How 365 Days of Mindfulness Warps Your Brain

Mindfulness Warps Brain

“It prevents arguments.”

This was the first of a long list of benefits my friend Vince experienced after meditating once a day for a year. At first he wasn’t convinced there was much of a difference. A “test” for him to see if he could follow something through.

Meditation and mindfulness have become cliche.

Frankly a bit annoying to hear people talk about. But you have to respect someone who spent every day doing a repetitive task. Like your gym obsessed buddy or BFF who puts in the work then has muscle to show for it, Vince has warped his own mental muscle that he shared during our chat.

Here Is Your Brain On Zen

  • Relaxed: After spending the time to meditate, Vince reported feeling relaxed with improved breathing.
  • Accomplished: It was the achievement that kept him driving forth to the finish line.
  • Proactive: Meditation gave him the ability to talk himself out of an anxious state which reduced tense moments and increased happiness. It’s easier to identify moments where he needs a moment to step away.
  • Focused: Easier to capture the mind when it starts to wander too far from center or slow it down when it races.

Hearing this, I had tons of questions.

Did he plan on continuing this daily ritual? Was he ever nervous about skipping a day? Wouldn’t being anxious about a daily ritual would cause waves throughout his life even though that habit was meditation?

Vince is still as reactive as before his mindfulness practice but is now better at recognizing it. He can choose to do something about it. Mindfulness opened up choice for him without creating a new concrete pattern.

“I don’t feel nervous about reverting [to my pre-mindful state]. After learning the routine, I can always spend a few minutes to get away and do some breathing exercises and focus exercises.” – Vince

Many say that meditation is a marathon not a sprint. Coming from a guy who ran the marathon it sounds to me like taking a moment to chillax is something we all can take advantage of in our day.

Whether you choose to use an app, record your own guided meditation, rent-a-mantra or simply breathe in some free air; mindfulness is ready to warp your mind, too.

Minimalists Cringe at My Controversial Upgrade Policy

Every fall you could do something that would make most minimalists cringe.

Order a new phone and/or computer yearly, whether or not critics deem the upgrades significant, to save money on something that enhances your life every day. Scary isn’t it?

By creating a master inventory of everything I owned it appeared to me that the technology I used frequently really racked up mileage while the rest spent their time hibernating. The challenges with average minimalist thinking is that it discourages us from owning too much at a given time. Some believe that this includes going after everything on the cheap.

The name “minimalist luxury lifestyle” is self explanatory and opens you up to the potential you have to relieve yourself from pressure to run your life off of DOS with outdated tech.

How do you upgrade every year for nearly free?

By not letting your mobile service provider karate chop your wallet. On average your phone will cost anywhere from $600-800 retail but if you follow my strategy there’s a chance to weigh in around $450.

A value you would not get if you trade in your phone. Hint: They only give you about $200. Check the math on your own if you’re skeptical. If you want to minimize your losses here, you can follow my strategy:

  1. Purchase your phone outright. Nowadays many mobile users are on payment plans or “leases” with their service providers since the land of free phones with 2 year agreements are gone. What your friends at the cell phone store might not tell you is that you can purchase the phone and then sell it on your own.
  2. Assess the market value. Cross-checking eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and any number of online marketplaces to buy and sell goods will get you the data you need. After activating your new phone put in the make & model of the old phone into search, i.e.: “iPhone 7 Plus Space Gray AT&T 128GB”. Then record the highest, lowest and median values.
  3. Cash that bad boy in. Patience is key here. From data I have over the past 10 years of selling over the internet there’s a rule that everything sells, in time. Be honest, CYA and stick to cash or proven mediums like eBay.

There’s a window to minimize loss during upgrades:

  • Used Androids/iPhones lost the last of their value 3-5 months after a new product launch before declining.
  • Technology can easily bottleneck otherwise productive people. The worst case scenario is waiting for things to load while you’re already cramming in too many calendar invites into the schedule.

Yes, per policy, I will be upgrading to the new iPhone 2, 3G, 4, 4S, 5, 5S, 6, 6S, 7 Plus, X because it is the one thing that enables me to connect, create and collaborate all in one place so it better be lightning fast.

If you’re interested in other simple hacks like this I talk more about them here.

(Updated October 27, 2017)

I Hope You’re Angry Reading This

Natural light floods even the back corners of Cuvee while mindless citizens are absorbed in their cell phones. There is a quiet buzz about the place. Or are those my own thoughts consuming my mind? There isn’t room for the mind-numbing norm and my creative sparks. Both simply can’t exist together, and I can sense the battle; it’s going to be an all-out duel. The feeling that’s running through my body is familiar. It means I’m about to create magic. As I sip on the first nitro coffee I’ve ever tasted, it hits me. I’m spitting out ideas as my girlfriend bounces back. We’re playing a metaphorical game of tennis.

Idea. Additional idea. Suggestion to make a good idea great. Another idea.

What’s just taken place is a regular occurrence for me. Creating new ideas takes as little as seeing a flyer on the streets of Austin or hearing about a news story through Facebook. It’s happened while walking through the mall, and I’ve experienced it during late-night drives across the state. Care to know my secret?

I’m not stuck in the Matrix.

It’s easy to be fooled by what’s in front of us. Despite the ridiculous news stories we see daily, society is really quite intelligent. We’re trained to go to college, get a decent paying job, settle down with a spouse, invest in a house in the suburbs, and travel once we retire and the kids have moved out. How often have any of us questioned this norm? Let’s take a moment to realize that our lives are planned out for us from the beginning.

I hope you’re angry reading this. Nothing would be better than you feeling ready to flip your computer or tablet. Wait just a moment, though. There’s a solution. Now that you know we’re all bred into this Matrix, it’s time to escape it.

Imagine living a life plump with experiences like I described at the beginning of the post. All you have to do is break down your self-limiting beliefs. What’s the real reason you can’t travel in your twenties and thirties? With crowd-sourced travel, Go Fund Me campaigns, cheap hostels, and the beauty of the Internet, I don’t see one. Throw your fear out the window.

Explain why you’re taking an entry-level job you hate. Aren’t you creative enough to concoct a new, better way for your industry to function? Of course you are, so let’s ditch the low self-esteem.

You’re starting to get the idea. Each of us can live outside of the Matrix. The only thing stopping us is… us. I’ll be honest- stepping outside of the Matrix is scary. It takes a great deal of faith in yourself, a determination to succeed, and just a little bit of crazy. I’ve pulled up the curtain and exposed the puppet masters. When you’re ready to write your own script, step outside the Matrix and join me.