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How Drawing Reveals the ‘Best’ You: A Checklist with Book Recommendations

Since the time I picked up drawing a few years ago, I began to notice the areas of my life the habit of ‘drawing’ has positively influenced. I was pretty amazed by the benefits of drawing and got in front of my trusty laptop to share it with you all.

I know a lot of people would FREAK OUT at the prospect of sketching. Me and sketch?  You mean like draw?  Like pretty shapes on paper?  You so gotta be kidding me!  I wouldn’t know how to hold a pencil…let alone DRAW!

Look no one expects you to produce masterpieces.

So for a moment let us silence our inner resistance – the one between our ears.

All I want you to do is keep an open mind and read this post right to the end. And if any tip resonates with you, implement it in your life one baby step at a time.

Sounds doable right? Great! Let’s go…….

 #1: Put Sherlock to shame

Who would have thought that drawing can sharpen your sense of observation?

But it does so.

When I started drawing I always thought that to get better I had to improve my strokes. It’s only later I realized that 50% of getting better is about being be a better observer. As a sketcher you need to keenly observe the angle of the light, the play of shadows, the grooves and the valleys.

From still life to busy street views….for an artist the beauty is in the details.  Regular sketching will just make you more ‘keen’ when it comes to noticing things.

Leonardo Da Vinci dissected hundreds of corpses to get his images of the human body just right. And he said, “Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”

You observe stuff and it is processed by the left side of the brain. This processed information then allows us to act or react.

When we draw, this processed information is sent to the right side of the brain which then translates it into something creative, into art.

So both hemispheres end up working together and, according to scientists, this is a very powerful exercise to boost IQ. The interesting work ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ explains right-left co-ordination and is an interesting read.

 #2: Solve like Einstein

One of the best books that I’ve read, that explains the usefulness of sketching is ‘On the back of the Napkin’ by Dan Roam. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he actually suggested a process called ‘visual thinking’ to solve all kinds of what, when, how and why problems more creatively.

When you are stuck for a solution, it helps to pull out a pen and paper and start drawing.

We humans are wired for stories. When we see separate entities, our brain scrambles to come up with connections to give the whole thing some context! Using the frameworks in the book you’ll have an answer that would have been difficult to arrive at before.

Drawing to solve problems

Different Doodles for Different Problems

 

 #3: Be a super learner

Ben Casanocha notes on this blog “if you want to identify the most senior, knowledgeable people in an audience, look for the people who are taking notes and asking questions.” http://casnocha.com/2013/07/experts-take-notes.html Some of the greatest minds in history like Edison & Da Vinci were notetakers.

Efficient learning involves remarkable note-taking and accurate recall. Drawing incidentally can help with both components of being a ‘superb’ learner.

Sketchnoting to express:

Sketchnoting has been popularized by designer Mike Rhode in the ‘The Sketchnote Handbook’ and is simple as well as entertaining.

It encourages you to summarize something long, boring or difficult to express using a mish-mash of doodles and text. You thus waste less time taking ‘blah’ notes and instead take visual notes that are crisp & easy to refer back to. The example below shows the fears and apprehensions of the creator about his pending thyroid surgery.

A sketchnote drawing to express worries

A Touching Sketch-Note to Express Worries

 Mindmapping to remember

 Mindmapping (something I use all the time) is the process of associating several ideas with a core concept. Developed by Tony Buzan mind-maps are used all over the world, from classrooms to boardrooms.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? By all the data you need to cram in your head? If you are a student, I am sure you are nodding pretty enthusiastically.

Well mind maps allow you to jot down data and the connections between the information bites. This helps you remember the complete picture easily. And yes, you got it right. It is amazing for brainstorming sessions as well.

 

Mind map to represent ideas and connections

A Fruity Mind-Map on Connected Ideas!

 

Both ‘sketchnotes’ and ‘mindmaps’ rely on the fact that visual data is processed 60,000 times faster than text and audio.

 #4: Get in touch with inner peace

Finally drawing can teach us important lessons of mindfulness and being in the present. It forces your busy mind to slow down. It forces you to concentrate on the blank paper and your chosen subject. It literally takes you away from the worries of that exam, that EMI or that customer.

Many people face resistance when it comes to drawing because they believe they must be artists in order to ‘draw’.

That is not true!

If your doodles please the public- great! However if they don’t, it shouldn’t deter you from this pleasing, effective and beneficial exercise. Implement it in different areas of your life and see the difference.

Have you ever tried any of these drawing techniques to improve your life and work? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

IMAGE ATTRIBUTIONS: 

Doodles Image is attributed to Crosscollaborate

The Thyroid Sketchnote is attributed to UX Mastery

The Fruits Mind Map is attributed to LearnEnglishteens

How to Achieve Your Goals with Healthy Habits

I’m the kind of person who loves making Goals. Goals motivate me to aim for something great, to be in a better place then where I am now.

But I’ve also noticed that goals can become a source of unhappiness.

Let me explain.

A person with a Goal mindset often thinks in this way “If I get [goal here] then I’ll be happy”.  As a result our Happiness gets pegged with achieving the Goal.

And once you reach your Goal, you plan for the next Goal starting a new cycle of wanting something to be happy.

Here are some more problems with having a Goal mindset:

  • There’s a lot of excitement in the beginning when we make Goals, but the excitement fades with time, making it difficult to reach the Goal
  • Outcome is not in our control. Therefore even if we do our best, we still may not end up reaching out Goal. But instead we end up carrying the burden of failure
  • All the focus is on the result, and not on the journey. When infact it’s the journey that is more important than the result
  • Goals are often conceived without account for unexpected changes in life. Sometimes our plans change along the way that don’t allow us to reach our Goals

Focus on Habits

Here’s something I found better than goals.

Habits.

Instead of focusing on reaching your Goals, focus on creating the right Habits. In doing so:

  • You are free to enjoy the present moment by focusing on the habit your want to create
  • Your Happiness doesn’t depend on reaching something in the future, but instead of building something in the present – a Habit
  • You’re aiming for long term change, not short term gratification.

How to turn your goals into habits?

For example, if your Goal is to lose 5 Kg in the next 3 months. Focus on creating a Habit like “Workout at the gym 5 days a week”.

Now inspite of your best efforts if you’ve not lost those 5 kg, that’s ok. You’ve done something better… you’ve formed the habit of exercise that will keep you health for the rest of your life.

Isn’t that better than just losing 5 kg and putting that weight back on after 3 months?

Here are some more examples of forming Habits from your Goals:

  • Write a 300 page Book in the coming year. Focus on creating a Habit of writing 30 mins a day
  • Learn to speak a new language. Schedule language speaking sessions a friend
  • Learn a new programming language:  Commit to spend 5 hours a week on an online class with Lynda.com.

You get the point :-)

But how can you achieve anything if you don’t have Goals?

Ok, let me clarify something. I’m not saying “Don’t make Goals”, what I’m saying is don’t have a Goal mindset where you’ve set all your hopes and dreams on achieving that one Goal.

Instead put your attention in forming habits that will take you towards your Goal.

Welcome 2014

It’s the new Year, and many of us are making Goals. I’ve made Goals as well, and for each Goal I’m focusing on a Habit to support the Goal.  What are your plans for 2014? Share your thoughts in the comments section below:

Farewell Ramadhan

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The whole dua/prayer can be read here.

Sufi Comics at Comic-Con Express Mumbai: Photos & Press

Since the time I’ve been working on Sufi Comics, I’ve been reading about Comic-Con conventiosn that take place in the US and Europe. I used think how great it would be to have a Comic-Con in India, to showcase Indian comics that are unique in their own right.

Then earlier this year to my surprise I read in the papers that India organized their first Comic-Con in Delhi, and the next one was coming up in Mumbai. In a way the timing was perfect ’cause “40 Sufi Comics” had just gotten released. Arif didn’t waste any time in booking a stall and in Oct of 2011 we found ourselves behind a stall in Comic-Con Mumbai promoting “40 Sufi Comics”.It was a wonderful opportunity to meet Comic Artists & enthusiasts around the world.

Just by the sheer number of footfalls at the convention, one could see the rise in demand for Comics and Graphic Novels. Comics are a very powerful medium andinstead of just mere entertainment,I hope they are used for spreading positive messages to tackle the social issues our World faces.

“40 Sufi Comics” received a very warm welcome from visitors and the media. Our books got sold out, and many expressed their interest in future volumes. We’re looking forward to participate in Comic-Con 2012! Press clippings & Photographs below:

DNA – Mumbai

Hindustan Times – Mumbai
Marathi Paper – Mumbai

Photographs:

Dream Come True – Reflections of the GTD Road Map Seminar, London

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Note: This post has many references to jargons that would be familiar mainly to implementers of David Allens system of productivity called Getting Things Done or GTD. To Learn more about GTD, you may read this post, 5 Steps to Begin Learning GTD A Guaranteed way to Save Hours from your Workday.

Some People like Rock Stars, others adore Movie Stars, My Hero is David Allen. It’s because of David and GTD, that I am getting so much done (exercise, blog, work, study, spend time with family), yet feel relaxed. David and GTD has helped me prioritise and feel good about my priorities. Ofcourse I am not always in that zone. But when I am not, I am able to recognise that and I know what I need to do to get there. I have written oodles about GTD on this blog. Those on my mailing list have received several emails coaxing them to climb on to the GTD Bandwagon. I have even compared David to Einstein. He is a Genius. Genius is looking at what everyone is looking and seeing something different. Then to codify that difference so that it changes the world is indeed Einstein-ian indeed.

Imagine my thrill and pleasure when i finally get to meet David Allen. I had the privilege of attending his seminar in London earlier this year. It’s a seminar that I was hoping to attend for years and finally so many different factors came together that I could attend it.

The take backs from the seminar were plentiful. Here are the top few:

1. If you are still Bothered/Stressed that means subliminally you feel you can do something about it. Maybe you Should. God thinks you should.

This is huge. May seem obvious when typed out, but it was much needed therapy that I needed. GTD suggests that when anything is bothering you, first step, you write it down. Next Ask yourself, 1. What is the Successful Outcome?, 2. What is the Next Action? After practicing GTD for years, I have got most of these things nailed. Whenever something bothers me, it’s so automatic that I write it down, define the Successful Outcome, the Next Action and just move on ahead. But as you keep practicing GTD, you uncover subtler aspects of your self and psyche. And even after you identify the Successful Outcome or the Next Action, you are still left uneasy. The fact that you are feeling uneasy is your intuition (or God) nudging you that you can do better. There is a better Outcome that you can envision and achieve. Your Next Action could be more effective. And most likely it’s fear that is holding you back. And we all know we should Fear nothing but fear itself.

So next time you find yourself uneasy about an Outcome that you have envisioned or a Next Action that you need to take, congratulate yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Because you are officially capable of doing better than what you have just worked out. So take the Bold step and take the action that you are okay and comfortable with. It will all work out in the end.

2. If you keep paying attention to what has your attention, were do you eventually reach?

David’s main mantra is “pay attention to what has your attention”. If you are bothered by your kids education, pay attention to that, write it down in a trusted place, you’ll immediately feel relaxed. Next your attention will move to something else, perhaps work or exercise , notice that. Write it down in a trusted place, you’ll again feel relaxed about that. Since I’ve been practicing GTD, and I have been doing that. My question to David at the Seminar was, when you keep on paying attention to your attention where do you eventually reach? I loved the answer I got:

“You move from Distraction to Calling”

You then start listening to your voice, your intuition, your calling. You begin to hear, listen and move towards your destiny as human spirit on the planet. And that is your Only Project. If all the other Projects are helping you get there, keep ‘em on, otherwise dump ‘em.

But you’ll only know once you Pay Attention to what’s Pulling your Attention, capture that, get the distraction out of your mind/psyche so that you can truly hear your God’s voice within you.

3. You eventually get what you focus on.

We did a brilliant exercise within the seminar that deals with Focus. You see what you Focus on. You eventually get what your Focus is on. It’s The Secret all over again, but without the airy-fairy bit to it. Pay attention to your Focus. Keep asking yourself two questions:

- What are you focussed on?
(Extroadinary Fitness or Mediocre Health, Spiritual Enlightenment or Material Pursuit, Being An Active Change Agent in this World or a Helpless Consumer)

- Would you want your focus on that?
(There is a choice here. And it’s your choice.)

Conclusion:
Overall a brilliant seminar indeed. Really thankful to God for the opportunity. It’s something that i had my attention and focus for a long time and glad that I have it checked off. Hope to make the most of what I’ve learnt there. Oh yeah, another couple of take backs. Boy, it was inspiring to see how amazingly fit David himself was. Furthermore, poor guy had a cold. Yet, because of his professionalism he didn’t let that stop him from delivering an awesome talk. Even though he had to take swigs of cold-cough syrup in between to keep going. Thank you David. Truly Awesome of you.

My mindmaps from the and Some pics from the Road Map Seminar 2011 in London:

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