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Beyond the Waterfall with David Airey

Graphic Designer & Writer |  Northern Ireland

David Airey left his position as a designer in a cancer charity to pursue brand identity design and writing as a full-time independent graphic designer. He also has a successful blog and has written two books, “Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities” and “Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business.” David’s passion for what he does is evident throughout his work, and he attributes his happiness and mindfulness to loving what he does.


“Being happier in my work means I’m less worried about what the next thing is. I can focus more on what I’m doing now rather than thinking ahead too much.”


Multitasking Does Not Equal Mindfulness

Multitasking is often viewed as a positive skill, but it usually means you’re not being mindful about what you do. David believes in the power of slowing down, switching off, and focusing on one thing at a time for the best results. “The more you can switch off and focus on one thing, the better you’re going to be at that thing.” Rather than doing multiple tasks at the same time, David suggests doing them in order, one after the other.  Ensuring each task can receive your full attention is how David remains mindful in his creative work and everyday life.


Stopping in Order to Keep Going

David takes at least five minutes a day to clear his thoughts, focus on his breathing, and refresh his mind. He meditates in silence or with music and a guiding voice (in person or with an app). When he is feeling over worked or unbalanced, a quick moment of meditation offers immediate results. “If you just take a little time out of your day, every day, for five minutes, it’s going to help. You’re going to feel relaxed and less stressed.”


“It takes a very short time [of meditating] before you feel the benefits.”


Meditation & The Waterfall

Meditating offers instant relief, but sometimes it’s hard to do. David acknowledges that meditation takes practice, and shared a Buddhist analogy he refers to. “If you picture your mind like a waterfall, the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions, and mindfulness is the space behind that.” He explained that meditation is trying to get past your rushing thoughts to focus on the calm space behind the waterfall.


“If you can break from that even for just a few seconds at a time, the more you do it the better you’ll get at it.”


Gratitude and Living In The Now

An exercise in gratitude David practices is writing down 5 good things that happened that day. “I found myself going through days not really appreciating what I had.” Being grateful for what you currently have, rather than focusing on the future, helps you stay present. “If you’re always thinking about what’s coming next, you tend to lose track of what’s happening now, and now is the only moment we have. The more you can be in that moment, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it and the happier you’ll be.”


“Now is the only moment we have.”


David’s Questions for KYŌ (App):

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What can I change?
  • What’s the worst that can happen?


Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

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