Tiny Action

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Action is over- and underappreciated word.

Overappreciated as in action without consideration, thought or end in mind.

Underappreciated as in thought without action. Action remains just a word, instead of verb in action.

There is the middle way: thinking, without thinking too much and doing, without doing too much.

My personal fault lies mostly in thinking too much and doing too little. Thus I see this quality in others as well emphasized. And it might be that I am too blind to my own actions that are mindless, so I cannot even name them yet. With a bit of thinking, I think there is indeed also this mindless action in play.

The more I’ve studied about habits and applied what I’ve learned to my life, I am amazed to discover these tiny pockets of time all around me. More efficient actions (=habits) create more time and space. What used require effort, do not any longer. Thus taking action becomes easier.

With habits also the cost of starting doing something (which I feel is immense). Have you tried to start a work out after a long work day? That’s only difficult if you do not already have the neural circuitry in your mind to fire of and start doing it. When you’ve the network however, it will automatically flare up and you will start the work out when you just find the right triggers for that.

The difference between habit and a separate action decision is huge. Habits have little to none starting cost, they trigger automatically. Decisions to do something have tremendous starting cost and when we are tired and hungry we are less likely going to make any good decisions.

Therefore life consists of making these tiny decisions right through the days, these will ensure sufficient energy when we need it the most.

We need tiny action everyday to start building momentum for the bigger decisions and challenges.

 

Decision You Make, Make You!

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We have limited attention. Our ability to prioritize this attention is one of the few things we can truly control and is one of our primary sources to gain more power from the world.

Great decision making means you can have more of what you really need. You will have all the time in the world for the most important things. Decision making is powerful: not only does it mean commitment to do something, but also decision not to do something.

Decision you make, sharpen your focus, you will get more productive. Through deciding what to do, you decide what you become!

Decide wisely.

Power of Full Focus

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Yesterday I was lagging three books behind my reading goal for this year and now I am lagging two books behind. I am really proud that I was able to read and study both of the books in such focused manner.

Both of the books had to do with personal development, one book was by Lauri Järvilehto, a Finnish philosopher and his book Tee itsestäsi mestariajattelija (“Make yourself a master thinker”) and the second one was Sisäinen sankari (Inner hero) by Jari Sarasvuo.

Some topics can feel rather intimidating as the Lauri’s book did for me. I had browsed and glanced through it several times, however never quite got there to read it deeper. Not until on Friday I happened to see what the book description promised “a stress free life.” On conscious level I didn’t particularly feel like I am stressed however, that promise seemed so good that I decided I’ve to read the book. So on the Saturday I decided what’s important: my reading goal and to read the book.

I am amazed what this kind of decision to focus does: I made quite a bit progress and by lunch time I had finished 60% of the book. Next I took fresh air and ate lunch outside. After lunch had a rather long nap, after which I was able to continue reading and finished the book in timely manner.

From the book I actually also learned about human mind and focus as well. Unlike my earlier understanding that came from Mihaly Chikzenmihalyi it appears human consciousness appears to be more limited than I’ve thought. Instead of 110 bits of conscious capacity, according to Ap Dijksterhuis and Loran Nordgren have estimated our conscious capacity varies between 10 – 60 bits per second. If one unit of information is about 8 bits it would be about 1 – 7 units depending on how tired, hungry and what else we are.

We are more unconscious than we know. This is interesting topic that I’ve been pondering a lot. Most of our seemingly conscious actions become so automatic that they are being done unconsciously. In fact if you look at drunk and tired people, they may be unconscious and not register much what is going on at all, yet they somehow find their ways to operate in the world.

Key take away here is that the conscious is more limited than we know. We should use the limited consciousness to harness the capabilities of habits, which is essentially outsourcing the important things to our unconscious which is far more powerful than we could hope our conscious to be.

We can learn all the important skills and habits, most important decision is what to prioritize and finish right now?

How to Make Your Decision Come True

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Some years back when I was still in college I was rather fascinated about decision-making, I read and browsed quite a few books around the topic and learned even some decision making tools which I even now use sometimes.

Yet the question “how to make better decisions?” is still with me.

There are of course some decisions that have smaller impacts, and then there are the life long decisions that really matter. I am focusing more to the latter category, of making big decisions.

Information is the game changer in decision making. To counteract the lack of information we need to do something called “research”, research until we are satisfied and can make a decision. This is called the saturation point in academics.

When we have enough information we can trust, decision making becomes easy. Decide something and stick with it. Make your new choice a habit.

I’ve successfully applied this with quite few habits over the past year for example: quitting tea, starting salsa, going vegetarian. Merely making the decision and then sticking with it. No re-negations.

Remember, decide and stick with it so you will be there.

My Salsa Roots and Goals

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Today’s experiences provide me with so wonderful ingredients for reflection that I simply cannot pass. It’s very much related to my new hobby: Salsa and how I found out about it.

I’ve found that introducing my new hobby to people get more surprising reactions. Even more surprising reactions people get when they hear the name of the Salsa instructor Mikko Kemppe, who is apparently known even better among young men for writing a free dating guide.

I found Salsa, Helsinki Salsa Academy and Mikko Kemppe purely through my Facebook friends, who had liked Helsinki Salsa Academy when I was looking at their ad in the beginning of July. For a longer time I’ve been considering now to start a hobby, for which I was first considering fitness boxing, however which I felt was a bit lonely and also against my ideals of violence even though the fitness boxing in itself you don’t have to be punching anyone in the face. I just felt that I although at some point in my life, I had liked boxing and especially the training method of boxing, now it didn’t seem to match my value system anymore. So I was considering alternatives, for which dance seemed to be one rather wild take. Yet dance in my world had rather special meaning as  I understood it as a creative and love, fun and connection building activity. I didn’t have any dance background at all, but when I started to look further into what Helsinki Salsa Academy offered I started to like the idea of trying out Salsa in intensive weekend setting, so I signed up.

My decision wasn’t easy, however the abundant videos of previous experiences at the website made it much easier to make. After checking the schedules, which seemed to fit my plans perfectly I just needed to go ahead and decide what I want from life. I considered my options and thought that the positive energy that the Salsa has, is certainly very attractive. I am attracted like a fly to positive and energetic people and based on that insight I had my mind.

I loved every second of the Salsa intensive. They were three and half our intensives on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was the first day I also met Mikko Kemppe live. I had tried to watch some of his Youtube earlier, but I couldn’t go on for too long, because I felt his speech was rather slow and the topics were not in my top of mind at the moment. Mikko made very positive impression with both of his style, positive energy and story-telling ability. I liked his style quite simply and decided that if I am able keep on Sunday I shall continue my efforts during upcoming fall.

So it turns out, on Sunday I was having rather positive surprises! Despite little sleep due to the night life, I was having amazing time! So I without much hesitation I decided to sign up for the fall courses right away.

Yesterday I had the first lesson in novice group. In between this intensive and this session I had practiced and learned by heart already all the basic steps, so continuing now was rather easy: I could focus more to the form and body movements on single training part. With pairs, I still have a lot to learn. Leading is hard: you’ve to keep in rhythm and be creative about actual dance, while at the same time executing the moves of course!

What I like about Helsinki Salsa Academy approach is the certain ‘seriousness’ at the business. First thing pretty much we did at the novice group, was to introduce ourselves to the group and set some goals for ourselves, for the next three months and next year.

It is this goal that then inspired me finally to write this blog as well in the end, because I managed to put it in some inspiring words. My one year goal is quite simply to become Salsa club tourist. To me this has rather deeper meaning than the actual words might perceive: I mean by this the ability pretty much go to visit any salsa club and go and have fun on the dance floor.

It’s rather measurable with the salsa club dance floors visited too, so I like that. Then there is of course the subjective experience part.

As for my three month plan, my goal would be to take the first step on the dance floor as I’ve just begun I think it’s a good place to start and to work towards.

 

Last of Freedoms

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A thought that keeps coming to me more and more is that how happy I can choose to be. This thought comes from the realization that I’ve had that we can actually choose our emotional response. Victor Frankl wrote the Man’s Searching for a Meaning where he has been personally experimenting the limits of this sense of freedom which he calls last of our freedoms.

In cognitive behavioral theraphy there is as well the idea that often before emotion a thought occurs. When we can start to recognize the cycles of thoughts, emotions and action we can begin to see our life more objectively.

Last week I picked up this as a new mindfulness routine as well: I began to classify what kind of feelings the thoughts had behind them and this furthermore increased my inner awareness.

Thoughts and emotions which aren’t being noticed will only grow stronger, so it’s good to have the time to acknowledge them and try to understand what the emotions are telling us.

However, it’s also good to remember that we are not our thoughts, or we are not our emotions. Thanks to our consciousness we can choose to respond to these thoughts and emotions. We have the last call. Because of this choice, we can literally decide and that feels liberating.

What Kind of Story Prevents You From Being You?

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I’ve forgiven myself for most of my regrets that I’ve caused for myself up until this age of 29. Forgiving gives always chance to move forward.

Living life with no regrets is cliché, that is fine if it were possible. Yet sometimes we do make decisions that obviously are stupid retrospectively, yet we do them and judge ourselves.

In the past I’ve had quite a bunch of roadblock beliefs. I.e. I was just considering time around ten years ago, somewhere around the time I first heard about Trainers’ House Growth Academy. Yet I did not have the identity back then to follow it up, and other beliefs as well as actual laziness.

Yet in the end, as had cleared some of these identity hurdles I did decide to take the leap or should I say charge of faith and decide not to complain, instead focus to take the chances what I’ve. This led me to apply for the Trainers’ House Growth Academy seven years later and commute for about three hours in a day total.

The price to pay has been totally worth it and more. Not only I feel like I am square with my beliefs, I feel I’ve paid the price and it has made me so strong in the process. That does not happen just any day.

Pay close attention to what kind of stories you tell yourself about what you can or cannot do. Either way you say, you are right.

Do not settle for anything less than you feel you can do.

 

 

Reflections on Responsibility

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As I’ve spend time on thinking, reflecting, questioning my life this weekend, I’ve made realizations as well as managed to connect some dots through my life. I am about to hit thirty years of age in September, so this kind of thinking practice has allowed me to finally put some fragments of my experience together and make sense for the next actions.

What I am happy and grateful in my life at the moment is that I am willing to take calculated risks, and I am willing to endure short term pain in order to achieve long term goals. What’s more is my ability to take responsibility of really hard things and deliver results at least over some period of time.

It wasn’t always like this:

  • In 2006 I was about to fail in vocational school, because of depression and attempt to fulfill the void in my life with World of Warcraft.
  • Later on after some intervention and help, in the second half of 2007 I reached so far highest high, took serious responsibility and completed one years’ work in six months.
  • 2008 offered state provided mission and purpose for my life called military service. I crawled to the pipe somewhat motivated, however after two weeks I had lost my internal drive due to meaninglessness and just seek out easiest way to get it done. I had real trouble adjusting after the six months of compulsory military service to the civilian life and depression hit me again.
  • In the first quarter of 2009 I had had my space again and I made the attempt to take responsibility of my life once again. Bit by bit I decided to take full responsibility of my life, first on the agenda was my health and second most important to thing to me was to carry my own weight in the society. By the August 2009 I was well on track both as I had found employment, quit several bad habits and on track to better health.

I find the time about 11 years ago very crucial to turning point in my life. I’ve often mentioned that in April 2009 I started writing journal every day, which has been with me ever since. Now it is inseparable part of me and my life, so since then I’ve been able to keep more closely track on my progress.

From before that the time and memories seem to be ever fading.

I’ve strived and changed because of that. As most important characteristic in that change has been my openness to take on responsibility. As I’ve marched on with that eagerness to take on responsibility, I’ve noticed that many people do avoid that. I was doing good job, until I had taken on too much an my ability to go on began to be burdened.

What felt right, was to create space and to reflect the priorities. I am still in the process of prioritizing and figuring everything out, however one thing I’ve realized: if it’s not hell yes then it is no. Using this simple question, I can find what parts are in fact crucial and what are not.

Reflecting about past failures and successes is kind of soothing experience. Looking eleven years back, I can in the present feel the weight of my decisions upon another 11 years forward.

 

We maybe outcomes of our past,

Time is running out fast,

The pressure to cast the die is vast,

With cunning, we surpass the time at last.

 

Why to Grow?

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While growth happens naturally until we reach adulthood, the potential does not really stop there at all. As we mature to the adulthood, most of us also are blessed enough out of the powerless state of a child, to a powerful state of an adult.

Power means the right to choose and make decisions. We make a lot of decisions through one day, we can choose between many alternatives which we categorize simply as “good” or “bad.” Misleading part with our simple categorization is that it’s too simple: good now might be really quick satisfaction, however once that quick satisfaction is gone then what? Was the decision still good?

We ought to make good decisions and take proactive actions today, in order to enjoy more tomorrow.

Necessity for growth comes from the external pressures of the nature. If we purely seek present comfort we are surprised by the winter, flood or any other random occurrence.

If we grow, we have more time and energy in our hands to prepare for the future, for the upcoming. We have more time and experience to make calculated decisions, and thus overall we will make better decisions.

External pressures put the stress of growth to us. Often times, when we forget this, relax and start to enjoy too comfortable lives a sudden change may break our reality all at once. It has happened before, great collapses do not necessarily come to those we are struggling in the storm, it might happen to those we are chilling in the calm.

Why Do I Choose to Grow and Develop Myself?

I used to be satisfied with the comfort of the day and perhaps even several days, weeks and months ahead. That used to be enough for me. It was too much to think about how one could take charge of the destiny (rest of the life). Yet that is exactly what I am currently planning to do, this is what I understand as a total responsibility over my life. Earlier I had understood responsibility very differently. Now I choose to take a very long and wide time perspective, taking account not only my own satisfaction, but that of others as well. These thoughts help me push myself to grow each day.

Each time I grow and learn, I get to keep part of it and share it with the world. World has taught me something which I get to keep, use and share further. So therefore each time I am striving to grow everybody gets something, a win-win deal.

Without the external pressure to grow as an adult then requires conscious effort and maybe even mental exertion.

So either internal conscious force, or external force can create the pressure required to grow.

I guess each of us requires different levels of pressure for an optimal performance: some perform better under extreme pressure while others collapse there. In any case, I guess we all need a bit pressure to get started?

“Whatever you see – any good results – are all from the pressure.” – Ziyi Zhang

Life is most satisfying when taking small steps to the right direction.

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What I’ve Learned from Publishing 294 Blogs

 

notebook-1840276_640.jpgPast year I’ve written about 294 articles to this blog. As a simple and quantifiable goal I had to write and publish every day. It is simple and unmistakable. I’ve failed a few times, yet the spirit of kindness keeps me going: I know that I’ve done at least something towards the greater goal of continuous improvement (and my life goals) when I do this.

It’s what we do every day that counts.

About writing I would summarize my improvement with three points:

  • Writing has helped me to gain confidence, habit and identity of a writer.
  • Learning to see the text from readers’ point of view.
  • Structuring my learning in readable format.

I’ve been satisfied with this quite simple goal, with very little expectations of return. However, if I am to improve, I would like to probably set more ambitious goals. So the question is what next?

I was thinking about raising quality of my writing. How does one measure quality? Well I guess feedback of some sort would be a good metric: traffic, likes and/or comments. However, even thought that maybe measure of quality, its’ not in my control. Quality too has to be quantifiable action.

Perhaps I may be setting a minimum standard for article length, or an added revision to the process. Or perhaps it is to shift the focus all together.

I’ve not yet made any decisions, everything is possible. One thing I am sure of, is that I’ll keep writing every day until something better comes along.