Here are some practices and habits that have had an impact on my life:
1. Asking myself, "What do you want to create?" before going to an important meeting, event, or date. This habit is really life changing and puts you in the director's chair in life. It allows you to stop and think about the purpose of participating in that event, with those particular people, and creates an urgency to think about the reason for it. In this way, you are creating something in life, rather than being a passive participant. Many times I asked myself this before a date, for example, and came to the conclusion that I merely wanted to create something positive. That always happened, even if the date was not someone I would get involved with.
2. Going on a retreat at least once a year. This could be any number of things--a meditation retreat, a business conference, a training that you've always wanted--or just a relaxing time away. Making it a habit to go on a retreat at certain times of the year will definitely give you the chance to recharge your batteries, and above all, decompress. It's a precious time to get away and let go of the world and everything in it. You come back to the world refreshed and renewed, ready to see your life and your role in it with completely new eyes.
3. Having a dream. This requires you to really be awestruck with the world, and to never get to the place of having, doing, or knowing it all. The dream is something you want to accomplish, do, or achieve. It should be hard to come by and not ordinary. Running a marathon, buying an expensive car, doing volunteer work in a Third World country, taking a tour of the world, walking the Camino de Santiago--these are difficult to achieve, and therefore, dream material. Having a dream gives you something extraordinary to live for, gets you out of your mundane schedule, and allows you to be a little more interesting. Even if you never know when you can accomplish it, having a dream gives you something exciting to strive for and an appreciation for that which is extraordinary in life.
4. Talking to and making friends with someone wise who is much older than yourself. This habit is life-changing because it directly puts you in touch with the wisdom of another era, how things have been done, what has been learned over time, the history you've never known, and a kind of depth that is not easy to find in everyday life from people your age. I have a friend who is 95 whom I made my first film about. After months of working together on this film, I became so enamored with him and his perspective. I loved hearing his stories, detailing all the eras that came before me. It is worth knowing someone who has walked this planet far longer than you. If you are open to this, you will hear and learn things that will change your perspective on everything, and it will give you a friend who can give you something so unusual and special.
5. Capturing everything you've done, achieved, or created every year in writing on or around your birthday. Before writing on Quora, I used to be an avid journal writer. Now, I limit my journal writing to once a year on my birthday. I go to a quiet place, usually near the ocean or in the woods, bring my journal, and write for pages on everything that I've done that year. Usually I include my personal journey, victories I've had, professional leaps, where I started the year and how I ended it. It's a once-a-year habit that is so well worth it because you can record the highlights, challenges, and victories of your life without needing to commit to an everyday journal practice. It also allows you to see how far you've come over time, and the arc of your life that can develop year by year.
These practices and habits have made me a more conscious individual. They are all powerful in their own way. I highly recommend them as an enhanced and conscientious life practice.
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