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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Where I discovered a community of awesome individuals in 2010 and what I will make in 2011 – #Reverb10

In this post, I will reflect Prompt #7 of Reverb10 – if you are curious, check out Reverb10’s website here.

Prompt #7: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

For me, the most powerful community I experienced this year was… Twitter. I joined Twitter few years ago, but I hadn’t used it actively until the end of 2009.

The most significant event that made me want to use Twitter more was to meet up with Gwen Bell (@gwenbell) in person when she visited Tokyo. Yes, that Gwen who co-organizes #Reverb10 (Hi Gwen!).

My Twitter usage became more active since then, and I’m happy to say that Twitter has been a very effective tool to find and to connect with like-minded people.

Let me mention some of the people I got connected with via Twitter this year and introduce their awesomeness to you.

  • Fernando (@HelloNavi) is a photographer extraordinaire, hailing from San Diego, currently based in Japan as an English teacher. He’s a great guy to talk with and I recommend you to take a look at his photos.
  • Rémi (@remino) is a French Canadian, web developing wizard. He has a great voice and I wonder when he will become a voice actor. If you need someone to do an extreme makeover on your website, say hello to him.
  • Sarah (@semisara) is one of the most energetic people I know. She is a journalist&photographer&translator with killer smiles and some kickboxing skills. Check out her website here.
  • Emi (@gyorome) is a fashion photographer&university student and I love the way she is. What fascinates me about her is how she can connect with people and do amazing things. There’s a lot to learn from her style.
  • Alice (@alicetokyo) is “an Italian heroine fighting monsters in Tokyo”. How awesome is that. Seriously, she’s awesome. She lives and studies at university in Tokyo, and writes blog posts for Vogue Japan. Her English website is here.
  • Etsuko (@EtsukoT) is specialized in coaching on international marriage as well as on parenting. We translated Chris Guillebeau’s “A Brief Guide to World Domination” into Japanese together. If you need some coaching on international marriage or parenting, talk to her!

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Now, let me talk about the community I want to create in 2011.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you probably know that I want to make the world more romantic. In 2011, I will create a community of people who believe in their potentials and possibilities and seek beautiful moments in life. I’ve started writing a mini manifesto on this subject, and am planning to release it in the beginning of 2011. So, stay tuned if you are one of such people.

Your life is your art. My life is my art. Let’s create something amazing together.

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Photo: wwarby

On celebrating relationships

Think of someone you care and love. Who connected you with that someone either directly or indirectly? Now, think of that connection maker and ask yourself the same question: who connected you with that connection maker directly or indirectly?

You can keep asking the same question again and again for as long as you like.

After you’re finished with going through your memories, thank everyone who lead you to that person who you care and love.

If you love yourself, you can pretty much thank everyone and everything that led you to where you are and who you are.

If you will go through the same process described above in a year or 20 years, why don’t you thank everyone and everything that will come to your life from now on?

If you choose to be rad and awesome, you will be, because everything and everyone will help you go further. Don’t feel bad about becoming rad and awesome, by the way. You don’t need to be modest here, because going for what you want and being arrogant are different, if that’s what you are worried about.

It’s OK if you find it difficult to thank everyone and everything literally; you can still be aware of this attitude and live with it as much as you can. You don’t need to be perfect as long as you show up.

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How do you celebrate relationships? If you liked what you read, please share it with others who might enjoy this post!

Photo: Andrew Stawarz

Hans Comijn on becoming an attractive man

“Becoming an attractive man” is one of the topics I’ve been strongly interested in for the past few years. There are a few men I admire as a role model, and Hans Comijn is one of such rare men. Hans co-founded the Ars Amorata Online program with Zan Perrion and he led a number of men so they could get on the right path.  My friend from the Ars Amorata Online program, Paul Letendre did a series of interviews with Hans, and I highly recommend it, whether you are a man or a woman. In any case, if you happen to be a man who seeks more excellence in life, you must listen to it. If you liked Hans’ talk, share it with others, too. Also, Paul has written some excellent articles on his website Enrich Your Love Life – check them out!

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Photo: Ana_Cotta

Let’s make connections with yourself and others

Here’s my favorite part of The Connection Manifesto by Pace (@PaceSmith) and Kyeli (@Kyeli) Smith.

Before you know how to read or tie your shoes, you’re off to school. You spend 13 years, day in and day out, doing what others tell you to do, being shoved into boxes and molds. You get out of school, get a job, and spend the next fifty years, day in and day out, doing what others tell you to do, being shoved into boxes and molds. Eventually you retire, and then and only then can you enjoy life. When you’re 65.

Fuck that.

You can download The Connection Manifesto from here for free, and let your friends know about it if you like.

I read this manifesto recently, and it resonated with me. The Connection Manifesto introduces core ideas behind Pace and Kyeli’s world changing movement The Connection Revolution. I was moved by their manifesto, because they were honest and passionate about encouraging you to connect with yourself and others… about making this revolution happen.

Making connections with yourself and others. I believe this is very, very important. Making connections is a big theme in what I want to do as well – making the world more romantic. So, I was naturally interested in what Pace and Kyeli had to say about it.

It’s something people tend to miss or are afraid of doing when interacting with others. I don’t know if there is any single, unifying reason behind it, but I bet one of reasons why some people might be afraid of making connections with others is because they have to be authentic in front of others.

To be authentic, you can’t hide your vulnerability. You can’t impress others by putting on a mask. But if you can’t hide your vulnerability or impress others by putting on a mask, what’s going to happen? What if others judge you for who you really are?

Well, the answer is: nothing happens unless you make a big deal out of it. Trust me, you’ll be much more impressive when you show up as your authentic self.

But how do you make connections with others? In fact, what do you mean by ‘connections’ anyway? That’s a question I want to think over a little bit more… I can answer the first question though. Well, I’m not sure if people I interact with feel the same way, but I tend to ask them what their childhood dreams were and/or what their current dreams are. I’m more interested in these things than in how they make money (the typical ‘what do you do’ question, which I hardly ask), where they are from, and whether they have siblings or not. The trick is to be really curious about what their dreams are. I mean, aren’t you curious about such things more than those boring, average questions like the ‘what do you do’ question?

I can imagine some people getting frustrated about me calling this kind of questions boring, and I can understand that frustration. But let’s face it. It is boring. Imagine you could meet anyone you admire and ask one question. Would you really ask Andy Warhol (for example) how he earns money or where he’s from? You wouldn’t, would you? It’s totally fine if you would, but… Anyway. And don’t tell me the man sitting next to you might not be as interesting as Andy Warhol. He could be. In fact, assume he is as interesting as Andy Warhol (or whoever you think is interesting) and he will be.

So…

Hi. What’s your dream?

Photo: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

Could there be a romantic monkey?

When I talk about making the world more romantic, I believe that some of you, if not many of you, probably think that I’m talking about what’s often depicted in the main stream media. An example could be a man behaving like a gentleman, caring a woman like a princess, carrying her bag, buying her flowers and chocolates and making everything sweet for her.

You may be glad or disappointed to hear that I’m not talking about romance in that sense. Of course, doing this kind of things is nice and sweet and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do such things under any circumstance. I should let you know where I’m coming from.

I want to tell you a little bit about why the example above doesn’t necessarily fit with my idea of being romantic. If we look at what this man in the example does, we might conclude that he’s a romantic person. But is he really? What if he is simply following an instruction? We could teach a monkey to pass flowers to a woman, but I believe that it doesn’t make this monkey a romantic monkey. The monkey did it, because he was instructed to do so.

We could also look at the man’s intention for doing supposedly romantic things. Why does he do these things? I can’t list every possible reason here, but I know a few that I think are questionable as an intention. For example, he does it because it’s supposed to be romantic. And let’s not stop here. Why does he want to do what’s supposed to be romantic? I guess the major reason could be that he wants to impress the girl in the hope that she will like him.

So, he has an agenda and that’s why he acts that way. He buys flowers for her, because he is trying to make her like him with this gift. In a way, he is changing the way he is according to what she might like in his view. In other words, he is not presenting his authentic self. That doesn’t sound like being open to the world, because if he was open to the world, he wouldn’t have to change the way he is. He would instead choose to see what will happen to them if he shows up as who he really is.

I believe that if he has this attitude of showing up in the world with his authentic self, it will make him more romantic if he hasn’t already been that way.

I hope this entry clarified what I mean by ‘being romantic’. If you like this idea, you can help me make the world more romantic too – all you need to do is to show up and stand on this earth as who you are I don’t know if monkeys could be romantic, but I know you could!

photo: SpiritMama