zen habits : breathe

Notes on Life: Positive Thinking, Speeding, “Flow” in Meetings, Reading with My Kids

It’s great when the things I write about and my real life converge so beautifully. Today I have a guest post up on Scott Young’s blog … I recommend you go check it out, as it’s something I originally planned to run here on Zen Habits:

The Vast, Unstatable Importance of a Positive Attitude

And while writing about the importance of a positive attitude, I had a good talk with my 8-year-old daughter, Maia, about the same topic. We bought her a book she chose for herself, but after reading a chapter or so, she decided it was too hard and she didn’t like the book.

So she and I sat down and talked about a positive attitude. I told her that if she had a negative attitude about the book, she wouldn’t enjoy it. But if she tried to have a positive attitude, the book could actually be very enjoyable.

Now, I know that many people have a very cynical view of positive thinking — I was one of them. But I’ve found that it makes a huge difference in everything I do these days. And it made a big difference to my daughter. I’m so proud of her — she really tried to enjoy the book (Far-Flung Adventures: Corby Flood) and do her best with the difficult words … and guess what? She LOVED the book. She read it in two days, and now she wants to buy the series.

Which might be a bit expensive, and goes to show that positive thinking can bite you in the arse sometimes. ;) But who cares? She LOVED the book. She’s developing a great reading habit, and a thirst for more reading. And she’s developing a positive attitude that I believe will help her immensely, for the rest of her life.

I wrote awhile back about some powerful reasons to drive slower, and it’s something I believe in and really try to do.

Most of the time.

Most of the time, I drive relatively slowly — not like a turtle, but just not speeding around like I used to do — and it’s calming and so much less stressful than it used to be.

Unfortunately, yesterday I was late for a meeting and so I was speeding. And I got pulled over, and got a ticket.

Serves me right for not following my own advice.

Sometimes, I don’t follow my own advice. I’m not perfect. I fall, but I try to get back up. And that’s what matters — not the falling, but the getting back up.

I’m going to drive slower, and will learn from my mistakes. I hope you will too.

So I got to my meeting almost half an hour late, because of the speeding ticket and all. But things went well, and I discussed some really cool ideas with a colleague and now business partner of mine.

We got really caught up in our conversation, in throwing out ideas, in talking about all kinds of things … and by the time we realized it, we looked at the time on our cell phones … and it was nearly five hours later.

FIVE hours!

We lost track of time, because we were so caught up in what we were doing. This is a great example of Flow that I’ve talked about before. There were distractions from time to time — we were in the middle of a busy coffee shop — but really, when you’re engaged in a creative activity and you’re excited about what you’re doing and you’re bouncing ideas off another informed and intelligent person, the surrounding world almost melts away.

We skipped lunch, because we forgot about it, which can be a drawback of Flow.

I’m nearly at the end of the seventh and final book of Harry Potter with my 15-year-old daughter Chloe (don’t tell me what happens!). We’ve been slowly reading the entire series together for years, as the books come out, since she was in elementary school.

It’s been such a fun time, reading the series with her, that we are both sad that it has to come to an end. We want to read the last chapter … but in a way we don’t.

I know most parents aren’t reading with their kids by the time the kid reaches high school … heck, they’re not kids anymore. But I really enjoy it, and it keeps me close to my daughter. We need to choose a new series, something awesome. Suggestions welcome.

I’ve also been reading Harry Potter with my 10-year-old son, Rain, who is starting to be an excellent reader himself. We’re just starting book 7, and will need to look for a new series soon too. It’s exciting to watch him enjoy reading, as I’ve been getting him into some of the books I loved when I was young — Lloyd Alexander, The Little Prince, The Great Brain, Judy Blume, and many more.

My 11-year-old son Justin is a great reader, and voraciously devours books every week. We’ve just started on the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and we’re really enjoying it.

My four-year-old son Seth and my 2-year-old daughter Noelle love the same books. We love Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon and Guess How Much I Love Youand Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and many other great books.

When I read with my kids, it’s like we’re going on a little adventure together, just me and them, into new and exciting worlds. And compared to actual travel to new lands, which also involves odious plane rides, it costs very little. Not a bad deal.

More of my all-time favorite kids’ books.

“Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” - Mark Twain



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