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Archive for the ‘mindfulness’ Tag

Traveling   Leave a comment

I’m still traveling between my home and Washington State. I’ll be there on vacation for the week. But even on vacation I still want to take some time out to share.

I woke up early this morning to the realization I was about to spend the better part of my day going from Nashville to Bellingham. Including a five and a half hour layover in Portland I was dreading. The whole trip seemed daunting and probably draining.

On the way to Nashville I received notification that I had won a giveaway I entered on Instagram. I hadn’t even made it to the flight and things were looking good.

I got to Nashville and in under twenty minutes I had checked in and made it through security to my gate in an airport I’ve never flown out of before. While waiting I met a nice woman in the gate area and we chatted until boarding.

I got on the plane for the flight from Nashville to Dallas and out of habit asked for a seat belt extension. You see the last time I flew was well before my keto journey began. The flight attendant, looked at my waist, smiled and said, “I don’t think you’ll need one, sir, but if you get to your seat and do ring the bell and I’ll bring one”. I got to my seat and she of course was right. I didn’t need it. I’ve lost enough the belt fit fine.

When I boarded in Dallas for the flight to Portland the flight was packed, except the seat between me and the nice young lady in the aisle seat. We had a nice comfortable ride and chatted most of the way. Made the flight a pleasure.

Now I’m here in Portland at the beginning of my five and a half hour layover and you know what, I’m happy. I’m not dreading it anymore. The amount of time hasn’t changed from this morning when I dreaded it, my mindset has. I’ve had a wonderful day of travel and this will be part of it. It’s all about perspective. You can choose to view things positively or negatively. I’m just glad my day today has shown me that positively is the better way. Take care.

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I Love it When a Plan Comes Together   Leave a comment

These were the words Hannibal Smith would utter at the end of most missions for the A-Team.  He’d usually have a big smile on his face and light up a cigar as the rest of the team looked on with incredulity. That’s because after all the planning they did, the plan would usually fall apart, and the team would have to rally to pull off the victory.  So the plan never really did come together, the team did.

What if you had a team like that?  A team that managed to triumph no matter how far off the rails the plan goes.  Well you can.  We’ll call the members of your team skills, habits, and mindset. And everyone can train these team members to allow them to rally against the worst case scenarios that appear in your life.

Skills are tools you can place in your “tool bag” to call upon as needed.  They can be physical traits (running fast, lifting heavy objects) or mental traits (the ability to strategize on the fly, seeing patterns, identifying potential outcomes or variations on current events).  So when you find yourself stuck at home and can’t get to the gym, no problem.  Using your skills you identify different workouts you can do with the supplies at hand at your house, develop a routine on the fly, and get the exercise in that you intended at the gym.  The plan fell apart, but it came together at the end.

Habits are patterns of repeated behavior.  Your mind and body actually miss them when they don’t occur.  People who feel bad when they don’t get to the gym do so because it is their habit to go there.  Their minds and bodies miss the stimulus a habit provides. The trick is to create positive habits, because your mind and body miss the stimulus whether it’s good or bad for you.  Being in the habit of reading broadens your knowledge.  Being in the habit of going to the gym strengthens your body.  Being in the habit of eating well does so as well.  When you’re in the habit of doing things that benefit you, this builds resiliency.  No matter what bad things befall you to take the plan out, you’ll find a way for it to come together.

And the final team member, mindset, is like your own Hannibal Smith.  A well schooled and creative leader.  If your mindset is positive and always tries to see the good in situations, hiccups in the plan don’t turn into bad feelings, they’re opportunities to try something different.

Did you know that the physiological responses of fear and emotion are the same?  What separates them is mindset.  If you view it as negative it’s fear, if you view it as positive it’s excitement.  Seems to me that excitement is the better mindset.  And that’s why it’s important to develop a positive mindset.  How you look at things shapes how you react to things which shapes which actions you take.  Do you want to be positive mindset Hannibal Smith who loves it when a plan comes together?  Or do you want to be Colonel Decker, the negative mindset that’s always flustered by how the A-Team always gets away?

These are your team members.  And just like on the show, these guys didn’t just become the A-Team the day they showed up.  They became the A-Team because they worked at it and trained to be the best.  To be the team that can take on any obstacle. So starting today spend time meditating on the skills, habits, and mindset you need.  Begin training your team.  Don’t wait until the plan falls apart.  It’s too late then.  Work your mind and your body.  Create productive and healthy habits.  Reinforce the positive in your thinking.  Spend time each day developing your team.  The team that can have a plan fall apart and still have it come together in the end.

Keep Going   Leave a comment

This morning when I woke up I wasn’t feeling well. I had a really bad headache and was tired, even though I had just slept the night away.  The easiest thing to do in that situation is just go back to bed.  I have a job that offers paid sick leave, so why not just call in, roll back over, and go back to sleep.  But the easiest way isn’t always the best way.

I had another choice I could make.  Get up and get moving and see how things played out.  So I headed to the bathroom, took some Advil, and took a shower.  When I shower I start off with a warm shower to wash myself, and then finish off with a 5 minute cold shower.  This, as you might imagine, usually wakes me right up.  Not so much this morning.  I was still a little tired and the headache was still there.

After my shower I will meditate for about 20 minutes.  So I lay there in my bed and tried to meditate.  With a pounding headache that wasn’t so easy.  But I persisted.  Over the course of the 20 minutes the headache lowered in intensity but was still there.  The relaxing while helpful for my headache left me even more tired.  I would usually take a 15 minute walk after the meditation but I knew that wasn’t happening this morning so I went straight for my morning coffee.

The coffee helped a lot.  But still not feeling 100% and a bit ahead of schedule since I didn’t do that walk, I decided to give myself a short nap.  I told myself if I still felt under the weather when I woke up I had permission to call in.  I set the alarm for 45 minutes later and laid back in bed.  A little before the alarm went off I woke up on my own feeling way better.  My headache was gone and I felt alert and awake.  I got dressed and headed into work.

At work today I was paired off with a female coworker to do a job.  It was just the two of us so we could speak freely.  We had a great conversation and had a lot of fun hanging out, I mean working, together.  It made my day.  And it wouldn’t have happened if I had just called out, turned back over, and went back to bed.  I’m not advocating ignoring your body and pressing on no matter how much your body tells you to stop.  I’m just saying don’t give up right away. Try to make a day of it.  If you can, keep going.  Who knows what your day will bring you.  What I do know is you’ll never find out if you just take the easy way out.

Dartboards   Leave a comment

In the last post I talked about finding out your why.  And once you’ve found out your why, walking the path towards your why.  Today I’d like to talk about dartboards.  This seems like an odd right turn, but the dartboard is very connected to walking your path.

You see, staying on the path is a series of foot placements. One right in front of the other. And where each foot lands determines how well you stay on the path and how quickly you reach your goal.  And that’s similar to a dartboard.

Now, keep in mind I don’t play darts so this is a very rough analogy.  The dartboard is divided in two ways.  It has a center circle, the bullseye, surrounded by ever larger circles until you reach the outer edge. It’s also divided into 20 wedges starting at the bullseye, getting wider towards the outer edge of the board.  Each subdivided area of the dartboard has a numeric “score” attached to it.

So the goal in darts is to get to zero by subtracting the points obtained from where the dart lands on the board.  The exact rules aren’t important for this analogy, only making sure your darts land in the right segments is.  Each dart can be looked upon as a step.  And each dart that hits the board gets you points which are subtracted from your score. Just like every footstep reduces the distance between you and your goal.

Here’s the important thing about darts.  You can’t get points if you don’t throw the dart.  The time you spend standing there worrying about how many points you’ll get, or not get, from the throw is time you’re not making any progress.  Which is silly.  Simply throw the dart.  Assuming you don’t miss the board, the lowest score you can get is a 1.  While a 1 may be the lowest progress you can make, it is in fact progress.  Even if all you get are ones you’d still, eventually, hit zero (your goal).

But of course it’s always best to aim.  The better you aim the dart the greater the chance you’ll get a higher score. And that moves you to your goal quicker.  It also has a side effect.  The more darts your throw with aim (intention) the better you get at it.  The better you get the more likely your aim will result in accruing the points you are trying for.  Just as the better your intention and focus is will result in a quicker journey down the path.

Again though, all this is contingent on actually throwing the dart.  So don’t be fearful or hesitant.  Don’t get frozen by concerns that may or may not ever come to pass.  Just throw the dart knowing that with each dart (or footstep) you’re getting better and better at achieving your goal.

Why are you doing this?   Leave a comment

Probably the most important question you can ask yourself.  I’ve done a couple of posts about acting with purpose.  Living your life not on auto pilot, but with definite intention.  When making the decisions that will move you forward along your path you should do so willfully.  This brings up the question, why are you doing this?  After all, how do you know which path to take if you haven’t figured out where you’re going?

The way to find that path is to know your why.  And the obvious way to find your why is to ask yourself why.  Unfortunately this isn’t a Google maps search.  You can’t just type a destination into the search window and be given a clear cut path to your goal.  Instead it’ll take time and meditation on the questions of why.  And that’s because to get to your why you need to keep whittling things down.

We all tend to create broad goals for ourselves.  Why are you exercising?  To get in better shape.  But that’s a broad idea.  A sprinter and a marathon runner are both in athletic shape but both have to train completely differently to reach success in their endeavor.  So you whittle it down.  Why do I want to get in better shape?  To be able to do more with my time.  Why do you want to do more with your time?  Because I feel I waste time.  Why do you feel you waste time?  Because I don’t think my actions have a real impact.  And you keep going and going until there isn’t a new why to ask.

This might be because your answers have become circular.  This is where the answer to why goes back to a previous answer.  So see what’s in that circle.  Like above you might ask the next why as “why do you feel your actions don’t have real impact?”  The answer to that could be because you keep repeating steps.  And you ask why do you repeat steps?  The answer is because they don’t have any real impact.  So the answer to why are you doing this is to have an impact.

Another reason you might not have a new why to ask is you’ve whittled the why down as far as you need to go.  There is no next step, you’ve figured out your why.  Again, going off the original series of why questions your next question may be “why do you want to have an impact?”  And the answer may be that you want to live your life to benefit others, not yourself.  And that answer resonates with you.  You’ve reached your why.  You wish to be of service to others.

And finally you may not be far enough along on your journey to fully understand your ultimate why.  Maybe you only get as far as you wish to be of service to others and that works for you for a while.  And then one day a why pops into your head.  Why do you want to be of service to others?  You’ve spent enough time serving others that you’ve become better.  More self aware.  And now you need more answers.  So you start asking why again.

And that’s how you keep walking down the right path.  You keep asking why.  Maybe one day you reach your destination.  Maybe you spend a lifetime looking.  Either way you’re living your life acting with purpose.  And that’s a good life.

Benefits of Acting with Purpose   Leave a comment

A few posts back I talked about acting with purpose.  This is all about keeping your focus on the here and now.  We go through a lot of life on auto pilot, doing the same thing over and over again, simply because it’s the habit we’ve developed.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  You couldn’t possibly live your life if you had to make a decision on every thing you do.  But when you let it get to the point where you just let your life happen by the patterns you’ve already formed you’ll get the results you’ve always been getting.

The biggest benefit of acting with purpose is it teaches you to evaluate your actions.  Why are you doing what you’re doing?  What benefit are you getting out of it?  What could you be doing differently right now that would make things better?  You can’t change things you aren’t aware you’re doing in the first place.  Again, this doesn’t mean every little thing you do, just being more mindful of the things you do that have an impact on how you feel about yourself.

Another benefit from acting with purpose is a sense of control.  Right or wrong, good or bad, you know you’re making the decisions.  You stop feeling like you’re at the mercy of the tides.  And that can reduce the overall stress you feel.  While a small amount of stress is necessary, and even beneficial for you, being constantly stressed out is not.  When you reduce your overall stress levels your body performs better.  It can focus more energy on healing.  Your mood will improve.  And you’ll feel more relaxed.

And finally, acting with purpose teaches us to become more and more comfortable with making decisions.  One of the hardest parts of the journey to a better you is just getting started.  With all the possible decisions and all the variable and all the possible outcomes, each with a different set of variables and decisions attached to them, it can make the decision making process scary.  And fear is the biggest obstacle we have to overcome to get started down the path to a better you.  How do we overcome that fear?  Just make a decision.  Take one small step in any direction.  Right or wrong you’ve just demonstrated to yourself that you can make a decision and still be here to make another one.  If the decision turned out to be right, keep making decisions to stay on that path.  If the decision turned out to be wrong, decide on a different path.  Every time you make a decision it’s a reassurance to yourself that it’s ok to make mistakes. It’s also a reminder that you can’t get better if you don’t move from where you are toward where you want to be.

That’s it for today’s post.  Hope you all had a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Acting with purpose   Leave a comment

Yesterday I talked briefly about kaizen and making small improvements. Today I’ll share a quick way to make those small steps. And that’s acting with purpose.

How many times have you been engaged in a task that doesn’t require a lot of attention only to realize a good chunk of time has passed? Or, scarily more frequently, been driving down a road or the highway you’ve driven a million times only to realize you blanked out the last few miles?

The thing is you weren’t unaware of what was going on you were just on autopilot. You did it all based on habit and that meant you didn’t need to devote much of any will to accomplishing it.

What if you were focused though? Mindful of what was going on and what you were doing? Think of the things you could accomplish. This is acting with purpose. You choose what you do at each moment based on a desire to do it, not a preprogrammed response.

What could you accomplish if you were focused on the drive? Be more polite to other drivers? Drive in a more efficient manner saving you money? How about just noticing things you may never have paid attention to? Maybe even enjoy the view if, like me, you drive home on a more rural route.

But the best thing you’ll accomplish is developing a sense of control. When you act with purpose you reinforce the idea that you’re in charge of your life. That you decide what happens next. And that can lead to the courage to take those small steps because now you know you’ve got this.

Acting with purpose means taking an active role in your life and being in the present. And that can lead to other benefits, but that’s a post I’ll share with you tomorrow. Hope you enjoy your day.