Tag Archives: unconventional

How to Be Eccentric: Engage

Part of living an unconventional, or as I like to call it eccentric, life is to culture habits that stand out and shape your world view.  This is a mini-series on habits of eccentricity, the second is Engagement.  Check out the first part in this series on Awareness.

Be Engaged

Engagement in the world is important to being eccentric.  It is a commitment to each moment that we live, the actions that we take and the responsibility that comes with the freedoms we create.

love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got. love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it

Maya Angelou

Being engaged is taking an interest in people.

Ask about their interests, their life, their work – take a moment and actually listen and inquire on topics they are excited about.  Ask for peoples names who help you out or provide a service and give thanks for their assistance.

Engaging in our relationships requires time and devotion.  We may have to cut down on the amount of time we spend on casual relationships, but in terms of the 80/20 rule having a small core of close friends enriches our lives far more than a flighty network of acquaintances.

Taking an interest in casual acquaintances introduces us to new people, develops broad social networks, and enriches our own personality.  Reaching out to others, even if only for a moment, teaches us far more about ourselves than engaging ourselves only with those who are like us.

Being engaged is having focus.

Cultivate intensity in your interests and activities.  When you commit to a class, arrive and be aware of what is going on, give feedback and ask questions.  When you subscribe to a hobby immerse yourself in it: seek out exemplars to learn from, carry it with you and practice constantly.

Developing focus empowers us, teaches us discipline, and often leads to a more productive existence.  Our goals and aspirations become clear and attainable when we focus our energies.  With focus you can cut through the fog of distractions and minutiae that sap our energy and time and make a visible difference.

Being engaged is taking responsibility.

Your actions and choices are yours alone.  Scapegoating or blaming other people and circumstances disengages you from reality.  While your actions may not always have the outcome you desire and the world may not present the best for you, it is still you acting and being in the world.

In my own life I have often taken my freedom for granted.  While the freedoms I have, whether financially, in relationships, or educationally, have benefited me – taking those opportunities without taking on the responsibility that comes with them has taken more from me than I gained.  Understanding that my spending, my friends, my actions, and decisions are my responsibility to engage with is a frightening yet empowering aspect of life.

The weight of freedom is responsibility.

Being engaged is being present.

Imagination and daydreaming have their place but they should not take over your life.  Live now rather than for a dream of the future or a memory of the past.  Find immediacy. Waiting for the future to happen or trying to relive the past lead to disappointment.

Living now can be difficult when we have goals that we are striving for or pasts that haunt us.  When I get wrapped up in these things it is best that I take a moment and perform a physical action.  Whether it is practicing calligraphy, working out, dancing or going for a walk, engaging in a hands-on trade or activity takes me out of my head and forces me into the present.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

The Buddha


brings you closer to the world.  You have more investment in the things that are important to you.  Those activities give greater meaning to your life.  Live a richer experience, live now.

How to Be Eccentric: Be Aware

Part of living an unconventional, or as I like to call it eccentric, life is to culture habits that stand out and shape your world view.  This is a mini-series on habits of eccentricity, the first is Awareness.

Be Aware

Awareness is imperative if you want to be eccentric.  Being aware of details others miss or pass over as commonplace gives you the advantage of seeing the world in broader perspective and sharper detail.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

The Buddha

Be aware of details.

Make an effort to notice the little things that are overshadowed.

Think of it like cooking.  While the main ingredients are obvious, say chicken, rice and vegetables, what truly seasons the dish, what makes it stand out, are the pinches of spices and herbs.  Each little bit of rosemary, pepper or garlic fills out the experience of the meal.

Details in our environment or the details of a friends life are what gives fullness to our experience.  They add depth to our understanding and our relationships.

Be aware of difference.

Differences challenge our assumptions.  They expand our horizon of experience, broaden our perspective by contrasting the norm.  We often assume negatives from difference when it should be an opportunity to look for understanding.

Be open to difference in life and people.  Don’t overlay your expectations.  Noticing the differences from prior situations or acquaintances frees you from the burden of the past dictating your perceptions of the present.

As Albert Szent-Györgyi, discoverer of vitamin C, noted: genius is seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no-one else has thought. Recognizing differences in the normal is how we can reshape our perspective of the world.

Be aware of minutiae.

When the train schedule actually reads 8:44am instead of 8:44pm and you miss the 8:30pm train and have to wait 45 minutes till the next train that one letter makes all the difference.

When that $1.99 8-piece chicken nugget deal isn’t actually the deal you think it is when a 5-piece chicken nugget costs $.99 (I noticed this on a Burger King menu once).

Minutiae are the typos that are missed when a writer rereads his work, the flipping of time from AM to PM, the misplaced apostrophe, the forks in the spoon drawer, and all the other little things that are seemingly insignificant.  Sometimes those minutiae make all the difference.

Be aware of everyday.

When the sun sets over the city, or when the smell of fresh cut grass permeates your office, or how milk swirls when poured into tea, these things give value to simple things and enrich our daily lives.

Taking the time to sit in quiet and observe the world as it is.  Tea ceremonies, Vipassana (walking) meditation, are all methods to cultivate this simple awareness.

On my roughest days the simple act of sitting outside or going for a walk and just taking in everything around me without judgment breaks me out of the rough patches and shows me how connected I am to the world.  It is this choice of simple awareness which gives me that gift.

Be aware of yourself.

Know thyself as Plato’s creed goes.

Being aware of what drives you, what upsets you, and what habits you have developed is essential to being eccentric.  The lack of self-knowledge equates to having a map but not knowing where you are on it.  You can see the world around you and pick a direction but we might as well shoot into the dark for all that matters.

Understand your own vices and virtues.  Reflect on your being and your actions.  You are the center of any eccentricity and without that center you can easily become lost.


(the lack thereof being a pet-peeve of mine) shows you the world and your life in richer detail.  When you upgraded from a regular T.V. set to an HDTV you noticed the crispness, the clarity of the images; when you upgrade from living on the world to living in the world you notice the density of experience all around you.