The Curios Case of Standards

Gong Yoo and his Charms

A hopeless romantic lingers inside me (every cynical millennial). We want to share our loneliness with someone we cherish even if a barrage of disappointing dates, faces and unfulfilling relationships has battered the heart we wear on our sleeves. This isn’t exactly surprising.

We hand-pick our outfits, curate our social media, and mix the soundtrack to our lives. We create an identity, an idealized image into the world. It’s no surprise we’ve transferred this mindset to our romantic relationships. Yes, it’s difficult to date that ridiculously chiseled Goon-Yoo-type when you sit on the couch all day daydreaming (about him). Difficult yes but not impossible if you put in the work.(This is my Blog so I will take the liberty to be ridiculously optimistic because HEY! heart wants what it wants).Period.

I am searching for a special someone whose every look, dimple, freckle, and smile triggers a jolt that reverberates across my chest. I don’t know about you but I am lost and confused. Sometimes, it can be very frustrating. Maybe it’s bad timing or incompatibility or zero chemistry or a bad hair day; some things are beyond your control. But if we drift through life assuming everyone who rejects us is inherently an asshole; we better be a sociopath or Deepika Padukone.

Dating a person, you admire requires you to hold yourself to a high standard, a better version of yourself.

But we tend to get so wrapped up in what we want, we lose sight of how to attain it. If we were honestly assessing ourselves, perhaps we’d take a moment to consider: “If the ‘perfect’ person were really perfect, they could date whoever they wanted. Why would they choose us?” Your definition of “perfect” is entirely subjective. It’s based on your current mental and emotional state, your goals and ambitions, personality and values, past experiences, and an endless entanglement of subconscious issues and fetishes far too nuanced to generalize. But I’ve found that, more often than not, people tend to hold dating prospects to unreasonable standards they don’t hold themselves to.

The cold, cruel truth about love is people want to be with others they deem to be of equal or higher caliber than themselves. It’s a capitalist world and market value have its way of sifting the choosers from the beggars. Newton’s third law of physics states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” so if you’re evaluating people on superficial qualities, the ones you’ve pulled into your orbit are probably measuring you by the same barometer.

 A successful (Love) life begins by working on yourself. People are generally attracted to counterparts who share similar priorities and philosophies. Want to date someone who’s fun and adventurous? Take up some new hobbies. Want to date someone with career ambitions? Pursue a job that fits your passions. Want to date someone who’s smart? Broaden your intellectual interests. At the very least, it’ll make you a more intriguing person with some added layers of depth, and you’ll have something to talk about other than the weather or whatever Mostly Sane posted today.

This isn’t meant as an insult. It’s a plea for reflection. Self-love is a good thing, but self-awareness is more important. The more you improve, the more your prospects improve atleast that’s what I am telling myself.

When you become more certain about your journey, you’re more likely to find someone who wants to hop along for the ride.

For the Love of Languages

The emotional bond is what makes you better at language learning – Danijela Trenkic

I have been obsessing over Korea this Quarantine and that is what is motivating me to learn Korean. Though I have always loved Language Learning and have taken various Languages as I grew up ,I have realized Love is the best reason to learn a New Language. I studied Sanskrit in 10th Standard, took up German in 11th standard,Pali as a Upsc Optional and have been flirting with Japanese and German with my ever changing Crushes. So if love is making me learn new  language,so be it.

I think Learning languages is a big part of success, people who don’t enjoy learning languages are less likely to be successful. You can’t force yourself to do something that involves your emotions, involves a commitment to sort of imitating another language and culture and getting outside of the comfort of your language, one that you’re used to and able to express yourself. You’re forcing yourself out of that and you have to enjoy the process or you won’t do it. So why do I enjoy it?

I enjoy languages because of the discovery. I enjoy languages because I know that it’s an exercise in discovery, but also it leads you to these other things. Friends that I’ll be able to make, I’ll be able to have dinner conversations in Seoul when we visit Korea, so there’s all of this positive anticipation.

There are moments in life when we have a pleasant evening with friends, but that’s all you get is that evening then it’s gone. Now you have the memory maybe. Moments of enjoyment can be fleeting in life, but with language learning it’s sort of like you get a triple punch. You get the enjoyment of the activity, at least it is for me, you get the discovery of the language and then you get all of the things that that’s going to lead to. So it’s an investment in future enjoyment in a way that a wonderful meal and a nice bottle of wine is an investment in the enjoyment of that evening and perhaps the memory of it, but you aren’t necessarily investing in many, many good things to come.

So that’s my view. I do enjoy learning languages. I’m not tired of it. If I get tired of language A I move to language B. Whatever I have put into a language, however little I have achieved in the language, it’s still been a positive experience, a positive discovery and it’s also something that I can go back to. 


Summary: Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven.

 I’ve been putting it off because it’s such a short read, but I chose it for this month because I needed to choose short books. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t finish on time and be behind my monthly reading schedule.

The book is broken down into ten aphoristic lessons that McRaven contends apply to people in all walks of life.

Chapter 1: Start Your Day with a Task Completed

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.Making his bed was a reminder that at the end of the day he had done something well, something to be proud of no matter how small the task

Chapter 2: You Can’t Go It Alone

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.You need people in life to help you through the difficult times.He realized that anything he achieved in life was a result of others helping him along the way.It takes a team of good people to get you to your destination in life.You cannot paddle the boat alone.Find someone to share your life with.Make as many friends as possible.Never forget that your success depends on others.

Chapter 3: Only the Size of Your Heart Matters

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart.Proving that size didn’t matter, that the color of your skin wasn’t important, that money didn’t make you better, that determination and grit were always more important than talent

Chapter 4: Life’s Not Fair. Drive On.

If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness

Chapter 5: Failure Can Make You Stronger

If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses“The circus” was designed to put you through a spiral of failure but make you stronger.In life, you will face a lot of circuses. You will pay for your failures but if you persevere, if you’ll let those failures teach you and strengthen you, then you’ll be prepared to handle life’s toughest moments

Chapter 6: You Must Dare Greatly

If you want to change the world, slide down the obstacle headfirst.Those who live in fear of failure, hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential.Without pushing your limits, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life

Chapter 7: Stand Up to the Bullies

If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.Make shark fin soup instead.

Chapter 8: Rise to the Occasion

If you want to change the world, be your very best in the darkest moments

Chapter 9: Give People Hope

If you want to change the world, start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.He learned of the power of one person to lead and inspire a group, to give them hope

Chapter 10: Never Ever Quit

If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell.If you fill your days with pity, blaming your circumstances on someone or something else, then life will be long and hard.If, on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, stand tall and strong against the odds, then life will be what you make of it

Summarizing the Summary:

  • If you make your bed, that one task completed will eventually lead to many tasks completed by the end of the day
  • Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things matter
  • If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right
  • If you want to change the world, find someone to help you
  • Nothing matters but your will to succeed
  • If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart
  • Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie
  • If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward
  • Over time, the students who constantly made the circus list got stronger and stronger
  • The pain of the circuses built inner strength and physical resilience
  • If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses
  • If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle headfirst
  • If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks
  • If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment
  • One person can change the world by giving hope
  • If you want to change the world, start singing when you are up to your neck in mud
  • If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell
  • If you want to change the world,respect everyone
  • Know that life is not fair
  • You will fail often
  • Take some risks
  • Step up when the times are toughest
  • Facedown the bullies
  • Lift up the downtrodden
  • Never, ever give up

This book is very short, crisp and to the point. The message in the book is for everyone who want to inculcate self discipline.

Summary :The way of the Korean Zen by Kusan Sunim

The Way of Korean Zen comes highly recommended — it is a joy to read and to digest over time. The wisdom of Zen practice is gently set forward throughout the text.

Kusan Sunim (Korean for “monk”) is a consummate teacher, leading the reader, or student, through a series of interesting and helpful topics including: instructions for meditation; discourses from a winter retreat; advice and encouragement; and the ten oxherding pictures.Aside from Kusan Sunim’s many accomplishments as a teacher, he was the first Korean Zen teacher to accept Western students in a Korean monastery. Additionally, he lived simply and strictly as a vegan Zen monk. He had a bright, radiant, challenging, freeing, and magnetic presence.

I think you would be hard pressed to find a better, more authentic introduction to Zen Buddhism-or, as it is called in Korea, Seon Bulgyo (where “seon” is pronounced like English “son”). But perhaps the word “introduction” is not really appropriate. If you know nothing about Zen Buddhism this is probably not the best place to start. If you’ve waded into the ocean of Zen and are looking for a fine “fish” to eat, something tasty and nutritious, something truly representative of these particular “waters” (just me showing my love for Korea ), this book is marvelous.

It is not about Japanese Zen, though, but Korean. The Koreans have been practicing Buddhism longer than the Japanese, plus there is more active, “authentic” Buddhism happening in Korea than in Japan. (I wonder why India further lags behind though.) That said, the Koreans understand the whys and wherefores of koan (or “hwadu”) practice in a way I never got the sense contemporary Japanese do. This book delves in depth regarding koans and contains prime instruction for anyone utilizing this particular meditation subject.

Some words about the source of these teachings. Kusan Sunim was, along with Seong-cheol Sunim (“sunim” means monk in Korean), arguably the greatest living exponent of Zen Buddhism in twentieth century Korea. He started life as a farmer and barber, was even a married man. At the age of 26 a life-threatening disease struck him. He survived by going to a temple and reciting the mantra Om mani padme hum for a hundred days, which practice cured him. Three years later he renounced family life and ordained as a monk and soon after took up meditation, which he did with fanatic resolve. Sometimes circumstances intervened to interrupt his practice, but he repeatedly went back to it with increased determination. During one stint, to fight off drowsiness he practiced continuous standing meditation for days on end, during which time “he lost any sense of the outside world. He was no longer concerned whether he lived or died. He was so absorbed in his meditation that birds would come and sit on his head and shoulders and take pieces of stuffing that protruded from his padded coat for their nests” (45). Eventually he attained Great Awakening, which caused his teacher Hyobong Sunim to say “Until now you have been following me; now it is I who should follow you” (47). This book gives you a chance to follow this great man.

The contents offer a good variety. The introduction (by Stephen Batchelor) chronicle the history of Buddhism in Korea, a much neglected area of study by Western Buddhists. Readers who wish to delve more deeply into this would be advised to check out Mu-Seong Sunim’s Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen Tradition and Teachers. Those with a philosophical bent will appreciate Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul’s Korean Way of Zen. (Chinul, a contemporary of Dogen’s, is the intellectual godfather of Korean Zen, though in the last several decades he has been somewhat overshadowed by Seong-cheol’s “sudden awakening, sudden cultivation” teachings which hearken back to the Sixth Patriarch.) There follows an overview of life in a Korean Zen monastery and a brief bio of Kusan. Those wishing to know more about the former should read The Zen Monastic Experience by Robert E. Buswell.

The second half of the book constitute the teachings proper. They consist of meditation instructions, specifically how to practice the koan (hwadu), as well as discourses from winter retreats delivered by Kusan to monks assembled at Songgwang-Sa, where Kusan was the abbot. (This is also the temple where I lived most of the time that I spent in Korean temples.) There are also less formal talks-“advice and encouragement”-and a series of poems and commentaries on the traditional “Ten Oxherding Pictures.”

The feeling one gets from reading the words of Kusan is This is the real deal. Imagine if one of the ancient Chinese masters-Huang-po or Linchi or even Huineng-were suddenly resurrected in the here and now and started spouting off-this is what you’d expect to hear. Kusan has the same punch, energy, sense of paradox, and intrinsic authority. You can’t help but want to take this man’s advice, to run off to the mountains, live in a cave and risk all for the breakthrough.

But don’t believe me. Listen to him:

“To live long would be to live for a hundred years. A short life is over in the time it takes to inhale and exhale a single breath. A hundred years of life depends upon a single breath, for life stops when respiration ceases. Can you afford to wait for a hundred years when you do not know how soon death will come? You may die after having eaten a good breakfast in the morning; you may die in the afternoon after a good lunch. Some die during sleep. You may die in the midst of going here and there. No one can determine the time of death. Therefore, you must awaken before you die” (78-9).

What will it take to awaken? Kusan tells us:

“The Buddhas and the patriarchs did not realize Buddhahood easily. They realized it through great effort and much hardship. They exerted themselves with such great effort because the sufferings of birth and death are so terrifying. Therefore, even though you want to sleep more, you should sleep less. Even though you want to eat more, you should eat less. Even though you want to talk a lot, you should try to talk less. Even though you want to see many things, you should see less. Your body will definitely feel restrained by acting in such a way. This is indeed a practice of austerity. However, none of the Buddhas and the patriarchs would have awakened had they not trained themselves in this manner” (81-2).

Finally, if you want to help sentient beings, how can you do it? Kusan says

“In order to be able to actually help others, you should seek to emulate the spirit of a great hero. This is necessary because only one who is the greatest hero among heroes is able to accomplish this difficult task [of awakening]. You need supreme courage in order to bring this practice to its completion. To transform this world into a Pure Land and to change ordinary sentient beings into accomplished sages is no easy matter. It is truly the work of a great hero” (118).

This book sets forth Kusan Sunim’s deep emphasis on questioning, the heart of the Korean practice of the Korean Zen Buddhist approach. He was constantly challenging the monks and seekers who came to him with abrupt and forthright questions, such as, “right now, tell me, what is the sky?” The book also details Kusan Sunim’s biography, and how he practiced extremely diligently for many years, and as a result of his sincere and concerted effort attained profound breakthroughs .
I advise all you wanna-be great heroes to get a copy of this illuminating and inspiring book and enter soon the practice of the Way!

The Vegetarian (채식주의자 Chaesikjuuija )

I am a Non -Vegetarian, though I am not quite sure how long I can stay put thanks to Corona Virus and the holistic life I have been practicing because of it. On top of it, I happened to read “The Vegetarian”.

The vegetarian is not a book I would have picked up earlier and it’s strange that it has come to me now when I am open to the title.  In this remarkable novel,South Korean writer Han Kang explores the conflict between our two selves: one greedy, primitive; the other accountable to family and society.

The Vegetarian is set in modern-day Seoul and tells the story of Yeong-hye, a part-time graphic artist and home-maker, whose decision to stop eating meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life. The story is told in three parts:

“The Vegetarian” The first section is narrated by Yeong-hye’s husband Mr. Cheong in the first person.

“Mongolian Mark” The second section is narrated in third person focusing on Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law

and “Flaming Trees” focuses on her sister, In-hye.

“The Vegetarian”

Mr. Cheong, considers his wife to be completely unremarkable. He explains that when he first met her, he was not even attracted to her and that suits him just fine. Mr. Cheong is content meandering through life; it seems as if his only goal is to live a conventional, unremarkable life. He chooses to marry his wife since he thinks she would prove to be a good, dutiful wife who would fit nicely into the kind of lifestyle he seeks. After several years of relatively normal marriage, Mr. Cheong wakes up to find his wife disposing of all meat products in the house. He demands an explanation, and Yeong-hye replies vaguely that “I had a dream.” Mr. Cheong attempts to rationalize his wife’s life decision over the next few months and to deal with vegetarian meals at home, but eventually calls Yeong-hye’s family and an intervention is scheduled. While around the dinner table, Yeong-hye’s family attempts to convince her to eat meat; her father, who served in Vietnam and is known for his stern temperament, slaps her when she refuses. Her father then asks a reluctant Mr. Cheong and Yeong-hye’s brother Yeong-ho to hold her arms while he force-feeds her a piece of pork. Yeong-hye breaks away, spits out the pork, grabs a fruit knife, and slits her wrist. The incredulous family rushes her to a hospital where she recovers and where Mr. Cheong admits to himself that she has become mentally unstable. As the section ends Yeong-hye manages to walk out of the hospital and when she is tracked down, she reveals a bird in her palm, which has a “predator’s bite” in it, and she asks “Have I done something wrong?”

“Mongolian Mark”

The husband of Yeong-hye’s sister In-hye, whose name remains unstated, is a video artist. He imagines a love-making scene between two people, with their bodies decorated by painted flowers and, upon learning that Yeong-hye has a birthmark shaped like a flower petal, he forms a plan to paint and record her in order to bring this artistic image to life. It is revealed that he is attracted to Yeong-hye, especially after checking up on her the narrator reveals that Yeong-hye has been served divorce papers by Mr. Cheong and finding her unabashedly naked in her apartment. Yeong-hye agrees to model for him and he paints flowers across her body in a studio rented from an art professor in the area. He follows up this project with a second piece of art, which involves recruiting a fellow artist to join Yeong-hye in a sexually-explicit film. When the brother-in-law asks if the two will engage in actual intercourse, his friend becomes ashamed and leaves. Yeong-hye, who had become aroused during this sequence, claims it was because of the flowers painted on the man’s body. The brother-in-law asks a friend to paint flowers on him and visits Yeong-hye, where the two engage in a recorded moment of intercourse. When his wife discovers the film, she calls “emergency services”, claiming that both he and Yeong-hye are mentally unwell. He contemplates jumping off of the balcony, most likely to his death, but remains “rooted to the spot” and is escorted out of the building by the authorities.

“Flaming Trees”

In-hye remains the only member of the family to support Yeong-hye after her mental and physical decline. She has separated from her husband after the events of the previous section, and is left to take care of their son in addition to her deteriorating sister. As Yeong-hye’s  behavior worsens, she is admitted to a mental hospital at Mount Chukseong, where, despite receiving high-level treatment for mania, she behaves gradually more plant-like. On one occasion she escapes the hospital and is found standing in a forest “soaked with rain as if she herself were one of the glistening trees”. In-hye, who constantly ruminates about the pain of dealing with her divorce and the care of her child and who throughout the chapter shows signs of her own depression and mental instability, visits Yeong-hye regularly and continues to try to get her to eat. Yeong-hye has given up food altogether, and when In-hye witnesses the doctors force-feeding her and threatening sedation to prevent vomiting, In-hye bites the nurse holding her back and grabs her sister. In-hye and Yeong-hye are driven to a different hospital by ambulance, and In-hye observes trees as they pass by.

The Vegetarian is structured, as a novel, in a slightly unusual way. It is divided in three parts: “The Vegetarian,” told from Mr. Cheong’s point of view; “Mongolian Mark,” from Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law’s, In-hye’s husband; and “Flaming Trees,” from In-hye’s, Yeong-hye’s sister. Yeong-hye is the figure around which all the narratives revolve, but she is almost never the first-person narrator, and we hear her thoughts only in the first section, when we are presented with her dreams, and at the rare times (she is rather the silent type) in which she speaks in the other sections. Throughout the book, Yeong-hye remains a mysterious and ethereal creature which different people, and among them the readers, try and understand in different ways and to different degrees, while being confronted with the existences with other people at very intimate levels as well.

As memorable works do, The Vegetarian touches on what it means to be human, taking a special and almost literal approach to the idea of “humanity” which passes through many themes.

Why Delay Gratification?


Studies show that delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. People who learn how to manage their need to be satisfied in the moment thrive more in their careers, relationships, health, and finances than people who give in to it.

The way I see it, there are two paths we can take in any given situation: one is the path of avoiding pain in the moment, and the other is the more difficult path of delaying pleasure for a bigger purpose. Our cultural norms encourage us to seek Band-Aid solutions and temporary comforts. Basically, whatever it takes to ease our discomfort now. This is apparent in the prevalence of casinos, commercials for psychiatric medications, and get rich quick schemes in our culture.

Some people don’t see the value in having patience during difficult times or working toward a goal; they want to lose the weight now and would rather buy the latest, greatest cell phone than save for retirement. We often make our life choices according to how we can avoid pain in the moment and, in doing so, fail to see that the path of delayed gratification is sometimes where the real solutions to our problems lie.

Pleasure Principle

There’s a term in Freudian psychoanalysis known as the pleasure principle, which is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. According to Freud, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id, the most basic part of ourselves.

Freud compared the pleasure principle to the concept of the reality principle, which explains the ability to delay gratification when a situation doesn’t call for immediate gratification. Whether it’s saving for that future dream house, choosing a healthy lifestyle now to stay healthy as you age, or putting up with a difficult job to help boost your career for the long-term, delayed gratification can yield tremendous returns while helping you develop a tolerance for waiting.

According to Freud, the id rules the behaviour of infants and children by only satisfying the pleasure principle; there is no thinking ahead for the greater purpose. Children seek immediate gratification, aiming to satisfy cravings such as hunger and thirst, and seeking whatever they want in the moment to ease their discomfort.

Pleasure is central to our survival. We need things like food, water, and sex in order to survive and pass our genetic material on to the next generation. However, as we get older and mature, we must learn to tolerate the discomfort of delayed gratification if we have a greater purpose or goal in mind.

Unlike infants and young children, adults are characterized by their ability to delay gratification and tolerate hard work, discipline, and occasional unpleasantness in order to fulfill responsibilities and achieve goals. Mature adults don’t expect others to meet their needs. They understand and accept that they won’t always be gratified.

Regardless of what our developmental stages dictate, most adults have a complicated relationship with pleasure. We spend considerable time and money pursuing pleasure now instead of delaying gratification for a greater reward later. It’s complicated, because certain types of pleasure are accorded special status, such as wearing the latest fashion or driving a limited edition car.

Some of our most important rituals such as praying, listening to music, dancing, and meditating produce a kind of transcendent pleasure that’s become part of our culture. In this way, feeling good in the immediate term isn’t such a bad thing. It’s provided us with an opportunity to survive and experience some relief from our stress.

But what happens when you want to be instantly satisfied in all areas of your life? What happens when you only avoid pain? What results from needing to have the newest and most expensive car, even though you’re in horrible credit card debt?

Living for a purpose becomes impossible at that point, because a life spent avoiding pain doesn’t result in goals getting accomplished. It might be an easier life in the short term, but it won’t necessarily be a better life in the long run. When we live in pursuit of immediate pleasure, needing to have the newest gadget or accessories the moment they’re available, or wanting the perfect job without getting an education or working our way up from the bottom; we become just like toddlers again, completely incapable of delaying gratification. 

Being able to delay satisfaction isn’t the easiest skill to acquire. It involves feeling dissatisfied, which is why it seems impossible for people who haven’t learned to control their impulses. Choosing to have something now might feel good, but making the effort to have discipline and manage your impulses can result in bigger or better rewards in the future.

Over time, delaying gratification will improve your self-control and ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals faster.

My 2 cents on the First 20 Hours

Source :…-Fast-Josh-Kaufman.png

Sorry Josh Kaufman.

I’m a kind book rater, but I’m really disappointed. The first few chapters (2 chapters to be precise) got me all excited because it seemed that I could finally Learn how to Learn.

However it went downhill from there.Most of what the first 20 hours is about can be digested from the first 2 chapters. The additional chapter’s concepts are elementary when it comes to understanding how to use the strategies for rapid learning. Check it out from your local library before buying it if you can; you may get all that you need from doing so.

Once I read the first few pages, I skipped everything. It goes too deep about his personal goals like yoga (I have the working level I need to enjoy benefits of yoga), programming (was never interested), and few more skills that I’m not interested in.

Rather than stretching the book in depth for all the skills not everyone needs, why not briefly explain how we (the readers) can implement or apply in our cases, or maybe give a workbook, or simply how we can use the principles mentioned in the first chapter.

If you haven’t bought this book already, I suggest you to read the above infographic by Sasha Chua and see Josh Kaufman’s Video on the same and you are all set.

Choose Your Deep Work Strategy

While you may be convinced of the value of deep work, you may be unsure of how to implement it in your life. Newport describes four different types of deep work scheduling you can choose from: monastic, bimodal, rhythmic, and journalistic.

All four of these philosophies have their pros and cons that should be carefully considered:

The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is the most dedicated form of deep work and involves spending all of your working hours on a singular high-level focus. While this philosophy has the highest potential for reward and the lowest level of context-switching, it’s unrealistic for most people who are required to perform various kinds of work in their role. I find it unrealistic unless you are a fulltime freelancer or artist.

The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling allows for a high amount of deep work while enabling you to maintain other activities in your life that you find valuable. Successfully adopting this philosophy requires the flexibility to arrange your year, months, or weeks as you see fit into larger chunks of deep work. I plan to schedule my Goals under this philosophy because it seems realistic and balanced to me

The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is ideal for individuals with a fairly static schedule. If you can anticipate what most of your days will look like, it’s feasible to block off several hours every day for deep work, thereby getting into a daily “rhythm”, and leaving the rest of your hours for shallow work.

The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is an option for people who are constantly on the move with little to no regularity to their days. This method demands vigilance with your time and the keen ability to notice natural ebbs and flows in your day where you may be able to fit in 30 minutes or an hour or two of deep work. Unfortunately, this method is not for beginners and is likely to fail for people who are not experienced in deep work.

Select the deep work philosophy that best suits your work and life. Also, feel free to experiment before you land on a method that finally takes hold in your schedule. Let me know which style suits you better and why.

Deep diving into Deep Work

Cover of Deep Work by Cal Newport

If self improvement is your goal , consider reading this book during this Lock-down.

I will refer to Cal as “He” (akin to Him, god the all-knowing) in this write up because he has definitely earned the authority on this topic. He gives a name to the productive state of “flow” most of us like to attain at work but which we can rarely maintain for more than a couple minutes when the next emergency interrupts our attention. The book is all about how to create an environment in which Deep Work is possible and how to reduce the time spent on Shallow Work.

According to him the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. He further goes to define “Deep Work” as:

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Whereas “Shallow Work” is:

“Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

The book is structured in two parts. The first part motivates Deep Work in stating that Deep Work is valuable, rare and meaningful. The second part describes four rules that help to facilitate Deep Work. I had some trouble staying motivated through the first part which goes into details about why Deep Work is important. You can skip Part 1 totally if I am able to convince you the importance of Deep Work but if not skim through.

Chapter 1 explains why deep work matters. Our economy is changing, and the days of doing the same thing over and over for 40 years until you retire are over. Cal lays out an interesting theory for 3 types of workers, Superstars, Owners and High Skill Workers and makes a convincing and important argument for the importance in the future of being able to work at higher levels of abstraction and work with intelligent machines. In this chapter he also makes a case for the two critical skills for knowledge workers:

1. Learning Quickly

2. Producing at an Elite Level

Chapter 2 focuses on why deep work is rare and essential for achieving success in this VUCA (Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. He shows how distractions are becoming more and more common for knowledge workers, and that attention is becoming a rare ability. Newport makes a good case for how complex knowledge work is often hard to measure, so managers measure busyness instead of output that relates to bottom line results (KPIs). People end up optimizing for looking busy instead of getting real work done.

Chapter 3 goes into the why of deep work. Newport give 3 theories on why deep work is meaningful, a psychological, neurological and a philosophical reason.

Part 2 is full of tips and insights and covers four chapters on the rules of Deep Work ie Work Deeply, Embrace Boredom, Quit Social media (take what resonates and leave the rest) and Drain the Shallows. I plan to write more on it but here are a few takeaways that I could list down:

  1. Schedule time for Deep Work, ideally in a rhythmic fashion to establish a habit. By Rhythmic he means fixed times for work and relaxation. This is to ensure we are not all work and no play.
  2. Set impossible deadlines. The only way to keep an impossible deadline is focused work.

Schedule every minute of your day in order to keep shallow distractions at bay.

  • Consciously decide for every entry in your schedule if it’s deep or shallow to set the mood. Give yourself a budget of Shallow Work and don’t overspend it.
  • Ritualize where you work and how you work. Create rules that help you focus.
  • You needn’t be alone for Deep Work. Collaborative Deep Work is possible (Newport calls it the “Whiteboard Effect”). This doesn’t mean that Open Space is the best office layout, though.
  • Take breaks from focus, don’t take breaks from distraction. Schedule breaks from focused work regularly.
  • Execute like a business. Focus on the important, measure your deep work time and results and keep track of them on a scoreboard, and do a regular review. This is called the “4 Disciplines of Execution” (4DX) Framework
  • Have a weekly rendezvous with yourself to review your achievements and plan out the next week.
  • Don’t extend your work day into the evening to do Deep Work, because it’s most likely not productive. Establish a “shutdown ritual” to follow every day after work in which you check the status of today’s tasks and your calendar for the next day. This helps to free your mind to let go until the next day. Take downtimes away from work seriously as they help to recharge.
  • Meditate productively on Deep Work problems when running, driving, or anything that is not mentally engaging
  • Quit social media because it’s a shallow distraction. Be hard to reach to avoid shallow distractions.
  • Identify the high-level goals you want to reach and the key activities that help you reach them.

Overall Thoughts:

There are lots of powerful insights in the book. Even if you don’t buy the entire process, you’ll pick up some tips and tricks that will make you more productive. I personally find it annoying that he talks about deleting social media accounts! Social Media provides pleasure and relaxation to people, which is exactly why it can be addictive.  The secret is moderation, not elimination. This Lock-down has proved to be a blessing in disguise because not only did I get the opportunity to read this book but also actively implement some of its principles.

Cheers to Deep diving into everything we do!