I’d like to get something off my chest.
In THE CONNECTR #001, I touched on the importance of paying attention.
Now I’m far enough into this newsletter to get some reactions from its readers and the feedback so far is, uh… fan-fucking-tastic.
I’m not tooting my own horn. I love the comments because they’re different and actionable. More on that in a minute.
There’s just one problem: the whole paying attention bit.
When I consider the motivation behind this project, promoting mindfulness is right up top. I’m obsessed with its power to help you create a better version of yourself.
But… I gave it a quick mention and I got the hell outta there as fast as I could.
Mindfulness isn’t something you poke with a stick to see if it’s still alive. It deserves a lot more consideration.
And you deserve better.
That’s why I’m devoting today’s newsletter to sharing what I’m paying attention to, how I find it useful, and, as always, some practical takeaways.
Let’s get crackin’.
A Big Fat Lie
“While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.”
In other words, practice doesn’t make perfect. Deliberate practice does.
This is pure gold because it’s concrete proof that mindful action leads to improved performance.
When I first started this newsletter, I knew I had to leverage deliberate practice.
And the “unsung hero” of the system—unbiased feedback from someone more skilled than me—did exactly what it’s designed to do. It whipped my ass into shape.
“I think the sentiment is great but the delivery falls a bit flat.”
That’s the feedback I got from a skilled writer after he read the first newsletter (thank you, sir). It was preceded by 7 suggestions for ways in which I could elaborate on the power of mindfulness. Unbiased and actionable? Check and check.
The other feedback is different but just as useful. It helps me understand what people are noticing and it allows me to see if there are any underlying themes in what they’re saying.
Give deliberate practice a shot. It’ll give you clarity on where your work needs improvement and help you direct your attention meaningfully.
Recommended reading: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice
My New Favorite Podcast
“The world is full of people and things that can make you happy, but you have to notice them to get the full effect.”
From science and Stoicism to psychopaths and superheroes The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos shares “surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness.”
This episode is packed with interesting nuggets about the ways smartphones make it hard to be mindful. It also happens to be the inspiration for today’s newsletter (dude, you gotta follow up on that paying attention thing).
If you’d rather spend time with something else, here two parts I found super interesting:
This one: Steve Jobs killed the chewing gum industry. “Chewing gum sales have dropped by double digits” since 2007—the year the iPhone came out.
What do you do when you’re waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket?
And this one: Evolution designed babies’ eyes to focus on a short distance in front of their faces, so they can “bond emotionally with the person who’s holding them.”
This fact caused a young mother to realize she was depriving her child of emotional connection by staring at her phone (to browse doorknobs on eBay).
Next time you’re in the middle of a conversation and you reach for your phone, what if you imagine the person you’re talking with is a baby? Will you change your mind?
Related: The Science of Well-Being by Yale University | Coursera (It’s free!)
The Tweet I’m Pondering
I’ve seen this tweet floating around the internet lately.
Based on the 73.6K retweets, I’d say, yes, it is “relatable.”
But it got me thinking… maybe the reason people don’t have “much control over their daytime life” is that they’re not paying attention to what they’re doing. Maybe they’re robbing themselves of happy, productive time and they don’t even know it.
Isn’t it kind of sad it’s relatable?
It reminds me of a Seth Godin quote (yes, I know…him again): “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
When I first saw the tweet, I noticed myself thinking oh yeah, been there. You have, too, I’m guessing.
Mindfulness gives you the power to do something about it. It empowers you to live your days in a way that doesn’t create the need to grasp at freedom when they come to an end.
My final thoughts—and things that help me pay attention.
Planes, trains, and automobiles. I love useful analogies almost as much as I love John Candy. They help me make sense of mindfulness practice (and the world).
The bread and butter of mindfulness practice is the ability to observe thoughts. By looking at them as objects in everyday life, it’s easier to see them as separate from you.
Here’s a creepy cartoon guy explaining it in 1 min. 42 seconds.
Avoid multitasking. Try doing one thing at a time. You’ll find you perform better when you focus 100% on the task at hand. Single-tasking is much more conducive to living in the present; let multitasking be a thing of the past. (An entire newsletter will be devoted to this soon).
Take mindful breaks. Spend 5 minutes and describe to yourself everything you see, hear, smell, and feel. It’s an easy way to bring your mind back to the present moment and keep it there. There’s no way to complete the exercise without being mindful.
Related: The Pomodoro Technique
Lastly, remember that writer guy I mentioned a minute ago? Well, his mom is sick and they both could use some good vibes. Whatever your thing is—prayer, mantras, healing thoughts, or just a smile—please take a moment to send some love.
And if you want to share a kind word or two, send me a reply and I’ll pass it along.