What are You Going to Eat This Week?

Here are just three things that INCREASE growth of brain cells according to Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute:

1. Tea
2. Blueberries
3. Stress Management

Here are three things that DECREASE brain cells:

1. Sugar
2. Saturated Fat
3. Chronic Stress

Does this list affect your thoughts on what you’re going to eat this week? It probably should, shouldn’t it?  Also, how can you decrease the stress you’re experiencing now?  Having a plan will help…

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The Power of Your Thoughts…

A funny thing happened to me on my run yesterday.  I began thinking about some projects that lie ahead of me this year and I started to get excited.  I was planning strategies in my head to write down when I got back home when I noticed how fast I was running.  I normally keep a steady pace that isn’t too fast or too slow but yesterday was different. I had sped up without even realizing it.  I remember thinking to myself, “Why am I running so fast?” I thought about it for a moment and realized what had happened.  I’ve read about this process before but had never experienced it in such a tangible way.  Here are the three principles behind what happened in a nutshell:

1. What you think about affects you physically.
2. When you devise a plan for a goal and picture it happening, the more positive you feel about achieving that goal.
3. The more positive thoughts you have, the more energy it gives you.

Never underestimate the power of the mind’s affect on you physically.  Guard your mind and the thoughts in it.  Notice how much better you feel when you think positive thoughts rather than negative ones.  This goes hand-in-hand with my last post in which I pointed out what you think about most expands.  If you are always fearing something bad is going to happen, not only are you more likely to have a bad experience, you will react to those thoughts physically with more tention and fatigue.  Don’t fall into that trap.  Only 8% of our fears are real and legitimate.  That means we waste an incredible amount of time worrying and feeling bad physically because of it.  You can turn this around though.  Here’s how:  You can only think one thought at a time.  So, when you beging thinking fearful or negative thoughts, replace them with positive ones.  Plan for how you’re going to get over an obstacle that stands in your way and picture yourself overcoming it. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re going to get your problem solved and your body will respond by giving you more energy to get through it.  

With this in mind, how are you going to change your thinking to give you more energy?

Time to Board the Balance Train…

In weather, some weather patterns can perpetuate themselves.  For instance, a dry weather pattern can “feed” off of itself to create even drier weather.  The same is true with a wet pattern.  Here’s what I mean…  If a pattern keeps producing rainfall over a large area to the point the ground becomes saturated, when the sun finally comes back out, all of that water will begin to evaporate back into the air.  This fills the air with water vapor and can lead to more rains which, in turn, keeps the ground saturated.  It sometimes takes months to break these patterns completely.  This happened in the spring of this year out over the eastern Plains and parts of the Midwest.

The same happens with an imbalanced life.  Imbalance breeds more imbalance.  For many who were already on the edge of the cliff financially at the beginning of our current recession (it’s finally officially been called a recession), chances are they’ve now plunged off into the abyss.  There was no room for error.  Heartbreaking.  Many people are now stuck in this rut of perpetual crisis.  Others who balanced their checkbooks and put away money in savings are able to weather downturns much better.  Life is probably pretty good for those with discretionary income these days – gas is cheap, property is cheap and everything is on sale.

Now that there has been such a crash in the economy, we have to learn lessons so that we don’t board this train of self-destruction and imbalance again anytime soon.  It’s easier to make it through a real crisis when you’re not living them day-to-day as a standard.  With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

1.  Never go back to the overspending lifestyle so many of us lead.  Keeping up with the Joneses nailed us.  Forget about the Joneses!  Buy what we can afford…

2.  Pay yourself first.  Put away money each and every pay period so that when a crisis does come, you’ve got some cushion to get through it.

3.  Learn something new.  If you’ve recently lost your job, I’m sorry, but it could be a new beginning for you as well.  Take this opportunity to learn a new skill or further the skills you already have.  This will put you in a better position to be hired at better pay when companies start hiring again (and they will one day).  You might even decide to start your own business.

4.  Exercise.  The stress of what we’re going through can be very tough.  You’re body doesn’t do very well in a constant state of stress.  Exercising will allow you to let some of that pent up frustration out.  There’s a good article in INC magazine this month about the owner of a software company who used exercise to get through the stress of running a troubled company.

5.  Love on your family.  I know this isn’t always easy when you feel like everything is collapsing around you, but your family needs you and you need them.  Lean on each other and take care of each other in these crazy times.  It’s much easier to slosh through the mud of life when you’ve got a real teammate.  Let your loved ones know you’ve got their backs and don’t be above leaning on them when you need to.  Show more grace and mercy with your loved ones that you normally do.  They are probably as stressed as you…

6.  Remember, it’s bad now (and will likely get worse before it gets better) but it won’t stay this way.  Just like in the weather, the economy goes through cycles.  We simply couldn’t support all the things we were buying with credit forever.  It had to stop at some point.  It was a spending bubble that collapsed.  When it’s all said and done, we’ll be on more solid ground and we’ll all be stronger and smarter for going through it.  If there’s a silver lining in what’s happening now, it’s that we’ll change our behavior because of it – and that’s a good thing.

These will probably be some of the most challenging times of our lives in the upcoming months.  We should remember how we feel while we’re going through this to motivate us to never get to this point again.   Those who do stand a much better chance of improving their lives because they became not only stronger but smarter…

How has it changed you?

Fence Building and Patience…

I saw something this weekend that made me think a lot about how I handle patience. For the past six months or so, a neighbor of mine has been buiding a wooden post and rail fence around part of his property. It’s been quite a bit of work for him. He started by first digging the post holes. Next came the setting the posts in the ground. Now he’s working on attaching the rails. This hasn’t been a simple job. It’s taken six months to get to this point because he’s building it by himself. Oh, and it’s about 1000 feet long…

This weekend, I saw he had finished a small section of the fence line. I gotta tell you, it looks great. I can now picture in my mind what the whole thing is going to look like when he’s done. It’s going to really serve to dress up his property. He’s done as good a job as any crew from a fencing company could have. He should be proud…

This gentleman has worked a little each week on this fence for the past six months or so. He’s getting closer and closer to finishing. When he’s done, probably in about another month, he will have a functional and attractive fence that he built with his own two hands. Also, I’m sure he saved quite a bit of money doing the job himself. This project has taken a lot of planning, work and patience to get it where it is today. He’s come a long way from digging that first post hole.

What could have messed this project up? Without the proper planning, he could have built a crooked, ugly fence. If he had skipped corners in the work, he might have a fence that wouldn’t stand up to the elements very long. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of patience could have derailed (no pun intended) the whole project.

So many self-improvement projects require the same three elements to complete: planning, work and patience. Have you ever lost patience trying to lose weight and quit your program? Have you ever stopped exercising because it seemed like too much work? Have you ever come up short with money at the end of the month because of lack of planning in the budget? These situations are pretty common. But, if we work on these elements, like my neighbor has with his fence, each time we try something new to improve our lives, we drastically increase our odds of success.

Are there any projects you’re working on right now that could use a little more patience? Could you use a little more with your kids? What about your spouse? What about in your job or with that new exercise program? With more patience, there’s no telling what great things you can build in your own life!