The Universal How-To

Cleaning out an old folder in my hard drive, I came across this article that I just had to share. I have no idea where I got it from.

The Universal How-To…



Simple instructions on how to learn to do anything

Don’t take it seriously
This is the number one rule, for a reason. The moment you begin to take the process seriously, it will become “work” for you. It will be difficult to start each time. And each time after it will grow more difficult. Learning anything requires you to spend attention (focus) on that thing. If the process grows increasingly draining, you will eventually not be able to afford it. Treat what you are leaning as Play.

Be fed; don’t feed
What is the number one cure experts recommend for burn-out? Take up a hobby. Wait! How can doing more things make you less burnt-out? Simple. The hobby feeds the soul. It gives back more than you give to it. Work—and much of life—is the other way ‘round. When you play, watch the way you feel during and afterward. If you feel more stressed, less patient, more anxious, or in any way upset, you are feeding yourself to what you are learning, not being fed by it.

Take small steps
People ask me, “How do you do that? It looks so hard.” Some people will try it once and say, “I can’t do that.”, “I suck…”, or “It’s too hard for me.” Of course it’s too hard! You are comparing yourself to someone who has been doing this for months or years. It’s your first time! Don’t expect to be as good as they are. Expect to drop the ball over and over. Take small steps! If you had given up so easily when you first learned to walk, you would still be crawling today.

Practice, but not too much
If you never practice you won’t get any better. You need to play every few days. However, if you don’t feel like it for a week, that’s ok. Skip it. If you force yourself when you don’t feel like playing, it will quit being play. It will become a duty. See number 1.

When you are tired, stop
This step may seem obvious but it is often missed. In a “No pain, no gain” culture, many people will think they are getting more if they push till it hurts. It doesn’t work that way. When you have had enough, stop.

Find a “reset,” and use it
No matter how difficult the thing you want to learn, there will be some small part of it that you can do now. Find that part. If you are learning to juggle, toss one ball from hand to hand. If you are learning a language, count from one to five, or say hello and good-bye. If you are learning algebra, do a very simple proof. This easy step is your “reset.” Each time you start, start with your reset. As you play you will get tired and make more mistakes. You will try more difficult things. What’s going to happen is that, after a while, you will not do as well. You will probably feel a bit frustrated. Don’t stop now! If you stop when you feel frustrated or upset, your unconscious mind will only remember that learning this stuff is upsetting. Do your reset. Do it for a moment or two until you relax. When you feel confident again, then stop.

Strange as it might sound, most people forget to smile when they are learning things. They get “serious” and make “serious faces.” Try to smile every once in a while, as you play. If you find smiling is easy, you are doing it right.

Keep breathing
It’s easy, when you are nervous, to hold your breath or to breathe a bit shallow. Watch for this. If you are not breathing easily while you play, something inside will start to get nervous. Slow down! Go back to doing something a bit simpler and focus on your breathing.

Ignore company
If anyone comes to watch you play, ignore them. This is about you. If you focus on someone else or what they think, you will start making mistakes.

If you understand inner energy, watch yours. If you don’t, just ignore this step. Your energy lives, comfortably, down in your gut. When you get nervous it will tend to rise until it is up around your throat (the “heart in the throat” feeling). Relax. Let it come back to where it belongs. Do simpler steps until it is. Periodically re-check where your energy is.

Congratulate, don’t criticize
Probably when you do something right, even complicated things, you take it for granted. When you make a mistake you criticize yourself. Turn that around. Every time you do something right, congratulate yourself. When you screw up, remember that you are learning. You are supposed to make mistakes. Take it in stride.

Slowly get more complicated
If you always do a few simple things and then stop, you will eventually get bored. Try more difficult things sometimes. Start with your reset. Get a bit more complicated. Play with a few different things each time. Then go back to the easier things. Finally, do your reset and stop.

If you remember and practice these simple rules you can learn to do anything quickly and easily. Pick something you want to learn. Throw out everything you know and start over. Follow these 12 steps. Trust them. In a very short time, you will be doing that thing better than you ever have, with less stress.

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