It’s been a long time between posts, but here are some of the things that have been rattling around in my head and heart lately….
I recently listened to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Mr Money Mustache (MMM). There were some really great insights on the podcast – in particular the reflection about happiness coming from reducing ‘life suck’ (ie. reducing or removing something negative in your life) rather than adding something more positive. It’s such a great question to ask before making a purchase or committing to doing something – is this thing removing a negative, or just adding a positive that I don’t really need? For example, while a new computer may make my life better in some way (faster, more storage, and upgraded OS), my life really doesn’t suck at all with the completely functional computer that I already own. The other excellent insight was about ‘optimising your life for happiness’. Often I choose to do things or buy things that I think will make me happier (or that society (or clever marketing) tells me will make me happier), without really critically reflecting on whether they do or not. Further, I know that there are certain things that I know make me happier (like bushwalking and simply being in nature), that I don’t make enough of a priority in my life. This prompted me to start a Mindnode with branches for things I know make me happier (stuff I should be optimising my life for), things I think would make me happier (and should create experiments to test and reflect) and things that definitely don’t make me happy (that I should seek to optimise me life to reduce/remove).
After the podcast, I spent a bit of time exploring the MMM blog and this blog post, ‘Happiness is the Only Logical Pursuit’, really resonated with me – particularly the part about consumption often being driven by a desire for self-actualisation, which then undermines a more basic need for financial security which leads to feelings of unease/unhappiness.
In another recent podcast, Krista Tippett and Tim Ferriss spoke about anger really being just how pain or fear manifests in public. This insight prompted me to reflect on how I can best respond when people I love are expressing anger. If their anger is really pain/fear, then me pointing out the anger and why and how it’s hurting me is really like throwing fuel on the flame – it’s just likely to cause more pain or fear. So, in the moment, it is really helpful for me to try to look behind the facade of anger and try and see what else might be going on.
On experience vs opinion
The other great insight from the Krista Tippett/Tim Ferriss conversation was about experience vs opinion. I wonder how our relationships, and our society more broadly, would be different if we spent more time and energy sharing and listening to each other’s experiences, rather than stating and refuting opinions.
They discussed some interesting ideas for drawing out experiences. The first was to ask people to explain their actions, beliefs, behaviour, preferences etc ‘through the story of their life’. The second was, when trying to help someone in a difficult situation or with a problem, to steer clear of conjecture, and instead only share a story from your own personal experience.
Since ‘burning out’ toward the end of last year I’ve tried to be much more conscious about self-care and building good foundation habits (Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before was a timely read for me too). For me, the four foundation habits that really underpin my mental health and energy are sleep (getting to bed before 10pm greatly increases my chances that I’ll get at least 7 hours of sleep), 30 minutes of physical activity, meditating and journalling. I’m sure diet (specifically cutting out or down on sugar) would help too, but I’m not sure I have the energy or inclination to tackle that right now! But despite me knowing that these four foundation habits (especially sleep) have such a huge impact I still struggle to implement them on a daily basis and I’m trying to figure out why. There aren’t any significant barriers (these habits aren’t that complex or particularly time consuming) except myself. Is it laziness, or some form of self-sabotage? What kind of accountability systems might I need to put in place to make sure I actually do these things?
I loved the Making Oprah podcast. One of my key takeaways was the importance of intention. In preparing for shows, Oprah was always asking her producers ‘what’s the intention?’. ‘Intention’ emerged as one of my ‘words’ for 2017, so this was a really nice reminder and validation of its importance.
A quote that I’ve been returning to over and over is “Nothing of consequence gets accomplished without courage” – from Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast episode on the Satire Paradox.
Other random things that have bought me joy recently:
- Getting into Cosmic Kids yoga with Ella
- We’ve also had lots of fun reading Anh Do’s Hot Dog (but it’s lead to an obsession with writing the word ‘poop’ everywhere!)
- Connecting with wonderful women through the Lead Mama Lead community and joining a book club! The Lead Mama Lead website will be launching next week, but there is an already active and super supportive Facebook group for any mamas who are interested in joining.
- Seeking out more opportunities (and noticing the opportunities when they arise) to connect with strangers after reading Kio Stark’s When Strangers Meet. I’m not great at initiating conversations with strangers in public, but I do enjoy trying to form some sort of connection with the people that I’m forced to interact with (and therefore don’t need to ‘break the ice’). I had a really great conversation with the woman who was taking my blood for some tests recently and it reminded me of Sam Prince’s great advice about the power of asking the second question.