Connecting 4 dots: how to live a romantic life and make the world more romantic

This post is for those who want to live a romantic life and to make the world more romantic. I’ll give you a brief outline of how you can do that by minimizing stuff, maximizing experience, living your life as your art, and finally, making the world more romantic.

From one idea to four steps: How I got there

In the middle of 2010, I realized a higher purpose of my life –  I want to make the world more romantic. This is one of the big things I want to achieve in my life, because I see it’s how I can make the world a better place. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may know what I’m talking about. If you are new to this blog, you may not see what I mean. Keep reading on and you’ll know it.

Around the same time, I figured that I want to live my life as my art. That’s another ambiguous idea, especially when you try to understand what exactly it means.

These ideas get along with one another pretty well, because living your life as your art is, in my view, what it means to live romantically. If you live romantically, you are making the world a little bit more romantic. So, there you go.

Living my life as my art is how I make the world more romantic – this has been the core theme of this blog, and writing about it helped me clarify what’s involved in living your life as your art.

How do you live your life as your art? Wait, what exactly does it mean to live your life as your art? I’ll give more detailed answers to these questions, but for now, let me say this – living your life as your art means living fully, and you live it by maximizing experience.

In order to maximize experience, you need to get rid of or stay away from distractions, blocks, and clutters. In other words, you need to minimize stuff.

Through clarification, I came to realize that this project of making the world more romantic consists of the following 4 steps.

  • Minimize stuff
  • Maximize experience
  • Live your life as your art
  • Make the world more romantic

How They Are Connected

Before I explain what’s involved in these step, I want to draw connections between each step so you can have a better grasp of the big picture. The first step is to minimize stuff. What I mean by “stuff” here is everything that creates distractions for you. By eliminating such distractions as much as possible, you’ll have a good foundation for the second step: maximizing experience. If you choose to live your life as your art, which is the third step, maximizing experience is a great way to do so, because living your life as your art involves meeting amazing people as well as having wonderful experiences. Once you’ve completed this step, the fourth step – making the world more romantic should be easy enough for you, because you are already being romantic by living your life as your art and what you can do further is to connect with other amazing people who live an amazing life; that’s how we make the world more romantic.

First Step: Minimizing Stuff

How do you focus on what you want to do when there are so many things that keep you away from what you love and what you want to do in your life? You could try by using various methods to manage clutters and to make sure you focus on what you want to do.

But that’s like fighting a fight you can’t win. Instead of wasting your time, energy and resources, avoid fighting and move on.

For a quick start, you can start eliminate things you have. Do you need that pile of documents? No? Get rid of them. Have you worn those clothes recently? No? You can get rid of them too.

In addition to physical distractions, there are mental distractions as well. It may be trickier to get rid of mental distractions than physical distractions, but it can be done. For example, you can write down whatever that comes to your mind for 3 pages by handwriting every morning. This exercise is one of the core exercises in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. If you keep doing it everyday for a few months, it can help you dump your mental distractions.

If you don’t have to manage your physical or mental distractions, you’ll be able to have more time, energy and other resources for what you love. This alone can be a great motivation to minimize stuff. But what we want to aim here is more than that. We want to maximize experience.

Second Step: Maximize Experience

There could be various ways of describing why one wants to maximize experience, but I believe the fundamental reason that underlies them is to live the best life one could live. You want to live fully, don’t you? I do.

How can we maximize experience? I think the following are essential:

  • Know what you want to do: Knowing what you want to do gives you a direction. If you know it already, that’s great. You can focus on it. If you don’t know it yet, don’t worry. You have plenty of time to figure it out, but make sure to start working on it right now.
  • Be curious: Curiosity is one of the best things you can have when you maximize experience. Curiosity helps you be open to wonderful and beautiful experiences life has to offer. Also, I believe the desire to satisfy your curiosity is a great motivator for what you do. So, it’s important to develop your curiosity. This is especially true if you’ve lost your curiosity somewhere along the way while growing up.
  • Celebrate: Live to celebrate your life. Whether to celebrate it or not is a choice you can make. Everything and everyone will enrich your life one way or another if you choose to learn lessons from them. If you live with this attitude, your life will be richer than now.

Third Step: Live Your Life As Your Art

I like this art metaphor, and it’s because I want to see my life as something I create rather than something I have no control of. Also, I believe that amazing people I meet as well as great experiences I experience contribute to my art. In fact, I believe they are invaluable elements of my art. They give me stories, visions, sounds, and everything else that enriches my life. I want to create this artwork and share it with those who matter to me.

Most of how I create it is already covered in Second Step – by maximizing experience.

One extra thing you need to do when taking this step is to be aware of your creation. Some of you may not fancy living your life this way and may want to live it another way. That’s totally fine. If you want to live your life as your art, however, you can do it by all means. This attitude of living your life as your art will get you move into that direction.

This way of living will be much better when you connect with other people who have the same attitude towards living. Connect with them, and combine your art with their arts. It will become something greater.

Fourth Step: Making The World More Romantic

If you’ve completed the three steps above, I guarantee you that you’ve become the romance you want to see in the world. The world has one more person who lives her or his life fully and it has become a little bit more romantic for that reason.

Once you’ve got to this stage, I believe you’ll be able to start influencing others to live their lives fully. This will help making the world more romantic, too.

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Are you living your story?

This is the last post for Reverb10. I’ll answer the prompts #29 (Defining Moment), #30 (Gift) and #31 (Core Story) and share some of insights I got from reflecting on 2011.

Prompt 29: Defining Moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

(Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

{Future tool: The 99%’s How to Budget for an Irregular Income. For the next 3 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

If I am to pick one defining moment that affected my life this year, it has to be the moment I saw a tweet about a fund raising event at Ben’s Cafe in early January. I don’t remember what that moment was like, exactly. What happened was that I saw this tweet, clicked the link in it, and got to Ben’s Cafe’s website. My purpose was to learn more about that fund raising event, but in addition to that information I was originally looking for, I came to know that there was a group to read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together.

I’ve mentioned this story a few times in this blog. So, let me add something to it in this round.

The reason why I clicked that link to Ben’s Cafe was simply because I was curious about this cafe as well as the fund raising event. I was interested in the event, but more in the cafe that hosted such an event, because I didn’t imagine there would be such a cafe in Tokyo. (I’m sure there are other cafes like Ben’s in Tokyo, but it’s pretty rare, I assume. As far as the vibe of the cafe and the quality of espresso are concerned, I rate Ben’s Cafe to my most favorite cafe in Tokyo.)

What made me click that link was my curiosity. What if I didn’t click it? It’s a pure coincidence I saw that tweet. I’m grateful for that. But, I could choose not to click that link and never learn about Ben’s Cafe. If I didn’t click that link, my year could have been totally different from what it was. I probably wouldn’t have met most of the new offline friends I met this year. I probably wouldn’t have done some of the projects I did this year. I probably wouldn’t have achieved what I achieved this year.

What made a huge difference to my 2010 was that one click. Whether it ends up becoming a false belief or not, it’s better, at least for me, to believe that there are a number of opportunities around here and there and it’s all up to us to notice them. It’s possible that you don’t know what you are looking for, but even in such cases, follow your curiosity and you’ll find yourself in something amazing.

I believe in my curiosity and having curiosity is one of the great ways to experience amazing things in your life.

Do you listen to your curiosity? Do you follow it? If not, why not?

Prompt 30: Gift

This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

(Author: Holly Root)

{Future tools: Lifehacker’s Free Tools to Manage New Years Resolutions and Gretchen Rubin’s Questions to Help You Make Effective New Year’s Resolutions.

Has #reverb10 made an impact on your writing, reflecting and life this month? Consider supporting the HQ team with a donation.}

On December 25th, I received a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) purple belt from my BJJ teacher. Since more than a year ago, I had been told by other people that I should be a purple belt, but since I had no one to grade me before coming back to Japan, I didn’t have a purple belt, and honestly, I didn’t worry too much about it.

All I wanted to do was to become a better grappler. To become stronger. To become more skilled. These belts themselves don’t mean anything, but how much you put yourself forward to the art of fighting does matter.

In fact, I believe this applies to other things in life as well. Don’t be worried too much about a new belt, because it will come when you’ve mastered skills necessary for holding that belt. If you have some time to be jealous about your friend who got that belt quicker than you did or some time to worry that you don’t have what it takes, use that time for training instead. Worrying will never make you get better, but training will.

I’m glad that I’m now recognized as I have reached this level, and I want to continue sharpening my skills. One of my big goals next year is to win my division at BJJ World Championship, to be held in California, in June. This goal gives me a great motivation for the first half of 2011.

What’s your big project in 2011?

Prompt 31: Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

(Author: Molly O’Neill)

{Future tool: Susannah Conway’s Allowing Dreams} Today is the final day of #reverb10. Thank you for your reverberations this month. Keep an eye on your inbox at the end of January 2011 for something from HQ.}

So, this is it. This is the last prompt of Reverb10. And I’ll make my answer brief and tell you what my central story will be in 2011.

The central story at the core of myself is that I will live my life as my art and as something to celebrate. I will navigate myself in this adventure by my curiosity. I will head east from Japan to the USA for BJJ World Championship and for World Domination Summit in June, and I will head south from the USA to Argentina after WDS. If there are monsters I need to fight, I’ll think about ways to get away without fighting them so I can focus on important things in my life. It’s an open story and desiring to be written down in my history book.

How do I share this story with the world? I can think of 4 ways to do this. I share my story with the world by…

  1. Living that story: Now I have declared this story in some platforms and in person, I’m motivated even more. I will live this story and that will become part of me.
  2. Being not afraid of showing up: But if I’m afraid of sharing my story or don’t believe in myself, it’s possible that I don’t feel like sharing my story. I choose not to be afraid of showing up and telling this story.
  3. Actually showing up: It’s easy to promise something to yourself and to forget to do it. I’ll keep myself accountable about it on this blog. I didn’t mean to write the sentence before this one, but I happened to write it. So, I shall do it.
  4. Getting others involved in this story: For me, my life – my art involves other people, who contribute their stories, visions, sounds and other things to my art. I want you to get involved in my art as well. I want you to be part of my story as well. You can subscribe to this blog to keep track of my journey to Latin America. If you are interested, please join me!

I’m grateful for Team Reverb10 for running this online initiative. It’s been a great way to reflect on 2010 and to prepare for 2011.

Tomorrow, I will share 27 lessons I learnt in my life with you on this blog. Stay tuned!

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Photo: Zest-pk

Cheshire Cat and 3 lessons of the year

This post will answer the prompts 23 (New Name) and 24 (Everything’s OK)  of Reverb10. Join us and reflect on your year 2010…

Prompt 23: New Name

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

(Author: Becca Wilcott)

{Future tool: Chris Guillebeau’s How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review. For the next 9 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Hi, my name is… Cheshire Cat. There’s already a group of people who refer to me as Cat. I believe the reason why they call me Cat is because my name is too long for them, even though Masa, the shortened version of my name Masafumi, has only two syllables. ‘Cat’ has only one syllable. So, I can understand they are desperate in saving their breath. If that’s not the reason, I bet it’s because I look like Cheshire Cat from the famous Alice in Wonderland. I can smile and disappear, leaving only the smile in the air.

But why would I want to use it as my new name?

Perhaps it’s because I want to be a representation of curiosity. Curiosity is what makes the cat’s life awesome. It doesn’t kill the cat. Also, I want to be able to disappear while leaving my smiles out there. I want to ask you delightful questions. I will do them in the new year. My new year will be a year of curiosity.

Prompt 24: Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

(Author: Kate Inglis)

{Future tool: Gwen Bell – How to Create Your Personal Manifesto. For the next 8 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

I can’t think of any single moment that would apply to this prompt. However, I can think of some lessons that I learnt from living in the moment. Let me mention three.

  1. Each step gets me closer to the top. I climbed Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, in August. It was raining hard. Although it was still climbable and not life threatening at least until we got to the top, later on I heard that even expert climbers thought it was a bad condition. Even in such a bad condition, however, each step got me closer to the top of the mountain. It’s a great lesson to apply to life in general as well. What’s small enough a step you can take to get to where you want to go? Figure it out, and take that step.
  2. I have enough resources. I’ve mentioned in previous posts, but working on the Artist’s Way was valuable in the sense that I realized I have enough resources already if I change the way of thinking. What you have doesn’t change by changing the way you think. However, if you look at it from the abundant mentality rather than the scarcity mentality, you are likely to realize that you do have enough. Is the cup half full or half empty?
  3. It’s great to wake up. Things like traveling to save money and realizing that I could travel to Latin America mostly by land from the USA were big shifts of thinking for me. It’s similar to #2 in the sense that it’s about looking at things from another perspective. In the moments when those realizations hit me, it feels like waking up in the sunlight. It’s amazing to know that you can turn your dreams into reality, by simply waking up and figuring out how to make them happen. (Hint: Throw away assumptions that you can’t do this or that, at least unless you actually do think about some ways to make it happen.)

Vision Board

Prompt 23 links to Gwen Bell’s phenomenal post on making your own manifesto. I especially recommend you to make your vision map. It’s a great way to visualize your dreams by making a collage of pictures that remind you of your dreams. I made my first vision map with Cheney of everyonebutsix.com at Tilley’s Divine Cafe in Canberra, Australia. We had a great time making vision maps together.

By the way, Gwen suggests cutting out photos from magazines, but I prefer to search images online and use them for a vision map. You might lose the joy of running into random photos in magazines this way, but you are more likely to find photos you actually want to use and in alignment with your vision too.

If you are based in or near Tokyo, you might be interested in Soness’s workshops. She runs workshops on how to make a vision map according to Feng Shui principles. If you find Feng Shui appealing, you know who to get in touch with. Her website is here.

I will be making another vision map before the end of the year and it will be fun. I want a new reminder for things I want to achieve in 2011! I feel like I’m accelerating now and I believe I am indeed. I know how I’m going to make my 2011 a great year, and that feels terrific.

How about you? What do you want to do in 2011?

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What’s your thoughts on these prompts? Tell me, because I’m curious. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: Chris Halderman

My future self would point at Latin America

This post will answer the prompts 21 (Future Self) and 22 (Travel)  of Reverb10. Join us and reflect on your year 2010…

Something about Reverb10

Before answering Prompts 21 and 22, I want to make a quick note about Reverb10. In short, it’s been helpful for me to reflect on my year 2010 and to prepare for the new year. I can’t quite figure out what’s behind the order of the prompts, but I do feel there’s a significant pattern and how they are put together helps me significantly. You don’t need to publish your answers on the web, but you can simply take a look at the prompt page of Reverb10 and answer the prompts in your free time. I believe it will be valuable to take some pause and make some reflections about your life.

Prompt 21: Future Self

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

(Author: Jenny Blake)

What advice would my future self give to my current self for the year 2011 (apart from this advice)?

  • Keep evolving and keep rocking.
  • Believe in yourself and show up.
  • Chase dreams and follow your heart.
  • Do what makes you feel alive and nothing else.
  • Bring that punk rock attitude back in you.
  • Do travel to Latin America.
  • You are ready to bloom in 2011.

What would I tell my younger self? As I think about it, I’d probably tell him the almost same things as above. If I were to tell my 80 year old self something, I would tell these things, too. How simple. But I believe my 80 year old self wouldn’t need my current self to tell those things to him, because he would be a kick-ass, punk rock man still chasing his dreams.

Prompt 22: Travel

How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

(Author: Tara Hunt)

{Future Tool: New Year’s Goal Questions for No-Goals Creatives from Jeffrey Davis. For the next 10 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

Although I didn’t travel much this year, when I did travel, it was always great.

But I will travel more next year. In the previous post, I wrote that I’d go to Buenos Aires. Earlier today, it occurred to me that I could go there via the USA. If I compared a flight from Tokyo to Buenos Aires with a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles, the latter would be much cheaper. The same result would hold if I compared a Tokyo to Los Angeles ticket with a round the world ticket.

So, I thought, instead of saving money to buy a round the world ticket, which would cost me about $4000 for the cheapest option, I could simply fly to the US, start heading south by land (whatever that means), and aim to get to Buenos Aires at some stage. This may sound counter-intuitive, but I’d probably save more being on the road to Buenos Aires than living in Japan anyway, provided that I have a location independent source of income, which I kind of do, although it’s not in its ideal state yet. Not only saving money, but also I’ll get great experiences on the road as well. So, why not heading south?

Now… when would be the best time to do it? Oh wait… I will happen to fly to the USA in June for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championship and for World Domination Summit. World Domination Summit would be a great start for this trip.

So.

Yes.

I’ve decided to start a trip from Portland and to head towards Buenos Aires in June 2011.

What’s great about making this choice and letting people know about this plan is that I have a greater focus on what to do. I’m really excited and happy about this choice. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’ll work on making it happen.

Am I simplistic? Yes, perhaps. But I don’t think it’s necessary to make things difficult when they can be nice and simple.

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What’s your thoughts on these prompts? Tell me, because I’m curious. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: Tambako the Jaguar

On being beautifully different, party, and wisdom

Today’s post answers prompts #8 (Beautifully Different), #9 (Party) and #10 (Wisdom) of Reverb10. I’ll talk about #9 and #10 first, and then #8 in the end.

Prompt #9: Party

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

(Author: Shauna Reid)

This prompt reminds me that life is like a carnival. There’s no reason why our daily lives can be a party. For living this way, you don’t need to get drunk or to do activities that you’d do at an event that is structured according to the norms regarding what we call ‘party’. It’s more about your attitude that matters. Having said that, I haven’t shown up in my daily lives with this party attitude that much this year. So, stay tuned for 2011.

Prompt #10: Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

(Author: Susannah Conway)

The wisest decision I made was to show up at Ben’s Cafe in Tokyo for the very first meeting of the Artist’s Way Tokyo group this January. This first meeting led me to a 12 week of creativity Tetris as well as another season of it. I have been mentioning this book a lot in this blog, but that’s pretty much because it’s a great book if you actually do the exercises in it. The next group will run from January 2011. If you are based in/near Tokyo and curious about giving it a go, check out this Facebook page or contact  Soness the facilitator.

Prompt #8: Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

(Author: Karen Walrond)

There is nothing that makes me different from others, because I, like you and everyone else, am different by definition, or so I believe. I’ve been thinking about it this way for a while. But, if you insist, perhaps the fact that you are there makes me different from you. Likewise, the fact that I am here makes you different from me. After all, you are not me and I am not you. If you were me, then I wouldn’t be different from you. If everyone else was me, in the very literal sense, I wouldn’t be different from them.

But then, we are all alike for this difference by definition that we all have respectively. I’m inclined to think that similarities are more important when it comes to making connections with people, by the way. The basic idea is that we make connections by finding similarities between us. Learning about differences is fun, but what we really get us closer is that similarities we find in such differences. I’m going to elaborate this idea more in another post.

What I do that makes people light up? Perhaps my Cheshire Cat smiles?

And if what makes me different is what makes me beautiful, then it is you that make me beautiful. But beautiful in what sense?

Let me throw away an analytical mind for a moment. I’ll be happily non-sensical here.

My non-analytical answer is this. My life is my art, and I can perhaps claim that I am the platform of my art, because… well, I carry my life with me, or my life carries me. How I create my art is by experiencing this life as much as I can. Amazing people like you, as well as amazing experiences, contribute to stories, sounds, visions and everything else that go into my art. If I am beautiful, then that means my art is beautiful. If my art is beautiful, then it’s due to this whole art and each element of it. They are beautiful in the sense that they make people curious, wonder, examine and reflect on their feelings in one way or another OK, I just made up that sense of beauty, but I like it. Are you still following me? In short, you make me different, and my being different from you makes you curious about who I am – well, maybe not everyone of you, but some of you, I hope. And that power of creating curiosity is what I’d consider as an ingredient of beauty. But whether we’d come close to each other is, in my view, depends on similarities we find in one another.

You are beautiful, by the way.

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What’s your thoughts on these prompts? Tell me, because I’m curious. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: milena mihaylova