Getting Back to Nature

Getting Back to Nature

We find ourselves at a unique point in human history. With the onslaught of technology and the seemingly endless benefits it has the potential to provide, we tend to lose touch with the world in which we live. We expect the newest convenience to be provided for us, the latest gadget, the newest gear; the latest steps toward instant gratification.  As a result, unexpected side effects occur.  Over indulgence in the way we eat, in the way we entertain ourselves, and in the way we behave.  We see incredible rates of obesity in America, of video games substituting reality, and hard work taking a backseat to the easier, softer way.  It's as if our society has become a supercomputer with which we all willingly plug ourselves into upon awakening, and stay connected through throughout our day. Oddly, or perhaps understandably, vestiges of our spirituality rooted in nature start to take form. We keep pictures of wildlife scenes in the cubicle, the apartment complex is spotted with potted plants, and our computer screens display beautiful natural scenery. We plan the dream vacation to the remote area and want to capture the perfect getaway. Why do we keep these remnants of nature so close in modern settings? The answer is in who we are as human beings.  We started our journey on earth as a part of it; not a separate entity. We possess an almost instinctual drive for the wilderness, for fresh air, and for pure and clean land.  We crave the balance we had as the hunter gatherer, and the spiritual peace which living harmoniously brings us.  We don’t have to throw away our computers and become wandering mystics to feel connected to the world; the answer is much more simple - we have to unplug. Take the time to walk and consciously feel the walk and observe what you are seeing.

 

Assignment

Take those clumsy shoes off and feel the earth with the feet you were born with. Catch a sunrise, or a sunset.  Gaze at the stars and realize what a small piece of the whole you are, and how wonderful the vast really is. Unplug from the high stress, fast paced modern life, and take the time to appreciate what is truly important in your life. Take time to let the feeling sink in of who you truly are; a wonderfully unique being on a wonderfully unique planet. I hope you will join me in the week ahead, and take the time to “unplug”. It’s as simple as opening the front door. 

HPC

The Art of the Promise

“My word is my covenant.  If I say I am going to do something, I either do it, or I am dead.”

Personal Creed development can reveal a lot about who we are.  Our inner values, thoughts, and beliefs are brought out.  We truly look inside ourselves and see what’s important to us.  One of the most powerful revelations that I have found in individuals is the importance of keeping promises, both to ourselves and to others.  Keeping promises to others is very important.  Keeping promises reaffirms the relationships that we have with others and allows others to trust us.  Breaking that trust can cause catastrophic events that can harm or even destroy a relationship.  

The funny thing that we don’t always see is that, the same catastrophic event can happen when we break a promise to ourselves.

Breaking a Reflective Promise (a promise to someone else)

When we make a promise to ourselves we are making a reflective promise.  These promises can be in the form of an inner statement such as “I am going to do something today, or I am going to start doing something on a certain day.”  When you don’t fulfill that promise or statement, no matter how inconsequential you may think it is, you are lying to yourself.  Lying to yourself causes psychological damage; moreover, it causes you to develop a habit of not fulfilling the things that you say that you are going to fulfill.  When you don't keep a promise to yourself, you begin, maybe unknowingly, to erode the most important thing that you possess: your self-esteem.  You begin to think that you really can’t do the things that you say (to yourself) that you are going to do and, over time, this erodes the confidence that have in yourself.  Self esteem is related to self-efficacy, or the notion of accomplishing the goals that one sets to accomplish, giving oneself a feeling of accomplishment, self-worth, effectiveness, and satisfaction. 

 

Breaking a Promise to Someone Else

When we don't keep a promise to someone, we erode the other person's confidence in us.  If you do this on a repetitive basis, you earn the label of being indecisive, not dependable, flakey, or quite simply a liar.  This can be a heavy cross to bear but I think that people simply shrug this off and imagine that their words are not that powerful.  But words can be super powerful, especially if you are someone who wants to be counted on and remembered for being dependable and worthy.  

The Cost of Not Making Promises

Knowing the cost of not keeping your promises may change the way you make promises in the first place. Treat them as transactions that will cost you psychological money if you fail.  Treat them so high on your priority list that you give some serious thought the next time that you consider making a promise.  Promises made to yourself should be dealt with like a complex business deal between your mind and your self-esteem. If you need assistance in accomplishing a promise to yourself, like talking to a friend or emailing me here at HPC, then by all means do that.  Use all the tools at your disposal.  Don’t leave any stone unturned in the land of promise making.  

The flip side of making too many promises or making promises that you don't keep is never making a promise at all. This can be equally destructive.  Not making any promises leads to complacency, stagnation, and boredom. Give yourself high enough goals and make and keep the small promises that support the overall goal. 

Assignment

Try and see how many promises that you make and keep throughout the week.  Remember that you have to make some promises to others and to yourself.  Write some of the promises that you make to yourself  and see if they are realistic.  Overall, make yourself this promise: promise that you will not make any more promises to yourself or others that you can not realistically keep. If you do this one simple act, you will begin to live a more realistic and productive life and others will expect the statement that I started this blog post with, and that’s a promise!

“Lean into it!

Dr. N

Balancing Chaos with Organization

Balancing Chaos with Organization

Embracing chaos is the key to a resilient lifestyle.  Individuals who shy away from the chaos and resist it, end up with high levels of stress and disappointment.  Instead, one should adopt a strategy of controlling what one can control, while at the same time looking forward to the chaos that inevitably will present itself in one’s life.  The key is to find the balance between chaos and organization, and live a purposeful life towards whatever goals you have set forth for yourself.  

 

Life Changing Stories

Unexpected stories, both good and bad are part of the natural fabric of life.  These life events that change us at the visceral level can be both good and bad.  Births of children, the death of a loved one, graduating from college, getting promoted, getting fired; all these events change our lives in some way.  Some of these events are planned, like marriage, and some of them are not planned.  The key is to look at these events in a way that we can learn from them.  Even the most negative event can help us to grow.  But doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the above list and realize one thing.  All of these events cause chaos in our lives.  I don’t care who you are and how well you have planned for it, but when you hold your first born for the first time, your world becomes filled with chaos, especially when you run your child’s story into the future.  The bottom line is that life changing stories cause chaos.  And that’s OK.

 

Chaos

Humans are hard wired for chaos.  Our brains love to solve problems and we enjoy challenges that test us mentally and physically.  At the heart of our brains is a substance called dopamine.  Dopamine drives us to accomplish goals.  Our dopamine centers are powerful “goal accomplishing” machines.  Dopamine is released and helps to drive us forward into the unknown.  The best example of this is our affinity for motion.  When we see motion of any kind, our vision and attention (with dopamine release) is drawn towards that motion.  That is why watching television and sporting events is so addictive.  We are drawn to the unknown and chaos; it’s part of who we are.  Understanding that we fundamentally enjoy chaos and that we should not shy away from it is the first step in leading a better life.  However, too much chaos without organization, and our lives are left directionless; we do not have a clear sense of direction and we tend to fall for anything that comes across our paths.  

 

Organization

Organization and discipline go hand in hand.  When our lives are organized, our brains are free to not only enjoy life but also perform at a higher, more effective level.  Organization is not only reserved for work life; home life is equally (if not more) important.  Cars don’t fit in the garage?  Time to give some of your stuff away.  If your house is disorganized and cluttered, then your brain will be as well.  Just as our brains are hard wired for chaos, or brains are not hard wired for the clutter that we carry with us in our lives.  Material possessions tend to bog us down and enslave us to jobs that we may or may not want to pursue.  Getting organized involves letting go of superfluous possessions, relationships, or activities that we no longer want to pursue.  However, don’t let your organization rule your life.  Remember that you need some chaos and spontaneity in your life.    

 

The Balance

Balancing organization with chaos is the key.  People who have too much chaos or too much organization tend to suffer the most.  The balancing act involves having one foot in chaos and the other in organization; striving to keep balance and flexibility with both concepts.  If you find yourself too rigid in your thinking, then do an activity that is spontaneous and that you have never done before.  If you find yourself out of control and your thoughts are scattered, then stop, take a break and organize yourself, both physically and mentally.  

 

Assignment

Take note of your balance between chaos and organization.  Are you too rigid in your thinking?  Or are you a free spirit that is all over the map?  Finding the balance between the two is the road to resilience and  controlling your stress.  Ask others how they perceive your personality.  Take a front seat in both your organization and your acceptance (and love) of chaos.  Both organization and chaos should be a part of your life.  Being too concentrated in either organization or chaos is like riding a bike with one leg.  Take whatever steps you need this week to become organized, while at the same time embracing chaotic events as challenges to learn from to improve your mental and physical positions.   

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N

LEARN FROM THE PAST.  PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE.  LIVE IN THE MOMENT!

LEARN FROM THE PAST.  PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE.  LIVE IN THE MOMENT!

 

Life is heavily dependent on our points of view, our paradigms, how we see the world.  Most of the time, we travel through our lives at such a pace that by the end of a single day, we feel as though we have burned through so much mental energy that we are exhausted.  This happens to us because of many things.  We have technology at our finger tips, television with thousands (I checked) of channels, movies that are released at break neck paces and then on video as soon as they leave the theaters.  We have developed our own social media language that constantly drives us to our devices, pulled in every direction by targeted commercials that magically appear on our timelines.  We are driven to achieve more and more and more, and taking time off is considered a weakness.  As you can see, living in the moment is very difficult to do these days.  Constant distractions make it almost impossible, but  we need to strive to do it.  Learning from the past is very useful, but dwelling in it can be damaging.  Preparing for the future is equally as useful; but always living for what will be can take away from those precious moments that we have in the present with our family and our friends.

 

Not living in the present brings a certain self-deception of not living in reality.  We neglect our own psychological well being when we do not live in the present. Self deception occurs when we lie to ourselves; which is the most dangerous of the lies.  By constantly living in a world that does not exist (the future or the past), we essentially live a life that is not real or that is full of lies.  In practical terms, this occurs when we think about what might have been in the past or what will be in the future.  Both not grounded in reality!  An example of this is when people dream about winning the lottery or another far fetched event.  Time spent dreaming about  such things is time that can be spent enriching your own life, or better yet helping others to achieve their dreams.  Instead of dreaming about the future or regretting the past, how about developing concrete training plans that will help you to achieve your dreams, or write about an event that happened in the past to better learn from the positive and negative effects?  Of course this takes time, discipline, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

 

Having a relentless introspective, critical view is essential for effective use of the past and the future, and not just wasting time.  

 

Studying the past is essential to human development and can be a fascinating adventure.  The past, however, can be full of mistakes or regrets. Learn from the mistakes and move on.  Take advantage of the past to more fully live in the moment.  Even if you made a serious mistake in the past, the only way to learn from it is to adopt a new set of behaviors that avoids the same mistake in the present.  Being stuck on the “what might  have beens” and “should have beens” only psychologically bogs you down and takes you away from  the  things  that you want to do in the present.  

 

Life is something that we need to live everyday.  Truly living in the moment requires thoughtful skill and the will to avoid distractions from the past and the future. Think about this the next time your mind starts to wander: our time on this earth is finite, don’t waste it on thoughts that take you away from truly enjoying your life and helping those around you enjoy their lives!  

 

Learn from the past; prepare for the future; but, live in the moment!  

 

"Lean into it!"

 

Ed Naggiar

6 Perspectives from the Eyes of a Child:

6 Perspectives from the Eyes of a Child:

Discovery

True Passion

Boundless Energy

Living in the moment

Simple Happiness

Embrace the Boredom!  

 

Discovery 

I remember a long time ago I was on a flight to Paris on a 777. It was an Air France flight and everything was in French. It was really neat to hear all the different sounds and I really got a kick out of it. As I sat there, really getting into all the new experiences, I realized that the person sitting next to me (French) was getting a little annoyed or was really surprised that I truly found this otherwise common situation interesting.  I remember speaking to him (in French) and he told me in a sarcastic way something like, "You are truly amazed at all these things, aren't you?"  The message here is to always continue to be curious about things. Take interest and fascinate yourself with the simple things.  The miracle of life itself.  The way your spouse looks at you.  The sounds of the rain hitting the roof.  By the way, this attitude is contagious.  Don't let the "adults" in your life tell you otherwise.  Try to get as many "grow up" looks as you can throughout the day.  You will know that you have accomplished the discovery mission.  I can’t tell you how many times my daughters have looked at me with excited huge brown eyes (with the exception of Elena whose picture is on this blog) at a letter in the mail box addressed to them or a frog found in the backyard. Make discovery a part of your life.

True Passion

My kids are very dramatic.  They will tell you about something that happened at school or at gymnastics and and the raw, innocent passion flows from their bodies.  The kind of passion academy awards are given to.  You see, Passion runs in my family and my wife’s family. The kind of passion that you see in busy Italian restaurants.  The "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" type passion.  You get the picture.  What stops passion?  Fear.  Fear of what people will say or think about you.  Passion is the closest thing you will get to literally being on fire.  It is the fun in being human.  Passion is closely linked to our emotions and our emotions both affect other people and affect ourselves as well. Passion has been known to ignite people, movements, entire countries.  The power of passion must be harnessed and practiced on a daily basis.

 Let yourself go; let yourself be a kid again.

An example of passion in my kids: the passion in the eyes of my son as he tells me “I am the fastest runner!” He then takes off (in the house) running at full steam. This type of passion is never lost. It lies in the deepest corners of our spirit. Tap into it. Let yourself really feel it!

Boundless Energy

My uncle once told me while looking at my velociraptors (that is what I call my kids), “if we ran around like them we would be dead tired.” The reason that kids have that much energy is that they don’t know any better. Ever notice how soundly they sleep at night?  Part of it is youth but from experience I know that the energy cycle is a circular one. The more we consciously do more active things the more energy we get.  And if you tell yourself that you are "too old" or "too tired" then you are.  Your body will believe whatever your mind says, so change the way you talk about your energy.  Proper nutrition as well as plenty of rest helps as well. If you have less energy than you want, change your lifestyle and be more active.  Free yourself from the mind crippling thoughts of things you MUST do or the negative feelings and get outside.  Maybe a series of activities throughout the day that are less intense will do the trick?

Living in the Moment

My son wants me to build legos with him all the time. When I tell him that I will come upstairs after I clean the kitchen he replies, “But that will be in a long time!"  Kids lack the concept of time. They know that things will occur in the future but they seem to have an unbelievable way of living in the present. You can see it in their eyes. Living in the moment ties to true passion. The sense of pure excitement when eating a brownie (what did he say?) The total concentration of pouring a make believe tea in a my little pony tea cup. The extreme joy when conducting the perfect canon ball into a pool in the summer.  Pure, in the moment type joy.  No past or future to bog them down.  No external thoughts or complications. Total concentration. I can learn from this. I really can.  Some of my clients tell me that children have the advantage of not having responsibilities.  This may be true but using adult experience and wisdom we should be able to mindfully practice the "smelling the roses" metaphor of living in the moment.  Right? 

Simple Happiness

My kids have a lot of toys. Not an overabundance but a lot of them. Some of the toys have over a thousand pieces in them, like some of the lego sets. Some of them are electronic master pieces, like the Wii. The most fun that I ever saw my kids have, however, was with a large cardboard box from the store. The kids immediately began playing with this box and pretended to be monsters coming out of the box. The simple fun that they had lasted for days and days.  They still gravitate towards cardboard boxes even now at the old age of 10!  So the "things" in our lives don't really bring us happiness.  It is what we do with the people around us that does.  Now "things" are great if they bring us closer to people.  But concentrate on the things and you are destined for an empty, unfulfilled life; that's an HPC guarantee.  This simple happiness mantra leads us to our final perspective, imagination.

Embrace the Boredom

“I’m bored”, is the joke that we tell our 18 year old daughter. The reality is that you want your kids to be a little bored, if not a lot bored. Boredom stimulates motivation and motivation stimulates creativity. Creativity sparks the imagination into gear.  With creativity and imagination, the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that is responsible for cognitive thought and is what makes us human) is working out during this time.  So if boredom leads to this in my child; let them be bored!  Always having something to do or a place to be will create confusion and a whirlwind in a child's brain as well as an adult brain.  It will also overstimulate the stress response because your brain will constantly be orienting towards a stimulus that it feels it should try to face and control.  Stimulate imagination instead through periods of reflection (even young children do this when they are allowed to come up with off the wall questions about certain subjects.) Embrace the boredom!

Assignment

If you have access to children, this assignment will be fairly simple.  If not, you will have to use your imagination.  The next time you are with a child, observe what they do.  Look at the wonder in their eyes and the boundless curiosity and amazement that they bring to the world.  Think of a time when you were a child and imagine yourself observing the world un the same way.  Look at all the marvelous patterns and colors.  Be amazed at the simple things in life: the way the web of life works and unfolds itself in front of you. Observe the smells, the sounds, everything around you.  Don’t think about complicated issues and let yourself be bored.  Write down the various perspectives in a notebook for a week.  If you need an outline, use the 6 perspectives listed at the beginning of this article as a guide.  Feel free to add more child perspectives as well.  

 

Until next time, take care, and look into a child’s eyes. You will be surprised at what you learn.

 

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N

Own the Night

Own The Night

 

Have you ever ventured out into the woods or the ocean at night and tried not to use any lights?  The darkness, for most people, makes us feel uneasy and apprehensive of dangers or the possibility of getting injured from falls, unknown objects, etc.  Being “in the dark” is a metaphor that we use to denote when someone doesn’t know what is going on and may be surprised by unwanted events.  We always seek to illuminate the darkness, whether real or figurative, with lights and knowledge.  If you serve in the military or are in law enforcement, you may have used night vision devices that allowed you to see in complete darkness.  These devices give you the tactical advantage to win a confrontation.  In this situation, when you own the night, you win the battle.  But how does owning the night apply to the more figurative sense of a lack of knowledge or facing the unknown?

 

Do Your Homework

 

When I was still in the Navy, I found myself stationed on Oahu, Hawaii for 2 years.  I had heard about the surf on the North Shore in the winter, and decided to go give it a whirl.  I had surfed for many years in San Diego, but nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered that day.  I paddled out into the line up on an 8 foot fun shape.  A fun shape is board that you commonly use in small to moderate surf of 2-6 foot, not the 30 foot rollers that were cruising in that day at Pipeline.  Before paddling out, I had heard that many military individuals that had attempted to surf during the winter had been injured, some severely.  Occasionally, you would hear of individuals drowning after being knocked unconscious on the reef.  Even with all the warnings, I decided to paddle out on the largest surf I had ever seen.  When I finally attempted to catch a wave, I realized that dropping down from a 3 story building was probably not a good idea.  I ended up getting caught inside and getting pounded by waves for quite a while before I decided to call it a day, almost losing my board that was pulling me under in the process.  The lessons learned from that day were numerous.  I believe that my training as a SEAL saved my life that day, and I was very confident in the water and knew my limitations.  When you are about to face difficulties in your life, you should do your homework and give yourself the most advantage that you can, with respect to both gear and knowledge.  Assume the worst case scenario and plan backwards from that, no matter what you are facing. Doing you homework can save you time, money, and possibly your life.

 

Embrace the Unknown…But Don’t Be Stupid

 

Venturing out at night or in large surf requires a new state of mind.  Going surfing at night without lights requires embracing something that is visceral in all of us.  While stationed in San Diego, I would frequently go surfing at night  with my friends.  We would light a bonfire on the beach so that we could have something to keep aligned from the ocean, and we would paddle out and challenge ourselves.  Most of us were just learning to surf so this added to the challenge.  We would never go out in huge surf because that would be a death wish.  However, we did challenge ourselves just enough to get out of our comfort zones.  The lessons that I learned from surfing at night, I take with me anywhere when I am challenged with something new or unexpected.  Embracing and seeking these challenges allows you to develop that attitude of invincibility that I have talked about before.  This attitude is something deep inside of you that is inside even human.  This spirit of adventure that drives you to seek new things is at the physiological level a dopamine release.  As you get older, you need to do more and more novel things to keep your dopamine centers (which degrade with age) active.

 

Helping Others

 

The key to making it through dark times is helping others.  By helping others, you reduce your thoughts about yourself and become focused on the well being of others.  Ultimately, this leads to your own help; but, that is not the purpose of it.  We frequently connect blind folded exercises during our resilience classes.  These individuals are most certainly in the dark, and are tested to new heights with challenges that people with sight would have trouble completing.  Some of these challenges are only possible with the help of others.  By helping others who are in the dark, you gain new perspectives; furthermore, when you are in the dark, you will ask for help and let others help you.  We should not expect to make it through the dark times alone.  Helping others should be an integral part of your day, and if it’s something that you get paid to do, find a way to help others and not get paid for it.  

 

Assignment

Owning the night takes training, equipment, time, and the courage to go out of your way and embrace the unknown.  This week, go out of your way to challenge yourself in a way that you have never been challenged, outside of your workspace.  Imagine yourself being outside in the forest in the middle of the night with no light.  The apprehension that you feel is normal; embracing that apprehension is the key to owning the night.  Understand that embracing the apprehension requires self confidence, and self confidence comes from the proper training and application of equipment.  When you find something that you want to accomplish that is outside your comfort zone, write down what equipment you will need, and the training that you need in order to accomplish the task.  A warning is needed here.  If you accomplish the task this week, you could develop an attitude where anything is possible and a new zest for life itself.  What I neglected to mention is that owning the night and achieving what others (and you) may think is impossible will give you a dose of something that we all need in today’s fast paced world, gratitude.

 

“Lean into it!”

Dr. Ed Naggiar

 

The Glass

The Glass

 

The glass is half full/half empty dichotomy has been a favorite illustration for pop psychologists for as long as I can remember.  The question is inevitably asked, “What do you see?”  After the answer is given, a sort of existential feeling is supposed to be garnished from the answer.  As if what you answer will reveal your most inner core of being.  The truth is that you may see a half empty glass, or half full glass, or even the glass itself, depending on many factors; least of which are your experiences and how you have been trained to deal with stress.  

 

Our Perceptions Are Very Powerful

The mind body connection is something that I have studied (and experienced first hand) for a long time.  What you perceive to be true often is true.  If you feel a certain way and let that feeling overpower you, then you most certainly will allow yourself to journey down that feeling’s path and subsequent action sequence.  You have more control over your emotional state than you might think, but it takes self awareness and honesty with oneself (and others) to accomplish this feat.  

 

See the Glass for What it is, Glass

When you encounter and emotionally charged situation and you feel yourself going down and electrified negative spiral (we have all been there), analyze the event in your mind as if you were explaining the situation in a classroom or from a scientific perspective.  Perhaps you get annoyed if someone pulls out in front of you in traffic and start to say a few choice words about the person that just did that.  Perhaps you throw a few choice gestures out the window at that person, amazing your own kids in the car.  If you look at the activity from a scientific perspective, and you throw in a dose of empathy, this is what happens.  You describe the situation that has just happened using factual, and not emotional descriptors.  The person pulled out in front of me perhaps because they did not see me.  They may have pulled out in front of me because they were in a hurry.  Nothing happened except that I had to slam on my breaks, and there was no physical damage.  By analyzing (breaking down the situation) and taking the emotion out of it, you bring calmness to the event and you logically think through the problem.  In this case, the glass is a container that holds water, nothing more or less.

 

Quiet the Ego

Have you ever been in a situation where you were angry at something or wanted to verbally tell someone off?  Did you ever feel hurt when you did not get a promotion or felt like it was someone else’s fault because you got in trouble at work?  That is your Ego talking to you.  By logically working through these problems and accepting responsibility (you should have communicated a little better at work about the project you were working on), you quiet the ego and attain a new level of performance; a performance that is logic and factually based and not emotionally based.   Quieting the ego takes practice and training and feedback from both yourself and others.  Develop an immediate feedback loop when you do things to keep your Ego in check. You could ask yourself this simple question; is what I just said or did an attempt to pump myself up or to help others?  This simple question will keep your ego in check on a continuous basis. 

The Personal AAR

Military and other high risk professions, such as Drilling Rigs, use After Action Reviews (AAR) to improve their performance, increase safety, and ultimately save money.  Using the same, principles, you can conduct your own personal AAR to turn a negative day into a learning experience.  Methodically and logically work through what went right, what went wrong, and what lessons can you learn for next time.  Taking the emotion out of your negative day (or any day at all) gives your the power to objectively look at what you did and the control that you need to make it through another day, improving your performance along the way.

Assignment

Analyze your performance this week every day.  Did you accomplish what you needed to accomplish? Why or why not?  Critically look at the things that you do through a positive lens and use the personal After Action Review to improve your performance, reduce your stress, and turn lemons into lemonade.  You will immediately see the benefits of seeing the glass as half full and not viewing the situation as a negative, stress inducing event.  

 

“Lean into it!”

Dr. Naggiar

 

RESILIENT TRAVEL TIPS FROM THE ANCIENTS...WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE SPARTANS

In ancient times, our ancestors had a difficult time traveling.  By horseback, by foot, cold or hot exposed to the elements, hungry, tired;  has our traveling really changed that much?  The stresses of traveling have changed, but we purport that they have gotten worse.  

Stress in the form of constant airplane noise, schedules that change, deadlines to meet, the phone that rings right before they close the airplane door...These are the stresses that we were not designed to endure.  These are the stresses, that is left unchecked, will destroy you and your happiness.  

 

There are many articles pertaining to tips while traveling and what to do, but learning from history may be the most important thing that we do, especially when we talk about stress and resilience. 

 

Today's travel is nothing like that of the past. From cars, buses, planes, and boats-all of which have little to do with the body being the required power source. 

Here are ten tips for the modern day traveler, keeping the ancient Spartans in mind as an example: 

1: Positions of Resilience.

We must keep in mind at all times during travels that the body craves a position of resilience; a finely tuned instrument that can be as sharp as a razor or soft as jello, usually depending on what and how we treat it.  So we must think about positions of resilience.  This sets us up for all the following tips.  A position of resilience means that you are ready for action and treat your mind and your body like a finely tuned instrument, ready for combat at any moment.  Think about it; the Spartans likely did the same.  

2. Plan ahead.

Think of trip as a mission. Proper reconnaissance using the number one source the Internet can help create the perfect operating plan and gather all necessary assets such as nearby gyms, hotel facilities, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. Utilize resources to your advantage. Along with planning, we need to examine time management.

3. Proper Time Management. 

Time management and being organized will give you the mental resilience necessary to be more creative and enjoy your life, instead of using your brain as a storage device.  Time management will also help you with number 4.  

4. Manage Your Stress.

"Don't sweat the small stuff."  Have patience.  If something is not going as planned; adjust accordingly in a positive manner. Do not let it stress you, which will only bring about negative thoughts and a drop in motivation. View stress as a challenge and listen to your body.  Remember that Spartans trained daily in warfare and were razor sharp when it came to understanding themselves and their enemy.  Your enemy is stress.  

5. Be meticulous! 

We all have choices, especially when it comes to fueling our body. Think of healthy, small travel foods, limiting the chain stops, and eat out to your standards. Most restaurants will bring the food just as you ask. Grilled, sauces on the side, smaller portion etc; all you have to do is ask.

6. Move.  

Try to take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Take every chance to encourage yourself to take the harder road physically.  So remember to move, a lot.  Especially if you are going to be sitting for long periods of time, which is what humans do when they travel.  That means getting up on a plane (when they turn off the seat belt light of course), stopping more frequently when you are driving and doing some walking lunges and push ups, etc.  Get creative.  Remember to move, period.  

7 and 8 Creativity and Take 15.

We can always spare fifteen minutes to do something of choice, which should entail movement. Taking 15 minutes to get creative with moving around to generate a spike in homeostasis energizes and arouses mobility. Many body movements can be performed to get a sweat on for a short 15-minute bout requiring no equipment other than space. This generates the stimulation needed to maintain current fitness levels and continue with forward progression during time away from the place of comfort. Traveling can be taxing on the body and the mind.

9 Sleep.

Sleep is the most important activity that you will do while you travel.  We don't know for sure, but we suspect that ancient people slept longer than we do because of the lack of electricity and constant stimulation by iPhones or computer of choice.  The brain requires 6-10 hours of sleep for optimal functioning levels and cognitive functioning.  

10 Hydrate.

Yes, it sounds very simple. The Spartan would have to carry his water and hope not to run out.  Proper hydration is day in and day out and is critical for optimal levels of body functions and performance.  Keep H2O on hand and take a shot or two every 15 minutes thirsty or not.  So, to review the 10 tips of Spartan travels:

  1. Be Resilient
  2. Plan ahead
  3. Time management
  4. Stress Management
  5. Be meticulous
  6. Movement
  7. Creativity
  8. "Take 15"
  9. Sleep
  10. Hydrate

Travis Williams is a physical resilience consultant for Human Performance Consulting LLC.  Always consult a physician before engaging in any kind of physical activity.  

Facing Your Flames Head On

 

Facing Your Flames Head On

I have had the privilege of training firefighters over the years and, many years ago, I had the honor of participating in a controlled burn with the Pittsburgh Fire Department.  During that training, I realized the magnitude and danger of fighting a fire.  Smoke, heat, fatigue, confusion, disorientation, fear and fire; all these elements and more go into what firefighters do on a daily basis.  When I entered the building that was on fire in Pittsburgh that day, I had very little fire fighting training but I entered as an observer only, even though I did pick up the hose and help out a bit.  The sights, sounds, and smells of that day burned (no pun intended) into my memories and clearly there was some lessons to be learned that day.  The teamwork, camaraderie and training that all went into the orchestration of fighting that fire was impressive.  The way that fire fighters attack a fire is something that we can all learn from in our everyday lives.  We need to face our flames head on in order to accomplish our missions. 

 

Self-Reflection

When you are in a burning building, you must become hyper aware of both your surroundings and what is going on inside your body and mind.  One misstep could lead to a dangerous situation and one miscalculation of your own abilities, or of your own air tank on your back, could put you and your team in danger.  In life, we need to become more self aware of our own emotions and what works inside of us.  This includes what we need both physically and mentally to accomplish whatever mission we are working to accomplish.  When you stop and self reflect, you change your way of thinking from reactive to proactive and you better take control of yourself and more positively affect the outcome of your life.  

Control Your Fear

In order to do anything that is worthwhile in life, we need to control our fear.  By facing our demons and proactively working through or around obstacles, we begin to see that we have more control over our fear than we initially thought.  Facing our flames head on involves feeling the fear, but going into the fire anyway.  I remember feeling apprehension before entering that burning building; I had never done it before and did not know what to expect.  Feeling fear is 100% human.  Fear and apprehension keeps us alive; however, if you let fear control you, you will never set foot into a fire.  Ever.  

Training

A certain level of training is necessary for fire fighting, and for anything that you do in life for that matter.  Training is an integral part of everything that we do. Remember that I had had a certain level of firefighting training, and my mind and body were used to being in dangerous situations from other hazardous training events that I had been though in the military.   Training builds self-confidence and gives you a feeling of “I can do this” no matter what happens.  This self confidence can lead to arrogance if you don’t apply the first principle of this article, self-reflection.  Training must be challenging but not too challenging, so that you can progressively learn from incremental challenges.  Without training, we can’t expect to enter a burning building and face our flames.

Visualization

Before entering the burning building, the Pittsburgh Fire Fighters explained to me the sequence of events during the controlled burn, what I should expect, and where I should place myself so that I could both help and stay away from danger.  Visualizing a positive outcome to your training, and doing an in depth rehearsal can increase the chances that you will succeed when you enter a burning building.  The chances of a positive outcome to any situation or event can be increased by visualization.  Close your eyes and see yourself performing the necessary steps in the activity, or see yourself communicating effectively during a speech, or imagine yourself making the sale during your next sales call; chances are that your success will go up as a result of visualization.  You can’t expect to make it through a fire unless you visualize yourself making it through the fire.

Teamwork

It goes without saying, I would never have stepped into that building without the help, mentoring, and support of the Pittsburgh Fire Fighters.  When I entered the building, there were fire fighters on the roof with axes, making holes in the roof so smoke could escape out of the building and not hinder our vision inside.  There were Fire Fighters going down the stairs with axes in front of them, pounding on the stairs so they would not fall through by accident.  Outside the building, a myriad of personnel, trucks, and police officers maintained a perimeter and were the command and control for the entire operation.  The team that was amassed to deal with that fire that day was immense.  A well oiled machine that was happy to be there, doing what it was trained to do.  When you face anything in life, you need to have people that you can count on.  Individuals that have been trained like you and speak the same mental language.  Individuals that will bring you down and speak negatively about you or what you are about to accomplish should be left behind.  Individuals that will offer criticism from a place of improvement and will be there for you when the chips are down are welcome to come along.  Facing your flames head on should be the battle cry for your entire team, and they should be behind you in case you stumble and need help carrying the hose.  

Assignment

This week, think of something in your life that you need to face, head on.  Perhaps it is something to do with your job or perhaps a confrontation with an old friend that you need to patch up?  Maybe you have something that you would like to do that you have never done before and are apprehensive or scared of doing?  Apply the principles of this article, like a checklist, to the problem.  Do you have the right team to help you out?  Have you trained enough for this particular event?  What type of outcome can you visualize?  Is it time to face your fear head on?  Have you done the right amount of self-reflection necessary to achieve your mission?  Remember that we can do anything in life with the proper application of our mind and body.  Facing your flames head on is something that we should enjoy doing on a daily basis.

 

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N

One Race

One Race

I recently had to fill out some medical paperwork for a new doctor’s visit.  They asked for the standard information; name, address, name in case of emergency.  I filled out the form as I always do; then I stopped at a block that caught my attention, race.  I have always been sensitive to this topic that separates humans by their background and even culture.  The interesting phenomenon is that from a scientific standpoint, the multiple race question makes as much sense as the world is flat question.

 

100% Identical, or close enough

The science does not lie.  Every human being on the planet is over 99% genetically identical to any other human being.  The human genome project, that began in 1990 and was designed to map the 3.2 billion base pairs of the human genome, was a success and the work was completed years ago.  The results are very complicated and immersed in biological jargon, but the takeaway for this psychologist is very simple: we are all, virtually the same.  When you make a 99% on a test, what do you tell your friends and yourself that you made?  Exactly.  Since we are all the same genetically, then where, and more importantly why, does race enter into the equation.

 

Belonging  

I wrote about the Power of Belonging on 3.25.18.  I reviewed why people have an emotional need to bond together that spawns from a deep evolutionary need for survival.  Perhaps when people look the same, which does happen through genetic mutation and adaptation to certain environments, this facilitates that feeling of belonging to a certain group.  I fully understand why individuals would do that, and I even understand why individuals would shun others from outside the group in order to better their own chances of survival.  However, the Earth is no longer flat, people.  The times have changed now.  We need to change with those times.

 

The Earth is Round

Years ago, I trained Special Operators from Cameroon.  This was a French only class so I bonded quite a bit with the guys and sometimes we discussed topics that were not relevant to what I was teaching at the time.  I remember one of the more senior members asking me about the science behind why the world was round, and not flat.  At this moment, I realized that not everyone has the same education and that we need to be more aware of this as we try and push agendas or make assumptions.  Race is a world is round topic; however, not everyone understands the Human Genome and its enormous implications about how we are all virtually genetically identical.  

 

Challenging our Thoughts

The answer to the race question on the doctor’s form; human.  From genetic and anthropological evidence, around 60,000 years ago, modern humans (a couple of thousand or so) left Eastern Africa and traveled into the Middle East, and spread all over the world fairly quickly.  That means that even though we don’t all look alike (because of genetic mutations taking place over thousands of years and individuals “settling down” into one geographic area), everyone on the planet is related to the initial several thousand humans that migrated North out of Africa.  The world is no longer flat; we need to drop the race thing and unify under one race, the only race that has existed tens of thousands of years.  From a psychological point of view, this would solve many issues that we have in the world.  Remember, we are all 99% (or more) genetically related.

 

Assignment

Try and see people this week through the lens of the human genome.  Do you treat your close friends and family different than total strangers?  How do you feel about your enemies now that you can see scientific evidence that you are related genetically to them?  These are tough questions that may remain unanswered, or they are questions that may lead to a better tomorrow.  For now, remember to try and understand others and look at the differently this week; furthermore, realize that somewhere down the ancestral line we are all related.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. Ed Naggiar