1% of your day

15 minutes = 1% of your day.

What could you do for 15 minutes every single day for the next year that would have an immense impact on your life?

One percent. Can you dedicate one percent to that activity?

How about two percent? Three? Four?

30 minutes = 2% of your day.
45 minutes = 3% of your day.
1 hour = 4% of your day.

You probably spend 24-32% of each day sleeping.

What are you doing with that other 70%?

What Lie Ahead


Why does the world always seem bigger when we're younger, the days longer, the fun more memorable, the days problems less worrisome? Perhaps it's because we don't yet know any better, or because we haven't been told where the edges are, or maybe it's because we just love each moment more fully, not so conscious or afraid of what may come but intensely soaked in the present, living now so wholly that everything else, including ourselves, pales in comparison to what lie ahead.

We Influence Our Reality

One day when I was eight, and my dad was thirty-seven, I realized that I will never be able to catch up to his age, that he will always be twenty-nine years older than me. It frustrated me at the time because I wanted to catch up. I wanted to experience what it was like to be thirty-seven and I wanted to share that experience with my thirty-seven year-old dad.

But I couldn't. No matter how badly I wanted it, it just wouldn't happen.

Accepting that fact helped me realize something else: my dad will never get to revisit my age. He'll never get to be eight again. This made me feel proud to be eight. I was lucky to be experiencing something that he could not. No matter how badly he might have wanted to be eight again, he couldn't.

A few days ago I turned thirty-one. My dad is now sixty. We're still twenty-nine years apart.

I always remind myself that what's important is not your age. What's important is that you do not allow your age to influence your reality, to influence what you feel is true within yourself. How old do you feel? That's far more important than how old you are, because how old you are is how old you feel.

You choose and reinforce how old you feel by the thoughts and realities that you embrace, by what you accept and what you tell yourself is true.

I could've spent my entire eighth year wishing that I was thirty-seven, but instead -- fortunately -- I recognized how lucky I was to be eight. Today, I could think about what it means to be thirty-one, or I could think about what it means to be sixty. Or, I could simply live right here right now and enjoy it, the way I did when I was eight.

There's nothing we must handle with more care than the conversations we have with ourselves. We influence our reality, and in no greater place do we influence our reality than within ourselves.

The Park of Skeletons and Giant Trees

There’s a park here in Hobart that I’ve walked through maybe a dozen times since arriving in Tasmania a few weeks ago. It’s a beautiful park with manicured gardens and strips of black pavement that crisscross bright green grass that always seems to be freshly cut.

But there’s also something quirky about this park. Stone structures that look like giant gravestones are occasionally thrown about and there are different types of trees growing in seemingly random locations.

I walked through the park today and stopped to read a small metal placard that was embedded into a stone at the base of one of the smaller trees. It said the tree was planted in 1932. That’s eighty years. I put my hand on the tree and looked up at it with a new sense of respect and admiration. Eighty years old and still young and strong.

I continued my walk and looked around at the other elderly giants surrounding me. Some of these trees must be hundreds of years old.

The park is a common route used by both commuters and students traveling to and from work and school. My host, who often walks through the park on her way to and from work, mentioned to me once that it would be a fun project to take photos of the trees while looking up at the sky from underneath them, and then trying to identify where in the park each photo was taken.

I find myself always looking up when I pass through a park now.

Perspective has a strange way of changing how we think about the most obvious things, those things that we take for granted and pass over, or under, without thought or pause for reflection.

At the other end of the park I came across a sign with more information and some historical background about the area. In 1804, the park began as Tasmania’s first cemetery, but became badly neglected within a few years and fell apart. Escaped convicts would occasionally vandalize the graves and sometimes they would even climb into coffins to hide from pursuing police.

The city of Hobart continued to grow and expand around the cemetery and before it was turned into a recreation area in 1925, nearly 900 people had been buried there. A few of the prominent gravestones were repaired and now they share the landscape with several giant trees, including American Redwood, Elm, Spruce, and Tasmania’s native, and giant, Blue Gum tree.

Nine hundred people. I tried to imagine that number of skeletons resting underneath the beautiful green grass, the roots of these giant trees weaving in and out of them, slowly converting what was once a living breathing human back into the basic elements. I’ll never walk through St. David’s park the same way again, as my perspective has been permanently shifted by the few words on that deteriorating sign.

It doesn’t take much to alter our view of the world, to shift our reality in such a great way that what we see and feel changes so dramatically that we become a different person, making different choices and thinking different thoughts. But a change in our perspective always starts with present-minded observation, with understanding where we are right now in relation to something else.

I walked though that park many times, but it wasn’t until I slowed down to understand and observe my surroundings that I acquired a new perspective and a new appreciation for the park.

In the same way, unless I remain curious and present to the activities in my day-to-day life, I may end up walking through unaware and oblivious to the great depth and richness that exists all around me and within my life.

Inhaling Peace, Exhaling Release

I have what feels like the entire earth to myself, this huge open expanse inviting me to come play, to run, to sprint, to feel the sand between my toes and the warm breeze on my skin. 

But I don't run. I stroll. I feel the lukewarm water lapping gently at my feet and watch as the quiet waves roll in softly and ripple across the infinite sandy expanse.

I close my eyes and inhale deeply, taking into my being the pure energy that surrounds me. It's intoxicating. I cannot breathe deeply enough. It's as if the air itself is so full that my lungs are unable to capture it. My body tingles with overwhelm.

I look up at the stars and exhale a sense of immense gratitude and contentment. If peace itself could be captured in a bottle, this must be what drinking it feels like.

With all the places in the world to visit -- with all the places that my freedom allows me to go -- I suddenly feel no desire to go anywhere, no sense of urgency to see a new place, or to relocate, or to even explore. 

What more do I need? Where else will I go? What more could I possibly ask for in a destination? 

What was it about this beach in Florida? Was there some energy here that my being was connecting with? Or was this experience perhaps more superficial, more related to the warm weather and the never-ending sunshine?

For the past few weeks I have gone for a walk on this beach near Cape Canaveral almost every single day and incredibly this experience has followed me each time. 

I arrive about thirty minutes before sunset and spend two hours or so walking and/or running until the sun goes down and the stars come out. 

Each night before leaving I stand in the ocean and look up at the stars, picking out planets and constellations and watching for satellites and shooting stars. 

With the ocean before me and the stars and planets above, I can feel my infinitesimal size.

Why am I here? What am I doing? What is my purpose for traveling? Why do I need to go anywhere?

I ponder these questions over and over while simultaneously feeling certain that I won't stop asking them, just as I feel certain that I won't stop traveling. (After all, none of us really do stop traveling. We're in constant motion, whether on this planet or through time itself.)

I'm reminded by these experiences that my travels are not a method of 'searching'; I'm not trying to fill a void or figure out what's missing. Everything I need, everything I ever will need, is already here; I'm already complete.

What travel does is help me strip away all the social conditioning, all the preconceived ideas and expectations that I create for myself. It helps me release all the bits and pieces of identity that I, and others, have plastered all over me in attempt to create a definition and a design that can easily be grasped onto. 

Embracing change as a constant requires embracing detachment and movement as constants as well. Letting go is part of moving forward, just as moving forward is inherent in letting go.

Travel helps me rediscover what's already here, what goes with me from place to place, from moment to moment unchanged. Just as the ocean washes away my footprints, so does each moment wash away the previous, leaving behind only what was already here.

Ten thousand years from today

The wind blows today as it once did ten thousand years ago, yet we think about today and it feels special, unique, ours. We await the sunset each day with a sense of anticipation, placing importance on this particular day, on this particular cycle of experience, treating this one conscious moment as if it were ours to command, as if the center of the universe existed beneath our feet.

And perhaps it does, but can we imagine for just one moment the absolute insignificance of our existence?

Billions have come. Billions have gone. Billions more, holding just as much sense of self-importance, will come still, and then be forgotten. They will look at the wind just as I, and wonder just as I, and a few, for slightly longer than average, will be remembered, their thoughts re-thought, their words repeated, their actions reexamined; but they too will fade.

All that remains unchanged, untouched by the vastness of time, is change itself, the heartbeat of the universe, pulsating and breathing like giant creature full of stars and galaxies and universes.

And we? We exist in the belly of that beast, a crucial but unaccountable part of a larger organism, one of far greater scale and embodiment than our feeble imaginations are capable of comprehending.

We are like the billions of microbes living within each of us, unheard and unseen, their struggles in our digestive tract, their trials and tribulations, their pains and hard work, their concerns and worries and frustrations, all meaningless when we change the perspective to that which encompasses their existence.

Will our legacy be like theirs, one of symbiosis, one of attempting to coexist in harmony with its host? Will we search for meaning and seek to understand our place in the universe? Or will we quarrel, amongst ourselves and with ourselves, living out our lives unconscious and ungrateful for the crucial role we play in the fabric of the universe?

The pulse of the universe will go on, oblivious to our ballooned sense of superiority, unaffected by the insignificance of all that we consider of utmost importance. Our place will be replaced by others, some of whom will seek harmony, some of whom will ignore it, and yet others who stare at the wind marveling at its transparent embrace, ten thousand years from today.

Notes: Giving Up the False Refuges

I'm tired of taking refuge in all that is false. I'm tired of taking refuge outside of myself.

I pray may this finally become a truth I hold with the deepest clarity: there’s no reliable refuge in this material world of ours nor in all the experiences we chase after with glee.

In drugs, sex, partners, friends, work, money, homes, rock-n-roll, the internet, pluses, likes, tweets or anything else. Even this planet will burn up in a fiery ball. All experiences are as fickle and changeable as the wind. And the material isn't nearly as solid as you may think.

Thoughts and emotions are even worse! They seem so real and alluring, but will lead to nothing but trouble if you don’t let them pass right by. Thoughts and emotions are a big waste of time; better to rest in the essence of mind. Avoid harm, do good, and tame this mind of ours.

Instead of running for refuge from all one's twisted beliefs and stormy emotion, let them rise up and let them dissolve. It’s all just like a film. Momentarily so vivid and real. Till the lights turn up in the movie theater.

When death comes knocking - it could happen at any time - all that has happened will seem no more than a vague dream. Can you even remember what happened just a few hours ago?

This was a thought-provoking and powerful passage from Sandra Pawula's latest letter (subscription required).

Notes: Numb to the tragedies of this world

Children often have an incredibly pure perspective of the world. In this short letter from Jarkko Laine's Curious & Creative, I was reminded just how easily we can become numb to reality.

As I sat down to have have breakfast with my sons, Oiva, the older of the two, asked me for a song in place of saying grace. I agreed, and without thinking about it that much, started to improvise: "We are thankful that we have food. Not everyone has food, but we do."

As I was singing, I noticed Oiva's face change: he was trying to hide his tears. I stopped singing and quickly asked him what was wrong. With tears in his eyes, forcing a smile on his face (but failing to do so), he said: "Dad, that song is a little strange."

Oiva is four. He still cares.

For him, hearing that someone doesn't have food is not something to be thankful for.

At that moment I was very happy for the small monthly donation we make to charity as I could use it to explain to my son that there are ways we can help those people who don't have the goods we do.

But once again, his natural compassion had revealed to me something ugly about myself: I have become used to the tragedies in this world.

Notes: Blogging distilled to its essence

Leo Babauta writes about something he came across in the desert mountains of Nevada. It's an interesting example of how ones perspective influences what something means to them; who else would see a cardboard sign and think 'blog'?

Amidst the rocks I found a small cardboard sign with some neat handwriting on it:

"February 11 marks our 3,068th day living out here. Thanks P+T (for 3 weeks ago)."

Then there were numbers crossed out, marking the days after that, until it hit today’s total of 3,150. It also had a note inserted among the numbers that said "Happy Easter".

It occurred to me that this hand-made sign is the most minimal blog there is. Basically a statement of how long they've been living out in the desert, and daily updates in the form of crossed-out numbers. With a shout out to friends, of course.

What is blogging at its best? This sign distilled blogging to its essence: regular updates that inspire others from someone doing something remarkable.

Notes: David Foster Wallace on Life and Work

This article in the Wall Street Journal was adapted from a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College.

Although the concepts are a bit difficult to follow at times, they're incredibly insightful, especially the whole point about how much our perspective influences the way we see the world around us.

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"


If you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line -- maybe she's not usually like this; maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who's dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept. who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness.

Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible -- it just depends on what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important -- if you want to operate on your default-setting -- then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren't pointless and annoying. But if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars -- compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff's necessarily true: The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't.

Sensory Minimalism

Everything is noise until we understand it. To put meaning to the meaningless, our senses process noise and help us find direction. But when our senses are constantly being overwhelmed by noise -- the noise in our head; the noise in our lives; the noise of the status quo -- their sensitivity decreases and they become unreliable instruments.

Practicing sensory minimalism, that is stepping back and observing the noise instead of trying to process it, increases our ability to focus on what matters and awards us with a better sense of direction.

The skill of observing noise is best learned through frequent changes in our perspective: When experiencing something new and unusual, we have no choice but to release ourselves from the noise and take a step back.

Change your perspective and you will expand your consciousness. Escape the patterns and you will minimize the background noise. Place yourself in new and unfamiliar situations and you will have no choice but to reflect, observe, and regain awareness of where you stand in relation to what matters most in your life.

Unexpected Evolution

Evolution doesn't happen when you want it to. Instead, it arrives unexpectedly, blindsiding you at the most challenging points in your life, or during halftime, when you're relaxed and life seems in perfect order, it creeps up from behind and whispers in your ear, "it's time."

Time to evolve. Time to drop what you know and reconsider everything. Time to grow. Time to become a wiser person than that of a few moments ago.

Don't look, but be ready. Don't cling when it arrives, but hop on and enjoy the ride. Learn from the new perspective. Embrace the moment of clarity. Swim in the stream of awareness. Capture and appreciate the opportunity to evolve.