The Awesomest Isn't It Awesome When... en-us Sat, 06 Jun 2020 02:10:58 +0000 Sett RSS Generator Being Easy with Yourself I've been trying this exercise when I am meditating and working on my first writing during the day. It's motivating me to be healthier, do more push-ups, eat healthier foods and relax more without putting pressure on myself.

I really like it. It's so easy to be hard on myself and this practice is helping me be much easier with myself.

I love it. : )

Mission 7
So here’s your mission for today:

Practice the self-acceptance technique here:

  1. Find something about yourself that you’re unhappy with: maybe your body, maybe your failures with habits, maybe procrastination, maybe jealousy, maybe timidness or selfishness or laziness.
  2. See the ideal that you’re holding yourself up against. If you don’t like your timidness, your ideal is probably social confidence and courage.
  3. See that you’re trying to control yourself with this ideal. This is natural: by having the ideal, we think we can create who we are. We want to have control over ourselves as people. The alternative, which is aimless chaos, is scary.
  4. For just a minute, let go of that control. Don’t try to be that ideal. Let it go, and just sit there with the reality of who you are. You’re timid (or lazy, or you’ve failed, or you are overweight or skinny or whatever). This is who you are, right now.
  5. See the good in what you actually are. If you’re timid, don’t judge this against anything else … just see the good in it. Find a way to be grateful for this condition. It’s not all of who you are, but an aspect of you at this moment, and there’s something to be grateful for here. You can be grateful for being alive (being timid is better than being dead), for being loved, for being a good person, for learning what you’ve learned.

Journal about it.

Try this every day at the beginning of your Unprocrastination session, and see if you find out anything new each time.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:15:03 +0000
Someone Changes Your Life Forever As Leo says, it's very true that we can easily get sucked into our ideals. I think being around great people you love can help you, it certain helps me, refocus on what matters.

Being a good person.

Being happy.

Being healthy.

I was reminded of this yesterday by something I wrote years ago.

A friend mentioned it to me, since it is in my book Enough and she was reading it.

It's a wonderful story because it's all about my wife and it reminds me of how lucky I am just to be around her and to not worry so much about huge expectations or life goals.

I'll include the story here but it's also at

How Tunga Changed My Life

I came into Peace Corps open-minded in just about every way, except for one: I was determined not to be in a relationship. I made it a rule that I wouldn’t date anyone while in the Peace Corps.

Our trainers and Peace Corps staff members quoted numbers to us, the average number of Volunteers in every group that have relationships, get engaged, get married, and on and on. I zoned out during that part of training. I had too many plans, including (among other things) eventually becoming President. Seriously. I wasn’t about to be sidetracked.

One of my closest friends in the Peace Corps, Todd, would tell me something later that really sums everything up… “One thing they don’t tell you in training, one thing Peace Corps never warns you about, is this: people are going to love you.”

This goes double for Mongolian people. Peace Corps Volunteers are kind and generous across the board I would say, but in every country we served we are out- loved and out-helped by the people that we are supposed to be loving and helping. What Todd said was true and it turned my plans to mush.

When I met Tunga for the first time she slowly and silently started to pull my world apart. I’ve always considered myself an unusually calm person – she was calmer. I’ve always thought I was generous and patient – she made me look like a child. In almost every way, Tunga was harder working, kinder, more collected, controlled and forward-thinking than me. And she never had to say a word, I understood these things just by watching her.

In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch wrote some simple dating advice for his daughter, who wasn’t yet two years old. Randy himself only had a few months to live due to his cancer, but he knew what advice he wanted to give her when she was ready to start dating boys, “Ignore everything they say and just pay attention to what they do,” he said, “Because if you do that, you’re not going to make all the big mistakes.” I couldn’t agree more.

When we first met, Tunga didn’t speak English and my Mongolian was still in toddler stage-one. This made it even easier to follow Randy’s advice. Language became less important and action became everything.

When I watched Tunga I saw how she interacted with people. She was kind all the time, everywhere, with everyone. She smiled and laughed more than anyone I had ever met. She was always helpful. She was always generous and the way her family interacted reminded me of my family on the other side of the world.

Just by being herself, Tunga showed me layers I hadn’t even considered – ways of being that I had only touched on in my best moments like the meditation retreat.

I came into Peace Corps as a typical volunteer probably does – as a “helper.” In a sad twist of irony, however, I also came in with limits to how much I was going to love people. That’s the reason Todd’s statement has stuck with me over the years – people loving you is hardest when you have put up limits to how much you are going to love them. This can include “professional v. personal” barriers as well as “I’m not going to get into a relationship because I want to become President someday” limits.

Tunga changed my life because she helped me see my barriers for what they were and allowed me the space to move past them. I was standing in my own way. I looked good on paper, but I was limiting myself by putting my value on future events instead of appreciating people and opportunities right now, right in front of me.

Instead of loving people, I was “helping” them.

Instead of growing, I was trying to be productive.

Instead of being myself, I was hiding who I really wanted to be.

Tunga helped me see those things, but not by telling me about them. She never pointed anything out, she never talked about it, and she never asked me to change. She just showed me through her own actions what it could be like for me. She loved people with a kind of abandon that I’d never seen before. She didn’t “help” people, she cared about them and treated them like friends. She approached every opportunity as a chance to grow, she never complained even though she had every right to, she never asked for an easier life even though everyone I know would have begged for one, and she was herself in private and in public, everyday. She was unlike anyone I had ever met and, maybe most importantly of all, she didn’t need me. I loved being around her just because of who she was.

It’s been especially interesting for me to learn that a relationship is never supposed to hinder you, it’s supposed to empower both people in the relationship to be their authentic selves.

I think this is true for friendships, but especially for romantic relationships. It’s easy to get into a dependent frame of mind, where one or both of the people feel like they “need” each other. I think that’s a mistake.

Tunga didn’t need me and I didn’t need her. She was fine without me, actually she was great without me. She still is. That allowed us to start not from a place of dependency, where the other person fills some need in us, but instead from a place of appreciation.

I love Tunga for who she is and it’s a pleasure to be around her. In fact, I think everyone is a better person when they are around her.

It’s been more than three years since we met and even though our language skills have increased dramatically, it’s still action that defines our relationship: how we treat one another, how we care about others, how we smile, help and give.

In that time I’ve also become one of those statistics that Peace Corps quoted to us during training. I broke my one rule of not dating someone during Peace Corps and by breaking that rule, I discovered the most amazing person I have ever met.

Also, for the record, she assures me that I can still be President someday if I want to be.

We’ll see.

Mission 6
What can we do about these ideals? We’ll go into it more soon, but for now, it’s enough to be aware of the ideals, and see how we rarely meet them. See the unhappiness with ourselves, see how we’re creating that with the ideals.

See how life is uncontrollable.

So you mission for this week: be mindful of your ideals, of your desire to control life, of how uncontrollable life actually is. And journal about it, and how it relates to your fears, procrastination & problems.

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Tue, 17 Jun 2014 16:06:44 +0000
You Write a Thesis I'm literally writing my thesis right now. Or I should be. I am a month away from finishing graduate school (a Masters at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont) and the "home stretch" can really feel long. I'm worn out, ready to move on and be graduated, and I have 49 or 50 things done that need to get done.

I know that Leo is write with the small actions adding up over time, so I've been trying to do that. And it's been working. I have broken things down into pieces and tried not to take on too much at once.

I am really wanting to be finished today or tomorrow, so I'm diving in right now. Wish me luck!

Mission 5

  1. Pick one of your problems being held back by fear — for example, writing your thesis, or starting to deal with your debt, or exercise, or dealing with a tough relationship, or putting work into building your business.
  2. Commit to doing small actions of just 2-5 minutes a day on that problem, as part of your unprocrastination session. So for exercise, just go out for a brisk 5-minute walk or jog. For debt, just put your bills in one place and start listing them, then list some more the next day, then pay one of them, then call a creditor to ask for a renegotiation, etc. Tiny actions that you can start without too much trouble.
  3. When you’re about to do the task for the day, meditate on the fear for a moment, give yourself some compassion, then act in the moment with the task and be curious about the experience. Notice the urge to procrastinate, and don’t let your mind run.

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Sat, 14 Jun 2014 13:00:38 +0000
Progress Is Made How did I do?

I did my Unprocrastination Sessions 4 out of 5 days this week.

What impediments were there to the process?

A consistent schedule was hard for me. My wife's hours at work are irregular so it's hard for us to plan. I'm trying hard to be consistent and go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time. That is helping.

What can I do to remove the impediments next week, and improve the process?

I've talked with my wife and we are working on a schedule where we go to sleep and wake up on a more regular schedule. In the longer term we are also looking for a job for her where she can have more consistent hours that she enjoys.


So you’ve been working on the Unprocrastination habit for about a week now (no putting it off, right?) … your mission this week is to review the process, and make it better.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How did I do?
  2. What impediments were there to the process?
  3. What can I do to remove the impediments next week, and improve the process?

Please post in your SETT journals with the answers to these questions.

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Sat, 14 Jun 2014 12:35:58 +0000
New Groups I'm excited about the new groups for us here in the Change Labs, but I'm still trying to figure out how it works.

I think I might only be able to see posts that are new and I only currently see Emma's posts in our group. Hopefully we will see all of our fellow group members' posts soon. : )

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Mon, 26 May 2014 22:08:05 +0000
You Choose Simplicity The biggest problem I'd like to work on is simplicity.

I feel like my life could be a lot more simple if I just focused, used my time more effectively, didn't clutter my schedule with unimportant things and spent more time meditating on a regular basis.

I think my ego might be a big part of the reason why I try to do too much and attempt to much.

I try to impress people, I try to be more and I'm afraid of not being enough.

If I come from a place of happiness and self-worth I won't have to spend so much time trying to do more more more.

That's what I want to focus on during this program.

Mission 2

Journal about the biggest problem you'd like to work on in this Beta program. Why is it important to you? Relate your thoughts on fear being the root of your problems, to this problem specifically. So if you chose procrastination, write about how procrastination is related to your fears.

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Thu, 15 May 2014 22:06:42 +0000
Your Fear Slips Away The single best thing I did before I left for the Peace Corps was attend a meditation retreat. I was silent for 10 days straight and did over 120 hours of meditation.

Before that retreat the most meditation I'd done at once was 15 minutes. Part of me thought I was crazy.

The other part of me was on-fire excited. I knew this was good for me.

10 days and several songs suck in my head later (who knows where they were coming from, I still don't know) I was done. It was incredible, terrible, wonderful and horrible. I recommend it to everyone. Why? Fear.

The Root

In Fear is the Root of Your Problems, Leo writes,

"We try to conquer fear, but this is the problem. We see fear as an enemy, to be defeated or it will defeat us.
It’s not. Fear is us. We are human beings in a world of constant change, and this is scary. We are afraid that we won’t be OK in the chaos of change, that we will fail, that we will be judged, that life won’t turn out OK.
The fear is a part of us, and therefore we shouldn’t try to “destroy” it. It can’t be destroyed, because while we can dissipate one particular fear in one particular moment, we’ll still have fears after that. All our lives. It’s not something that can be eradicated — it’s a basic part of life.

Meditation taught me that fear, in fact all emotion, can be seen from a distance. If we step back and observe ourselves feeling and thinking, we can begin realizing that we are not our thoughts. You are greater than that and our wisdom can come to us when we are quiet enough to listen.

Our First Mission
Read Fear is the Root of Your Problems and share your thoughts on how this relates to the problems you’ve shared in our initial questionnaire.

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Thu, 15 May 2014 22:05:15 +0000
You Start a New Journal Our first assignment is to start a regular journal and share it with our group. We’ll do journal entries twice a week, so not too difficult.


As Leo wrote, "Journaling is an amazing tool for self-reflection and self-learning, and therefore self-changing. Ultimately that’s what Change Labs program is about.
It helps me to see where you’re at, what you’re dealing with, how my missions are working with you. This is a way to keep an organized dialogue with me about the program.
You’ll be able to see your progress over time, as will your accountability team, and me.
You’ll learn more from these readings and activities if you’re forced to reflect on them. That’s what Zen Habits has done for me."

Fresh Book Smell

If you've ever bought a new journal (I hope you have, if you haven't go get one right now) then you know the smell of opening up a fresh new book. It smells like possibility.

Quickly after that you have to get over the nervousness of writing on the first page. Does it have to be perfect? Does it have to be brilliant? No, just make it yours.

Every week for this program we'll be given a specific mission and we can write about what we’ve been learning, what we’ve observed in ourselves, what we’re struggling with, etc.

Let's do this.

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Fri, 09 May 2014 15:16:42 +0000
Leo Asks For Your Help I've admired Leo at ZenHabits for years now. I read him every day during my three years in the Peace Corps and now for three years after it. He's one of the reasons I got into blogging in the first place. I've even got a picture of him on my wall of inspirations alongside Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, my Dad, Ben Franklin, Martin Luther King and other awesome people.

So when he asks me for me, I say yes. Of course.

Change Labs Program

Right now Leo is writing a book to summarize all of the amazing things he's learned in creating ZenHabits, one of the most successful blogs of all time. He's testing out the ideas in the book on a small group of people. I volunteered. He wrote back a few months later. Here we go!

I'm excited to share all the awesome things we do here. Our assignments. My learning and much more.

Let's go exploring.

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Fri, 09 May 2014 15:09:03 +0000