4 Insights That Will Change Your Life

Awhile ago, before I met my fiancé, I would often feel lonely. Scrolling through dating apps would have the opposite effect, reminding me of how single I still was. That evening, the Headspace meditation app gave an insight that clicked for me.

When it comes to loneliness, or any emotion, if we recall the last time we felt that way, we have to acknowledge that it eventually ended. I’m not talking about the event that caused the loneliness, but just the feeling. The emotion subsided and was replaced by another emotion. (In my case, excitement.)

The insight is that every emotion has a beginning and an end. The happy emotions and sad emotions alike. So the next time you’re feeling either, acknowledge it, and you’ll find yourself in a better mental space.

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@anyen_rinpoche

Pay Less Attention

Anyen Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk who is a spiritual director in Denver, observes:

“People here [in the United States] focus on their emotions much more than we Tibetans do, and they are encouraged to do so. This culture places value on focusing on our own feelings more than the mood and energy of the people and situations happening around us.” [11]

My interpretation of this is to pay less attention to our own feelings about the situation, and put more value in how others are feeling.

“By gradually reducing the focus we ordinarily place on our emotions, we begin to identify with them less. As we identify with our emotions less, we become more willing to let small situations go, and we begin to feel more relaxed. This starts a different kind of emotional cycle. As we start to see that letting small situations go actually brings us peace of mind and happiness, we become willing to let other situations go too. When we relax and let go, we identify with our emotions even less. When we identify with our emotions less, we are less self-protective, less emotionally reactive, and we feel happier.” [11]

Takeaways is to simply notice your emotions and how they come and go. Perhaps they are powerful and the emotional swings are dramatic. Maybe your emotions are subtle, that they come and go barely noticeable. The goal is to notice what kind of emotions you feel, how often, and when they depart. In doing so, we feel better and expand our emotional bandwidth.

DIG DEEPER — Years ago I did a solid 365 days of meditation, and tracked my major revelations along the way. Check it out here.


Why You’re Doing Kindness Wrong

Sometimes I think, “dang, it’s the end of the day already and, I’m not sure what I accomplished today. Should’ve been more focused. Also didn’t get to workout like I intended. And yet, I still had ice cream and a beer to destress.”

All of that internal monologue is not very kind!

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@andypuddicombe | Headspace

This life changing advice is to learn how to be kind to our own fragile psyche, and yet still be driven.

“More realistically, what we’ll actually be doing in these situations is fulfilling an idea of kindness, rather than coming from a place of kindness. In this sense, it is a learned kindness, rather than necessarily reflecting our innate kindness.” — Andy Puddicombe [9]

That quote really resonated with me. I think most of us grew up with our parent telling us to be nice to people and treat folks with respect. At the same time, they would be hard on us, such as pushing us to get better grades. It was all done with love, and yet the kindness we give to others is rarely given to ourselves.

“It means noticing when you snap at yourself, when you beat yourself up, when you reinforce negative thought patterns, and in that moment, seeing it for what it is: a thought, a feeling, just passing by, no more than that.” — Andy Puddicombe [9]

The takeaway is exactly that — letting go of negative thoughts about ourselves, and getting back to the task at hand. I learned a long time ago it does no good to sit in negative space, so the faster we can recognize it, the faster we can let it go and return to being productive.

DIG DEEPER: One more quote!

“If we don’t have a healthy relationship with ourselves internally — if we’re always berating ourselves and giving ourselves a hard time … that is inevitably our experience of relating to others.” — Andy Puddicombe [10]

Another deep one, imagine how you’ve been manifesting all your insecurities onto others in your life! Ok, ok, maybe it’s time for some ice cream and a beer.


The Multitasking Paradox

I’ve started developing a horrible habit. When I’m on the couch watching a show, I can’t help but glance over at the phone. Yeah, the show could do better to hold my attention, but how much am I giving it a try if I’m constantly barely paying attention to it?

For example, I watched Netflix’s Ozarks a couple years ago and didn’t understand what all the rave was about. But recently, I gave it a try again and have been really loving it. The difference? You guessed it — no phone interruptions.

New habit is if I ever want to look at my phone, I pause whatever I’m watching. It’s astonishing how often that urge comes and disappointing how a 1 hour tv show now becomes over 2 hours.

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@mrvahn

We all know multitasking is bad, that we accomplish less than had we concentrated on one topic at a time, and yet we all still do it. Yet, here are two insights that can further shape your opinion of it.

“So within an hour, tasks should be kept consistent to increase productivity, but across days, tasks should be varied to maintain stimulation and interest.” — @HarvardBiz [5]

Takeaway #1: Multitasking only works if you vary what you do from hour to hour, day to day, I.e. larger chunks of time. Multitasking doesn’t work in small time increments, such as a few minutes working a task, then checking emails, then vacation planning, and then balancing finances. Do each of these tasks, one at at time, in larger time increments. Research shows that variety over large sans of time is what makes us happy.

“The real cost isn’t borne by this person at all. Rather, it’s an annoying penalty that is unceremoniously dumped on everyone else. In this way, economists would argue that multitasking generates negative externalities.” @danielgulati [8]

Takeaway #2: Your multitasking is actually harming others. I hear this statement in meetings all the time, “Sorry, can you repeat the question, I was busy doing something else.” Now the entire meeting has to stop and repeat itself, because one person was trying to multitask. Consider your impacts on others, and show respect for everybody’s time.


How to (Re)Claim Victory

I told myself that I’d be out on my front porch and writing by 7AM this morning. That I’d write at least a few more Venture Out emails, or else I’d feel like I squandered the time.

Actually, for most of my life, I’ve set goals to reach each promotion level by a certain age, and I’ve hit all of them except the last one. So, maybe it’s because I didn’t achieve the last promotion that caused me to think deeper about, “why is that my goal?”

Those of you that know me know that I love setting goals. Without clear goals that are measurable and specific, how would we know we’re making progress? (Heck, a goal could even be to binge watch the latest Netflix show in one day!)

I’m saying we all need to set goals, and those goals should be (re)defined to match our Why.

My new goal this morning is to learn at least one new thing in my research… and if I finish writing stuff, even better.

I’ve been running a lot more lately these past few months, and gotten to know the Nike Running Global Head Coach, Chris Bennet, via the Nike Running App (which I highly recommend). With all this running, my pace has improved from 10 minutes per mile to now under 9 min.

“But the better you get, the harder it becomes to best those milestones — and if those things are all you’re basing your celebrations on, you’re not going to be celebrating much.” — Nike Running Global Head Coach, Chris Bennet [1]

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@nikerunning | Nike Zoom

So, here’s the life-changing insights:

  • Think about Why you run. This applies to most things in life, especially the big things in life. Think about Why you want that promotion and why you work so hard for it. Should you actually be putting in your best effort for 40 hours but instead spend more energy on other things, like your relationships, your health?
  • Celebrate everything. If I only celebrate getting promotions, I’m in for a looooong drought! Instead, redefine what should be celebrated, such as — helping a co-worker, taking on the crap work that no one else wants, and still being positive with others despite how hard life is.
  • Reclaim your victory. One of Coach Bennet’s advice is even if the run I’m on sucks (horrible pace, feeling tired, etc.), I can in that exact moment, redefine what the victory is. In other words, it’s not about beating my personal best pace, maybe its just finishing the run! Maybe the run cleared my mind, or got me to destress. Victory can mean anything.

References

1. How to Get More Out of Every Run by Nike Running
2. Leaders Who Can’t Forgive by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries
3. Great Leaders Know When to Forgive by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
4. It’s More Important to Be Kind than Clever by Bill Taylor
5. When Multitasking Makes You Happy and When It Doesn’t by Jordan Etkin and Cassie Mogilner
6. The Curious Science of When Multitasking Works by Walter Frick
7. ANIMATION: The Multitasking Paradox by Harvard Business Review Staff
8. Multitasking’s Real Victims by Daniel Gulati
9. How to be kinder to yourself by Andy Puddicombe
10. From Monk to Transforming the Lives of Millions Through Meditation, The Headspace Story with Andy Puddicombe
11. The 4 Noble Truths of Emotional Suffering by Anyen Rinpoche

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