Monthly Archives: August 2011

Minimalize, Focus, Do Part II- Mastering Focus

Part II of the Minimalize, Focus, Do series.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest“. ~ Dalai Lama

Into the Eye of the Storm

A storm is coming. Thick, dark clouds are gathering in the distance, rolling closer and closer towards you. The echo of a deep rumbling shakes the ground beneath your feet. Lightening pierces the sky in great thin flashes. Suddenly there’s a giant clash and everything goes white.

You open your eyes.

The first thing you notice is not what is there but what isn’t. The chaos and uproar is gone and in it’s place there is a tranquil silence that almost seems to ring in your ears. You fill your lungs with the cool, thin air. It calms your thumping heart.

You are in the eye of the storm.

Everything you have done until now has lead you to this moment.

Being focussed is about transporting your mind and body to a place of serenity. There’s nothing to pull you away from what you’re about to do. For now, nothing beyond your bubble really exists. The past is behind you and the future hasn’t happened yet. The world is at your feet.

This moment is a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate.

Has there ever been one moment in your life when you’ve been completely, utterly focussed? If you have experienced it, then you might know the feeling of infinite joy that comes out of being able to perform your very best.

You feel awesome, inspired and unstoppable. 

If you haven’t had the chance to experience that kinds of momentum yet, you can try to bring the moment towards you using some focus mantras.

25 focus mantras for genius, creativity & greatness

  1. disconnect
  2. breathe deeply
  3. intensity is vital
  4. drop your expectations
  5. play and stay curious
  6. lose yourself and
  7. know who you really are
  8. be present
  9. embrace solitude
  10. make your own rules
  11. listen honestly
  12. savor the silence
  13. life is the journey
  14. love everything
  15. just feel
  16. let go of the past
  17. passion is key
  18. move with purpose
  19. reject fear
  20. strive ahead
  21. freedom is in your mind
  22. gratitude goes a long way
  23. make a difference
  24. dive deeply
  25. be human

It’s your chance to fill the pages of your life. Write your story. It is in these moments that you decide who you are and what you’re alive for.

Now go do what you are supposed to do… and give it everything you have.

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Minimalize, Focus, Do Part I – Mastering Minimalism

Part I of the Minimalize, Focus, Do series.

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Everyone has something that holds them back. It can be something precious, common or unique, something tangible or untouchable, it can be a secret or something everyone knows about. These are the things that keep us human, grounded, and it’s only natural that we would want security and reassurance in a world that changes every moment of every day.

But how much those things hold people back depends entirely on each person. It’s their choice, not anyone else’s. They can blame others all they like, but in the end it’s all down to them.

Sadly, a lot of people are prisoners to their desires. They can’t get past social pressures and consumer greed and over the years and they become increasingly obsessed with collecting more and more debt. They start basing their identities, achievements and self-worth on the accumulation of the next best toy. Even when these new toys become redundant, they can’t let go and they work long hours to pay for the garage that can’t fit a car or a basement to store all the junk they don’t need.

Then there are some people that own almost nothing, not even much more than the clothes on their backs. They’re nomads, with no place to call home but not exactly homeless. They travel everywhere and would live anywhere. They can be connected to almost anyone and anything in the world at any time they wished, or they can simply disconnect, disappear and drop off the map.

Fortunately, most people are comfortably living in between these two extremes of a spectrum of how humans can deal with the modern world. Neither is really wrong or right – life isn’t as black and white as that. There are good and bad things about both ways – on the one hand a person can take comfort in the security and consistency in their lives, whilst someone else might thrive on the freedom and adventure. What we can say is that we all have dreams, and how close we are to living those dreams right now is what life is all about.

Many of us are lucky enough to have a choice. We have the technology, freedom and equality that held the previous generations back. Just thinking about the war, famine and disease still prevalent in other parts of the world, and it’ll put your own problems in perspective.

It may not seem like it to everyone, but we all have a choice – a chance to make our one and only life worth it. If to live is to suffer, then we might as well make sure we get something good out of it too. If more people in the world slowed down for just a moment long enough to reconnect with themselves, they might realize that living life on auto-pilot is completely pointless and a waste of life.

So how do you take control? The answer is simply, simplicity. Once you learn to let go of all of the things that don’t matter to you, you’ll naturally steer towards the things that do. Regular ‘decluttering tips’ are easy to find, so here are some mantras to remember for some minimalist motivation.

25 black-belt minimalist mantras

  1. abandon your fears
  2. let go of sentimentality
  3. cut attachments
  4. relinquish desire
  5. quit putting yourself down
  6. eliminate the unessential
  7. forgive past mistakes
  8. ignore advertisements
  9. stop spending so much
  10. deny fear
  11. drop all the crap
  12. banish greed
  13. say no
  14. release your imagination
  15. burn bridges
  16. sever toxic ties
  17. surrender your pride
  18. loosen your grip
  19. open your mind
  20. ban clutter
  21. discard flailing plans
  22. reduce you life overhead
  23. throw away old things
  24. disconnect
  25. remember that emptiness is beautiful

Some of these are easier said than done, but it only takes practice. It can be hard to turn off auto-pilot. After all, just cruising along is easy. But letting the wind (or other people’s expectations) rule your life can take you somewhere you don’t want to be, and you won’t realize until it’s too late to turn back. You can let people advise you, influence you or guide you, but don’t let them take over.

If you have some things that are complicating your life too much –  now is the time to sort them out. Once the water is calm, it’ll be plain sailing from here.

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Minimalize, Focus, Do

How do you get things done?

David Allen, amongst countless other life coaches, business men and women, time management ‘experts’ and so on have spent and earned millions trying to figure out this question.

As people, we can do more than just spend our days hunting, eating and procreating. We’re lucky in that way because we have the chance to do something really world-changing or life-fulfilling, but only if we choose to.

Coming back from a year abroad in hot and busy Asia to a breezy summer in my seaside home in England, it’s been all too easy to slip into a lazy routine of reading, surfing the internet, hanging out with friends and going on the occasional jog. Short of writing one essay, a few songs and getting through a pile of books, I admit I haven’t ‘done’ too much since I’ve gotten back. I haven’t felt so relaxed in such a long time and it’s quite a relief just to lay back for once.

However, the inertia is starting to get me and lately I’ve been feeling a little restless again as I try to find ways to output all of the energy and momentum I’ve built up whilst travelling. I feel like a train that was travelling at full speed and has come to a screeching halt. I need to get back on track, even if slowly but surely.

Back in March, for my birthday post I wrote about things that matter. Even though this is a minimalist blog, I’ve long since learned that it’s not enough to just ‘minimalize’ your life. Just cutting down on things and getting rid of things is only half the battle.

We have to minimalize, then focus, then do.

What to minimalize, focus and do is something I’ve written a lot about (these posts remain some of the most popular). I feel I’ve concentrated a lot on why as well – happiness is one of the most important things in our lives, and yet there are too many people who have forgotten about it or are trying to ‘chase it’ in the wrong ways.

But one thing I haven’t talked too much about is how.

How do we go for what we want? How do we make our dreams into realities?

These are the kinds of questions I hope to be tackling over the next few weeks.

[Edit] Minimalize, Focus, Do will be a three part series, check back here for links or subscribe via RSS feed or my Twitter to get instant updates!