For the next 10 days, Thursday, 25 September through through Saturday, 4 October, I will be on retreat and enjoying an Electronic Fast. I’ll be reachable by phone and I’ll check emails once a day for emergencies, but don’t expect any new posts until Sunday, 5 October. Enjoy.
Archive for the 'Zen' Category
Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centred, self-reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power, ready to be focused in an instant to meet any […]
I am obsessed with index cards. A number of us, actually, suffer from this condition. For several years, the largely blog-based movement known as “lifehacking” has embraced the unassuming index card as an unrivalled tool for personal organisation – a dirt-cheap, portable medium for keeping lists, taking notes, brainstorming, memorising, organising your schedule, or leaving […]
We face a “coming dark age”, cautions Maggie Jackson in Distracted, one of the better recent works on the topic. She fears an “attention-deficit future” in which we’ll live shallow, fragmented, joyless lives, robbed of our powers of “deep focus”. It doesn’t disprove this thesis to observe that people have been saying similar things at […]
My favourite anecdote about the novelist Anthony Trollope—no less noteworthy, I like to think, for also being my only anecdote about Anthony Trollope—concerns his writing habits. Each morning, before leaving for his job at the post office, he wrote for three hours. (“Three hours a day,” he reckoned, “will produce as much as a man […]
The faintly depressing human tendency to seek out and spend time with those most similar to us is known in social science as “homophily”, and it shapes our views, and our lives, in ways we’re barely aware of. It explains why, if you know the political positions of a person’s friends, you can predict their […]
“Don’t wait until you want to do something,” Fast writes, in possibly the single most useful productivity tip ever (it’s a close cousin of “motivation follows action”, mentioned here previously.) “Many people equate depression with the inability to work. In reality, the problem is often the inability to feel like working.” But it’s not just […]
[O]ur lives are plagued with what the blogger Merlin Mann, calls “interstitial time” – small chunks of minutes spent waiting at the doctor’s surgery, or for someone who’s late, or for a meeting postponed at short notice. It feels like time wasted. But it needn’t be. The poet William Carlos Williams, for example, wrote much […]
In each case, the results supported the idea that self-control literally relies on glucose. When blood glucose is depleted, we’re less able to exert self-control. The researchers say that the brain has a limited reserve amount of glucose, which allows us to handle the initial task demanding self control, whether it be watching a movie […]
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done But he with a chuckle replied That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried. So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin On his face. If he worried he hid it. He started to sing as he […]
Minimalism takes effort. Perfectly organised storage systems need to be constantly maintained; spotless kitchens need to be kept spotless. The Real Simple fantasy implies that a light and airy physical space will make it easy to achieve an inner airy lightness, but if you’re using lots of energy to keep your environment that way, it’s […]
Neither the anal-retentives [that would be me, JH] nor the spontaneity-lovers are quite right. On the one hand, a good filing system will help, not hinder, spontaneity, as David Allen, one of this column’s governing deities, says – when your brain trusts you’ll be able to find things when you need them, you let go […]
First, take the “continuous” part. Lurking behind most schemes for life-transformation – especially all that “A New Year, A New You” nonsense that’s finally subsiding now February’s here – is the unspoken notion that change is something you achieve, once and for all. Since that day never actually arrives, this means living life as a […]
What swiftly happens, the masters of strategic incompetence learn, is that people stop expecting you to undertake certain tasks; they no longer ask you to do them, and they adjust how they rate you: your failure to perform the activity stops counting against you. If all this sounds overly Machiavellian, it’s worth noting that it’s […]
When we practice Right Mindfulness, we bring about Right Concentration. p. 96 From Good Citizens: Creating Enlightened Society by Thich Nhat Hanh Previously… Found in my electronic chapbook.