It was an ordinary morning. One like almost every weekday morning for the past 5 years. Typically, I would go through the same routine. Grab the pan, put a cap full of macadamia nut oil or coconut oil in it, and pre-heat the stovetop. Crack three eggs into a bowl. Grab a knife or a fork and stir up the eggs. Pour into the heated pan and keep the eggs moving.
5-minute scrambies. We had a system, these eggs and I. Until a random piece of advice made me raise an eyebrow.
Recently, I stumbled across a chef that gave his recommendation for making the “perfect” scrambled eggs. I felt like I had perfected them over the years, so why change? He was proposing a method slightly different. That is, not premixing them in a bowl and cracking the eggs directly into the pan and then scrambling. Just like Michelle does. Saving an “unnecessary” step.
Why not try it out? Sure enough, they tasted the exact same as the eggs of Kyle’s past.
As I sat down to eat, I thought about why – all these years – did I feel the need to pre-mix? Was it because of my arrogance believing I had “mastered” the art of scrambling eggs? Was it just my ignorance?
The Bigger Picture
In midst of the scrambled egg conundrum, I was also reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss and came across the Dickens Process he implemented from the infamous Tony Robbins. The process is based on answering the following questions:
- What has each belief or assumption cost me in the past, and what has it cost people you’ve loved in the past? What have you lost because of this belief?
- What is each belief or assumption costing you in the present?
- What will each cost you and people you care about 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now?
After you feel the pain of your current handicapping beliefs, you formulate 2-3 replacement beliefs to use moving forward.
Forget about the eggs, what other beliefs do I hold that are dangerous?
Is daydreaming harmful?
Over the past few years, I have struggled with the feeling of boredom here and there and used this as an excuse to daydream and procrastinate into the future – something I feel that we all can be guilty of from time to time. It became problematic for me when I finally realized that within this daydreaming, I was constantly comparing myself to others or whether or not I was meeting my expectations of where I was at or should be in life.
I wrongly assumed for a while that daydreaming was healthy, a chance to “dream big.” But the problem is that when you don’t really know what your vision is, you convince yourself that daydreaming will make you feel better about how bright the future will be. Sounds great, right?
But the unintended consequence of daydreaming tends to trigger other negative thought patterns. As Buddhism would preach, the basic cause of suffering is:
“The attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion).”
The “Once I, then I’ll be…” conundrum assumes that we have control over future events or our future selves will be without other problems but only when we accomplish that “once I…” Daydreaming or fixating on what you desire does not factor in the possibility of random acts of awfulness or awesomeness that have happened or may happen later on.
Such as me moving somewhat on a whim to AZ. Such as the random acts of kindness, sadness, love, happiness, friendship. Shall I go on?
In this sense, not all daydreaming is created equal.
Now that I had the thought that was screwing me over, I could look for the replacement belief and trigger. What are the triggers that make me daydream?
For me, it’s being bored or unchallenged. Two feelings that are completely fear-based and based on my own resistance. Part of it for me was viewing something as unimportant because I didn’t want to do it or I knew it would be challenging.
When I lose focus, my mind tends to fixate on what could be wrong with my life instead of what is right. Some days, this lack of focus triggers the downward spiral of negative thoughts. This annoyingly leads me to question everything about my current moods, work, and progress in my career. I begin to constantly compare myself to others and question if I am meeting my expectations with where I am in life only if it is for as little as a few seconds.
Fortunately, it is not hard for me to break this pattern. But it is naive to think I can prevent it from happening. However, that is not the goal. Identifying and fixing the triggering moments is.
Productivity towards the right things solves negativity
Currently, I have begun reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport and it has been eye-opening in my quest to solve my negative thought patterns based on daydreaming.
“Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way”
– Cal Newport, Website Source
It is the act of deep work or the “flow state” that brings us happiness. It is not completely based on the outcomes or by what we achieve. It is cultivating moments of “deliberate practice” towards something that is worth the struggle for you.
It is the many small choices we make that over time that compound into fulfilling the bigger dream. And the moments we get lost in the act of accomplishing the things we set out to, no matter how small, is what builds confidence. With this confidence, it is easier to believe that what you are doing has value. When you see and recognize this value, it leads you to the belief that everything that happens to us can be viewed as an opportunity.
And to give a big middle finger to the things you recognize are completely out of your control.
The moral of the story is two-fold. On one hand, you have the important lesson of deep work. On the other, becoming more aware of the unintended consequences of what we naively believe to be true, false, helpful, and hurtful.
Question everything. When you challenge negative beliefs by asking shitloads of questions, they start to become less distracting. But only if you try not to definitively answer them.
The collection of choices or actions we make consistently throughout our days, especially during times of “boredom,” is one of the things that defines the SKIED lifestyle for me.
Remember, there is always more than one way to scramble an egg. Don’t be so sure that your way is the best.