I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡

good idea linus pauling art by niki flow
Art by Niki Flow.  Great Advice from Wise People.

Dear Ben,

I’m kind of addicted to stationary.  I love blank notebooks, too, especially the really cheap composition books. I keep a stack around all the time.  I look at that stack and see potential.  As soon as I learn a formula for filling in the pages with ideas, I try it.

Over the years, I’ve I tried the Pro/Con formula, Covey’s four boxes, the Writer’s Way formula; the $25,00-Idea formula; he Jerry Seinfield formula; the Stinson “1000 ways to be good to you” formula and so many more.  In the days to come, I’ll write about each of those.  Today I want to talk about one of my favorites called the “Add/Remove” and “Remove/Add” formula, aka the “Add What You Love” (AWYL) Formula.

add what you love that's good iiThe AWYL Formula, inspired by many talks with my brilliant friend Debby, teaches you to not only come up with tons of great ideas, it teaches you how to know exactly what you want in life, and what you don’t.  Once you know that, it’s easy to make a plan to go out and get what you want, and remove what you don’t.

This formula uses the power of opposites.  Once you know what you want, Deb explained, you can switch it around and know what you don’t want.  Once you know what you don’t want, you can often immediately see exactly how you want to fill in the blanks of its absence.  Deb called me almost daily for several months in a row when I was on a precipice.  During our talks she taught me a lot.  This is one of those things.  I will never be able to pay her back, so I promised to pay what I learned forward.**

The “Add-What-You-Love” Formula and How It Works

Get a notebook or a blank piece of paper. I recommend a notebook because you’ll want to do this over several days and you’ll be surprised how many ideas this will unlock.  On one side of the page, or on the top of the first page of the notebook, write “Add” or the symbol “+” as big as a title. On the other side of the page or on the top of a middle page in the notebook write, “Remove” or ““.

Here are two of my lists.  The first one uses things I want to add and its opposite gives me clues about what I want less of in my life.  It’s useful to write the opposite and to start it both ways — add more, remove more — because the opposites give you more ideas.


The second, “Remove/Add” tells me what I want less of and, turning it around, what I want to remove.  These are two completely different lists that seem to light up different parts of our brains for ideas.

Remove add

Now we’re going to do something you may not have done since you were little.  Remember make-believe?  Right now, visualize yourself as if you are you, exactly, but instead of a heart, lungs and a circulatory system you have mechanical parts.  You’re a perfect synthetic replica of yourself.  You step behind a curtain, turn the “Synth” you on and start your day.  You Synth-Self has autonomy switched completely off and you, the controller, are in full charge. How would you make your Syth-Self go through his or her day? Imagine you could do anything, go anywhere, with perfect strength, coordination, and without any anxiety.  What would you do?  Be as detailed as you can.  This visualization is designed to unlock ideas in your brain.

03-26-16_12-00-10 AM

Speaking of visualization, I made a video that you can use to help with this.  I put it together after doing a lot of research about visualization.  It’s a really powerful tool.  *

This is Your Sandbox

Okay now it’s your turn.   Blank sheet, or blank notebook, “Add / Remove” and “Remove / Add.”  Go as fast as you can and don’t worry about mistakes.  This is your “sandbox” as game devs call it, your place to make a mess and come up with thousands of ideas in the process.  Nothing is permanent and everything is potentially a priceless idea.

(I’m so hopeful since Frank said you are okay. So even if you are choosing to stay away, I just need a way to be connected to you.  Even if you don’t read these letters now, you might read them some day.)

Love, Mom

  • PS  During the period of Deb’s mentoring, I made a video called “The Opposite of Ego.” I read on a fitness site a list about all the bad things about having a big ego. I realized I had a lot of those things on the list, but it didn’t solve it for me. I knew I was crap — at least, that’s how I felt at the time.  How could I become better? That’s what I needed to know.  So I switched every single thing on the list to its opposite.  I called the opposite of ego our “Sacred Self” — the part of us that knows the answer, the inspired part, which literally mean “God breathed” — the part lit up by Divine Love.