Enjoy The Journey

One of my favorite workouts of all time, The Journey, consists of the following:

 

Armenian ball walk 25 yards 

Tire flips 25 yards 

25 HPC kettle bell flips

Tire flips 25 yards

Dumbbell walk 25 yards

25 HPC kettle bell flips

Dumbbell walk 25 yards

Armenian ball walk 50 yards

50 pull-ups

Armenian ball walk 50 yards

Dumbbell walk 25 yards

25 HPC kettle bell flips

Dumbbell walk 25 yards

Tire flips 25 yards

25 HPC Kettle bell flips 

Tire flips 25 yards

Armenian ball walk 25 yards

 

The neat thing about this “Journey”, is that you end up where you started, at the beginning.  We call this, “full circle”, and ironically, it happens quite a bit to us in life.  We go on trips, only to return home.  We pursue happiness by taking on more and more responsibility at work, only to find out that happiness comes from simply “being happy” and has nothing to do with our jobs.  The journey, in that instance, may become elusive, or even pointless.  Understanding the various journeys that we undertake, both big and small, helps us to enjoy them just for their own sake, and has nothing to do in how or where we end up.   

 

Cherish the Journey

 

Often, when we begin a journey, we anticipate and sometimes look forward to the end.  Believe me, after doing the above workout with many individuals, we definitely look forward to the end.  But is this something that we should do?  No.  Looking forward to the end of the journey takes away the enjoyment of being in the moment, of being bored, and of being tired.  What we fail to realize is that all of these feelings are the benefits of being alive.  Being alive and feeling the life flowing within you are two of the most important elements of the journey.  Once the journey is over and you realize your goal, it’s over.  You feel a sense of accomplishment but then you look for another journey.  Craving the end of one journey and moving onto another journey without enjoying the ride builds frustration, impatience, and negativity.  

 

Applying the Journey in Everyday Life

 

Taking everything as a journey can benefit you in the long run.  Even when going to work, cherish every moment of the trip.  From the roar of your engine to the way the sun hits your windshield; take in all of the elements of your trip and bask in them.  Stop light?  Not a problem, focus on breathing techniques to lower your heart rate or listen to that audio book.  If you start feeling negativity or impatience creep in, apply a dose of gratitude and awe and those feelings will subside.  The two bundles of feelings, negativity and gratitude, cannot coexist together.  When on the second half of the journey (the workout), your body starts to get really tired, especially during the middle sets of tire flips and pull-ups.  Instead of feeling sorry for yourself in that instance, focusing on the positive notion that you are still alive and still moving forward (even if others are moving faster than you) can help you get through the pain.  Moreover, being grateful that you are still alive and kicking is another way to conquer the pain and doubt that you get when you feel like you cannot go on.  This applies to life as well as the workout above.  

 

When the Going Gets Tough

 

When you wake up every morning, you begin a new journey.  Thinking of all of the things that you need to accomplish throughout the day can be overwhelming if you think about them all at the same time.  However, if you focus on one thing at a time, using an organizational system to keep you on track, the journey becomes easier since you are using a one step at a time process instead of looking at the entire day all at once.  This applies to the many journeys that we undertake, from workouts to losing weight.  Look at the individual steps instead of the entire elephant.    

Elephant eating.jpg

 

Taking one bite at a time and enjoying each step of the journey is what it’s all about.  Make sure you enjoy and savor each bite.  That’s the difficult part.  Our insatiable appetite for more and more drives us to want to eat the entire elephant all at once, and then start on another journey to eat another elephant, and yet another.  Slow down and smell the roses.  This may sound easy, but it’s not.  It takes work, planning, and most importantly, self awareness.

 

Assignment for the Week

 

If you are going on a long journey this week, perhaps to visit relatives or friends, you can practice the art of enjoying the journey.  When you are on the road, take everything in that you can.  Observe as much as you can and become fascinated with it all.  If you are a passenger, this is easier to do.  If you are on an airplane, this is very easy to do because just the fact that you are flying thousands of feet in the air should be enough to spark some sort of awe, and gratitude!  Be grateful that you have the means to travel at will around the world.  Some people do not have that luxury.  Be grateful for the family and friends that you are visiting this week.  Enjoy the entire journey and try not to think of the end of the journey.  Practicing this type of deliberate enjoyment will have compounding effects on the rest of the smaller journeys that you take, including the journey of life itself.

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

Dr. N

Finding the Real

Finding the Real

Throughout my career as a SEAL and a human being, I traveled the world, experienced and worked with people of various religious beliefs, backgrounds, ways of thinking, and age.  With my current resilience business, I have trained Fire Fighters, Police Officers, Military Personnel, Pest Control Specialists, Department of Corrections Officers, Drug Abusers, Murderers, Oil Rig Workers, Doctors, and Financial Advisors.  The interesting common thread among all of these individuals?  They all want to be happy.  Whether you are working on an Oil Rig in the middle of Texas, or a SEAL Operator from Thailand, the one common entity that we all share is our craving to just be happy and surround ourselves with people that care about us and that we care for.  Fairly simple.  But is there a formula for happiness?  Yes.

Happiness = Set Point + Circumstances + Voluntary Activities (Real Activities)

Happiness is something that is elusive to some people, and something that comes natural to others.  As Jonathan Haidt writes in his book The Happiness Hypothesis, our happiness depends partially on what we were dealt in the “Cortical Lottery.”  This is our genetic set point for happiness.  Even if you don’t want to study the science behind this, you intuitively know this to be true.  Some people are happier than others, no matter what the circumstance.  That’s where the saying of making lemonade out of lemons came from.  Conversely, we also know people that, not matter what good things happen to them, they are always grumpy and find the negative in everything.  Knowing your internal set point of happiness is one way to work on yourself and make yourself more happy, or more serious when the situation warrants it.  

Our circumstances are generally where we were born, our genetic traits such as height and intelligence, and our economic status.  We know that we need a certain amount of money to be happy; however, this happiness fades quickly beyond a threshold amount of minimum money needed to sustain a comfortable life.  I don’t want to put a number on it, because this depends on where you live, but suffice it to say that all of us reading this now most likely make more than the amount needed to meet that happiness threshold.  Any more money you make won’t make you any happier.  

The final (and most important) components of the happiness equation are the voluntary activities that we do for ourselves.  This can be any activity that you enjoy doing (watching television or interacting on your phone does not count, unless you want to count these as a negative activity) and that you are marginally good at doing.  The reason that you want to be good at doing the activity (remember that you don’t need to be a pro) is that you are looking for an activity that induces a psychological state known as flow.  A flow state releases large quantities of dopamine in the brain and harnesses your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states to cause, you guessed it, happiness.  We all have these types of activities.  Playing the piano, surfing, Scuba Diving, cooking, writing, building a house for homeless individuals; all these activities have he potential of inducing a flow state.  You must pay attention to the activity and be totally immersed and fascinated by it.  Thinking of other things as you are doing the activity negates the benefits that you get from the activity.  I know people that are “ready to move on to the next thing” or are “bored” when doing a specific activity.

Finding the Real  and the “Real” Principle

My dad once told me, “Be happy with what you do; don’t do what makes you happy.”  It took me years to not only to believe what he said, but also to actually practice it and see how right he truly was.  He once told me that you could be truly happy, even if you were sweeping the floor.  You just needed to decide to be happy and the rest would just fall into place.  On the flip side, pursuing what you think makes you happy does not necessarily bring you happiness.  Many super rich people can tell you that.  When you think that you will be happy if you have this or that, then the game is over before it even begins.  Conversely, if you seek out happiness in any activity that you undertake, including some of the most mundane and “boring” tasks, then you increase the chances of achieving a flow state, inducing happiness.  Making any task real is up to you.  Start with a dose of gratitude, coupled with some fascination and concentration, and any task becomes real.  Try it the next time you do something trivial like driving your car.  Concentrate on keeping the car on the road.  Become aware of everything around you, including the sound your engine makes and the bumps that you feel.  Slowly let yourself become grateful for the fact that you own a car and have the means to fuel it and maintain it properly.  Finally, come to the realization that you are driving something that has only been around for a short period of time in our evolution, and let yourself get immersed in the feeling of utter freedom that this possibility brings and the places that you can go with the new found freedom.  You can see how this concentration, realization, and gratefulness can apply to any task, including sweeping the floor or doing the dishes.  Be the best you can possibly be at any task, induce flow, and become happy.  

Assignment

Practice this new methodology (gratitude, fascination, concentration) with some of your actions that you perform this week.  Try and be the best that you can be while conducting the activity.  Apply yourself and really take ownership of the action.  Choose actions that you don’t like to do and apply the “real” principle.  Making it real takes energy and commitment on our parts, but when we discover and practice the secret of happiness and find the activities that we do real, we can be happy with anything that we do and share this practice with others.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N 

   

 

 

Road Map

Road Map

 

Remember the saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there?”  Practicing true resilience means that you should have some idea about where you are going in the future, balanced with what you are doing in the present, and formed by the lessons that you learned from the past.  

 

Ideally, we spend the majority of our time in the present, enjoying the journey with our loved ones because life is short, very short.  

 

Being organized should be part of our daily ritual.  Disorganization leads to wasted time and energy and, of all things, stress.  Stay organized and you reduce your exposure to stress.  But that’s not enough.  We also need to have a plan of attack in everything that we do.  We need a road map.  

 

Our work schedules are fairly detailed.  Daily meetings, agendas, program plans, etc.  We tend to be super organized at work, and don’t even think about showing up not prepared to a sales call or a business meeting.  We also know about promotions and jobs that will help us to get promoted.  However, our organization and plans seldom spill over into our personal lives.  

 

Develop personal goals for yourself.  Perhaps you already have done this with a bucket list?  Now it’s time to take a couple of the elements from your bucket list and develop a road map to accomplish those items.  What are the specific actions that you need to accomplish in order to work up to the elements that you picked out?  Perhaps you need to save some money for a trip to some location that you have not been yet?  Write down all the steps that lead up to the item on your list.  Now assign dates to those steps.  Having a time line is an important part of the road map.  Assigning a date creates a sense of temporal accountability.  If you don’t have a date, then chances are you will never get started on the item from your list because something will always get in the way.  We all lead busy lives.  

 

Road Maps Give You Something to Look Forward To.

 

Sometimes life throws us some curve balls.  We all have had (and will have) bad things that happen to us.  These may or may not be catastrophic events.  They can be as simple as having a bad day at work or getting into an argument because you said something you should not have said to someone close to you.  We all have those days.  Having a quantifiable road map with executable intermediary tasks helps us to look forward to something in the future, while executing present tasks to support that future goal. Remember that dwelling too much in the future takes us away from the precious moments that we have in the present, so be careful to only spend the minimum amount of time planning and thinking about the future.  Having an organized road map can minimize your dwell time thinking about your mission/goal and the tasks that will support it.  

 

Assignment

 

This week, take one of your items on your bucket list and write out all the steps that you need to accomplish in order to achieve that item.  Let’s say that your item has 10 steps needed to get you to execute that goal.  Create a road map where you have the 10 steps, along with completion date goals, written down so you can monitor your progress.  The entire process should not only make you feel more organized, but a renewed sense of purpose should wash over you as soon as you see your road map written down.  

 

Dr. N

DON'T LET THE TIGER IN!

DON’T LET THE TIGER IN!  

 

When you live in constant fear or indecisiveness or have negative thoughts enter your head, you are letting the proverbial tiger in.  Whenever you feel negative energy enter your mind, you allow a wild animal to run in your mind and ruin an otherwise peaceful and pleasant experience.  Your resilience and the lives of others take a hit, as do other aspects of your life.   

 

BEWARE OF FEEDING TIGERS

 

About ten years ago, I helped feed tigers at the local zoo here in Panama City.  It was an experience that I will never forget.  I entered the room where the feeding would begin; the tigers were behind a chain linked enclosure so they could not get through.  There was a heavy steel door with a small window where the meat would be thrown in to the hungry tigers.  I had never done this before, but I was helping the owner of the zoo; I guess I should have realized the danger since he had just been released from the hospital after being attacked by one of his own lion's months before!  When it was time to feed the hungry tigers (a little fact that he failed to let me know was that the tigers had not been fed In a long time, making them really violent) he handed me a huge piece of raw meat and told me to put it through the window.  I can’t even describe to you the deafening roars that I was hearing and, to my surprise, the incredible visceral fear that I was feeling.  When I finally mustered enough courage to put the meat through the window, one of the tigers stood on his rear legs, stared at me right in the eyes, roared, and stuck one of his front legs through the window and nearly got a hold of me.  Needless to say, I felt a raw fear at that moment that I will never forget.  Ever since that day, I use the expression, ‘don’t let the tiger in” to explain the fears and doubts that we all get at various points in our lives.  

 

IF YOU FEED THE TIGER, HE IS LIKELY TO GROW

 

Letting the tiger in can happen at any time, in any place.  Your mind is constantly thinking of past and future events to make sense of the what to do next in the present.  Even in the most glorious moments of our lives, we may have negative thoughts creep in.  But don’t worry if you get more of these moments than you feel you should, because your mind is wired to be that way.  Think of it this way: when you are walking alone at night in the woods (not that you ever do this, but just imagine for a second) is it better for your mind to fear things or to be happy and blissful?  The answer is obvious; for self-preservation purposes, we are more likely to have a negative mindset, anticipating bad things in order to protect ourselves against danger.  The issue is that most of us do not walk in the woods at night, and are perfectly safe.  If you find yourself in that situation, flush all negativity out of your system and enjoy the present moment.  Feeding the negative tiger only makes her grow and take control of your mind.

 

NEGATIVE PERFORMANCES ARE GOOD FOR GROWTH

Even as I write this article, I wrestle in my mind at my performance in my SUP 31 mile river race that I finished yesterday.  The race was a grueling, 38 degree, raining, 5 hour and 40 minute grind through the Tennessee River.  I use it each year to keep myself physically challenged and working towards a quantifiable goal, one that I have done for 5 years straight as of yesterday.  Here is the 5 year belt buckle award to prove it. 

IMG_1695.jpeg

 

My point in all of this is, even though I finished the race, my finish percentage went from top 13% to top 22%.  Objectively speaking, my performance went down (enter the Tiger).  When I think of my accomplishment of even finishing this race five years in a row, the tiger disappears.  Focusing on the positive aspects of your life is not a way to trick yourself into a feeling of “everyone is a winner” mentality, it’s the truth about where you stand in the overall scheme of things.  Remember that you are not walking in the woods at night and you are not in mortal danger where letting the tiger in would save your life.  So just like anything in life, what you can learn from failure is entirely dependent on your point of view and your attitude, and depends on you turning a seemingly negative event into a positive one.  Hey, at least I finished the race, right?  I am sure you have similar experiences.    

 

NOT LETTING THE TIGER IN TAKES ENERGY

 

Remember our negative set points from the woods.  Not letting the tiger in takes quite a bit of energy.  Many days, I find it easier to slip into cynicism, sarcasm and negativity instead of being more positive, both with myself and others.  However, fighting this set point not only helps those around you to lead a better life, it actually makes you healthier.  From a metabolic standpoint, always being on the alert and letting the tiger in brings a hormone called cortisol into your system; this hormone, at chronic high levels, is damaging to your immune system, nervous system, and your metabolism.  Not letting the tiger in takes energy, but that energy is well spent in the long run.

 

HOW TO NOT LET IN THE TIGER

 

When it came time for me to feed the tiger, and after I felt the “swish” of the tiger’s paw in front of my face, I did something that I had never done before in my life, I quit.  I handed the meat to the zoo owner and said in a loud voice, “Here, you do it.”  He looked at me with a strange expression (the encounter with the lion had left him unable to lift his arms over his head from the damage that the lion’s teeth had inflicted into his brain), took the meat, and threw it through the window by slinging it from his waist.  It looked like a bizarre cross between an ultimate Frisbee throw and a volley from Roger Federer.  I refused to feed the tiger that day.  That is what each of us needs to do in our daily lives.  If you simply refuse to feed the tiger, spiraling negative thoughts will stop cascading into your mind and you will feel better about yourself.  You can start this process by being grateful for everything that you have in your life, starting with your next breath.  If you focus on that, the tiger can’t be fed and he will not enter your life, period.  When I think about my decline in paddling performance over my 5 year career of doing the same race, I am grateful for the fact that I can even finish the race to begin with, and grateful for the fact that I am blessed with coordination, balance, and determination to train year after year. The tiger cannot exist with grateful thoughts, because he needs negativity in order to feed.  What specific situations did you experience when you let the tiger in?  What steps could you have immediately taken not to let this happen?  Gratitude, even for the tiniest of things, cannot coexist with negativity.  You cannot be grateful and negative at the same time.  Try it and see.

 

Dr. N

 

Adventure Therapy

I have talked forever about getting out of one’s comfort zone by trying new activities, expanding one’s mind through learning, and just taking the road less traveled.  It may surprise you to know that this is actually is a form of therapy.  

Adventure therapy is defined as the use of experiences (often in unfamiliar settings) to create learning that results in change.  This concept has been around for a long time.  Remember the Outward Bound experiences back in the 1970s and 1980s?  Same idea.  The basic premise is that one will learn more by experiencing difficulty and learning how to overcome adversity.  This learning will directly transfer and apply to the work environment, facilitating positive change in the individual.

We cannot talk about adventure therapy without explaining self-efficacy.  Self-efficacy is a motivation theory that points to the feeling of effectiveness and confidence that we feel concerning accomplishment of certain goals.  By using adventure therapy, in combination with certain techniques of emotional control (see last HPC Journal), we begin to see positive change and performance increases in individuals.  This is another incremental look at the mind/body connection; a powerful connection that most people just take for granted or overlook.  Let’s look at an example of how adventure therapy, emotional awareness training, and self-efficacy influence performance in the workplace.

CASE STUDY
 

We begin our journey with an evaluation of John.  John works as a sales leader in a pharmaceutical company.  As part of his job, he must make calls to doctors in order to build positive relationships.  He is successful, but wants to take it to the next level.  Emotional awareness training using the IZOF model would be used to evaluate John’s best and worst emotional states with respect to his performances on the job.  He would then go under a series of sessions of adventure therapy which would completely take him out of his comfort zone.  Turns out that John has a small fear of water.  Over the course of six months, the therapist would work with John in a swimming pool to teach him how to swim.  Furthermore, the entire therapy session would culminate in an open ocean race that would cause John to face his deepest (no pun intended) fears.  

By facing his fears, John gets a boost in his own self-efficacy.  He has set a very challenging goal and accomplished it.  That is the heart of adventure therapy: accomplishing what one thought of as impossible.  It is the accomplishment of this goal that is important; it boosts one’s self-efficacy and has direct translation into our normal, everyday jobs.  

The following year has been a tremendous boost for John.  Not only has he been able to identify and boost his emotional states before important sale calls, but he has a renewed sense of self-confidence that all his customers can see and more importantly, sense.  Adventure therapy, if done the correct way, can yield this quiet confidence that we all seek.  The confidence that will be sensed by customers and co-workers.  The confidence that will take John to the next level.
aaThe above case study shows us that adventure therapy is very personalized.  Swimming would not have worked if John were an Olympic level swimmer.  The challenge would not have been great enough.  A tailor made adventure must be designed.  Perhaps a trip to the local community theater to audition for a part in a play?  Or perhaps learning how to SCUBA dive?  You see, the adventure does no matter.  What does matter is overcoming the adversity that the challenge brings, and boosting one’s self-efficacy in the process.  

This Week's Assignment

Adventure therapy transcends the traditional “lie on the couch and tell me about your mother” therapy but it is therapy nonetheless.  It is a journey into the deepest and darkest recesses of one’s soul and inner being.  Find what your biggest fear is and take steps to conquer it.  Today.  What are the baby steps that you need to take?  When you conquer this fear, your world will open up in ways you never thought possible.  You will go to the place that you have always feared but never challenged.  The confidence that you build and the fun that you have will be priceless. 

So what are you waiting for?

Ed Naggiar

The Ego Killers

Destroying our Egos

The secret to any resilience program is the ability to destroy one's own ego.  The ego is responsible for a person's self esteem or self importance, according to the dictionary.  However, we all have our own definitions of our sense of ego.  Pride has something to do with it.  So does fear of failure and not looking like an idiot in front of our friends.   Have you ever had a tough time saying you were sorry to someone?  That’s your ego playing with you.   Why is it so hard to say that we are sorry to people?  Perhaps we feel like we are losing and the other party is winning?  Or perhaps we feel like we are weak of we admit that we are wrong?  Whatever the case, saying you are sorry is one of the keys to helping to destroy your ego.  

 

Present Moment Thinking

 

When we worry about things that are in the future, or regret events that happened in the past (both circumstances are beyond our control and a waste of time), we are feeding our egos with the fuel that egos need to survive, the power of thinking.  So how do we successfully suppress our egos?  By being grateful for what we have in the present and bathing in every moment that we have around us in the now.  If you feel like this is a waste of time, you are listening to your ego.  By definition, the ego cannot exist in the present moment.  That is why it wants you to worry about the future or regret the past.  Starve your ego of this and you will be more happy and successful.  

 

Cherish Boredom

 

This is not as easy as it may seem.  We have been trained for years not to be “bored” or not waste your time by “day dreaming”.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what we need to do in order to successfully destroy our egos.  We are also constantly bombarded with requirements and stimulus that force us out of the non-thinking (ego killing) blocks into the worry and anticipation blocks.  That is not to say that we should simply sit down, put on our diapers, and not do anything.  What is means is that our “set points” should be that of awareness and gratitude.  We should tune into the feelings of others and serve others.  That does not mean that we are push overs or weak.  We draw our strength from our missions and execute those missions in a systematic and objective fashion.  However, when we are not actively executing, we should strive to be in a set point of relaxation, fascination, and most importantly, happiness.  

 

Resilience is the art of learning from the past in order to improve our performance in the present by not over anticipating the future.  This takes work and deliberate thinking tempered with large doses of not thinking and just “being”.  Successful resilience programs teach individuals how to function together as a team and to take one difficult moment at a time by developing personal missions that lead individuals down difficult roads that help them navigate through hardships. Eat the elephant one bite at a time and don’t think of the entire elephant.  We can accomplish great things when we don’t think too much about ourselves and truly tune into other people’s needs and the environment around us.  Our egos shut down when we associate ourselves as part of a larger system and our association with our ego dissolves.  This is difficult to accomplish but worth it. 

 

 

Weekly Assignment

 

This week, practice this line of existence.  See how it feels.  Try and document when your mind starts to race into the future or the past.  Try to identify what caused this line of thinking to happen.  Focus on others and helping them.  Do not overthink things and definitely do not dwell in the past or future for too long.  Whenever possible, admit that you are wrong and say you are sorry.  Do not let pride take control of your life 

 

 

For true resilience to occur, we must control our ego and suppress it, even kill it.  That is the only way to true resilience, and, to a certain degree, true happiness.  

 

“Lean into it!”

 

Dr. N

Finding Balance

This week's assignment is about finding your balance.  Psychological balance is very important, but that's not what I am referring to here.  Physiological balance declines in us as we get older, but with the right application of training, we can maintain and even improve our balance as we get older.  As you know, our physical resilience, in this case our balance, is linked to other elements in our minds such as self confidence and our energy systems.  If you train yourself to sit around and lie on the couch, you will get really good at doing that.  Not saying that lying on the couch is a bad thing, but getting out and training everyday should be what we do to maintain and improve upon our human vessels that carry us around day after day.

Balance primarily boils down to three primary elements, all of which degrade with age.

1. Our balance depends on our vision, which may degrade with age.

2. Our inner ear plays a major role in our balance system, this system also degrades with age.

3. The final part of the equation is the musculoskeletal system and the proprioceptors that help us find our place in the world.  

Numbers 1 and 2 are pretty much a given as we get older.  Our bodies do not last forever, but, with training, we can work on number 3 and perhaps compensate for degradation that occurs in the first two.  And it can be fun.

Working on balance starts at a young age.  We learn to sit up, crawl, walk, and run.  All of these exercises engage all of the systems mentioned above in one way or another.  We LEARN how to balance and then we take it for granted.  Practicing and strengthening our balance is something we should do on a daily basis.  Adopt a use it or lose it mentality, because balance (along with flexibility) degrades with age and nonuse.  

Start off with basic exercises such as standing on one foot or basic yoga moves.  You can also take up a basic gymnastics class and challenge yourself.  Sports such as stand up paddleboarding challenge your balance in safe ways (you fall in the water if you lose your balance) and conditions can be very challenging in the ocean.  Last month, I raced in a paddleboard race across the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.  This race was one of the most challenging races and my balance was put to the test for four hours!  

Balance boards are incredible ways to work on your balance.  Some are better than others and come with various challenging levels.  The ISO board by Coastal Authority (https://www.coastalauthority.com)  is the one that I use, and have used it since 2015, when training for the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard race.  This system helped me to train for conditions that I could not replicate, living in Florida, for a paddleboard race that was in Hawaii.  I also have competitions with my kids, which they win.  I think the record to stand on the board is 21 minutes!

So you see, working on your balance can be fun, rewarding, and definitely worth it when you consider that balance is something that degrades with age.  I remember having a conversation with a 70 year old retired SEAL who was still training really hard with general physical fitness exercises.  He told me that the biggest thing that he noticed as he got older was his balance going downhill.  Working on our balance now and building our balance system as you get older is another part of physical resilience.  

I am a firm believer that our minds can will us to be whatever we want to be.  Don't fall into the mentality that you are too old to take up a new sport, even if that sport requires you to fall (safely) every once in a while.  Your balance system, and your body, will thank you if you do.

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N

 

Extreme Failures

 

Let’s not sugar coat this one.  We are in a different time where political correctness reigns supreme.  Failure is something that we don’t want to experience, let alone talk about.  Everyone is a winner.  No one really fails because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.  People don't fail, they just make poor choices.  We want to include everyone in the winner’s club and not hurt feelings.  The bottom line is that we all fail from time to time.  In fact, if you don’t fail, then perhaps you are not challenging yourself hard enough or even worse, you may have settled for the status quo.  

STATUS QUO THINKING

Settling for the status quo is equivalent to failing, even though you may not necessarily “fail” at anything.  Challenging yourself beyond your limits and failing is better than winning in your comfort zone.  By failing, and failing hard, you learn what needs to be done in the future and you develop strategies that set you up for future success.  But what if you never reach your goal?  What if your goal is something that may be out of your reach?  is this a good thing or a bad thing?  

GOAL SETTING

Psychologists and happiness experts agree that setting goals too high and never attaining them can lead to frustration and dejection.  Setting incremental goals that are attainable (yet challenging) is the key to developing the right psychological stance to achieve more and more goals moving forward.  For example, when you learn how to play a musical instrument like the piano, you don’t set the goal to play one of Chopin’s Etudes in the second month of taking lessons, unless you are a savant on the piano!  The same goes for other goals.  Develop realistic, yet challenging, goals that you can attain in the near future.  Each goal will be different.

If you fail at some of your goals, fail quickly and learn from the failure so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.  Some failures will be easier to take than others.  Keep your ego in check and try not to get emotional about it.  If it hurts, cry it out and move on.  The next goal is waiting for you, and your friends and family are counting on you to move on.  Don’t let them down (or yourself).  

So what do I do if I have an extreme failure?  Here are some tips (can you add to the list?)

  1. Fail swiftly with minimum emotional impact.
  2. Write down what went wrong and what lessons you learned.
  3. Develop a positive outlook on the failure and realize that it is only temporary and does not reflect your inner state.
  4. Even if you feel like crap about the failure, force yourself into a state of happiness by thinking of a similar event where you were successful and truly focus on that event.
  5. Go outside into nature and be grateful of what you see.  Soak it all in and reboot your brain.
  6. Before you begin the activity again, visualize success by using your lessons learned from your failure, combined with your inner sense of confidence and trust.   

Weekly assignment.

Write down the major failures in your life.   Did you learn anything from them?  Remember that each failure is an opportunity to grow and turn the failure into a positive experience by learning from the mistake and moving on.  Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t sweat if your list is long.  If your list is not long enough, perhaps you need to challenge yourself more and keep your ego in check or better yet, take your ego and throw it off a cliff.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N

Through the Eyes of a Child

The eyes of a child are very special.  They relay information that is hidden in later years by experience.  I learn everyday from my children.  They teach me to see the world in a different, non-complicated way.  They teach me:

-Discovery

-True Passion

-Imagination

-Living in the moment

-Simple Happiness

-Boundless Energy

 

Discovery.  I remember a long time ago I was on a flight to Paris.  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 neat sounds 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.  The message here is to always continue to be curious about things.  Take interest and fascinate yourself.  This attitude is contagious.  I can’t tell you how many times my daughter Eva has looked at me with excited huge brown eyes at a letter in the mail box addressed to her ora frog that she has found in the backyard.  Make discovery a part of your life.

True Passion.  My kids are very dramatic.  Passion runs in my family and my wife’s family.  The kind of passion I am talking about is contagious.  You know what I mean.  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 when looking at my velociraptors (that is what I call most of 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.  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.  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 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.  The total concentration of pouring a make believe tea in a little pony cup.  You get the picture.  No external thoughts or complications.  Total concentration.  I can learn from this.  I really can.

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 was with a cardboard box from Sami’s Bakery in Tampa.  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.  This simple happiness leads us to our final destination, imagination.

Imagination.  “I’m bored”, is the joke that we tell our 13 year old twins.  The reality is that you want your kids to be a little bored.  Not bored to the point that they will get themselves into trouble.  A little boredom, however, will stimulate creativity.  It will drive imagination and allow them to create and think.  Always having something to do or a place to be will create a whirlwind in a growing brain.  Stimulate imagination through periods of reflection (even my 5 year olds do it to a certain extent),  and yes, boredom!  Until next time, take care, and look into a child’s eyes. You will be surprised at what you learn.

Your assignment for the week is to foster a child like approach to things.  If you feel like you are out of your comfort zone when you do it, then you are on the right track.  What kinds of activities or approaches can you develop this week that will help you to see things the way a child sees things?

Dr. N

 

The Art of Gossip

The Art of Gossip


“Those who gossip with you will gossip about you…”  This quote, along with many others, relate the age old art that we have all engaged in from time to time.  So why do we do it?  Why do we feel bad after we do it?  And why do we continue to do it even though we know that it is not a good thing to do?  We gossip for many reasons.  

Feel Included

We typically see this with teenagers.  If people are not involved in a common goal, they tend to try to find one for connection.  However, this connection may not always be a healthy one, and gossiping finds its way in.  To  feel included, try and find healthy activities that involve physical and psychological components and everyone joining together for one common goal. Perhaps raise money for a cause like Night To Shine, or do a race as a team (Spartan Race) to help in feeling like you are connected. Common goals help in avoiding gossip from rearing its ugly head.  

Jealousy

My wife always tells the kids “Blowing out someone else's candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.”  We all have that little green monster called envy that appears.  It happens to the best of us.  People gossip about those whose lifestyles they envy.  Any time you start to feel jealousy or envy creep in, ask yourself what steps can I take to be more like that person?  If they are a faster runner, get out there and train. Take the necessary steps to better yourself instead of putting that other person down with gossip.  Make yourself a better person, and turn that envy into self-admiration!  


The Power Trip

When someone confides with you the deepest darkest secret that you are sworn to take to the grave, you may be tempted to tell others about the situation.  Why?  Because you feel a sense of power that you know something nobody else knows about the person.  You may be craving attention from others or want to feel important. Either way, your potential to gossip goes up when you are holding a powerful secret. Take the higher road and keep your word. 

Gossip is Lying

When we lie, we deceive other people (and ourselves) for various reasons.  We lie to save face, to protect others from harm, and to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.  We may gossip for the same reasons since gossiping is a form of lying.  If we gossip about a person, and then see that same person and are nice and cordial, we are lying.  Lying can destroy our psychological states and create a situation that is detrimental known as cognitive dissonance. 
This is a state of psychological stress where you hold two beliefs about a person or situation, and this causes our brains to rapidly move from one position to another, causing anxiety.  This is the situation that occurs when we gossip.  We say something about a person behind their backs; then we see the person and do not reveal what we are truly thinking.  Gossiping, just like anything else, can become a habit where we spiral down into cynicism and sarcasm, dragging everyone else around us down with us.  What we say and how we say things have powerful implications to those around us.  The wise saying to think before you speak comes to mind.  What will be the interpretation of what you are about to say?  Will the person receiving your message interpret it as a negative message?  Are you gossiping about someone or what you are about to say something you would say to their face?


We Gossip to Feed our Ego

Our egos drive us to gossip.  Our egos feed off of pumping ourselves up by talking badly about others behind their backs.  We gossip because it makes us feel better about ourselves, in the short term.  One of the most powerful things that you can do to feed the ego is gossip.  When you gossip, you pump yourself up by talking badly about someone who is not their to defend themselves.  The ego is protected by time and space.  If the person were there to defend themselves, then your ego could be threatened or damaged.  Gossiping is the safest way to feed your ego, especially when someone is there to listen and even agree with your musings.  Feeding your ego is easy.  Starving the ego is even easier.  Switch from a position of gossip to a position of gratitude or non-thinking.  Perhaps you can write in gossiping as part of your personal creed.  You may refer back to your creed everyday in order to stop gossiping in its tracks.  I find that living in the moment and concentrating on the environment around us helps us not to gossip about others.  If you are with someone else, change the topic of the conversation or simply tell the other person that you are working on not gossiping.   
 

Recently, I decided to talk badly about someone behind their backs who had been pissing me off for a long time.  I don’t usually fall into the gossip trap but I did that day.  I can’t describe how badly I felt after the gossip session.  It felt like I had betrayed the other person and thought about all the good things that the person had done for me over the years.  I gossiped perhaps to feel better about myself and to feed my ego with inflating platitudes?  Gossiping is wrong and should be avoided.


Assignment

Pay attention to your gossiping this week.  Notice yourself when you are about to gossip and use the tips from this article to counter the action.  I firmly believe that if you eliminate gossip from your life, you will eliminate stress and negative energy that causes you to be unhappy.  Write down in a notebook every time you feel jealousy this week.  Write down exactly why you are jealous of that person and take steps immediately to better yourself or improve your position to avoid envy and gossip from entering into your life.  Eliminating gossip is a sure recipe to happiness and attracting the positive energy of others.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N