One of the tenets of my philosophy has been adding positive to limit or eliminate negative. In my life this would translate to eating a salad to have a little less room for another slice of pizza. The premise here is that it is easier for the brain to add things verses subtracting them. It eliminates the feeling of depriving yourself and makes change easier and less painful. By doing so, your chances of success are greatly increased.
This does not always have to revolve around achieving a goal, or making a change in your life. Taking a few moments to stop and think of what you would like more of in your life can go a long way to giving you a life you really enjoy. That is the first thing I suggest we do today. Pick a time when you have a few minutes to yourself, it can even be fun to do this with your spouse or friend, as long as you both have your own list. Write down a handful of things you would like more of in your life. They can be things from the picture above, or things you just wish to do.
Here comes the part that a lot of you may find strange. Pull out your calendar, or put a reminder in your phone of days you would like to do these very events. Again, set yourself up to win by picking a day on which you can fairly depend. For example, Saturdays I work 2 jobs so there likely will not be much time to include new activities. Also, try to plan on the minimal side. What do I mean by this? Perhaps you would like to meditate 20 minutes every day? Start out by picking at least one or two days a week to do so. That way you can gain a feeling of momentum and success. Before long that momentum may carry you to every day. By contrast, if you pick every day and do not make it, it will give you a feeling of failure and that will go against having a more joyous life.
Why is this exercise so important? We schedule jobs, meetings and all sorts of obligations into our lives, it is vitally important we schedule some joy as well. If this seems like a foreign or crazy idea to you, consider how you feel as you are getting close to a planned vacation? Imagine that feeling, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, once a week? It will help return the passion and zest to life. Our lives, in addition to being of service to others, were meant to be enjoyed. If you are not loving your life a fair amount of time you are doing it all wrong. Sure, we all go through tough times, but having something to look forward to can even help with those.
Feel free to share with other readers some of the fun things you plan to add in 2018 in the comments below!
I learned a great secret! The other day my lady was cooking up a delicious meal and I decided to sit in the sun and read one of my favorite books. About halfway through my time reading I decided to take off my shoes and put my feet in the grass. I had not done that in years. In our busy lives we can become disconnected with some of life’s simple pleasures.
Between the good book I was reading and the feeling of the grass between my toes I felt amazing. What have you not done in a while? I suggest revisiting different aspects we have gotten away from. I also suggest getting back in touch with nature. Is there a favorite tree you like? Get out and walk up to it. Grab the kids or the one you love and go for a walk in the park. Maybe just go for a stroll yourself noticing nature. Hear the songs of the birds. Feel the wind blowing against your skin. See the trees on the horizon and notice how beautiful they are. Literally stop and smell the flowers.
Please share with us things you haven’t done in a long time that you may enjoy. Take those shoes off and walk around the grass!
If you recall a while back I wrote a post about what I learned from a farmer. WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM Here is another thing we can learn from a story I have heard about an old farmer.
This farmer was asked about what he was doing to address that squirrel problem. He was asked, “What are you doing about these squirrels? They are eating half of our crop! Are you trapping them? Are you poisoning them?” The farmer just smiled and shook his head as he replied, “nah, I’m just planting twice as much.”
You see that farmer discovered something I was just reminded of recently. We can fight against what is holding us back, or we can work twice as hard and still succeed. The farmer could have trapped or poisoned the squirrels and just been faced with more. That is not to say we should not address challenges, just remember to work on what we have control over as well. Like the farmer let us plant twice as much.
So, if your business is struggling make twice as many calls as you normally do. You and the spouse not getting along that well? Instead of focusing on what you think they might be doing wrong, focus on being twice as loving yourself. Feeling more stressed out lately than normal? Do twice as much to take care of yourself. Maybe add a second stress relieving activity to your day or meditate twice as often?
Even taking control of our lives gives us a boost knowing we are not leaving the quality of our life up to outside circumstances and people. While there will always be ‘squirrels’ in life, we must always remember to plant twice as much.
*disclaimer* I am actually a fan of squirrels and no squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog.
As you are reading this i will be in sunny Las Vegas. In doing so I am taking a break from being a Postal worker, a DJ, a bartender and to most extent an author and blog writer. In past posts I have stressed the importance of taking a rest and the ability it provides us.
In today’s world the importance of self care is often overlooked. There are commercials about getting ahead in business, in finance, in taking care of your loved ones and many others. These are for sure all important, but everything you do, including taking care of others can be done better when you take care of yourself. As I often say an empty pitcher can never fill anyone’s cup.
When taking care of yourself you need to provide yourself the undivided attention you would for a family member or important client. I have friends who have diligently carved out time for themselves and tell me they still feel stressed and overwhelmed. On occasion we will all feel these feelings, that is just a part of life. Here is what is important – when you take time for yourself, make sure you are really devoting that time to yourself.
These next few examples may sound silly to some, but they really have happened. I know of a friend who interrupts his meditation when he hears his text message alerts go off. People use their visualization time to plan and think about that nights dinner. This is really not our fault. Today we try to accomplish 25 hours of work into one day. Sleeping? Only if there is time for that. Trust me, I am as guilty as anyone of this. If we are wise enough to take this time to recharge let us use it wisely.
There are a few steps you can take that can greatly increase the success of your recharging time. One, let others know not to disturb you. This is especially effective if you have a routine time of day you set aside to take care of the important person in the mirror. Tell the kids every day from 6-6:30 is “mommy time”. Also dispose of any guilt associated with taking this time. Remember by taking care of yourself you will be better to help assist the needs of others and do so with less stress and more effectiveness. It is really a win/win situation. Next, turn off all devices. Put your phone on silent. You deserve this time. Finally, look into some clearing exercises that help you empty your mind before you begin. Simply paying attention to your breathing and focusing on that can work. Another fun and easy way to approach this is purchasing CDs that guide you through this meditation. All you do is relax, push play and you are on your way. This can be especially helpful for people just beginning. Another perk is usually they last 30 minutes to an hour so when the cd ends, your time is up. One of my favorite site is brain sync they have several different choices depending on what you are after.
The point here is to start the new year devoting time to the most important person in your life, you. Improved mental and physical well-being will increase your productivity and reduce your stress allowing you to be better at life and enjoy it more. Feel free to share how you set aside time and what you do to recharge your batteries in the comments below. Also feel free to share this post.
Although this picture pretty much says it all, there are some important points to touch on. The first is obvious, the dog is only thinking about one thing which brings him a lot less stress. The man, as is so common in our world today is multi-worry-tasking. Yes, this is a term I just came up with, but it accurately describes what many people to today. Not only do we waste time worrying (which has zero transformational value) about one thing, quite often we have several worries on our mind all at once. What we do not realize is that we are not doing ourselves, or the situation any good by occupying our mind with what could go wrong.
Another more subtle point here is the dog is the only one present in the moment. They are both out it what appears to be a rather pleasant relaxing setting. The man, preoccupied with his thoughts, is unable to fully appreciate the good he is literally sitting in the middle of. The dog, however, is in the moment. His thoughts are on what is happening at that very second. My confession here is I am often the man myself. In this crazy world it is hard not to be mentally a million places all at once. There was a time I focused on just being in the now (see the post ‘Relish the now’ april 19th) My lady had a hot bath with scented salts, candles and wine all ready for me. I purposely noticed every detail, every sensation using every sense I could. Another thing I did was make sure my thoughts were not somewhere else. Next post we will explore how this can be a good thing, but for right now we will continue. Truth is I was doing all of this because I wanted to write a blog about the whole affair. That is the mind of a writer for you. Still what a great gift that was and the memory is so much more clear, and what a great memory that was.
So how can you begin to stay focused? How can you begin to limit all the mental chatter and needless worry? My number one recommendation is meditation. For those of you who think this involves hours of sitting in an odd position chanting think again. There are plenty of good books, cds and videos on simple meditations. In fact if you go to YouTube and search ‘guided meditation’ there will be several you can just listen to as they walk you through. Next, try journaling. I know I constantly suggest it, but truly giving your thoughts an outlet can often relieve them of their power and help your thinking become more clear. Lastly, and probably the most fun is watch the masters. Watch those who can remain focused on the now and stealing every ounce of joy out of the day. Who are these wise teachers? Pets and children. Watch kids on the playground. Watch your pets. See the joy they experience in the simplest of things. Feel free to share this with anyone who could enjoy life more if they could just live in the present. I believe it is a skill we can all work on.
Yesterday we discussed having a ‘big picture’ idea to focus on. We also discussed how you can use both the time leading up to it to build excitement as well as the time following to enjoy all the memories. Today we are going to focus specifically on something you do daily. What is it you ask? That is a great question. Think, what is the one thing you look forward daily that brings you joy and helps make your life a little bit better? Do you take 10 minutes to yourself to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a few pages of a good book? Perhaps you race right from work to pick up the kids from school and then straight home to start dinner so there will be time for homework and still have everyone in bed at a somewhat decent hour. Throw in soccer practice or a Recital or two and just the thought of it makes you crave that glass of wine! Here is a little secret, we all need a daily joy ritual. Time may seem to short as it is, but ask your self one very important question. How long can you keep it up? We even give our cars a break every 3000 miles. I know lots of people I swear go more than that before they stop to take any time to themselves. What would happen to your car if you just kept driving it because you never had time to change the oil? Would it perform at it’s best? Of course not. Neither would we. Tempers become shorter and immune systems become run down. So what to do? Plan time for yourself. If this makes you feel even slightly guilty, think of it as your ‘oil change’. When you return you will be able to help those around you that much better. You may be asking “what can I really do in 5-10 minutes that will make a difference?”. I suggest some form of meditation. Now before you start picturing yourself in a complicated yoga pose, holding a lotus flower, let me reassure you there are plenty of forms of meditation. Even the western scientific world has started to acknowledge the benefits of meditation. Sharper focus, less stress, stronger immune system, more energy, better sleep. With all these benefits you might find yourself finding a little more than five minutes. Still not sure about this meditation thing? I suggest looking into a few books. I’ve read one full of relaxation techniques that only take a minute. Reading and research still sound a bit to stressful for you? There are tons of guided meditation cds and dvd’s you can purchase. Just push play and the rest is done for you. One of the best websites I recommend is brainsync.com they have a cd for almost any person interested in a moment to themselves. After all, with all that running around, don’t you deserve it? Ok, off to find my lotus flower