'Less can be more' in your glass as it can in your home and calendar. Many people enjoy mixed drinks—or would like to if they weren't laid low by them. It is possible to have the best of both worlds and sample great cocktails without getting sleepy, stupid, sad, or sick.
The core Discardian principle of Quality Over Quantity comes into play in multiple ways to achieve this.
- Slow down.
Be mindful of what you're consuming. One of the best aspects of good cocktail drinking is tuning in to the present moment and to those you're with, so amplify that by paying attention to what you're having. Take time to enjoy what you've got and space out the alcohol with a glass of water between rounds. You'll get more enjoyment out of your drinks—and out of the next morning!
- Drink less of better.
Satisfy your senses with smaller sips and smaller servings of something well-made with complex ingredients. Whether you like sweet or bitter, tangy or rich, there are amazing cocktails to be enjoyed in classic serving sizes (generally just 3-6 ounces).
- Base your drinks on lower-proof main ingredients.
By not including more than half an ounce of high-proof spirits (40+% alcohol by volume) and carefully selecting recipes which allow their less "hot" components (such as sherry, vermouth, and port) to shine, you can discover a whole world of amazing cocktails, both classics and new creations.
- Be a snob.
Now I don't mean you should only have top-shelf products in trendy bars; I'm talking about the good kind of snobbery that keeps you from wasting time and health on things that don't provide you with real pleasure. Save your liver for those cocktails worth having, in the time and place, and with the company that makes those moments special.
Want to explore more in this realm? I've got a whole book of ideas for you (my second book!) and it's called The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level.
Thanks again to readers of either of my books for your support and encouragement to keep on writing!
Posted on October 25, 2013 | Permalink
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One of my favorite things from this Discardian season was Angela Alvarez Velez's tweet:
"@Discardia oooh, I like the idea of the Awesomeness Contribution Factor as a way to measure worthwhile and worthkeepingness."
Posted on October 4, 2013 | Permalink
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"[Manage] your agreements with yourself. If you break your commitments with yourself, you'll be in negative stress. So you either don't make the commitments (lower expectations), keep the agreements (get busy and finish your stuff), or renegotiate your agreements (constantly review and make smart choices about what you can and should be doing, at any moment in time).”
- David Allen
One of the scariest things when you get organized and pull all your obligations and expectations out of your head and into some trusted system for tracking them is that you can finally see just how much you've been carrying around in there. To overcome that tension, acknowledge that you can't and won't do it all.
Just as a chef has things on the stove, ingredients in the pantry, and cookbooks full of potential recipes, so too will you have active, inactive, and someday/maybe projects.
It's okay that a lot of your ideas about what you might do are hopes, dreams, contingency plans, or other things that aren't necessarily part of today, tomorrow, or ever. What is a part of today is capturing the idea for later review so that you can get it out of your way and get on with what's cooking now.
It's that act of review which keeps the whole system working. That doesn't mean you have to engage with every potential idea every single week—some things you might only want to think about once or twice a year—but it does mean you think every week about what matters in the week ahead. What are your goals this month? What can you do in the next week to help achieve them? What ideas and loose ends do you need to pack away from the past week so that you can focus on what matters most?
Give yourself a regular bit of quality time to pull back from the stream of reaction to see where you are and where you want to be. Look a couple weeks back and ahead in your calendar to find unfinished tasks and opportunities to make things go more smoothly for yourself. Even taking 20 minutes a week to do this will help you do more, and do it more calmly.
I like using the OmniFocus software for this, but paper works great too. Try starting with four lists: "Think about every week," "Think about every month," "Think about every quarter," and "Think about every year."
For example, you probably want to have "Home Maintenance" show up every week. Some of the time you'll look at it and move on right away, but often it will remind you of a problem to resolve (whether it's at the 'buy toilet paper' or 'start a savings account for better mattress' scale). On the other hand, "Career Advancement" would usually be on the quarterly or annual list, unless you're actively working to switch jobs.
As time passes you'll get a better sense of how often something needs to appear in front of you to prompt you to capture any unfinished business or opportunities.
The big reviews help keep you aligned with who you want to be and what you want to achieve. They reveal goals which can have projects and actions on shorter time cycles. The weekly review helps clear your head and get you back on the tracks you set out for yourself.
Granting yourself that quality time to catch your breath is vital to maintaining your momentum in your chosen direction. You deserve that chance to find clarity every week.
Posted on October 3, 2013 | Permalink
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“I know I’ve got more on my list than I could ever do, but I just can’t seem to keep up with it.”
Think about that sentence. Most of us say something like that to ourselves or a friend at some point—and most of the time when we do, we don’t notice the inconsistency at all. However, if we fully accept the truth that our to-do lists are bigger than our availability, we must stop beating ourselves up for failing to achieve the impossible.
September’s Discardia holiday is a reminder to practice Quality over Quantity and is a good time to revisit the expectations you’ve been setting. One of the best ways to manage stress is to manage your agreements with others and, especially, with yourself, so take a little time to think about those agreements.
That’s what your ‘to-do list’—whether you keep the things on it in your head or written down—really is: a list of everything you’d need to do if you wanted to fulfill all the things you’ve said 'yes' to. It represents agreement in its broadest sense, whether a commitment to another person or an internal affirmation of something you desire.
Being excited about things, working on them with others, doing the hard work to achieve progress, these are all valuable and can be highly motivating. But try to do too many at the same time and the effect will be negative. Fewer will be completed, with your work and the satisfaction you derive from it being less than it would be when you’re not overstretched.
I’m not necessarily recommending saying 'yes' less often. You can have as big a list of things you’d like to do as your heart and head can dream up, but the only way for that not to be a burden is to let go of the expectation that everything on the list is active right now. Become comfortable with the idea of inactive projects. They aren’t failures; they’re just not in play at the moment.
This isn’t as hard as it might seem. You have lots of practice with doing this in other areas of your life. Think about the music you like; you don’t listen to it all at the same time. You may not even listen to all the genres you enjoy every single week, yet that doesn’t create stress.
Start approaching your list of projects a little more like a D.J. What’s the right mix for here and now? Is there anything my audience will miss if I don’t get it out there? What will keep my energy up?
Posted on September 22, 2013 | Permalink
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Engaged Productivity and the Art of Discardia from The Omni Group on Vimeo.
Presented by Dinah Sanders at the OmniFocus Setup.
Posted on June 2, 2013 | Permalink
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Ten years ago, I created Discardia as a reminder to myself to let go of what wasn't making my life awesome.
For the first year I was focused very much on the discarding part of the holiday, both of physical things and mental baggage, but soon the other aspects emerged as equally important. By the end of 2004 Discardia also served to remind me to be more true to who I am now, and to continually seek ways—even tiny ways—to make my life better. Sometimes those ways have involved acquisitions and upgrades, not divestment and that's just fine. It's not about just having less stuff, it's less of the wrong stuff and more of the right stuff.
By 2005, the year before my post-a-day writing adventure throughout 2006, many of the themes of Discardia had already appeared in one essay or another that I'd posted to my personal site or on Discardia.com. It would take the book writing process (beginning in summer of 2009) for me to pull together a clear and concise overview of the whole framework, but the pieces were there and integrating themselves into my life.
Bit by bit, in decisions and affirmations and recognitions, I have examined and adjusted my life; at first quarterly, but soon constantly and continually for all the years since.
You know what? It works. My life is awesome.
I hope yours is too, more and more every day.
Posted on December 25, 2012 | Permalink
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We've a good long Discardian season now, with plenty of time to look at the year behind and the year ahead. Acknowledge where you've been and what you've learned. See the possibilities you've created for yourself. Choose where you want to be heading.
When Discardia comes around in December on that shortest day—the winter solstice—celebrate by releasing yourself from a self-imposed deadline and giving thanks for what is good in the world. In addition, let this also be the season of giving yourself what you need to be truly joyful and just plain happy.
Look back on your year and see how things compare to last December. Recognize and enjoy the improvements you’ve made in your world.
• What has provided you with the most satisfaction?
• Can you do more in that area to provide a similar payoff?
This is the season to say thanks to yourself. Seek out the right choices you've made in the past year, great and small, and acknowledge your good sense in curing those causes of dissatisfaction.
You have a supportive framework of good habits, can see the rewards of your decisions and what you did about them, and have replaced some of your less exciting quantity with energizing quality. Now it’s time to turn up the volume on the awesomeness and build the habit of upgrading your experiences.
Think back on your past:
• What did you learn from good but not ideal apartments, jobs, and relationships?
• Are there patterns or antipatterns that point you in the direction of positive change in your life today?
Add this question to your mental toolbox: “What does this look like when it works?” You can apply that to any functional object, space, time, or relationship that is currently less than ideal.
This mindset leads to other good questions. For example:
• What do I want to see (and not see) when I walk in the front door?
• What is bedtime like when it leads me into a great night's sleep?
• What would a good mentor provide me now?
Give that part of your world a nudge in the right direction.
First step: Do better than just survive December.
Posted on December 21, 2012 | Permalink
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My pal Ilona just moved and said on Twitter, "now to the unpacking. not my strong suit. anyone want to place a bet on how many boxes will remain untouched a year from now? :-/"
This one's for you, awesome lady.
I'd bet that more of those boxes will hang around than the closet space would be worth to you in the meantime, so chip away at them faster and reap that reward sooner.
Give yourself until Valentine's Day to settle in. Then after that, every other week, turn up the music and for the duration of four upbeat songs, open a box or drawer and paw through it, seeking items which can go into active use, or (more likely) your charity box, recycling, or trash.
Odds are if you didn't dig it out before this foray, you neither love it nor use it and it can move on to someone who does.
Just four songs. You can do this easy-peasy.
Posted on December 18, 2012 | Permalink
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The two biggest lies we can tell ourselves are "Things will always be awesome forever" and "Things will always be awful forever". On the high of a great new thing or the low of depression it can be so easy to view the present feeling as the true nature of the world, rather than as the current weather.
By forgetting that these peaks and troughs are just that, exceptional highs and lows from our normal levels, we cut ourselves off from treasuring the best moments as truly precious and from taking hope in the worst moments that this too shall pass. Delusion and despair come when you lose track of the sweep of your life and of your capabilities to get through the full spectrum of your experiences.
As C.S. Lewis put it in The Screwtape Letters, "periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty". Embrace this; there are valuable lessons to be learned in both states.
Extreme joy is a wonderful thing and well worth attempting to bring into your life more often, but its intensity can also leave you appreciating the quiet pleasures of your normal, middle-of-the-road days. Being extremely up also has a risk of shielding you from a realistic assessment of some problems and how you might perhaps be contributing to them. Deep gloom walls you off from daily satisfactions and from believing in your own worth and the skills you have which can elevate you out of the doldrums or improve your day-to-day life. But depression also is when your good habits have the greatest chance to show how fully you've brought them into your nature; when ya don't wanna do what's good for you, but you go ahead and do it anyway, that is when you show your greatest strength.
When you return to your default footing is when you have the greatest perspective and the greatest opportunity to contrast your perception while at the extremes with your present, more clear-headed view. Ordinary days offer you the most opportunity to identify the changes you want to make in your life and give you the most balanced set of your strengths to bring those changes into reality.
Return to the big picture often—journals or mood logs help build that bridge between the highs and lows—and keep reaffirming your happy dreams and your ability to make them come true!
Posted on October 14, 2012 | Permalink
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This Discardian season, which begins today and runs all the way through to October 15th, is all about Quality over Quantity. One aspect of that which has been much on my mind this past week while attending XOXO Festival and musing afterwards about what made it so great, is the nitty-gritty of how we gauge our success.
Quantity is definitely easier to measure. More. Bigger. Faster. These are all straightforward to identify. But they do not equate to better; and particularly not to 'better for you, right now, and for who you wish to become'. For that you need to grasp a more slippery fish: quality.
Many speakers at the conference echoed a theme that I have heard from inspiring books and people throughout my life: You've got to be really excited about what you do if it is to sustain you over the long-haul. Designers Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost of Studio Neat put it very clearly: "Work on something you're passionate about, because if you're successful you'll have to do it every day." You've heard me express the flipside of that same thought: Make sure your every day life reflects and reinforces what you love.
From the men and women onstage and off at the conference, I continually heard about how doing what they love—what they deeply love—has created their happiness. More than a few people in the room have had the good fortune to try out making a lot of money as a potential happiness generator and found that it was not the magic ingredient which pop culture often makes it out to be.
Matt Haughey, who has been running the community site MetaFilter for the last decade, said, "Money is the least interesting problem". Dan Harmon, creator of the show Community, took it farther: "Money will be the death of everything good in your life. Except maybe the first $40k. You need that to buy potatoes and stuff."
Turn your focus from reaching some arbitrary measure of 'big success', to getting to spend more of your time getting to do what you love. As speakers like musician Julia Nunes made clear, that doesn't come in one big break, but in the addition of many moments of moving in the right direction. And that's true whether it's about your career or how you spend your weekends. It's not how much or many you get, it's about what you do and how you connect.
One of the very best things about doing what you love is that you are making yourself available for connections with other people who love the same things. Artist Emily Winfield Martin emphasized the relationships you make along the way and how they give you the energy to move closer to your dreams: "The alchemy that makes your imaginary thing real is the audience." Not having the biggest group cheering you on, but the one that gets your vision most clearly and is most inspired by it themselves.
What do you love?
How are you going to make more time and space for it this Discardian season?
Who shares that love that you can invite to cheer you on?
Posted on September 22, 2012 | Permalink
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