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October 2022

Post image for The Best Idea Humans Ever Had

I have a radical proposal. An experiment that might just change your life. If you want to try it, I’ll do it with you.

It goes like this:

Live most of your days according to your normal habits, doing your job and your everyday stuff the same as always. Then one day a week, let’s say Tuesday, you live by a specific dictum:

From the minute you wake up, do without hesitation the thing that most needs to be done in each moment, regardless of how appealing it is. Bring your full attention to each such act, as though it’s your sole purpose on earth. Let go of every other concern.

In other words, on Tuesdays, and only Tuesdays, you devote yourself to doing the wisest and most helpful thing you can think of in each moment, all day long. You don’t try to strike any sort of “balance” between doing what you want to do and doing what you know is best. You choose the latter every time.

If the moment calls for taking a big gross garbage bag to the dumpster, you calmly pick it up and go. If it calls for broaching an unpleasant topic with your boss, you broach the unpleasant topic with your boss. If it calls for starting your term paper today even though you could rationalize waiting till Saturday, you sit down and start. If it’s time to slip your phone back into your pocket rather than scrolling another page of Reddit, you do it.

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Post image for Mindfulness Means Letting Things Surprise You

One of the hardest things about trying to be mindful is that it is often powerfully boring.

You’re trying to pay close and gentle attention to the ordinary experiences of life — sipping tea, opening a door, breathing in through your nose — and this is supposed to transform your life if you keep at it.

But it’s hard to pay this much attention to ordinary life stuff, because you already know what’s going to happen. You already know what it feels like to sip tea and walk down a sidewalk and pass through a door. It’s hard to give things more attention than they seem to need.

I’ve been practicing mindfulness for a long time, and it has transformed my life, and I still periodically run into this same problem. The rustle of leaves or the inner caress of the breath only seems to bear so much attention, so much looking and noticing, before you want to say, “Okay, I see it. What next?”

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