Here’s something to keep in mind as we clamor for the latest technological toy: we don’t need it!

Life Out of the Box

It’s hard to understand how a little notebook can mean so much to someone, when there are amazing products like the iPhone and computers that can do anything and everything we could ever ask for. But the reality is that not everyone can have these things. Some people, in fact, don’t even know what an iPad is. I remember when I showed a little girl here in Nicaragua some photos on my iPhone one time and she was blown away by the fact that when I swiped my finger across the screen on the phone, that the photo would change to a different photo. She called it magic. And I suppose, it really is magical. But where did this idea come from? Imagination. Creativity.

Life Out of the Box at The Peace Project in Nicaragua

When you live in a place where the average person lives on just $2 dollars a day, computers, TVs and iPhones aren’t even close to being…

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Mind Wasters

Wasting time = wasting mind. Do any of these apply to you?

  • Busy work: the stuff that fills our hours but does nothing to fulfill our existence. Mindless TV, surfing the internet, reading vacuous novels. These are passive activities that occupy our time with mindless entertainment. These things are fine in moderation.
  • Letting others’ wants and needs dictate the path you take. This is ok as long as you are aware of it. If their goals coincide with yours, or at least come close to your goals, then go for it. But if you are just along for the ride because there’s nothing better, spend some time doing a little soul-searching.
  • Not having goals. Set your sites on a goal that you can achieve in a year or so. And then do it. Define your life’s mission, and setting goals will be easy.
  • Not having a life mission. This is the biggest mind waster. If you have a mission, then the previous problems will be nonexistent for you.

Think about where you invest your energy and effort. Is it aligned with your core beliefs and mission? Are you working toward what you want to accomplish? Are you taking the direction you want in your life?

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)

Time is your treasure. Where is your heart? Do you need to change it?

Large Small

Daydreaming and meditation are two sides of the same coin: they both encourage the mind to disconnect from your surroundings.  During a daydream, your mind is free to wander as it wants. It’s encouraged to engage in this behavior. Meditation, on the other hand, is about turning inward. They both have an important role to play in promoting creativity

There are plenty of studies showing the link between daydreaming and creativity. Letting your mind wander willy nilly and getting lost in your thoughts leads to some interesting ideas. I perfected my daydreaming techniques in grade school and have been practicing ever since. Daydreaming is a big picture activity, and the sky’s the limit in where your mind goes.

My personal experience with meditation is not the same. Most of my knowledge comes from what I’ve read, so this is speculation. Meditation is an inward activity. Focus on your breath, a phrase, or an action such as walking. The goal is to concentrate on your focus. If your mind wanders, acknowledge that thought, let it go, and refocus.

So, daydreaming is focused on the large, while meditation is focused on the small. The one thing that both activities have in common may not be immediately obvious. They both require time.

Carve out time from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Leave the real world behind while you just be. This is even more important these days when our artificial connections are so ubiquitous. Turn off the electronics and turn inward. Give yourself permission to focus on the miniscule, and then let your mind wander. Learn to enjoy the quiet. Learn to embrace the focus.

Do you give yourself time to meditate or daydream? Commit to daydreaming and meditating for the next few weeks. See what happens, and let me know.

New Direction

How do you make an ant trap more appealing? Add a sign. “Free Buffet”

You may have noticed that I’ve taken some time off from this blog. I’ve decided to take it in a new direction, an exploration of creativity. We are all creative, but so many of us have learned to hide it. Ridicule, ignorance, a lack of respect, and a lack of stimulus form the barriers that we hide from. Together we will break down those barriers to discover what it takes to be creative and how we can incorporate it into our lives.

From the big ideas of the most outrageously creative minds today to my neighbors down the street, I will be sharing their ideas with you and what it means to be creative. Ordinary people are achieving extraordinary creativity. Extraordinarily creative people are pushing the limits. How can we harness this energy to make our lives and world better? We will explore this too.

I took a survey in my house the other day. I asked, “What does creativity mean?” Here are the answers:

“Using your mind to solve a problem in an unconventional way.”

“Making connections where there were none before.”

“Different from the usual things that you experience.”

“Helping your mind expand to have newer and better ideas than before.”

What is your definition of creativity?

The Jesuits and Me

  • Reflect on my actions
  • Reassess my goals
  • Learn from my mistakes
  • Adjust my course

I have these reminders on a sticky note on my computer so I can see them throughout the day. Especially at the times when I get thrown off track. It might be a little slight distraction, or it could be a new opportunity that has come up. These gentle reminders help bring me back to the things I want to accomplish. Or not. They remind me to make a conscious choice: do I stop and go back to following my plan, or readjust myself and follow a new path?

These reminders are not from the latest self-help guru, but from the 450 plus year old order of the Jesuits. That’s right, a Catholic religious order. When Ignatius Loyola founded the order, he created the most innovative brand of the time. These monks were encouraged, and trained, to look for any opportunity to accomplish their mission: “The aim and end of this Society is, by traveling through the various regions of the world at the order of the [pope] or of the superior of the order itself, to preach, hear confessions, and use all the other means it can…to help souls.”

At a time when other orders were cloistered away, Loyola sent his monks out to the world. Others had a rigid prayer schedule, Loyola knew this would hamper their mission. His monks squeezed prayer time in when they could, or prayed on the run, so they could continue their important work. Other orders tried to win converts by forcing them to adopt their ways. Loyola’s team assimilated into whatever culture they happened to find themselves in. Instead of squelching other cultures, the Jesuits learned from them, and shared their knowledge.

Loyola believed that everyone is a leader. The Jesuits were required to go through rigorous training and education.  Each monk spent time going through Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. By the time they were done, they had a good foundation of self-awareness, ingenuity, heroism, and love. And they were empowered to make decisions on the fly. This was a huge difference from other orders, which had strict hierarchical structure. Each monk was a leader.

This, understandably, caused some problems for the Jesuit community. There were some power struggles. But, in spite of that, it led them to some astonishing accomplishments. They set up some of the best schools in the world. They translated texts from other cultures so that they could be shared and studied. They explored new areas, and added greatly to the knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, foreign languages, and “pagan” religious beliefs. The list goes on and on.

Information for this article is from Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney.

For Spring

Blue-Butterfly Day

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,

And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry

There is more unmixed color on the wing

Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

 

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:

And now from having ridden out desire

They lie closed over in the wind and cling

Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

— Robert Frost

List This

Last spring, I kept track of all the road kill I came across. It seemed important that someone think about those poor little animals and their horrible deaths. This is what I saw:

Monday: 1 squirrel, 1 rabbit, 1 raccoon, large.

Tuesday: 1 cat, 1 raccoon, not so large.

Wednesday: 1 raccoon

Thursday: 2 cats, 2 possums, 1 raccoon, 2 unrecognizable things

Friday: 1 raccoon

Saturday: 1 possum

Sunday: 1 raccoon

Monday: 2 cardinals, 1 raccoon, 1 possum, 2 unrecognizable furry things

Tuesday: 1 robin, 1 raccoon, 1 unrecognizable furry thing

Do you keep any lists?