To be rich, first be happy?

November 15, 2010

While thinking over the idea that beliefs create material facts (i.e., what you think & feel about comes about) I was pondering common beliefs about getting rich. For example, the most common one is probably “earning money is hard.” ¬†Another common one is “you must be smart or get a good education to earn good money.” And, many people have mentally embedded even much more negative beliefs such as “I just don’t seem to have whatever it takes to get rich.”

So, what are some affirmations which would still be credible to our rational mind and might lead to more useful beliefs. (Note: by repeating a good credible affirmation many gurus say we can turn it into an imbedded belief). Here are a cluster of possible affirmations which might work:
“the richer I want to be, the happier I must first be”
“to be rich, first be happy”
“affluence comes from happiness”
“to be really productive you must be happy”.

Given the definition of happiness (e.g., pleasure, flow, accomplishment, etc.) suggested in this blog these affirmations do seem to make some sense. After all “contented cows tend to be productive cows” and unhappiness can be very distracting to productivity as we have all often observed. The way these affirmations are worded also suggest that being happy does not automatically make you rich but that being happy can likely help you increase wealth. This has a ring of truth to me and is certainly consistent with what many gurus say.

Think about it. Perhaps you can create a variation of the above affirmations that works better for you. If you do then please let us know if it worked by changing your beliefs and habits in a productive way. Such “proofs” help us all believe.

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Other related affirmations I’ve heard:
– If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing (Harvey Milk)
– Easy, effortless, interesting, enjoyable (variation of one from Michael Ray)
– Follow your passion! Do what you love. The money will follow.
– Try not to become a man of (worldly) success but rather to become a man of value. (Albert Einstein)

 


* using your subconscious

August 7, 2008

One of the most famous success quotes, made by Napoleon Hill, is
“Whatever the mind of man
can conceive and believe
the mind of man can achieve.”

I’ve used an expanded version of this quote, as shown below, to organize quotes and notes from the book “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Dr. Joseph Murphy.

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Whatever the conscious mind of man
can conceive and steadily imagine, feel, and believe,
the subconscious mind of man can easily achieve.
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conceive (identify, choose)
steadily (attend, sustain attention)
imagine (mental equivalent, think)
feel (feeling picture)
believe (allow, accept, faith)
easily
achieve (germinate, actualize)

Further notes on: success, guidance, quotes

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conceive (identify, choose)
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* Do not let yourself get bogged down in thinking about details and means. Know what the end result will be. Get a feel of the happy solution to your problem. p105.

* As within, so without. As above, so below. p40
* Look around you. You will notice that the vast majority of people live in the world without. Those who are most enlightened, however, are intensely involved with the world within. They realize — as you will too — that the world within creates the world without. p8

* Every thought is a cause, and every condition an effect. p7
* Exterior things are not causitive. They are effects not causes. Your thought is cause. p195
* Most people try to change conditions and circumstances by working on those conditions & circumstances. They fail to see that their condition flows from a cause. p8
* Change the cause, and you change the effect. It is just that simple. p8
* The way you think, feel, and act towards others returns at last upon yourself. p198
* I am the only thinker in my universe. p202

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steadily (attend, sustain attention)
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* Your business is with your conscious mind and not your subconscious mind. Just keep your conscious mind busy with the expectation of the best and make sure the thoughts you habitually think are based on things that are lovely, true, just, and harmonious. p44

* The power of sustained imagination can bring success. p138
* Like a good actor, she lived the role. Act as though I am, and I will be. She put herself wholeheartedly into the act, living, moving, and acting on the assumption she owned the store. p139
* He was able to imagine, see, and feel the reality of being a doctor. He sustained it, nourished it, and loved it. p128

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imagine (mental equivalent, think)
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* They (great business leaders) cultivate the ability to see an upcoming project as if it were already complete. p136
* Having clearly seen the end, you have willed the means to the realization of the end. p128
* I, more than anyone, understand how the power of sustained imagination can bring success” said a famous actor who grew up on a farm. p138

* Desire is a wish with wings of imagination and faith. Imagine the fulfillment of your desire, feel its reality and it will come to pass. p194
* If she could impregnate her subconscious mind with a clear and specific idea, those subconscious powers would somehow bring it to pass. p139

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feel (feeling picture)
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* Bear in mind that your feeling is the touchstone of all subconscious demonstration. Your new idea must be felt subjectively in a finished state, felt not as something that may come to pass in the future, but as something that is actively coming to pass at this moment. p106

* Whatever you feel is true subjectively is expressed as conditions, experiences, and events. Motion and emotion must balance. As in heaven (your own mind), so on earth (in your body and environment). This is the great law of life. p40
* As within, so without. As above, so below. p40

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believe (allow, accept, faith)
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* To believe is to accept that something is true, to live in the state of being it. p106
* “Act as if” to encourage belief.

* Thought fused with feeling becomes a subjective faith or belief. p137
… and according to your belief it is done unto you. Matt 9:29 p137
* It responds to faith or conscious mind acceptance. p106
* Belief is a thought in the subconscious mind. It means to accept something as true. The thought accepted executes itself automatically. p45

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easily
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* Desire to accomplish things the easy way — with the sure aid of mental science. p92
* Mental effort often leads to self-defeat. You are trying too hard. p108

* Bob understood that his conscious mind was like a camera … and that his subconscious mind was the sensitive plate on which he registered and impressed the picture. p229 So he used no effort. p230 He quietly adjusted his thoughts and focused his attention on the scene before him until he gradually identified with the picture.

* Use imagination not willpower. Working harder does not lead to better results. Use no willpower. Instead visualize the end and the state of freedom it produces. You will find your intellect trying to get in the way, trying to find ways to solve the problem and impose those ways on the subconscious.
Resist this. Picture yourself without the problem. Imagine the emotional gratification of the freedom you seek. Cut out all the red tape from the process. The simple way is best. p106

* The difficulty is that the conscious mind always interferes with the sensory evidence based on outer experiences. p97 This produces mixed messages to the subconscious.

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achieve (germinate, impregnate, actualize)
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* Your subconscious is like a bed of soil that accepts any kind of seed, good or bad. Your thoughts are active; they are the seeds. p17
* Once the subconscious mind accepts an idea, it begins to execute it. p15
* If two of you shall agree … it shall be done. The two stand for the harmonious union or agreement between your conscious and subconscious on any idea, desire, or mental image. p109

* Your conscious mind is the “watchman at the gate.” Its chief function is to protect your subconscious mind. Your greatest power is your capacity to choose. p34
* Your conscious mind is the reasoning mind. It is that phase of the mind that chooses. p16
* The job of the conscious is to choose. The job of the unconscious is to produce.
* The conscious needs to protect the unconscious from outside negative influences and to provide it with good seeds to produce. Otherwise the unconscious lays fallow or worse.
* Whatever you impress on your subconscious mind is expressed on the screen of space as conditions, experiences, and events. Therefore, you should carefully watch all ideas and thoughts entertained in your conscious mind. p48

* Belief has both conscious and unconscious aspects
– Conscious acceptance. A conscious thought/feeling that has been paid enough attention with enough feeling that it has worn a habitual groove … and has obtained conscious mind acceptance that it is true.
– Unconscious faith. A subconscious feeling/thought that has been accepted on faith by the subconscious mind as true. The subconscious mind normally relies on the conscious mind to determine what is true and worthy of consideration for unconscious acceptance. It has no reasoning ability to test for truth.

Conscious acceptance is normally the ‘active seed’ that is planted in fertile unconscious ‘ground.’ When that seed germinates into unconscious faith then it will grow as per the seed’s blueprint.

* The unconscious communicates best in the language of feelings and images rather than in the language of thoughts. If the unconscious is fed a clear image fused with a clear feeling of truth … which it then accepts … then it will produce.

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* Ways to help the active seed germinate

clarity:
– Develop clear images and feelings. You must have a clear-cut idea in your mind. p105. Avoid confusing mixed messages.
– Protect the seed from negative thoughts/feelings. Use your will to manage your thought.
– Watch especially carefully for habitual negative thinking. Immediately catch such thoughts and drown them out with positive counter thoughts.

repetition:
– Affirmations … if done with feeling rather than just vain repetitions.
– Your affirmation succeeds best when it is specific and when it does not produce a mental conflict or argument. p115 Your subconscious accepts what you really feel to be true, not just idle words or statements. p115

relaxation:
– Feed your unconscious mind seeds while in a relaxed, drowsy meditative state. p229. Then your conscious mind is less likely to mix in negative inputs along with the seeds.
– The conscious mind is submerged to a great extent when in a sleepy state. The best time to impregnate your subconscious is just prior to sleep. … In this state the negative thoughts and imagery that tend to neutralize your desire and so prevent acceptance by your subconscious mind no longer present themselves. When you image the reality of the fulfilled desire and feel the thrill of accomplishment, your subconscious brings about the realization of your desire. p110.
– At my suggestion, Shara put herself into a sleepy, drowsy state each night at bedtime, then began to imagine the best possible ending to her problem. She put herself into a state of feeling it to the best of her ability. She knew that the image in her mind had to agree with her heart’s desire. p110
– Principle reasons for failure: lack of confidence and too much effort. p103.
To use mental force or willpower is to presuppose that there is opposition. p109
Mental coercion or too much effort shows anxiety and fear that block your answer. Easy does it. p112

pma:
– Work to develop a seedbed of Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) by pondering good abstract generalities. Then you unconscious mind will accept seed better and will even feed back to the conscious mind positive specific ideas of its own.
– Imagine the happy ending or solution to your problem, feel the thrill of accomplishment, and what you imagine and feel will be accepted by your subconscious mind, which will bring it to pass. p48

OTHER NOTES
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notes on success
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* Many prominent business executives quietly use the abstract term “success” over and over many times a day until they reach the conviction that success is theirs. They know that the idea of success contains all the essential elements of success. Likewise, you can begin now to repeat the word “success” to yourself with faith and conviction. Your subconscious mind will accept it as true of you, and you will be under a subconscious compulsion to succeed. p146
* Become a successful executive by imagining yourself doing what you long to do and possessing the things you long to possess. Become imaginative; mentally participate in the reality of the successful state. Make a habit of it. Go to sleep feeling successful every night and perfectly satisfied, and you will eventually succeed in implanting the idea of success in your subconscious mind. Believe you were born to succeed, and wonders will happen as you pray. p146

* Whatsoever I do shall prosper p129
* Repeat for about five minutes to yourself three or four times a day, ” Wealth. Success.” You are not saying, “I am wealthy,” you are dwelling on real powers within you. There is no conflict in the mind when you say, “Wealth.” Furthermore, the feeling of wealth will well up within you as you dwell on the idea of wealth.
* I like money and money likes me. I use it wisely. I release it with joy, and it returns a thousand fold. p132
* Steps to success: p135
(1) Find out the thing you love to do, then do it. Make it a strength.
(2) Find a speciality that uses your strength and try to know more about it than anyone else.
(3) Be sure to do good for humanity; then it will come back to you magnified and full of blessings.
* You must give to receive. If you give mental attention to your goals, ideals, and enterprises, your deeper mind will back you up. The key to wealth is to apply the laws of the subconscious mind by impregnating it with the idea of wealth. p132

* Your true source of wealth consists of the ideas (and ambitions) in your subconscious mind. You can have an idea (and ambition) worth millions of dollars. Your subconscious will give you the idea you seek. p120

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notes on inner guidance
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* Does a thought make you feel better? If so then you know that your subconscious approves. This is the internal guidance system, i.e., wisdom, available to let you know whether you are thinking the right thoughts or not.

* If you can’t find a field you love then pray for the guidance of your deeper mind in this way: The infinite intelligence of my subconscious mind reveals to me my true place in life. If you repeat it quietly, with faith, the answer will come to you as a feeling, a hunch, or a tendency in a certain direction. It will come to you clearly and in peace, and as an inner silent awareness. p134

* The tendency of your subconscious is lifeward. It speaks to you in intuitions, impulses, hunches, intimations, urges, and ideas. p94.
* Guidance comes as a feeling, an inner awareness, an overpowering hunch whereby you know that you know. It is an inner sense of touch. Follow it with the simplicity of faith. p160
* The infinite power within me which knows everything is showing me my perfect way and I am gratefully actualizing this wonderful life each day.

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notes – quotes
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* You can discover the miracle-working power of your subconscious by plainly stating to your subconscious prior to sleep that you want a specific thing accomplished. You will be amazed and delighted to discover that forces within you will be released that lead to the result you wished for. p36

* Experiment scientifically until you personally prove that there is always a direct response from the infinite intelligence of your subconscious mind to your conscious thinking. p92

References:
* Page numbers above are from The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy
* Napoleon Hill YouTube video
* Clement Stone YouTube video


* identifying interests that can lead to strengths

July 23, 2008

How can you identify activities that
* make you feel strong (g84)
* improve the most as you train and practice (g76 & 77).

This subject is tackled by the book Go Put Your Strengths To Work by Marcus Buckingham. A partial summary and some comments are written below. For more detail read the book itself.

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The author defines strengths as consisting of
* innate interests and talents which are portable between situations
* learned knowledge and skills which are situation specific

Interest is the most important because it provides the energy to practice enough to obtain any needed knowledge and skills required to develop a strength. While talent suggests potential strength, research indicates that exceptional performance usually requires “spending a lot of time perfecting it” (g86). And, “very few of us maintain a strong appetite for an activity in which we clearly have no ability” (g87). In the end “your appetites determine which activities you yearn to practice and which ones you don’t” (g86).

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So, the goal becomes developing an “interest statement” that is:
* specific enough to turn you on
* general enough that it is useful as a tool to test and filter in/out what activities you should do more/less of. (g96)
This process involves catching specific examples, clarifying and rewriting them in a more generalizable form, and confirming they work. See details below

CATCH specific activity examples
Start by looking alertly at the jumble of activities that fill your days and then capture those you love by instantly writing down exactly what you are doing as you feel the love. Look for those activities that give you a real emotional charge, a significantly positive feeling that make you feel stronger or wanting more. If you find nothing gives you a real charge then start by listing the top 10% (likes) and bottom 10% (dislikes).

Two activity examples the book’s author caught were:
“I interviewed Rosa — interesting lady”
“Preparing for a presentation to the Chick-fil-A group” (g101).
These may not do much for you but they were two specific activities that turned him on during the week.

Three things to look for during this “catching” process are how you feel before, during, and after a specific activity.
* Before: Did you feel an instinctive pull towards doing it? Do you find yourself putting yourself in situations where you will have to perform it? (g81)
* During: Did you feel inquisitive, interested, or involved while doing it? Was it easy, enjoyable, effortless? Did you feel challenged, but in just the way you like to be challenged? (g83) Did you want to keep on doing it? Flow, or getting deeply involved because you are getting a series of little emotional charges from successfully meeting a series of interesting yet doable challenges, is shown by research to be where most people reach their peak of happiness. This was true even when they didn’t realize it during the flow itself.
* After: You may be tired but rather than feeling drained afterwards did you feel the exact opposite –fulfilled, powerful, all-is-right-with-the-world. Did it just feel right; if so then “you want this feeling again, and you’ll put yourself through a lot to get it.” (g84)
* Finally: Did you feel effective at it, or like you would like to be or could be effective at it.

The author uses an acronym to describe things to look for called SIGN. This stands for
* Success – Feeling of natural efficacy, a comparative strength.
* Instinct – Draws you in before. Feeling of pull.
* Growth – Keeps you focused during activity. Feeling of easy, inquisitive, involved flow.
* Need – “Makes you feel great afterwards, which in turn fuels the Instinct that draws you back in” (g86). This “just right” feeling is something you want more of.

CLARIFY
The specific activities you captured provide raw materials needed for clarifying strength statements. These strength statements will then help make it clear, during changing circumstances, the answers to such questions as: Where should I spend more of my time? Which new skills should I learn? Which projects should I seek out? (g102)

To “clarify” your stength statement the next steps are:
* prioritize the specific activity examples you caught and then, for the top ones,
* ask “Does it matter why/who/when/what/where/how I do this activity?”
You are searching to discover what aspects of the activity are
– really critical and must be present and
– largely irrelevant and can usually be ignored.

The author did this clarification process with his two activity examples and came up with the following strength statements:
* Activity example 1: “I interviewed Rosa — interesting lady” led to
* Resulting strength statement 1:
“I feel strong … when I interview someone who excels at his job and am exploring why he excels.”

* Activity example 2: “Preparing for a presentation to the Chick-fil-A group” (g101) led to
* Resulting strength statement 2:
“I feel strong … when I present but only (a) to a large group of people, (b) on a subject I know a lot about, (c) when I’m completely prepared, and (d) when I know my presentation will further a mission.”

His strength statements (yours will be completely different, of course) were
* specific & precise enough so that they would always turn him on
* generalizable enough to help him judge what to do next in a variety of new situations. (g96)

CONFIRM
Once you have some good strength statements then confirm that they will work well for you as filtering tools.

Review them to confirm they show the SIGNs of a strength:
* Success: I’ve had several signs that I have been or can be successful at this type of activity.
* Instinct: I feel a gut attraction for this type of activity and thus do it often.
* Growth: I pick up this activity quickly. I’m interested in learning about it and find myself thinking about it often.
* Need: I enjoy looking forward towards and back at this type of activity.

Make sure that the type of activity your strength statement describes gives you a feeling of urgency and the extreme positive reactions so characteristic of a strength. Make sure it is just right. Perhaps you left out one small but crucial element. Or, perhaps you didn’t refine strength statement enough so that it will always be valid.

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FOLLOW THROUGH
Once you have some strength statements start using them for practical guidance about what specific activities you should do more of next week. You don’t have to understand everything since this is a learning by observation process. But do get started. And stay inquisitive and learn by experiencing the doing itself.

Just by realizing you are making progress
– learning more about your strengths and
– increasing the possibilities for spending more of your future time using them
should start making your current work more enjoyable.

In general, make it your goal to learn and improve from the feedback you receive each day. That is why top athletes don’t find practice boring; during each practice session they are working on doing something specific better than last time. It’s not just how long they practice, it’s how they practice.

Begin to deliberately fill each new week with more and more specific activities that fit your strength statements than you did the last week. Begin building towards your strengths by playing to some aspect of these activities — it might be the “seeking out the right person to interview” aspect of number one, or the “preparing presentation aspect” of number two (g93).

To free your strengths will require you to do more of those activities that come naturally to you. The world is indifferent to you and your strengths. So it is up to you and you alone to push yourself to come up with specific things you can do to capitalize on your strengths a little more this week than you did last week. (g121).

Every week complete a strong week plan for making it as close to an ideal week as possible (g249). In your plan identify and push toward two specific activities (strengths) and away from two others (weaknesses).

Every day look over your top three Strength Statements and your worst three Weakness Statements. (g248). Always keep them in mind so that you begin noticing opportunities to use them to tell you what to do next.

Do it, study it, then redo it again and better the next week until your strengths are FREE
* Focus: Identify how and where this strength helps you in your current role. (g138 )
* Release: Find the missed opportunities in your current role. (g140)
* Educate: Learn new skills and techniques to build this strength. (g143)
* Expand: Build your job around this strength. (g147).

References:
g??? Page numbers following the “g” reference are from
Go Put Your Strengths To Work by Marcus Buckingham


* space organization concepts

July 7, 2008

Exactly when is a space well organized? When it helps to accomplish a specific purpose. In other words, defining well organized can be done only in the context of a particular purpose. When a space and its contents becomes an efficient tool to help quickly, easily, and enjoyably accomplish its user’s specific goal … then you will know, intuitively and for certain, that the space is well organized.

USEFUL
To make a space useful it is critical to know the basic purpose you want to accomplish. So, “begin with the end in mind.” Start with a general concept of the end purpose, results, and experiences you truly desire; then hold this ideal in mind as you develop a vision of particular shapes and contents that might best begin to fulfill it.

This sort of thinking is what the saying “form follows function” implies. Try considering space volume and content as tools to accomplish a purpose. What volumes and shapes and boundaries are necessary? What would be nice? What contents are needed either in it or visible from it or nearby to it? What is the user physically doing within the space or with the contents? Is there a natural flow of activity which the space should support. Does a particular volume, boundary, content item, or physical relationship (e.g., near, far, obvious, hidden) make the purpose easier or more difficult to accomplish?

The concepts minimal and clean are also beneficial. Getting rid of unused, unnecessary distractions to the primary purpose helps make a space useful. One elegant way to create a very clean look while adding large amounts of accessible storage is a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling closet; when the closet is open you see everything and when it is closed you see nothing.

Multi-purpose is also related to the concept of useful. Sometimes particular items of furniture, such as a wallbed, can allow a small space to aptly serve two purposes. Another space planning example is a aptly placed walkway that provides direct access to multiple areas rather than to just one.

RELEVANT
Being relevant is closely related to being useful. It suggests that the contents of a space should be just what you need, when and where you need them. “Just in time” and “just in place” are similar ideas.

Another one is accessibility. Having near at hand what you need when you need it speeds up any job and minimizes frustration. Well organized space should help create flow — smooth, steady, easy, enjoyable progress.

Of course irrelevant items need to be out of the way both physically and visually. “Clearing the decks” aids in making a space relevant by removing physical and mental distractions.

DISTINCT
Having sharp visual or physical separations helps identify exactly what things are and where they belong. Separating items into groups, or even just piles like when you are sorting the laundry, is an example of creating distinctions.

If possible make each area completely self-contained, containing every item and only those items you actually need.

Using appropriate containers helps to keep items both distinct (e.g., all the 1/4″ screws in one box, all phone books together on one shelf) and accessible. Selecting the right containers to fit the job is part of organizing space.

OBVIOUS
Making it obvious what a space is for and how to find items in it is a valuable time and mind saver. Simplicity is a virtue. Visual dividers or clear signs might help accomplish this. An example would be storing tools stored within their colored outlines on a well ordered work bench.
Other aspects of obvious are order and hierarchy, versus a confusing hodgepodge. Having a “place for everything and everything in its place” makes it quick to find and store things. Of course order and hierarchy are the underlying concepts behind the way books are organized in a public library.

ELEGANT
The inner beauty of a well organized space could also be described as elegant. This term suggests such intangibles as using space in ways that are especially apt, intuitively obvious, appropriate, comfortable, and beautiful. It includes knowing just where to splurge and where to cut back. It includes everything working out in a beautiful, integrated fashion.


* uncluttering techniques

July 7, 2008

A friend recently asked me for some ideas on how to unclutter her house and life. Though I’m not free of clutter either here are a few techniques, some of which have really helped me. They are not ultimate solutions but habits that tend to keep clutter down. Then, it becomes easier to deal with what’s left.

Obviously all these techniques won’t work for you on every situation. But, think a little about each of them and try the few that feel best. If only one or two of them does work for you then you’ve started to make a dent in your clutter problem.

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1. Pick up as you go (PAGO)
As you walk through the house pick up things and move them the next stage forward. This saves steps (saves half a round trip) with little incremental effort and steadily moves the mass of clutter in the right direction. Look at it as creating a steady flow in the right direction with minimal effort.

I also find this approach can be used as a time filler for when I’m standing around and don’t have something more useful to do :). This habit tends to keep the clutter down enough so that the remaining mess doesn’t psych me out as much and can be finished off much more easily later.

One example of where I use this approach is to clean dishes off the table. If there are some on the table when I walk by I will pick them up on the way and deposit them in the dishwasher.

I also do this with projects by moving the tools & materials into a pile near where the project is going to be done. Then, when I’m ready to do the project everything is already set up which is often a big part of the effort.

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2. Stacks
Roughly group similar things together in either stacks or boxes. Make the difference between stacks simple and obvious so that no tough decision making is needed. Don’t work too hard at it but try to keep related items together enough so that it is obvious later which stack to find them. If you wish these stacks can be split up into more substacks later.

Three obvious stacks you can use in most situations are (1) save, (2) trash, and (3) maybe. Throw away the trash stack and start again later on the maybe stack when you feel like it.

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3. Junk boxes
The real problem with junk is typically that you don’t know what to do with it. It’s a maybe pile which makes decision making harder.. Letting junk age often helps to clarify the answer.

I put paperwork junk in junk boxes and do bother with very little time-consuming organization in the process of boxing it. These junk boxes typically end up in the garage. Then every 1-10 years I’ll clean out the junk boxes, at least partially, which is fairly easy later because a lot of the old stuff is obviously irrelevant and can just be thrown away. I’ll also clean junk boxes the easy “do it as you go” way; i.e., whenever I happen to be looking for something in junk boxes I’ll tend to simultaneously pick out and dump obvious trash in the process of searching through the box for something else.

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4. Clean as you go (CAGO)
CAGO is a concept used by MacDonald’s to keep control of their mess. It stands for the phrase “Clean As You Go.” The more CAGO you can do the less clutter you have to deal with later. When I’m not tired I do a good job of CAGO and when I am tired I still do it, just not as completely.

In any event, what I usually do is to leave the place a little cleaner than when I started. If others have also messed it up then cleaner than if I hadn’t been involved or a user thereof (though perhaps I’ll clean some other aspect than what I messed up). CAGO doesn’t always work for me, depending on my energy level and other distractions, but it usually does. See http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19980101/STEWARDSHIP/CLEANUGO.HTM .

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5. Stake a claim
Certain places in our house can get messy due to communal use so I have staked out a portion of them which I keep spotless regardless of the mess nearby. One example is my side of the bathroom counter.

This is just a matter of making a decision to do a small thing right … then always doing it. It helps your morale by showing that at least you can control one aspect of your life :). And, once an area is spotless it is usually not that much effort to keep it that way if you always stay on top of it.

This approach can even work when others are messing up an area. However, I find trying to keep too large an area spotless that is enveloped by relentless stream of clutter generated by others can be demoralizing. Therefore, I suggest not trying to use this approach to do too much, i.e., the impossible.

VARIATIONS on this theme follow:

5a. The island of sanity defense
Sometimes one needs an “island of sanity” in a world of chaos. This is just another description of the claim staking process.

5b. Focusing
Just keep focused on one little thing until you finally accomplish it, just like focusing the sun on one spot with a looking glass.

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6. The 10% solution
Just do the easiest 10-20% of the job. Look for small crack or some other easy way to start. Do it in small stages. Do the easiest 10% then come back and do the next easiest 10% later.

VARIATIONS on this theme follow:

6a. Baby steps: Basically take baby steps rather than trying to do a big chunk at once. If your motivation flags then reduce the size of the baby step even further. Then do another baby step later.

6b. Round 1, Round 2, etc variation: Just hit the problem for short round 1. Then later do round 2, and so on. This approach is analogous to the editing process some writers use to clean up a document.

One useful angle on this, to get started, is to have NO expectations for round 1. Just get started doing whatever is easy with no plans to push into any further … and call this round 1. I often find that after starting this way I learn that the project was much, much easier than expected.

6a. A little slice
Some kids have been known to slice a very small piece off a pie so as not to make it obvious any is gone. Of course, this doesn’t work well after several small slices.

The same approach can be used with clutter. Just keep nipping small pieces of clutter off the edges. Eventually they accumulate. Works well in conjunction with the CAGO approach.

6c. Find a crack
Look for a crack or crevice that’s easy to start with. Do it then another, and another, and so on.

6d. Function First (aka form follows function)
Rather than try to make something look good just make it functional. Functionality is a good start which will get most of the value you want.


* book: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

May 27, 2008

While reading Why Wages Rise I noted a lot of similarities with what Adam Smith says. Related comments and quotes from The Wealth of Nations follow:

DIVISION OF LABOR
* The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to be the effects of the division of labour. wn9

* Pin-making factory example: Each person (trained and working together in a pin-making factory) might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But, independently and without training, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day. wn11. So, the advantage of division of labor in this example is somewhere between 200:1 and 4800:1.

* In every other art and manufacture, the effects of the division of labour are similar to what they are in this very trifling one. wn12

* This great increase of the quantity of work, which, in consequence of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances;
1. to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman;
2. to the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and
3. lastly, to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many. wn14

* The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause, as the effect of the division of labour. wn25

* And thus the certainty of being able to exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men’s labour as he may have occasion for, encourages every man to apply himself to a particular occupation, and to cultivate and bring to perfection whatever talent or genius he may possess for that particular species of business. wn25

ADVANTAGES OF TRADE
* When the division of labor has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man’s wants which the produce of his own labour can supply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging that surplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men’s labour as he has occasion for. wn33

* Unlike most animals, man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. … He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer. … We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. wn24

* Among men, on the contrary (vs animals), the most dissimilar geniuses are of use to one another; the different produces of their respective talents, by the general disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, being brought, as it were, into a common stock, where every man may purchase whatever part of the produce of other man’s talents he has occasion for. wn26

* David Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage, argues that “even if a country has no absolute advantage in any product (ie. it is not the most efficient producer for any good), the disadvantaged country can still benefit from specializing in and exporting the product(s) for which it has the lowest opportunity cost of production.”

VALUE
* The real price of everything, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. What every thing is really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to dispose of it or exchange it for something else, is the toil and trouble which it can save to himself, and which it can impose upon other people. wn43

* Labour was the first price, the original purchase money that was paid for all things. wn44

* Wealth is the quantity either of other men’s labour, or, what is the same thing, of the produce of other men’s labour, which enables him to purchase or command. wn44

WAGE DIFFERENTIALS
* Wages vary with five circumstances:
1. agreeableness of the employment,
2. cost of learning the business,
3. constancy of employment,
4. trust to be reposed,
5. probability of success. wn140

but three things are necessary as well as perfect freedom;
1. the employments must be well known and long established, since new trades yield higher wages, and higher profits;
2. the employments must be in their natural state, since the demand for labour in each employment varies from time to time and profits fluctuate with the price of the commodity produced; and
3. the employments must be the principal employment of those who occupy them, since people maintained by one employment will work cheap at another. wn161

PRICE
* The component parts of the price of commodities are:
1. Quantity of labour is originally the only rule of value, allowance being made for superior hardship, and for uncommon dexterity and ingenuity. Such talents can seldom be acquired but in consequence of long application, and the superior value of their produce may frequently be no more than a reasonable compensation for the time and labour which must be spent in acquiring them.
2. The profits of the owner of the whole stock of materials risked and wages which he advanced (in addition, possibly, to his own wages for inspection and direction).
3. The rent to the landlord of the land used. wn71

* The rent of land … is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give. wn200

* It is not because wealth consists more essentially in money than in goods, that the merchant finds it generally more easy to buy goods with money, than to buy money with goods; but because
– money is the known and established instrument of commerce, for which everything is readily given in exchange, but which is not always with equal readiness to be got in exchange for everything.
– The greater part of goods besides are more perishable than money, and he may frequently sustain a much greater loss by keeping them.
– Over and above all this, his profit arises more directly from selling than from buying …
he is upon all these accounts generally much more anxious to exchange his goods for money, than his money for goods. wn551.

Reference:
The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
See similar quotes on post Why Wages Rise


* book: Why Wages Rise by F.A. Harper

May 27, 2008

This book, published in 1957, gives simple, clear, and well reasoned explanations of the sources of economic value. Comments and quotes regarding areas of particular interest to me are as follow:

DEFINITIONS
* Higher wages come from increased output per hour of work. w19
* … wage is a price, too. It is the price of doing work … w99

TOOLS TO HARNESS ENERGY w28
* The growth in energy output (man+animal+mineral & water power) per man-hour of work for the last century … rose from about 5 man hours to about 33 man hours in 1950. w34.
* One horsepower is roughly equal to the energy of ten able-bodied men working strenuously — i.e., each man working an equivalent of lifting 55 pounds one foot a second, continuously. Or to illustrate its power another way, only one 75-watt light bulb in use represents as much energy as that of one man turning the crank on the generator. w33

* This remarkable harnessing of energy, along with the idea of wage payments among specialists under relative freedom of exchange, accounts in great measure for the rise in wages in the United States over the decades (1850-1950). w34.

* Tools make the difference. Of our total output, perhaps as much as 95 per cent is because of the use of tools. And this is at a cost of only about 15 per cent of total output, as pay to those who have saved to create these tools. That, and not Marx’s concept, is the miracle that creates a surplus of value. w27

DOING WHAT YOU CAN DO BEST w35
* … endless human variation … creates the chance for endless cooperation, to the mutual advantage of participants. This opportunity can exist only as differences are understood and tolerated — allowed to blossom into the cooperation with which we are here concerned. w36

* The process, rather than to demand more mental or physical effort in the form of work, only increases the extent of concentration of one’s effort on what he can do best. He spends less time on what he cannot do well, obtaining it insteady by means of trade. w39.

THE MIRACLE OF EXCHANGE
* The miracle of exchange. This process of exchanging the fruits of one’s efforts performs what may seem like a miracle. Each is allowed to use more fully his peculiar abilities in production. The appearance of a miracle is due to the fact that the whole seems greater than the sum of its parts. w37
* This is how the seeming miracle works. It is really rooted in exchange rather than in production. It is a process that allows rearrangement of what is produced from the producer, who wants it little or not at all, to someone who wants it much more as a consumer. So there arises a cooperating circle of such exchanges. w38

* The capacity to increase one’s specialized production beyond one’s own needs includes all the aids to specialized production discussed in previous chapters — savings, the harnessing of power, and the like. these become aids to the use of a person’s rare ability, putting increased leverage on the unusual ability of a person like an inventor or a machine technician. w40

* So by trading rather than working harder, both sides of the exchange greatly increase the satisfaction of their wants. w43

MONEY AS LUBRICANT
* Money serves as a lubricant in exchange. … Serving in a sense like a lubricant in a motor, money facilitates the movement of other things in exchange without itself being consumed or even wanted for consumption. w44.

* For anything to serve as money, it must enjoy a multiple acceptance; otherwise it cannot perform the task of money. and the wider its acceptance, the better it will serve as a lubricant for trade. w45.

* Money serves as an IOU for a barter. It allows a time shift between the bartering of two products thus serving as a store of value which can be traded for a wide variety of products and services.

* By using money, the two persons don’t need to find each other directly. … It is a device that reduces all alternative offerings of employment to one common denominator of expression — the money wages of the various job offerings. comparison is then much easier than if the pay offer were in one case a certain number of bushels of wheat, in another some shoes, and the like.

LEISURE AS WAGES
* So it is not really inactivity we want, in our yearning for more leisure. It is, instead, our desire to be active at something other than our regular activity. … to do something else for a change. … A point is finally reached where more work and more things become less appealing than more leisure. … since leisure is — in a sense — a form of wage. w88
* What most persons do with their leisure costs them money. Yet they probably are paying for the privilege of doing something that someone else gets paid for doing regularly for his living.

PRICING
* The function of price is to discourage production of unwanted items and to encourage production of what is wanted. w96
* … trading will be greatest at the equality point, a free price. Either above or below that point trading is lessened, either because things are not wanted at a higher price or because they will not be produced and made available at a lower price. w99

* The trouble is, however, that jobs are lost three times as fast as wages are raised. this being true, the highest income is to be found at full employment. Per studies by Douglas and Pigou the elasticity of demand for labor is -3.0, or a little more. w108

OTHER SUBJECTS
F.A. Harper also does a fine job of explaining the economic effect of such subjects as unions, minimum wage laws, money, government services, etc.

References:
Why Wages Rise, F.A. Harper
See similar quotes in post on The Wealth of Nations