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Finding magic in the mundane.
I used to hate cooking. There was no way I'd make anything to compete with a professional chef, so I felt there was no point in trying. I stopped cooking during my final year in college and relegated my role to the person who helps wash the dishes. My mum eventually gave up her dream of having a daughter who excels at cooking.
In what seems to be an almost prophetic description of 2020, Paulo Coelho once said: Life has many ways of testing a person's will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once. Of the many things that have happened this year, one is that I now enjoy cooking! I've gone from being a never-cook to cooking 5 days/week—quite the miracle, according to my mum.
England recently went into a second lockdown. Instead of succumbing to the Groundhog Day syndrome and feeling out of control, I've learned to find joy, comfort, and a sense of progress in cooking. You can do the same by immersing in rituals and hobbies that keep you sane or put you in a flow state.
This November newsletter includes lots of tips for staying motivated and happy during prolonged isolation periods, ways to transform your workspace, and foundational practices for a good life. As a bonus, I've included a detailed guideline for implementing effective company offsites. Grab a drink and enjoy!
“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person's skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Imagine a barren, isolated place with frigid temperatures and no sunlight, where you have no personal space, no direct interactions with friends and family, and nowhere to escape from professional conflicts. Will you raise your hand and volunteer to live in such a place for months?
Every year a group of scientists throws themselves at the opportunity to live in Antarctica and other locations with similarly harsh conditions, detached from civilization. If you're curious about how they keep themselves productive and mentally healthy, check out this article.
While Covid is still wreaking havoc worldwide, happiness might seem like an unattainable luxury. In reality, happiness is primarily a chemical experience. There are four main hormones responsible for feelings of happiness: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Each type of hormone is associated with specific events or rewards. This article explains these happy brain chemicals in detail and offers simple ways you can trigger them to alter your moods.
A cluttered working space = a cluttered mind. Surveys show that about 90% of Americans believe physical clutter has harmed them, and they're right (surprise!). Poorly organized meetings account for about $400 billion/year in lost productivity in the US.
More than a pretty area, an organized workspace gives you higher satisfaction and a sense of control, boosts your confidence and creativity, and drives greater productivity. In this The Art of Manliness podcast episode with Scott Sonenshein, who co-authored Joy at Work with Marie Kondo, you'll discover different ways to tidy up your professional life, both its physical and digital aspects.
If you want to massively improve your life but are unsure where to begin, read this incredible guide by Scott Young. It offers 10 sensible self-improvement practices and a 6-month plan to build a solid foundation that will enable you to pursue the life you want. One of my favorite excerpts: For many, the major obstacles to the good life aren’t the lack of a desire to change, but the abundance of temptations keeping us in the same spot.
ScreenCloud Together, our annual company offsite, took place last week. It was a virtual week, except for our hub in Bangkok where coronavirus is under control. We had a great time together, in spirit (and on Zoom).
"Should I skip the team offsite this year?" If you're debating this question, this article suggests that you should go ahead and pencil in the dates. It goes into the nitty-gritty of how a startup adapted to changes and executed an effective virtual offsite. From designing principles and high-level planning to practical execution tips, this is an insightful read if you want to bring your team together virtually.
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Thanks to Tim Trad on Unsplash for the cover photo 🙌