Finding Your Way - Through Your Why

Category: Health & Wellness Page 1 of 2

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Living an Independent Life and Thriving

Most unhappiness and despair in our lives comes from dependency. Dependency upon society, money, technology, the system, religion, etc. Think about how it would feel in life to truly be living an independent life free of these things? How empowering and enlightening it would be! The truest way to live this life is to release ourselves of the many dependencies that we believe we have to have in life. There are ways out of the rat race…and into real independency! Here is a template, courtesy of a recent excellent book I’ve read titled – “How to Live,” by Derek Sivers.

Be “of society” but not “in society”

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All too often we feel the need to jump into the latest trends, arguments, and other aspects that society loves to throw in our face. We even think that all these events, trends, and personalities are real. However, the fact is – these are all false realities. They are “perceived importances” from the controllers and influencers of life.

Much of the drama in our lives are self-perpetuated. In the book, Derek Sivers states that “most problems are interpersonal.” Meaning that much of what we see placed before I eyes and ears is “interpersonal drama.”

News, politics, celebrity gossip, social trends, etc – it’s all interpersonal drama. When you really step back and look, you can see this for what it is. None of these things are “real.” They are fabrications of life and what others want us to react too.

I think of one of Morpheus’s great lines in the blockbuster movie “The Matrix.” There is scene in which Neo has unplugged from the matrix and is grappling with the lies he believed were real. He tells Morpheus that “it felt so real.” Morpheus responds with:

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can hear, what you can smell, taste and feel then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Let’s dive deeper…

Living an independent life without labels

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We are so accustomed to receiving and giving labels to many aspects of our lives:

  • political labels
  • career positions & titles
  • rich vs poor
  • religious titles & affiliations

The list goes on and on. The truth when you really peel back the layers is that none of these things are “real.” Yes, we operate and function within “labels.” It isn’t easy to function without classifying certain aspects of our lives. However, living an independent life and thriving is about shifting our mindsets in order to generate this “independence.”

Staying out of opinions, political stances, and other hysteria on social media can truly foster healthier minds. This isn’t to say that we can’t or shouldn’t have opinions, but rather avoid the pull of the ego to defend our stances.

Learn to become as self-reliant as possible

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The main point of living an independent life is to develop sustainability on your own. This might very well be the hardest part for most people.

Becoming independent must entail realizing 100% accountability for y0u. This means that there is no one person responsible for you, outside of you. No one owes you anything and you don’t owe others.

Becoming truly free requires self-mastery. Rid yourself of habits and dependencies. Realizing that nothing has control over you is a powerful epiphany. Learn to try new things and quit routines. Keep your life as fresh and full of new experiences as possible. If you change how you live, you change your entire universe of experiences and outcomes.

As much as possible in your business life, own your own rights and materials. Buy domain names and try and run your websites on your own servers. Never rely too heavily on complete 3rd party social media. You just never know when these things may not be around one day.

The unexamined life isn’t worth living

Sacrates

So step back, reflect, and examine your life. How “FREE” are you truly? Living an independent life in this complex world is achievable. You just have to reframe your perspective.

Happiness, success, and true meaning will follow…

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Remove Anxiety from your Life through these 5 Steps

When most people are asked about their social pressures and how to remove anxiety from their lives, they’ll point to external factors they believe are out of their control. The fact is, the amount of anxiety we create or remove from our life is completely up to us. It comes down to mindset. We are either the creators of more anxiety or the buffers through which we weaken its grip.

Here are some basic and practical examples to remove anxiety from you life:

1. Bring yourself into Present Moment Awareness

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The first step in removing anxiety in your life is the realization that life only ever occurs in the present moment. We are too often caught up with our monkey mind of thought that we forget what is happening now. What is happening now is all we ever have control over.

When we find ourselves stresses over a future event that hasn’t happened yet or dwelling on a fear from the past, we cripple ourselves in the present. This causes us anxiety.

The key through this very important first step is to catch yourself in all the moments where you are feeling anxious. How often in the present moment do you actually deserve to be anxious?

Our minds are wired for a bi-gone human era. We used to depend on fight or flight responses for survival. However, today the stress we generate comes from meetings, tests, speeches, etc. We generate our own fears and anxious moments.

To begin stepping out of this trap, we must see life for how it always is lived – ever presently.

2. Remove Anxiety through Learning how to Breathe

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You read that right. Learning how to actually breathe is a thing.

After we understand how the benefits of becoming present aid us in life, we can begin to work on enhancing that presence. We do this through breath work.

There are many great resources that teach breathing exercises to aid in the reduction of anxiety. Too many people fail to realize they breath wrong. Yes, breath work in meditation helps as well. Yet, there are so many people that don’t realize we should be breathing from our abdomens, not our chests.

Diaphragmatic breathing can lower your stress levels, reduce your blood pressure, and regulate other important bodily processes.

Here are the simple steps to bring “belly breathing” into your life:

Here’s the basic procedure for diaphragmatic breathing:

  • Sit in a comfortable position or lie flat in comfortable position.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Inhale through your nostrils for about two seconds. You should experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still or as flat as possible.
  • Curl your lips (as if you’re about to drink through a straw), while pressing gently on your stomach, then exhale slowly for about two more seconds.
  • Repeat these steps several times for best results or until you get used to the feeling.

3. Identify “The Gap” between You and what You cannot Control

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Reducing anxiety in your life becomes so much easier when you realize you only control you. This means your power of choice becomes your savior.

Even through most people will admit they have less control over their lives than they’d like to admit, they still try and control others as well as situations out of their control. We are relentlessly caught in our own rat race. Seeing the forest through the trees means seeing we only are playing the game of life against ourselves.

“The Gap” so to speak, is everything else. It’s other peoples choices, lives, careers, journeys, stresses, positives, negatives, and all else that comes along with life.

You have control over only one thing — YOU. When you can see this paradigm the world becomes less stressful. It isn’t about not caring or not trying anymore. Rather it is about only applying pressure to the situations that you directly impact.

This is one great epiphany that is worth the ticket of admission to reducing anxiety. Learn to let go of what you can’t control and only live through what you can.

4. Stop Playing the Comparison Game

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Once we realize we only really have to worry about our choices in life, we can begin to look at others around us. Or better yet, stop looking at others around us.

Yes we are going to socialize and enjoy life in good company. But we do not have to get caught up in the game of comparisons. Keeping up the the Jone’s is a trap. It’s a trap that causes us more stress and anxiety than we need.

Society has programmed us to admire everyone other than ourselves. We compare ourselves incessantly to others. What type of car, house, education, careers, spouses, kids, etc. do they have? This isn’t healthy for us or our own life missions.

Everyone is working through their own journeys. Some are asleep at the wheel, and others are wide awake and aware. Find what makes you happy in life and bring more of that thing into your existence. Stop searching for all the things your friends or coworkers have.

We need some things for safety, health, and overall contentment, but most things we chase after only generate more anxiety. By reducing our demands for all the things our neighbors and friends have, we also remove anxiety from our lives.

5. To Remove Anxiety Become the Spectator

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The fifth and final key to removing anxiety in your life is to realize that in the purest form of reality – you are the watcher or spectator of your life.

Yes, I know it’s metaphysical sounding, but it is the truth in my humble opinion. At our core, we are not our thoughts, worries, anxieties, egos, or even our minds.

We exist as a conscious energy awareness that sits behind the veil of physical life. We are a part of it, but we are not it. Life occurs on the physical plan of existence. When we come the watcher or spectator of our lives we can better view and respond to our emotions.

We can begin to see the fear, stress, and anxiety for what they really are mostly — fragments of our past that come around to haunt us in our present moments.

We can remove anxiety from our lives almost completely and live a happier, healthier, more purpose filled and enjoyable life. Once we see anxiety for mostly for what it truly is, we can begin to live a life full of more health benefits and many other life changing elements.

How has anxiety crippled you in your life? Are you ready to rid yourself of this self-perpetuated and damaging emotion? What best practices have you employed to help move remove anxiety from your life? I would love to hear from you — please feel free to leave a comment and join in the conversation.

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Misbeliefs on Meditation and Mindfulness

If you are like most people, you have many misbeliefs on meditation and mindfulness. However, you need not be most people. You can find the time, practice meditation and mindfulness daily, and reap the many benefits that it gives us. All you need to understand is what meditation and mindfulness really is. Once this framework is understood, you can be on your way to meditating multiple times each day. This will help calm the mind, and open your intuitive pathways to more insight and guidance.

Misbelief #1 – Meditation takes too long

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Too many people picture the practice of meditation taking up hours of their day. This is one of many very big misbeliefs on meditation. People often don’t even begin to practice because they don’t think they have the time.

The fact of the matter is that mediation can be as short as 30 seconds of quiet time. It need not take up hours of time.

Chances are you have many opportunities throughout a given day to meditate. Do any of these moments in time sound familiar?:

  • riding on public transportation
  • going for a walk or run
  • sitting down to eat
  • driving to or home from work
  • or any other mundane daily task

These as well as many other moments of time throughout our days are all opportunities to meditate. We have more time than we often realize to create space, pause, and practice mindfulness.

If nothing else, dispelling the belief that meditation must be “so many minutes or hours” of time is crucial. Once we get past this first hurdle we can move onto another misbelief – to meditate we must clear our minds.

Misbelief #2 – To Meditate properly, I cannot allow any thoughts into my Mind

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There are a lot of people that have misbeliefs on meditation and mindfulness because they believe they aren’t doing it right if thoughts enter their minds. This is so damaging because most people can’t avoid this when they first begin. They instantly want to give up since they think they are doing the practice incorrectly. The fact is, even very seasoned and experienced practitioners of meditation watch thoughts creep into their minds while meditating.

The trick too kicking this misbelief to the curb is to allow thought to enter the mind. Observe it and then quickly and quietly dismiss it.

You will find it often and frequent at first to see thoughts coming and going into your frame of reference. This is completely normal. Dismiss the thought and tell yourself you are here in this time to observe the practice of meditation. Do not beat yourself up or become discouraged if thoughts continue to enter your headspace. Simply acknowledge them and let them go. Bring yourself back into the present moment and continue to put out the intention of practicing meditation.

The more you make the effort for a few minutes each day and continue to allow the passing thought, the more you’ll find yourself with periods of calm mind and thoughts.

Misbelief #3 – Meditation must be done in a certain posture

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The above image is a typical representation of what most visualize meditation to look like.

The fact is that meditation can be done sitting, laying, standing, walking, running, and in many other points of posture. This is one of the biggest misbeliefs on meditation. For myself, the typical “sitting lotus” position is not comfortable. I prefer sitting in a chair, with my back relatively straight and my feet on the floor, or when lying down.

You need to find a position that you’re comfortable in. Once you find what works best for you, then work to get your body and breath work in proper synchrony.

The position of the hands can become relevant for certain different types of mediation, but the placement is not overall related to the practice of meditation. The key is get your body relaxed and comfortable so that your mind doesn’t naturally wonder due to your body being uncomfortable.

Explore and find what positions work best for you. There really is no one best position that works better than others.

Misbelief #4 – I’m going to see immediate benefits

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While you will feel more calm and collected immediately upon completing any amount of time of meditation, the vast improvements in your life come later.

Like in all things, the real benefits take some time. We’ve all heard the analogy of working out in the gym – muscles don’t grow after just one workout. We need to apply ourselves routinely in order to notice changes. The same can be applied here.

Over time the many benefits become noticed. They are, but are not limited to, the following:

  • lowered blood pressure
  • lowered anxiety
  • increased focus and awareness
  • increased levels of intuition and “gut instinct”
  • ability to enter “flow state” and maximize idea generation

All it really takes is a small amount of time each day or even small increments multiple times a day. I find myself making a game of it to see how many times in one day I can bring myself fully into the present moment. This is one simply way of practicing meditation – the more presence you attain in one day, the more you are practicing meditation and mindfulness.

Misbelief #5 – Meditation is hard

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Another one of the big misbeliefs on meditation and mindfulness is that it is too hard.

This is simply not true. The fact is that meditation is actually quite easy. All you need to do is rewire your mind to understand that anytime you bring yourself into the present moment – you’re practicing meditation. You become more mindful when you are not dwelling in the past or future. There are many great benefits to becoming more present in life.

When you frame it up this way, you can really make some great progress in the meditation and mindfulness space. Think of all the times through the day you get stuck in forward thinking aspects of life or issues from the past. Just make more of a commitment to bring your thought and focus into “the now” or present moment.

There may be no better way to do this than observing nature. I find nature as the most calming and ever present aspect of life. Perhaps this is because nature itself isn’t stuck analyzing itself. It just simply – “is.” There is no past or future in nature. The time is always “now.”

So even if you’re stuck in traffic, in a boring meeting, or worried about a future project; just take a peak outside or get outdoors and notice the present beauty in whatever is happening. You’ll likely find you have far more ability to meditate and practice mindfulness than you once realized.

Here are some easy steps to get good at using nature to become more present.

What misbeliefs on meditation do you have?

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I’m sure those reading this have heard of the many significant benefits in meditation. However, they often talk themselves out of getting serious about the habit.

Part of my purpose in life is to remove limiting life beliefs for people that don’t see themselves in the most empowering light.

Are there any other aspects of life that deter you from the ability to make a great daily mediation habit? I’d like to hear them so that we can together work to dispel any misbeliefs on mediation and mindfulness that keep us from attaining greater levels of happiness, wellness, and meaning. As well as sharing any best practices that help aid the cause towards more meditation and mindfulness.

Please feel free to share a comment or perspective. I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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Becoming Present and the benefits in Life

Chances are you’ve heard of mindfulness. But what exactly is it and how does becoming present in life benefit you? From seeing life with more clarity to being able to better reflect for future benefit, more and more people are discovering mindfulness. There is power in presence. But how do we achieve it in this ever increasingly distracting world?

To Find Happiness, First Become Present

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I recently had a podcast guest by the name of Tessa Stowe that helped frame up quite nicely how to find happiness. Tessa is all about living in a high vibration. She mentioned how to find happiness being we first must pull ourselves into the present moment. We can’t become happy without being present. Really think about that for a moment. In most cases, when you remember happy moments, chances are you were deeply entrenched in that moment. Whatever joy you were experiencing was brought to you through exactly what was happening in your life at that present moment.

Quite simply, becoming present means stopping and noticing the world around us. You’ve likely heard the phrase, “stop and smell the roses.” That’s precisely what it means. Stop and “take notice.” The roses won’t last forever and their gift of beauty is meant to be enjoyed.

Too many people think that becoming present is about simply finding awareness. It goes well beyond that. It involves living with less ego. When we can lessen the ego, we have more ability to tap into our higher self. That’s the aspect of life we want to listen to over the ego and the mind. When we listen to our higher selves over ego, we will find more meaning, purpose, and happiness.

Becoming Present through Pain & Suffering

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But what about when we suffer pain and loss in life? That is about the last time we would want to worry about becoming present right? Actually, it is quite the opposite.

While pain and suffering are certainly emotions we want to avoid in life, they are often experienced as lessons. These life lessons teach us important values if we absorb ourselves in the moment. It may hurt to become fully present in times of suffering and loss, but important lessons come from those moments.

It is far easier to simply want to avoid these moments of pain and agony. However, we will grow and be better by appreciating the present moments of pain and suffering.

The human condition is going to involve suffering. By paying attention and becoming mindful in these moments, we are able to engage more fully in all other moments of life. This is how we begin to enjoy the special moments more. Realizing that the principle of polarity in life is going to bring us more swings of the pendulum is an important life lesson. It helps us not get too high in good moments, yet not too low in bad moments.

Increased Intuition in Life

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Increasing our mindfulness abilities helps us with intuition. Our minds become more clear and our hearts become more open. We are more clearly able to see the choices and paths that are laid in front of us.

This is a super important aspect of discovering and following your purpose. If we really want the most from our lives, we need to have guidance. And not just any guidance from any old Tom, Dick, or Harry – but rather guidance from its highest source. That guidance is available to us. All we need to do is be able to tap into it.

But we can’t tap into that life guidance if we are too busy stuck in ego and fast paced confusing lifestyles. Too often we are stuck in our own “monkey mind” of thought. Worried about tomorrow, next week, or next month. Fear from the past that we are brining into our present moments.

Intuition comes to us in many different forms through becoming present:

  • dreams
  • moments of brief insight (like when the lightbulb flips on in your mind)
  • moments of synchronicity and life alignment
  • the books that we are led to read through connections and friends
  • the people that come into our lives for reasons, seasons, or lifetimes

If you want more intuition in life, focus on becoming present in your daily life.

How to Become more Present Everyday

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  1. Look at life like a puzzle:

When we become more present, we begin to actually “see life.” What I mean by this is we notice the small things. These small things can play on us in many unique ways. Sometimes for our own learning and other times for us to simply become happy. Birds singing, waves crashing, roaring thunder in the distance. Whatever it is – take notice. It’s all apart of the beauty in life that you are meant to notice.

2. Be with your breath:

This is all about making the time to slow down. If you find yourself deep within any type of uptempo timing and want to come back into the present moment – just breath. What I mean by this, it notice your breathing. Take a few deep breaths. Focus on large inhales and exhales through your nostrils. Notice how the air feels going in and out. While doing this, you mind automatically slows down so you can become present. Then, you can begin to notice the world around you.

3. Generate a morning and evening routine:

Whether it is morning and evening meditations or journaling, begin and end your day in the same way. There is so much to gain in presence when we stick to a morning routine. This routine sets up your day for alignment with your purpose and ends your evening for a night of good dreams and intuition to feed your mind.

What other aspects have you used when becoming more present in life? I welcome all ideas so that we can continue our learning and growing together.

Please feel free to leave a comment and thank you for reading…

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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

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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…

bust of ancient philosopher on grey background

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

notebook checklist to put into practice the benefits 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

person holding world globe  and taking the benefits of the stoic mind into practice
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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.

joyful adult daughter greeting happy surprised senior mother in garden

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

shift your mindset to become a person of value
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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

disappointed black woman crying and touching head in pain
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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

person using smartphone for audio learning and investing in their growth while traveling in car
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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!

woman sitting near stacks of books and reading
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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

person writing on notebook and learning online
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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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