Two years ago I packed up my entire home into boxes for a move to a new house. Ultimately, we didn’t move to that new house and I was stuck with all my stuff in boxes. While it was disappointing at the time, I look back with gratitude because it enabled me to do something very important.
I didn’t have the energy to immediately unpack everything because I was still quite disappointed with how things had turned out so I just unpacked what I really needed for that week. After that first week there were certain special items I missed having around me so I unpacked those. Within the first month I had unpacked what I really needed and what was very important to me and nothing more.
Months passed and what I came to realise was that I had been harbouring a LOT of stuff that I thought I needed, wanted, or would one day use that was just cluttering up my space and my mind. The really important result of not having all that extra stuff out is that I had the space both physically and mentally to re-evaluate my life a bit and see what I wanted to do next and how I wanted to live.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
It seems that when you have all the stuff from your past still cluttering your home it becomes difficult to see the changes you actually want to make. Your stuff holds you back. I highly recommend clearing out the clutter to make space for the new to come in. Once I had everything out of the way I began to see how I could make my home’s style a better reflection of who I am now and what I’m aiming for.
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
I don’t expect you to go and pack up your whole house as I did to figure out what is worth your space and what is not (although if you can it works well) but I do have a strategy that I think can help you reach the same results in increments. Instead, pack up room by room.
Move from room to room in this way and if you are honest and strict with yourself you should have cleared out plenty of clutter and maybe even made a bit of money from it. When it comes to clothes the one month rule won’t apply to seasonal clothes so you may have to revisit your wardrobe each season and cull those pieces that don’t get worn within one month. Give it a try and see how you do. Do it every year if you want to. Like everything the more often you do it the better at it you’ll get.
If you find yourself needing a real push to help you declutter you might want to read famous Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It is jam packed with quote-worthy motivation and revelations.
What’s your take on clutter, love it or hate it?
The Dhammapada is a collection of the sayings of the Buddha in verse form. It is one of the most widely read of the Buddhist scriptures and the most essential. There are many translations but I chose Easwaran’s because of a recommendation – the source of which I can’t for the life of me remember.
“As irrigators guide water to their fields,
as archers aim arrows, as carpenters carve
wood, the wise shape their lives.”
The Dhammapada is an easy and enjoyable read. It is full of simple wisdom some of which may seem like common sense but is lovely to be reminded of from the Buddha’s unique perspective. He has a very simple and down to earth way of delivering essential truths which is the essence of his teachings.
“…the Dhammapada seems more like a field guide. This is is lore picked up by someone who knows every step of the way through these strange lands. He can’t take us there, he explains, but he can show us the way: tell us what to look for, warn about missteps, advise us about detours, tell us what to avoid. Most important, he urges us that it is our destiny as human beings to make this journey ourselves. Everything else is secondary.”
Eknath Easwaran, The Foreword
The Dhammapada is described as a handbook to the teachings of the Buddha but it is Easwaran’s informative introduction on Buddhism and the text that give an extra insight to the seemingly simple words of the Buddha. I enjoyed reading his introduction and it serves as a great starting point not only for this text but for Buddhism on a whole.
If, like me, you’ve never read any Buddhist texts (or much about Buddhist teachings) this short book of verse is a great place to start, particularly Easwaran’s translation. The opening verse of the Dhammapada is a profound reminder that our lives are shaped by our minds and we become what we think:
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought:
we are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those
whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy whenever they speak or act. Joy follows
them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
It happened that earlier this year I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, then some weeks later Easwaran’s Dhammapada, followed by The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which in retrospect could not have been better planned. I didn’t read them back to back but each prepared me for the next and I think I was able to take a great deal more from each one’s message for having read them in this order. Obviously you don’t need to read them like this but if you’re interested I enjoyed this reading order.
I enjoyed and recommend reading The Dhammapada. A wide variety of translations exist but I found Eknath Easwaran’s Introduction a highlight of reading this book. He has also done translations of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita which I hope to get to at some point also.
I have found that I’ve read many books at just the time I needed them, no matter whether they were fiction or non fiction, and on occasion the order in which I’ve read some books has been just right that it helped me fully digest or appreciate the books that came later.
This is true of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle for me. I’m sure by now everyone has heard of this book. It has been translated into over 30 languages and even Oprah sings its praises. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages but honestly if I’d read it before now (no pun intended) I’m not sure I would have got the message. Earlier this year I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse which led me on internet travels of Buddhist thought and I’m currently reading Eknath Easwaran’s translation of The Dhammapada whose introduction was very interesting reading. Both those books got me into the right frame of mind for The Power of Now.
It’s not the easiest self help book to get through. At first I wasn’t really comfortable with the question answer style of certain parts as I prefer a narrative style but you do get used to it. You may or may not be familiar with some of the ideas that form the basis for Tolle’s message. Your familiarity with or exposure to some of the concepts in the book could potentially affect how you feel about it. Stick with it, read slowly, let it percolate.
I do think it is an important book for us all to read at some point. It’s a short book but best read slowly. There is a lot to take away from The Power of Now but the most basic message as you may have guessed is related to time. There is no time but Now. The past is but memories and the future is imagination, the only thing you need to concern yourself with is now. This is quite liberating if, like me, you often find yourself worrying about a future that doesn’t exist yet and a set of problems that may never exist.
The more time that passes since finishing it the more I realise about its implications for my life. I’m sure that no matter what you’re going through; good, bad, or meh, there’s something for you in this book that will help you. If you’ve already read this book I’d love to hear what you thought about it.
Self education is a vital part of life. It’s learning on your own terms. You decide what you’ll spend time on and which resources to use. This is important if we hope to be innovative and creative in our lives and endeavours. Many start on a self education journey with a clear goal in mind; to learn a specific skill for their career, but we should also do it for ourselves – for personal expansion. Whatever you’re interested in or always wanted to learn — don’t wait — make yourself a map for your own self education journey. Here, you’ll find some guidelines to help you do that.
Autodidactism or self education is any self-directed learning on a subject in which you have no formal education. Malcolm Knowles in his 1975 book Self Directed Learning explains the process of self education:
“In its broadest meaning, self-directed learning describes a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.”
So if you want to teach yourself writing, coding, photography, Photoshop, or [insert any topic here], these are the steps to follow based on Knowles’ definition of self directed learning:
Is there something specific you are interested in learning? Is there a particular skill that you need to improve your skill set for your career? Are you looking to make a career change and now need to learn a completely new set of skills? Define exactly what it is you will be teaching yourself.
You know what you will be learning but now you need to set goals. What level of learning do you need to achieve and, if necessary, by when? What tasks within your chosen area do you need to be able to complete to feel satisfied or to meet certain professional requirements? Do you want to be able to pass a proficiency exam? Define what you want to achieve.
See if there is anyone in the area you are interested in who would be willing to help with your learning; someone who you could talk to, email with questions, or intern for. Seek out people who are learning the same subjects as you and exchange information and experience. Join a community if there is one or create one if there isn’t. Identify all the resources you will use to self educate. There are lot of resources available to you. One of the most important is books. List the books you will read. Go to the library, seek out the relevant literature, and have a look at university reading lists. Be sure to check for Further Reading lists at the back of books. The internet is also a rich resource but always check the veracity of your learning sources online. Find out what other people learning the same thing are reading and using.
What will your learning process be? How will you approach your learning? How will you combine theory and practical? What will your daily/weekly learning plan be? How much time will you dedicate to each resource? How do you plan to test your knowledge or skills?
Evaluate the outcome of your learning. Were you successful, and why? Were you unsuccessful, and why? What could you improve on? What would you change about your process? What will you need to revisit?
No matter whether you are learning for your own interests or working toward a particular goal, like an exam or an improved CV, following these steps not only helps you define your learning and narrow your goals. It immerses you in the topic, connects you with others, and gets you up to speed on all the on goings in the field.
Abraham Lincoln is one famous autodidact who said, “All I have learned, I learned from books”. Read as much as you can. Read as widely as you can. Read from varied opinions of a subject.
There are a great number of other notable autodidacts too, like’ Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Ford, Charles Darwin, Ernest Hemingway, William Blake, Karl Marx, Benjamin Franklin, and Frida Kahlo to mention just a few. No one is as finely attuned to your interests and needs as you are. This undoubtedly makes you the best guide for your own learning.
“All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.” — George Whitman
Going on holiday is always exciting. I love holidays and while flying to your next destination often means you can travel to more distant places much more quickly there is something special about loading up the car and hitting the road.
Here’s why making your next holiday a roadtrip will be good for the soul:
Get out your map book and plan a trip somewhere new. Get your car ready. Hit the road. Simple as that. Don’t forget to leave some time open to explore, discover, be a bit spontaneous. I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
I sat down and read this book cover to cover in an hour. It is a fabulous, thought-provoking, and inspiring book filled with drawings, word art, and great advice. In the way it is written and designed it gets you thinking practically and creatively. I found it part inspiration and part workbook which was very helpful.
The GoodReads blurb: “Who hasn’t asked the question “How can I find and follow my true calling?” Elle Luna frames this moment as “standing at the crossroads of Should and Must.” “Should” is what we feel we ought to be doing, or what is expected of us. “Must” is the thing we dream of doing, our heart’s desire. And it was her own personal journey that inspired Elle Luna to write a brief online manifesto that, in a few short months, has touched hundreds of thousands of people who’ve read it or heard Elle speak on the topic. Now Ms. Luna expands her ideas into an inspirational, highly visual gift book for every recent graduate, every artist, every seeker, every career changer. The Crossroads of Should and Must has a universal message—we get to choose the path between Should and Must. And it gives every reader permission to embrace this message. It’s about the difference between jobs, careers, and callings. The difference between going to work and becoming one with your work. Why knowing what you want is often the hardest part. It gives eye-opening techniques for reconnecting with one’s inner voice, like writing your own obituary (talk about putting life in perspective). It talks about the most common fears of choosing Must over Should—money, time, space, and the ultimate fear: total vulnerability—and shores up our hesitation with inspiring stories of and quotes from the artists and writers and thinkers who’ve faced their own crossroads of Should and Must and taken the leap. It explains the importance of mistakes, of “unlearning,” of solitude, of keeping moving, of following a soul path. Presented in four chapters—The Crossroads, The Origin of Should, Must, and The Return—inspired by the hero’s journey outlined by Joseph Campbell, The Crossroads of Should and Must guides us from the small moment, discovering our Must, to the big moment—actually doing something about it, and returning to share our new gifts with the world.”
As the title suggests this book is great for people seeking their life calling and for people who are at a crossroad in their life and not sure what to do next. This short book will guide you through sorting through the basic questions you need to answer to get to the root of you and begin to formulate small actions you can take to move forward. Luna’s idea isn’t about making a decision and making an overnight transformation. It is about the process or journey to your ‘Must’ which is far more achievable and sustainable for us all.
I loved the quotes throughout and I especially liked the questions Luna asks you to ask yourself and the suggestions she gives for what you can do. I made a few notes along the way and brainstormed my answers to the questions she poses in the book. Reading this book was a great exercise in working out my direction. This isn’t a book about abandoning your job to pursue your passion without a plan. This is about helping you work out how you can live your passion and pay your bills. But at the same time it proposes that you not be afraid of a path which has no easy answers or no set guidelines.
For no other reason than to know yourself better I recommend this book; from its questions which get you to examine your Shoulds so you can know your prison, its prompt for you to define your must-have money vs. your nice-to-have money, to creating your ‘what-are-you-so-afraid-of’ list, you are bound to learn something about where you’re at and where to next.
A lovely book to boost your life and creativity for anybody and everybody.
It is a long held tradition for people to keep a journal or diary of their thoughts, the events of their lives, and their feelings. Many powerful and successful people have done so. There are also a number of different reasons for keeping a journal; some do so to record their lives and its events, some to vent their emotions, and others to capture their ideas and fuel their creativity.
“Swiftly, swiftly, record your thoughts before they are forever lost in time.”
A Treasury of Thoughts
The benefits of journaling are well covered so if you don’t already keep a journal the only question that remains to be asked is what kind you should write. For as many reasons to keep a journal there are equally as many styles of journals you can keep. If your desire is to focus on achieving your goals or expanding your knowledge I recommend creating something positive, useful, and inspirational for your life goals. Keep the journal that focuses on what you read, what you think, pieces of information or quotes that inspire you. Include plans and people to follow. Keep a journal that becomes a collection of everything you want to achieve, the tools to get you there, and the inspiration you need for the journey. Create something that motivates and re-inspires you as you read back over it. Create an inspiration journal.
“We always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe most strongly, expect on the deepest level, and imagine most vividly.”
Keep a journal filled with writing and notes focused on the life goals you are working toward which will inspire and fast track your success.
Everything you are curious about, everything that inspires and helps you, every idea you have, write it all in one notebook. Whatever project you are working on or goal you are trying to reach, whatever you are trying to learn more about or skill set you are seeking to acquire will greatly benefit from a journal that brings together everything you encounter along the way. You may be surprised how something seemingly unrelated can bring new meaning or perspective to something else you were thinking about.
Read back over it and you will see that you have created a valuable source of focused inspiration and information. It will help you get where you want to go in life and when you look back over it you’ll see how far you’ve come.
I like to think of it as the kind of journal left behind by brilliant people like Leonardo da Vinci or John Steinbeck. I like the idea of putting time into something that is constructive and focused on creating the journey rather than simply recounting the journey. For me, keeping this kind of journal has shifted my focus away from what was toward what I will do which I believe is a better recipe for success.
Siddhartha is a short novel written in 1922 by Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse. Many people agree that Siddhartha is one of those books that people should read in their lifetime. It’s a spiritual or philosophical story of a man’s journey of self discovery set in the time of Gautama Buddha. Interestingly, the name Siddhartha is made up of two Sanskrit words; siddha (achieved) and artha (what was searched for). Siddhartha, both words together, means “he who has attained his goals” according to The Life of Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha whose name was also Siddhartha before his renunciation.
This is fitting because in the book Siddhartha does in fact achieve his goals but not at all in the ways he expected.
“In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life—the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.” (GoodReads)
This is a lovely story of how all that we go through, positive and negative, is part of our own journey of self discovery in life and ultimately all good and valuable. A quote from the book that I liked:
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
A strong message that we all have to experience life and all its offerings for ourselves to truly understand. It cannot be taught or bought. You have to go out and experience life for yourself and walk your own journey.
I enjoyed reading it and it has a lyrical feel to it so it’s different from any of the modern books of its kind.
I could not have started the year off with a better book. Super Brain is an incredible book, part neuro science, part self help book, it was the perfect combination of fact and guidance. On the cover it says: “Unleashing the explosive power of your mind to maximise health, happiness, and spiritual well being.” It is this and so much more.
“Two pioneers in health–Dr Deepak Chopra and Prof Rudolph E. Tanzi, one of the world’s foremost experts on the causes of Alzheimer’s–share a bold new understanding of the brain and a prescriptive plan for how we can use it to achieve physical, mental and spiritual well-being.“ (GoodReads)
Super Brain describes eloquently and backed up by scientific fact how the brain works and then shows us how we train it sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. Super Brain explains how this training can result in either the brain using us or us using it as is supposed to be. It provides guidance on how you can retrain your brain for maximum health, happiness, and spiritual well being.
In each chapter the authors talk about an area or function of the brain and also deal with a specific problem that many of us face in society. For example the book explains and offers guidance on memory loss, depression, overweight, anxiety, personal crisis, self-healing, maximum longevity, among others. And even if you don’t deal with any of these in your life the book is so well written and interesting that you will enjoy it for the simple fact that we all have a brain and it’s wonderful to better understand it and our particular nervous system because they are the vehicle through which we experience life.
The beautiful message of this book for me is that you have control over your brain and therefore your experience of life. My favourite line in the book comes from pg 167:
“…every thought is an instruction…”
I enjoyed and highly recommend this book. It was a fantastic read and I’ll be reading the follow up Super Genes later in the year.
We are two weeks into the new year. By now many people have already defined their new year’s resolutions and a few may already have given up on them. I like the idea of resolutions but I tend to prefer goal setting at the beginning of the year. Rather than focus on things I want to stop doing I like to focus on what I want to achieve during the year, where I want to be by the end of the year, and what I need to do to get there. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.
I think what’s important is not so much the goal (although achieving it would definitely be wonderful) but rather the mindset we get into by thinking carefully about what we want and how we will get there. Getting your head into the right gear at the beginning of the year is a powerful way to let go of the year just ended and prepare to be open for the new.
I’m not sure that looking back over a year and judging it as either good or bad is the right strategy for life. There is no doubt that some years leave us drained or depressed while others have filled us with joy and hope.
“And just as he who, with exhausted breath, having escaped from the sea to shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes.” – Canto 1, lines 22-24, The Inferno of The Divine Comedy by Dante
The quote above is how I see looking back at a tough year. You got out alive and there’s much to be grateful for in the lessons we learn in tough times. These make us stronger and prepare us for greater challenges. This, too, is important as is happiness and prosperity. Another quote I like that often helps me see what I initially perceive as a tough year as part of the greater picture of my life is from Zora Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God:
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
If last year wasn’t the year you hoped it would be, don’t worry. Everything is preparation. Get out a fresh, blank piece of paper and think about what you want to achieve and what kind of life you want to have. Then write down the things you need to do to get there. Be specific. Each day you can work a little more on completing task after task until you get closer and closer to where you want to be.
Last year I asked questions about where I am and where I wanted to be. It was about coming to a realisation that I wanted a drastic change and that I needed to take risks to get it. This year I have a better and clearer idea of what I want and the steps I will take to get there. Among the many changes I will try to bring about this year the main one is focus on developing skills that will better help me to express the creative side of myself. I will be taking courses in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, focusing on developing my photography, and working towards creating better content for digital publication. Doing these things will bring me joy and satisfaction because essentially my goal is to do more of what makes me happy and not put any more time into doing stuff that doesn’t fascinate and inspire me.
What are your goals for this year?
I know of Elizabeth Gilbert from her Eat, Pray, Love success. The cover of her latest book Big Magic completely drew me in and then the “Creative Living Beyond Fear” subtitle really spoke to me too.
I consider myself a creative person (but really we all are) and I always have my hand in some kind of creative pursuit but since I am a self taught creative (my tertiary education is in the social sciences) there tends to be a bit of fear or anxiety surrounding my freedom to create without feeling like a complete fraud. Just like when I began this blog years ago I felt I had no right to do so because I knew nothing about the world of blogging. But it has turned out to be a wonderful creative outlet.
If you recognise yourself then this book is for you. It is just as much for anyone working professionally in the creative arts as anyone enjoying working on creative arts in a non professional way. I really enjoyed this book and it is chock full of great lines that you will no doubt see as affirmation style images on Pinterest. It is inspiring and realistic. More importantly it is a guide to just how we should be treating our creativity to enjoy it more fully as well as foster it.
This is not about being successful in the creative arts; this book is about creative living for the sheer love of it. No doubt there will be those that dislike this book but I am not one of them. I have a number of creative passions that I love working on and this book has given me the boost to keep on keeping on. My biggest take away from this book is a personal one. Your creativity (and ability) is no less legitimate than the next person’s regardless of education or any other external factor. Your experience is unique so get stuck in.
I really enjoyed this book, it’s a quick read and if you’re intrigued by it go ahead and read it. If you’ve read it what did you think?