Learning Optimization 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize Learning?”

Gain optimal feedback on the quality of your learning immediate feedback after every learning session and daily feedback at the end of every day.

How effective was your learning? (Strategy)

Did you learn the highest-leverage things you could be learning? (Leverage)

Did you learn them in optimal order (so that they optimally build upon one another)? (Sequencing)

How efficient was your learning? (Tactics)

Did you challenge yourself?

How active was your information absorption process? (Understanding Efficiency)
Did you process – that is, deeply reflect on – the information immediately, or just lazily saved it for later?

Did you practice deliberately? (Practice Efficiency)
Did you actually have deliberate practice time?

Always keep in mind the central tenet of Essentialism:

Less, but better. (Greg McKeown)

On Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What’s the difference between you at your highest and you at your lowest?

“Connection with Meaning.

To navigate life, we build a Map of Meaning for ourselves to give us a sense of purpose and direction. In the absence of a Map, we drift through life, from distraction to distraction, in an effort to temporarily extinguish the gnawing emptiness within.

Without a Map, the challenge is forgetting.
With a Map, the challenge is remembering.

We can’t help temporarily forgetting what’s essential. Balance is a perpetual homecoming – endlessly losing ourselves and finding our way back to Meaning.

By Meaning are you referring to God?

For some, it is God. For others, something else. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it opens your heart to the Beauty of existence.

The Quality Game

Always do your best. (Miguel Ruiz)

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. (Henry Ward Beecher)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the Quality Game?”

“It’s a spiritual game, with a double meaning:

the game of playing every game well (Wisdom, Character, Moral Excellence)

the game of doing everything well (Mastery, Technical Excellence)

I like to think of them in aesthetic terms:

Play beautiful.
Do everything beautifully.

The most important life skills

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What is the most important life skill?

Thinking because it creates your reality.”

What is the second most important life skill?

Emotional management because it enables and amplifies thinking.”

Modular Meditation 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Remember Kenton Whitman’s wonderful GLOW meditation [<link, video]?

Yes. Remind me what GLOW stands for.

  • Gratitude – bringing to mind one or more things that you are grateful for, focusing on the feeling.
  • Love – bringing to mind one or more things that you love, again focusing on the feeling.
  • Oneness – releasing your sense of self and feeling the connection with any and everything.
  • Wonder – accessing curiosity: ‘I wonder what magical amazing wonderful unexpected surprises are going to come into my life today.’

I’ve recently discovered another wonderful meditation by Vishen Lakhiani. He calls it the 6-phase meditation [<link, video]:

  • Love and Compassion feeling the energy of love and compassion radiating from you, and gradually expanding the feeling to all humanity and every living being on Earth.
  • Gratitude – bringing to mind multiple things that you are grateful for, to produce an emotional flooding [<link; short read] effect.
  • Forgiveness – bringing to mind someone you haven’t yet forgiven and forgiving them.
  • Future Dreaming (Creative Visualization) – thinking of some aspect of your life a few years into the future and imagining yourself experiencing the ideal outcome, feeling the joy you would feel as if it were already happening.
  • The Perfect Day – thinking about what you want/have to do today and visualizing each of them unfolding in the most perfect way possible.
  • The Blessing – imagining there’s a loving higher power above you that’s supporting you in your vision and intentions and giving you endless strength and energy.

I notice a pronounced imagination component in Vishen’s meditation.

That’s the beauty of it. It’s also imagination and visualization practice.

Which one do you like more?

“Notice how both have the same structure in that they are made of several components. I like to call this kind meditation structure modular meditation. Each of the components that make up the meditation is an interchangeable module

I like both meditations, so I’m taking pieces from both and creating my own meditation.

What does it look like?

It’s a play in progress. I’m experimenting with it.

The Language of Play

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I practice Play?

To practice is to remember to practice. One aspect of the practice is to make Play more present in your mind. One way to do that is through language, by using words and phrases evocative of Play. I call the collection of all such words and phrases the Language of Play.

There are two aspects to it: 

– using existing words and phrases – identifying such words and phrases from your play history and using them more often
– creating words and phrases – playing with language to create words and phrases that remind you to play; we might call this languageplay

One type of such languageplay for instance involves substitution of various words with the word ‘play’.

eg 

pay => play
Paypal => Playpal (reddy2go [<link])

work => play
workout => playout

Another one involves adding ‘playful’ before various words:

eg
Playful Awareness
Playful Learning

This a an instance of what I call Generative Play – playing with coming up with new ways to play.

Filtering Newsletters

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I used to be subscribed to too many newsletters. In Gmail, I automatically filter newsletter emails and group them under a label called ‘Learning’ – which acts a bit like a folder. Whenever I checked the ‘Learning’ folder, I felt anxious because there were so many unread newsletter emails. I just couldn’t keep up with them.

How did you solve this problem?

I unsubscribed from most of them and kept around 20% of them. 

Whenever I received a newsletter email, I asked myself:

How do I feel when I see a newsletter email from x? How exciting is the prospect of reading it?

If the answer was ‘meh’, I unsubscribed.

The outcome is beautiful: every time I receive a newsletter email, it feels exciting.

Reminds me of Derek Sivers’ ‘Hell Yeah, or No’.

That’s a wonderful way to think of it.

Parallel Reading

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is parallel reading?”

“By parallel reading, I mean reading from multiple books at the same time during a reading session. By contrast, sequential reading is reading from one book at a time.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“There are two benefits: variety and creative serendipity – it increases the likelihood of connecting ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

“Can you give more details on how it works?”

“Let’s take the idea as the information unit. You’re basically reading from idea to idea. If you read optimally, you skim through unuseful ideas and read only the useful ones. So in optimal reading, you proceed from one useful idea to another.

In sequential reading, you proceed from one useful idea to another within the same book. In parallel reading, you likewise proceed from one useful idea to another, but across different books. You read from one book until you find a useful idea. You process the idea, and then you change to a different book, repeating the process until a pomodoro passes.”

“So if, say, during a pomodoro of sequential reading you go through 10 ideas, during a pomodoro of parallel reading you go through 10 ideas from 10 different books.”

“Precisely.”

Natural Pauses

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Appreciate natural pauses.”

What are natural pauses?

Pausing is an essential (and subtle) life skill. By pausing, you’re creating space for awareness and connecting with yourself, for love and play and gratitude and beauty, for reflection and accessing your resources. You can think of it as a micro-meditation.

Think of an impulse, for instance. Much of the time, they are invisible. An impulse arises and we immediately act on it. Sometimes it works for us, other times against us. Pausing after the impulse arises creates a space between stimulus and response to ask yourself:

Do I want to act on this impulse?

Every impulse is an opportunity to practice the skill of pausing.

Natural pauses are pauses that arise naturally when engaged in an activity or when transitioning between activities.

Let’s say you’re browsing the Internet and a page takes too long to load. By default, we tend to think of it as an annoyance. Instead, learn to see and appreciate the opportunity, and make the most of it.

Breathe, connect with yourself, smile, and, for a moment, contemplate all the gifts and miracles that you’re taking for granted: technological wonders like the Internet and your computer and language, the biological wonders that are your BodyMind and all life forms, the beautiful interconnectedness of the world, the cosmic ocean and the universe of the very small, etc. Take a moment to find your way back to wonder.

By creating pauses and taking advantage of natural pauses, you’re creating space to take in the beauty of the world.

Masterpiece Days 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What does a masterpiece day look like?

You can tell a masterpiece day by how much of the day you were joyful and peaceful, loving and grateful, playful and creative. By the extent to which you did not take things for granted and were able to see the beauty of the world.