Finding Your Way - Through Your Why

Category: Health & Wellness

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Watch Your Own Movie

How much stress and life-struggle comes from watching other people’s movies? How often do you “watch your own movie?” We want what our friends have. Their social media posts seem better than ours. It seems their children are more well behaved than ours. Vacations they take are even more extravagant than ones we get to take. The constant daily grind often is perpetuated when we tune into the broadcast life of others around us. Peace, serenity, meaning, and happiness is brought to you through watching your own movie, not the movies of others.

But how do we steer clear of the traps of watching others movies so that we can maximize the lives we live?

Here are some tips and life hacks that you can implement to continue living as your authentic self, rather than envying those around you.

Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin

be comfortable in your own skin so you can begin watching your own movie
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Look, by now we’ve all heard about body shaming, confidence issues, and the like that force some people to look at others with envy.

Stopping this infectiously bad habit takes some rewiring of the mind. Start with these steps:

  • Assess yourself by your health – not your bodily figure
  • Depending on your physical fitness, decide what steps you need to take to be more fit
  • Set S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) physical health goals such as
    • walking / running at a certain pace
    • how much weight you want to be able to work out with
    • what is your cholesterol level and where should it be?
    • blood pressure and what target you should be at?

By using actual health and fitness goals, you begin to see yourself in a better light. Gauging yourself against how physically fit you should be for your age is far better than trying to pin yourself against others in terms of how they look versus you.

There is no telling how physically fit someone is that “looks attractive.” However, you working to become your best self health wise, will begin to add more confidence and security of mind. It will help you live as your more authentic self. This is just one step in watching your movie over the movies of others.

Discover Your Life Passions and Live Them

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So much in our lives comes from watching others. When are we going to jump into the water of life for ourselves?

We look to others that are living what we enjoy, yet often don’t believe we can do what they do.

What are your interests? How about your passions? Would you be doing something different in life if you could?

Make a list of all the things in life you love. Be as far reaching as you want. Here are a few that I am very passionate about:

  • Travel
  • Outdoors
  • Exercising
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Life-Long Learning
  • Consciousness
  • Psychology
  • Philosophy

My list could go on quite while longer, but I think you get the point. If you are going to watch your own movie and not the movies of others, we must find a way to intertwine your life passions into purposeful intent within your daily life.

Discovering your purpose in life is where you begin to really entwine more meaning and excitement into your life. You begin to focus heavily on what it is you can do for yourself and others rather than wishing and hoping after what you see others do.

  • What does the world need that you love to do?
  • What are your passions and talents that you can bring to the work you do to serve those world needs?
  • Take these passions and talents and put them into practice in all you do!

Even if you aren’t 100% in the chosen career field you want, you can still bring your talents and strengths into your everyday job to begin living your purpose. Want to find purpose at work? Change your perceptions. This will give you more meaning and you’ll quickly find yourself watching your own movie, rather than hoping for a new job or career change.

Live and Be at Your Best

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Rest easy if you know you’ve done the very best you can.

I go to bed and sleep easy at night if I know I have any problem or life situation the best I had to give. When asking yourself that question honestly, only make adjustments if you know you could have put in more effort. If you know you gave the maximum output; rest easy.

Know and live by your values. Develop a code of conduct that you can live within. These are values you will not compromise and will look for in others you bring close in your life.

When you authentically live as your best self, it is far easier to live with and watch your movie over getting caught up watching the movies of others.

What it all boils down to is life is about YOU. Not those that you watch around you. What are you doing to live as your best most authentic self?

Are you living out your purpose and passions? How can we be better at this together? Would love to hear thoughts and comments as we aim to grow and achieve more together.

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Knowledge isn’t Power Until Acted Upon

Many of likely heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” But few realize the very important aspect of taking action. Therefore the truth in life to attaining your highest level of self, is understanding the proper formula. The fact is that once you have knowledge, you must take action and use that power. This is why knowledge isn’t power until acted upon. Knowledge + action = highest level of self.

Over my life I have been guilty of consuming and consuming more information and knowledge. And while that is great, it doesn’t do us much good if we don’t put that knowledge to good use.

Here are some tips that you can put in place around the mental, physical, personal, and professional aspects of your life to ensure you take proper action from the knowledge you consume.

Self-Care of Mind and Mental Abilities

self care isn t selfish signage and it's necessary for taking care of the mind and personal life
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Chances are have all likely heard of mindfulness and meditation by this point in time. The benefits of each are astounding and can help us in profound ways both personally and professionally.

There is so much information out there are the benefits of mindfulness and meditation that is can be overwhelming. So gathering information on this topic isn’t hard. Applying it however sometimes can be challenging. How to practice mindfulness in small easy steps is the way to go. Don’t bite off so much information that you fall victim to paralysis by over-analysis.

You can begin with daily journaling. Start by either beginning to write out what you want to accomplish for the day, or end your day with thoughts of accomplishment. Being able to capture your thoughts on paper is one important aspect of realizing knowledge isn’t power. Taking the action of reflection certainly helps in regard to becoming more mindful.

And becoming more mindful is a great way to take action in regard to improving your overall mental health. It’s one of the most important aspects of self-care in my honest opinion.

Improving Your Physical Health

knowledge isn't power when it comes to health. We have to take action in order to become healthy
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There may actually be more information available on caring for physical health than there is for mental health. Regardless of which one is the winner here, we can likely agree at every turn we can find the latest health craze information. That never means we’re going to benefit and become more healthy from simply reading about the latest diet trends.

The best way to put our physical health knowledge into action is to find what we most enjoy doing. Are you a gym junky or an outdoor fanatic? Do you like accountability partners or would you prefer to hold yourself accountable? Do you need to change your diet or is it more about getting more active? These are questions we need to answer for ourselves before going to the next step.

Choosing to take action in our health is of supreme importance. We cannot serve the world or others without taking care of us first.

Once you decipher through the loads of information out there on health trends, decide on whether you are going to spend time on your physical health during the morning, afternoons, or evenings. Once you decide, stick to it.

Then, you can begin to find what type of exercising you most enjoy. Combine that exercise to your favorite activities. For example, if you enjoy Yoga but like being outdoors – easy – do Yoga outside. Same goes for running. We don’t need to bore down on a gym treadmill if we want to enjoy running outdoors. You can even do your weight lifting outside if that is what you prefer.

They key is find what works for you, and combine it with activities you enjoy. It will keep you far more motivated and ensure that you deliver on commitments.

Improving Personal Relationships

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Knowledge is certainly not power in the personal relationship aspect of our lives. So much information exists on relationships and how to improve them. It is absolutely incumbent upon us to take action and do our own work in this area if we want our relationships to improve.

There is a lot of great knowledge out there on “love languagesand what each of us prefer our partners to affirm for us. Once we understand each others love languages, it’s time to take action.

The key here is to really work this into our daily lives. The time we spend with our partners is critical to the overall happiness of the rest of our daily lives. If there is a problem at home, that problem will spill over into the other aspects of our mental, physical, and professional life. So this is a important one.

Begin with carving out one night each week to affirm your partner with their love language. If that is cuddling and watching TV, make one hour for that. Maybe it is affirming your appreciate for them and mentioning what one thing they did that you really appreciate about them.

Taking this simple and meaningful action will reap major rewards at home and ripple positive in all other aspects of your life.

Serving Yourself in Your Professional Life

knowledge isn't power in the workforce unless we take action on it
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With all the Leadership books out there that exist it can be hard to decide where to begin in order to gain your edge in the professional world.

Start with looking for what it is that you personally need to grow with. Ask peers, direct reports, and even subordinates what it is they think you need more growth in. Then go seek out that information.

If you have a job or career that involves any travel, downloading the learning and taking it with it on travel time is a great way to digest it. There are many ways to invest in yourself in today’s highly technological society. If you work from home, you’ll need to be more diligent and perhaps plan in the listening on morning or evening walks. Or plan some old school reading for fifteen minutes before bed each night.

The key here is upon finishing what you have spent time on learning – put it into practice. Develop a presentation, share a recap, or simply begin putting your newfound practices into daily use. Show the people in your business around you that you care enough about your personal development path that you want to share your learnings with them.

This will go a long way for those in your professional life to begin to take notice that you are person of action.

Summary – Knowledge isn’t Power

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What this all boils down to is understanding we can consume and consume more information for the rest of our lives. We can think we are quite knowledgeable about many facets of life, but until we take action on what we learn we aren’t bettering ourselves.

What habits or activities have you learned over time that help you take action from the knowledge you gain in life? How have you seen these actions improve your quality of life?

Would love to hear from you and engage in the conversation…

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The Benefits of the Stoic Mind

The benefits of the stoic mind are relevant perhaps now more than ever. Even though the teachings and philosophical views go back to around the 3rd century BC, the learnings may be even more practical today. Our lives are full of social, political, career, personal and media driven distractions. It is often hard to center oneself on what is necessary to focus on let alone deal with the challenges that the modern life is placing in front of us.

Here is an old story that helps frame up the teaching of stoicism quite well:

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is angry, jealous, greedy, resentful, lies and and has a big ego. The other is Good. It is full of joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

Which wolf are you feeding?

Introduction to Stoicism

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Let’s shed some light on the belief system that Stoicism operates within.

In the most simplistic terminology, Stoicism was designed to help people live their best lives possible.

Stoicism is a life philosophy that centers around positive emotions. The goal becomes reducing negative emotions and helping individuals to develop virtues of character.

Stoicism provides a framework for living a life well-lived. It teaches what is truly important in life. In addition, it also centers on providing tactics to bring more positive outcomes into our circle of influence.

Stoicism was created to be understandable, actionable, and practical. Practicing Stoicism doesn’t require learning an entirely new philosophical methodology or meditating for hours a day. Instead, it offers an immediate, useful and seamless way to find tranquility and improve one’s attitude, behaviors, and overall state of mind. It is a life practice that not only can improve our way of living, but also help us discover our purpose.

The Foundation of Stoicism

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Stoicism was an attractive school of thought during the 3rd century BC because it provided compelling answers to anxiety, stress, fear, and troubling questions to life at the time. The Stoics offered an operating system that dealt with the trials of the human condition that are quite relevant today.

The teachings largely center around pulling into the front and center of one’s mind more positive behavior. Thus, that focus resulted in a more positive mindset. All of this focus was targeted to avoid the negative focus and negative outcomes of life.

A handful of thinkers helped to form the Stoic philosophy:

  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  • Zeno of Citium
  • Epictetus

Our ancestors have taught us the benefits of the stoic mind. They have helped us pave our way to understanding life so that we can attain the most positive outcomes we desire.

The Four Habits of The Stoic Mind

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  • Accept What is only True

We often can get caught up into gossip. It is a human condition that we must resist. The reason being is, more often than not, gossip drives negativity in our lives. When you hear gossip, ask yourself where it is coming from? Does the affirming party truly have proof of this gossip? Ask them if they have proof. If they do not, then kindly ask them not to tell you or do not reciprocate.

  • Work For the Common Good

Do right by others. Be a good humble individual. Give more compliments than complaints. By being an overall kind, empathetic, loving individual, you will attract more of those traits into your life through giving them off.

  • Match Our Needs and Wants with what is in Our Control

Life is neither good nor bad; it is the space for both good and bad.

Seneca

Think of life as a hand of cards. You didn’t control the hand you were first dealt. However, you do control how you play that hand. Essentially, even with a more difficult draw of the cards, we can win. Conversely, with a great hand we can overestimate our good fortune and still lose. The situation we are dealt in life is mostly neutral. It is the actions we take after the hand is dealt that matters.

  • Embrace what Nature has in Store for Us

O world, I am in tune with every note of thy great harmony. For me nothing is early, nothing late if it be timely for thee. O Nature, all that thy seasons yield is fruit for me.

Marcus Aurelius

Let us work to control only our direct surroundings. Even those at times we can’t fully control. Bringing fear and anxitey into our lives over issues we aren’t generating isn’t healthy. What we do control is how we respond. We always have the power of “choice.” Place our focus there.

Taking Action

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Putting into practice the benefits of the stoic mind can help change our lives for the better. It does require some action and effort around mindset.

Take one of the four mentioned habits of the stoic mind and put it into place immediately in your life. You’ll see instant benefit if you adhere to the practice daily.

Once you gain the benefits of others, work the other mindsets into your daily life as you are able. Pause and reflect on what is happening in your life. With the benefits of the stoic mind fully employed, you will find your life with:

  • less anxiety
  • lower stress
  • better health & wellness
  • more focus and mental fortitude
  • more meaning and happiness

What benefits have you had from practicing more of a “Stoic Mindset?” However we are living now in these challenging times of change, we stand to benefit even more through practicing the Stoic teachings.

I’d love to hear from here from you! Feel free to post a comment or engage in the conversation.

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Become a Person of Value Instead of Success

Most of us in life are looking for a means through which we can classify ourselves as “successful.” However, the majority of people frame this up backwards. What exactly is success? How do we define it and attain it? In my life, I have lived the experiences that have taught me that when we become a person of value instead of success, we obtain more from life.

What does it mean to become a person of value? How does this lead us towards more meaning, happiness, fulfillment, and success? If these are questions that you asking yourself, then you are walking the path of self-discovery. You are beginning to see how the world and the energy within it works. It is a masterful design that once truly seen, yields amazing and life changing benefits for ourselves and those we interact with.

We Tend to Want More than we Need

we need to want less in life in order to become a person of value
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In this modern world and time through which we live, we tend to be drawn into a over-abundant mindset. While we should be abundant in our thinking, we need to ensure that is is not in a materialistic manner. Part of the human experience is waking up to the fact that we are not our materialist selves. Discovering ourselves requires that we address this key aspect in life.

There is a distinct difference between thinking with Abundance and constant want and desire for materialistic gains. Society has trained us to believe we need all the latest gadgets, trinkets, and doodads that we MUST have to show that we are successful.

When we can successfully deprogram ourselves of the materialism belief system that we think defines us, we take one step closer towards self-actualization. We begin to ask ourselves if our things if life don’t define us, then what does?

Attaining Self-Actualization

Understanding Self-Actualization to become a person of value
Where do you sit within this diagram?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a great reference tool to assess where each of us sit in our own lives. In order to become a person of value instead of a person of success, we have to understand our human psyche.

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you have the first two rungs of the ladder met. We first have the innate response of ensuring we have food, water, a place to sleep, along with safety. Once we check off those aspects of life, we look for belonging and feelings of accomplishment. Most of us want to feel we are part of something greater. We want and crave recognition and acceptance.

Where we often trip ourselves up is in this middle of the pyramid. We listen to the ego and chase after the materialistic gains that we think define us. We are not these things, but we often believe they define our self-worth:

  • The money we make in life
  • Our title and career labels
  • The house or apartment that we live within
  • What type of car we drive
  • All the toys and latest gadgets of life

However none of these define us. This is where a fundamental shift in our mindset makes a great difference for us. Realizing that when we become a person of value in service for others; that is when we begin to obtain more real abundance in life.

Generating the Necessary Mindset Shift

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To become a person of value instead of always chasing down success, we begin with how we better serve others.

As long as you are a person that has the base essentials of life met, you can begin to define your self-worth through what you bring to others in your life. Meaning, how do you better serve those you come into contact with in your life? Here are some ways to frame this up for everyday living:

  • How can you make even the smallest interactions better? I.e. smiling at people, holding doors for them, and random acts of kindness.
  • As you learn and grow, how are you sharing that learning and knowledge that may better serve others in their lives?
  • If monetary means allow, how can you provide for other people in need without depleting your own resources?
  • What are you really good at doing? We each have a super power that can be used for good in the world. Define yours and bring it to others every day.

This “value” that you begin to generate every day for others in your life begins to define you. It will become your success. You will begin to embody the abundance that the universe will draw back into your life. It is through this Law of Attraction that the universe begins to put back into your life what you are giving out.

Always remember that as you become a person of value, you are defining your currency. Through defining your currency as a person of value and giving that currency to others in life, you become successful. That is the the proper mindset we need to set in motion for the betterment of ourselves and those around us.

Implement this mindset shift in life and watch the powerful and positive transformation occur around you…

young man in sleepwear suffering from headache in morning

Staying Present Through Pain and Suffering

I love life. The learnings and lessons I’ve experienced continue to have profound and forever lasting effects on me. We all are undoubtably forced to experience the highs, lows, twists, and turns of the game we play called “life.” Some of these lessons leave imprints of loving memories while others force us to our knees in agony and heartache. This life is lived in a world through which the Principle of Polarity is absolute. Regardless of whether we desire it, we always live through moments that are inspirational as well as full of heartache. It is easy to enjoy the good times, but we never want to embrace the more challenging times. However, staying present through pain and suffering is a necessary and an important aspect for becoming our best selves.

Embracing the Heartache

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I’m not sure about you, but I’ve mostly been the type of person that pushes negative thoughts from my mind. Even as I see life running its course, I push the finality of the end of life as far away from me as possible. Recently I was forced to face another loss in my life. Every ounce of my being wanted to resists and run from the pain I was feeling. I faced extreme temptation to make the moment more about me rather than the reality of the situation. After all, I wasn’t dying, but a part of my life that I loved was.

I believe we have come to live these physical lives for all the benefits and challenges that come with them. We can better ourselves through facing the heartache and loss head on. There is a lot to gain when it comes from tackling the reality of life directly. Here are just a few:

  • The benefit of support for others around us. It would be easy to run, but staying present can provide the support for others around you that you love.
  • You learn a lot about your ability to cope. If we don’t face our worst moments of life we lose the ability to build up strength for our futures.
  • Others are watching. We have the ability to make others in our lives better by how we face our unique challenges in our own lives.

Growing and Rising Above the Pain

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Perhaps it is because I’m a forever optimist and I never want to address the negative aspects of life. Regardless of our how strong our positive intentions are in life, we are going to face the stark reality of life. Here, in the physical world, all of us will experience this over and over whether we ask for it or not. Trying to push it away and running from it will likely only create more pain and suffering for us.

The last time I had suffered loss in my life was five years ago. While I was there supporting my wife through our loss of a loved one, I only really showed up the final day.

Staying present through pain and suffering means being there through the entire experience. Thankfully, I have the ability to put my life on pause if need be to step away and be supportive where necessary.

While this recent experience was gut-wrenchingly painful to watch, I showed up in every way possible to be with my wife and support her through it. Through the daily heartache that lasted about a week, my wife and I grew stronger together. Each of us, together, drew closer. She saw my commitment and was so thankful that I stood with her through it rather than pressing on in my business and work.

I could have pushed the pain away and only dealt with it on it’s final day, but by staying present through pain and suffering we became unified and united.

Presence Builds Character

look yourself in the mirror. Reflect on your character
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While no one on earth enjoys life’s more challenging moments, the challenges we face don’t only build character, they define it. Grief can change your personality. As described by Gabrielle Applebury:

“Grief can change your personality on a temporary or more permanent basis based on various factors including how profound the loss was, your internal coping skills, your support system, your general temperament, your general stress tolerance, and your outlook on life. Grief can alter your thoughts and emotional process, as well as your behaviors. Keep in mind that your personality develops based on both environmental and genetic factors, meaning that it is malleable and able to change due to circumstances and experiences.”

By staying present through pain and suffering we experience the totality of life. The heartache is difficult, but the moments of joy through life with the ones we love is called further into our line of sight. It helps us be more “aware” so that we don’t let those joyous moments in life wisp away too suddenly.

Upon the passing of our third family pet, a good friend of mine reminded me that, “brining a pet into your life is a ‘Mitzvah.’ A powerful good deed that ripples through your life.” This was in response to my questioning of why my wife and I continue to bring the eventual pain of the passing of our beloved fury friends into our lives.

The good times far outweigh the more painful ones – and thus staying present, even through the eventual pain and suffering, will help us see and appreciate more of life.

woman holding fan of us dollar bills

Five Ways to Invest in Yourself for Long-Term Gains

How often do we look at ourselves as personal investments that can yield high dividends and returns? Most of society likes to wager bets on external facing prospects that don’t always produce returns. Personally, I would rather place my bets on me. Predicting and measuring my daily ROI is far easier when I have control over the environment. Here are five ways to invest in yourself for long-term gains.

#1 – Consume & Learn while on the Go

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We have information at our fingertips. We live in an age where we can learn about everything and anything our hearts desire. There are countless apps, podcasts, and audio books that we can listen to in order to develop the mindset and habits of a life-long learner.

Whether we are driving to work, taking a walk on our lunch break, or hopping a flight – we have our trusty smart devices along for the trip. Rather than drifting away to the tunes of your favorite band or artist, try finding something you want to learn or understand more on.

Apps like Blinkist make consuming audio of books easy. You get the key points of any non-fiction book from twenty-seven different categories. Certainly we know of Audible and other book reading apps that can read our favorite books to us.

Find your favorite podcasts that help you discover new perspectives and ideas to listen to during your workouts. What better way to habit stack than getting in a great workout and learn while you invest in yourself both mentally and physically.

For all the challenges technology can sometimes bestow upon us, let’s leverage it for personal gains that further our learning. It can make us better leaders, mothers, fathers, and overall the best human beings we can be.

#2 – Join a Mastermind Group

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Learning within a community can lead us to some of the most beneficial and productive insights we can gain. Mastermind groups are not that new, although there are still many people that haven’t yet heard of them.

The purpose of a mastermind group or community is to bring people together for group learning and accountability. When we are a part of a community, we gain the benefit of having others to bounce ideas in front of and gain new perspectives. Often times, there are members of the mastermind that have faced similar challenges that you may be up against in which they can offer valuable advice.

There is also the network effect that comes from masterminds as well. When it comes to investing in yourself, it becomes critical to have a network of people you trust to provide valuable connections to other avenues you may need. For example, if you are looking to venture into entrepreneurial aspects, you may need advice from others that are entrepreneurs that can provide invaluable advice.

When you find the right mastermind group of people, you are going to grow, learn, develop, and become more successful. This is due to the compound effect of having others learning along with you. You will be challenged, held accountable, serve others, and also become a better individual and human being.

#3 – Leaders are Avid Readers – So actually READ!

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Whether we are trying to become better human beings, leaders, mothers, fathers, or simply aiming to pass time – there is little argument against reading to help aid our cause.

Too often we get caught up in leadership books and while they are good, they aren’t the only reading we should be consuming. I believe in life-long learning. If you want to invest in yourself, few things take place of reading books. Even though we have technology and audio versions of books, each of us should have our own personal list of growth reading that we are absorbing.

There are many science backed studies that prove actual reading increases intelligence and vocabulary. Most people that claim to not have time to read just need to reassess their day. Chances are the opportunities exist, but we aren’t prioritizing our growth. If you want to invest in yourself, make reading a priority. Find what you like and what to learn about – and read!

#4 – Take Advantage of Online Learning

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Online webinars, workshops, and educational courses are great resources to invest in yourself. Never see learning as complete after school.

I see education as indoctrination. Some of it is necessary for basic life skills. However, successful learning is self-driven. How do you feel when you are researching info you want versus being told you have to? When we are self-driven, we are more motivated to learn.

One of the best online learning workshops I’ve come across is Akimbo. I learned of it through Seth Godin’s podcast of the same name. Akimbo is a small team of learning professionals that is actively creating a future of learning. They aim to generate a chance for people all over the world to enroll in a journey that opens doors at the same time it transforms.

There are many other online workshops and seminars like Akimbo. I have no affiliation with them specifically, but I am a very big fan of Seth Godin’s work.

Find the online learning workshop that resonates with you and do your own homework. Often times you can join for free for a period of time to see if it’s a good fit.

Remember, learning is a choice. It shouldn’t end after any level of education; unless we choose to let it end.

#5 – Teach what You Learn

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Studies prove over and over that after we learn, the best way to retain that information is to teach it back. Not only do we solidify it for ourselves, but then we spread the wealth.

There is also a feeling of self worth that we generate when we share with others. Whether it is sharing with your family or those you work with, teaching back what you learn is a great way to invest in yourself and others.

When we share our learnings it also helps us become better presenters. Perhaps it is presenting verbally with just one person. Maybe it is in front of a group. Or perhaps it might be in recorded content such as a podcast.

Part of the reason I generated the “Ungraduated Living & Learning Podcast” was for my own ability to cement what I am learning and share it with others. It is also why I have generated this website and blog. I am very serious when it comes to always learning. For me to be at my best, I am sharing what I learn with others that may have similar interests.

No matter how you choose to invest in yourself – I hope these five tips help you.

Please feel free to join in the conversation and share other tips and personal investment learning strategies that have worked for you. Let’s continue to learning journey together.

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Five Books that Impacted my Self Development the Most

What is the difference between education and learning? Education is the process of being told what one needs to learn through the perspectives of society. Learning can be self-directed and often driven through the ambitions of the individual. It is often far more beneficial to the growth of the individual that they are empowered to seek learning and knowledge into aspects of life that most interest them. That was certainly the case in my life. I didn’t enjoy being “educated” in school. I much prefer to seek out information in life that intrigues me. There are certain aspects of life we need base education in, but I would much rather seek the learning that inspires and motivates me. With that in mind, here are the five books that impacted my self development the most in my life.

The Law of Attraction – How Life Works

In 2006 I came across the now renowned and infamous book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. In this book the author speaks to her discovery of how the non-physical aspect of life works in conjunction to our thoughts.

Deep within I could feel this truth. At the time I was 26 years old and had begun successfully putting my life in order.

It was through the realization that our thoughts are connected energetically through our physical reality that hit home to me. The mind is truly more powerful than given credit for. It isn’t just responsible for intellectual intelligence and the functions of our body, it also acts as like a software program for the hardware of our lives. What we think and believe, eventually manifests itself into existence over time. Sometimes faster and othertimes times longer, but without a doubt we are programming our realities through each thought.

The Law of Attraction is real in my life and I’ve witnessed its authenticity so many times. As I often say, your truth will come through your own experiences.

Belief of a Higher Power – Or Not?

Shortly after discovering “The Secret” I began wondering more about the significance of a higher power. Does God exist? If so, what exactly is God’s purpose?

Did God just create us and then take a back seat in our lives, or is God more active in our everyday lives?

These are questions that we likely may not be able to 100% answer, but the point in asking them in my opinion is necessary.

In the book “Is Belief in God, Good, Bad, or Irrelevant?” – the lead singer Gregg Graffin, of Bad Religion, and his friend Preston Jones debate the terms of “God” and other religious aspects of life, their relevancy, and other big questions that many people ask.

This was one of the books that impacted my self development the most because it put into focus front and center, that our belief system doesn’t necessary matter. It opened my perspective to “Naturalism” and wanting to know more about “Universal Law.”

Non-Believer to Believer

Reading “Is Belief in God Good, Bad, or Irrelevant?” led me to “Proof of Heaven” from Eben Alexander.

The author is a neurosurgeon that was an atheist until he had a near death experience during a coma and bout with Meningitis.

While in his coma, he remembered specific awe-inspiring details of being reunited with his sister in the afterlife.

Eben Alexander awoke from his medically induced coma with a brand new “truth.” He had experienced the very real aspect of his spirt or consciousness leaving his body for a period of time. This differed in specific ways from a dream.

Because of this book, I began wanting to understand more about the non-physical aspects of life. What is the spirit? What is consciousness? Do either of these exist once the physical body ceases to exist? These are questions that demand more exploration.

Out of Body Experiences – Not a Myth

What Eben Alexander was experiencing during his coma was and OBE or “out of body experience.” People that have “near death” experiences often experience OBE’s. However, they are still very much alive, just not always in the physical sense. It is beginning to become more clear, that when the body dies, life continues. Just not in the way we are accustomed to.

In “Journeys Out of the Body,” Robert Monroe tells the story of his experiences of being able to “view” life while not “in” his body. Bare with me here…

This is not a new concept. During the Cold War, the CIA recruited “Mind Readers” to spy on the Soviets. The CIA declassified 12 million pages of records. The reveal from the CIA speaks to previously unknown details about a program, which eventually became known as Project Star Gate. The program was shut down in 1995. But the study revealed how psychics known as “remote viewers” took part in a variety of operations, from locating terrorists to helping free hostages.

This book led me to study how we get our minds and bodies into a meditative state that allows the consciousness to “experience” life in real time outside of the body. Through these practices, I have been able to discover the very real truth that our life extends beyond the physical realm we see each day.

Being Healthy in the Here and Now

Although there is much more to life than just the physical, we still need to tend to “our capsules” we refer to as bodies. Of all the books that impacted my self development, this one made the most impact in my health.

In “Super Human,” David Asprey brings attention to how important healthy functioning mitochondria are in our bodies. All the physical aspects of our bodies rely on healthy cells.

For all the attention we place on the outside image of our body, we neglect the internal workings. Much of the degeneration that occurs as we age is due to the cellular breakdown we endure. However, there are many natural supplements that aid our different cells in slowing the break down that occurs as our bodies get older.

When we learn how to supplement and eat a more balanced diet, we can begin to “age backwards” or slow the aging process. David has a life goal of living to be 160! In this book, he speaks to the many different tactics that can be put into place in practical ways.

With proper health, supplements, and modern science, the only thing that keeps us from living vibrantly past 100 is typically our belief and mindset.

Let Your Intuition Guide You

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We each are walking our own path and journey in life. The books that impacted my self development might not be the ones that you need the most to impact yours. The key in our individual journey’s are to pause and reflect with our intuition. Where does your intrigue lead you? What topics in life inspire you to learn more about?

So many people are simply “moving through” life. They often don’t pause to discover needed personal awakenings. When you do pause and generate the questions you seek, pay attention to what life puts in front of you. That is how it has worked for me. One discovery leads to the next, and then the next, and before you know it you’re well on your way to finding your specific answers.

What has been your path? What self-awakenings and discoveries have you had? Which of these left the biggest lasting impacts in your life?

I’d love to hear from you and your experiences in personal awakenings and self discoveries. All of us walk different paths, but all our paths are unique and beautiful in their own ways.

Let your intuition continue to be your life guide…if you pay attention, you will see it is taking you to the discoveries you need for your own personal awakenings.

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The Effects of Excitotoxins on Our Brains

How would you respond if someone told you chemicals you consume are causing physical and mental damage to your brain and body? What if you knew that these chemicals were affecting your children’s nervous systems and emotional development? Would you continue to consume these chemicals if you found they could cause and exacerbate conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Austism, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS? Paying attention to what we put in our bodies is important not only for physical health, but mental health as well. This post will detail the effects of excitotoxins on our brains, and thus the connection and impact to the body.

What we don’t know about Excitotoxins

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Not many people have heard of the term “excitotoxins,” let alone know their effect in our lives. However, most of us have heard the saying “we become what we eat.” Excitotoxins are additives in food and drink such as artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is a taste enhancer that has been added to food in the U.S. since after World War II. Few suspected that “taste additive,” would cause any harm in humans, but by the end of the 1960’s, research data had begun to surface dictating the harm in the human body. Until this time, neuroscientists had believed that glutamate supplied the brain with energy.

Upon the learnings of the harm of MSG, food producers began adding a substance known as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” instead of pure MSG. However this substance is proving to be even more dangerous than MSG, as it contains even more excitotoxins (glutamate, aspartate, and cysteic acid) in addition to added MSG.

A test in 1957, conducted by Lucas and Newhouse, tested MSG on infant mice. When they examined the eye tissue of the mice, they discovered that MSG had destroyed all the nerve cells within the inner layers of the retina. Ten years later, Dr. John W. Olney, a neuroscientist, also discovered that MSG destroyed parts of the brain in the hypothalamus after only a single dose. Despite the discovery, MSG as well as other artificial sweeteners continued to be added to food, cookbooks, and even recipes for baby food.

More and more diseases of the nervous system such as brain damage, seizures, and migraine headaches, are being linked back to excitotoxin build up in the brain.

How Excitotoxins Work

Excitotoxins such as MSG, NatruSweet, and aspartame increase the natural levels of glutamate and aspartate found in our brain and spinal cord. When these levels rise above natural levels, they become deadly toxins to the neurons in our brains and body.

These neurons then become extremely “excited” and if provided in large enough doses, the neurons can degenerate and die.

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As these neurons break down, a destructive chain reaction process begins. Particles, known as “free radicals,” begin to form that damage everything they come in contact with. Our cells and genes within our body begin to be attacked and broken down from these free radicals.

The Effects of Excitotoxins on Babies

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The developing brain is one of the most sensitive and vulnerable of all the organs. While the baby is still in the uterus, it is facing the greatest levels of sensitivity.

The undeveloped enzymes that protect the developing brain are not yet in place while the child is in utero.

Could this be some of the cause of learning disorders such as autism and other psychological problems?

Based on experimental studies in animals, it can be assumed that when pregnant women eat and drink foods such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegatable protein, and other excitotoxins, they are passing potential risk onto the developing brain of their child that can last into its adolescence.

Testing and the FDA Argument

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There are many contradictions in the testing involving of effects of aspartame and other excitotoxins. Before the official approval from the FDA in 1981 to allow aspartame in food and drinks, studies by companies such as NutraSweet aimed to prove there were no considerable harmful effects of aspartame in humans.

One such study conducted by NutraSweet, G.D. Searle, studied the effects in rats. 320 rats were fed a diet containing aspartame and 120 rats were fed a normal diet and used as the control. The results showed 12 of the aspartame fed rats developed brain tumors while none of the control rats did. This represented a 3.75% increase of brain tumors in the rats fed aspartame, which was 25x higher than the incidence of random brain tumors developing in rats. The test divided the rats receiving an aspartame diet into “low dose” and “high dose” groups. In the low dose group, five rats developed brain tumors. In the high dose group seven rats developed brain tumors. This showed the higher the dose of aspartame, the better the chance of brain tumors in rats.

When Dr. John Olney pointed the FDA to the test findings, he was told that the high incidents of tumors in the rats were the results of “spontaneous” development of brain tumors. The same way that humans randomly develop brain tumors.

Dr. Olney reviewed the rate at which rats spontaneously develop brain tumors and found that in seven studies using a total of 59,000 rats, only 0.08% developed brain tumors. The aspartame fed rats had a 47% higher incidence rate.

In 1975, the drug enforcement division of the Bureau of Foods investigated the NutraSweet G.D. Searle subsequent testing. It found “apparent irregularities in data collection and reporting practices.” The director of the FDA at the time stated that they found “sloppy” laboratory techniques and “clerical errors, mixed-up rats, rats not getting the drugs there are supposed to get, pathological specimens lost because of a variety of other errors – all to conspire to obscure positive findings and produce falsely negative results.”

It appears, understandably so, that NutraSweet was desperately working to protect their potential billion dollar payoff and ensure that the FDA gave them positive approval to sell to the market.

While these tests don’t 100% prove that aspartame causes brain tumors in humans, it is interesting to note that from 1973 to 1990 brain tumors in people over the age of six-five have increased 67%.

Conclusion on Excitotoxins

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When MSG and other excitotoxins were first being added to foods for taste enhancements, glutamate receptors in the brain had not been discovered or fully understood. It was not known or understood that side effects could cause the death of brain cells.

Just as the market within the United States was becoming more health conscious, companies like NutraSweet were aiming to bring sugar substitutes into the markets. It was perfect timing. Americans and many others around the world began throwing back sodas they believed to be healthier with sugar substitutes rather than actual sugar. It wasn’t until later in time with more research, the harmful effects of MSG, aspartame, and other excitotoxins began to become known.

We live in a world in which there are so many contradictions and “pay to play” deals. It can often become hard to distinguish fact from fiction and right from wrong.

I have learned one thing in my self-discovery and search for truth and meaning in life – there is often so much more than lies beneath the surface. We need to do our own research and form our own conclusions. Much of the content of this post was pulled from the book “Excitotoxins – The Taste that Kills.” For much more insight, I highly recommend reading the book.

I believe the research shows the effects of excitotoxins on our brains has a far more harmful impact than what most major institutions want us to know.

Feel free to make your own conclusions upon doing your own research.

Please feel free to drop a comment, ask a question, or offer your perspective. There is much to gain from some “healthy” dialog in relation to this topic.

For now, please think twice before you reach for that diet soda or the “Equal” sugar substitute for your coffee. Your brain and your body will thank you in the long run.

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