One of the general life goals I've got is to be more grateful. I knew I wanted to do this for a while, but had an opportunity a couple weeks ago. On 17 August I had my phone and some dead time, and I remembered I wanted to start tracking gratitude better. So I started making a list of things I'm grateful for.
I was just cleaning my iPhone notes, and found the list:
Gratittude - grateful for good friends. Chris having me as a guest. Chase and I working on creativity. Talking biz with Anthony. Coffee. Miu Ne. Beach. Swimming. Working muscles. Good juice. Bread, rice, eating healthy. Smart people. Hacker News. Self discipline. Technology. Jailbreaking my iPhone. Massage. Learning how civilization emerges by walking through the slums. Walking by the canal. The motorbike ride back that passed by the train, watching the train pass. Walking in the park with the cool animal garden sculptures. Learning how to negotiate here. Commander Marshall's circus. Working on critical thinking, meditations, SDS. Pho. Rice. Fish. The really good seafood. Playing Risk with Chase and Anthony. Talking philosophy with David. Paul Graham wrote back to me after I said thanks to him and that I think he goes down as greatest philosopher of this era. Yifei is awesome to do business with. Swapping ideas with Bren. Working for CDefine, first client. Learning. Reading ultimate sales machine. Live music at habana. Heading out to a nightclub first time in a long while. Not sleeping too much. Chris's cleaning lady washing my clothing. I feel strong. Habits improving. people reading my blog. First guestpost. The meteor shower at 3AM
It was fun doing that - was sitting and waiting to eat Korean food, had nothing to read, and didn't have my headphones to listen to audio. So I started clicking around and listing down some things that went well the week before. It's amazing how much there is - I'd like to do this more often going forwards. It's really nice.
I made a habit out of reviewing my gratitudes in bed twice a day - just before going to sleep and on waking. It took a few weeks to make it a habit. I not only enjoy doing it, it makes for more relaxed sleep and also I noticed after a month of doing it that I automatically start looking for things I am grateful for during down time in the day. Cool bonus! In addition my life has been flowing smoothly and I think this is partly due to focusing more on what I am grateful for than what is "wrong". I am happier too.
PS If you are in San Francisco check out Cafe Gratitude - all the dishes have positive names like I am Happy, I am Abundant so you get to say that when you order. Then when the server delivers they say You are Happy, You are Abundant. The food it really tasty and healthy raw food that is like no other raw food and salads you have eaten before. They have a recipe book ("I am grateful") if you can't get there in person and want to get a flavor of the place from somewhere else.
"What gets measured, gets managed." - Peter Drucker
There is so much power in this quote. If you've never tracked yourself, you don't even know how much power there is in tracking. I couldn't even explain it adequately. You wouldn't believe me. You'd think I was exaggerating. The simple act of paying attention to something will cause you to make connections you never did before, and you'll improve the those areas - almost without any extra effort.
I'm not a believer in "free lunch" and I don't think the universe vibrates things to you just by thinking about them. But the closest thing to a free lunch getting vibrated to you by the universe is writing things down as they happen.
Before I go any further, I need to give you one piece of advice - start small and build up, so you don't overwhelm yourself. This is just being pragmatic. You want to scale up gradually, as I wrote up in "The Evolution of My Time/Habit/Life Tracking." You want to build small wins, lock them so they become automatic, and then expand.
I'd have a hard time convincing you of the power of tracking, so I'll just show you. I fill this out every single day.
Walking has been a big part of simplifying my life. I don’t think there is anything simpler than grabbing a pair of shoes, or going barefoot, and walking to where you are going. At first I found the experience of walking to be incredibly painful. My legs tightened up and hurt for days at a time afterwards I realized this was because I didn't have any leg muscles, and my walking had forced me to start building them up again. I also find walking relaxing and meditative. I'm a thinker, and love to spend my time pondering different ideas or concepts, and figuring out how I could use those ideas in the real world. Walking allows me to do this without any real distractions. I get to have my body moving which helps to disperse built up energy, and I don’t have to worry about the things related to driving.
There are numerous people in history who have spoken about walking and all the benefits it provides. Henry David Thoreau would make himself some breakfast, then choose a direction and walk for hours. He would explore the wilderness around his cabin. Thomas Jefferson said that the morning is for learning different ideas, and the afternoons are for long walks. He felt that it was a good habit of able bodied men, and that with time, you could greatly increase the length of your walks. These walks seemed to help clarify the thoughts of these great thinkers, and enable them to better put those thoughts into words.
The next benefit of walking is the muscles and posture that it helps to develop. The habit of sitting all day has been disastrous to our health. For me personally, it had caused a utter lack of back muscles. So when I overexerted my back, I pulled a bunch of weak muscles in my back, causing long term damage. I believe walking, and standing, help to build all the muscles in your body because you don’t have anything to support yourself or lean on. I think other things should be done to build muscles as well, but walking certainly doesn't hurt.
I love how simple walking is for me. I no longer own a car, and it has been quite a while since I owned a bicycle. I find it such a relief not to have to worry about looking after these items. I no longer have to pay for insurance, gas, repair bills, parking passes, or have the general responsibility of car ownership. Even not having a bicycle is nice. I don’t have to worry about people stealing my bike, or figuring out how to fix it when it gets broken, or getting run over when I'm biking on the road. It is extremely liberating to just walk, not having a care in the world.