“The words of truth are always paradoxical.” ~Lao Tzu
By: Martin Grunburg
I just spent a half-day “workshop” with a Hindu spiritualist, essentially a “retired” monk whose name is Dandapani. A great young man who shared his particular practice for strengthening mindfulness and self-improvement.
If I didn’t see it with my own two eyes I’m not sure I would have believed it. It’s a practice the monks used in their monastery (at least this monk did, in his monastery, located in Hawaii).
Before I divulge this process/method, anyone want to guess just how these monks go about enhancing their character and mindfulness? (BTW: The answer lies in that little workbook he’s holding in the picture.)
Dandapandi spoke for a few hours at a beautiful residence overlooking the Pacific Ocean (here in San Diego). He spoke about many important ideas, concepts and philosophies, such as:
x) budgeting time and energy due to their finiteness
x) the mind and awareness and their important distinction.
x) clarity, purpose, values
x) balance (equilibrium)
x) And, he spent a lot of time on willpower. (You may know my view on this topic which varies a bit from his.)
The discussion mostly focused around practicing mindfulness— in fact, he called this “creating a consistent practice.” These tend to be those little moments/opportunities we have each day where we realize there is an opportunity for improvement. For instance, listening (and being present) when we’re conversing with our spouse or children. O, making our bed in the morning, or driving our cars and not trying to do three other things at the same time, or even washing dishes with intention in the moment.
He suggests, and rightly so, that we can all find these opportunities throughout our day where applying enhanced awareness begins the path to self-improvement. So, as you might guess, I could barely contain myself, because I was dying to know, HOW do they do it? That is, HOW do the monks practice this art of self-improvement?
Perhaps more importantly, I wanted to know if the monks used any form of tracking to modify their behavior and/or thoughts from one day to the next. I had to know, did they track and, if so, how?
Then it happened, Dandapandi, this fine young man/ex-monk/budding entrepreneur said to our group, “Please turn to page 15 of your workbook.” Lo and behold, there it was my friends… the monastery’s secret process for self-improvement.
There it was. I almost fell out of my chair. (Note that those numbers are the calendar days of the month and you are supposed to track one behavior/consistent practice/habit for a month, and then you can add another.)
At this point, you probably see where I’m going here. Tracking for self-improvement is the process that essentially launched us into the app business in 2009. Nearly every one of our apps is a behavior/self-improvement tracker. And, it’s certainly great to know this is a process backed by monks! Who knew?
By comparing my own life-altering experience of habit tracking (which started formally using The Habit Factor template above in 2003) for goal achievement; then in 2008, reading in Ben Franklin’s autobiography his process for self-improvement (which involved tracking his thirteen VIRTUES! 13 Virtues)– I knew there was a useful app in here somewhere! ; )
Nonetheless, I actually shelved The Habit Factor app at the time (which was under development), thinking everyone would want to use Ben Franklin’s unique process for self-improvement. It turns out, not too many people appeared to care or even know Ben’s Virtues story (which is unfortunate). However, I guess the good news is that The Habit Factor (not Virtues) became far and away Equilibrium’s most successful app, and at the same time revealed a new process for achieving goals (by tracking habits).
While it appears nobody can provide you the secret path to enlightenment, it does appear that we’re unanimous on the path to enhanced self-improvement, mindfulness, enhanced character and even goal achievement.
So, here’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question for you, “What behavior (habit) are you tracking, today?”