Meditation is way too valuable and important to be left to professionals
Personally, I like mindful breathing, sometimes just one deep breath, sometimes five, sometimes as many as a hundred, sometimes very slow, sometimes forcefully and fast. But there are so many other ways to harness the power of your brain.
I also like meditative thinking — sitting still with my eyes closed, concentrating on a specific word or question or topic for five minutes, doing mind maps in my mind, going over wider and wider connections between words, concepts, logical conclusions, potential actions and consequences. When I’m done I write it all, or just the conclusion, down in a physical mind map.
When I say “I’ll think about it”, that’s what I do. Deep work on tap. I really think about it in a focused way, both structured and unstructured at the same time. During such a thinking session of 3-10 minutes I want complete silence and solitude. That’s where value is created, that’s where the neocortex really goes to work.
So, I like to sit and meditate, or “think” as I like to call it not to scare non-meditaters away. But you can meditate in so many other ways (I’ve written about some of those before, such as touching interesting surfaces, watching everyday objects from new perspectives, doing body scans before going to sleep etc.); why not during massage, or a walk in nature, or listening to an engaging audiobook?
Audiobook state of mind
Yes, that’s right, audiobooks. If you can’t come up with good seeds for your own thinking, books like Sapiens, Principles or The Beginning Of Infinity can be the perfect starting points for what to think about. Walk in an effortless pace, somewhere you won’t get disturbed and lose your train of thought, preferably with sound cancelling headphones (I love my Bose in-ear) and let yourself become immersed in the ideas and narrative, pondering every statement as deep as you have capacity for.
Do not let anything get by you without understanding it, without coming up with your own conclusions and implications.
Do this for at least half an hour with no notifications, no phone calls, no irrelevant sounds. It’s like a SPA weekend for your brain; you’ll feel at peace, blissfull, and refreshed when you change your state of consciousness back to take in the physical world again.
Conclusion – think about it
Think about it.
I.e., meditate on it.
If you don’t have 5 minutes and definitely is too weak for ten minutes, try just one minute of fully aware and directed and mindful, albeit unstructured, thinking. If your mind wanders and your thoughts stray, try another minute some other day until you are able to actually create thoughts and knowledge deliberately, instead of spending all your waking hours reacting to other peoples whims and wishes.
Think about this post and whether you agree, how you can adapt the methods, when you could schedule daily meditative moments and so on. Then follow through.
The other day I tried a writing exercise I do every now and then – though not as regularly as I probably should. I simply sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down everything that sprang to mind. The start was a bit awkward, but after a while more or less useful ideas started pouring out of me.
“I can’t think of anything to write”
“I wonder who developed the very keyboard I’m using right now”
“How stupid am I? Can’t I think of anything that’s not right under my nose?”
“Have I lost my ability to manage money? To think? To write?”
“What do I want? Can’t I even think of that?”
“Maybe I should write a post about my portfolio and why I’ve chosen those items. I could, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve already done that”
“Perhaps I should jot down my current views on interest rates, currencies, bitcoin, stocks, the economy, gold, oil, real estate etc.”
At about that point, maybe 2 minutes into the exercise, I began getting surprisingly useful results.
I consider it a kind of meditation, a variant where the idea is to trigger as many thoughts as possible, as well as get them out of the way by writing them down.
I can’t claim it’s a new thing. I mean I essentially just brainstormed. I can’t even claim it’s useful, since the brainstorming wasn’t directed at a certain topic.
However, it felt really good, it was calming, and I came up with ideas in areas I never planned to. On top of it all I used longhand, which is particularly good for processing information and cementing the corresponding neuronal pathways.
Summary: try it; write a word a day
I won’t make this post longer than it needs to be.
Just take this as a strong recommendation from me to try writing (at least) just one sentence a day by hand. Keep a nice journal; write down a word, a feeling, a thought, something to do; sometimes keep going and make 10 seconds into 1, 2, 3 or 10 minutes.
It’s (probably) good for your brain.
It can be useful, but you won’t know that until you’ve tried it for a while.
It should make you happier, positively so if you write down things that make you grateful.
If it’s new to you, it’s good for you
Oh, don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly-ish newsletter, and get my e-book for free (investment lessons from 15 years at The European Hedge Fund Of The Decade)
If you get too many ideas, not least investment ideas, try bubble sorting them.
This article is a 25 minute primer of what this site is about. And a call for you to subscribe to my newsletter for more stories, inspiration and advice.
It’s more than that though. Even if you’ve read dozens of my articles, I’m sure you’ll find a few gems in this one too.
If you prefer Swedish, lyssna på mitt svenska program (podcast) “25 minuter” istället.
Premiär måndag 2 november 2015
Why should you listen to a retired money man?
In short: because I’ve been awarded the title The European Hedge Fund Manager Of The Decade, because I can bench press 140kg, because I haven’t had a cold in 9 years, because I have been royally laureled for my math and physics competence, because I retired financially independent at 41.
Because I did all this, despite being the odd one out, the bullied one, the one with no contacts or role models, the computer obsessed Aspberger child from Jukkasjärvi.
Because there is a method to my madness, that you can emulate for increased job and life satisfaction.
What would Batman Do?
Do you want to improve?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Settle in for bite sized, albeit deep, advice and memes, to get you through the day, the years, and help you prosper and find meaning in life. My main goal is to show you how you can be happy and accomplished without being a total dick.
This particular article will give you an introduction to the entire site, so come back and explore the individual articles later, old and new.
Bookmark me for later, when you are in the mood for more tips, tricks, habits and mindsets that can keep you ahead of the pack and avoid being automated into joblessness and oblivion. I’ll even try to make you smile every now and then.
At this site, mikaelsyding.com, you’ll find a wide range of articles about personal development, education, skills, career, futurism, happiness, health, philosophy, decision systems, weight lifting, nutrition, sleep, meditation and finance (some hard core, some more philosophical).
If it all seems too chaotic, check out my structured archives and delve into your specific area of interest from there.
My main motto is to “Always Be Investing”. That means to be a constant learner, to always aim for a small step upward, forward, and enjoy the journey (which can turn out to be quite surprising, and you should let it be), rather than only find satisfaction in a certain, successful, outcome.
Don’t try to become rich. Don’t put the horse before the cart and waste your life doing something you hate, in order to buy stuff and possibly quit when you’re 40, 50, 60… Instead try to become better, while enjoying the process.
Always Be Investing
Hard Made Easy
Sprezzatura is the art of nonchalance, the practice of making difficult things seem like a piece of cake. Think James Bond – when, where and how did he acquire all those skills he seems born with (wine, politics, women, technology, gems, physics, chemistry, geography, martial arts)?
Life should be a fun, albeit challenging, ride; like a computer game, where you complete one level after the other.
Sometimes you have to make more of an effort to get through, sometimes it’s almost as if you see the Matrix and can control the game, just flowing through level after level. Life is like that too – if you keep an open mind, learn instead of hate, try new things without fear and let them go just as easily, to make room for new endeavors.
Do you want to join the rank of Sprezzaturians?
Of course you do. Sign up for my newsletter right away. You’ll get my eBook for free too. Try reading just one page, maybe two. Come on, just one, then forward it to your mother/friend or go ahead and share it with all your social media contacts :). It’s quite retarded.
Sprezzatura – Hard Made Easy
Please note how the guy to the left is carefully holding his espresso
Alright, here is a quick taste of what I can give you:
whatever you do, break it down until the first step is ridiculously easy. Don’t aim for the moon or the tree tops. Aim for getting out of bed. Then, perhaps aim to walk up to the tree and touch the trunk, the first branch. Make that first thing so small you can’t not do it. Then do it.
Just one more
it’s often one more snack or cookie that gets done, but I’m talking about steps, about progress, about making it as easy as possible to exert yourself beyond what you thought possible. Aim for just one step, just the one. But right when that step is finished and you get to quit, make it a habit to think (and do), just one more, just one; that’s not too hard.
try new things, scary things, experiment with, e.g., 1% of your time. It will make life seems fuller and longer in retrospect, while swift, joyous and flowing in the now. Guaranteed mid-life crisis free. Oh, you’ll be smarter, learn faster and live longer too. Lateral living is the opposite of the debunked 10 000 hour-focus-on-one-thing-your-entire-life BS.
with your feet outside the covers, outside the bed, never using the same pillow two nights in a row, red-adjusting your mobile screens or banning them altogether an hour before bed time, low-threshold meditating in bed for 10 seconds (beginner) to 10 minutes (master level)
Meditation – 10 seconds a day, or a week
how to for beginners: when going to bed, lie still on your back and go through your body parts mentally “one toe at a time, there it is, then the arch of the foot, the heel, the calves, the shins…”. Just do it for 10 seconds, or 20, whatever you like. With time you’ll like it more – but also fall asleep faster.
There are other easily accessible meditation techniques that don’t involve yoga, strange mantras, incense etc.
1) just breathe – in through your nose, out through the mouth, focus on the act of breathing. Never mind stray thoughts; they’re okay, but go back to thinking about the breathing
2) breathe with your abdomen (stomach), using your diaphragm
3) do synchronized breathing with others
4) power-breathing: a Johnny Drama pre-audition primal scream, or a more controlled kapalabhati breathing ahead of any kind of performance
Managed life topology
don’t just focus on acquiring lateral skills, clever combinations of practical knowledge and experiences. In addition, hunt high and low, be cold, be hot, be comfortable, and get hurt, love and lose, get drunk or high and revel in your own misery the day after. Don’t go full retard Hangover but don’t hold all the punches either.
trust nobody, do the math yourself, be independent. Every man is an island, his own nation.
Find yourself, know thyself
if you don’t know who you are, if you can’t cut through the noise of media, friends, neighbors and competitors and truly know your own inner feelings and drives, how can you be happy, be yourself, choose the right path? Don’t keep up with the Joneses, don’t keep up with anyone. Just follow your feelings and develop yourself to the next level, and the next, and the next.
every now and then, I’ll tell you about that time:
I came four hours late (and hungover) to my first board meeting as the CEO of the European Hedge Fund Of The Decade
I publically advised Investor to sell its Ericsson and Astra shares at the top of the market in 1999
I recommended Buy the Virtual Reality company Prosolvia all the way down into its bankruptcy
When I kept yelling “Ola!” to SHB’s CEO “Per Boman” at an investor dinner in London. So what, three letters, typical Swedish name…
What really happened at the fund and in my head when the towers fell in New York on 9/11, 2001. When the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster hit and we timed our trades magically, netting me personally almost 2m USD in dividends from just a week’s trading.
That job interview when I was asked about a fiction role model and answered “Ford Prefect in the fifth part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy trilogy, when he jumps out the window of a high rise to keep the element of surprise on his side“. I didn’t get the job.
I ran out of gas in South Africa’s countryside – I’ve never been as tense in my life
I actually went on an all-inclusive Caribbean cruise for ten days without even having a ticket
I utterly destroyed two guys that attacked me – and other street fights
How I’ve had 8 concussions, actually forgetting my entire family for a day or two when I was 18. Wait, no, I was 17, but I had forgotten that too at the time due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Or “Knife Night” 1989, in a druggie shack made of drift wood in Amsterdam. Sarphaatistraat last number…
When I was sure I was being kidnapped and sold during a vacation in Napa Vaelly
When I was sure I was being kidnapped and sold in Thailand.. What? Wait a minute. Again?!
Finance: There will be some boring, but useful, finance talk too: how to forecast index movements, how to value a single stock, what’s wrong with the economy, how to build an investment portfolio, how much leverage (loans) you should use, where house prices are going etc.
A note of caution: I am naturally independent, a natural contrarian, maybe too much so for my own (and consequently your own) good
oh, I’ve got troves; there seems to be no end to how stupid I can look, not to mention the things I say or do sometimes (like that time in the line to the Star Wars premiere on Kungsgatan, Stockholm in 2005…)
That time in Visby, Gotland, at a political summit when I got caught on camera with a rhubarb umbrella:
A few years later I got caught by the cops too in Visby, and another year. Oh, 5-0 was involved yet another time. And another. And then there was that kerfuffle with fireworks in the shower and being thrown out of the hotel in the middle of the night…
Taking a loss
Losses are in the past. Period.
Lines in a chart are not real
Smart and easy mobility tips – 2 minutes a week to keep you young
I often point to the importance of fun, of flow, of happiness, of experiencing and enjoying life. Of being aware. Of really seeing, really feeling, really touching, taking the active choice. It can seem a bit new age at the surface, but I promise you, I am scientific to the core. However, I often leave the referencing to others. Like Eric Barker e.g.
Yes, I bought Zlatan’s Ferrari convertible from him, and then a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo convertible, and a Hublot Big Bang Rose Gold
Then I learned they were just things – that needed maintenance, that could get stolen or vandalized. Try it, but be open to realizing it really isn’t as fun as you might think.
Summit of Aconcagua, 6959 m / 22 831 ft
In my underwear at the summit of Aconcagua, the highest peak outside Himalaya. There I am, keeping the element of surprise on my side, should any other struggling mountain climbers, Andinistas, make it to the top during the two full hours I camped there.
360 spin on Gotland Ring 2006 (I’m driving)
It’s all empirical
I’ve lived all my advice.
I’m 44 years old (in January 2016) and I’ve done a lot of good and bad things – from appearing on TV shows like Singled Out and Man O Man to being royally laureled by the Swedish King, in front of a massive crowd as the best math and physics student; acing the chemistry olympics organic chemistry test and not least winning the European Hedge Fund Of The Decade award (and the story that followed that night and morning…, which isn’t included in the eBook).
Some, if not most, of my lessons are backed up by science too, but I’m often sloppy with references, since I believe the ideas are more important than the authors. Anyway, I know I only internalize knowledge from reliable sources. It’s just too bad you can’t know that.
In addition, I think it’s more important that I did it all myself – including tearing both my ACLs without even seeing a doctor afterward. I’m a ninja, what can I say. No, really, I am a ninja. I’ve practiced Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing as well, and pumped some iron (benching 310 lbs = 140kg).
In essence, you just hit the mother lode, so make sure to stick around. Start with subscribing to my newsletter, and if you know Swedish, listen to my podcast “25 minuter”.
There is so much more useful, practical and plainly presented, already written here, and orders of magnitude more planned for the future. One eBook is done and ready – it’s ugly and retarded, but fun and useful. Kind of like myself.
Another book is in the works, Retard’s Playbook: i deals with Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Public Address, Private Address, Having Fun, Zen (not least the Yogi Berra kind), Workout Methods, Why The In Between Is Most Interesting, The Power Of Tautologies, Books, How To Become An Investor, The Importance Of Walking And Brain Plasticity, Omega-3, Beliefs, Principles and on and on…
Yep, you’ll find it all here. From broccoli to BDNF and brain plasticity.
Health in a bottle: Omega-3 fish oil with oleocanthal-rich olive oil from Arctic Med
As if the blog and the eBooks weren’t enough, I keep appearing in radio and TV shows, not to mention my own show: “25 minuter”, which is in… Swedish! Premiär 2 november, 2015.
My show, too, strictly follows a no bullshit rule, and focus on practical, actionable advice, albeit with some fun every now and then.
Is rich, strong, healthy, smart, laid back, successful and efficient, yet deep, something you might be interested in?
Then, be all you can be, by taking one baby step at a time, laughing at how silly and easy it is, celebrating every little victory, knowing the journey is the destination.
Take the fork in the road, end up in the direction you’re heading. Don’t play chess with pigeons…
Oct 25, 2015
Say after me: “Tsuyoku Naritai!”, and I’ll help you navigate around the worst and most unnecessary pitfalls and point you in the direction of personal development, of investing in yourself, for yourself.