2 weeks ago, the Islamic new year started and I was thinking about whether I need to build any new habit in this new year. Normally, I am not a person who sets goals for habit changes only at the New Year, but I do it throughout the year. If I see a need for a change in any area of my life, I work on it immediately and over time, I have had hundreds of habit changes, some easy and some hard. Some have become permanent habits and some still require upkeep. As of now, I am actively tracking around 10 habits on a daily basis. But as I was reflecting, I realised that there is a mother-habit, if I can call it that way, that can make all other habit changes easy and it would also have the highest impact on me and the people around me – that is the habit of mindfulness.
So, you might wonder what really is this mindfulness all about? I wanted to describe to you a meeting I had around 10 years ago that is still vivid in my mind. At that time, I was working for KPMG consulting in Dubai and we went to meet with the senior management of a large company in Dubai – now, I don’t remember whether he was the COO or CEO, but he was way up in the hierarchy. So, we expected that he would be busy and would want us to use our time well and finish within the allotted time (like most senior executives I have seen). This man was very unusual – he was very calm, fully present with us, listening to us and taking in every piece of information we were sharing. No time pressure at all – he even looked at the mind map notes I was taking and was curious to learn more about it. No signs of agitation and no signs of aggression – Calm, humble, ready-to-listen. No distractions from blackberries or secretaries. As if he had all the time in the world, though he was heading a big company in the country then. This meeting was so unique that I still carry the images of that meeting room in my head. At that time, I did not understand what was unusual about him – now, I do. He was practicing mindfulness.
But there are a few problems with mindfulness. The first problem is that it is a mouthful word :). The second problem is that it takes us into a territory that most people are not familiar/comfortable with – the spiritual territory. The classical way to become more mindful is to do meditation. But it takes a lot of time and needs consistent practice and is not accessible to most people. So, is there an easier way?
Yes, there is an easier way – there is a book that I have read around 5 years back that really stood out : it makes building mindfulness habit accessible to most people. Very clear and concrete ideas expressed in simple language with easy-to-follow instructions that most people can easily practice in a typical busy day. But one still needs discipline to follow those instructions. That book is Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine.
My intention is to chronicle my efforts to apply the 3 key strategies in this book to build the mindfulness habit. I am starting out today on a Friday to do 100 PQ reps everyday. Every week on Fridays, I intend to write about how I am making progress with this new habit and how it is impacting various areas of my life.
I read a lot of books and for a long time, I wanted to find a way to help my friends/colleagues to share the knowledge I have gained from reading books. In my opinion, this single book covers a lot of insights that I have gleaned from various books over time – Hence, this book has risen to the No.1 spot in my list of books I would recommend to anyone who is looking to improve anything in their life, be it their emotional intelligence, their productivity, relationships, and even their finances and health. So, I decided to do this habit change publicly together with some of my friends/colleagues – may be, it would benefit them. At least it would benefit me by increasing my commitment levels to this change effort and that I do not drop out in the middle like I did last time.
I invite you to read the book and come with me on this habit change journey – God willing, we would look back at the end of one year and say that this is the best decision we have taken!
Now what do you need to get started on this journey?
- First, watch this 20-minute TED talk by the author to get an overall idea – Know your inner saboteurs: Shirzad Chamine at TEDxStanford
- Then read the summary of the book by the author where he discusses the 3 key strategies to improve your PQ (Positive Quotient) –3 Ways to Improve Your Positive Intelligence (PQ)
- Now go to http://www.positiveintelligence.com/ and take the free assessment to understand what your top saboteur is.
- Now start implementing the 3 strategies by practising 100 PQ reps per day – start with at least the first strategy which is to label the saboteur as it shows up.
- Buy the book and read it. But don’t wait till you finish reading the book to start. Pick a day and get started. Make your intention to start on this journey public by posting here and every week, as I update my weekly progress, you also update your progress in the appropriate week’s post.
I would do my best to take you along by posting the key ideas from the book and how I am applying the strategies in various areas of my life.