Mental Technique Concept Cards
Life lessons, named and explained in 30-60 words
The idea: Print these on credit-card sized business cards (3 3⁄8 × 2 1⁄8 inches), to carry with you and be reminded so that the lessons stick, and to pass on to those who may benefit.
- Front side: The name of the lesson, and an illustration or graphic that evokes some emotion related to the concept
- Back side: The explanation, designed to match the front side
The lessons roughly fall into these categories:
- Mental tools - Methods of shifting perspective, to become aware of alternatives
- Habits - Best practices to live a more fulfilling life
- Techniques - Approaches to projects or situations to achieve effective results
- Reminders - Truths worth repeating
First print Google Doc with 14 potential lessons (this may now be out-of-date)
What powerful realizations have you made over the course of your lifetime?
Point < Slope < Acceleration
A single data point may say something, or might be irrelevant or worse, a red herring. Two data points form a sloped line that may indicate direction. Three or more data points begin to form a story. Acceleration is the most informative measure of data easily understood by most people.
Break out of circular thought
If you find yourself thinking the same series of thought patterns multiple times in a row, the cycle needs to break. Change your environment. Dedicate some time to uncover related information. Consult with someone else. Recognizing the cycle requires practice.
Chances are 50/50
When considering between two perspectives, realize that you are not an expert (otherwise the choice would be obvious). The deeper you research either side, the more you will uncover that contradicts the other. At some point you may want to declare that "chances are 50/50" and accept fate arbitrarily in order to move on.
Binary or not binary?
A complicated situation may benefit from applying constraints to it: Is there one factor that matters the most, to turn this into a binary decision making process? Often the reverse is true: Is the existence of two options restricting possibility? There may be a valid third option, or a spectrum, or an entirely new plane to consider.
What if it were simple?
When navigating a complicated situation, ask: What if this were simple? What would simplicity look like? Often your initial thoughts are worth diving into more deeply.
Consume the best
When suggestions come your way for books, music, movies, TV, etc, rank them based on your perceived excitement. When the time comes to consume, choose from the top. Familiarity with the best content will lead to more better findings.
End on a good note
Spending time with people often involves a peak, or crest, of positive energy. To increase the chances of another positive experience in the future, end the interaction at the right time: Fully over the crest, but with the good vibes still lingering. Let go before you want to.
Flying takes 24 hours
The stress involved with traveling is often caused by the attitude that it is a nuisance. Dedicate a full 24 hours in your mind to any continental flight - for packing, cleaning, buffer times, planning logistics, delays, eating, timezone changes, saying goodbyes, hellos and thank yous. Consume the best, relax, and allow your changing environment to inspire you.
Procrastination = thinking without planning
Procrastination is nothing more than thinking about a task without actually doing it. Plan the task, then let it go until the time comes. When performing the task, face it head on and get into flow.
Focus: One activity at a time
Multitasking is a myth. Learn to focus all your energy on one thing, and you will be amazed at how effective you can be. To relax and recharge, take time to focus on nothing.
Routine: Wind up, wind down
Morning and evening routines have been cited as one of the most important factors of success. Bookend your day by powering up and down. They are fundamental to your well being and deserve higher priority than your days' tasks. Practice and iterate on them to reach your full potential.
Touch it once
Small unwelcome tasks often consume more energy than they deserve. Process tasks in a way that you only have to think about them once. For example, when focusing on clearing your inbox, process items in a linear fashion without skipping around.
Eat not to dullness
Common first world eating habits consist of over-consuming until the mind becomes worthless. Regaining the ability to focus takes hours, sometimes right up until the next meal. Work towards a rhythm of consuming nutritious food your body actually needs. You will feel lighter, younger, fitter and win years of your life back.
Think of people as children
To empathize with others, image them as the beautiful, clueless, innocent children they once were. In the time it has taken for them to grow up, they've only been able to learn a finite amount. They continue to learn. No matter how hardened, everyone still has a childlike sense of wonder deep within them.