Sreenath Sreenivasan

Thriving Mindfully

Category: The Power of Everyday (page 1 of 2)

The power of everyday February

It’s the beginning of a new month again. And, it’s time for a resolution for a Power of Everyday project !

Before I share my new projects for the month of February, I would like to update you about how I did with the projects I had taken up in the month of January.

I had two tasks for January 2019,

1) Write and Publish a blog post everyday

2) Sketch / Paint everyday

Now, with the first task, while I wasn’t able to write a new post every single day, I did dig into my archives and found something meaningful to post every single day of the month.
31 posts on 31 days !

Sketching and painting was a fun exercise overall. After sketching everyday for 31 days, I feel much more sensitised to details and aestheics than I was before. I have not become a sketch artist by any means and much of my sketching looks like a child’s work, but I still found value in sketching everyday.

In fact, after going through the experience of sketching everyday, I realised just how much detail is hidden in seemingly mundane objects. It helped me design the next project for the month of February.

Here are the two challenges I am taking up in February:

1) Write and Publish a blog post a day

2) Write one page about an object

The first task has been carried over from the last month.

The second task is designed to develop nunace and sensitivity in observing everyday objects.

I hope you choose a simple task for this month and join me on this journey.
I promise you that you will learn a lot in the process.

I will keep you updated about my progress at the end of every week.

Let’s do this together.

More power to you !

Best,

Sreenath

The Power of Everyday – A transformational exercise

It is the last day of 2018. And it gives me great happiness to share that I have been able to successfully complete my Power of Everyday project for the month of December.

The Power of Everyday is a project I started this year with the aim of learning the impact of consistent, deliberate practice. I would choose a few activities on the first day of a month and would promise myself to practice them every single day of that particular month. At the end of the month, I would reflect on what I learned from the exercise.

After an year of experiments, I can safely say that The Power of Everyday has been the most transformational activity I’ve ever engaged in.
The positive changes were so obvious that my friends also started to take up this challenge and found value in the exercise.

Today, I would like to share a few crucial learnings from this year long exercise and why I recommend you to take up this challenge so highly.

 

1) YOU WILL FINALLY START DOING THINGS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO

 

Let us face it. We don’t even do half of the things we have always dreamt of doing. I am not even talking about big lofty dreams. We fail to do even the most simple of activities that will only do us good, if done consistently.
Even simple lifestyle habits like waking up bright and early, going for a run, engaging yourself creatively, cultivating love and gratitude are hard to inculcate.
Mostly, because we do not have a structure and direction.

The Power of Everyday challenge gives you both the structure and direction to cultivate a positive lifestyle.

I had always wanted to start writing a meaningful blog, practise Yoga and Meditation, Journal every day. But only after I found the structure of the Power of Everyday project did I start doing all of these activities.

If you wish to push yourself to be better and are looking for a framework that would help, The Power of Everyday is what you need.

 

2) YOU WILL REDEFINE WHAT NORMAL MEANS TO YOU

 

A year ago, writing everyday seemed impossible, staying celibate for months on end seemed superhuman, writing with the left hand everyday was a punishment, and practicing Yoga or Meditation everyday felt like an unachievable dream.

But once I started to have these activities as a Power of Everyday project, I cultivated the stamina to do these things day after day. And before I knew, what seemed unachievable got reduced to a natural daily ritual.

At the end of the year, I do all the above mentioned activities naturally, even if they aren’t on my challenge list anymore. Practicing them everyday for a few months redefined what normalcy meant to me.

 

3) IT IS A SELF CREATED POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY PILL

 

Every time that you tick off a day on your calendar after successfully finishing the Power of everyday task you defined for yourself, you will find yourself smiling.
You will naturally feel good about the achievement.
The task, the activity and the appraisal, all three of them, come from within you.
It is a simple way to find daily contentment.

Citing a personal example, I had committed to writing and publishing a blog post every single day in the month of December. It was a daunting challenge. I had no idea if I could come up with that many ideas to share with the world. But everyday that I finished the task, I would tick off that date on the calendar and feel a great sense of contentment.
Today, I will be ticking off the last day of the month.
I couldn’t be happier !

I hope my pitch was convincing enough for you to consider starting a Power of Everyday project for yourself.
If you are wondering what task you should choose, go here and find one that suits you.

For the month of January, I have two tasks lined up for me :

1) Write and Publish a Blog post everyday

2) Sketch/ Paint every day

The first task has been carried over from last month in the interest of making daily writing a ritual.

The second task is to infuse a sense of novelty and imagination with a form of expression I haven’t explored in a long time.

What is your Power of Everyday challenge going to be in January 2019?
Leave a comment below and let us know.
It is a truly transformational exercise.

Let’s do this together !

 

 

Why you should take up Journaling this New Year

A friend once asked me,

‘What is that one habit you’ve cultivated over the years that has changed your life?’

‘Daily Journalling’ I said without thinking twice.

‘Wow, that is a surprisingly quick answer! How did you have such clarity in your thought to come up with a prompt responses?’

My response was the same again,

‘Daily Journalling’.

For the past two years, I’ve been trying consistently to archive my thoughts daily in my Journal. Despite many failures, something always brought me back to the journal.
I have found such value in the habit that I use every chance I get to endorse daily journaling as a life transforming exercise.

Today, I’d like to make a case for why you should consider Daily Journaling as a new year resolution.

Here’s a few reasons why I recommend Journaling so much :

1) FOCUS – In the age of the distraction economy, it is easy to be passively engaged. But to make a positive change in any sphere, we need active engagement. Journaling helps you keep focussed on your goals and what you should be doing in order to achieve them.

2) STRUCTURE – When you do something everyday, it adds structure to your life. And this influences the prospect of having consistency in our daily lives.

3) CREATIVITY – A journal by no means needs to be solemn and dignified. It can be that if you want it to, but you can also use it to foster creativity. Doodles and digits hold as much value as words. A blank page is an invitation to infinity.

4) ARCHIVE : Once you’ve been journaling for a while, you will have repository of old thoughts and nostalgia in those reams of paper. It is a great way to reflect back on your life and evolution over time.

5) CLARITY : This is the best part about daily journaling. You will be naturally writing about everything around you, from what you like to eat, what love means, about your dreams and fears, about what you learned on a particular day…
Since you have been reflecting about things like this daily, you will gain a mental clarity you’d never known earlier.

Now, we all know, it is not easy to form a habit. Even if it is going to only do you good, it is easy to fall out of the habit. You will have to approach it in a way so that the habit sticks.

Here are a few suggestions from my end that will help in that regard :

1) START SMALL

Start with a tiny notebook. Only write one line a day. That isn’t too hard is it?

Here’s a link to an amazing TED Talk by B J Fogg about the power of tiny habits. I found it extremely insightful and highly recommend that you watch it.

If committing for a year seems too much, have it as a ‘Power Of Everyday’ project.
How about January 🙂 ?

2) PEN AND PAPER

Write with a pen and paper. It gives you the freedom to scribble, doodle and draw along with writing. Also, you are much likely to read your past diary entries if you write them on paper.
Even in the digital age, that is the way to go.

3) WRITE THE FIRST LINE ASAP

We all know the horror of confronting a blank page. Let it not bog you down. Write anything that comes to your mind right away. It could be as simple as a good morning wish.
Once the page isn’t blank anymore, writing will become easy.

4) FIX A TIME

Make it into a ritual. Write at a particular hour everyday. It could be right at sunrise or during your commute back form work. Let it help you add structure to your day.

My journals over the past two years

If you keep at this habit for long enough, soon you would start to miss it even if you stopped writing only for one day !
I know that for someone who doesn’t journal, this would seem outright odd.
But I’ve learnt this with my own experience, it is something I would rather not live without !

Take your time and think this through.
I have a feeling that everyone should be writing a journal in the interest of living a focused, deliberate and creative life.

Let’s do this together !

 

 

On the Magic of Showing Up

Today marks the end of the third week of December. It has been 21 days since I started the December edition of ‘The Power Of Everyday’ project.

For this month I had chosen the task of writing and publishing a blog post every single day. And I am happy to share that so far, I haven’t missed a single day.

It was daunting to imagine at first that I would be able to write and share something meaningful every day. But three weeks into the challenge, I feel confident about my ability to keep up.

Today I would like to share my experience so far, and what I learned from other like minded people in this journey.

A few years back, I had read about an intriguing morning routine of a world class gymnast. She did away from having an elaborate plan about each day’s routine.

She had only one rule to follow.

Every morning, at 4:30 am she had to be waiting for the public bus that took her to the training facility.
She did not have the aim of practising everyday.
The rule was to show up at that bus stop.
And every single day, by the time she reached the bus stop, she had already won over any inertia that held her back.
Training was then only a natural consequence.

I was inspired by this novel approach and got thinking about how I could design a similar framework for my own writing endeavor.

The simple rule I came up with was :

‘Show up at your writing desk at 8 am, every single day.’

I would already have a minimal and organised desk that I’d prepare the night before. A blank leaf of my journal would be open, waiting for me.

All I had to do was to show up at 8 am and sit in the chair.

And then, the magic happens!

Over the course of the past three weeks, I’ve come to realise that making art is more about the discipline than inspiration.

Here’s a brilliantly illustrated comic about why inspiration comes to those who master their disinclination.

If you wish to improve on your art, form habits that align you in the direction of your dreams, and live a creative life,
You just need to follow a simple rule.

Show Up.
Every single day.

It might sound sterile and counterintuitive to the idea of spontaneous creativity. But inspiration will only come to you, if it finds you working.

Do not aim to say, paint everyday if you are a painter.
Sit with your sketchbook in the park, every single day.
That will make sure you will make art everyday.

Create a framework.
And stick to it.

Once you show up, you’d realise that
The idea is already waiting for you.

It really works. Try it !

I wish you good luck 🙂

On slowing down time

An unexamined life is not worth living.’
-Socrates

Do you remember the last time you did something consistently, every single day?

No, I am not talking about the usual tasks like waking up, eating and sleeping.
I am talking about doing something that is a mindful choice that when repeated every day steers you towards betterment.

Something that’s physically, intellectually or emotionally challenging. Something that makes you act, and repeat, with a clear goal in mind, every single day?

There’s a good chance that you don’t remember doing something with such disciple and commitment.

Most of us do not have such a focussed outlook.

And as a result, we fail to examine where we stand and sense if we are improving over time.
Time passes all too quickly, without us having derived all that we could from it.

But there is a way to slow down time, and dwell in each day, and squeeze out most of what we can do with it.

I’d like to share a personal experience at this point.

Ever since I started The Power Of Everyday project this month, I’ve seen a marked difference in my experience of the passage of time.

I have promised myself to write a blog post every single day.

A simple, easy to follow rule.

Once I started to do this everyday, the days have slowed down. It feels as if I’ve been writing every single day forever, while it has just been 11 days this month.
Even in a span of less than a fortnight I could sense an ocean of time.

While in the past, there have been times when I’ve not written and published for months yet, I would feel as if it hadn’t been long since I last wrote.
Time passed all too quickly without me having gotten much out of it.

I would definitely prefer an experience where I derive most out of my time. Wouldn’t you?

A mindful and deliberate act of disciplined creation helps one derive the most out of the continuum of time.

And hence helps one lead an examined life.

If you desire to experience this slowing down of time, to feel a sense of direction and discipline, promise yourself to do a simple task, every single day for a week.

It could be the simplest of the tasks.
But the rules have to be simple and well defined.

10 push-ups everyday for a week?
Reading one page everyday?
Or Writing a page in your journal ?

Take your pick as you like.

But try this one out.

A wise man once told me,

‘Time doesn’t move. We move through it. Time just stands still. Eternally.’

Maybe, by trying to do something every single day, mindfully and deliberately,
we can impede our flow through time,
And grow in ways that we absolutely must.

One thing. Every day. One week.

It’s worth a shot.

 

 

Why your new year resolution should start today

This might catch you off guard.

It might feel that I’m posting something three weeks too soon.
It is not time to talk about new year resolutions yet, you’d say.

Be patient and hear me out on this one.

I’ve been trying to form positive habits for the past few years. After constant experimentation and many failures, I learnt about the two key elements that determine whether a positive habit will stick or not.

They are –

A) Consistency

B) Momentum

Now, we are all aware of how most new year resolutions fizzle out by the second week of January.

An obvious reasons is because we move into the new year with no momentum at all.

You can’t start going to gym every single day in a new year if you’re picking up from a week of partying towards the end of the year.
You’re just expecting yourself to start running before learning to crawl.

In my opinion, one needs to start the new year with momentum.
A momentum that starts to build at least three weeks before the new year.

Why three weeks?

Well, it is a well researched fact that I can attest with my own experience that it takes at least 21 days of consistent effort to form a new habit.

Whatever your new year resolution might be, if you start working on it from tomorrow, you’ll have 21 days to be consistent and build momentum so that you are already well primed for the changes you want to bring into your life next year.

This might have caught you off guard and you might not have even thought of a resolution yet.
But it’s a Sunday, and a good day to relax, reflect, and resolve what you’d like to improve on.

Once you decide on your resolution, start tomorrow. I am positive that the habit will stick in the new year if you stay consistent and build momentum for these 21 days in December.

This is the cheat code.
A headstart.

Are you in the game?

The Power of Everyday – December 2018

The Power of Everyday challenge is back!

I have always believed that consistent, deliberate practice is the most logical way to progress.
While we all aspire to become better versions of our self, often we lack the structure and clarity to pave our way to betterment.

The Power of Everyday is a simple task based project that will help anyone looking for improvement.

The rule is simple.

Pick out one task that you promise to do every single day of this month.

It could a very simple task.
Depending on the area which you want to improve in, pick a small achievable task that could be repeated every day in December.

Every Saturday, I shall put a blog post as a reminder so that we all stay on track.

I suggest making a little calendar like this and strike off every day on which you accomplish your daily task.

My Power of Everyday task for December 2018:

Write and Publish a blog post on every single day of the month.

Feel free to share your daily task in the comments below.

Let’s keep each other accountable and move into the new year with positive momentum.

We are in this together.
And off we go !

Lesson from Failure (Power of Everyday Project – July Update)

I have always been interested about the possibilities consistent practice has to offer. That is what led me to start ‘The Power of Everyday’ project where I take a few activities that matter to me and promise to do them every single day.

While I have had experiences of inconsistent practice for most of my adult life, and recently had success for a couple of months at being extremely consistent ever since I started the project,
I gradually fell back into the trap of  inconsistency in the month of July.

That explains much of my inconsistent blog publishing schedule and inactivity in daily life.
While I could reason it with the gloomy monsoon weather and a 10 day trek where I had no access to Internet or electricity, deep down I know,
excuses apart,
Plain and simple,
I did not deliver on my promises.

Here’s my performance sheet for reference :

Action based goals

1) Practise Yoga Everyday (7/31)
2) Write and Publish a blog everyday (9/31)
3) Write Haiku Everyday (11/31)

Awareness based goals

1) Posture awareness (7/31)
2) Zero waste lifestyle (24/31)
3) Celibacy (31/31)

As it is evident, apart from the last task, I did quite dismally in all the rest.

But even in failure, I had great success in learning about myself.

a) For example, while being mindful of my posture, I realised how my walking posture and foot landing habit is affecting the overall balance of my body. I had been struggling with frail balance of my body for a few years. Only when I started to  observe my body did I realise what was wrong and now I can look for ways to improve.

b) While I could not avoid packaged products entirely, I along with my friend Lee, manager to collect 5 kgs of trash all along our trek in Nepal. In the process we could understand why people need to carry package food on challenging treks just like we did.
Also, we realised that there could be ways to better the situation.
For example, with each treking permit there should be a garage bag handed out so that a trekker has an option to collect the trash he produces.

c) I also realised that writing keeps me alive, present and excited about living each day. The moment I stopped to write and share it with the world, I felt a sense of gloom dawn upon me. It was a great feeling to realise how much a particular habit mattered to my emotional well being.

4) And above all, as I wrote this post, I realise how therapeutic the process of confronting your own failure is.
I feel more accountable to you in a way.
It would be so easy to hide my shortcomings.
But that does not serve growth, neither mine nor yours.

I had a great month nevertheless, full of novel experiences like experiencing Nepal as a culture, going on my first 10 day extended trek , meeting free roaming Yaks at 4000 meters above sea level, watching a glacier turn into a might river that flowed across borders and most importantly, I got to spend time with a dear friend in nature for two weeks.

I am grateful for being able to experience these wonders of life.

For the next month,
I have only two awareness based goals for the Power of Everyday project, August Edition.

1) Stay without the internet for a month
2) Stay Celibate

As the first goal suggests, I will not be posting any new blogs in the month of August.
Still, I will be writing, reflecting and compositing more meaningful work and will share it with you when I am back online in the month of September.

I hope those of you who took a challenge for the Power of Everyday project learned something in the process. Feel free to share your reflections in the comments below.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s grace in accepting even our failures because only then do we keep your mind open for reflection and improvement.
Even if you did not keep up to your promises, reflect on why that happened and how you could perform better in future.

Also, if the project excites you, please take up a challenge for the month of August and share your learnings at the end of the month.
You can share your challenge in the comments below for the sake of accountability 🙂

Hoping to see you on September 1st with fresher perspectives.

With love,

Sreenath

What I learnt by taking up the ‘Power of Everyday’ Project

“We are what we repeatedly do.”
“Each day is a day of decision.”
“He is rich who owns the day.”
“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life.”

Most of us have read similar lines at some point in our lives, gotten motivated for a while only to gradually slip back into inaction.

When Sreenath started his ‘Power of Everyday‘ project, I had been through this cycle a hundred times over- to the point where instead of leaving me inspired, every variation of these aphorisms was reduced to a feel-good bromide.

However, long before Sreenath formally announced the project, I had seen him reap benefits of maintaining self-discipline. So it was inevitable that when he invited his readers to join him, I would be among the first guys to respond.

I am guilty of being slightly disorganized and sloppy about certain areas of life. A full-time job has made me gradually fall in the trap of living day-to-day, rather than maximizing each day to make progress toward interests that are closer to my heart.

I don’t think I am alone in feeling dazed and unplanned on certain days. Life is busy. Breaking out of the uni-dimensional routine of our days is a perennial struggle. My willingness to play a part in Sreenath’s project is a result of my optimism that we’d all benefit from staying mutually accountable to each other about the way we live our days.

For my first month of this challenge, I decided to choose three fairly simple and realistic everyday tasks-

1. Wake up before sunrise

Success rate- 19/30

In my college years, I had identified waking up early as one of the keystone habits– a habit that is precursor to the
development of other good habits. However, I have had a long history of failed experiments of waking up early for more than two weeks consecutively.

In order to sustain this habit, it was important for me not to have this seem like a mental and physical ordeal. So, I decided to make this a fun exercise by taking up an implicit, one-sided, and undeniably juvenile competition with the Sun.

2. Do the 7-minute-workout

Success rate- 21/30

At the start of the year, I resolved to run five half-marathons by the end of the year. My second half-marathon of the year was scheduled on June 24 and I was terribly unprepared. Working for long hours on some days of the month made it harder for me to run as frequently as I should have. The 7-minute workout was a significantly less time-intensive exercise routine to maintain my stamina. While nothing could replace a good morning run, this was a decent substitute and it helped ensure that I completed what could arguably be one of the toughest terrains on the Indian marathon circuit with marginal unease.

3. Compose a simple melody everyday (14/30)

Success rate- 14/30

Practicing technique and scales has always been one of my major aversions. To resume practicing more efficiently, I needed to go back to the reason why I picked up my first guitar- to play tunes. Those dreaded arpeggio patterns and the ghastly chord voicings took a back seat, and I started focussing on humming simple melodies over various chord progressions everyday. I failed more often than I succeeded in this endeavour, but this was the most rewarding activity of my day.

Where I failed, and what I learnt?

It’s pretty evident from the numbers that I was wildly inconsistent.

I learnt that developing a habit is mainly about momentum.

Momentum is created or destroyed every day with the first few decisions I make. For example, I went on a 10-day streak on all three tasks, but once I missed waking up early a few days in succession, I couldn’t create a respectable streak.

The biggest problem I encountered was when I woke up late or started my day off wrong, which put me on a downward spiral for the rest of the day.

Most of all recognized that my willpower works pretty much like a muscle. On days where I was exhausted after utilizing my will-power in responding to a plethora of e-mails and answering to unnecessary phone calls, it was harder for me to come back home and sit with my instrument to come up with a melody. On those agonizing work days, I found myself noodling mindlessly on my guitar instead of engaging myself in a focussed practice session.

With all the down sides, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about myself in the process.

This month, I am expecting some stressful days at my workplace and also planning to initiate a side project which would take up most of my time. Thus, keeping with the idea of setting realistic goals, I am deliberately not over-exerting myself and taking up any new goals for this month.

While I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped to be, I am taking solace from the fact that at least I have put in place a system of tracking my progress and keeping myself accountable here.

This is a wonderful project and doing this experiment has reinforced the idea that all I need to do stay happy is become very, very good at living each day. I would like to extend Sreenath’s invitation to his readers in choosing a simple task that you’d like to do every single day and experience the progress first hand, just like I did.

I hope to see you guys again at the end of July.

Cheers,
Aalap Vyas

 

What writing everyday taught me about being a better person

A few days ago, one of my friends asked me a question that I had never confronted myself with.

‘How do you manage to write a blog post every day? What’s the most difficult part about it?’

I thought about it for a while. And I realised, writing a blog post is not the most difficult thing in the exercise. It is writing the first few lines of the blog post that’s most challenging. Once you’re past the first few lines, the blog post fashions itself.
All I have to do is get past the first few lines. Once I am past the inertia, it is a breeze.

The same is also true for physical activities. I remember the toughest phase of my bicycle trip to the mountains to be the first half an hour of the ride.
Once your body is warmed up, you don’t even realise you’re bicycling. The process just happens on its own.

Extrapolating further,
I wonder if the same is true for the more human qualities one wishes to embody.
We all wish to be better human beings.
We desire to be more loving, more accepting, more friendly and allow ourself to have an open heart.

But if we think of starting to embody these qualities all through our existence, the task, however desirable, seems to be far too daunting.

How do I have such an open heart full of love all through my life !’ one would wonder.

But there is a way of thinking that makes the task much easier and accessible.

Say you wish to be more compassionate and loving.
Don’t think about being compassionate and loving all through your existence.

Just start to be compassionate and loving in the present moment.

Once you are past the barricades you’ve built around your heart, the task becomes easier and but natural.

Of course, this has to be practiced every single day with solemn awareness.
Just how I choose to begin to write and get past the first few lines every single day.

Before you know you will have a continuum of existence, full of the qualities you always wished to embody.

Open your heart and ask,
What quality do I wish to imbibe.
And start.
Everyday.

You will realize your better self with every glorious sunrise.

To your undeniable growth.

 

 

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