I love...
"There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't even over-sentimentalize it. There's power, power in love." - Bishop Michael Curry
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The five:
  1. Here are 10 things “unstoppable” people do. I am all about #6. If you think these 10 things are just 9 too many, here’s one thing to focus on: your environment. It turns out it may affect your mental horsepower. If you’re into raw brainpower, here are some foods that may be able to help fight memory loss, and here are 8 foods a Harvard nutritionist tries to eat every day
  2. How are you at taking breaks? If you’re me, you could use some suggestions for how to spend them a little better. Here are ways to use 15-, 30-, and 60-minute breaks to help improve productivity. If a workout is in the cards and you’re more of an Eyore than a Tigger, just relax and ask for help 💰. Meanwhile, if you’re an aging, elite athlete, here’s an exploration on how you and your tribe improve with age 💰. 
  3. Whenever there is an interview with Dan Ariely, I have to share it. Just trust me, Dan’s always a great listen. I’m always grateful for a chance to hear insights from him. Speaking of gratitude, if you find gratitude difficult, this may help you understand why
  4. Are you ready? Does it matter? Apparently it doesn’t if you’re successful, because successful people always start before they’re ready. Speaking of successful folks, here are the five books Bill Gates recommends you read.  
  5. I can be pretty hard on myself, so I found this piece from the NYT useful. Here’s why, if you’re like me, you should stop being so hard on yourself 💰. If motivation is your particular struggle, here’s a guide from James Clear on how to get and stay motivated
Bonus Fun fact! The royal wedding happened a minute ago, I know. But bear with me. It turns out the now Duchess of Sussex and I majored in exactly the same two subjects at about the same time -- international relations and theatre — she at Northwestern while I was at Wellesley.  #FUN 😉Okay, enough of that. Godspeed to the happy couple, and here’s the only long-read I will share about it and the only short read from just before the wedding💰 (nicely done, Autumn).  

💰= Paywall, though please do consider paying to read what people write. Writers like to eat too. (Apologies if I miss one…) 
How to change everything 🌐
It has been difficult to maintain a positive attitude over the last six months. Having family far from where I happen to live has made me more than a little bit of a sour puss. Most importantly, though, I lost track of the ability to be hopeful and excited about my life and my future.  

It’s easy, when life throws you only a thimble-full of challenges (because, let’s be honest, I have so much to be grateful for in my life), to get mired in a very specific train of thought. That train, as it rolls down the tracks between your synapses, goes something like this: “There’s nothing I can do to change what is happening and where I am, so I shouldn’t try.” Once that train starts running, it can be very difficult to stop it.  

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on trying to get that train to stop. I’ve tried dietary changes and changes to my sleep hygiene. I’ve tried restricting topics I discuss with friends and family, so I won't trigger a negative spiral. I’ve tried everything except the one thing that, if I were to successfully change it, could change everything. 

I haven’t really worked on changing my mind.  

The saying goes (which has been attributed to numerous people over the years in various forms):  

Watch your thoughts, for they will become your words 
Watch your words, for they will become your actions.  
Watch your actions, for they will become your habits.  
Watch your habits, for they will become your character.  
Watch your character, for that will become your destiny.  

Thoughts are powerful things, and they are one of the hardest aspects of life to understand and control. No matter how much effort I put into changing my actions and habits, I will never fundamentally change to become the person capable of living the life I want to live if I do not change my thoughts.  

If you can change your thoughts and hold new (and ideally better) thoughts consistently, you can change everything. 

This raises the important question: how does one change their thoughts? I find meditation to be one of the only ways to really change my thought patterns, which is unfortunate for me, since I’ve fallen off of the meditation bandwagon.  

(You probably noticed that meditation is an action that can become a habit. You're right; it is. You got me there, but it’s an action that is entirely rooted in observing and letting go, making room for more helpful and healthy thought patterns.) 

While meditating today, I struggled to figure out why I had pulled away from the habit. If I were being honest with myself, I’d have to say that I pulled away because I thought (there’s that word), I didn’t have time to create the perfect environment. I know full well one can meditate just about anywhere, and I don’t need an app or a cushion or isolation to do it. As a beginner, all of those were great, but they were props and crutches. Ideally, I should be able to plop down and meditate anywhere.  

Another path to changing everything, is to eliminate reasons. Here are a few that I’ve been wrestling with: 

  • "I’ll never achieve what I want to achieve because I am too old now.” 
  • “I’ll be transient forever and never have a real home because I lack focus.” 
  • “My friends will forget about me, because I live too far away.”  
  • “I’ll never write my book, because I’m not a great writer.” 

You get the idea.  

Well, as Bernie Roth said in his book, “The Achievement Habit”: “Reasons are bullshit.”  
  • “I’m too old.” = Bullshit 
  • “I lack focus” = Bullshit 
  • “I live too far away.” = Bullshit  
  • “I’m not a great writer.” = Bullshit 
Ultimately, if you want to achieve what you want, you don’t let reasons get in your way. Reasons are also a byproduct of how one thinks. If you think reasons have power, then they will. 

Sometimes there are very good reasons not to do something, such as when the reason is “you’ll hurt someone else” or “you’ll hurt yourself”. These are great reasons not to do something. Nearly all of the other reasons, however, if you really examine them, are all part and parcel of a stinky pile. Sometimes I try to investigate my reasons using the “5 Whys” exercise. Here’s an example:  

“Why am I not a great writer?”  
“Because I haven’t won any awards.” 
“Why haven’t you won any awards?” 
“I haven’t participated in any competitions.” 
“Why haven’t you participated in any competitions?” 
“Because I am afraid of being judged.” 
“Why are you afraid of being judged?” 
“Because I am afraid I’ll be deemed incompetent.” 
“Why are you afraid you will be deemed incompetent?” 
“Because I worry about what other people think of me.” 

I usually stop there. If you go much further than five, it can get pretty existential and messy. But I went from a reason that was pretty abstract and difficult to something far more profound. If I can change how I feel about what other people think of me, then I can eliminate my reason and get to the thing I want to do that will set me on the life path I want to be on.  

So, to recap, if you can change your thoughts, you can change everything in and around your life. The tools I’ve been using -- meditation and breaking down reasons with the 5 whys (thanks, Bernie) -- are helping me, and I hope they help you too.  
Thank you a million times...
Thank you to my long-time donor Natalya Pemberton! Natalya is a culture and design enthusiast learning Sustainable Systems at the innovative Presidio Graduate School.

She has generously supported E is for Everything on Patreon. Please jump on through to learn more about both them and their projects.
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Do you wish I'd shared something else? Please send me recommendations via Facebook, Twitter at @emikolawole, on Medium or reply directly to this e-mail. I will always and whenever possible give credit where it's due for great recommendations and inspiration. Have a great weekend!
...you, TRC.
Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · Palo Alto California 94306 · USA
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