What If?

We are all a little too well-versed in self deprecation and leaning towards the negativity tides.

Let’s try focusing on the good all around, releasing the need to put ourselves down, and approach life with gratitude.  I’m willing to bet magic will unfold before our very eyes…

Respect

For a long time I believed that respect was earned – its value is simply too high to just hand out, I thought. But over the years I’ve changed my tune. Why suddenly such a shift? Well…it wasn’t really sudden at all…

I grew up believing that doing unto others is the appropriate way to behave – I certainly have my moments of deviation, but they are – by a long shot – the exception and not the rule. I’ve always, therefore, subscribed to the notion that what we give out comes back to us, multifold – Karmic law, Law of Three, whatever you want to call it…I’ve seen it far too many times to have any doubt at all. Add some painful and challenging experiences – and don’t we all have our stories? – my subscription to the idea that “rising above” is the right way to be has multiplied exponentially.

Hate is a good example. I don’t sincerely “hate” anything – in my mind it is a wasted emotion, and it gives far too much power to something I really don’t like (people, places, OR things.) Hate takes as much – or more! – energy than love. . .so if I’m giving that kind of attention to a “dislike,” I’m wasting precious resources, time included!

It took some time to understand that, though. As children we love to say, “UGH! I HATE HOMEWORK!” or “I hate so-and-so!” “Hate” just falls into the two categories of #1, a word, and #2, a negative. Over the years, however, I learned that it was an extreme expression, that it carried too much of a negative vibe to carry around, and that the act of hating in and of itself reflects poorly in my own conduct.

As with hate, respect is something I am putting out – it is part of my conduct and behavior.  It occurred to me, then, that believing that respect was something other people had to earn was a really narrow-minded view. I can go around being a tyrant but that reflects on me only. I could also go around being a sycophant or victim-worthy subservient…but that too reflects on me (not to mention gets me into trouble.) 

Treating others with respect doesn’t mean I have to give out free passes or put people on pedestals, let’s be clear. What it means – to me – is that I treat others with decency and kindness.

Now…let me also say… I live in a tough city. Even MY buttons are pushed at times, and that says a lot! But I am constantly checking back in with myself when feeling irrational, upset, frustrated etc… If I can’t be respectful (and in certain moments, I don’t feel I can live up to it) I simply do not engage. Easy as that. The only person accountable for what I put out is me, and if I put out something negative…it’s going to get me into trouble in one way or another.

As my behavior is my own, how other people behave is their business.  In the modern world (and in a tough city), people might argue that others “don’t deserve respect.” Conducting myself in as positive a way as I can doesn’t mean I don’t see the poor behavior of others, that I dismiss it, that I allow it, or that I’m saying “go ahead and continue acting that way.” It just means that I am putting a positive energetic spin on myself. 

When dealing with someone I see often, simply rising above allows me to move forward through my day without the burden of taking on his or her attitude, and neither the weight of being a nasty person (which I don’t want to be.)  If, however, it’s someone I’ll likely never see again, I still can move forward knowing that I’ve been upstanding in spite of someone else’s conduct.

Do I do this perfectly? Hell NO!  I’ve learned that I’ve got plenty of limits, and that I’m just as subject to bad moods, grumpiness, and don’t-play-well-with-others as some serious offenders. BUT…I know that, deep down, I don’t want any part of drama or negativity. That fact in and of itself means that I can do a lot to avoid it – namely, work on my on attitude, and approach interactions with respect. How others respond to that is totally on them (and the great news there? TONS of freedom not having to take that on!)

It is always up to us how we want to feel, what we associate with, what we allow… Acting disrespectfully reflects negatively in every possible way, and speaks volumes about one’s character. To show respect even when it doesn’t feel warranted, however, also says rather a ton about a person. I aim to be the latter, if for no other reason than to me it is a noble pursuit energetically, as in terms of self development. I have a ways to go too but you can be sure I try to check myself. Often. 

 

Never Regret Being A Good Person

There are certain tenants by which I live my life – though I may fall short of my own (somewhat lofty) standards at times, I know that gratitude, kindness, acceptance, patience, respect, honesty, and empathy will always be at the top of my list. 

I’d rather be kind to someone who isn’t in return than meet them on a lower playing field. The Universe has a way of righting paths without my intervention…so I allow it, and Karma, to do their thing.

I am 1,000% responsible for my behavior – good, bad, and otherwise. But I will never have to own anyone else’s. 

Overthinking

Since this is in-line with my other post…!

Overthinking is a disastrous habit – truly. It seeks and destroys in a fell thought, and generally, we are way off base! I am learning – and trying – to overthink less. When in sports, I always remind students (as much as I do myself!) that thinking too much inhibits movement. Imagine what overthinking does to our brain, body, and soul?!

It’s okay to reflect – I believe that shows our eagerness to learn. But “overthinking” is often a big negative, carrying us down self-imposed, imaginary rabbit holes where things AREN’T actually as they are. 

The best way I know how to “fix” my problem is to begin with awareness. I try to be aware when my thoughts barrel off the tracks at high-speed because, if nothing else, I can *try* to grab at the breaks. Awareness allows us to acknowledge what’s going on…and from there, we can actually do something about it. We can remind ourselves that we are being irrational and unreasonable...and we can replace those “negative” thoughts with positives. Boy, do I need that today!

As with everything else, a lifetime pursuit but…we have to start somewhere! Listen to your thoughts and honestly ask yourself if they are based in reality and / or the here-and-now. If they aren’t, you might need to step back for a moment, slow your thoughts down, and even give yourself a pinch. It doesn’t hurt to make a gratitude journal, or to say some “positives” aloud – such exercises can bring us back to a present, calmer, and more positive state. Happiness actually IS and inside job.

 

6 Personal Tricks To Maintaining Willpower

Every so often I’m asked what I do, or how I stick to my guns, in order to reach the goals I’ve set for myself. Some of my friends have said I stick to my routine like my life depends on it.  While it’s *generally* true that I color in the lines, it doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake all the time. Cake? Where?!  Is it chocolate!?  (See what I mean…?)

Some days it’s a challenge to keep myself on track, but I do have a few tried-and-true tricks to help me stay on the bandwagon when I want nothing more than to hurl myself off it!

Now it may be I’m already that crazy personality type that pushes myself extra hard…in everything…(and boy, is that exhausting!) It could be that I like routine. Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen other people succeed, and I want to get there too.  Either way, these tricks do come in handy, and are worth a shot if you are having some difficulty motivating. . . They have helped me enormously, and continue to.

What is willpower, though, anyway?  Willpower is typically used to refer to that miraculous, supernal compass that allows us to abstain from whatever it is that ISN’T so good for us…  Or, as the dictionary puts it:

For me, that would be eating whatever I want, not getting up and exercising most days, and not following through with the things that will help me grow as a person, or in a field I’m interested in.  I’ve admitted to myself full-on how much easier that life would be…but when I think about the implications of walking that path, I’ve rerouted very quickly…

So there’s tip #1 right there…

TIP #1 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning the Implications

This trick works for me the majority of the time.  I don’t really consider it as guilting myself into things, it’s more that I focus on the implications of NOT doing the action I’m struggling with, OR staying where I am…which is not where I want to be.  I know that if I decide to abandon my dietary habits, I skip my physical activities, give up on something I really want to learn (which I almost did recently!)…I’m going to suffer on a number of levels.  I’ll feel more exhausted, depressed about how I feel / look / not achieving, my skin will probably freak out, the doctors (I’m sure) will be on my case, and I’ll very likely be in a shitty mood all around.  Bad for everyone!

Then there’s tip #2…which is similar to the first, but it puts things in a positive light (which, frankly, is where I personally prefer to be.)

TIP #2 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning…and FEELING…the Goals

When I focus on my goals, I get the most bang for my buck – more so than #1 because, again, I’m making this positive.  I focus on what I want most – whether to maintain my current condition, learn more about a subject I’m new to, achieve the next rank in my Martial Art… Whatever the goal is, I focus on HOW I WILL FEEL once I HAVE IT.  That’s how the magic begins.  How to keep it going?  Picture it as if you ALREADY HAVE IT.  Once you get there, you’re golden.  There are mornings that getting up and spinning is the last thing I want to do.  But I focus on the feeling of “that felt great – I did it, and I worked hard, and now I’m ready for the day!”  Focusing on the feeling I’ll have in accomplishing that goal makes all the difference.

TIP #3 – Progress Snapshots

Progress snapshots can take a lot of forms – it really depends on what the goal is. If it’s with regard to my Martial Arts, I’ll make sure to take periodic photos of my attendance card to see just how far I’ve come, and how close my next test is.  If it’s with regard to physical condition, photos go a LONG way.  Photos help us to keep track of how we are doing in the most real sense – I’ve caught myself being off track from pictures plenty of times!  It’s not easy to see ourselves as we really are sometimes – photos keep us honest.

TIP #4 – Staying Gentle with Ourselves

Life is a challenging journey any way you slice it.  There will be ups and downs, and days you don’t damn well feel like “making a gratitude list!” That’s okay.  What’s important is that you are gentle with yourself in understanding we all get a little sidetracked from time to time.  Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling fully.  Then dust yourself off, remind yourself how far you’ve come / that you have made it through successfully before (and I guarantee that you have!), and get to it!  Wallowing in our shortcomings is incredibly dangerous, and a surefire way to keep the negative cycle going.  Chin up  – you can do it!

TIP #5 – Sharing Our Progress

Don’t forget to share your progress with those you trust and love – I assure you that they will want to share in your joy, encourage your continued journey, and would be willing to help you in any way they can.  That’s what loved ones are there for!  You aren’t alone, and you don’t have to go it alone. If you are having a tougher day, it’s okay to ask  a loved one for help, to vent, or to ask for a proper kick in the ass – like being brutally honest! – when you need it. 

TIP #6 – Changing Our Language and Inner Dialogue

I’m as guilty of the next person of putting myself down, and putting road blocks in my own way with negative thoughts or language.  It’s vital that we work on using positive language, such as “I can!”…and using it all the time.  When we are stuck in a rut, or feeling miserable about past failures, that’s when using positive language (and / or replacing negative language) is the most important.  We must remember that there is always a new opportunity waiting – there is no better time than the present to get back on track, and we can do that at any moment.  Forget four letter words like “can’t” as they serve only to derail.  Make sure your language is positive, and you are on your way!

Willpower can be hard to come by all the time…but it is NOT an impossibly-achieved, elusive superpower.  The more we work at it, the more we will have.

You have everything it takes to get back on – and stay on – track, so long as you really want whatever that goal is.

So. . .

In SUMMARY:

TIP #1 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning the Implications

  • DO stay honest with yourself about the full implications of staying where you are 
  • DO visualize, and own up to that result (of not following through)
  • DON’T throw in the towel!  You have what it takes!

TIP #2 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning…and FEELING…the Goals

  • DO focus on how you will FEEL once you attain your goal
  • DO picture yourself already achieving that goal (this is the key to the miracle!)

TIP #3 – Progress Snapshots

  • DO take periodic “snapshots” to keep you honest with your progress
  • DO take photos, as they are the more true picture of reality than we sometimes like to pretend
  • DO be creative! Taking a picture of a school report card, or positive e-mail from the boss counts!

TIP #4 – Be Gentle With Yourself

  • DO praise yourself with affirmations when you do a great job of making benchmarks
  • DO share your joy with those you love, as they will be proud of you also!
  • DON’T beat yourself up if you had a tough day

TIP #5 – Share the Joy…AND the Challenges!

  • DO share your successes with your loved ones
  • DO share your struggles if you need or want to
  • DON’T isolate yourself.  You don’t have to brave the journey alone!

TIP #6 – Change Your Inner Dialogue 

  • DO use positive language, and try to use it all the time
  • DO believe in yourself and say it aloud if necessary
  • DON’T wallow past failure
  • DON’T give in just because you are in a bad place.  Without change, it’s going to stay that way.
  • DON’T use “I can’t” or “it’s too hard” or I’ll never _____”

You’ve GOT THIS!

Martial Arts Wisdom – Revenge and Anger

In Martial Arts we say we hope we never have to use what we learn – the idea isn’t about trying to prove something, nor to assert any kind of feigned dominance.

Along those lines, we are taught that ideas like “revenge” and “anger” serve only as injurious deviations from our true paths.  The Universe finds a way to right things without the heavier, shall we say, karmic repercussions of going down that road.

To seek revenge or harbor ill will is, as Buddha says, holding the proverbial hot coals and assuming both that they will burn another…and also that we are impervious.

The truth is the reverse – to seek such things is to diminish our own self-worth. It is a disservice to ourselves as willfully negative actions and thoughts hinder the flow of “good” that has the potential to continually manifest in our lives.  It is far wiser to let go of resentment, and to be as the Martial Artist aspires to be – free of the burdens that come with animosity and bad blood. 

It isn’t always an easy pursuit, but it is a noble one and worth the aspiration. Neither human being nor circumstance has the right to turn us from the higher road.

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Find Happiness In The Moment

As the wise saying goes. . .

It isn’t designed to put Life into a negative light, nor to add a sense of morbid urgency. . .but the idea is that Life – truly – is a gift.

The people we love, the blessings we have. . .most of all, our own breath, are gifts.

To recognize the temporal confines of this “go ’round” is to bring our awareness to the beauty, the good, the positive, the happy.

We have no control over how much time we are – or are not – given, nor the time given those we cherish. . .

We can, however, find joy in each present moment.  We have the choice.

If you find you cannot. . .endeavor to seek it out – fervently – lest time march past before you discover you had the power all along.