] is so focused on survival that there isn’t time to stretch and move and say no.”   By saying no you can say yes to bigger things to life.

I think I will be moving my money a little bit more consciously in the future.   Even if I only have a dollar to spare, doling it out in actual accounts seems like a powerful way to think to think about and energize projects and priorities.

Build your reserves.  Stretch and grow.  Act small.  Think big.

Other articles about keeping money in balance:

 

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 5.16.16 PM

This is one of the bookshelves I’ve started to go through. Reading is a powerful way to move your life forward. But sometimes we need to give ourselves to not be so precious or serious about our reading. Find ways to be “attracted” to books. Fun is serious stuff. :)

This will be the year of getting “shelvish.”  I have been feeling a little overwhelmed that I have all these great books on my shelf that have gone unread and are just “lying there.”   So I’ve begun a one page campaign.   I am going through my bookshelves methodically and just letting myself read one page each night.   Sometimes the information sings to me and I read more.  Many times I get excited and move on to the next book to see myself moving forward.  I bookmark the page and the next night I move on to the next book.

Keep in mind that I am a busy parent and teacher.    I turn to the bookshelf after I finish reading “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Jamberry”  to my three year.  The other day I read two or three pages of David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace:   The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and The Creation of the Modern Middle East.  Last night I read two pages of Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam:  A History.  In the next few nights I will hit Zen and the Art of Making A Living and some other self-helpy materials.  (My bookshelves aren’t necessarily arranged according to the Dewey Decimal system.)  I am also approaching a fun little patch of Japanese manga and self-help books.

We live in an age of information overload and days that may have 1000 demands.   It’s easy to fall into overwhelm.  But increasingly I’m finding it is important to do two things:  1)  think small and 2)  follow joy.    The information or the story or the song has to be attractive and attracted to you because that’s when you can really grow into your skill, into your self the way that you want to be.

Whenever I start to feel a little too precious or self-righteous about reading, I head over to ajatt.com.   The blogmeister, Khatzumoto, taught himself Japanese in fifteen months through fun immersion.  A big part of that involved reading fun materials in Japanese.   One of his latest blog articles is “Multipass Reading:   Be Sloppy the First 10 Times Because You Can Always Come Back.” 

I love this invitation to “read sloppy” because the other option for little ole “perfectionist” me is not to read at all.   Why should I let these hundreds of dollars of books and thousands of hours of human knowledge pass me by because I’m frozen about how to read correctly?  It’s time to be shelvish and just have fun.

If not reading is holding you back, join me!  Let’s make this the Year of Being Shelvish!

Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 8.59.31 AM

Actions may seem small but actions accumulate. Like water creating waterfalls, carving canyons and sustaining life.

Taking five minutes to do something you love or practice is more than a small act.  Taking five minutes does more than place a bookmark in your life for important projects.  “Five Minutes” is  a revolutionary act because  but because it can create a chain reaction that can last a lifetime.

There is something sublime about the power of small acts.  Recently I’ve been taking a class called Building a Personal Foundation through Coachu.com.   We have been focusing on taking steps to fix things big and small that we have been tolerating.

Last week, I reported that I what I had done for the week was small.  I organized my man bag and cleaned out the spider’s web of old bags, spare change, and random papers that I had been lugging around the city.   That small act actually started a whole process of going through my closets.   In small chunks of time, I have been lowly and methodically throwing out unneeded materials and finding long forgotten resources.

When I reported this little victory our coach, Susan Abrams,  asked me to examine the fact that I said that cleaning my bag had been a small act.  She explained that  even sewing on a button can be important as making a job change because it starts the chain of looking for changes.  In times of great stress and overwhelm sometimes the best thing to do might be to set a timer for fifteen minutes and clean your desk or perform some equally small act.

Small has the potential to start a chain reaction.  Khatzumoto over at AJATT.com started a language immersion service called Neutrino.   Part of Khatzumoto’s philosophy is that you can learn a language through continuous small, neutrino sized bits of study, immersion, and fun.

Neutrinos are all part of the chain reaction.  To think and act big, think and act small.  Start your samurai mind chain reaction.

 

Sometimes you have to suck to get the creativity and productive "flow" going.

Sometimes you have to suck to get the creativity and productive “flow” going.

The other day I had a memory of a time when someone needed to transfer gas from a friend’s car to make it to the gas station.  He took a hose, held it at a certain angle, sucked some gasoline through the hose, and started the flow of gasoline to his container.  (Don’t try this at home, folks!)   He was able to get his car started, make it to the gas station, and go on with gasoline mouth self.

Sometimes you just have to suck to get the flow going.  I experienced that lately with my samurai mind notebook.  I haven’t really been filling up pages and have been really slow about doing my reviews.   There are so many pressing matters, blah, blah, blah.   But I decided that I could at least set my timer to five minutes and just write a little and review a little.  I felt a little resistance at first but after a while my notebook became fun again.   Ah, the benefits of suckage.

I was introduced to the concept of “suckage”  when I came across alljapaneseallthetime.com when I decided to learn Japanese.   Khatzumoto, the webmeister, explains that learning a language is best done when you can break it up into a series of “short winnable games.”   I learned to embrace “suckage” and use timers to turn study sessions into a game.   In his article, “Intermediate Angst:  Dealing with Feelings of Suckage” Khatzumoto explains:

If you want to win the long game, stop playing it.
Stop running the marathon and start sprinting instead.
Start running and playing and winning short games instead.

Start the suckage and run.  (Mixed metaphor alert.)  Turn resistance into a short, winnable game and turn resistance into flow.  Dame la gasolina!

The "cloud" is just one more tool to bookmark your life.  Stop worrying and let cloud.

The “cloud” is just one more tool to bookmark your life. Stop worrying and let cloud.

I resisted for the longest time but I am finally on the Kindle “cloud.”  It started with a used Kindle that I bought from a friend, and then I became a real convert when I realized that I could stay “in the cloud” through apps on my iPhone, iPad, or even my computer.

What sold me on the whole process was how I could use the cloud to stay conscious of where I am in all my various life projects.   It’s nice to be in the belly of the subway beast and be in the cloud.  Instead of looking at the skin doctor ads, I can scan a page of “What Color is My Parachute” and work towards finding a new career or re-imaging my current career.   Richard Bolles’ book is now a career searchers’ classic that emphasizes how important it is to really have a vision of what you want before you even search for a career.

Being “in the cloud” I can dip in and out of life process books and always have a constant reminder of where I stand.  The cloud is a way of bookmarking my life.

There is a relationship between my Samurai mind notebook and my cloud.   Since I put juicy quotes and ideas from the various books and projects I am working with and review them regularly (Samurai Mind Notebook),  I am regularly reminded to go back to my cloud for on going inspiration.

The Samurai notebook is a great place to get reminded of ideas.   Theoretically, I review any entry on a roughly algorithmic schedule.   This is great but sometimes it can feel a little haphazard.   Lately for ongoing work and “visioning” I’ve realized I need a more permanent place to keep track of where I am.

Though I can brainstorm in my samurai notebook, google docs is a more permanent place to put final results.  "What Color is Your Parachute" is an interesting, at times challenging way to really explore how you want to go forward with your career.

Though I can brainstorm in my samurai notebook, google docs is a more permanent place to put final results. “What Color is Your Parachute” is an interesting, at times challenging way to really explore how you want to go forward with your life and career. I am still flushing out the categories above.

Enter google docs (or whatever cloud space you like to write on).  I used my samurai notebook to brainstorm and work out some of my “Favorite Fields” using “What Color is Your Parachute.”  However, once I prioritized my favorite interests using Bolles’ system, I put it up in the cloud to be able to work at it from any point on earth.  The samurai mind notebook is more like a sketchbook, while the google docs is a more permanent yet cheap canvas.

The real canvas is my life.  All these different tools are just more ways to play, draw, and create.  Though I try to keep my feet firmly planted on the earth, I am also a samurai in the cloud.  Join me.

 

 

Screen shot 2013-09-29 at 8.59.50 AM

A samurai notebook is a toy for the mind. It should have fun bits and ideas that you can run with. Play is important.  photo from unprofound.com.

I keep what I like to call a samurai mind notebook.  It is a notebook where I keep project ideas, inspirational quotations, and useful information.  I review the notebooks so that eventually everything is reviewed after 2 days, 4 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, etc.  If the ideas stop being interesting or useful to me, I cross them out.

What happens with a samurai mind notebook is that I start picking up the pieces so I can play with them again.  It’s not just review for review’s sake but also shake up my mind and give it little forgotten cat toys to play with.  When I review my notebooks not only do I review information but I also review inspiration.  I pick  up on ideas and states of mind that made me excited.   These quotations and inspiration all get another  to be “part of the conversation” of my busy life.

Reviewing my samurai mind notebook is not some dreary, rigid, self-flagellating study in obligation.  It is a chance to let inspiration and interesting knowledge become part of my mental DNA.  Steve Chandler, author of Time Warrior and a host of other transformational books wrote,  “Be conscious of your real loves.  Keep self-inquiry alive.  You don’t drop it, you include it, and align it.”   A samurai mind notebook and the scheduled reviews is one way to keep that love alive.

I often miss scheduled reviews, but the notebooks are always there to re-light little fires.  I didn’t haul of my notebooks to Japan  so I’ve recently unearthed a few notebooks and have reviewed while on the train or waiting to get a hair-cut.  Here’s a few of the tidbits I found:

  • fun questions and thoughts and inspirations from Zen and the Art of Making a Living
  • notes from a summer coaching workshop
  • random inspirational quotes
  • great ideas for teaching that I had forgotten
  • ideas for courses I am developing for my students
  • little pieces from The Little Book of Talent
  • fun and useful Japanese sentences from various books

Theoretically I would have reviewed everything on a schedule but I came across entries from six weeks ago that had only received a two week review.   That is okay.  The beautiful thing about the samurai mind notebook process is that eventually everything gets its review and a chance to play in your mind again (or be marked out and “trashed”).

Pick up a notebook.  Pick up the pieces and play.  Take the toys and run.

 

 

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

© 2012-2016 Samurai Mind Online All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright