Mindful November

At the end of October I finished reading this book titled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. So during this month, I hoped to practice some of the things I learned from this book. Hence Mindful November.

I liked the idea of conserving mental energy that’s otherwise wasted on small stuff so we can use it for the things that really matter. The central theme of this book is to help keep the little things from taking over our lives.

I picked twelve things to practice during November. These rules sound like truisms, but as with all truisms, the challenge is in practicing. I failed miserably multiple times when situations have arisen. Lately some of my ducks are getting out of row (if they aren’t, they are not ducks, are they?). I would have saved a lot of mental energy had I applied some of these rules. But alas, such is life!

It is not all bad though. I did well in some of them. For example, I am not an aggressive driver but I am neither sagacious. I received a rather expensive speeding ticket in mail during the Bay of Islands road trip last month. Much earlier to this, since the start of the last year I decided not to honk at anyone on the road, regardless. Who knows what the other driver is going through. Everyone does mistakes sometime. So there is no point in getting zealous with horn as if I am saintly.

However, I was only not honking. I am still disturbed within when I see bad or dangerous driving. This morning someone cut in front of me in the traffic. But this time, instead of feeling angry, I recalled the following from lines from the book and instantly felt better.

Why not simply allow the driver to have his accident somewhere else? Try to have compassion for the person and remember how painful it is to be in such an enormous hurry. This way we can maintain our own sense of well-being and avoid taking other people’s problems personally.

And from the essay 57,

…you end up saving no time in getting where you want to go.

Nevertheless, I am an optimist and believe in practice. So I will get going.

Here are the twelve things I will continue to practice.

Let others finish.
Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences.

Let others be right.

Let others have the glory.

Let others be more enlightened.
Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you.

Choose being kind over being right or being intelligent.

Praise and blame are all the same.

Become a less aggressive driver.

Think of what you have instead of what you want.

Look beyond behavior.

If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it.

When trying to be helpful, focus on little things.

Mind your own business.
Avoid analyzing or trying to figure out other people.

/now page

I am now part of the /now page movement started by Derek Sivers. I created a What I’m Doing Now page on this blog.

I felt this is a brilliant idea because it made me pause, think about what is important to me and write how I am spending my time.

Here is Derek’s Now page. Here is the list of sites with /now pages.

I bumped in to Derek when Leo tweeted:

I then found and liked Derek’s No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no post and started following him in twitter.

Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unread, Unfriend, Unplug.

One thing I started appreciating after becoming a dad is the value of time.

Like many dads, being the best possible hands on dad is non-negotiable to me. You don’t need a lot of money to be a good parent but you certainly need a lot of time and patience, things money can’t buy. However, this is not the only challenge I have.

I am three decades into my life and still haven’t figured what do I want to do with it. Thankfully I haven’t given up and I refuse to settle. This means besides trying to be a good dad, I also need time to find my life’s purpose. While I do this, I need to make a living, exercise, learn to write well, run errands, form and keep up habit streaks; all while getting eight hours of sleep.

All these things put unprecedented pressure on my time. So earlier last year I audited how much free time I have and how am I spending it. That’s when I realized a relieving fact that I can still put time on the things I want to do and be there for my son.

These are some things I do to free up significant chunks of time.

Unsubscribe to most of the RSS feeds. Google helped me a bit with this by killing the Reader. Now I only read less than a third of my original feeds.

Unfollow most of the tech celebrities, tech blogs, tech journalists and everybody who spam. As a result, I brought down my twitter following count from few hundreds to under 50. This saves a lot of time I am otherwise spending to scroll through twitter timeline. Now I follow only a few interesting people.

Unfriend with Facebook friends with whom I am not in touch for years. It may sound weird but with how many of your 500+ Facebook friends did you attempt to make a genuine connection? How many of them share their genuine thoughts on their feed? Most of them don’t. So I unfriended with all but 30 people on Facebook so I don’t have to deal with their Farmville requests and passive shares.

Unread news. I only spend less than 15 minutes to scroll through headlines of two newspaper sites. The one I grew up reading and the other, to get in touch with current affairs of the country and city I live. I only occasionally read through the main content. Most of it, most of the times is useless anyway.

Unplugging is challenging. Especially when technology is your passion and you have a handful of gadgets around. I would be lying if I say I can unplug when I wish. But I am making slow progress. Disabling notifications in the iPhone is one thing that helped me with this.

Few years ago I always looked forward for the next Apple event and used to waste lot of time reading speculations in technology blogs about what Apple is going to release. Now I did not even know when was the last Apple event and what was it about.

There is always enough time for anything, but not for everything.

Not giving a fuck

Tim Ferriss tweeted and I retweeted this great post titled, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

It has so many f-words in it but it is a great post I read today and I am glad I read it. So please don’t get offended or distracted by the overdose of f-words and try to understand the point it is making.

If I have to remember only one thing from this post, it is this:

Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.

Habit Loopholes

Last December I took the Design Your Habits: A Hands-On Introduction to Behavior Design course on Skillshare. This is a great short course and I recommend you check it, although it is no longer free, at least for me.

It helped me refresh the classic habits stuff like Habit Loop, tiny actions etc. But a new thing I learned in this class is the Habit Loopholes proposed by Gretchen Rubin of Happiness Project.

A loophole is an another term for excuse. So here are the 6 loopholes she says prevents us from doing our habits.

1. Moral Licensing Loophole
I have been so good. It’s okay for me to do X.
I saved so much by not buying X so I deserve to buy Y.

Danger: The reward for doing your habit is you get to not do it. Messes up habit by training brain that habit is painful.

2. Lack of Control Loophole
My kids/spouse/dog is taking up all my time.
The dog ate my homework.
I am too stressed to deal with this right now.

3. Planning to Fail Loophole.
Oh look, I forgot my workout shoes/shorts today.

4. This Doesn’t Count Loophole
Tries to create a special exception to your commitment.
Classic example: I am on vacation.

5. The Questionable Assumption Loophole.
Operates on an assumption when examined closely, is not a valid assumption at all.
I can’t work until my office is clean

6. Fake Self Actualisation Loophole
Tells you to cast off your responsibilities because life is short.

7. One Coin Loophole
What difference will one day make?
One beer won’t make a difference.

I think being aware of these loopholes is important because as someone said, with better awareness we make better choices. With better choices come better results.

How to pause cmd window incase of any exceptions.

Last year I had to write a small piece of java code to launch another application using one of the available ports between certain range. I wrote the code and saved the command to launch the java class in batch file so that when the user double clicks it, java class will launch the application.

There is a small catch here. The cmd window does not pause irrespective of how the program runs. If the program runs successfully, then fine. But how will the user know in case of any exceptions? So we need to add one line in the batch script at the end to pause the cmd window in case of any exceptions so that the user will get the chance to see what the exception is. The following line is what needs to be added so that the cmd window pauses in case of exceptions:

IF %ERRORLEVEL% NEQ 0 pause