Last day living

Written by Suraj Shah, inspired by the enlightened.

How would you live if this day was your last?

For the past few days I’ve been living just like that and I’m loving it. I feel great, relationships are so much fuller, and the most ordinary of tasks are intensely engaging.

Our mundane lives and routines

So many days we waste and so much time we throw away living our mundane lives.

Our days are fixed with routine, jam-packed with activities, loaded with reality-numbing habits of too much food and far too much TV.

We indulge in regrets of the past and we scheme plans for the future – but what about the right here, right now?

Our days tend to be spent getting jolted out of bed, sleepily getting ready, commuting to the office, working just enough to stay out of trouble, commuting back home, sitting in front of the TV all evening while inhaling down masses of food, and then drifting off to sleep. Weekends are almost the same, perhaps minus the work part.

We’re constantly wired on the net and on our phones, trying to keep up with our ‘friends’. Yet we know, deep down, that it is all a distraction — a way to shelter us from facing up to our mundane lives.

So what’s the alternative?

Throw away the TV, switch off the net, sell your house and all your possessions, leave your spouse and kids, drop all duties and go spend a few dozen months in some ashram in Rishikesh?

No, that’s not the answer.

Duty comes first. Matters of the home and the family take priority.

Why duty takes priority

We are bound by the karma of our past actions. This bound karma comes to fruition as situations and relationships in our day-to-day experience.

Everything we perceive and experience is down to karma we have previously bound. There is no getting away from it. All we can do is face up to the situations that arise, calmly, patiently, lovingly. That calm response contributes to more fruitful future situations.

So how do we have a great time, regardless of the situations that we find ourselves in?

Joy within a duty-bound life

In amongst the seemingly ordinary family life, there is a way to love and enjoy every single moment of it.

When you wake up, realise that this day is your last — and live accordingly.

So does that mean drop everything, indulge in all kinds of sensual pleasures, and say “to hell with the consequences”?

Well, it didn’t work that way for me.

In fact, when I thought that this day may be my very last, I thought less about all the things that I would want to see and achieve and do.

Instead, I had a strong yearning for seeing what came up, who called for my attention, and I put my focus on that.

And something magical happened. My thoughts, attention and love honed in on that person, that situation, that event.

It was an unusually gorgeous sunny day in London, so I prepared three delicious vegan meals to enjoy in the garden with my wife.

The next day, the fridge was almost bare (after all the homecooked meals!) so I went grocery shopping. After a long day at the office, I was hungry and tired, but found myself playfully attending to the usually mundane task of shopping.

Throughout the day in the office, I was flooded with inbound emails and requests for support — but worked through them one by one, enjoying collaborating and troubleshooting with my colleague. The work day flew by and I loved every minute of it.

During the drive home from work there were patches of traffic, but I turned the radio up (I usually drive in silence) and cruised through enjoying the journey home.

Last day living

When you spend each day living as though it’s your last:

  • you willl prepare your meals lovingly, and then slowly enjoy the feast.
  • you will gladly wash the dishes after dinner and enjoy a clean kitchen sink.
  • everyday routines will feel brand new each time.
  • work, nomatter how boring you thought it was, will become fulfilling.
  • home life will transform into a warm energy-filled environment.
  • day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping will become joyful.
  • your relationships, all of them, from the most intimate through to casual interactions with colleagues, will feel effortless.

Are you prepared to live today as though it’s your last?

Share your thoughts about it on Google+.

Surrender yourself to a different high

Written by Suraj Shah.

You’ll see the sky is clear, you’ll find you’re free from fear,
The peace you feel is real, and your life is again filled with zeal.

When you’re struggling in life, facing so much pain and strife,
When you’re filled with despair, feeling that life is beyond repair,
Let me show you a way to cope, so you need not resort to dope,
Simply look up to the sky, surrendering yourself to a different high.

You’ll see clouds glowing bright, but holding back the daylight,
You’ll see clouds moving slow, with no real place to go,
You’ll see clouds hide the sun, trying hard to stop the fun,
You’ll see clouds span the sky, mostly low but sometimes high.

You see, we often think we’re stuck, in tonnes of nasty muck,
We may think we’re out of luck, and that no-one gives a ____,
But look up just once more, so we can get right to the core,
The clouds that were once overhead, you’ll see something else instead.

The day’s doom and gloom, that once made you run to your room,
Has completely cleared away, to brighten up your precious day.
You’ll see the sky is clear, you’ll find you’re free from fear,
The peace you feel is real, and your life is again filled with zeal.

Then when you look back at me, I’ll ask “what did you see?”
You’ll say “there lies the key, to overcome life’s misery.”
What was once there is now no more, so no need to still feel sore,
Troubles in life come and go, that’s really all you need to know.

(Photo courtesy of Newsbie Pix)

Mundane time drain verses enthused creation

Written by Suraj Shah.

Three days doing a mundane repetitive task verses three hours enthused in creating something that will benefit other people too – if you were me, which would you have picked?

Much my work on the web team at Heathrow involves carrying out mundane repetitive tasks. However, I thrive when I find ways to automate the task and eliminate boredom.

How much time do you lose doing things you don’t want to do, yet have to do them over and over and over again?

Time is such a precious commodity for each and every one of us, and we often find ourselves trapped in doing chores that are boring and tedious. What I’ve found though, is that many of the things that we find mundane and repetitive can become simplified and automated.

Getting enthused in creative work

Rather than getting bogged down in the work, we can get enthused and enjoy it. We can create something that goes beyond getting the job done and make it so that it contributes to the wider community.

Barrie Davenport suggests an approach:

Rather than groaning, “I dread this crappy task before me,” ask “How can I create this task in a way that feels joyful, creative, and giving?”

At work yesterday I was tasked with identifying the title of every single page on the website for one of our airports.

If I had done this manually, then once I got into a rhythm, it would have taken a minute or two to copy and paste the link into a browser, wait for each page to load up, copy and paste the title text into the spreadsheet and move onto the next item.

Multiply this by 150 to 200 pages and we’re looking at around 2 to 3 hours per website, without breaks, just for one mundane task, not to mention how numb my mind would have become by the end of it! For 12 websites, with breaks, we’re looking at perhaps three days of work, just for one mundane task.

Contrast these three days I could have spent doing the repetitive task, to the 3 hours I actually did spend implementing a script I found off the web, letting the script run for each of the sites and documenting the process for anyone else in the team to be able to do the task quickly and easily in the future.

It’s something that challenged and fulfilled me, got the same end result, along with bonuses (the automated process, fully documented), in 10% of the time it would have taken if I did it the manual way.

Three days doing a mundane repetitive task verses three hours enthused in creating something that will benefit other people too – if you were me, which would you have picked?

Automating or simplifying mundane repetitive tasks

Now I get that you are rarely going to need to copy and paste page titles from airport websites, but what other mundane repetitive tasks do you and I do in our day to day lives that we could automate or simplify?

  • Handling money: Automate your finances – get paid directly into your account (no more cheques), set up regular savings deposits and set up automatic bill payment.
  • Filling forms: Have people fill forms out electronically rather than you having to manually type out hand written forms that have been sent to you.
  • Co-ordinating diaries: When organising meetings or a social function, get participants to fill out an online poll (such as Doodle) rather than clogging up email inboxes and trying to work out who is available when.
  • Sharing documents: When sending documents to groups of people, load them up onto a central shareable space (using a tool like Dropbox ~ referral link) and point people to it, rather than manually sending the files out to each person that asks for it.
  • Regular communication: When someone expects to receive a text message from you every day or each week, schedule it and let it run automatically (using a tool like SMS Scheduler for Android phones) rather than trying to remember to send them that daily or weekly message.
  • Daily meal planning: Create a simple weekly dinner menu rather than stressing about what to make for dinner each evening.
  • Gardening: Put sand in between paving slabs on your front drive to minimise weed growth, rather than pulling out weeds every month. More at: How to make your yard easier to maintain.
  • Buying clothes: Buy quality garments that last a long time, rather than shopping for new clothes every other week.
  • Daily commute: Live closer to work, or work closer to home, rather than getting stuck in traffic for an hour each way.

This is just the beginning for moving beyond the drudgery of day to day tasks and fretting over how much time you have lost. It is about claiming back lost time and doing more of what enthuses us.

What else could you do to simplify and automate rather than drown in the repetitive and mundane?

(Photo courtesy of Texas Tech University)