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The Discipline of Mastering Mental States : zen habits

The Advanced Antifragile Skill

Learn that you don’t need to change your mental state to do what you’re committed to doing.

If you need the perfect mental state and a perfect set of circumstances to do your commitments, this is a fragile system. Anything that keeps you from doing the actions you need to do to get into the right mental state … throws you off and prevents you from doing your meaningful work.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Discipline of Mastering Mental States : zen habits

The Discipline of Mastering Mental States : zen habits

https://zenhabits.net/mentalstates/

zenhabits.net

5

Key Ideas

Mental States

It’s really important to monitor mental states. They will usually affect whether we do our exercise, eat healthy, binge watch TV shows, drink alcohol, eat junk food, or are open-hearted (or rude) with the people we love.

It’s also an incredible skill to be able to move into the proper mental state to do focused work, to create, to meditate, to exercise, or do whatever you find meaningful.

Moving Into a Mental State

  1. Recognize that you’re in the wrong mental state. It’s not likely to lead to a calm focus. It will lead to you doing busywork or seeking distraction.
  2. Experiment to find a set of actions that can help you move into the right mental state. This is going to be different for each person, but with some experimentation, you can discover things that work for you.

Activities For A Better Mental State

  • Meditation
  • Go for a walk
  • Get up and move around
  • Talk to someone (if you’re worried about something)
  • Having a cup of tea
  • Taking a power nap
  • Having a cup of coffee (differs for each person)
  • Getting into a quiet, uncluttered environment
  • Turning off your wifi router
  • Using full-screen writing apps
  • Playing calming music
  • Reading an inspirational quote or article
  • Talking to someone (including a therapist, if needed)
  • Bringing playfulness to the task

The Advanced Antifragile Skill

Learn that you don’t need to change your mental state to do what you’re committed to doing.

If you need the perfect mental state and a perfect set of circumstances to do your commitments, this is a fragile system. Anything that keeps you from doing the actions you need to do to get into the right mental state … throws you off and prevents you from doing your meaningful work.

Training for Antifragility

  1. Recognize that you're not in the ideal mental state to do the thing you need to do. 
  2. Ask yourself if you're committed to this or not. If it’s not that important, you can put it off until I get into the right state. If you’re very committed, you'll do it if at all possible.
  3. Make it happen, despite the mental state. 

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Obstacles to Getting Stuff Done
  • The habit of putting off starting, because it’s uncomfortable.
  • Maybe you get started, but then constantly switch to other tasks.
  • You put off starting (or finishing) because con...
Picking one important thing

If you focus on getting the small stuff done but not the big stuff, or switch between tasks all the time, you’ll be less effective.

Pick one important thing to focus on at a time and learn to evaluate what tasks and projects are of higher value to you.

Starting

It's best done by focusing on the smallest first step and practicing just launching into that.

Pick the tiniest first step, and launch into it.

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Our Monkey Mind

We are constantly distracted throughout the day. Without focusing on anything with a calm, relaxed mind, we keep jumping from messages, to-do lists, social media, and email.
Constantly jumpin...

A Calm State of Mind
  • The Mind is not an enemy, which needs to be killed, but something to befriend.
  • Creating a calm space inside us can help calm the monkey down. Like a toddler throwing tantrums, you need to calm down the surroundings and minimize activity to keep the noise down.
  • Reducing distractions can help calm our Mind. We normally have a thousand things to check or look after throughout the day, be it email, notifications, etc. all of which keep the Monkey Mind jumping.
  • We are rushing too fast, most of the day. We need to slow down, pause and get quieter in between our never-ending daily routine.
Prescription For The Distracted Mind
  1. Meditate in the morning, starting with just 2 minutes.
  2. Provide yourself intentional space for your focused activities, blocking the time slots.
  3. Turn off as many distractions from your entire day, while turning on your awareness towards them.
  4. Do not judge or condemn your mind, and keep witnessing what it is doing.
  5. Slow down, relax your muscles, and take some deep breaths to calm yourself.
  6. Take frequent short breaks, putting space between two activities.
Finding Motivation

... to develop self-discipline:

  • Start taking small actions to make things better
  • Do the things that hurt you less
  • Push yourself into discomfort a little bit, so you can g...
Other Types of Motivation
  • Wanting to help others: If you get better at not procrastinating on your life’s work, for example, you can help more people with that meaningful work.
  • Appreciating life: We have a short time on Earth, and the life we have is a gift. When we procrastinate and give in to endless distraction, and don’t make the most of our time, we are not fully appreciating the gift we have.
Small Actions

One of the most important things you can do to get better at self-discipline is to take small actions.

It can seem overwhelming to start big, intimidating projects. Instead, start with easy actions, things so small you can’t say no.

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The "One Thing"

We all have that 'One Thing' on our task list that is the most important thing on the list, that would be the most meaningful and yet we’re not doing it.

It's so meaningful and import...

Create a space

Put aside all the messages, social media, distractions, smaller tasks, organizing and tidying. 

Instead, have a small space (even just 10-15 minutes) for this important task, and nothing else.

Meditate on meaning & feelings

For just a minute, mindfully drop into your body and feel your fear, resistance, frustration, overwhelm. Let yourself feel it fully.

Then let yourself feel the love you feel for those who you’ll be serving by doing this task.  

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Eliminate

See if you can cut your tasks and projects lists in half. Then try to cut them even further a few days later.

See which tasks aren't necessary anymore and find the ones that can be del...

Know what’s essential

You really should focus on one goal at a time, but if you want to do 2 or 3, that’s OK too.

Any smaller tasks are essential if they help you accomplish those goals, and not essential if they’re not related.

Simplify your commitments

You can't do it all. Only stick to those commitments in your life that really give you joy and value.

For the rest, you need to learn to say no, and value your time. 

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A fraction of our attention
A fraction of our attention

When we put into our daily activities only a fraction of our attention:

  • We never fully give ourselves to any task.
  • Our minds become stressed from the neverend...
Meticulous attention

To give your meticulous attention to a task, a person, an action, a moment means to give it everything you have right now: all of your concentration, time, love and devotion.

The practice of Meticulous attention
  • Notice each activity that you’re doing as a separate event.
  • For every event, ask yourself what you can do to give it your full attention. Turn off your phone? Turn your body fully toward the person asking for your attention?
  • Give the moment your undivided attention. Let go of thoughts about the future and past and turn toward what you’re facing even more.
Albert Einstein

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy ..."

Albert Einstein
The Dip
Across language learning, company building, and any kind of creative project, there is a dip. The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.
Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.
The Start before the Dip
In any goal that has to be accomplished, there is a Start. It usually gets overlooked, as it's always there. 
The Start is a much bigger problem since you can’t reach The Dip if you don’t get through The Start, and many more people fantasize about doing something than actually do it and give up.

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We Lack Commitment

No matter what we tell ourselves, we are not committed fully towards most things. We tend to be different people, committing to change our diet, exercise or start on a certain goal, only to become ...

Effects of Being Uncommitted

Some effects of not being committed:

  • We lose trust in ourselves and create a negative self-image.
  • We tend to shrink and hide in our comfort zones.
  • We lose the trust of our friends and family.
  • We see that people don't trust us and feel guilty.
Start Being Committed

Ignite your committed self:

  • Observe and realize that your commitment levels need to be corrected.
  • Check your true desire to commit, if it feels right, and if you have space and energy to uphold and sustain the commitment.
  • See if you can bet something substantial to uphold this commitment.
  • Take action and create a winning environment around you.
  • Start with a relatively small commitment.
  • Do whatever it takes to never break a promise to yourself again.
Focus on Systems Instead of Goals
Focus on Systems Instead of Goals

Most goals are out of our control. We have limited control to reach them. In a system, your focus is on all the parts that you do control. And system is a fancy word for “repeatable process”...

Leverage the Compound Effect

When you focus on developing systems and work every day, your work compounds over time, developing exponential growth. 

The more advantages you create, the more your next advantages pay off. A 1% gain every day compounds to almost 38x increase over a year.

Measure Output, Not Input

Systems are the best way to progress since they reward effort and we control all the variables. However, we need to have a sense of direction in those efforts, to know what we are trying to accomplish

Writing daily with no objective is just practice. If you want to achieve something, you need to commit to a certain output, like publishing a post on your blog weekly. At the end of the day, a system is a way to control how to achieve an output.

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Scheduling your day

A good daily schedule is a blueprint for a successful life. 

Knowing what we’re doing and when empowers us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and focus.

Scheduling styles
When it comes to our daily schedule, most people fall into one of two camps:
  • The Overscheduler: Their days are determined from the moment they wake up to their evening routine.
  • The Minimalist: They’ve got one or two recurring events, but a whole lot of white space so they’re “free” (at least on paper) for long stretches of work.
Your most important work

The most successful people consistently get their most important work done first.

Build recurring time for your most important work in the morning, before you start anything else. Your energy levels are naturally higher in the morning, but completing a meaningful task first thing has also a domino effect that pushes you through the day.

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