Follow Your Curiosity – 50 Days of Miloism

This weekend, a Facebook memory from a year ago, photos of Milo’s first day home compared to today, and a digital collage by Beeple (sold for USD 69.3 million) seemed to have conspired to nudge me to complete another almost-abandoned project – a digital collage for #50DaysOfMiloism.

As part of turning 50 last year, I embarked on a couple of 50-days experiments. The first, which commenced on January 19, 2020, was #50DaysOfSimpleLiving– inspired by The Art of Simple Living by Zen monk Shunmyo Masuno. Each day, I shared a couplet from Shunmyo’s ‘100 daily practices’ on Insta and FB. As the minor outbreak in Wuhan grew into a global COVID-19 pandemic that will impact our lives for years to come, these Zen practices turned out to be rather helpful in adapting to the new way of living.

Life took a new turn when Sean’s friend gave him a lovely kitten. On August 9, 2020, Singapore’s 55th National Day, Milo joined the Toh family. Cute, curious, and playful, he stole my heart and became my muse that inspired various creative pursuits. One of which led to the second experiment – and #50DaysOfMiloism took flight on September 28, 2020. For 50 days, I shared on @The_Miloist, a piece of daily ‘random wisdom’ from one of my favourite books, accompanied by a digital image of Milo.

A digital collage of 50 images featured on @The_Miloist from 28 September to 16 November, 2020.

The #50DaysOfMiloism is a confluence of multiple influences and sources of inspiration.

  • A desire to embrace the qualities of curiosity and playfulness of my Spirit Animal – inspired by Milo
  • A playful experiment with following my curiosity whilst satisfying a yearning to rediscover the wealth of wisdom that is sitting on the bookshelves (and an excuse to read my favourite books again)
  • A nudge from Carla Henry, a dear colleague and friend, to create an Instagram account for Milo – evidently a muse for my iPhonePhotography
  • An outlet for channeling my passion for learning, creating, taking photographs, and sharing of wisdom
  • A worthy idea to start another #50Day series after completing the #50DaysOfSimpleLiving

So, what have I learnt from these 50 days?

  1. Curiosity has its own rhythm. It is not to be dictated or directed intentionally. Best to relax, keep an open mind and open heart, let life spark your curiosity, and then follow its trail. You never know what you’ll find. The joy of exploring the unknown is in the discovery.
  2. There is abundant wisdom around us, if only we open our hearts to receive them. On some days, when faced with a difficult situation, I got just the ‘right message’ from the book or passage that I happen to read. And in various occasions, friends who followed the posts would find them extremely timely. There is magic in serendipity.
  3. Declaring a commitment publicly is helpful for building habits. In honoring my promise to do a daily post for 50 days, no matter how busy I was at work, I diligently read, took and edited photos, and spend time with Milo everyday.
  4. Discovery is only the beginning. It’s what you do with the wisdom that matters most. I still practice most of the ’10 Rules of Ikigai’ from Day #24 – especially smile, reconnecting with nature, and live in the moment.
  5. With curiosity, no problem is unsurmountable. When in doubt or in need for help, simply ask. In following my curiosity, I rediscovered the magic of “Ask, and you shall receive.”

Curious about #50DaysOfMiloism?

Simply download this compilation and enjoy your journey of following your curiosity!

50 Days of Simple Living

Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Simplicity has been one of my major obsessions.

As an undergraduate in the computing school, I had always striven to achieve the best outcome with the least number of lines of code.  And now, at work, I enjoy distilling complex topics into a few core principles.

There is beauty and elegance in simplicity.  It’s no surprise that I am drawn to the work of a Zen monk and Zen gardener.  Despite having decided not to purchase any new book until I am done with a dozen of unread books accumulated from previous year, I couldn’t resist when I chanced upon The Art of Simple Living by Shunmyo Masuno.

I used to devour books like a hungry teen at a buffet.  But this time, I decided to slow down and pause after every bite.  Exactly 50 days ago, on 19 January 2020, I set out on a #50DaysOfSimpleLiving challenge to fully immerse myself into Shunmyo’s ‘100 daily practices.’  Each day, I shared a couplet on Instagram and Facebook, and tried putting them into practice.

Here are my Top 10 daily Zen practices from 5o consecutive days of experimenting with Shunmyo’s Art of Simple Living and how they have impacted me.

01. Day #11: Try just sitting quietly in nature.  I’ve always loved nature, but have definitely spent a disproportionately high percentage of my life being seated in front of the laptop.  This has prompted me to make time to connect with both nature and with myself more regularly.  It has brought greater clarity of mind and deeper peace in my heart.

02. Day #13: Focus on others’ merits. I’ve been known to be ‘highly critical’ and focusing on others’ merits (instead of faults) has enhanced the harmony and relationship both at work and at home.

03. Day #14: Don’t put off what you can do today.  A perfect remedy for the ‘chronic procrastinator’ in me. This practice had fueled actions to get a few things done, including publishing Let’s Hack Learning

04. Day #17: Be here now.  I’ve known the importance of being present to the HERE and NOW, but certainly haven’t put that into practice enough.  I think I’m more present now, especially when listening to another.

05. Day #24: Do not be swayed by the opinions of others.  A timely advice when faced with a recent dilemma amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.  I learned about decisiveness and the ability to trust in myself.

06. Day 27: Be grateful for every day, even the most ordinary.  Gratitude is indeed a powerful practice found in many spiritual and cultural traditions.  This had deepened the practice that I have observed when experimenting with A Year of Living Gratefully in 2017.

07. Day 27: Make the most of Life.  I am reminded that what matters most is not how long we live, but how we use the Life we are given.  Borrowing the words of George Bernard Shaw, “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.”

08. Day 34: Deepen your connection with someone.   Deep and meaningful relationships – that’s what I have always enjoyed.  I shall continue to do so, even with those whom I meet only once in my lifetime.

09. Day 43: Discard what you don’t need.  A very practical advice to simplify our lives.  I’m still working on my attachment to certain possessions and past experiences, but already enjoying the space created both physically and mentally from letting go of those that I am able to discard.

10. Day #50. Serve People.  Some friends have asked, “What happens after Day 50?”  Inspired by the words of wisdom from an old friend – “Being in service of another is a mutual gifting,”  I’ve decided to extend this final practice into the rest of the year with a next project: #50GoodHours.

I’m committing 50 hours of pro bono service to individuals seeking coaching, mentoring, or consultancy in the areas of personal development, leadership development, life transitions, and parenting.

If you know anyone or non-profit organisation (any where in the world) that I could be of service to, please have them contact me. Thanks for spreading the word. 🙏

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Why not check out The Art of Simple Living and find out for yourself how Shunmyo’s 100 daily practices could bring more simplicity, calm, and joy into your life?

Give yourself the gift of done

I’ve been pondering about a key lesson from my previous blog: “Done is better than perfect.”  Perfectionism has been one of my longstanding achilles heels.  And I’m known to be a chronic procrastinator too.

I excel at starting new initiatives, but not always finishing them.  There are way too many partially-baked ideas, abandoned projects, and half-written books that I’m too embarrassed to mention.

Enough is enough.  Turning 50 has heightened the sense of urgency to utilize my time and energy wisely and more productively.  Assuming that I live to 100, that’s 18,250 days remaining.  Each day provides a new opportunity to put the knowledge, wisdom, and experiences that I have amassed over the last five decades into good use.

I am reminded of a Chinese saying that came to mind as I was putting Shunmyo Masuno’s Zen practices into action on Day 38 of #50DaysofSimpleLiving

学以致用 (xuéyǐzhìyòng) means “to put into practice what has been learnt.”

 

So, last weekend, I decided to combat both perfectionism and procrastination by applying what I’ve learnt from Jon Acuff in his book FINISH and give myself the gift of done.  Finally, imperfect, but done – I brought closure to one of many half-written books that has been yearning to cross the finishing line for years.  And it feels great to make the first step from being a chronic starter to a consistent finisher.

Here’s the first edition of Let’s Hack Learning: How to become better at anything, faster.  I hope you will find it helpful.  Feel free to share it with others and spread the joy of learning!

What will you finish today to give yourself the gift of done?