March 6, 2016

5 Mindfulness Leaders Who Rocked My World in 2015.

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I’m admittedly a learning junkie and only come alive when my curiosity and interest in the world are piqued. I’m fascinated with learning new things and every day discoveries–they have been central to any impending change in my life.

Every year I stumble upon new teachers and fresh material and 2015 has been no exception. And whether it’s through reading their blogs, listening to their podcasts or watching their interviews or talks I’ve become a better man.

These are the 5 people who rocked my world in 2015:

1. Tim Ferriss

“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” ~ Timothy Ferriss

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller 4-hour workweek, blogger, self-experimenter, podcaster and health and body expert. He successfully funds start-ups in Silicon Valley and is a lover of Stoicism and in particular, Seneca.

He deconstructs complicated concepts into clear, understandable ideas, which show that most things are achievable and do-able. His how-to-do steps are geared to help the common man see that nothing is impossible and that anything is possible. If there was anyone who epitomizes the new type of self-help guru—it’s him.

He reached the Tango National Finals in Argentina while practicing for less than a year and took up Tai-chi grappling and won the national championship in Taiwan. He speaks Japanese and Mandarin fluently and in fact; there isn’t much he can’t do when he sets his mind to it.

I love his podcasts, which are long and funny. The variety of guests is simply amazing—from movie stars like Jamie Foxx, to chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin, Body and fitness stars, to Venture capitalists based in Silicon Valley. It has opened a new world for me. Just listening to the interviews I become part of their world and learn different things from all these successful people.

My Biggest Takeaway:

Taking control of my time and my life. I’ve also started experimenting with new interests and habits and find it is the best way to learn about myself.

2. Leo Babauta

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”  ~ Leo Babauta

Simplicity, minimalism and contentment are what you get when you visit his site. I love the whiteness of his blog, the simple concepts he writes about and the succinct words he uses that will immediately send your whole being into peace and calmness.

Here’s a guy who set up his Zen Habits blog in Guam back in 2007 and in 2011 was listed on Time’s 50 best websites. He writes about meditation, presence and contentment in life in such a pragmatic way that you don’t feel obliged to move to Tibet and live a monk’s life.

My Biggest Takeaway:

The power of less; We work harder, become stressed, to earn more, but the extra money that goes on a supposed better way of living (extra cars, bigger homes, premier travel) makes us less happy as we start to complicate our lives. The easiest formula is to work less, spend less and be more at peace now, not when we retire.

3. James Clear

“Becoming the type of person you want to become—someone who lives by a stronger standard, someone who believes in themselves, someone who can be counted on by the people that matter to them—is about the daily process you follow and not the ultimate product you achieve.” ~ James Clear

He shares ideas for using behavior science to improve performance and master habits. His articles have been published in Forbes, Huffington Post and many other sites. The scientific approach and depth of his content always leave you with a clear understanding of a concept, and you simply, can’t forget his teachings.

My Biggest Takeaway:

Learning how to instill habits in my life so that I can focus on my actual practice rather than the actual goal. For example, I set a target to write an hour a day, rather than setting an overwhelming goal of writing a book for the year. And when I maintain my practice, I will achieve the target and the ultimate goal.

4. Maria Popova 

“This is the power of art: The power to transcend our own self-interest, our solipsistic zoom-lens on life, and relate to the world and each other with more integrity, more curiosity, more wholeheartedness.” ~ Maria Popova

Maria Popova is the creator of Brain Pickings, which she describes as “your LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces across art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, you-name-it-ology.”

Her blog is one for the intellectuals and people who like to understand the original concepts and it’s unrivaled in the richness of material. She weaves pieces and themes from old and new books, past and present authors illuminating insights, directly or indirectly, into that grand question of how to live, and how to live well.

I can’t wait for Sunday evenings when I read her new publications–they have liberated my thinking and taken me to worlds I’ve either forgotten or never knew existed.

My Biggest Takeaway:

The Gold is in the old books and the even older authors. Why read a modern book portraying a minute concept from Albert Camus, when she goes straight to his book and offers us his direct words and her explanations all in a great blog piece.

5. Derek Sivers

“If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you.” ~ Derek Sivers

He’s best known for selling his former company CD Baby an online CD store for independent musicians, with over $100M in sales for over 150,000 musician clients. He gave away most of his money and now chooses to live spartanly and spontaneously, moving to a new country every few years, doing whatever he feels like doing.

He truly does live in the present moment and is living proof of how to become non-attached to things, while living in our world and not on an isolated mountain.

I really enjoyed this Derek Sivers interview about his Santa Monica bike ride story:

“I do a 15-mile bike ride in Santa Monica, a few days a week at full-speed, 100%, head-down, red-faced, sprinting speed. I’d finish exhausted and looked at the time. 43 minutes–every time. After a few months, I was getting less enthusiastic about this bike ride. I think had mentally linked it with being completely exhausted.

So one day I decided I would do the same ride, but just chill. Take it easy, nice and slow. OK not super-slow, but dialing it back to about 50% of my usual effort. What a fun ride. I was relaxed, and smiling, and looking around. Not red-faced. I was barely giving it any effort. I saw two dolphins in the water. A pelican flew right over me in Marina del Ray. I had to laugh at the novelty of it. I’m usually so damn driven, always doing everything as intensely as I can. It was so nice to take it easy for once. I felt I could do this forever, without any exhaustion.

When I finished, I looked at the time. 45 minutes. What?!?! How could that be? Yep. I double-checked. 45 minutes, as compared to my usual 43. So apparently all of that exhausting, red-faced, full-on push-push-push I had been doing only gave me a 4% boost. I could just take it easy, and get 96% of the results. And what a difference in experience! To go the same distance, in about the same time, but one leaves me exhausted, and the other way rejuvenated. This was really profound for me, and I think of it often.”

My Biggest Takeaway:

I’m always running for more, for better, for higher, and after listening to above interview, I’ve now calmed down and 2016 has been less stressful and more fun.



Reclaiming My Authenticity.


Author: Mo Issa

Assistant Editor: Tammy Novak / Editor: Renée Picard

Image Credit: Denise Carbonell, Via Flickr.com

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