Friday, April 23, 2010

David Damron on filling time

Just a few moments back I read this guest post by David Damron (of The Minimalist Path) on ZenHabits. Fantastic read. Simple to apply and see the result for yourself. So, am publishing the same post here. Spread the message far and wide (for it is mighty important) :).

In the post below, forget the word Materialism. It isn't such a 'spiritual' lesson after all; though it could be if you want to take it that way. My point is it might just help you to set some worthy goals for yourself.

Let’s start with an exercise …
  1. Grab a small sheet of paper and a pen or pencil.
  2. After you read the following question, please take 5 deep breaths before answering.
  3. Write your response to the up-coming question on your piece of paper in one sentence.
Here is your question to answer:

If you had the opportunity to do one activity for one week without any worry about finances, cost, or other outside commitments, what would you love to do for this week?

I hope you answered that question on the piece of paper. If not, please finish following the original instructions and then continue reading.

So, what did you come up with? Was it travel around your favorite Hawaiian Island? Was it to spend a week at Disney World with your family and friends? Was it take that honeymoon you and your significant other missed out on? Or was it watch television while you munched on chips and salsa for eight hours a day, seven days straight? I doubt it was that last one.

However, for some reason, the last response should be answered the most. At least by Americans. In 2008, we watched an average of 5.1 hours/day of television and that doesn’t include the 3 hours/month average of internet video watching. For Americans, that is a total of 10.92 weeks / year watching television. If that figure doesn’t shock you then I don’t know what will.

In America and much of western culture, our infatuation with materialism comes from the opportunity to have such. Being a minimalist pre-cable/satellite television was not just a fad. It was a way of life. People were these things called ACTIVE and ENERGETIC. Once television became such a monumental part of our lives, we began being consumed by this sedentary form of life that co-existed with unhealthy and unfit lives.

In many other parts of the world, being active is living. In Japan, Leo Babauta experienced the countering idea to the lives of western cultures. He found that many Japanese lives revolve around basic physical activities like walking and biking and there isn’t a focus on exercise. Those that have not accepted the forms of materialism similar to the addiction in America and beyond live longer and are happier. Though this may be for many reasons, such as financial, I like to believe it is for the health and life reasons that many the world over choose the anti-materialism way.

Health is not the only factor in the fight against materialism. You do not need me to tell you about the financial situation the world is in. The abundance of commercials and other highly influential advertising through our modes of electronic communication have caused personal debt to become just as bloated as our waste lines. In America, we spend 5.4% of our income entertaining ourselves. That’s $2700/annually that could be going towards savings, retirement, and/or travel. How different would your mindset be if you had $2700 set aside for a random, spontaneous week vacation? If you think that’s a lot, we spend $1881/annually just on apparel and services. Assuming we just cut those two totals in half, we would have an additional $2290 to our name. For me, just that half is a lot of money that could be used for activities that would be much more fulfilling than 500+ television channels.

The point of reducing our sedentary forms of entertainment is not just to save money and lose a few pounds. It is to save our lives! Just imagine how different your life would be if you spent one more hour with your family daily or a few more hours a week chasing your tour card on the PGA or training for a marathon. When we spend our time doing the things we love, it ends up being more valuable than any half hour sitcom can be.

Remember that question I asked you to answer earlier. Your response was only addressing one week. So, if you chose to spend your gifted week at the Great Barrier Reef finding Nemo, imagine what your life would be like if you took just half of that 10+ hours/week spent in front of the television and spent those additional 5 weeks exploring the entire Great Barrier Reef. Surely, your boss may not let you have that much vacation, but without that television being such a major priority, you could do many of the things you dream of doing, whatever they may be.

Being a minimalist and simplifying your life does not mean you need to eliminate all that you somewhat enjoy. I, to this day, like to watch a handful of hours of television per week. However, if you are able to reduce the quantity of time and money spent on that which you just like and apply both to that which you love, you may be able to live a longer, more pleasureful life.

Try cutting your cord to materialism and start appreciating more of the things you don’t just like but love.


Did you do the exercise? Found something? :) If you honestly did it, you must've found something. Happy 'time-filling'. It's 7:45 in the morning. Am off for a work out. Good day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seth Godin on filling time

When it comes to explaining, nobody does it better than Seth Godin. Am sharing one of his posts from his blog.


Revisiting conspicuous consumption

The reason you have a front lawn? It's a tradition. Lawns were invented as a way for the landed gentry to demonstrate that they could afford to waste land. By taking the land away from the grazing sheep, they were sending a message to their neighbors. We're rich, we can happily waste the opportunity to make a few bucks from our front lawn.

Conspicuous consumption has a long history. Wasting millions of dollars on a shark in a tank, or on $50,000 platinum stereo cables that sound an awful lot like $2000 stereo cables (which sound a lot like $200 stereo cables). And on and on.

In fact, the origins of the luxury goods industry lie in this desire to waste, in public. 350 years ago in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert dreamed up the idea of bespoke, rare goods as a way of improving France's balance of trade.  LVMH and other huge corporations collect brands that telegraph scarcity above all else. Not that they're better at performing the task at hand, merely that they are expensive and rare. (Interesting note: it's estimated that 20% of all the women in Japan in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton bag... scarce?)

In every city there are expensive hotels that are noisy, with $56 breakfasts, no parking, blinds that don't make the room dark and rooms that don't have enough closets. But the very waste of paying extra to stay there ensures that you'll be surrounded by others just as wealthy and just as interested in proving it.

Rich people will always indulge the desire to stand out, but I wonder if there's a new version:

Spending on and investing in time, not stuff.

And it's not so wasteful, this focus on craftsmen.

The new trend in spending money is to buy things that are painstakingly hand built instead of efficiently mass produced. It might not be a better price than what you could buy at Target, but the very fact that you can pay for an artisan to create it, an artist to design it, a talented worker to bring it to life--that act makes a powerful statement about what you can afford and what's important to you. Instead of a bigger house, it's a house that's built from scratch by craftsmen. Instead of a bigger steak, it's a handmade dish of local poached vegetables...

All marketers tell a story. The "this is the best price and value" story is just one of those available, and in fact, it's rarely the most effective for the audience you may be trying to reach.


Craftsmen become craftsmen coz they fill their time. And if they were to fill their place, how would they create stuff?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

XXX? Sorry, wrong size!

Pic courtesy:

When I heard the name XXX energy drink, the first thing that struck was, "This would come in a bigger can." Why? Of course, the connotation of XXX.

I get to know that it means Xperience Xtreme Xcitement. Well, not bad. But it doesn't do justice to a great concept hidden in the name XXX. Besides, right below the name it says IMMUNITY ENHANCER.

I guess an amazing concept like XXX has been wasted here.

Who will remember Xperience Xtreme Xcitement? Tough.

Who will remember IMMUNITY ENHANCER? For remember, who will understand the term? Sure, people understand IMMUNITY and ENHANCER as words, but what do they mean in a layperson. Besides, aren't there medicinal supplements which do this job? Chyavanprash does the same job!

To my mind the concepts of ENERGY DRINK and IMMUNITY ENHANCER aren't the same. Perhaps tending towards incredulity.

It's easy to play around in intellectual sounding and good looking words. But the idea to capture one (or a couple at best) important word and tie it with an amazing visual.

Here's my take:

XXX should be offered in bigger cans. The big can would also stand out on the shelves and serve an effective symbol of recognition.

And chuck those words. Just write something to the effect XXX - BIG BIG BIG ON ENERGY.

Monday, April 5, 2010


about things that aren't according to your desire is what I call cribbing.

Sure, things (including people) are bad many a time. But here's the thing. Talking about them doesn't necessarily improve them. In fact, it only consumes our time.

If you spent 2 hours gossiping about how bad people are, you've lost 2 hours to improve yourself, to hone your skills, to learn a new skill, to develop yourself, to add some knowledge to yourself. Look at it really, you've only improved yourself in 'talking bad'.

If you've spent 1 hr per day like this, you've spent 365 hrs per year. In 20 years, you might've spent more than 7000 hrs doing this. If this time were spent on anything else, your fortunes would've changed... And you know in which direction.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

To Siddhartha From Siddharth

Dear Sir,

You are doing your best to thrill the patrons of your legendary motorcycles. Appreciate that. But you know what, your 'doing your best' is still traumatic for many of the fans. Are you even aware of that? Are you listening? We can only hope so.

You know how many (if not all) RE owners feel about RE motorcycles. They feel like a doting mother who knows very well that her child is an incorrigibly gone case but still loves him and feels hopelessly proud (even if there's no reason to) coz there's no other option.

Should you want to dig deeper and know a little more, urge to go to this link.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Not-so-royal experience @ Royal Enfield

Just came back from the Royal Enfield Bandra showroom. Went there to collect my refund cheque against cancellation of my booking made way back on 23rd Dec '09 for a Classic 350.

The showroom manager's smiling. His assistant's also smiling. Proudly (might say arrogantly too) announcing that the booking for 350 has been stalled for the moment and that the waiting period for a new booking is 8 months!!!

Downright pathetic. The guys have gone mad.

First, it's no happy moment that a customer is canceling his purchase no matter the high demand.

Second, it's no laughing matter that the waiting period is 8 months; it just tells us that you (the brand) don't care much about the customers.

Third, Classic 350 and the new engine converted quite a few non-Bulleteers into going for a Bullet. But that's just half the job done. If your service still sucks (like it did earlier), the same guys might turn their backs to you pretty soon.

Fourth, the company can't hold money like this and ask the person who made the booking to come and collect the money from the showroom. The least they could do is respect the customer, respect his time and the faith he put in you, apologize for inconvenience and try to make up in some form.

Sure there's only one Royal Enfield. And scarcity often leads to a favorable impression of the brand but guess they are stretching the loyalists much too far and far too often.

I can go on and on about my disappointment but the folks at Royal Enfield might not listen. Royal Arrogance or Royal Lapses sounds better.