Tag Archives: motivation

Samurai Mind on My Money Hack

With my mind on my money and my money on my mind. ……Snoop Dog

I don’t want to get all new age-y on you, but in a lot of ways money is energy.   You, or in the case of stocks etc, or somebody else did something for that money.  You could honor that energy or just throw your money away.  (Call me, and I will be downwind from you.  I will be the goofy guy with the butterfly net and the suit made out of fly paper. 🙂

Iknow.jp hooks me in with fun sentences and little pavlovian rewards for meeting learning goals.  It's a little mechanistic so I listen to Japanese youtube and limit using this web service to about five minutes a day.

Iknow.jp hooks me in with audio sentences and little pavlovian rewards for meeting learning goals. It’s a little mechanistic so I listen to Japanese youtube while I am using it and limit using this web service to about five minutes a day.

One of the ways I like to honor money is to use it to trick my mind to learn more.  Money can function like a timer, turning learning into a game.   See how much learning you can get with your money.  I remember in the old video arcade days that one of the advantages of getting skills was that you actually spent less money.  See how much you can get out of a service or product by keeping it in “play.”  I try to “make contact” with products and services that I’ve purchased to help me learn:

  • Iknow.jp:   hundreds of sentences read by native Japanese speakers.   The service can be come hypnotic/robotic so I only try to make a “target” of 30 minutes a week.
  • japanesepod101.com:   now that I have more language under my belt, I am appreciating the grammar and cultural explanations.  I switch between yojijukugo, beginner, video, lower intermediate, upper intermediate, and cultural lessons.  I listen on my way to work and switch to Japanese music or podcasts when I am done.
  • silverspoon/neutrino:   I am done with this but it was one of the most expensive pay by month services.   But it was kind of like going to a trainer who changes the way you think about exercise.  It seems expensive but the benefit, if you “play” it right lasts long.
  • jamplay.com:   this is a guitar learning website.   I like the teachers and the tracking tools so much I’ve put a link to it on the right.  However, as the time to renew (and pay) approached at New Year’s I beat myself up for not keeping up with it.  (Note:  don’t beat yourself up.  It hurts you more than you.)  I recently came across a whole stash of Julia Cameron quotes from back when I was “doing” The Artists Way book.  This is a gem:

Instead of thinking about conquering an art form, think instead of kissing it hello, wooing it, exploring it in small steps…sit down at the piano and touch the keys.  Five minutes a day is better than no minutes a day.

One of the nice advantages of paid learning services are tracking tools.  I was a lot more active on jamplay before and am easing back into playing. Part of the mental trick of practice is moving "the bars" of progress a little bit.  I do it with jpod, too.  I don't think of mastering the language but just moving the bars forward.

One of the nice advantages of paid learning services are tracking tools. I was a lot more active on jamplay before and am easing back into playing. Part of the mental trick of practice is moving “the bars” of progress a little bit. I do it with jpod, too. I don’t think of mastering the language but just moving the bars forward.

  • books:  get thousands of dollars of value out of books.  How?  First, enjoy the heck out of them.   (Check out ajatt’s article “If Your Played Songs The Way You Read, You Would Hate Music.“)Go to the parts that you like.  Skip around.  Read the book that you really liked again and again.  Read it backwards.  Read it fast. Read it slow.  Put the juicest parts in your samurai notebook.


Money is just a like the boundaries of a game.  Limits can frustrate you or they can force you to be creative and really play.   Become a pinball wizard.  Bend it like Beckham.  [insert sports or game metaphor here].  Put on some good tunes while you’re “doing it.”  Enjoy!


How to get better in one easy step. Show the Samurai Up!

All I need to know is how much is enough.   —James Heisig’s translation of  saying on a small stone basin at Ryonji,  a Zen temple

Buddhist poet Saigyo tried to live “one inch above the ground.”  . . .not with one’s feet planted firmly in the everyday, not walking on the clouds, but floating a thumb’s length above the ground.   –Heisig,  Dialogues at One Inch Above the Ground

Stop being a jerk to yourself.  You did your best given what you knew at the time.  Now do your best now. —from a Silverspoon email.

Remember, in order to actually get better at guitar you need to actually take the guitar out of its bag. —Dan Emery, head of NYC School of Guitar in a postcard to all the students

I decided to shut up and show the samurai up with guitar. I picked this book to begin with because it will reinforce my Japanese. Of course, it has a mangalike character on front. If you are interested, here is the closest version I could find on Amazon Japan. Two birds. No killing. Just a rolling stone gathering no moss.

In my last post, I focused on Heisig and how he examined his systems and perfected them.  Heisig  optimized his learning and the learning of many more through his system for learning kanji.   I also suggested that it’s great to examine your methods, find your weaknesses and reassess.   I still believe that is true, but I also believe you also just have to show the Samurai up!  If you can’t think of the “right”  thing to do, do something! In short:

  • if you can’t think of the most fun or targeted learning activity, do the “boring” one until you are inspired
  • inspiration sometimes comes through “work”–sometimes it doesn’t
  • keep your brain myelinated …keep the mental and physical conversation of the skill going
  • still, don’t forget the fun–what’s really great is when some fun activity or experience reinforces the work and seals the deal on what you have learned
  • stay “one inch above the ground”…grounded in the practice of what you are trying to learn and also dreaming and enjoying it . . . watch experts and children who still enjoy learning and model them
  • use a timer to get through the blocks

I need to practice what I preach. 🙂 Lately, I decided to start playing guitar again.   I have no dearth of materials, in Japanese and English.  I was getting my underwear all in knots thinking of which set of materials to use:  a Japanese guide, Jamplay.com, or the many English DVD’s and books that are hidden in different corners of my apartment.

Did anyone notice how good Japanese graphic arts can be?  In addition to these homey little characters (this one is showing you how to hold a guitar correctly) there are also very precise and sharp schematic drawings about how to hold the pick and hit the strings.

I finally to stop fretting (guitar joke!) about all the materials and just get started.   I had an old flashcard deck devoted to guitar playing and started with some scales.   Then I decided to open up one of the many guitar books I have and just go through it.  It includes a DVD and I fired up an old Dell that I now use as a spare DVD player.  The first few lessons are really simple, and explain how to hit the strings with your pick. The first few video lessons show how to hit one string with different rhythms.  It’s kind of boring but hitting the strings and doing it rhythmically correct is fundamental to a lot of guitar playing.   Hey, someone should write a book called Zen Guitar!  (It’s an actual book!)

This is a reference manga for the manga series, “Beck.” The manga is about a 90 lb. weakling who joins a rock band. (I didn’t end up following the manga or the anime.) The music guide gives background to all the characters and all the real-life music influences that run throughout the manga. If I read this, not only will I know more Japanese, I will also know more about rock and roll music history. Amazon Japan Link.

After doing scales for a few days, I thought about perusing the lessons at jamplay.com and found a new series on the guitar playing of Eric Clapton.   I went through a beginning lesson that covered the style of the Yardbirds doing a song called “Boom Boom.”  I listened to this song and the many versions of the original by the blues-man John Lee Hooker.  It’s so much fun to watch what the masters can do with their guitar.   (of course you never hear what they sounded like when they were sucky beginners)

The Beck Music Guide is fun and encyclopedic. For example, one character is really influenced by the blues, so here you see the character and then all the real-life albums that “influenced” his playing. It’s great to see the cover art of all these great blues albums from Bo Diddly, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, etc all in one place.

But all of this happened because I decided to show the samurai up!  Use a timer if you need to do but do something daily instead of fretting about the methods.    Stay grounded but not at the point where you are digging your own rut.  Get inspired by the masters but not to the point where it looks impossible and you stop practicing. Work.  Have fun.  Stay “one inch above the ground.”

Online Guitar Lessons

Happiness, Service, and the Power of Love: Martin Luther King, Jr Quotes

In my last post I discussed the happiness decision, or the power to make a decision to turn your mind towards positive things even when you don’t feel happy.  Lately, I’ve also been pondering the question of how do you confront the darkness without becoming dark.  I was thinking specifically of two people I really admire Mahatma Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many people focus on them almost as heroes or saints, but they were just human beings.  Yes, they wrote and spoke of great things, but they laughed, they cried, they had faults.  They were human.

They laughed and gathered and consulted with the people around them.  They made the “happiness decision” in countless ways.  I think this is a forgotten reason for why Gandhi and King were able to lead these social movements.  I googled, “Martin Luther King, Jr. and happiness” and stumbled upon these great quotes gathered by goodreads.  They really helped to power my morning and I want to share a few with you:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his I Have a Dream Speech at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. 08/28/1963 ARC Identifier 542069 / Local Identifier 306-SSM-4D(107)16

Part of what I think made Martin Luther King Jr. a great leader was his capacity for joy and reaching for people.   From the National Archves.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his I Have a Dream Speech at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. 08/28/1963
ARC Identifier 542069 / Local Identifier 306-SSM-4D(107)16

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

I hope this all helps.  Enjoy your mind.  Share your heart.  Thanks for reading.

The Happiness Decision: Samurai Book Review

Be absolutely determined to enjoy what you do.  –Ben Hogan

  • You don’t have to “feel”happy to put your mind in happy places.
  • Focusing on happiness is a decision.
  • It’s possible that happiness is a habit of turning your mind to positive places.  There is also a key role for tears.  Sometimes you need to wring out a wet towel before putting it in the dryer.
  • The happiness decision may help you learn more.  Earn more?
  • Learning more may help your happiness.  It’s an unvicious cycle.

I’m back in New York and writing out of the Writer’s Room.  It has a lot more sunlight than the cave-like atmosphere of a manga cafe. My laptop, copies of the books in the post and two of my samurai notebooks. Samurai notebooks are more fun to review when you fill it with fun, personally thought provoking and inspiring material. What is in your notebook is a happiness decision.

For a few weeks now I’ve been walking around with two Japanese books in my “man-bag” and realizing that there is a strong connection between the two books but not quite being able to put my finger on it.  Today I finally realized what was the connection.  Happiness is a decision and it can help you transform everything that you do, especially with learning and transforming your life.

My dose of soy sauce translation of the two book titles are:  Only Do Good Things with Your Brain by Ken Mogi (脳にいいことだけをやりなさい!)and Speed up Your Information Rate by 10 Times with the NLP Speed Reading Method by Naoya Matsushima (情報量が10倍になるNLP速読術).  (Keep in mind that I am in day 457 of a 595 Japanese immersion experience.  Some day I will throw more English resources at you.)

Only Do Good Things with Your Brain by Ken Mogi (脳にいいことだけをやりなさい! )

Ken Mogi is a Japanese brain scientist and prolific writer and talk show host.   This book is slightly more technical, so I find it hard to keep really give the full meaning of it to you.  (I am also only in the middle of the book.  Yeah, I break the rules but at least I tell you!)  But it is pretty clear from on of the first drawings that Mogi believes that happiness is, in part, a decision. Part of the reason I picked the book is because it has pictures  (all is fair in love and reading!).   The first picture shows a happy person with the happiness lgauge on full blast.  The illustration below that is an unhappy person (fumes emanating all around him) with the happiness full gauge on low.   The final illustration on the bottom shows a person changing a control gauge (like an old fashioned volume control) from bottom to high.   The phrase at the bottom reads:  脳の中にある「幸せど度」いつでも変えられる or “You Can Always Change the Degrees of Happiness in Your Brain.”

How do you do this?  The second illustration tells you how.  It hows a person who has built a happiness house:

  • The foundation is “elimination of negative thinking.”
  • The supporting pillars are:  positive thinking, love and gratitude, the body’s energy (breath, position, etc), and “grabbing big power” (?)  「大いなる力」とのつながり。
  • The roof is goals for living.
  • There is a nice yard around the house and that is labelled, relationships with people.

All of these things interact and Mogi spends the rest of the book describing certain techniques for developing happiness.  Just looking at the picture makes me happy.

Speed up Your Information Rate by 10 Times with the NLP Speed Reading Method by Naoya Matsushima (情報量が10倍になるNLP速読術)

Matsushima’s book is a guide to help busy, overwhelmed or under-motivated readers increase their reading speed and increasing their information retention.  Matsushima, being an NLP guy, emphasizes the importance of getting in the right state of mind for reading and argues that one of the reasons people have problems with reading is all the negative associations they have with reading.  He offers several exercises for using breathing and body posture for changing your state of mind before reading.

But what is most interesting to me is that he asks readers to pick a happy moment and think about and feel it with all the senses before commencing with reading.   Happiness is an active decision that can help you learn more and experience joy through learning, if I follow Matsushima’s book correctly.

This happiness decision might be worthwhile in other areas.   In  100 Ways to Create Wealth, the authors explain that you should always “move to the part of the work that you love.”   This is a happiness decision that can result in improved efficiency, service, and even the ability to more easily transition to work that you love.

If you make the happiness decision then maybe you can experience more creativity in your life. Self-loathing and criticism aren’t going to help you. I finally got around to getting out my Japanese guitar books. Learning through love. Trying to make the happy decisions. Many birds, no stone. Online Guitar Lessons

I will warn you that the day I made the connection with all of this happiness stuff,  I was grouchier than the Grouch.  I also believe there is a role for crying and other forms of expressing other emotions.   Sometimes you need to wring out a soaked towel before you put it in the dryer.

But it’s nice to be able to make more decisions to move towards happiness.   Heck, it might even get addictive and help to you to transform the world.

All”s Fair in Love and Reading

One of the three books in my rotation. I started just writing the chapter titles down because they make sense. “Don’t compare yourself to others.” That’s a good one, especially when you think of yourself as a reader.

Okay, well far as love goes, you should try to be human , respect and work things out, and let them down easy but as far as books go, love ’em or leave ’em.   Here are some other important differences between love and reading:

  • Having multiple ‘partners’ is healthy in reading.    You can read several books and articles in quick succession.
  • You can drop a book the minute you’ve gotten whatever you want out of it.
  • A book can’ t break your achy breaky heart.

Why read?   Sam Beckford,  co- author of 100 Ways to Create Wealth explained that the difference between his  successful business and a several failed businesses before that was the 700 books that he read in between the two.   Reading and applying what you read is a powerful way to move forward.    Most importantly, reading is just plain fun way to explore and use your mind and a great way to keep it active.

(Being shiftless, cheap, and easy is specially important when you are using reading to learn a foreign language.   Keep it fun, or drop it and leave.   I know I quoted AJATT in my last post but I want to emblazon the title of his last piece into my brain:

That Righteous Feeling, Or: If You’re Not Feeling Naughty, You’re Doing It Wrong)

Here are some quick Samurai tips on how to be a reading ‘player’:
  • Browse. Go to real bookstores and libraries and relaxedly look around.  Even if you don’t buy or borrow a single book, a browsing session is a fun way to explore and map out the

    I picked this up at a local Bookoff. Kenichiro Mogi”s , “Only do Good Things with Your Brain.”

    topography of your heart’s desires.

  • Speed it up.  Spend one minute, five minutes, ten minutes on a book if time is limited or even just to get more out of it.    For a long time, I was one of those people that said that ‘there is no time to read.’   However, adding ‘time pressure’ to your reading can actually make reading more fun.    Set a timer or just use your interest as a guide.  Skim through every page or read closely.  Whatever turns you on.
  • Suck the marrow out and spit the rest out.  You aren’t married to your book.   Lately, especially with Japanese books, I’ve noticed that I get a lot out of a book even if all I do is read the table of contents.   Skip to the good parts.  You can always go back later.
  • Break up huge or ‘unapproachable’ books into small bites.   Ask yourself, ‘What is fun or interesting’ about this.   It can be fun to claim some herculean work.   I’ve been reading The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen with the help of a timer.  It also helps that I ask myself what is fun about what I am reading.   I tend to skip over the parts about the bureaucratic administration of rice allotmentzzzzzz.

Sakamoto Ryoma, the 19th century samurai who is credited with helping to create the plan that would help Japan move into modernization and protect it from the West is credited with saying, “In whatever situation a person finds himself, he should not

After finishing this post, I went for my last browse in a Japanese bookstore until I come back next summer. This is an NLP inspired book called (roughly) “NLP Speed Reading Techniques to To Speed your Information Retention by 10X” Talk about serendipity.

abandon his favorite ways and his special abilities.”  Remember this as you read and choose how and what to read.  You are the artist, defender, and creator of your life.  Have fun, read, and  grow.


Push, Relax, Have Fun, Repeat: How I ‘Read’ Japanese News

Here’s a quick little Samurai success formula to take on whatever you want to do or  know more about in life:

  • Push.  Find little windows where you can push yourself to learn a little more and push.   Write down a new word, concept, do push ups until you are tired.
  • Relax.  Congratulations on pushing yourself.   Take a few breaths or a nap.  A relaxed learner learns more than a self-loathing ball of nervousness.
  • Have Fun.   Find a fun angle on what you are trying to learn, do, or accomplish.  Find a comic book version of what you are trying to learn.  Zumba!  (WTH!)
  • Repeat.  Go back to the seat of the crime and take a fresh samurai stab at it all.  Be persistent like water, grasshopper.

Yesterday’s Yomiuri. A foreign newspaper can seem scary, but it can also be a game. You can look at pictures can’t you. Any goal has opportunities for pushing and having fun.

Case in point–the Yomiuri News.   Yomiuri Shinbun is kind of like the Japanese Wall Street journal.  It’s the most interesting newspaper lying around my father-in-law’s house.   I already know a lot of kanji and a lot of Japanese vocabulary, but if I try to read every page my eyes start to swim in desperation and confusion.

But all is not lost.  My vocabulary has increased since doing AJATT but what has also changed is my attitude.  I’ve begun to take on Japanese newspapers.

Bad stuff happening in Syria and the ongoing mess at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Yomiuri is the best paper in the house and I’ve decide to at least open it every day.   Push.  I scan the headlines and pictures for things that interest me.   Have fun.  I find a story that interests me and find one word or more that I don’t understand and look it up with my iPhone app, Midori. At the touch of a screen I instantly add it to my flashcards.  This word will be with me for a while.   Push.  I start to feel like it’s turning into homework and I Relax.   I like reading the small ads at the bottom of Yomiuri hawking all sorts of diet, sports, business, and self-help books.  I enjoy the language of promises and I also like the bite-sized、digestible bites they come in.  Have fun.  The newspaper comes again the next day and I Repeat.  PRHR! (Like a cat with spelling issues.)

The ads are like little candies. Small and chewy!

I’m hoping to PRHR through more of I want to learn:  financial and investment literacy, Spanish, and playing guitar.    Today Yomiuri, tomorrow the world.

Cut Through Indecision: Let Go and Let Samurai

“Chase two rabbits and lose them both” (nito otte itto mo ezu). This Japanese proverb is a graphic picture of the mind which is divided in its purpose, and therefore loses that which it would gain . . .

In the martial arts, the hesitant abiding mind is considered to be the most vulnerable to attack. The main thing is to get moving. You cannot balance on a bicycle unless you are in motion. Once you are moving you can adjust your course. . ..  William Reed. Aikido expert and business consultant


So many rabbits too little time. I spent the day at Makai Farms in Fujinomiya. Language immersion and family time. Killing two rabbits with one stone? Ouch!

Indecision can be a time and motivation killer.  I know.  I struggle with it every day.  Sometimes I lose precious time playing around with Japanese because I agonize about which would be the right method.   Should I finish a japanesepod101.com or iknow.co.jp lesson or should I do something fun in Japanese.   If I decide to ‘have fun’ in Japanese, I agonize about what would be fun.

The key would be to keep moving, as Samurai Renaissance William Reed explains.   As I’ve explained before, I am currently doing Silverspoon, a a subcription program where I get daily recommendations of what to do and study in Japanese.  Khatzumoto, the webmeister behind AJATT, deftly calls it structure without stricture.  I like having a structure not just to have a structure but also because it gives me something to rebel against.   You want me to watch anime all day today?  Eff it…I think doing a japanesepod101.com lesson might be more fun today.

A friend recently asked me what I would do to create a program to get more people writing.  One of the main suggestions I offered is to simply get a timer and write.   I am not Shakespeare but I am writing.   When I get stuck writing about a specific project, I get out my timer and go to the ‘blurts’ section of my documents and complain, scream, whine.   Many times I come up with ideas for chapters or blog posts.  Sometimes the blurts are just kitty litter、but at least I am moving.   ‘ Once you are moving you can adjust your course.’

We spent some time at the sheep races. Which sheep to pick? Indecision. As Khatzumoto says. ‘Just pick. Click. Move on with your life.’ 🙂

In his article, Action is Easy.  Decision is Hard Khatzumoto puts it more bluntly:

So stop being such a queen and just pick whatever. Decide. Either way, it’s easy in that all action in your cushy, sedentary life is easy. It’s easy to do; it’s easy not to do, and — now that you’ve given up the duh-rama — it’s easy to pick as well.

Go on, timebox it. 90 seconds. Pick. Click. Move on with life.

Take out your Samurai katana and cut through indecision and do something in the direction of your dreams.   And, if you see me on the road vacillating, give me a swift kick in the samurai.

Samurai Dance

“Every day I count wasted in which there has been no dancing.”–Friedrich ‘Shake What Your Momma  Gave You’  Nietzsche

I’m staying with my wife and my daughters in a a little town called Yui.  It’s famous for it’s Sakura ebi shrimp and the fact that it is shown on NHK television when the waves from a approaching typhoon crash across the interprectural highway.   It is a good trip.  In the mornings I’ve been able to get away and hike among the farms.  I’m living the slug life, yo.  

Have you ever watched a Studio Ghibli movie and watched a cartoon slug wander down a plant. They are slimier in real life.

I can tell it’s a good trip because when my daughters play with their cousins, they vehemently tell me to go away.

We are also here to enjoy the matsuri or festivals.   This weekend, at night this sleepy little town is transformed into a festival of lights.  My shaky little iPhone pics won’t do justice to it.

My daughter, Sakura, especially enjoys 盆通り, or bondori.   This is basically a festival dance.   Anyone can come dance around the yagura, a large beautifully lit central platform where the musicians and drummers play.   


The central platform around which bondori dancers dance. There’s something primal in a maypole kind of way about this kind of festival dance.

There are different dances but it usually involves stylized hand and arm movements and very little moving of the hips.   What I love about this festival is how many different types of people come.   It’s cool to watch tough guys twirl their hands delicately in the air.   (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)   It’s kind of amazing that people have been coming to dance together for hundreds of years.

Last night I saw an old couple dancing.   The woman was pushing his wheelchair in the general directions that the other dancers were moving.  The man’s had moved like eagles above his wheelchair. 

That’s how I want to live–grasping every minute that I can to dance in some way.    It’s why I woke up this morning and walked to the hills and farms above the local zen temple.   It’s why I swim through lameness totry to keep on writing.  Join me.  Keep dancing. 


Above the zen temple–from the hills where you can really see far.



Think Genki: As a Samurai Giveth, A Samurai Receive(th?)

My “office space” when I’m in Japan. Well-lit, computer and internet access, and as many Calpis, coffee, and assorted drinks as human could tolerate.

Preparing for Take-off

The house-sitter is secured.  Passport is in order and samurai is ready to go to Japan.  My bags are not yet packed but somehow I’ve found a few minutes to read my trashy self-help book, 毎朝1分で人生は変わる:One Minute, One Action in the Morning will Change Your Whole Life.  Challenge #7 tells the reader that whatever energy you give to others is the energy that comes back to you.   [If your Japanese is better than mine, please correct me in the comments, and excuse my punctuation because I am on a Japanese keyboard in manga cafe.]

 The Challenge

「元気」はあげればあげるほど自分に返ってくる。 The more good energy you send out the more good energy comes back to you. Miyake-san goes on to add:


Samurai translation:  If you want people to like you, you need to start by liking people.  Once you start doing this, people will start liking you.   If you want to be `genki` [energetic, excited, happy], you should be happy and excited abou the people in front of you.  After a while, you will also become `genki.`

So Far, Not So Bad

Going to the airport was a perfect opportunity to test this new habit.   Usually, I am cranky as hell as soon as I have to take off my shoes and go through security.  It was still annoying, but I made a decision to send out positive vibes.  (Yes, I know, so 60s!)  I had a cornucopia of moments to turn beyond annoyed at people to sending out good thoughts.   🙂

If sending positive vibes doesn't work!

If sending positive vibes doesn’t work then this will have to do.

Does it work?  I don`t know, but I realized how much time I spend spinning out negative thoughts and doubts.   What a waste of energy!  If anything, making a point of sending out good thoughts stops the cycle.

Stop the Cycle of Negative Thoughts

The day I left for Japan, I had the pleasure of being at a friends wedding.  He was marrying another man and it was great to celebrate the beginning of that journey with him, his partner, and friends and family.  At the end my friend explained that there were people who could not make it to the wedding for various reasons and he asked us to send healing and positive thoughts in their direction.  My friend happens to be a Buddhist, but you don`t have to subscribe to any creed to practice this.   Golden Rule anyone?

I don’t know if I will remember to continue this habit, but it can’t hurt.  Let the summer of positive vibes begin, man!!!


One Minute, One Action, Every Morning Change Your Life: Samurai Book Thruview

Nonsense leads to making sense. Let me know if you can identify this temple statute.

Summer is finally here and I am following the read ’em or leave ’em strategy for finishing books.  If I am no longer interested in a book (especially those in Japanese), I am leaving them in the dust even if I paid bookoo dollars for them.   I am inspired by AJATT’s column on “Reading and Respectability”:

If you have to limit your reading to what is considered respectable, you might as well physically remove your brain and personally hand it to whoever’s making those respectability rules1. Because that’s kind of what you’re doing already. And while you’re at it, have the Rulemaker come over to your house and pick out your clothes and thoughts, too.

Read Japanese. Read whatever the heck you want. The dumber the better. The brainier the better. The normaler the better. The only limits on reading should be time and interest. Not common sense, and definitely not respectability.

On that note, I am continuing to read 毎朝1分で人生は変わる: One Minute, One Action in the Morning Will Change Your Life.  It is pure self-help crack.   The vocabulary is not too hard, the advice is not revolutionary, but at one or two pages at a reading, “One Minute” is fun.

Morning arrival at Miyajima Island. Every morning is an opportunity to step through a gate.

Each chapter offers a quick daily change that has the power to change your life.  One quick little move that can move a whole body or life.  Think Aikido.

Here are the steps I have encountered so far.   (Please take my translations with a dash of soy sauce.):

  1. Ask yourself the morning questions to rev up your motivation.  『モーニングクゥエスチョンで やる気の1日を作り出す」 These questions come from Anthony Robbins CD  Personal Power 2 and are designed to jump start your day and revolve around your brain:  What am I happy about?  (Feel it!)  What am I excited about in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I proud in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I grateful about in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I enjoying most in my life now?  (Feel it!)  What am I committed to in my life now?  (Feel it!)  Who do I love?  Who loves me?  (Feel it!)  To whom and how can I contribute today?  (Enjoy it!)  ….I think I just used up my yearly exclamation point quota! 🙂
  2. If you read your goals out loud each morning and evening, you will be one step closer to your ideal life.  朝晩の「音読」で毎日一歩ずつ理想の自分に近づく。Miyake explains that the power of suggestion is especially powerful in the mornings and evenings. 
  3. One small adventure every day will translate into a bigger life experience. 「毎日の小さなの初体験」が「人生の大きな経験」になる。 Just one little change every day will teach your mind to take in new experiences and open your life.  Miyake suggests that even just taking a new street on your way to work can be a small adventure.  This reminds me of Julia Cameron, author and creativity guru, who suggests having one small “artist date” on a regular basis for bigger creative breakthroughs.

I can’t really say if these suggestions work or not.  I’ve started to take different routes to work, but I haven’t consistently tried the other steps.   But my life is already changing on one level.  I’m a little closer to Japanese because I’ve found a book that is fun.   Yes, the book seems like self help dross, but it’s fun.   But even if I read about alchemy in Japanese, the alchemy of fun would translate into more learning.  It’s a non-vicious cycle.  Take one minute, one action.  Have fun and change your life.