It’s easy to get obsessed about finishing today’s to-do list, hunting down the solution to some problem, or figuring out how to use your time more productively and make more money. This may seem like the only way to improving your life or changing your circumstances.
Most days pass me by with my eyes glued to the computer screen, and when I’m too exhausted to continue I go to sleep, feeling like I didn’t get much done.
On the one hand, I have some big goals I’m working on and I need to keep plugging. On the other hand, deep down, I know that this is a miserable waste of the incredible bounty life has to offer. Life is absolutely, mind-blowingly, incredible. And all you have to do is slow down and pay attention.
So stop what you’re doing.
You will never have this day again. You will never have this chance to appreciate beauty, enjoy a simple pleasure, or connect with someone you love. Whatever you think you need to do pales in comparison to the meaningful things that truly improve the quality of your life.
If you have time, get up, go outside and pick a flower. Take your shoes off and feel the grass between your toes. Remember what real life feels like when you’re actually paying attention to it.
Take out a pencil and write a note to somebody who made a big impression on you. Feel the vibrations of the pencil moving along the paper going up your arm.
Enjoy something Delicious.
One of the most profound creative practices ever is the “artist date” found in the book The Artist’s Way. In brief, your creativity comes from your inner child, and he or she will only think up genius ideas when they’re happy. So you need to do fun, childish, playful things to entertain him, all by yourself, once a week.
Give more than you take.
Indie authors and artists are far too often selfish with their time – because they are always hustling and trying to get noticed. Relax. Get noticed by giving to others. Get noticed for being generous, kind, patient. Stand out for not promoting yourself. Help others achieve their goals. Support all the creative and beautiful people around you. Do huge favors for other people without asking for anything in return.
Happiness in life comes down to sustained awareness. Be aware of all the good, joy and beauty. Our minds and bodies have a natural response to beauty, an intuitive programming, a psycho-physical response. Breathe, and appreciate.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
There is nothing that you have to do.
One of the most empowering, life changing quotes I’ve ever come across, is this:
There is really nothing you must be.
And there is nothing you must do.
There is really nothing you must have.
And there is nothing you must know.
There is really nothing you must become.
However, it helps to understand that fire burns,
and when it rains, the earth gets wet.
Japanese Zen scroll
There is nothing that you must do. Everything is a choice. We do some things we don’t want to in order to get some things that we do want – we make decisions and compromises. But the universe is full of freedom and potential. The purpose of life isn’t one thing or the other – the purpose is simply to experience, learn, and feel.
At the same time, learning from your mistakes and growing in capability and experiential knowledge helps you to become the master of your own universe. (Fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet). Learn the technology that allows you to do more things, faster, and you will have destroyed time.
Create something everlasting.
We are here, now, but we won’t be here very long. Each of us will pass on, leaving behind us all of the fruits of our time spent. Think in terms of legacy. How long will what you have built last? Your website? Your email list? When you’re gone, will there be something beautiful for people to enjoy, or a mess for someone else to clean up or cover over?
A few tips to keep in mind:
1) Create something that has a process you enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy it, you should be doing something else.
2) Create something that can be sold (or given).
If this is a hobby, give everything away. However, if you can sell what you create, you can quit your job and spend more time creating.
Selling your work is not “selling out” – it is simply leveraging your creative talent for more time.
3) Create something permanent.
And by this, I mean something amazing enough that someone will treasure forever, even if just in memory. You don’t necessarily have to carve your name in the cliff to leave your mark; Tibetan masters spend all day making intricate designs out of colored sand, then wiping them away and starting over (to teach non-attachment and impermanence). But even recognizing that their work will not last, they still do it with care, precision and artistry.
Creativindie is more than a skill or ability; it is that unique blend of creativity and industriousness that produces Genius-level personalities, who have creative vision, technical ability and the burning confidence and charm to make it big. Think Dali or Warhol. Sure, you could be a suffering Van Gogh and lead a quiet, poor life of anonymity… but given the choice, why would you?
Remember to smile.
Studies have documented that a slight lift in mood – being a little more happy – can have a drastically positive affect on productivity.
The fastest way to get happy, other studies say, is by deliberately fostering feelings of gratitude.
Another is to just smile. Act as if you were happy, and soon happiness will find you.
So I’ll leave you with another life-changing affirmation, by Paramahansa Yogananda, called “The Light of Smiles.” Let this be your daily goal and you will become unstoppable.
I will light the match of smiles. My gloom veil will disappear.
I shall behold my soul in the light of smiles hidden behind the accumulated darkness of ages.
When I find myself, I shall race through all hearts with the torch of my soul-smiles.
My heart will smile first, then my eyes, then my face. Every body part will shine in the light of smiles.
I will run amid the thickets of melancholy hearts and make a bonfire of all sorrows.
I am the irresistible fire of smiles.
I will fan myself with the breeze of God-joy and blaze my way through the darkness of all minds.
My smiles will convey His smiles and whoever meets me will catch a whiff of my divine joy.
I will carry fragrant, purifying torches of smiles for all hearts.
And don’t forget… YOU’RE AWESOME.
You’re also never going to be any younger.
For us late starters, that is a huge consideration. I have this mega-novel I’m writing, see, and I legitimately wonder if I’ll be around to finish it. So I work on getting faster and more efficient in the writing, and sit in that chair every day.
At least if I don’t make it, I actually WILL die trying. Which is the best you can do. Ever.
Derek – you need an archives page, which lists all your content in one spot – really hate scrolling.
I don’t understand – why people try so hard to make a difference? Hard work gets you nowhere – it’s the precise and constant work that gets you somewhere. It’s not hard is “smart-er” that works now.
I’m probably the worst author who sells gold in a junk market. I really don’t remember when was the last time I’ve bought a book. They say that writers don’t read at all.
To add a bit to the topic I would say – that people need to understand what silence actually is.
People keep talking and talking, but when you stop and take a look around – there’s nothing to talk about, and they’re saying they’re self-conscious.
When you self-conscious you stop talking, writing and doing anything at all.
Higher consciousness is when you understand that everything works on it’s own and only thing you can manage is your own effort.
To get necessary reactions you need to do right actions – isn’t it right?
I find that when I become too preoccupied with selling the things I create (I write but I do other things, as well) I limit myself by thinking about what might be marketable rather than just going with my imagination and creativity. I think there’s a place for both. Lately I’ve been working on writing memoir, wanting to write about my life, the things I’ve done, the things I’ve learned. And wanting to be a better writer. Also looking for others on a similar path to connect with. I found this site when searching to make a bar code from an isbn and I’ve been on your site for neatly an hour now! Just browsing. Lots of interesting stuff!
Yeah! Glad there’s stuff to hold your interest. Someday I’ll reorganize and make it easier to find all the good articles, which are probably buried.
O but Ha! Ha! HalleluYah! Dear Derek, the whole article describes my true being! Only one valuable insight obtained after a lifetime of hit & miss attempts to secure the miraculous life that I now live as described in your article!
The core of the human problem is that we have failed to recognize that we are dual beings or beings with two natures: the carnal nature that we inherited at birth and the Spiritual Nature that our Father Creator seeded within our beings even before we were born!
Now, about the fact of such natures. First of all, there is nothing intrinsically good in our human natures whether we believe it or not.
Then we have the truth about all good within or without us. The truth is, that all goodness stems from that seed of the Spiritual Nature from our Creator, period.
Even so, because we do not recognize such Spiritual Nature we attribute all goodness to the efforts of our carnal nature and there in lies the human problem! Why?
Because unless we recognize the Spiritual Nature and abandon our carnal nature, all of our goodness comes to an end at a certain point of our time here on the earth, if nothing else when we go down to the brown ground. What on earth am I talking about?
Well, it is written, Matthew 16:25-26 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?
All that you write in the article above can be true. But the sad part is that so many, like myself in the past, try & try to keep up with all suggestions given, even spend money in the trying, all to no avail or only for a temporal result.
But it does not have to be so! In due time, I grasped the written words. Once those words were put into practice or once I quit my quest to accomplished that coveted but elusive success, as per magic, day by day, moment by moment, success, contentment, strength to endure under any circumstance, peace of mind, full enjoyment of a life far above all the worries & fears & struggles of this world have become my bastion!
No kidding! It seems that there is some kind of invisible time management for my personal life well written and executed automatically! I work hard for so many hours. Then, without thinking or premeditating, I get up to enjoy my garden or take a walk or visit somebody or create a graphic or whatever!
And yes, my carnal nature is there at all times, my natural mind is sharper than ever but, after considering my most elaborated plans I always conclude, “Not my will but Your will be done! For You, my Father know better than myself what is best for me!”
And yes, many times I go into a self-pity party and when I hit the bottom of despair, I hear the blessed voice of His Spirit within my being telling me, “Go fix you a cup of coffee!” Immediately, my tears cease and I head to the kitchen. While I am fixing that commanded cup of coffee, all kinds of good alternatives to my sorrowful predicament come into my mind! Pity-Party? No where to be found!
Of course, that is how the Creator deals with yours truly! That is not the same with everybody–everybody is an individual.
Therefore, what I am instructed to write is my testimony of my Father’s Presence in my daily walk of life, to encourage others to tune up their ears to the Spirit in the written words!
In other words, yes, our Father speaks to us through many different mediums, thus we read your article or my testimony, how are we to react to such writings?
For myself, all of my past life, I questioned, How did Derek or whoever has come with such wonderful suggestions? What about me? Why not me?
Ha! Ha! HalleluYah! No need to question any more! Now I know! And that is what my Power From On High! book is all about!
And I have to give dear Derek my hearty thanks for helping me with the cover & all DY formatting, editing and all that is necessary to make Power From On High! visible to all!
His love in my heart for all, thia/Basilia
Derek, nail on head. Good article. Just starting to read your site. Nice.
Derek, you are a great and fine fellow, the good you do and the powerful help you freely give people to move them along in their journey are incalculable. And I look forward to using the resources you offer to advance my own writing. All that said, I must now chide you. At the bottom of your site is a single quotation, by Henry Thoreau–SORT OF! I’m surprised that a Ph.D. in Literature would purposely mangle the text of one of the foremost masters of English prose, to make him seem to say something he didn’t say. Now I have lived most of my long life within 20 or so miles of Walden Pond, and I know a little something about Henry and his voluminous works. He once said that to unauthorizedly change his words–which you (or someone) has done–was “a privilege California is not rich enough to bid for.” I must think, unless you have another explanation, that you have (or someone has) taken it upon yourself to clean up the language of this prose master in the infamous cause of making it “gender-neutral,” a cause that I consider not only foolish and callow but downright anti-literate . I herewith furnish you the correct quote, from the last chapter of HDT’s Walden, with your version in brackets. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his [ONE’S] dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he [ONE] has imagined, he [ONE] will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ONE ONE ONE—how awful! Henry would never write such a galumphing sentence as that. I hope you will now honestly repent of this egregious tampering with Henry’s words, and resolve to sin no more. Respectfully submitted, HAL
You’re right on all counts; including that someone probably edited the quote so it could inspire the other half of the human race without being male-dominant. It’s been awhile since I read Walden. I would have caught the mistake if I included this quote in my thesis and had to track down the original.
Humor and practical advice. The “Breathe” tab lept off the page. Wait? What? Be silly, be grateful, be helpful. Thanks!!!
thank you, that’s so great to be reminded to live first…
I am very grateful for your book formats and helpful advice and gave your website a shout out in the back of my book to help others. Thank you for being a light in the darkness. (*Hopefully it’s ok I promoted your site, I was really just grateful to your kindness!)