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Choose your fundamentals deliberately

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. Bruce Lee

Foundations

Photo by Jonas Von Werne on Unsplash

What is fundamental?

What is the most fundamental aspect of your life right now, as you read this blog post? Is it the clothes you’re wearing? (You are rocking your joggers right now, aren’t you?!) Is it what you ate for lunch? Is it your job, your car, your significant other?

I think this question is really difficult to answer. And the answer is very likely very individually different. That’s why I decided to think about this topic for a bit.

What makes something fundamental in someone’s life?

Frequency

One factor to decide whether something is fundamental is certainly the frequency or duration in which it affects you.

Your habits are a good example. Do you usually read the news paper in the morning? How often do you go out with friends, how often do you read or exercise?

If you’re working in an office, you’re probably having the same commute to work and back home almost every single day. How do you get there, who do you interact with on your way and how long does it take?

Primacy

Another factor for something to be considered, is that it comes first.

Your home town is somehow of big significance to you (or to other people), whether or not you lived there for a long time.

You might live in another city for longer than you have in your home town, people would still ask you where you are from originally. (This often happens to you if your parents or their parents moved from another country, as well, which can be a bit annoying after some while.)

Importance

Of course, the importance of something is also a big part of how fundamental it is.

To eat, drink and sleep is very important for our survival, so is social contact, a feeling of belonging and self-expression.

How you relate to these topics, your habits and rituals surrounding these fundamental aspects of your life, all of this makes out a large part of who you are.


Now, what is the thing that we probably do most frequently? It’s breathing. Incidentally, breathing is also one of the first things we do when coming to this world. And there is no doubt that breathing is very important for us to survive.

Adults breath about 15 times a minute when resting. That is about 20000 times a day! When was the last time you breathed consciously? Did you really follow your breath to see how it feels, how your body reacts to it?

Do we live fundamentally arbitrary?

Isn’t it odd that so many things that are fundamental as judged by the properties I listed above (frequent, first, important) are somewhat arbitrary and happen unintentionally?

You don’t have any say in where you’re born, who your parents are or what your mother tongue is. Still, these aspects are all large parts to how your life looks like when growing up.

Your name, your hair color, your place of birth are all, quite honestly, arbitrary and somehow random.

In our day to day lives, most of the things we do we do sort of automatically. We might have chosen a job that we like, but did we consider the commute in all of its entirety when making that decision? How intentional are we in the way we eat, in what music we listen to or who we talk to during lunch break? When was the last time you breathed consciously?

Now, this happens to a different extent for everyone. Some might be hyper aware and very conscious of their decisions and habits every moment. Others might go through their day without being really aware of what they do at all.

Speaking for myself, I can say that I have been living very unintentionally in many aspects of my life.

A fresh perspective

About a month ago, I started to be more intentional about my exercise and my diet. I found out that these two go hand in hand with each other, and changing both habits supports each other well.

Traditionally, I have always been underweight which was based on my irregular eating habits. Ever since my childhood, very rarely would I have more than one real daily meal for multiple days in a row. I am now keeping track of my daily food habits. I am aiming to have a balanced diet, and try to eat a certain daily amount of calories.

Since I started to track my food intake, I have three regular meals a day plus healthy snacks, every day. Together with a more regular exercise routine - I aim for very light calistenics exercises every day - I feel stronger and healthier, and I improved my relationship to my body significantly.

I try to put in a little effort every day, and it really pays off.

Deliberate attention

Focusing my attention on something like my exercise and diet is the first step of expansion. I can follow that up with thoughts, intentions and finally actions.

I believe that attention is our single most important resource that we can direct. Everything else (except for time maybe) can spring from attention.

Directing my attention on a certain part of my life has two major benefits. The primary benefit is obvious - since I have a regular diet and exercise the relationship to my body improved significantly and my general well-being is way better.

The primary benefit of directing your attention on something is the resulting expansion in that area.

The second benefit of intentionally directing my attention is sort of a meta-benefit. Seeing my efforts paying off really makes me feel empowered about myself and my life. Once I saw how well this works in one aspect of my life, this practice has been spreading over to other parts.


For some areas this works not quite as well for me personally. For example, I struggle to keep my mind engaged outside of school or work regularly. My activities happen more in spikes - I might read a couple of books after each other within two weeks, and then not read any book for months anymore, for example. I’d much rather have a regular habit of reading and learning new topics, if even only for one or two hours a week.

In other areas, this approach works really well! For example, I am back to meditating regularly and every morning I am writing down my intention for the day - my current favorite is “I allow all of my experiences to be joyful and loving”.

My intentional fundamentals

This blog post has many points. One point is to share my excitement about my personal progress, and a few insights I want to share and to record for myself for later reference.

I guess the one crucial point of this post however is this message: choose your fundamentals deliberately! I recently watched a video I can really recommend that drives this point home with other words:

Your life is today, that’s all it is, it’s today repeated.

Our life mostly does not consist of these big, epic, amazing moments or achievements that we are often chasing. Sure, these things happen, but really most of our life is the small and not so small things we do every day. Then, our big achievements can be seen rather as a consequence of the way we live!

So, whatever you choose do on a regular basis - be deliberate about it! What exactly this is is fully up to you.

As a little experiment, you can think of an aspect in your life and deliberately focus your attention on it for the next week. See how that feels, and what happens. For some inspiration, you can have a look at my list of the things that I want to do more deliberately.

These are some of the fundamentals I choose to focus my attention on:

  • Social

    • Spending more quality time with friends
    • Being more present when with others
    • Initiating contact (going out for coffee, hosting board game evenings, going for a hike)
    • Calling a friend you have not talked to in a while
  • Body

    • Eating more intentionally
    • Doing regular exercise
    • Going for a walk
  • Mind

    • Reading a new book
    • Write a journal entry about your day before going to bed
    • Daily meditation
    • Doing an online course
  • Creativity

    • Writing a blog post or a poem
    • Coloring a mandala
    • Singing along a song on YouTube
    • Cooking a new recipe or baking a cake
  • Entertainment

    • Going for a dance
    • Watching an interesting movie
    • Playing a video game
    • Going to the swimming pool
Published 22 Dec 2019

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