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Archive for the ‘mindfulness’ Tag

Fear Itself   Leave a comment

Last night it rained a bit, and early this morning it rained a bit more here in northern Alabama.  Shocking, I know.  So when I drove into work this morning the roads were a little wet, and there were a few sprinkles along the way.

The road conditions were not perfect, but not bad either.  There was a car in front of me most of the way to work.  If a vehicle approached our road from a side road he’d start slowing down.  If he came across a puddle in the road he’d swerve a bit to miss it.  When people would pass him on the left he’d quickly move right as far as possible.  His driving gave me the distinct impression that he was fearful of driving on the wet roads.

It wasn’t that any of the things he did were inherently bad ideas.  Puddles can hide pot holes so avoiding them would seem wise.  Except these puddles really weren’t that big which meant it was really unlikely there was an issue there.  Sometimes people ignore stop signs so slowing down for the people approaching on side roads could seem a prudent precaution.  But the vehicles on the side roads were going really slow and showed no signs of bolting out.  And giving someone a wide berth when they pass you would seem reasonable, if he wasn’t moving so far to the right he was crossing the line and driving on the shoulder.  He appeared way more fearful than he should have been under the circumstances.

When you experience a small amount of fear, that’s a good thing.  It’s your mind’s warning system telling you to start being more vigilant.  Experience too much fear and it quickly become negative.  You begin overreacting and stressing out, neither of which is good for you.  If the level of fear rises high enough it can even be crippling, keeping you frozen and unable to react at all.

Making things worse is the fact that your mind doesn’t know the difference between a real threat you should fear, and a perceived threat, that only has the potential for harm because a perception in itself isn’t harmful.  Seneca famously stated “We are more often frightened than hurt;  and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”  Or more simply, fear’s bark is often much worse than its bite.

So how do you fix this?  How do you keep fear at the smaller level of a simple warning system?  You be mindful.  If you are keeping yourself focused on the here and now there’s less time to focus on the fear.  If you aren’t focused on the fear, it can’t grow.  If you’re focused on the here and now you can make decisions in the present moment, not the feared future.  And when you’re making those decisions mindfully and calmly you’re seeing more options and making better decisions.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, which means it’s stress reducing, which reduces anxiety and fear.  It promotes calmness, which reduces fear.  It makes you happier, which reduces fear.  It enhances gratitude, which reduces fear.

Why focus on an imaginary future of fears and worries when you could spend that time quietly thinking to yourself that “you’ve got this” and that “I am more than enough.”  Focus on the good things in life.  Or dwell in fear.  The choice is yours.  Me, I’m going with calmness, happiness, and gratitude.  I hope you do to.  Have a great day.

 

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A little boulder   Leave a comment

I used to watch a lot more television then I currently do now.  I would get lost in wonderful adventures as they unfolded before my eyes.  Which is why I don’t watch as much anymore.  I’d rather be spending more of my time doing things which nurture and nourish my mind.  Reading and meditating being big parts of that

Having said that there are always lessons to be learned if you look closely enough.  And one of my favorites comes from Superman: The Movie.  What kid wouldn’t be fascinated by it.  Christopher Reeve was a great Clark Kent, but an even better Superman.  The movie had a classic villain in Lex Luthor, played by the amazing Gene Hackman.  Great storyline, great special effects (for the time), and top-notch acting.  You watched it and you felt like a hero.

If you haven’t watched the movie, beware, there are spoilers ahead.  It’s a great movie, so if you hate spoilers go ahead and get a copy, watch it real quick, and then come back and finish the post.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Back with me?  Good.  During the movie a large dam breaks and Superman has to save a town in the path of the raging waters.  How does he do it?  Does he pick up a mountain and drop it in the path?  Nope.  Does he use his freeze breath to turn it into a big iceberg? That isn’t it either.  What he did was push a couple of rocks over.  And those rocks hit other rocks on the way down, that went on to hit other rocks, that went on to start an avalanche of rocks that created a new rock dam which stopped the water in its tracks.

One little action, begat another action, which led to big things.  What a wonderful lesson that is.  Superman, as powerful a being as he is, didn’t go from start to finish in one big move.  He started a cascade of smaller actions which created big results.  And if it works for a guy running around town in blue tights and a cape, it can work for you too.

Take my case for example.  As I mentioned in the beginning, I don’t watch as much television as I used to.  I didn’t go from watching hours of tv a day to pulling the plug on the cable.  Instead, I just came to the realization that one of the shows I was watching just didn’t really have any benefit for me anymore.  I didn’t even feel entertained by it.  And so I stopped watching that show, adding an open hour to my schedule.  That was the first small step.  I used the extra time to read more.  Another small step.  Reading opened me up to new ideas which did benefit me, leading to more steps.  And then the cascade happened.  I sat down and thought about the shows I was still watching.  A number of them were just as bad about squandering my time.  So I stopped watching them as well.  Now I had a lot of extra hours in my weekly schedule.

I still have this really nice 4K television that I enjoy using.  I just use it for viewing things that are more beneficial.  I watched “The Magic Pill”, which is a documentary about the ketogenic diet.  It’s on Netflix.  In fact there are a lot of good documentaries on Netflix. There’s also a lot of great information to be found on YouTube as well (although I will mea culpa to a few funny cat videos along the way).  YouTube has videos on working out, van life, the ketogenic diet, and mindfulness to name a few.  You do have to be mindful that it’s very much like Wikipedia.  Go into it knowing that just because it’s on there doesn’t make it 100% true so take it all with a grain of salt.  But there is plenty of good information to be found there.

All of this information has led me to better life practices.  I meditate more.  I’m learning how to write better.  I’m learning music again.  I spend time making plans and goals using methods I’ve learned have worked for others.  And that cascade of rocks continues.  Each little act getting me closer to being saved, like the village.

So this week, knock a rock over.  Just make sure it’s in a direction where it will hit another rock.  Let those rocks hit more rocks for you.  Let the movement create a cascade of energy that propels you forward until you reach your goal.  All because you took a small action with intent and precision.

You don’t need one big action that solves everything.  You don’t need to have godlike powers because you were born on Krypton.  You just need to be willing to knock over a rock.  And just like Superman, knock over another rock from a slightly different vantage point to compound the results.  Start today.  Let the actions compound.  And in time you’ll have created your own damn, stopping the things which are putting your village in jeopardy.

Choose to be the hero of your own life’s story.

09/17/2018 Weigh In   Leave a comment

So this weigh in was a bit of a surprise.  Unfortunately the surprise was in the wrong direction.  I weighed in at 288.0 pounds, which is 7.4 pounds more than last week.  My muscle mass went from 27.1% last week to 26.5% this week.  In pounds that’s 76.0  to 76.3, so that small gain was a bit of good news.  Body fat went from 38.2% last week to 39.3% this week.  In pounds its 107.2 to 113.2.  And finally hydration went from 47.7% to 46.8%, or 133.8 pounds to 134.8.

So six pounds of fat gained in a week.  That seems a bit much to me.  I did have my day off from Keto this week as the 14th was my birthday (I turned 48).  And that was the Friday before my Monday weigh in.  When I first saw that gain my immediate thought was that it had to be water weight, but then I ran the numbers.

The good thing is I didn’t let that quick weight gain ruin my mindset.  I didn’t panic or feel bad or get down on myself.  I realize that there is any number of reasons it could shoot up that quick that won’t necessarily apply to next weeks weigh in.  I keep in mind that while the weight the scale shows me is likely to be very accurate, the other numbers are best calculations from the electric impedance of my body and not definitive numbers.  It could be that the water and fat readings are backwards and next week when my body has had time to get rid of the excess retained water my drop in weight will be as impressive as this gain.  It could be it’s all accurate and I just put on the fat, and I’ll get rid of it like I have the other pounds I’ve lost.  I still feel good about what I’ve accomplished overall and still feel confident that by mid year 2019 I’ll have gone as far as I can in weight loss via fat loss (other than skin removal if I need it).

Whereas my numbers didn’t show improvement in my physical goals, they were part of a bigger picture this past week of my mental improvements.  I don’t get carried away with these feelings, but in the past when I’ve had setbacks or the numbers weren’t as big as I’d hoped there was a little bit of disappointment in the back of my mind.  Not so with this one.  I didn’t feel bad at all.  And that attitude stayed with me throughout the day.  In what would usually be the kind of day at work that would have me clocking out in a foul mood, I actually kept a positive disposition.

I think a good deal of that is the fact that I’ve been much better about repeating positive affirmations to myself throughout the day.  I always intend to do it, but by the second or third bump in the road I’ve just gotten so consumed by the negative things happening it just falls by the wayside.  This time though, each time my mind felt it was looking in the negative direction the little voice in the back of my head reminded me to repeat a positive affirmation a few times.  That kept me happy the whole day.

Plus I’ve been doing much better with planning my life and not just meandering through it.  I think that the goal setting is part of it.  You just feel better when you’re working towards your goals.  But I think the activities themselves to reach those goals are having the biggest impact.  I’m writing more and planning more in my head which brings the creativity out.  This creativity leads to visualizing a better future.  Visualizing a better future leads to better visualization, which is creative, and creates a positive feedback loop.

When I first started the blog back up it was partly to get back into writing.  And now I’m working on a book.  And when I get done with that one I’ll immediately start the next.  And I’ve started planning out my first video for YouTube.  The main incentive when I started all this was creating a new income source to have better control of my life.  So, obviously, I wanted the blog, the books, and the videos to be very well received and very successful.  In talking with a coworker yesterday I’ve come to realize that while I won’t be upset if they turn out really well, I’d still be doing the same thing even if I knew right now it’ll never be successful enough to be a source of income.

The thing is that I’ve come to realize that the biggest benefit of all these things is I’m trying.  I’m actively living my life with intent.  And that’s what is bringing the happiness. Even if it isn’t as successful as I want I know I’m doing my best.  You can’t control the outcomes, only the effort you put into it.  And that thought is where I’ll end this post.  Just keep trying.  Have a great day.

 

Are You Being Your Best Version?   Leave a comment

How many times have you gone to an action movie, and after watching the hero pummeling all the bad guys into submission, left the theater imagining wha it would be like to be the hero?

Maybe he was an amazing martial artist.  You see yourself blocking punches or dodging kicks and then swiftly countering with precise and lightening fast attacks of your own.

Maybe she was a cop, arresting and bringing the bad guys to justice, or possibly the morgue.  You think of all the bad guys you could confound if you also had the training and the badge.

As a kid I used to love watching the old Christopher Reeve Superman movies.  Well at least the first two.  They went a little off track starting with number three.  I’d dream of what it would be like to be stronger than a locomotive.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Being faster than a speeding bullet.  I’m sure we all enjoy striking the Superman pose, or Wonder Woman for the ladies.  I’ll be 48 in a few days and I still day dream from time to time what it’d be like to just go up, up and away.  Flying through the air without a care in the world.

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.  A healthy fantasy life is, well, healthy.  It’s great to have dreams, even if they’re impossible ones.  No matter how much I dream about it or try to become him, I’ll simply never be the last son of Krypton.

The question is, with all the amount of time you dream about being this hero or that incredible person, how much do you actually spend thinking about being the best possible version of yourself?

Do you really want to be some martial arts master getting into fights with the baddies all the time?  Probably not.  Is it really your dream to be a detective like in the movies?  I’m guessing you’d prefer not to have that many people shooting at you in the course of 2 hours.  Besides, of all the characters you could be, why not be the one you were destined to be, you!

And if you’re going to be you, why not be the best you possible?  Doing that will require you to think about what that version of you is.  And it can be anything you want, even if it’s a cop or a ninja.  You just need to spend a little time figuring out what you want to be.

So take a little time today, or in the next few days, to go somewhere quiet.  Sit or lay down in a position that’s comfortable for you.  Close your eyes and think to yourself, “if I didn’t have to worry about how I would get there, what kind of life would I love to be living?”  Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a writer.  Perhaps a millionaire.  Could be money has nothing to do with your dreams. You’d rather be a healer or a teacher, even if it doesn’t mean big bucks for you.

Just keep sitting or laying there with your eyes closed imagining that future.  What do you do each day?  What’s your job?  Do you even have a job?  How do you spend your free time?  What kind of clothes do you wear?  Where do you live?  What do you look like?  Most importantly, how do you feel?  If it’s happy or content or relaxed or it just plain feels right, chances are this is your best version.  The key is while doing this, don’t worry about how it could come true, the limits you think you have to live within, or the probability of success.  Just dream about living life as the best version of yourself.

And once you’ve decided, then you can spend time figuring out how to get there.  You have to set the destination first before you can consider the path you’ll take.  It might be a difficult path, or it might be an easy one.  Maybe your best version of yourself isn’t that far from who you are now.  Then again it could be a life you’ve literally only dreamed of.

From there you start setting goals.  And then you keep breaking those goals down into smaller goals.  And maybe even again if you need to.  You just pare it down until you have a list of goals you know you can knock over one by one.  Whether the list is long or short is irrelevant. You just take item number one and get it done.  Then on to number two.  And you just keep going.

Along the way I’d recommend meditating regularly on what you visualize as your best version.  Times change and so do you.  Even if you come to the exact same dream you’re reinforcing this view of you in your mind.   If it changes then it’s easier to course correct earlier on the path than later.

But always break the goals down into smaller goals you know you can accomplish and keep moving forward.  You’ll get there eventually, and when you do you won’t care about the journey any more because you’ve arrived at the greatest destination possible.  The best version of you.  Take care and have a nice day.

Distraction   Leave a comment

So first on the list of things hunger does to you is distraction.  If you’re hungry that’s what your mind will focus on.  It makes perfect sense from a biological imperative standpoint.  If you felt hungry but then your mind could wander you might not get around to eating.  Since hunger is the body’s way of informing you more fuel is needed, that would mean eventually you’d run out of fuel.  That, obviously, would be very bad for you. So once you get hungry your mind wants to focus on that need.

Now when you’re at work or doing something where getting food soon isn’t very likely you might be able to get your mind off of the hunger for a short bit of time.  But go too long and the hunger pangs will reassert themselves and they’ll be much harder to drive away this time.  We already covered why being really hungry is bad from a food choice perspective.  What we want to cover today is more of a quality of life issue.

For every moment you’re focused on your hunger you’re not focused on something else.  Like say that job that’s preventing you from getting up right now and taking care of the hunger pangs.  Lack of focus on your work leads to lower job quality. Lower job quality leads to poor performance reviews from your superiors.  And that can affect you in the wallet.

Or how about with friends.  If you’re focusing on your hunger you’re not focusing on the people you’re interacting with.  This can lead to interpersonal issues with the people you care about.  It gets even worse when you go from hungry to “hangry”. Then you’re compounding the distraction with grouchiness and irritability.

Or what about opportunities to make things better for yourself?  If your mind is on your hunger, you might be missing other things.  You might have missed a sight that could have brought a smile to your face.  Maybe someone you don’t know was being pleasant to you and you didn’t catch it because you’re distracted.  Maybe that person could have been a really good friend, or maybe more.  You’ll never know if you’re distracted and miss the opportunity to meet them.

How about the drive home?  The drive between work and my home is full of trees, and pastures, and streams.  It’s very scenic in some areas.  If I’m just focusing on what I’m going to stuff my face with when I get home I’m missing the relaxing view most of the way home.  Or maybe a cute critter or two along the way.  Or even the occasional fireflies that come and go around here.

The key is when you’re distracted you just don’t know what you’re missing because, well, you missed it.  And once you’ve missed it there’s usually no getting it back.  So if there’s an easy to way to deal with the distraction of hunger, mainly just not feeling hungry, why  not do that?  I’m almost never hungry and it makes my life so much happier.

I spend considerably less time on thinking about food. Just a little bit before shopping once a week and then maybe a little bit at the beginning of the day.  I don’t even really spend much time thinking about food when I’m eating.  Eating for me is more about getting nourishment in then it is about a pleasure response for quieting my hunger.  Sure I enjoy the food I eat. It’s delicious  But it isn’t the same kind of response as when you fix a sugar craving.  All the rest of the day I’m focused on what’s right in front of me.  Mainly because I’m not hungry.  It’s also because my keto diet just powers my brain better, but that’s for a different post.

So that’s it for distraction.  Tomorrow I’ll cover how you make the best use of all this undistracted time, having more energy.  Until then, how you have a great day.

Gratitude   Leave a comment

A lot of nice things have happened to me lately.  I’m down 70 pounds from the beginning of the year.  I’ve done a decent job on working on my spending and financial habits.  I just got back from a wonderful trip to Bellingham, WA to visit my friends.  I don’t need an extender for my seat belt when I fly anymore.  In the past few months I’ve randomly ran into two people I haven’t seen in years.  It’s a pretty nice list and there’s even more I could add.

I’m certain if you spent a few moments you could come up with a list of your own.  Special things that are easy to notice.  When an unexpected happiness comes into our lives it’s easy to see it against the background of the regular.  Here’s the thing, you don’t only have to be grateful for the big things that stand out.  You can be grateful for all the small blessings you tend to overlook because they’ve become commonplace in your life.

If you’re reading this right now you’re still alive.  That’s something to be grateful for.  And you have some kind of electronic device to read this on.  Again, something to be grateful for.  You have an internet where you can find blogs like mine, you could be grateful for that as well.  Just the events surrounding your reading this post, including having the knowledge it takes to comprehend the language it’s written in, provides a nice list of things to be grateful for.

What if you spent some of tomorrow thinking about the different things in your life from this perspective.  What all goes in to your daily commute that you could be grateful for?  Do you have your own car?  That qualifies.  If you don’t then it’s likely you have access to some other conveyance that takes you too and fro.  Maybe it’s a friend who drives you, or a subway, or an Uber (or Lyft if that’s your preference).  Those are things to be grateful for.  Even if you walk, you can be grateful that you have the ability to walk and the energy to do so.

Anything you do tomorrow can provide numbers of opportunities to be grateful.  Cooking, typing, watching TV, even cleaning the house.  It’s just a matter of looking for the things in them to be grateful about.

Now if each one thing you do has a decent list of things to be grateful about, and you do a great number of things in the day, you’ll have a very long list at the end of the day.  That should make you feel pretty happy.  And it’s probably the same kind of day you’ve been just existing through for months and years now.  The only difference is you’re taking time to realize what’s good in it.

If you spend all that time thinking about how good things are, how grateful you are about these things, you take away time from focusing on things that bring you down.  Or things that try to convince you that life isn’t so good.  You get to choose what to focus on. It’s your life after all.

To help you along your way I recommend getting a note pad or a journal and just writing down three things a day you’re grateful for.  They make apps for smartphones that make this task even easier.  You just have to bring the commitment to do it.  Try this for a week, or if you can a month, and tell me how it feels.  I’m betting if you spend a few minutes every day taking note of three things to be happy for you’ll notice two big differences by the end of the month.

First, I’m betting that along the way you’ll notice that you started writing down more then three things.  It’s contagious.  Once you notice three things it’s easy to see a fourth or a fifth or a tenth.  And when that habit builds and the list gets longer each day you’ll notice a second thing, how much happier you are.  After all how can you not be happier when you realize all the blessing in your life.

It’s up to you of course.  It’s your life, use your time as you please.  But if giving up just a few minutes a day could lead to a happier you in a month, it seems like a small risk of time investment for such a possibly big payout.  Take care, and see you soon.

You never know.   Leave a comment

First things first, a quick weigh in check in.  I’ll do this quickly because I just did the post the other day about my progress coming back from vacation.  This week I weighed in at 283.0 pounds.  At 38.7% body fat that means I’m down to 109.5 pounds of fat.  Closing in on being less than 100 pounds of fat.  Just a little over 76 pounds of muscle.  A small but good increase.  A very pleasant weigh in.

Of course since I’m off of vacation now I’m also back at work.  Today was my second day back.  I’m not really happy with my job right now, mainly because I don’t like how I feel at the end of the day.  My attitude can be pretty negative.  I’m taking steps to look for a new job but in the interim I’m having to deal with those feelings. So I left work with a “glad that’s over” mindset, which isn’t a really healthy one.

On the way home I just wasn’t happy with my life.  I got home and had a nice keto meal.  Still not feeling it, I went to my room and laid back in bed for a quick nap.   I decided to check my phone first.  There was a ton of Instagram alerts about a post I was tagged in from a company I buy my keto creamer from.  It’s http://www.prymal.com if you’re interested (I am not an affiliate nor do I make any money/benefit from this, I just really like Courtney’s creamers).

I clicked on a notification and it took me to her post about how men like flavored creamers too (guilty!).  And right there, top center in a collage she made, was a pic of me I had taken on vacation and posted on Instagram.  It so made my day to be featured in a man crush Monday collage of her loyal, male customers.

As I scrolled through the rest of my alerts I found one from Courtney.  She had left a comment on that picture in my feed.  She commented how proud of me she was at my progress.  I responded to both the post and the comment to thank her for her kindness.  She replied back on the collage post to tell me she thanked me for being such a loyal customer and that she hoped I knew how deeply she appreciated it.

Here is a person I’ve never met face to face and I’m having a positive impact on her life.  By being a loyal customer I’m helping her dream company come true.  By making all the progress on keto I’m a source of inspiration to her.  And to think a short while earlier I was moping about in bed not happy with my life.

Sometimes you never really know the impact you’re having on others lives. In this case it was good, maybe great.  I didn’t take the actions I took that led to that impact with the purpose of creating that impact.  I just lived my life and it happened.  Without even trying I’m impacting someone’s life.

Here’s the thing, it’s a two edged sword.  As I stated earlier I’m not happy with my job, and I’m sure that I’m letting it show through at work.  I’m not trying to have a negative impact on the lives of others, but it’s possible I am.  I’ll never know.

The two points I’d like to leave you with today are this.  First, be mindful throughout the day.  Know what you’re doing and act with purpose.  Try to stay positive even in situations that you’d rather not be in.  Second, be gentle with yourself.  Even if things aren’t looking their best you can still be having a positive impact on someone.  Even when you’re not trying, even if you don’t know it.  And you’re more likely to be having that positive impact if you’re being mindful and positive.

We act and the impact of those actions ripple through the world we live in.  What that impact is may be something you’ll never know.  Just do your best this week to make it a positive one.  Who knows, if you spend all that time being positive the biggest impact could be on you.  Take care and see you soon.