Welcome to Tuesday Tips, a weekly collection of epiphanies that make my life better. I feel like I’ve been living more and more in the Now lately, where I’ve been sloughing off bad habits with presence. I can’t recommend Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A New Earth enough, which taught me most of what I intellectually understand about living in the moment.
1. Give yourself fully to whatever you’re doing right now.
Give the present moment the attention it deserves. Whether you’re doing the dishes, hula hooping, or reading a book, make it a point to say to yourself, “I give my attention fully to this task.” Forget all your worries and let the moment carry you away!
2. If you really want something, LET IT GO!
Every time I really crave pizza or really want a hookup to come through, I proceed with my life as if I’m not going to get it. I figure out how to be happy without it. Without fail, as soon as I’m just as happy without it, I get it.
3. Ask yourself, “What can I give here; how can I be of service to this person, this situation?”
A powerful exercise from Eckhart Tolle, becoming the giver allows you to receive. Whatever you want, give. You’ll see you’re the source of abundance, not lacking it.
4. Treat everyone you meet like they’re your best friend.
All of my best friends became my best friends over long periods of time. The first day we met? Hardly memorable. Now when I meet new people, I try to remember that all of my closest relationships blossomed over time, and I never could have predicted the people who I spend the most time with. So each new person I look at as if they could one day be my best friend, and I start looking for all their best qualities to appreciate.
5. Make use of suffering.
All the best creatives do this. Henri-Frédéric Amiel says, “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” (Thanks to Emily Michele for sharing this great quote.) Another way to look at suffering is that it’s an opportunity to practice your magick. Thinking about it that way can get you excited about your contrast, which leads you to make peace with what is, which means your suffering ends.
6. Get excited about the Now instead of anticipating the future.
Eckhart Tolle explains that, “Anticipation about an upcoming event, which is the ego’s overvaluation of future, easily turns into its opposite–letdown or disappointment–when the event is over or doesn’t fulfill the ego’s expectations.” If you’re always excited to be in the Now, what happens in the future doesn’t affect your well being.
7. When you feel a negative feeling about something, ask yourself if you’re unconscious.
I noticed that I was getting a sick feeling when I got emails about money. I usually shy away from dealing with it. But today I said to myself, “Breathe in and observe. Breathe out and observe.” I watched my thoughts. I was able to see the thoughts that were making me sick, and then changed them in the moment.
8. Whenever you feel lonely, gaze into the palm of your hand.
Thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh for this suggestion. Not only can you see your ancestors and fellow humans, but you can see everything in the universe if you look hard enough.
9. Try this mantra: “I want what I have.”
Rabbi Hyman Schachtel says, “Happiness is not having what you want. It is wanting what you have.” In a contrasting moment when you’re unhappy with things, try saying “I want what I have” to your troubles. The second you warm up to what you’re resisting, it’ll pass.
10. Focus on your breath and let those thoughts go…
Sometimes I’m in a terrible mood because I won’t stop thinking about some terrible wrong. I know that I’ll feel better if I stop thinking and be present, but I can’t shake the thoughts. Saying, “I don’t have to think about that,” and then focusing on my breath has been really helping me let go and be here now.
11. Be a nobody!
If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength.
This quote from A New Earth blows my mind because it helped me see how much of life I have strove to STAND OUT and get noticed and be cool and achieve. This website has often been my platform for TRYING TO MAKE IT. But what if I wasn’t trying to be Internet-famous? What if I couldn’t add value to my brand? What if I was… nobody? Could I still be happy? Fuck yeah!
Welcome to Tuesday Tips, a weekly collection of techniques to help you love being alive. This week the tips are focused firmly in the present moment, noticing every blessing as it comes. Being “in the now” isn’t as elusive as I sometimes think; anyone can use their breath to step away from doubting thoughts. All it takes is a split second of fresh air in your mind to see the shooting stars life is sending your way.
1. Paint your nails.
Male or female, painting your nails is a festive way to bring yourself into the Now. It’s a gift to yourself that gives itself surprisingly throughout the day.
2. Fill out a Best Week Ever worksheet.
Want to have the best week of your life? Just print one of these babies out and note every triumph large and small for each day of the week. The more you notice the small successes, the more big successes you attract.
3. Think of your relationships as slow-ripening fruit.
The best relationships I have are the ones in which I didn’t have to try. Slowly getting to know someone over a period of years allows the friendship to develop naturally, just like fruit on the vine. If you have to try, it’s like picking the fruit before it’s ripe. My current relationship rules are just like gardening: never force anything. Allow nature to do its thing. And above all, never care what someone else thinks and be your own reason for feeling good! (In fruit metaphors, I guess that would mean to not depend on one ripening fruit to be your food source, and don’t judge yourself by how well the fruit grows.)
4. Think, “You’re not a ghost.”
In Peace Is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh says that when you’re thinking about something and not present, both you and the object of your attention are ghosts. When you’re going about mundane activities (such as wiping your fingers on a napkin), say to the object you’re engaging with, “You’re not a ghost.” Your interactions can become loving and mindful, while keeping all of your focus in the Now.
4. Try this mantra: “I don’t give a fuck, I’m doing what I want.”
Yesterday we were walking to 711 for some wine. I said in my head, “I don’t give a fuck what anyone says, I’m getting a snack.” And then I found a penny on the ground. I of course take this as a brilliant synchronicity indicating my thinking was on the right path.
5. Don’t judge yourself for how you feel.
If you feel less than great, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge how you feel and think about how you’d like to feel instead. Then make peace. One of my favorite Lil Wayne’s quotes is, “Don’t chase the feeling, baby girl, let it come to you.” If you’re chasing feeling good, it will keep running away from you. Make yourself at home in your emotion and just as you start to enjoy it, the feeling you were looking for will reveal itself.
6. Transmute your fear-based self-doubt into creative gold.
The other day, Kelly was experiencing contrast at the gym. She perceived someone being unnecessarily unfriendly and took it personally–projecting her own self-criticisms onto this person. Instead of continuing to blame him for how she felt, she filled out a Self-Doubt Alchemy worksheet. She took responsibility for how she felt and transformed it into self-appreciation.
7. Try this meditation technique: “Breathing in, I’m observing. Breathing out, I’m observing.”
Use your breath to tether you to the Now, and “I’m observing” to watch for thoughts arising in your mind. Every time I vigilantly keep my attention in the present moment, I feel so much better. And excited about how easy life can be!
Pizza is my thing. In addition to tasting delicious, it comes with years of conditioning my mind to associate feeling good with eating pizza. I always had pizza parties and frozen pizza at sleepovers. It was a treat during lent. My dad makes a kickass grilled pizza. It is my go-to comfort food when I’m bored or stressed or depressed.
I am learning to be my own source of comfort instead of turning to pizza. I am learning to be consciously aware of my thoughts about pizza, instead of thinking about it all the time like a zombie.
My relationship with pizza illustrates my entire journey into self-discovery. I’ve always known the day I can turn down pizza is the day I have found true happiness–or at least a glimmer of it.
This week I have several pizza-themed tips, but #9 might be my holy grail when it comes to conscious eating. Bon appetit!
1. Eat a snack at the grocery store if you’re hungry.
At HEB we weigh the bulk foods, price them, then bust into the chocolate covered espresso beans. Snacking on something delicious when we’re shopping prevents those impulsive pizza purchases.
2. Record your common dream themes.
I’m getting back into lucid dreaming by reading Dreaming Yourself Awake. The author suggests keeping track of things you commonly dream about, so when you find yourself in that situation again, you can ask yourself if you’re dreaming and hopefully become lucid. My common themes so far are transporting animals (feeling responsible for others’ well being?), drugs (belief in lack?), and driving (freedom?). Knowing my common themes helps me see what kind of baggage I’m carrying so I can set it down!
3. Brand your clothes.
Our friend Matthew is starting a new business. He goes on and on about putting his new logo on everything, especially different types of shirts. Kelly and I were inspired to print out a bunch of tshirt transfers and put the School of Life Design logo all over everything! It’s a great conversation starter and easy advertising. Thanks Matt!
4. Videotape the ebb and let the flow do the publishing.
Whenever I feel crappy, I start taking videos on my phone. It’s the whole basis of our podcast. Taking video helps me step back from my life and laugh at my petty concerns, and it also helps me appreciate how beautiful my life is. When I’m not feeling great, the last thing I want to do is work on projects, but the videos end up being a project later. When I’m feeling better and excited about my work, Kelly and I mix down the videos into our podcast. It’s nice to have creative things to do both during the ebb and the flow.
5. Choose “I don’t know” mind.
When you’re running a plan over and over in your mind because you really want it to turn out just this way you planned and if it doesn’t you just don’t know what you’re going to do because it just has to be this way and … just stop. Tell yourself you don’t know. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. You don’t know how that person is going to react. You don’t know how you’re going to get the money, but you will. You know you will. And the more you leave up to the universe, the easier it is for the universe to work its magic. Relax in knowing that you don’t know.
6. Resist temptation to become more powerful.
What if for every temptation you resisted, you took on that much more power? For example, Kelly and I always want pizza. Every pizza that we don’t buy, we take on the power of that pizza. We become more irresistible. We become tempting ourselves! And then… we get stuck in your system ;]
7. Spot some contrast? Fuck it.
This one goes great with “I don’t know” mindset. Have an annoying question? Fuck it. Don’t want to do something? Fuck it. Starting to get in an argument? I don’t know, fuck it. This tip is entirely based on a book cover I saw posted on Facebook. But I’ve got it on hold at the library!
8. Develop your sky awareness.
The sky is the great equalizer. We all look at the same one. No matter where you are in the world, they sky looks basically the same. 3pm cumulus clouds on blue sky look (more or less) the same in Texas as they do in Australia. When you look up, you realize there is something bigger than all of us. There is a great mysterious connector that binds us all together, and its power is exponentially larger than the combined power of the human race.
9. Be the observer.
What’s beyond silent counting? Watching the thoughts go by in your head like clouds past a window. Say, “I’m observing” to yourself. Then watch what thought comes next. “I’m observing,” I said in my head as Kelly and I went for a walk. I saw a dude crossing the street with a pizza. “He got to get a pizza,” I heard myself think. For the first time, I watched the “pizza craving” thought instead of becoming it. If I had become identified with the thought (thinking that was who I was), then I would have felt the injustice of being without pizza, and I would have felt justified by purchasing pizza. Instead, I watched the thought and kept my mouth shut. It was easier to let the craving go. And then Kelly said, “I’d rather have a Red Bull and a compliment than a pizza,” which pretty much sealed the deal on becoming conscious about pizza. For the next 5 minutes anyway.
(UPDATE! Yesterday someone at the gym told me that I looked like I lost weight! Go team Pizza Awareness!)