10 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Feel Good

I’m working on a brand new version (v5) of my Mundane LifeFocus™ Card System, which is used to get yourself into a positive routine. I combined that with my 10 Ideas in 10 Minutes™ brainstorming method and came up with these 10 things you can do right now to feel good. As an ode to Daft Punk, I call this list Harder Better Faster Stronger.

1) Pour yourself a glass of water (and drink it)
Most of us have sluggish viscous blood and what little nutrients we put into our bodies crawls around like a dying man in the desert looking for a cell to feed. It’s recommended we all drink 8 Cups of H2O per day. Have one of those now and your body will thank you.

2) Stretch
If you get a chance, watch a baby or an animal (or a baby animal) waking up after a nap. They always stretch. Stretching is a healthy and natural way of prepping your body for movement. Without stretching, our muscles get tight and injure easily. I always vow to stretch more after throwing my back out by lifting one of my kids out of the car. Why not be proactive and make yourself more flexible now. Limber, not lumber.

3) Breathe
Concentrate on the old in and out (get your mind out of the gutter!) of oxygen in your lungs. Breath deeply and slowly. Most of the time we are distracted and breathing inefficient shallow little breaths (I’m surprised I’m not brain damaged some days). Not only will this give you more energy, but it will also calm you down.

4) Close your eyes for a minute
We all have a million things to do, don’t we? We never give our minds a rest from the go-go-go of BlackBerry devices and email and voicemail and paperwork and errands and… just stop. Give yourself 30 seconds of nothing. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and chill. You might want to turn off your phone.

5) Get up and walk around
The only time I used to ever get up from my desk was when I smoked. Aside from the social benefits (hanging out with other addicts) smoking at least got me to stretch my legs every 20 minutes or so… Since I am now an ex-smoker/anti-smoking natzi I try to think of other excuses to get outside and walk around a bit. Usually it involves getting an expensive coffee. Habits have a way of replacing themselves with other habits.

6) Play your power song
Dig into your iPod/mp3 player and pull out your favourite powersong: you know, the one that pumps you up and gives you sweet sweet loving awesomeness. I know you have one song that you can’t sit still listening to. (Eye of the Tiger is the number one Powersong at NikePlus.com Canada at the moment. It wouldn’t work for me, but to each his/her own.) Find it. Play it. Now.

7) Clean-up
Oh, yeah, that’s a fun one. But seriously, take a minute and put a few things away. De-clutter, put something in the trash. Set a few things aside for the local thriftshop or garagesale. Dust. Sweep. Water a plant. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes doing this. Now imagine how you’d feel if you did this every day. Oh, you do? Then I guess this one’s more for me… If you’re a clean freak, you can skip this one.

8 ) Write a thank-you note
Open your email application or browser window, and draft a short letter. Just say thank-you to someone for making the effort to create something you just enjoyed. It might be a muffin, it might be a book. What was the last thing you watched, ate, read, surfed, played, touched, listened to, that you appreciated? Chances are whatever it was will have a URL attached to it somewhere. If not look up the publishing company or the distributer, or the service, or the artist. Don’t overlook friends and relatives who did something amazing for you. You will find someone or something to email in a few minutes. Tell them you liked what they did. It’ll make you feel good. Plus you’ll collect karma points.

9) Say I love you
This may seem very similar to #8 on the surface, but it’s not. You say “thank-you” to the barista at Starbucks often, but rarely “I love you” to the people that matter (I’m not implying that the barista doesn’t matter, especially first thing in the morning, but I think you know what I mean). There is no better way to maintain a relationship than to express your feelings. This could be with your partner, your relatives, your friends, your kids, your pets. Tell them you love them. Show them you love them. Send an e-card. Shoot off a text message. Or better yet, call them on the phone right now. When they answer, start singing, “I just called to say I love you”. If you can’t talk long, or don’t have much time, just say, “I’m running into a meeting now but I was just thinking of you and thought you should know that I love you.” Seriously, this is an amazingly simple little device that will turn you into a hero. And hero’s usually feel pretty good, no?

10) Write down one of your big dreams
If you don’t pay attention to your dreams, no one will do it for you. Write down one of your long term goals, something you’ve always wanted to do. Now think of something you can do in the next two minutes that will get you one step (big or small) closer to that goal. For instance, if you want to eventually have a cottage by a peaceful lake then you could: call up your bank and set up an RSP (or 401k) that skims a few bucks off of your paycheck each month. Or you could simply look up nice cottages using Google Image search and print one out to look at… Anything that will keep your mind focused on your goal. Do that once a day and suddenly you’ll be a lot closer than you think.

Mundane LifeFocus Card System v5 Sample
(This is a sneak peek at the beta of the Mundane LifeFocus™ Card System v5, which will come in completely customizable and editable PDFs for both business-card and index-card sizes.)


Extreme Whiteboarding

Whiteboarding is a term often used in creative circles to describe a free-form brainstorming session where participants write their ideas on a… wait for it… white board. This animator uses the whiteboard to create a stream of consciousness style animation with perpetual innovation and refreshment of ideas. It is a brainstorm come to life. It is 10 ideas every 10 seconds. It is fabulous to watch, and I want to see more. I love it when the sun starts to set on his day and you can see the shadows and light come over the board.

UPDATE: For more information on this video, the artist and the music track, visit the ViralVideoHQ Wiki entry.

The First 10 Creative People Who Come to Mind (in no particular order of importance or stature)

1. Albrecht Dürer
Dürer's Rhinoceros, 1515

2. Douglas Coupland
Generation X

3. Dave Eggers

4. Edward Tufte
Napoleons March

5. Nicholson Baker
The Mezzanine was the first Baker book I read

6. Chris Ware

7. Hergé
Tintin and Friends

8. Nick Bantock

9. Bruce Mau
Massive Change Napkin Sketch

10. Liam Lynch

This list was created very quickly and reveals more about me than it does about creativity. After a quick review I realize how highly I view authors and designers. 9 out of 10 on this list are authors, designers, or a combination of both. And then there’s Liam. I still can’t decide whether I truly like his work or am just fascinated by his ability to create volumes of material, without seeming to worry if it’s good or bad.
These people create more than they consume. Albrecht and Herge are dead, but the rest are probably working on something right now instead of watching American Idol. I would love to make a list of the top 1000 creative people in the world. We’d all need to agree on the criterion together: would it have to do with volume over time? Or based on the average critical review (like RottenTomatoes.com)? Or judgement by peers? Would we want to segment by category? Can you compare Jimmy Hendrix to Woody Allen? Would you want to?

Who are the first ten creative people to pop into your head?

10 Questions About Cathedral Balloons

GUM ceiling by jeffinmoscow

The next time you’re in a public place with high ceilings, look up. Look for the dead balloons, the ones that didn’t make it outside, the ones that got stuck in the rafters. The ones that strived to touch heaven but were held back by their heavy coloured casings. Look for the shrunken and shriveled rubber, the withered plastic that has stuck to the metal or glass between itself and the sky. Or got it’s string tangled in a beam or a lightbulb. They are in varying states of deflation, as the stale, moist helium eventually becomes one with its maker. Once you see one, you will see them everywhere you go.

These kinds of objects hold a special fascination for me.

  1. I wonder how long they are allowed to stay there.
  2. Who has to clean them up, and how do they do it?
  3. How many balloons get stuck in a ceiling per year?
  4. How many abandoned balloons are “too many” and the manager sends someone up to get rid of them?
  5. Why do they melt and stick to things as they lose air?
  6. How long does it take, on average, for the fully deflated and stuck balloons, to eventually peel away and fall?
  7. How many actually hit people below and scare the shit out of them?
  8. What is the most popular colour of discarded balloons, if any?
  9. Are there any buildings where balloons are banned from entry?
  10. Are there people who collect or document these popped objects?

If you have any answers or observations, please leave a comment.

How to Brainstorm Right Now (republished)

On January 22, 2005, I wrote the following precursor to 10 Ideas In 10 Minutes called How to Brainstorm Right Now! I wrote it in my moleskin book while giving my daughter a bath. Previously, I had used her as an excuse, a barrier, to getting anything creative done. Sometimes a barrier can become a muse. It’s all in how you approach creativity. Here’s the full list, republished a year and a half later:

In fact, it’s preferred. (Right now I’m trying to give my daughter a bath!)

Don’t wait for the perfect set-up, it won’t happen. Don’t pine for your ’special pen’. Use lipstick on a napkin or fog a window with your stinkin’ breath and draw with your finger. Just get it out!

You don’t always have to write words. Use colours, faces, shapes, dots, musical notation, semaphor, morse code, fruit, animals, IKEA furnature.

Don’t try to be smart. Don’t care if you’re daft. The solution does not have to relate to the problem. Your brain works in strange ways so you might as well get used to it. Let it go.

Panic! See what comes out. It might be crazy or shakey or too garbled to read. Then close your eyes, take a deep breath and hold it. Shut out the world. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Write it down fast because you’ve got less than a minute. Panic! Repeat as necessary.

If you have a block or a moment or synaptic silence, just barrell through it. Write down anything so long as it’s something. The first word in your head is a start. If there is nothing in your head than look around you. Make associations or just plain obvious observations (”That man has grey socks”). You made it across!

Talk, yell, laugh, screetch, whistle. Pretend you are on a game show. Or not. Just vocalize.

Pretend you’re a dog, or an autistic, or a circus clown, or an astronaut, or a teenage Britney Spears fan, or a tree. What would they come up with?

Read over that guy’s shoulder. What’s on the bottom of your shoe? Look up. Look down. Look over there. What is that woman wearing? Who’s driving that car? What type of clouds are those? Is it really this late? Keep looking around until something clicks (or your minute runs out).

You can be a genius later, right now you don’t have the time. Try to come up with a terrible idea. Try as hard as you can to come up with the worst idea you’ve ever had. If that doesn’t work, then just be obvious.

Fuck it. Break the rules. Do what you want. See if I care.

Got 10m?

10m, the magasin rapideYou have been chosen to participate in the inaugural launch of a new breed of expression: the magasin rapide. Now before you dismiss this as a bunch of crazy-word spam I’ll translate it for you: rapid magazine.

I’ve always wanted to start a magazine. Be it in the form of a pdf, a website, a CD-ROM, a t-shirt, a glossy, or a rag. I spend hours and hours and hours and hours coming up with names (Mundane Magazine, Glabella, Blunt), designs, sections, authors, ideas. I mired myself down in details instead of diving into beta.

Ever since I came up with 10 Ideas In 10 Minutes™, my rapid brainstorming technique, I want to do everything NOW! There’s no excuse! If you can’t take 10 minutes out of your day, you may as well give up now. But wait wait wait wait wait! Don’t leave! I’m not trying to de-motivate you. I’m trying to make a point— everyone can make 10 minutes. I’ll give you 10 ways you can make up 10 minutes today and help me make this dream a reality:


Look at that, I just thought of 11 ways you could save 10 minutes today and make history. Hell, I just bought you almost 2 hours!


Create something in 10 minutes and send it to me. There are only a few rules.

1) IT HAS TO TAKE 10 MINUTES OR LESS. You can cheat only in set up time and idea generation. The act of creation must be roughly 10 minutes. If you figure out a way to sell me on a series of things that each take 10 minutes, I’ll consider it. But otherwise the entire name of the magazine wouldn’t make sense would it?

2) IT HAS TO BE DIGITIZABLE. You need to email it to me, so just keep that in mind. If it’s a plate of cupcakes I can’t use it. Unless you figure out how to capture them of course. Music, video, animation, novella, photography, mix-cd cover art (hint hint Mr. Processedcheese) recipes, watercolour, poetry, zen gardens, photoshop, scrapbooking… it’s all good.

3) IT HAS TO RELATE TO (ONE OF) THE FIRST 10 WORDS IN THE DICTIONARY UNDER THE LETTER M. Don’t have a paper dictionary anymore? Neither do I. Use your imagination for $%^& sakes.

I’m going to call out 10 people who I know are brilliant and diverse and give them a few days to get me something. And then I’ll edit it together and post it on TINB, in a section called 10m, the name of the magasin rapide.

If you want to participate, send your masterpiece in a self-addressed, stamped email to jason.theodor@gmail.com with the subject 10m. You need to include the following information:

  • TIME TAKEN (10 minutes or less please)
  • CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE (so your work is protected)

Now stop reading this and go create something right now.

10 Pictures in 10 Minutes

10 Drawings In 10 Minutes

The 10 Ideas in 10 Minutes™ system (more on this soon) is useful when you have a sleeping one-year-old boy in one car seat, and a rambunctious four-year-old girl in another car seat. You are wating for Mommy to pop in and out of the grocery store, but it is the long weekend, and you can see by the over-capacity parking lot that you’re going to be sitting in the hot sun long enough for your daughter to get bored and consequently wake up your son. What to do?

I gave her my Moleskin and a pen and asked her to draw 10 pictures, one every minute. I told her when to stop and draw another one. When she was finished with 10, I took the book back and spent another 10 minutes asking her about what she had drawn and what each object was called. She’s really into spirals right now, as well as bugs and flowers. A few random objects and made-up words made it onto the page as well.

The interesting thing about a child’s drawing or any child’s art for that matter, is their Independence of the Good Opinion of Others as Dr. Wayne Dyer would say. She is only drawing for herself. Beautiful.