Stop reacting

I have always felt that we have a lot more control over what we think than we give ourselves credit for. It is interesting to watch how we interact with each other. Often these interactions set the tone for our thoughts. For instance you approach me at work and say let’s go grab a cup of coffee. I ask you how are things are going with your project and you start telling me about how unreasonable your client is and how you don’t have any way to address their clearly unreasonable requests. I nod a few times sympathetically, and recall a similar situation I had with one of my own clients this week. What started as a cup of coffee turned into bitching session about our customers, with no one walking away feeling any better. This is not unusual in most organizations happening over and over. So what’s wrong with this? Wasn’t I being empathetic? Sure I was empathetic to my co-worker, but not to my customer and I did nothing to change the tone of the conversation from what was negative to something positive. This is a pretty simple example of how we get pulled into conversations and instead of really thinking about how to control our thoughts, we just react.

You might think well no damage done, but think again. You go back to your desk and now you are focused on a difficult customer or what a pain in the ass this job is. Your colleague walks away no better off from the interaction, in fact you may have just reinforced his ill will towards his client.

What if instead of reacting to what people are saying you just listen or maybe even better you remove yourself from the conversation all together. I know this sounds weird but if you or someone else is intent on taking time to turn things into a pity party then in the long run you are doing both of you a favor by cutting it short.

These reactions are not limited to discussions. Let me give you a few examples of how we often react to various events during the day:

  • Someone pulls in front of or cuts you off driving to work. You hit the breaks and give them the finger. Nice start to the day.
  • Watching the news in the morning I see that someone with an automatic rifle that killed 14 people in a mall somewhere in the United States or Europe. I don’t visibly react but I think to myself the world is a dangerous place, I had better be careful when I am out in public.
  • You get up in the morning and go to make a cup of coffee and find that your kitchen looks like it had been ransacked by intruders. You fire off some expletive using one of you children’s name, roommate, or spouse.

Well I just thought this was funny.

React funny

In any of these cases you are spending your time as some kind of reactionary organism where stimulus and response rules the universe. I would be the last person to say that you will ever gain complete control over your thoughts and the way to react or not to those things that are happening around you. In fact I think because we all have a tendency to do some of this; thus the need to be very careful about what we expose ourselves to. It would also be giving up to say that you have no control over how you react to the events you encounter each day. There are ways that you can stack the deck in favor of being a rationale being and not a reactionary fool. Here are few things you can do to go from reacting to thoughtful responses:

  • Condition your mind – Read inspirational books, watch YouTube videos, read positive affirmations, or meditate. Remember you are training your mind, putting good things in to create that positive mindset, which will offset some of the negative events of the day, by starting from the right mindset as your day begins.
  • Know your triggers – If driving to work in heavy traffic is absolutely killing you then, start earlier in the day when traffic is not as hectic or use an audio book or some other means to take your mind off it.
  • Avoidance – I’m a big fan of just not exposing yourself to things that I know may be negative. For instance I quit watching all cable news stations and even local news. My only exception would be a few minutes of CNBC to get some business news. Avoidance is a risk management technique where you put into place ways to completely avoid the risk altogether and it works pretty well for avoiding negative bullshit.
  • Take responsibility – Instead of blaming the world for how you react to events occurring around you, take responsibility for your reaction. Quit blaming everyone else for your poor behavior and attitude. You know deep down, it is you who chose to perpetuate negative thoughts, to be critical of others, to blame the world around you.

If and when you decide you can control how you think, then you will be in the top 10% who do not react, but instead control their thoughts. You will be one of the few that controls  your own state of mind, and your happiness now becomes a decision not a reaction.

Namaste

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Turning garbage into gold

It has been a long time since I’ve actually written anything myself on this blog site, and while I could reel off a list of excuses it would be pointless. Well back to the actual purpose for this post. I have recently been burning the candle at both ends working some crazy hours, partying too much, and driving myself into the ground if you will. As with any stupid behavior things eventually catch up with you and a week before the holiday I catch a pretty bad cold and am literally bed ridden. To add to my list of bad habits I have been smoking for years, not a lot, but enough to worry me about what might be the long term affects.

I had been gearing up for another attempt at quitting, but this time I thought the timing could not be better, since I felt so terrible from the cold. It turns out the severe discomfort from the respiratory illness created a great opportunity to kick this rotten smoking addiction. I felt so bad that the first 3 days which are usually incredibly difficult were actually a breeze. As terrible as the respiratory infection had been it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and helped me break a four decade long habit. The lesson here is that each time you suffer a set back of some sort their is usually an opportunity buried in the pile somewhere, but you need to be aware enough to sift through things and seize it.

I recently landed the job of my life, both in terms of compensation and challenge, but my previous job had been a mental beat down for nearly a year and half before landing my new job. You would not have thought given the turmoil, lack of progress, and utter incompetent leadership that I would ever have the opportunity to work for the company I do today. One thing that my previous position held for me was an opportunity to work in what is one of the hottest technologies, and I knew if I could hang in there for over a year this pathetic job would turn into a much greater opportunity somewhere else and it did. My short term discomfort was traded for a much longer term gain.

Difficult situations provide the most fertile grounds for change and growth in your life; the key is to take advantage of these situations and not let them become something that drags you down. If you can see something like a layoff, an illness, a divorce, conflict with family members, bad investments, or any other difficulty as a chance to learn and start over then you become resilient and resilient people thrive in this environment.

Let’s be honest with ourselves when things are going great and we are cruising through life as fun as it is, we are not making great progress. The great improvements in our life come from overcoming or adapting to difficult situations. If you think back at the greatest lessons you learned in your life; they came when things didn’t go so well, in fact they have occurred during days or years of great pain. The greater the difficulty the greater the insight that can be gained, but only if you look at it as an opportunity.

I like the Jim Rohn quote:

Jim-Rohn-Quote-Don-t-wish-it-was-easier-wish-you-were-better-Don-t.jpg

Be resilient my friends.

Bend but not break.

Each setback in an opportunity.

It’s not a failure if you learned something from it.

Namaste

 

Study shows women more naturally fit than men

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

At the risk of sounding sexist, I am surprised by these findings. I guess because men are generally bigger and stronger, I assumed the opposite was true.

Women can process oxygen more quickly than men when they start to exercise, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis. Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Quick oxygen uptake places less strain on the body’s cells and is considered an important measure of aerobic fitness.

“The findings are contrary to the popular assumption that men’s bodies are more naturally athletic,” said Thomas Beltrame, lead author on the study.

The study compared oxygen uptake and muscle oxygen extraction between 18 young men and women of similar age and weight during treadmill exercise. Women consistently outperformed men with around 30 per cent faster oxygen handling throughout the body.

“We found that women’s muscles extract oxygen from the…

View original post 97 more words

Plant-based diet yields cardiometabolic health benefits -MNT

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

I was a vegetarian in my younger days. I lasted for about five years. In those days, there wasn’t the same level of consciousness or acceptance of this kind of diet that there is now. Although I left vegetarianism, I have continued to limit the amount of red meat I consume. I also eat a lot of fish and seeds and nuts for protein sources.

Medical News Today reports that plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outline the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

chinese-vegetarian-food

The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients…

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Easy ways for Creating Success

Often we think we need to make radical changes in our lives to create success, when in reality it is the little incremental changes that make the biggest difference. You don’t need to quit your job, abandon everything you know, or put your financial future at risk; you just need to start making changes in your behavior one step at a time.

success is the sum of small efforts repeated

What is Success?

When I talk about success I’m not limiting it to financial gain, but that will certainly be one measure. You might also define success in terms or relationships, health, skills, or peace of mind just to name a few. Another way to look at success is personal growth. Successful people are people that are always growing. Personal growth provides satisfaction and happiness, which ignites a need for more growth. Face it if you are not growing as an individual you are standing still and nothing changes.

Jim Rohn 1

Ways to be more successful

Think of how much you could achieve if each month you made one little change in your behavior. Each time you made one of these seemingly insignificant changes they would begin to propel you towards achieving your goals. One of the reasons you will achieve your goals is that you are building self discipline with each change. Let’s take a look look at some examples:

Health

  • I get up an hour earlier to perform my yoga practice
  • I quit eating foods that contain high amounts of sugar
  • I begin eating more fruits and vegetables
  • I quit drinking alcoholic beverages (OK not such a small thing)
  • I start going to the health club and began lifting weights

Skills

  • I begin studying for a certification related to my job
  • I take a class on something I’m interested in
  • I learned to play a musical instrument
  • I read one new book a month on a topic that will change the way I think

Peace of mind

  • I quit watching the news on TV
  • I meditate for 10 – 15 minutes every day
  • I start watching motivational videos on YouTube (Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Esther Hicks, Wayne Dyer, or Mel Robbins)
  • I started a blog to write about something I am interested in, not for other people but for myself

Mel Robbins 2

Don’t limit yourself

While I mentioned you can chose one thing each month to change, there is really no limit. Let’s take watching the news in the morning. What a horrific way to start your day. You are feeding your mind politics, tragedy, pain, suffering, and tons of negative things and getting little in return. So instead of watching the news, roll out your yoga mat, and while doing your routine listen to or watch something inspirational on YouTube. Now you have accomplished three things in the same amount of time and do this every day and your whole life begins to change.

We improve by making changes, some small, some bigger, but by changing. As we make these changes we are creating self discipline and it is this very fact that will lead us to great success however you define it.

Choose that one thing today that will move you forward.

Namaste

 

 

 

Physical benefits of yoga – Harvard

Check out Tony’s post on the physical benefits of yoga.

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

I am a great believer in the benefits of yoga, both physical and mental. You can search yoga in the tags at the right for any of my posts on the subject. Here are two I consider worth seeing: Why should I do yoga? and Are there immediate physical benefits to yoga?

4082f0d86636929ea59679129b75a8eeSorry, I couldn’t resist rerunning this charming little piece of art.

Here is what Harvard Medical School has to say on the subject: Yoga promotes physical health in multiple ways. Some of them derive from better stress management. Others come more directly from the physical movements and postures in yoga, which help promote flexibility and reduce joint pain.

Following are some of the physical benefits of yoga that have a growing body of research behind them. In addition to the conditions listed below, preliminary research also shows that yoga may help with migraines, osteoporosis, balance and mobility issues…

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The Current Expectation

The Happiness Movement

There is a movement in recent times that sets an expectation that we can live a life filled with happiness. Gretchen Rubin wrote a book a few years back called the “Happiness Project” where she expounds on a number of ways to increase your level of happiness. We are constantly subjected to a barrage of advertising that shows us how happy people are with that new car, drinking beer at the beach, or taking expensive vacations to Caribbean. All of these things advocate living a lifestyle that will make us happy forever more. There is a high expectation that if you just buy this, learn this, or do this activity happiness will follow.

corona beach

Unfortunately a consistent state of happiness is probably an illusion, and thinking that it is achievable may be somewhat dangerous to enjoying life. What I mean by this is that you are setting an expectation that is not achievable and this will actually cause you to think something is wrong with you if you are not in a constant state of bliss.

Each of us face so many challenges in our life such as health issues, family strife, making a living, and the list goes on and on. Do you really expect that you will feel happy during what are often very negative events that occur? You need to give yourself the opportunity to feel angry, sad, frustrated, inpatient, as these events unfold. That doesn’t mean you wallow in your pain and conduct a lifelong pity party, but allow yourself some time to express your feelings.

“Life is not a big long beer commercial, much of living is also filled with struggle and challenging situations”.

While it is true you can emerge from a painful situation, stronger and wiser, you may even learn something from it, but you will not be in some state of continuous euphoria.

Instead of expecting a life filled with happiness whatever that really means, be realistic and expect that your emotions will rise and fall like the tide. I really like listening to speakers like Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Esther Hicks, Mel Robbins, and Jim Rohn; these people are very motivating and can give you some great tips for being more successful and effective in life. Things like the Law of Attraction and the 5 second rule are great tools for enhancing your life, but like any tool it will have its limitations. Most of the time I hover somewhere in between happiness and sadness, somewhere in the middle, not overcome by either emotion.

My parting advice would be:

  • Feel Happy
  • Feel Sad
  • Feel Angry
  • Feel Pain
  • Feel Frustrated
  • Feel Love
  • Live in the Moment

Just don’t fall into the trap that your life should be one where you are in some heightened state of happiness all the time.

Root of Our Suffering

A certain amount of our life is dealing with pain, it happens to all of us, and we can avoid the suffering associated with it, but it is a difficult thing to do. I like the quote below because it resonates with me. I make no claims to have eliminated all attachment in my life, but I agree it is often the source of suffering.

Root of suffering

Namaste