growth memory resolution time

“Always too nostalgic. Now, just living.”

Six-word memoirs from writers famous and obscure

Above is my six-word memoir. The idea of writing autobiographies using six words or less is being promoted by Smith Magazine. They are hosting thousands upon thousands of these little reductions, where you can submit your own.

About my memoir, though, I’ve been learning to give up my nostalgia. I’m doing this by becoming more comfortable with uncertainty. It has been fear, I think, that has driven me into the safety of remembering and living in the past. Even memories of bad events felt safer than mysteries of the future or the complexity of the present.

But that’s the wrong way to live! When you close yourself off that way to the fear, you close yourself off to experience, too. I’m determined to stop dreaming away my life.

belief growth health productivity resolution time

Trusting the Method

“Enlightenment” by marirs

After I got out of the shower yesterday, I curled my arm to look at the size of my bicep. It had been a while since I had done this. I was impressed. It looked noticeably larger than the last time I checked. It looked like a tight ball under my skin with some definition of other muscle around it. When I checked it in the bathroom mirror this morning, though, it looked the same as it always had — sort of a round mass. Perhaps the gym has better lighting.

I’ve been going to the gym for four months now, lifting weights three days a week and doing cardio exercises five days a week. My intention was not to build a bigger bicep, although I hoped for it as a side benefit, along with losing weight (so far, not so much). If I did it for those reasons, I would have given up discouraged months ago.

My intention was merely to build a practice that would improve my health, mentally and physically. I resolved to focus not on the results, but on the method itself.

This is big change. I have always thought of practice solely as a path to improvement. You pick up a musical instrument or a foreign language so that you can play and converse, otherwise it’s a waste of time. That kind of thinking associates practice with wasted time. It longs for a machine or a pill or a shortcut.

A grudging practice must be continually justified. Am I learning fast enough? When will I be good enough to not make mistakes? Why do I even want to do something that requires so much practice? I quit.

If you learn to love the method, the results will arrive. I thought about this recently after a short but wonderful flight through space.

I’ve been adding all sorts of methods to my life — methods for cleaning my house, for writing, and most recently for flossing my teeth. My most cherished method is for meditation. I sit in my living room chair, wrap myself in a blanket, set a timer (first for 10 minutes, now for 20), close my eyes and focus repeatedly on one word that sets my intention for the day. I use every sound to reinforce the word. I breathe the word in and breathe the word out. My heart beats to the word. The clock ticks to the word. Sometimes my dog will bark the word or a loud car will drive the word up the street.

After months of daily meditation, I’ve had some “peak experiences.” Once I felt like I was outside my body. I often see colors and shapes. Mostly these experiences are in the form of a complete relaxation that straddles dreaming and waking.

But even more than those, meditation seems like a complete waste of time. I struggle with it. My nose starts to itch or I get distracted by something. I start to worry that I’m not doing it right.

But then I come back to my focus. That’s what meditation is all about — returning to your focus. You won’t get stronger by merely holding the weight, but by pumping it, bringing it back again and again in repetition, sets of repetition.

Meditation is teaching me to trust the method. Someday it will make flowers grow out of my pockets.

growth productivity resolution

Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Advice

Thanks, Jerry

Lifehacker shared a piece of advice on getting things done a little bit at a time. The advice comes from Jerry Seinfeld, right at the top of his career, to a new (then) comic and (now) software developer:

[Seinfeld] said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself – even when you don’t feel like it.

He then revealed a unique calendar system he was using pressure himself to write.

Here’s how it worked.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain.” He said again for emphasis.

There are a few things that I try to maintain by doing every day, like cleaning the house and blogging. It’s easy, though, to let things go for several days. I’m going to give this method a try.

growth personality resolution

My New Resolution: Saying Hello

Say Hello to My Little Friend by nevrlndtink1226

This is stupid. It comes naturally for most people, but when I run into an aquaintance by surprise, I pretend that I don’t see them or I turn away. I don’t run screaming from people, no, but I don’t approach them, either.

This happens for a lot of dumb reasons. There’s something about impromptu small talk that lands in my ear like fingernails on a chalk board. I’m afraid of the embarassment of not being able to remember their name and the embarassment of them not being able to remember mine.

The funny thing is that if I know in advance that I’m likely to run into them–say I’m going to church–then I’m prepared. I can pace with all the best small talkers.

I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to keep pushing people away. I want to be a friendly guy.

Yesterday, I was walking in town and went past a person I had only met about three weeks ago. At first, I just kept walking, as if I didn’t recognize him. Then I stopped, turned around, and greeted him.

I don’t know why “Hi, how are you?” became so difficult to say. Like anything, I guess, it requires practice.