Growing up involves opening outward. We search out new experiences, wider social connections, and ways of putting our stamp on the world. When people reach the latter half of adult hood, however, their priorities change markedly. Most reduce the amount of time and effort they spend pursuing achievement and social networks…They focus on being rather than doing and on the present more than the future…If we shift as we age toward appreciating everyday pleasures and relationships rather than toward achieving, having, and getting, and if we find this more fulfilling, then why do we take so long to do it? Why do we wait until we’re old? The common viw was that these lessons are hard to learn. Living is a kind of skill. The calm and wisdom of old age are achieved over time. — From Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal
So I promised myself I would begin reading more. I feel you learn something different from reading books that you dont quite get from other sources. In the month of January, I read The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone by Fredrik Eklund.
Brian recommended it to me.
As the books tagline says: “The nation’s #1 real estate broker and star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York shares his secrets for superstar success and getting what you want out of life—no matter who you are or what you do.”
Its a fascinating book, which covers a wide range of issues for people in the sales industry. Fredrik Eklund is a witty writer, and this makes the book a fun, easy read. It’s part inspirational, part marketing, part dress for success, and part social networking. A part a moment for Fredrick to brag about himself. lol
The content of THE SELL is so broad, that it’s tough to focus on just one part; however, there is a particular chapter in this book that is well worth the price of admission. That is chapter 6, entitled, “Make ’em smile.” The purpose of this chapter is to convince the reader to “cultivate your charm and sense of humor.” This chapter homes in on a particular area for weakness for many people–charm, and a good sense of humor. Fredrick points out that you only have a very brief time to make a good impression–likely a lifelong impression. He explains that “You have 30 seconds to capture someone’s attention.” Usually the first impression is the lasting impression so make it count.
And so Fredrick suggests cultivating humor and the art of being charming. Sometimes this means just flat out being silly. When Fredrik first met his future husband–an extremely tall man, in line ahead of him, the author touched him on the shoulder and asked him why he was so tall. Fredrik explained to the man, ” I grew up on Swedish meatballs, which made me tall. What did you eat?”
When using social media, the author gives some really practical ideas. For example, “Know what attracts eyeballs. Animals, babies, and nature grab attention, as do sunsets, Sun rises, skyscrapers, ocean waves, and half naked photos.” He also provides other very practical ideas on using Instagram, Twitter, or other social media.
THE SELL was an enjoyable book, and so I would highly recommend it.
The U.S. Surgeon General is on a mission to bring you happiness, peace and love.
His serious public health agenda for the U.S. includes addressing the state of substance addiction and ending stigma for mental health. In the past, he has also called “gun violence” a public health issue. But Vivek Murthy, one of the youngest surgeon generals to ever serve in the role, is also emphasizing happiness as one of the main ways to prevent disease and live a long healthy life.
Let’s be clear: “Happiness” is not an emotion, an inherited disposition that is awarded to a select few, or even dependent on events that happen to you in life. Rather, Murthy argues that happiness is a perspective, and that everyone can create it for themselves with four simple, free approaches: gratitude exercises, meditation, physical activity and social connectedness.
In Murthy’s tour throughout the United States, he’s been collecting stories about people and communities that are putting their happiness — long term, emotional well-being from fulfillment, purpose, connectedness and love — front and center. In a presentation at the TEDMED conference in La Quinta, California, last Thursday, Murthy shared one such story about Visitacion Valley, a poor, troubled school in San Francisco plagued by low test scores, high suspension rates and community violence on such a large scale that they had to hire full-time grief counselors. But after instituting a new tradition of twice-daily 15-minute meditations in 2007, the school underwent a startling transformation.
“Within a year, something incredible happened: suspension rates dropped by 45 percent, teacher abstenteeism dropped by 30 percent, test scores and grade point averages rose markedly,” said Murthy during his TedMed talk. “The students reported they were less anxious and they were sleeping better, and the self-reported happiness scores of the students went from one of the lowest scores in San Francisco to the highest score in the entire district.”
As Visitacion Valley and other research shows, an investment in well-being can pay off in ways people would rarely associate with emotions. Happy people live longer, are less stressed, and have lower levels of inflammation and heart disease.
Research also shows that Murthy’s four approaches (gratitude exercises, meditation, physical activity and relationships) actually work to increase a sense of peace and well-being in people. In an interview with the Huffington Post after his talk, Murthy went into more detail about why exactly he thinks happiness — a state of being that’s often dismissed as an unessential emotion — is an essential part of health.
Your focus on meditation and making yourself happier with gratitude exercises struck me as a way to put some individual agency back in people who frankly might have lost a little bit of hope in the face of such big social and environmental health problems. Was that on purpose?
That’s intentional. I think that if we want to create a healthier country, we need to empower more people to make changes in their lives. But we also have to empower them to help change their environment.
And that’s the power of many of the exercises we spoke about today. Meditation, gratitude exercises, social connection — it creates a greater sense of emotional well being, which then gives them the fuel and the energy, if you will, to out and make changes in their lives and in their community.
What do you think about the Kingdom of Bhutan’s practice of measuring the happiness of their people?
I don’t know enough about the details of the index — I’ve heard about it. What I do think is that the idea of considering our happiness to be a priority that needs to be tracked and actively cultivated is a valuable idea. Right now, most people don’t think about emotional well-being as an important component of health that has spillover effects on all other areas of health. For that reason, we don’t see emotional wellbeing always reflected in how we craft policy or in how we create workplaces, or in how we create schools or build curriculums.
If we can imagine a world in which emotional well-being was valued as much as test scores, if we can imagine what it be like to prioritize emotional wellbeing in our work environments, I think we can start to see that kind of society, where emotional wellbeing is something that we value, that we proactively support and cultivate — that kind of society is one that will allow us to be stronger, more empowered and ultimately healthier.
Social connectedmess is also known to boost happiness, but a lot of people don’t feel connected to their community. What are some pieces of advice you have around increasing social relationships, as traditional hubs of connection are becoming less relevant?
We have to recognize that we can help increase happiness of other people by reaching out, and building connections. People have done that for me in my life. There have been many times that my family and friends have reached out to help support me and contributed to my emotional wellbeing, and ultimately to my health. For that reason, I try to pay that forward and do it for other people. This is part of a larger cultural element that we’re talking about here — we need to take care of each other.
We live in a society where individual effort and progress is valued, and that’s absolutely correct and is as it should be. But we also are interdependent creatures. We can’t succeed solely on our own. When it comes to creating emotional wellbeing, we are only going to achieve this, I believe, if we help each other in that effort. Part of that is reaching out and building social connections in people who may not always have the social connections or the support that they need.
Planks are one form of bodyweight exercise that will never go out of fashion. They’re one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
So, what exactly will happen when you start doing planks every day?
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1-minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Doing planks greatly improves your ability to stand with straight and stable posture. Through strengthening your core you will be able to maintain proper posture at all times because muscles in the abdomen have a profound effect on the overall condition of your neck, shoulders, chest and back.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk — unless you happened to be at the time! — but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups — shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone — while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression — but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
What do you and 31 year old billionaire Elizabeth Holmes have in common?
Right now, Elizabeth Holmes is under attack. Not by her customers or investors, but by the press and the US government.
She started her company, Theranos, when she was 19. It’s now worth $9 billion and has made her the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. How? Because her company helps people check their blood easily in pharmacies at a fraction of the cost a hospital will charge.
Elizabeth’s a big threat to the medical industry because she’s openly saying “Health care is the leading cause of bankruptcy, and the lack of it is the leading cause of suffering.” If she succeeds in making blood tests cheap and easy, they lose control of your medical data and wallets. We take control.
So one thing has led to another, and in October the Wall Street Journal ran a mud-slinging piece on Elizabeth and her company, quoting ‘unnamed sources’ who say her tests aren’t all accurate. Now the rest of the press is on the bandwagon and Elizabeth is fighting back, saying “”We’ve seen two articles that were false, and immediately everyone reprints it as if it were true.”
Have you noticed all success stories have a big road bump in the middle, when the establishment or dark forces turn against the hero?
Are you in a similar situation where everything seems against you?
It’s happened to everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey, from Mark Zuckerberg to Marissa Mayer, from Mahatma Gandhi to Mother Theresa, from Luke Skywalker to Katniss Everdeen.
Each have had a darkest hour, which has also become their defining moment.
It’s now happening to Elizabeth Holmes and maybe right now it’s also happening to you or someone you know.
Mythologist and scholar, Joseph Campbell, calls it part of the “Hero’s Journey”. He showed that every culture told the story of the hero – how we must follow a journey with the same “Three Acts” to reach our true greatness:
In “Act 1 – The Departure” we follow the ‘call to adventure’. We start a business, or take on a new challenge, which leads us into unfamiliar territory and internal struggles.
In “Act 2 – The Initiation” we meet the ‘road of trials’. We are tested by external demons and dragons to see if we are up to the task. We need to be strong enough to stand tall and humble enough to seek the help of others.
This is where Elizabeth is right now. Most don’t make it through the road of trials, and give up. They never reach the prize – which is to rise above these obstacles to become the very best version of ourselves.
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” ~ Joseph Campbell
In “Act 3 – The Return” once we make it through the trials, comes resurrection and rebirth. We then return to where we began, with far greater power and wisdom to share with others.
This is all our journeys: It’s your journey. It’s my journey. We’re all in this together.
Get strength from the journeys of amazing entrepreneurs like Elizabeth’s. They’re unfolding in real time right in front of us. Keep hanging in their, and know you’re not alone.
The most important habit I’ve formed in the last years of forming habits is meditation. Hands down, bar none.
Meditation has helped me to form all my other habits, it’s helped me to become more peaceful, more focused, less worried about discomfort, more appreciative and attentive to everything in my life. I’m far from perfect, but it has helped me come a long way.
Probably most importantly, it has helped me understand my own mind. Before I started meditating, I never thought about what was going on inside my head — it would just happen, and I would follow its commands like an automaton. These days, all of that still happens, but more and more, I am aware of what’s going on. I can make a choice about whether to follow the commands. I understand myself better (not completely, but better), and that has given me increased flexibility and freedom.
So … I highly recommend this habit. And while I’m not saying it’s easy, you can start small and get better and better as you practice. Don’t expect to be good at first — that’s why it’s called “practice”!
These tips aren’t aimed at helping you to become an expert … they should help you get started and keep going. You don’t have to implement them all at once — try a few, come back to this article, try one or two more.
1. Sit for just two minutes. This will seem ridiculously easy, to just meditate for two minutes. That’s perfect. Start with just two minutes a day for a week. If that goes well, increase by another two minutes and do that for a week. If all goes well, by increasing just a little at a time, you’ll be meditating for 10 minutes a day in the 2nd month, which is amazing! But start small first.
2. Do it first thing each morning. It’s easy to say, “I’ll meditate every day,” but then forget to do it. Instead, set a reminder for every morning when you get up, and put a note that says “meditate” somewhere where you’ll see it.
3. Don’t get caught up in the how — just do. Most people worry about where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use … this is all nice, but it’s not that important to get started. Start just by sitting on a chair, or on your couch. Or on your bed. If you’re comfortable on the ground, sit cross-legged. It’s just for two minutes at first anyway, so just sit. Later you can worry about optimizing it so you’ll be comfortable for longer, but in the beginning it doesn’t matter much, just sit somewhere quiet and comfortable.
4. Check in with how you’re feeling. As you first settle into your meditation session, simply check to see how you’re feeling. How does your body feel? What is the quality of your mind? Busy? Tired? Anxious? See whatever you’re bringing to this meditation session as completely OK.
5. Count your breaths. Now that you’re settled in, turn your attention to your breath. Just place the attention on your breath as it comes in, and follow it through your nose all the way down to your lungs. Try counting “one” as you take in the first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, then start again at one.
6. Come back when you wander. Your mind will wander. This is an almost absolute certainty. There’s no problem with that. When you notice your mind wandering, smile, and simply gently return to your breath. Count “one” again, and start over. You might feel a little frustration, but it’s perfectly OK to not stay focused, we all do it. This is the practice, and you won’t be good at it for a little while.
7. Develop a loving attitude. When you notice thoughts and feelings arising during meditation, as they will, look at them with a friendly attitude. See them as friends, not intruders or enemies. They are a part of you, though not all of you. Be friendly and not harsh.
8. Don’t worry too much that you’re doing it wrong. You will worry you’re doing it wrong. That’s OK, we all do. You’re not doing it wrong. There’s no perfect way to do it, just be happy you’re doing it.
9. Don’t worry about clearing the mind. Lots of people think meditation is about clearing your mind, or stopping all thoughts. It’s not. This can sometimes happen, but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. If you have thoughts, that’s normal. We all do. Our brains are thought factories, and we can’t just shut them down. Instead, just try to practice focusing your attention, and practice some more when your mind wanders.
10. Stay with whatever arises. When thoughts or feelings arise, and they will, you might try staying with them awhile. Yes, I know I said to return to the breath, but after you practice that for a week, you might also try staying with a thought or feeling that arises. We tend to want to avoid feelings like frustration, anger, anxiety … but an amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for awhile. Just stay, and be curious.
11. Get to know yourself. This practice isn’t just about focusing your attention, it’s about learning how your mind works. What’s going on inside there? It’s murky, but by watching your mind wander, get frustrated, avoid difficult feelings … you can start to understand yourself.
12. Become friends with yourself. As you get to know yourself, do it with a friendly attitude instead of one of criticism. You’re getting to know a friend. Smile and give yourself love.
13. Do a body scan. Another thing you can do, once you become a little better at following your breath, is focus your attention on one body part at a time. Start at the soles of your feet — how do those feel? Slowly move to your toes, the tops of your feet, your ankles, all the way to the top of your head.
14. Notice the light, sounds, energy. Another place to put your attention, again, after you’ve practice with your breath for at least a week, is the light all around you. Just keep your eyes on one spot, and notice the light in the room you’re in. Another day, just focus on noticing sounds. Another day, try to notice the energy in the room all around you (including light and sounds).
15. Really commit yourself. Don’t just say, “Sure, I’ll try this for a couple days.” Really commit yourself to this. In your mind, be locked in, for at least a month.
16. You can do it anywhere. If you’re traveling or something comes up in the morning, you can do meditation in your office. In the park. During your commute. As you walk somewhere. Sitting meditation is the best place to start, but in truth, you’re practicing for this kind of mindfulness in your entire life.
17. Follow guided meditation. If it helps, you can try following guided meditations to start with. My wife is using Tara Brach’s guided meditations, and she finds them very helpful.
18. Check in with friends. While I like meditating alone, you can do it with your spouse or child or a friend. Or just make a commitment with a friend to check in every morning after meditation. It might help you stick with it for longer.
19. Find a community. Even better, find a community of people who are meditating and join them. This might be a Zen or Tibetan community near you (for example), where you go and meditate with them. Or find an online group and check in with them and ask questions, get support, encourage others. My Sea Change Program has a community like that.
20. Smile when you’re done. When you’re finished with your two minutes, smile. Be grateful that you had this time to yourself, that you stuck with your commitment, that you showed yourself that you’re trustworthy, where you took the time to get to know yourself and make friends with yourself. That’s an amazing two minutes of your life.
Meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful. But it has truly amazing benefits, and you can start today, and continue for the rest of your life.
Is your daily routine mindful or mindless?
Do you serve a customer to make money? Or do you serve a customer to serve a customer? Do you wash dishes to get them clean? Or do you wash the dishes to wash the dishes?
Here’s a story from Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, about ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes’ and the difference between mindful and mindless:
“In the United States, I have a close friend named Jim Forest… Last winter, Jim came to visit. I usually wash the dishes after we’ve finished the evening meal, before sitting down and drinking tea with everyone else.
One night, Jim asked if he might do the dishes. I said, “Go ahead, but
if you wash the dishes you must know the way to wash them.” Jim replied, “Come on, you think I don’t know how to wash the dishes?” I answered, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes
in order to wash the dishes.”
Jim was delighted and said, “I choose the second way-to wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” From then on, Jim knew how to wash the dishes. I transferred the “responsibility” to him for an entire week.
If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.”
What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.
In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink.
If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future
– and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Are you focusing more at being successful, or being mindful? It is a conscious choice that shows up in your daily routine – Being present in every moment shows up in the quality of your products, your service, your communication.
Being aware leads to care. It’s the contrast of being careful and being careless. This care becomes quality, and that’s why greater mindfulness leads to greater success.
Your daily routine isn’t a means to an end. It’s an opportunity to experience the miracle of life every day.
“Be here now.”
~ Ram Dass
This picture describes exactly what it feels like when I am having a headache. Pallavi shared this with me. Ever wonder what type of headache you are having?
What kind of headache is it?
It’s important to figure out what type of headache is causing your pain. If you know your headache type, you can treat it correctly.
In one 2004 study, 80% of people who had a recent history of self-described or doctor-diagnosed sinus headache, but no signs of sinus infection, actually met the criteria for migraine.
Here are the 5 types of headaches:
1. Tension headaches, the most common type, feel like a constant ache or pressure around the head, especially at the temples or back of the head and neck. Not as severe as migraines, they don’t usually cause nausea or vomiting, and they rarely halt daily activities.
Over-the-counter treatments, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol), are usually sufficient to treat them. Experts believe these may be caused by the contraction of neck and scalp muscles (including in response to stress), and possibly changes in brain chemicals.
2. Cluster headaches, which affect more men than women, are recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. They appear suddenly and are characterized by severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose on the same side of the face.
During an attack, people often feel restless and unable to get comfortable; they are unlikely to lie down, as someone with a migraine might. The cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but there may be a genetic component. There is no cure, but medication can cut the frequency and duration.
3. Sinus headaches
When a sinus becomes inflamed, often due to an infection, it can cause pain. It usually comes with a fever and can be diagnosed by symptoms or the presence of pus viewed through a fiber-optic scope.
Headaches due to sinus infection can be treated with antibiotics, as well as antihistamines or decongestants. I usually take Claritin D for it.
4. Rebound headaches Overuse of painkillers for headaches can, ironically, lead to rebound headaches.
Culprits include over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), as well as prescription drugs.
One theory is that too much medication can cause the brain to shift into an excited state, triggering more headaches. Another is that rebound headaches are a symptom of withdrawal as the level of medicine drops in the bloodstream.
5. Migraines can run in families and are diagnosed using certain criteria.
• At least five previous episodes of headaches
• Lasting between 4–72 hours
• At least two out of these four: one-sided pain, throbbing pain, moderate-to-severe pain, and pain that interferes with, is worsened by, or prohibits routine activity • At least one associated feature: nausea and/or vomiting, or, if those are not present, then sensitivity to light and sound
A migraine may be foreshadowed by aura, such as visual distortions or hand numbness. (About 15% to 20% of people with migraines experience these.)
Adam also had a good picture:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi
I liked this quote a lot. It touched me, because I feel people have everything they need to love its just that they are not ready for love. They need to work on themselves to have their hearts open to be ready for love.
This quote was by Rumi, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (جلالالدین محمد بلخى), Mawlānā/Mevlânâ (مولانا, “our master”), Mevlevî/Mawlawī (مولوی, “my master”), and more popularly simply as Rumi (1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic.
Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats.
Rumi has been described as the “most popular poet” and the “best selling poet” in the United States.