You may already know that I’m a fan of Zen Habits, a blog about slowly making your life more peaceful, one new habit at a time.
Not long ago, Zen Habits’ writer, Leo Babauta, published an eBook on his site called, The Little Book of Contentment. It’s a fantastic guide to finding the reasons for discontent in your life – and we all have them; those closest to me can attest that I’m a restless soul at the best of times and downright panicky at the worst – and taking small but steady steps to replacing your unease with peace, discontent with contentment. Not to mention inaction with action.
Below, you’ll find a recording I made of the first few chapters of The Little Book of Contentment. I intend to release another recording each week until I’ve completed the book.
Like the original text form, this is best digested when you have the chance to sit and listen without distractions. This may seem odd, given that conventional wisdom holds that audiobook listeners are often out and about – but I’m sure there are folks out there who prefer to absorb through their ears instead of their eyes.
And if you know someone who is print-handicapped and wants more peace in his or her life, why not download this for them?
NOTE: Unlike the rest of this web log, the above file is uncopyrighted. Please feel free to do as you will with the file and its content.
There are reasons, of course. Over the last six months there have been a heap of changes at work and I’ve been stressing out a lot more, feeling as though disaster is imminent – job-losing, loan-busting, house-losing, can’t-afford-to-play-for-Vickie’s-upcoming-cataract-surgery grade disaster.
Thankfully, I’ve turned the things I can turn around at my end around, and other things have improved as well. Still, the blows to my self-confidence meant I let my interview schedule for The Paid To Play Podcast go, and I’m still catching up.
While I’m in a better place as of this post, I keep finding myself thinking: Shouldn’t I be further along in my quest to get Paid to Play by now?
Even if you’ve never been in the military (I haven’t) you’vee probably seen a war movie or two. You know the bit when the new recruit turns up for his first fay of basic training and some big goon of a drill sergeant comes charging down the line of recurits, telling them: Shoulders back! Chest out! Gut in! Stand straight!
Yeah, that bit. You know it, right?
Well, I always thought that it was just for the sake of getting everyone in a uniform pose, the start of breaking them down and remaking them into soldiers.
Turns out, though, that drill instructor, whether he knew it or not, was actually trying to get those recruits to do something properly that they may never have done right before, something so basic that they likely never even noticed or thought about it.
It’s easy to talk about the causes of upset nowadays. But for me, the hardest problem in fixing upset is realising that I’m upset in the first place. It’s amazing sometimes how unaware we are of the moods we’re in, simply because we’re too busy feeling to understand just what we’re feeling.
You know what it’s like, right? Of course you’re stressed. You work in a stressful environment! There are all these things that stress you out, and if they’d just go away you wouldn’t be stressed!
Except, when they do go away, you’re still stressed.
I’ve read for a while that all this stuff really comes form within, that these emotional states are really generated by us, that we feed them fuel long after the original spark went away. But that never really helped me figure out how to get out of the mood when I was in it, because most of the time I didn’t realise what I was doing.
Episode 10 of the Paid to Play Podcast goes live tomorrow. My fledgling podcast will have hit double-digit episodes. That, friends, is pretty freaking awesome!
What’s even more awesome is the thought that I could well keep on going until I hit one hundred episodes. Why not, after all? I’m enjoying my interviews, making new friends of both guests and listeners, learning about audio hardware and editing – who wouldn’t want to keep going?
This relies, though, on my getting at ninety more people on the show. Well, eighty-nine – I already have one more interview recorded.
Who could those eighty-nine people be?
Okay, eighty-nine’s a big number. Let’s just stick with ten for now.
I won’t try and hold myself up as some kind of paragon of virtue when it comes to pirating material. I’ve occasionally indulged in using a download site to get my hands on things that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to get.
Still, every now and again someone comes up to me and asks whether I’d like to get my hands on a cracked copy of Game X, or the whole first season of Game of Thrones, which neither my wife nor I have seen as we don’t purchase pay TV.
And I (mostly) say no.
The first reason is, despite my occasional lack of will, I stay clear of piracy in general. Now, I take the point of “try before you by,” but I also believe in “you pays your money, you takes your choice.” Sometimes you just have to take a risk with your hard-earned cash, and that, I think, is part of the point – you may be rewarding bad work with your money, but at least you’re still encouraging people to put the work in in the first place.
I spent a bit of time on Twitter last night with an old colleague who’s moved out of town. Things haven’t gone great form her perspective; her work situation is less than ideal (particularly the ferocious daily commute) and she’s starting to wonder what the hell she really wants to do with her life. She’s not even sure whether there’s been anything she really wants to do that she’s done before; she can’t remember anything previous that particularly inspired her.
I made a few suggestions, linked to a couple of articles that helped me. This morning, though, I found myself asking:
Just how do I think that my advice to her could be particularly helpful?
I’ve been looking for some sort of direction, a unifying theme, a purpose for this web log for a while now.
First attempt: October last year. I wrote the DIY Writer’s Manifesto and changed the site’s name to match. Looking back now, I was very cussed when I wrote that post and pt it up. I wasn’t interested or eager, I was frustrated and pissed off.
I was stressing.
Second attempt: March this year. I didn’t make as much of a big deal when I changed the name of the blog to Step One: Make Fun!, but I did write a big spiel on the About page. It was all positive and new and shiny, though. I was so happy to have a non-grouchy purpose and hyped about the possibilities that I didn’t take a breath and consider whether it was really me that I was putting up.
I’m tired of second guessing whether something I want to share with you folks will fit with the site’s direction, whether it will serve you, become something I can turn into a PDF and offer to people who subscribe to the mailing list.
But I’m also – slowly, but surely – growing out of thinking that life is about being stressed or keen.
I’ve been thinking about making it as a freelance writer, too. And making it as an author. And my day job.
Have you been there too? There’s this thing that you do, and this thing that you want to do, and this other thing that might be better than the thing you’re doing now, but you;’ll have to take time away from doing what you want to make it happen?
Much as we’d like to, we can’t have everything we want. But how do you figure out what you should do next? And / or for the rest of your life?
Turns out Rounders, a 1998 movie about poker and the people who play it, has a fair bit to say on the subject.
WARNING: Spoilers follow. If you’ve not seen Rounders… Well, I suggest you go see it!
Sometimes it seems easy for other people people to talk about changing life (yours, theirs, somebody else’s) for the better.
They don’t see how things go every day for you, don’t know all the little ways life conspires to remind you how much it sucks, how incapable you are, how it’s your lot in life to suffer, how you don’t deserve nice things.
Yet it’s those very people who, if you let them in on how things are going, can help give you a little perspective when you need it.
They may even help you over the problem that seems so daunting.