Tag Archives: mindfulness

The beauty of not rushing

There will be another.

Another train.

Another phone.

Another computer.

Or iPod. Or Game. Or Thing.

But…

There won’t always be another.

Another day like today.

Another time to connect with that person.

Another chance.

Or Opportunity. Or Challenge. Or Moment.

Sometimes it takes not being in a rush to remember the difference.

I hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving.

Advertisements

Let It Be.

“Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.”  

There is power in letting things be.  No matter where you find yourself while reading this, stop.  Take a breath.  (Seriously.  Try it.)

Where you are is where you are. Where I am is where I am.  Physically.  Emotionally.  And it’s all okay.

Simply breathe.  Let it all just be.  Life is this.  Maybe it’s not exactly what you want.  Maybe it’s pretty close.  Let whatever it is be as it is.

Sure, there is also power in questioning what things could be.  If we were to “let it be” all the time, we would always go with the flow and never change.  However, if we question all the time, we would never be present to our world as it currently is.  There are times for both. Whichever one you find harder, make a mindful effort to do that one.  For me, it’s easier to question and harder to be.

But, there is power in being.  There is awareness.  And there may even be resolution to our questions.

“There will be an answer. Let it be.”

Do what you love.

“Do you do what you love?”

Ask most people that, and they will immediately think of work. That’s not what I mean.  Yes, we all do work.  And I’m sure there are things that we all love about work.  And there are things that we all dislike about work.  That’s not the point.  The point is, do you do what you love, at all?

Do you take the time out of your day to cook, if you love cooking?  If you love running, do you make sure you have time to train for your next marathon?  If you love reading or writing, do you create that time for yourself?  If you are lucky and are in a loving relationship, do you ensure that you spend time together where you are in your relationship?

Finding the time can absolutely be a challenge.  But doing what you love can absolutely be exactly what we all need.

No matter how much is going on in life, no matter how tough things get, if we make the time to do what we love, things will fall into place.  And by doing what we love, it will make the time where we are doing what we like less that much better.

What do you love?  Are you doing it?

 

Insight from the Dalai Lama

“If we examine ourselves every day with mindfulness and mental alertness checking our thoughts, motivations and their manifestations in external behavior, a possibility for change and self-improvement can open within us.  Although I myself cannot claim with confidence to have made any remarkable progress over the years, my desire and determination to change and improve is always firm.  From early morning until I go to bed and in all situations in life, I always try to check my motivation and be mindful and present in the moment.  Personally, I find this to be very helpful in my own life.”

The Dalai Lama

The Day I Got Rid of 74% of my “Followings”

As of Monday this week, I vehemently disliked going on my Twitter account.  Three days later, I’ve applied some mindfulness to Twitter, and actually enjoy checking my feed a few times a day.  

In the 1990s, a British anthropologist theorized that there is a limit for the number of people with whom we can have meaningful relationships. That limit is 150 people.  So why the hell was I following around 300 people on Twitter?  

Last month, I wrote “Cutting Through The Noise”, reflecting on my February 2010 Media Blackout.  My basic conclusion was that I needed to be more mindful about communication and consumption:

“That’s what my February Media Blackout revealed to me, that I have just “defaulted” to various ways of consuming without thinking about the why.”

This week, I began thinking about my journey on Twitter.  I joined right at the crest of its popularity, in May 2009, and was initially gung-ho.  I followed anyone I found remotely interesting.  Then, in the past ten months, I’ve definitely become ambivalent to Twitter.  I took a complete hiatus for three months, not posting at all from the beginning of my blackout in February to setting up autopost for my blog in May.  With a few exceptions, I haven’t tweeted much at all aside from this autoposting.  

So here we are in December, and I started to thinking about “the why” for Twitter.  Why not just delete my Twitter?  Why not remove it from my life?  I like the connections and communications that Twitter brings.  That’s why anyone is on it.  So why did I start to dislike it?  

I disliked it because I was following too many people.  The 300 people I was following as of Monday included people/accounts I didn’t know or care about, people who’s tweets didn’t add anything into my life, and people whom I felt obligated to follow.  On Tuesday, I took a knife to who I was following.  And if I’m not following you anymore, it’s okay!  I’m still accessible (just @ me).  

To do this, I applied a simple question of value:  Did seeing this person’s tweets in my timeline add any value to my life?  It was a hard question to ask sometimes, but if I wanted to honestly and mindfully use Twitter, I needed to ask it.  Interestingly, Twitter itself recommends this kind of mindfulness: 

“If you follow too many people, there’s no way you can keep up with everyone’s updates in your timeline. If you need to communicate with someone but don’t need to see their updates everyday, you don’t have to follow them. Send them an @reply when you need to; it doesn’t require following and your update will appear in the person’s replies tab, so they can reply back.”

I now follow 77 people, and each adds some sort of value.  I’m sure this number will increase, and I’ll assess as I go.  Regardless, I’d highly recommend this for anyone on the fence about Twitter.  How many followers do you have?

 

 

iPads for $0.27? How to use Internet Penny Auctions mindfully

This post is about losing money, buying pointless things and how you can learn from my mistakes.  Read on to learn about how penny auctions work, my experience, and how to mindfully use them.  

Yes, a new internet twist on an old model has emerged.  We now have penny auctions.  Things like iPads sell for $0.27 – and this is not a scam.  In fact, it’s a (sadly) brilliant business model, given our consumer-crazed economy.  I’d like to share an experiment I conducted back in August regarding how to use penny auctions to buy “things” on the cheap.  

There are multiple sites that do this, but my experience was with Quibids.  A warning: Internet penny auctions are addicting and, as you’ll read about, I do not recommend using them spontaneously.  


The Model

Here’s how it works.  First, you have to buy bids before bidding (they cost $0.60 ea).  Second you go look at their auctions.  

Nearly everything on the site starts for a penny.  Anyone can bid.  Each time someone bids, the price of the item goes up by one cent.  The most recent bidder becomes the “Current Winner”.  And here’s the twist: every time a bid is cast, the clock resets to at least ten seconds — giving dozens of more people the ability to bid.  The auction only ends when the timer runs out because no one else bids.  When the auction ends, the winner pays the ridiculously low final price of the item plus shipping.  

Let’s take an actual example: An HP All-in-One Printer recently sold for $14.38.  Compuxparts was the winning bidder.  You can see in the bidding history on the right of the page that other people were in competition for it, but didn’t get it.  Compuxparts paid $14.38 and got $260 printer.  The other people got nothing.  

However, the losing bidders can “Buy it Now”, which credits the amount they bid to the retail price of the auction.  If you had bid 100 times, I would get to deduct $60 (60 cent bids multiplied by 100 bids) from the price.  Better than nothing.

So how does Quibids make money?  It’s rather ingenious.  As a penny auction, that means that 1,438 bids were placed for the item.  Each person paid $0.60 to bid.  Which meant that Quibids got $862.80 from those bids, plus the $14.38 from the winner.  Quibids made a 330% profit off that auction – and they probably didn’t pay full price for the printer in the first place!  

Let’s take a look at my experience ….

 

Me and Quibids (or How I Spent $82 Unnecessarily)

Again, I admit, it’s addicting.  It’s a very flashy website and in a way, it’s like gambling.  It’s oddly exciting to see your username as “Current Winner”.  I ended up winning the tiniest trashcan you’ve ever seen (a seven inch simplehuman trashcan), and losing auctions on a football and a basketball, both of which I bought with the “Buy It Now” feature.  

So is it worth it?  In a word: no.  Not unless you use the mindful way of shopping.  If you go to this site right now and decide to participate you’re going to end up spending money on and buying things you don’t need and probably never would have wanted if you didn’t click the link. My mistake was curiosity and spontaneity. 

If you’re interested in the numbers (rounded for simplicity): I spent $47.00 on bids; $8 on the trashcan I won; $27 on the football and basketball.  In other words, I spent $47.00 to get the chance to spent $35 on three items I never would have bought otherwise.  Though I do enjoy having a football and basketball around.

Worse, the cost of these three items through Google Shopping would have cost me just under $60, significantly less than the $82 I spent on Quibids.  In other words, don’t do this spontaneously — you’ll buy things you don’t need at a higher price than you would have if you just decided to outright buy them.  Of course, I will admit that it was fun to do Quibids, but there are plenty of things that are more fun, which are cheaper or a better use of money.

Given all of this, how can there be a way to use Internet penny auctions like Quibids mindfully?  

 

Mindfulness and Internet Penny Auctions

Again, I am not recommending that you use a site like Quibids spontaneously.  The only way I would recommend that anyone use Internet penny auctions would be to make a purchase that you’ve already decided to make. Here’s the strategy:

1)  If you have decided that you are going to make a purchase, see if it’s on Quibids.  You are only going to bid on this item.  And before you buy it, really consider if you need it.  How is it going to add any value to your life?  Are you going to want to get rid of it anytime soon?  If you truly are already mindfully buying something, have at it….

2)  Check the “Value Price” listed on Quibids — often it’s inflated from the retail price.  The iPad linked to at the beginning of this post retails for $499, but its “Value Price” on Quibids is $624.  You should probably walk away from this one.)

3)  Figure out if you’re willing to spend the inflated price if you lose the auction.  You have to be okay with spending that much money for the device.  If you are okay and consider it a reasonable markup for the chance to get it cheaply, continue.  If you’re not, walk away!  Buy it on Amazon!

4)  Know when to fold ’em.  Calculate the maximum number of bids you should cast.  The formula to do this is: The Price The Item Costs ÷ The Price Per Bid = The Maximum Number of Bids You Should Place.  As an example: my basketball’s full price was $19.  The price per bid is $0.60.  19 ÷ .6 = 31.6.  For that auction, I knew that I shouldn’t bid more than 31 times.  

This is important!  After 31 bids, I should throw in the towel and just use the Buy It Now option, no matter what the price is.  If I had bid 31 times and the price was $1.50 for the basketball, I should stop.  I should wait until the auction ends, and take the discount (of $18.60) and buy it normally.  If I kept bidding, I’m actually making that basketball more expensive than it really is — because I’m spending money bidding, plus the ostensibly “lower” price I’d spend at the end.

5)  Pick your time.  Once you know the number of bids you can cast, go on Quibids at an optimal time.  (I found that around 8AM ET was ideal, as it’s somewhat inconvenient for the rest of the world.  Most of North and South America are not yet awake, many other people on ET are commuting, it’s just after lunch in Europe/Africa, and it’s nearing bedtime in Asia/Australia.)    

6)  Patience is a virtue.  When you cast your bids, wait until the timer is all the way to 0:01 before pressing “Bid”.  You want to remove as many chances as possible that someone else would have bid right after you.  In other words, you have wasted a bid if you bid at 0:05 and someone else was waiting to bid at 0:01 anyway.  The most successful bidders wait until the last possible second to click “Bid”.  It’s a war of attrition — but you know your limits.  

7)  Stay committed.  Bid all the way to your maximum — don’t give up.  You don’t have to bid all at once either.  You can use Bid-o-matic to automatically place bids after a certain price threshold is crossed.  Watch Quibids items for a few days and see how bidding works.  It’s not sexy, but you learn a lot by doing research.    

8)  If you don’t win, remember to walk away after you hit your maximum.  If you do win, congratulations.  And of course, while I like figuring things such as Quibids out, I still think a better gift for your Festivus is Kiva.  

 

Happy Time of Things!

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping craze has begun. From Black Friday and today, Cyber Monday, through Christmas Eve, it seems to be a cacophony of “buy! buy! buy!”, and “more! more! more!”.

I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to have a lot of great things in my life.  But in having many things, I realized something — things are a small part of Life.  Living in a nice house or having the latest iToy isn’t going to make me happier.  Owning a car isn’t going to do anything to my mental well-being.  It’s the value that these things add to my life that make them worth having.  But my life isn’t going to be inherently more fulfilled by having them.  

To that point, I recently sold my Wii on Craigslist.  It ended up being bought by a family of three and I even got to meet the little boy who would be enjoying it.  While I was a little skeptical, I haven’t missed it at all. The handful of times I used to play it, I was with friends.  And believe it or not, cards or simply hanging out is just as fun. 

It seems that the job of our economy is to make us want more.  I think the true challenge is discovering what is enough. Maybe having a Wii is part of “enough” for you, and I completely respect that — especially if you’ve thought about it and come to that conclusion. 

This weekend, I thought about my things, and I took on one of the Bastion of Things in my life — DVDs.  I used to pride myself on how many DVDs I had, and would prominently display them in my room.  Yet, yesterday, I rounded up about twenty of my thirty-odd DVDs and took them to Newbury Comics to sell.  (I may eventually part with the DVDs that I didn’t sell.  Baby steps.)  What I realized was that having these DVDs didn’t add anything to my life.  They weren’t part of “enough”; they were excess.  


Having these DVDs actually detracted from my life. They were another distraction that was easily available. I think there’s power in eliminating distraction. When I cut out media in February, I was able to really hear what I wanted to do. How I wanted to be. This is similar, but with “stuff”. Do you find that you have “stuff” in your life?

This is an easy first step. A few of the DVDs I sold, I also had on my computer.  The rest I can rent – most of them instantly on iTunes or Amazon. 

Maybe by parting with them, I’ll be able to have a clearer sense of what could go next.