Jesse Jacobs of realritual.com brought together two of my favourite bloggers, Leo Babuta of Zen Habits and Tim Ferriss along with Zen practioner Susan O'Connell to discuss 'Zen, Tea and the Art of Life Management'.
This is the video of the event. It's well worth a watch from end to end, but it's very long so I've summarised my own top 3 takeouts in case you don't have time to watch it all.
Here are my top 3...
1) Have a long (2 hours or more) dinner each week with 3 or more friends
According to Tim this is the magic formula for happiness. I tried this for the first time with a group of people I met at The Tuttle Club in London, and yes, it was an amazing experience and one I shall be repeating as often as possible. Like Tim I found my mind wanting to go do something else after the first hour or so, but actually putting that thought aside and carrying on a long relaxed conversation can take you to all sorts of interesting, exciting and even emotional places. If you have the space invite friends to your place and try out a new recipe (any suggestions?), if not then why not try a new place that you've never been to before (any suggestions?).
2) Have at least 3 projects on the go
It's very easy to throw yourself fully into one project. For me it used to be my job. But what if you have a bad day at the office? If you attach your happiness to just one thing, such as your job, then a bad day at the office means you will feel bad. But if you have at least another two projects on the go, like writing a new blog post or running 30 minutes each night then you can always achieve something each day and you're more likely to feel like you're making positive progress. Here are my current projects and goals and I usually try to keep momentum behind 3-5 of them each day.
3) Create 'thinking' time
Schedule time in your diary for 'thinking'. 90 minutes seems to work well. This time should involve making sure you can't be distracted. So switch off phone, email, social networks etc and make sure no one can interrupt you with 'walk-ups'. A good technique is to find somewhere solitary and just take a pad and pen. Don't have any agenda or goal in mind. Start by sketching something nearby or just doodling. This might go on for all the session but don't worry, you need to disengage or distract your mind a little. If things start to come into your mind then write them down. If they start to form into fully formed notes, plans, actions etc.. just go with it and write them down. I was amazed by how productive this approach is. I guess it's a way for all the thoughts that the subconscious mind is processing to come out through your conscious mind. Tip: I usually photograph whatever is on the pad at the end of the 90 mins and upload to Evernote.com (this is a doddle if you have an iPhone), then I don't need to store the notepads once they are done :)
There are hundreds more useful pieces of advice contained in the video. These are the ones that chimed with me, but I'm sure you'll find other subjects that will resonate with you. If you do find something useful then please drop a comment and share why you liked it.