There are hacks, and there are anti-hacks. Both have their merit. I think this blog has been a mixture of both almost since the beginning. I like certain things about Getting Things Done ("GTD"), and yet I detest productivity for productivity's sake. After all, it was the book The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss that actually inspired me to start writing on "lifestyle" in the first place - a book dead set against work for work's sake.
A Theme Evolves
As I have evolved, or perhaps more honestly, stumbled along in writing my posts, I keep coming back in my mind to the double edged sword that the Life Sutra or "rules of life" represent. On the one side, the "rules of life" represent unquestioned assumptions dictated by conventional wisdom. These rules often limit our potential without us even knowing it. At the same time, those brave enough to question these assumptions about how life works often uncover hints towards new rules of life - the positive side of the Life Sutra - that offer new possibilities and perhaps even revolutionary change.
Consider my most popular post to date - an update on a high intensity training program I used at the gym as the basis for a new fitness regimen. When you think about it, the whole concept of high intensity training is a questioning of accepted conventional wisdom which has always dictated that you have to train long and hard to achieve significant muscular growth or maintain peak fitness. High intensity training suggests you can achieve better results through significantly less training! So that series of posts is really all about questioning the existing "rules", and seeing what is possible once you step out of the self imposed barriers they often create. And this was a post about going to the gym!
The theme repeats itself... what if what we experience is not really "real" outside of our thoughts? What if perfect isn't really the best? What if you didn't go to your office when you needed to be at work? What if you didn't keep true to your dreams?
Being In The Question
Let's consider another example, something I have not really written about directly. Proponents of Getting Things Done will argue persuasively about the productivity gains such a system provides with simple concepts like capture easing the mental bookkeeping often required in our hectic lives. The budding anti-hack movement observes lives built around a productivity system and a myriad of to-do lists - maybe having a system is necessary, but the productivity system should not become an end to itself. Both sides make compelling cases. However, maybe the real question is what exactly are you trying to get done? Should you even be doing this? Those are the questions that I find the most powerful. Yes, it is good to argue the merits of this or make fun of that, but sometimes it is better to question the axiom itself.
So that is what I think the Life Sutra is all about: questioning so-called "rules of life" and seeing where that takes us. Sometimes you don't even have to answer the question to discover new possibilities. In fact, once you start questioning these tacit assumptions, maybe you should avoid coming to any kind of "answer". If you think about it, an answer hints at some kind of finality. Answers inhibit the possibility of new options by stopping the question.
A New Focus
Soon you will see a few changes here at the Life Sutra - things like a new tag line and some consistent themes between posts. I think I have finally articulated a way I want to look at lifestyle design, productivity, personal development, life hacking and anti-hacking - by considering some of the fundamental assumptions upon which popular productivity, lifestyle and hacking techniques are based. At the same time, I want to keep it practical. Yes, perhaps the ultimate solution is to sell everything, meditate (or chant - I think chanting in the monastic movement is underrated with all the hype over meditation - is it just me???) and hope for enlightenment. I tried that once, but I momentarily left the state of Nirvana to get a beverage and upon returning had insufficient funds for the cover charge.
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