Pause. (before edit / needs conclusion)

Let’s slow down for a moment. Make this minute last just a bit longer. Pay attention to the each second that passes. Allow any sounds in the room arise and disappear. How is your breathing? Is it your stomach or your chest where you feel your breath the most? Think about how your positioned right now. Are you comfortable? Make an adjustment now to relax even further. Rest your shoulders and release any tensed muscles in your back or legs. Glance around the room you’re in – what do you see? Take in the scenery – colors on the wall, textures on the floor, what’s outside the window, and try to imagine the setting as a description you’ve read from a novel.

Take another breath – inhale deeply and exhale to the very end. Notice any tinglying or vibrations. Feel these sensations as closely as you can without judging them. What do you hear now? Are the thoughts in your head positive or negative? If you’re too distracted by the chatter in your mind, tell yourself “I’m thinking now – I’m still thinking – these thoughts come and these thoughts go. I’m not the owner of these thoughts, and these thoughts don’t own me.” How do feel at this moment compared to before you read this? Did you notice the rhythm of your heart beat or respirations in your lungs become more at ease?

Pausing allows us to take a step back from our relentless search for approval, the desire to know or to want. Sometimes during a conversation, you may get carried away by old patterns of thinking that you’ve outgrown. Our minds take us to familiar places sentence and that holds us back from growth, however; practicing to pause for a moment will give us the oppurtunity to chose our words wiser and relate with who we are in the present.

Last night I spoke to my aunt on the phone who I haven’t spoken to in several months. She just came home from picking up my uncle from the hopsital after a very serious operation, so we spoke longer than usual. The conversation was difficult for me since we’ve never spoke on the phone with each other before and I wanted to show my utmost respect for a senitive time for them both. After discussing the surgery, we entered the small talk. I’m an excellent critic of myself, something I’ve been trying to correct lately, so when she asked further about my life I reverted back to the “me focus” my brain knows best.

After ending the phone call I felt anxious. My heart rate was higher than normal, my mind was going over what occured during the conversation, it seemed like I hung up after negotiaing a deal with a salesperson. I sat for a second on the couch and asked myself “what went wrong.” I even wrote the words “stop the complaints” on the inside of my wrist. My speech was high-jacked by old thinking patterns of a negative mental attitude. Instead of discussing the best part of my job, I layed in on what I dislike and what my new plans are. A future-focused discussion is labor intensive one.

 

Ignoring Critics

I received an email from Ramit Sethi, author of New York Times bestseller “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” with the words “success triggers” written as the subject. Success Triggers, as Ramit calls it, are those thoughts that enable you to get working on major life goals that you’ve been pushing aside (most likely for years).

These triggers are like candle light flickering in your brain. They come from something you’ve heard on a podcast, or an idea that came to you while dosing off in traffic. Your “mental framework,” as Remit calls it, (Tony Robbin’s refers to the same thing as your blueprint; Napoleon Hill; Positive Mental Attitude, etc.) is how you perceive yourself around others in the world – your self-talk when you encounter an important opportunity. Your mental framework can drive you to accomplish difficult endeavors without hesitation; or they can trigger fear and induce procrastination.

How can you change your framework? Think of yourself as a character in a video game. You have status bars. Your capacity is everything you know now; attitude, work ethic, was provides joy, or what pisses you off. Devote yourself to these that you want, and create habits that help you get away from the impulses that drag you down. Ignore what you see on television or hear on the radio. Longer forms of interview like podcasting can help because they are long form to the guest will eventually release some authenticity. But most success stories you hear are complete let-downs. You’ve heard famous musicians who’ve been asked a question such as: “what sparked your made you so popular…” and their response could be as simple as “it’s just what I like to do, I wanted to be like …”  If you’re like me, you’ve had more “success triggers” than you can recall, but you seem to eventually lose momentum.

You didn’t lose the momentum, your mindset was disrupted by the critics. Your inner critic, the comments on social media, or someone close to you that thinks they have a better idea for your life. Your problem is you don’t posses the confidence to respond to those critics accordingly. Build relationships with your critics. Sometimes you have to be understanding to your critic – quitting you 90k salary to do road gigs might not settle right with your mom. Other times you have to be intelligent. When your friends question you, don’t just tell them to go fuck off, or mutter an unenthusiastic response. Reassure your friends you have lost your mind. Explain you know the consequences and you’re prepared for your two year plan to fail completely.

Your critics are friends, family, strangers, or the reoccurring thoughts in your mind. You will have these self-defeating thoughts – this resistance to act. The mental framework stems from everything you’ve been made fun of for growing up, to the adults who always knew you would be great. That’s right, your ego is a critic as well – the critic who knows you’re better than anyone and you will prove it.

These are your haters.

Confident people are not judgemental, so you shouldn’t be either. Consider this while exploring the wonderful land of self-improvement. When you have a growth-mindset, it defies it’s very nature to be judgemental. You cannot focus on what people think about you, simultaneously improving how you think about others. If you are criticizing others, regardless of how bizarre, you are wasting your time and damaging your mental framework. Judging one’s personal decision actually pulls the curtains back exposing your own insecurities. You’ve become too occupied looking into the lives of others instead of improving the quality of your own.

What ever the outcome, practicing that kind of confidence is worth every moment. You will learn things you didn’t take into account before you went on your journey and they will matter more to you than you can explain. Succeeding is the goal (if you haven’t noticed), but if you do fail, remind yourself that your getting closer to your goal.

How much time are you willing to spend on this aspect of your life? Is it okay to give in once in a while and entertain a negative mental attitude? How about giving into the part of you that wants to give up the role of trying to become confident; actively ignoring the noise telling you how to live?

Act it out, but do not give in:

  • As you write a rude response on to someone social media, tell yourself: “this isn’t like me, but I’m curious what will happen”
  • Analyze why it does or does not matter what’s being said or thought
  • Do not identify as your negative thoughts, but recognize the difference between how far you’ve gone and where your mindset once was

Changing your mindset and exuding confidence takes skill. If you listen to your critics, you may begin to doubt yourself. Whether or not their intentions are good, they are wrong. Only you know what you want overall. Life decisions can get dicey, but in general you have an outlook on the future that no one can predict. You control what thoughts you believe and dismiss.

 

 

Ease Into the Day With a Morning Routine

“Routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition”  – W.H. Auden

Most people I know don’t wake up sharp and ready to go. I certainly was not one of those people. In fact, it wouldn’t matter what time I had to be at work – 7a.m. or 10a.m, I still managed to show up to work at the buzzer. Depression does occasionally play a part in staying under the covers, but the more I layed in bed the harder it was to get moving. I envied type-A guys who brags about how early they awake and crack on the guy who consistantly shows up to work five minutes late (me). I needed a playbook for decision making and form valuable habits.

Then I found the Tim Ferriss Show podcast.

In one episode, Tim details the five things in his morning routine with such clarity, he gave me a new outlook on getting out of bed. Over a year of tweaking and refining, I structured a routine that is unbeatable. The three steps are convenient, practical and effective. So, instead of laying in bed staring at my eye-lids wondering what the fuck I’m going to wear, or worry if dishes are done so I can make coffee quickly – I sit stright up like mutha-fuckin Frankenstine and get moving.

Not every morning is easy; somedays I half-ass the entire routine, but once I complete it my day will go a whole lot better and that is enough motivation for anyone. Also, I’ve learned if you aim too big at first, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Don’t give up, just start small. You’ll have plenty of days to make adjustments, afterall; a morning routine is a lifetime commitment. I can sum up my morning routine in twenty-five minutes – probably quicker than your girlfriend puts on her makeup. Here’s what is looks like:

Foam roll and mobility stretches: 5-10 minutes

The moment I get out of bed, I grab the foam roller I keep beside the bed and roll out my body starting from my back and work my way to my hips and legs. Foam rollers are a great way to warmup the body and help with streching. Rolling breaks up knotted muscles, increases range of motion and improves blood circulation. Next, I lay on my yoga mat and perform some simple but effective movements and stretches for mobility.

I target three parts of my body: spine, hips, shoulders.

  • First, I like to open up my hips by doing the pigeon stretch because it’s so effective, but also because I can transition into other stretches easily in that position.
  • Next, I work on shoulder mobility using exercises I found at Awaken Gymnastics website. They also have awesome videos on their Instagram page that I highly recommend you check out.
  • Lastly, I finish my mat routine alternating between the wheel pose to the cat/cow pose. Putting the spine to use makes a significant impact on your posture, so it only feels right to finish with these stretches.

I hold each stretch for 10-15 breaths (inhale/exhale) or until the targeted muscle has loosened up. I prefer to count my breaths because it forces me to slow down and breathe deeply rather than rushing to the end of “thirty seconds.” Forget the stop watch and breathe.

Another key here is to let it sequence flow easily. You shouldn’t have to think about what movements to do next. Find your favorite stretches and posses then have fun with it.

Mindful Meditation (Vipassana): 10-20 minutes

I prefer using a guided mindful meditation (correct term used is Vipassana) over other forms of meditation because it doesn’t require you to do any chanting. Don’t get me wrong I’m into that shit too, but my friends will start judging me if I begin to skip showers and levitate around the house.

I’ll write about Vipassana in the near future, but you can visit Sam Harris’s website and listen to his conversation with Joseph Goldstein (fucking excellent). Three sources I use for guided meditations are:

  • I first started using the app Headspace. Headspace is awesome for beginners because it offers a ten day challenge that keeps you accountable through each day. The app also features fun animations that demonstrate the framework of meditation and the purpose of it’s practice.
  • Sam Harris’s nine and twenty-two minute sessions can be found on his podcast Waking Up. Sam is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author of Waking Up. In this book he discusses his use of pyschedelics and his extensive time spend on silent mediation retreats in his adolescence. I enjoy these meditations because Sam has a calming voice and his instructions are nicely balanced between scanning the body, noticing thoughts that arise, and returning to the breath.
  • And my goto for guided meditation and buddhist teachings is found at Tara Brach‘s website. She uploads a variety of new sessions weekly that can last up to 30 minutes.  Tara also wrote a book called Radical Acceptance that is a true pleasure to read, and it’s the book to pick up when you’ve been especially critical of yourself.

Morning journal entry with coffee 10 -20 minutes

This might be the highlight of my entire day. I like to spend as much time as possible at my kitchen table drinking bulletproof coffee, logging a morning entry. I seperate my writing into two parts on the front and back of one page.

Front of the page is an introduction to my morning: “I woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning and…,” I describe how I’m feeling, any reoccuring thoughts or ideas, what I did the night before, or my plan of attack for work. No rules, I don’t make any judgements about what comes out no matter how bizarre. Check out morning pages to go more in depth on the philosophy.

On the back I write three things that I’m grateful for, and make a to do list that would if completed would make my day more enjoyable.

Here’s a taste:

  • First, I am grateful for (someone important in my life). Every entry I think of someone different – brother, friend, or a person I just met.
  • Second, I am grateful for (my priveldges) my job, my apartment, or maybe the beautiful region of California I live in.
  • Third, I’ll write down something that is easily taken for granted – such as having good eye sight, or having both of my legs so I’m able to run.
  • The tasks completed that could make the day much better: today would be better if I beat my 2 mile run time, finish a house project, take care of a past due bill etc.

The coffee I drink is known as Bulletproof coffee. I steep the grounds I pick up from a local coffee shop in a french press for 4-5 minutes, then pour it into a blender and add one tablespoon of MCT oil, and one tablespoon of Kerrygold’s unsalted grassfed butter. This style of coffee has gained a lot of popular among those who are on the Ketogenic diet and “biohackers.”

Ideally, I want to spend as much time possible stretching on my floor, closing my eyes for a peaceful meditation, and hold a cup of coffee while writing ideas long hand – but that’s not my reality usually. I’m naturally a night person and I need a full eight hours of sleep. Plus I need to eat breakfast, and I have to walk the dog, then shit-shower-shave before clocking in at work by 7a.m. But if I can make it work, god knows you fucks can to.

If you have input on the morning routine, please comment on this blog and let me know what I should add, take away, or even how my writing looks. Im new to blogging so any words are encouraged.