How to start feeling like Simba in your life 🦁🍃
Recently, I’ve been waking up at 5 am and going to bed a lot earlier. This is something that a lot of high-powered individuals like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and even Apple’s CEO Tim Cook (who wakes up at 3:45 am 😱) do.
I’m starting to see increased levels of productivity, less stress and just generally a more chill vibe in my life. For example, this morning was very special. I felt like Simba from the Lion King. Like a boss, very excited and mindfull. … I was excited to meditate for a bit, spent some time journaling and then got straight to work all as I watched the sunrise.
It was all about feeling more in tune with my thoughts and living in THAT moment.
In fact, life is starting to feel a lot more like the Lion King where they have a supportive community around them, peaceful vibes, lots of gratitude and generally, a life where you live every second to the fullest without worrying about the next one.
I dug deeper and wanted to understand how I can replicate the harmony I felt at that moment, into my entire life.
Turns out, there was an Ancient Chinese philosopher (old white breaded man) named Laozi who was very deep into nature and helping others find inner-harmony.
He was the father of Daoism (or also known as Taoism). This is all about the joyful and carefree sides of the Chinese character, an attitude that complements a moral, duty-conscious and purposeful character. Daoism is also characterized by a positive, active attitude towards metaphysics (theories on the nature of reality).
Daoism is built off of our connection to nature and reducing our worries. So is Hakuna Matata in The Lion King which means “No worries, for the rest of your days”.
These are the three things Laozi realized:
- Stress doesn’t exist for someone who lives in the present.
- A lot of our stress comes from thinking about the future.
- Taoist philosophy teaches us a new way of living.
One of the solutions set forth by Taoists is the idea of mindfulness or being within the present moment. This is the philosophy that emerged the art of meditation.
Here’s how Taoist philosophy goes about this:
Taoism takes us back to what is real
As humans, we want to live in a fluid and metamorphic world but this doesn’t make sense because change is a constant. The future doesn’t exist.
There is a really great translator of Taoist ideas, Alan Watts, who clarifies this in The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for An Age of Anxiety.
He says, the primary way we delude ourselves from the present moment is by leaving the body and retreating behind our minds. We are constantly on go, go, go mode. Thinking, categorizing and calculating space where anxieties and thoughts pouring over thoughts remove us from any truth of the real moment at hand.
“The ‘primary consciousness,’ the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future.”
In other words, our thinking systems today are programmed to be way off from the actuality of experience.
We have more methodical thinking processes that create memories, and then we use these memories as benchmarks for making predictions on what is to come. These predictions are often wrong and we just end up getting stuck in a constant loop of cognitive dissonance.
But what’s crazy is that the future is still not here, and can’t become a part of experienced reality until it happens. Our brain tries really hard to predict or think about the future but it usually fails.
Since what we know of the future is made up of abstract elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it can’t be enjoyed.
One of the biggest tips from Taoist philosophy is to rephrase the way we think about future events. It sounds pretty simple. But we all still suck at it because we don’t practice it enough.
We are constantly chasing after something (that we don’t really know or understand) and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead. This is why everything is so rushed, and why hardly anyone enjoys what they seek after.
The concept of wu-wei
From one of Laozi’s books comes an interesting concept called wu-wei, which literally means “without exertion.”
If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.
Wu-wei is the act of not going against the natural rhythms of the present while learning to get out of your own way. The idea is that we’re always thinking of the future or trying to manipulate the present. But our connection to nature is very strong and one that is hard to break. It makes the most sense to silence your mind and focus on the natural rhythms of the world.
Things in nature are the way they are because it’s how our world evolves and we can constantly take things in and put things out. It all works out in the end. Trusting nature, living in the flow and removing yourself from other thoughts is so important. No need to resist nature.
This is why meditation, Buddhism, Tao, yoga are recommended and act as renewed psychology of the mind.
The Three Steps to feel like Simba:
- Don’t resist nature. Recognize it, accept it and remove any barriers you have in your head.
- Live in the moment. Stop worrying or thinking about the future.
- Play around with meditation, Buddhism, Tao, yoga, other mindful activities etc.
Practicing Taoism — putting it into action
Taoism teaches a person to flow with life. There are a lot of different ways people practice Taoism. Some of these are philosophical, and others are religious. Taoism is all about personalization (heck, ya). It is about understanding yourself and then creating action items that support you as a person.
Here are some simple starting tips to help a person live as a Taoist:
- Figure a set of practices that help with keeping your mind, body and spirit (all three are important) engaged and strong. These will be different depending on your needs at the moment. For example, I workout to keep my body strong, meditation to clear my mind, sometimes bike around as a way to feel freer and doing painting/poetry as a way to clear my head and develop my examination mind. The goal is to learn about yourself and the world.
- There’s a lot of free-flowing involved. Packing your schedule with meetings & time-blocking work might not always be the best for you. A huge part of Taoism is serendipity. Take time, relax and just explore and poke around. For example, I usually have one day a week where I leave less structure and just explore whatever interests me — while still being productive (research papers, reading, journaling, etc.)
- You might want to try meditation, or yoga for relaxing the mind. Then, other brain exercising apps like Elevate to strengthen how you think. When you do think you want to become smarter about your processing & frameworks.
Just start and iterate as things work and don’t work. … And before you know if you’ll start feeling Simba too! ;)