Zen and Happiness

There is no need to start happiness after 20 years. You can be happy right now, even when you are not a Partner or don’t drive a Porsche. Things change to easily. You can get sick. You can get fired. You can burn out (if you follow all these items I guess likeliness is low).

Until these bad things happen, just work as well as you can and have fun with doing it. No reason to look at the gains of the colleagues. No reason to think about the cool new position which you didn’t get.

After all, you will reach something. You’ll end up with nice memories, maybe a good position – and 20 excellent years. Every day is a good day.

Zen Monks are not to shy with their work too. They get up at 4am (sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depends on the convent) and start meditation and work (they even consider work meditation practice). They have stuff to do like cleaning the toilets. Or working in the garden. Or as a Tenzo, they cook. They do it with all the care they can get. What ever they do, they do it without suffering and they are (or should be) happy, because every second, even the second where they are cleaning toilets, is a second of their life.

Even pyramids get lost, after a long time. Do you know the names of the people who build up a pyramid? And if you do, is it important that you know? It’s not. Pyramids are there, or not. Nothing special.

From the The 10 rules of a Zen programmer. A post I’ve read many times as there are so many gems within it.

First things first

I have a small check list of things I aim to do every day. This includes things like meditate, write, vlog, foam roll/stretch etc. The problem is I put off the majority of them until late at night and on most occasions end up skipping them in favour of going to bed. While I get to say I got some of the things done, I’m still treating them as an after thought to the rest of my day. Really what I should be doing is putting first things first and getting these things done before I do anything else. Why am I putting things like browsing the news, Reddit and YouTube first? I tell myself “Well I’m just getting started, I need to ease myself into it”, but really that is just an excuse to put things off. So from now on I’m going to start putting first things first.

Move fast and break things

I was thinking about the “Move fast and break things” approach to projects this morning. A few projects I’m currently working have been moving at a snails pace and the longer projects go on and the bigger they get before being launched fills me a certain kind of dread. I feel really comfortable launching with a few half baked features rather than everything in one big bang. When there are so many moving parts in a launch, no matter how much you test, real users are going to find problems, and trying to keep on top of them can drive you insane. It’s the difference between trying to steer a small sail boat vs a cruise liner. If you start small you can probably respond quickly to change and get to where you want to go than if you launch big and try and change course later on.

Now I don’t condone breaking things, but I do agree with the idea of moving fast and staying agile. So just “Move fast”, that’s all you have to do. Accept that things will break and things will need improving.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton

Battling Procrastination

It makes no sense to leave the Dark Woods in favor of the Dark Playground—they’re both dark. They both suck to be in, but the big difference is the Dark Woods leads to happiness and the Dark Playground leads only to more misery. But the Instant Gratification Monkey isn’t logical and to him, the Dark Playground seems like much more fun.

An absolutely brilliant two part series on procrastination. My most hated enemy.

Part 1: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate
Part 2: How to Beat Procrastination

When to speak up

“Rooting for your team to fail is as bad as it sounds. Even if you said early and often that this path was a stupid one, that this destination makes no sense–if you’re on the plane, if you’re in the meeting, if you decided to play the game–then once the journey starts, your job is to get us there, safe and sound.”

I’m 100% guilty of this. I will bitch and moan like there’s no tomorrow and often when it’s too late to actually do anything. It’s better to make the most of a bad situation rather than doom everything to failure. It’s not helpful and doesn’t do anyone any favours.

Building a cathedral

Three stone masons in the middle ages were hard at work when a visitor came along and asked them what they were doing.
The first stone mason was hard at work, sweat beading his brow. “I am cutting this stone”, he grumbled.

The second stone mason, though less distraught, responded with a deep sigh, “I’m building a parapet”.

The third stone mason, replied with a radiant face, “I am building a cathedral that will glorify God for centuries to come”.

It’s never as bad as it seems

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. There are only a handful of situations which are truly terrible. While I sit here and dred not making a shit tonne of money, there are people who have to worry about how they are going to shelter and feed their family, there are people facing certain death for their beliefs and views, there are people with absolutely nothing, with no hope and no prospect of ever changing that.

We should be eternally grateful for the things that we do have, because there is always someone else worse off. So when times seem hard and the road ahead difficult, remember those people worse off than us and let it spur us on to do the best that we can given the opportunities laid before us.

Going through the motions

Going through the motions is easy. It’s easy to go to the gym and move about a bit. It’s easy to turn up for work and put in the minimum neccessary. It’s easy to be busy and not really achieve anything. Day in, day out we go through the motions of life, blinded by the illusion of progress. But just because the wheels are turning it doesn’t mean we’re actually going anywhere. To get big and strong in the gym takes serious dedication constant pushing ourselves to the limit. To be successful at work takes going above and beyond what’s expected of us and delivering excellent work. Progress is the key. Are you better than you were yesterday? Yes? Good. No? Try harder tomorrow. Be aware of your current state and actions and be sure they are moving you forward.

Regret Minimization Framework

I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, “Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.” I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried.

Never regret not succeeding, only ever regret not trying.