Change Your Life by Stepping Into Monk Mode

It’s common the hear people talk about going, “monk mode.” What does this mean?

How does a Buddhist monk live? Their entire life is about understanding how the mind works and gaining enlightenment. To that end, they give up just about everything else: money, entertainment, women, and so on. They have zero distractions to keep them from their purpose.

A more relatable example might be that of a serious writer. She might put herself in a cabin in the woods with nothing other than a word processor, some food, and a bed. She avoids contact with most people and focuses 100% on writing.

You can do the same thing on a more or less temporary basis. You can focus on one aspect of your life and largely ignore the rest for a short time.

Choose a focus:

1. Health. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds, heal from childhood trauma, or clean up your diet.

2. Fitness. Maybe you want to focus on getting in the best shape of your life. You might want to see your abs, bench press twice your bodyweight, and run a 10K in under 48 minutes.

3. Finances. Most of us could use a little more money. You can choose to temporarily focus your life on maximizing your income and minimizing your expenses.

4. Spirituality. Education, meditation, and prayer might be just what you need to take your life to the next level.

5. Finding a partner. What would happen if you made finding a life partner your primary focus?

6. Writing a book. Have you always dreamed of writing? This could be your chance!

These are just a few possibilities. You might want to focus on the piano, perfect your oil painting, work on your communication skills, or build an online business.

What is so important to you that you’re willing to put the rest of your life on the back burner for a while?

Use these tips to go monk mode:

1. Eliminate as much as possible. What are you willing to give up? What do you need to give up in order to maximize your results?

◦ Irrelevant social interaction. You don’t have to cut yourself off completely, but it would be helpful to come close. Most of the interactions you have with others are of minimal value and waste time.

◦ Meaningless distractions. TV, internet, smartphone, reading fiction, reading non-fiction that isn’t related to your area of focus - these are a good start. How do you like to waste time?

◦ Anything that doesn’t contribute to progress in your area of interest. Remember, in a perfect monk mode world, you’d do little other than eat, sleep, and improve in your area of focus.

2. Define the most effective ways to spend your time. Now that you’ve created a lot of time for yourself, you have to know how to spend that time wisely.

◦ What are the most important actions you can take? How can you best implement them into your life?

◦ What information do you need? A mentor? A new book? Ensure that you know enough to make wise choices.

3. Expect to be uncomfortable. If you’re used to meeting the same set of friends for nachos and beer twice a week, it will be awkward to end that practice. If you numb yourself with TV every evening, it will be uncomfortable to no longer have that crutch. Imagine living like a real monk.

You know that you’re smart and capable. The biggest challenge you have is that your time and focus are too scattered. By going monk mode, you can put all of your resources toward mastering one aspect of your life.

What do you want to master?

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Solitude and the Value of Spending Time Alone

Some people love spending time alone. Others are more prone to feeling uncomfortable or lonely. Regardless of how you currently feel about solitude, there are many benefits to be gained by spending some time alone each day.

If you don’t like being alone, ask yourself why. If you’re not sure, try spending a few hours alone, without distractions, and see what happens.

Alone time can provide a sense of freedom that many of us lack in our day-to-day lives. It’s also a great time to relax and think.

Consider these benefits of spending some time alone:

1. You can do whatever you want. You get to do whatever you want when you’re alone. This can be a blessing if you have a spouse and children! Imagine, you can:

◦ Eat what you want.

◦ You control the TV remote and the radio station.

◦ You could nap.

◦ You can literally do anything you can afford to do without having to worry about making someone else happy.

◦ Make the most of the time you have alone, and you’ll grow to love having a little solitude in your life.

2. It’s easier to concentrate. Have you ever noticed how much more you can get done when everyone is out of your hair? It doesn’t matter if it’s at home or at work. Being alone is a great time to tackle those projects you never seem to have time to do.

3. You learn more about yourself in solitude. It’s much more difficult to be self-aware if you never spend any time by yourself. Your thought processes become more apparent when you’re not distracted by others.

◦ Ideally, spend an extended period of time by yourself each year. You could go camping or backpacking by yourself. You could even just stay at home and let everyone know you’re not available.

4. You become more compassionate. When you constantly hang out with the same people, you naturally develop a feeling of “us versus them.” You’ll be more compassionate toward others if you regularly spend some time alone.

5. Creativity increases during periods of solitude. There’s a reason why artists, musicians, writers, and other creative types go into isolation when it’s time to create. Your mind is much freer to wander and develop new ideas. Most people aren’t nearly as creative as they could be.

6. A little solitude makes you happier. Several studies have shown that people that regularly have some time to themselves are happier than those that don’t.

Schedule periods of solitude into your day. Avoid just using whatever free time you happen to have for solitude. It’s important enough to deliberately plan into your day. And avoid just scheduling alone time. Plan on how you’re going to use that time. Be productive with your periods of solitude.

Having some alone time is a blessing. If you currently aren’t able to spend some time with yourself, make time. It’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Your creativity will increase. You can tackle big challenges. You can even just do whatever you feel like doing!

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