When we do something every single day, it can have a big impact on our lives.
This goes for any activity, positive or negative. For example, if we argue with our partner every day—even for just 20 minutes—that’s going to have a huge effect on our relationship. Twenty minutes a day is 7,300 minutes a year.
That counts, man.
On the flip side, if we spend our time reading, meditating, journaling, and exercising on a daily basis—we set the tone for a much more rewarding journey through life.
My point is: anything we choose to do every day becomes part of who we are.
The funny thing about self-help and personal development is that we all kind of know how it works and what to do, and yet relatively few people actually apply it to their lives.
We know that if we engaged in more positive activities every day, it would radically improve our lives and we’d become better people. The problem is that we don’t see in the moment how a daily activity will affect us over time, and many of us just don’t have the discipline to await long-term benefits.
It’s a vicious cycle that we’ve all been caught up in.
Around the end of March, I decided to start meditating again on a regular basis. I don’t know where the decision came from exactly—I’ve played with meditation for years now, but have never had a daily practice that lasted more than a few weeks.
What’s interesting is that I was actually in a really good headspace when I decided to pick it up again. We typically make lifestyle changes when things aren’t working—but I think part of me knew I was ahead of my own curve, beating my past self, and wanting to keep that momentum going.
Months later, that positive trend has only increased and spread into other areas of my life.
Here’s what I would say to people who are struggling to maintain good habits and achieve long-term goals: choose quantity over quality.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. When developing a new daily practice, we shouldn’t worry too much about whether we’re doing everything perfectly. Instead, we can put our energy toward continuing the practice rather than perfecting or improving it.
It’s more important that we do something consistently than do it exquisitely.
We don’t have to read all of Virginia Woolf’s collected works in the span of two weeks and then not pick up a book again for two years. Just 20-40 minutes of reading a day will improve our cognition and get us to think more deeply about our lives.
A lifetime of depth and sharpness is worth a hell of a lot more than a fleeting obsession that we can brag to our friends about at a party, you know?
What I’ve learned from having a consistent meditation practice is that everything in my life is connected and that there are more dimensions to reality than we could possibly imagine. I know that may sound cliché or new-agey, but it’s been a completely practical observation for me.
The more comfortable we are sitting quietly and still with ourselves, the more clearly we see things. We become more connected with reality—the actuality of our daily experience—when we calm the mind and relax into the body.
I’m realizing that the essence of meditation is really about learning to tolerate ourselves.
That’s a pretty f*cking useful skill. I believe that so many of our problems come from avoiding what’s happening on the inside. If we can allow ourselves to bear witness to our own experience and open the door to our subconscious—we will find that most of the things we’ve been running from are actually not real.
Instead, we can think of them as pockets of trauma that get triggered when our ego is challenged. It’s fine. We’re all a little f*cked up, but if we can notice how messed up we are then we can begin to take steps toward healing.
In the great words of Jiddu Krishnamurti: “To see how imprisoned we are is the beginning of freedom. To see how sick we are is the beginning of well-being.”
Meditation has been the most powerful tool I’ve come upon to see where I’m at in life. We can’t get to where we want to go unless we know where we are, right?
We must remember: if we don’t improve our quality of consciousness, things will only get progressively worse.
We have the power to choose our path and change the trajectory of our existence.
We need to ask ourselves every day what we’re doing to feel better about life—and if we can come up with a good answer to that question then I’d like to think the rest will sort itself out.