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Life’s Tried And True Success Formula

“The future depends on what you do today.”― Mahatma Gandhi

In the 21st century, we have the world at our fingertips. At the push of a button, we have access to information on virtually everything we could possibly desire. Most of us turn on our computer each day and get bombarded with all kinds of sales pitches from all around the world for products and ideas promising to improve our lives with the same effort that it took to turn on your computer. As a result of this instant access, we become spoiled. As a species, modern man has become less tolerant of frustration, less tolerant of waiting for things, less self-confident, and less willing to accept personal responsibility. We expect life to happen at the same speed it takes to boot up our computer or iPhone. The conveniences of the modern world have combined comfort with complacency. As a society, we have become like that child that wants what it wants when it wants it-now. Oh yeah, and that child wants someone else to do it for him.

Over the past 35 years I have worked in education and in mental health. I’ve witnessed the toll that instant access and unwillingness to take personal responsibility has on people. When I was a teacher, I saw the gradual change in children who were raised by parents who experienced the Great Depression and World War II with those who were raised by “helicopter parents.” If you don’t knowsped what that term is, Google it. The impact that this has on education is crippling our children’s development of self efficacy, is shielding them from the realities of life,and robs them of the privilege of overcoming adversity. In mental health and psychotherapy, this desire for success without work has perverted the whole therapy and self-help world. People expect to solve long-standing personal and emotional problems instantly by either popping a pill, or merely wishing that things will get better. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/secret/ ) Unfortunately kids, the world doesn’t work like that. And, even more unfortunate than that, the desire for something for nothing robs us of some of life’s basic joys.

There is a simple solution to all this. So simple that it can be broken down to a mathematical formula. It’s not, however, what you think. The winning formula is:

Beliefs + Actions = Success

The most important part of this equation is the synergistic effect of these two, very powerful, basic human needs. Yes, we all need to believe in things, but we also need lunch_atop-ultima1to take actions to test these beliefs. Human behavior is, after all, considered a science. The scientific part of human behavior will differ from person to person and even within an individual from time to time, but there are some generalities. What I’ve observed in my two careers over the past 35 years is that true self-esteem comes from overcoming adversity and walking life’s walk by yourself. It is the performing of the action part of this equation that brings both the desired result as well as the self-esteem, pride, and joy that only comes from personal effort. It is the dogged application of this formula that is the secret sauce of life. Think of anyone you know that has what you believe is a successful life. Scratch the surface a bit and that’s a pretty good chance that you’ll see they have applied this consistently, whether they are conscious of it or not. (See also http://mindbodycoach.org/life-lessons-american-history/ )

I am by no means saying that there is no place for positive thinking in our world, nor am I suggesting that we put our children at risk. What I am saying is that all of us need to take personal responsibility for as much of what happens to us as possible. We also need to pass this on to the next generation. Some of the immature reasoning and childlike, magical thinking sold by many who work in psychotherapy, self-help, and personal development is laughable. It is also unscientific and not going to work. What separates a successful person from a not so successful person is the actions that they take and the beliefs that they have about failure. If failure is a catastrophe and perceived as final then a person is likely to stop taking action and accept it, and possibly themselves, as a failure.

People who get something without putting in a personal effort are more likely to self-destruct and self sabotage what they have received. For example, studies of individuals who have hit state lotteries for millions of dollars consistently show that an overwhelming number of them end up where they started, broke and wondering what happened. As yet, I’ve seen no research why this happens, but my hunch is that they don’t fully appreciate it because there has been no effort that led to it. People usually self sabotage when they cannot reconcile their self image from their new found success. We see this over and over in the world of celebrity. Someone receives too much too soon from life, it doesn’t fit their self image or conform to their world view, they subconsciously self sabotage and lose everything. They end up, yep, you guessed it, back where they started from. This occurs because they have not had to put in consistent effort over enough time to adjust and change both their self image and their view of the world.

The idea of instant success, manifesting your dreams, and obtaining something for paul 2nothing is a myth perpetuated by the media and our reliance on technology. We grow up consistently receiving very positive reinforcements for very little effort. Is it any wonder that it effects our lives, and is it any wonder that the world continues to sell us more of the same? Is it any wonder that too many of us don’t feel good about ourselves?

Everything good that life has to offer starts with an idea or a belief. Without action, these beliefs are destined to remain merely dreams. It is the doing, and the overcoming of failure, that gives life its greatest meaning.

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”― C.G. Jung

 

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching or cognitive behavioral therapy. Please check out my author’s page at amazon.com/author/johnsannicandro or using the Amazon link on this page. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

Developing Old School Toughness In The 21st Century

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”- George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Those of us living currently are among the most blessed and cursed of all generations. We fatare truly blest because of the modern technology, conveniences, healthcare, and creature comforts we enjoy. We literally have the world, not only in our fingertips, but access to all knowledge fits in the palm of our hands. We can access anyone or anything at the flick of a finger. We live in a global village where an event anywhere in the world can be experienced by us in a matter of minutes through the wonders of technology. We live, routinely, in a manner that was unthinkable as recently as two generations ago. So why are so many of us unhappy, unfulfilled, and seemingly incapable of coping with George Jetson’s America?

The answer is that these conveniences have robbed us of our capacity to develop resilience, grit, and mental toughness. Our high standard of living has taken away the human animal’s incredible capacity to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. What separates the human animal from all others in the animal world is our ability to consciously choose how we feel about our current situations. Previous generations did not have to even think about words like resilience, grit, and mental toughness. Just living life created those qualities automatically, there was no choice. If you lived, then you had to have them. What happened? How can those of us in the 21st century regain these basic human characteristics?

IMG_0102Let’s take a look at the most recent generational example for most of us, the World War II generation. If you are a Baby Boomer, it’s your parents generation. If you are Gen Xer or Millennial, it’s your grandparents generation. In that generation, if you made it to your 30s you had proved your mettle, tested by the fires of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Life was different then. Your food wasn’t “natural,” it was just food. You didn’t pay some guy in a 3 ton truck to come by and plow snow off your driveway, you probably didn’t have a driveway, and if you did you shoveled it yourself. Your tools were not electric, you wrung out your laundry by hand, your kids walked to school, played outside till the streetlights came on, you didn’t have to seek out “quality time” with your family because back then time was simply labeled time.

Of course you were stressed, you were worried about money, your children, keeping your IMG_0108job, and getting by. You didn’t have to worry about many of the things that are sources of stress for those of us in the 21th century. You probably weren’t too worried about your BMI or weight, you didn’t know what the word “bored” meant in its modern connotation. You probably didn’t feel alienated from society. You had your own little tribe which consisted of immediate family, neighbors, and social groups you belong to such as your church, clubs you belong to, and recreational activities you participated in. Bocce, horse shoes, bowling, and the bridge club would all fit into this category.

I know what some of you are thinking right now, you’re saying to yourself “Yeah, but…” This is being followed with counter arguments like they didn’t have the greatest healthcare, inoculations, antibiotics, and sanitary conditions. Agreed, however all of those things come with a hidden price that all of us living today will pay if we are not careful. The price is that we have better healthcare than any generation, but our standard of living has made it more necessary. If you are Baby Boomer, you live in the most inoculated or vaccinated generation in all history. (Remember that polio vaccine you drank from that little paper cup at school during the second grade?) Undoubtedly, this is one of history’s greatest medical achievements. But somewhere along the line the desire to prevent us from everything that could possibly hurt us has weakened us, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. JFK’s mantra of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” has become “When the going gets tough, find somebody else to do it for you.”

If you still reading this and haven’t been turned off by what I’ve said, thank you. I’d also assume that you are interested and wondering how we can combine the benefits of 21st century life to build the resilience, grit, and mental toughness of those that came before us. The fact is, we can regain these qualities. We do, however, have to put a little bit more thought into it. The 21st century lifestyle doesn’t allow us the luxury of just living, we have to seek out challenges, not to be masochistic, but to increase our ability to live fulfilling lives. We must seek the combination of old-school with the new. And, it can be done.

Here are some lifestyle changes we can make to develop the qualities of resilience, grit, and mental toughness:

1. Seek to be physical whenever possible. Whenever feasible, do things yourself rather than rely on machines or other people to do them for you. These things can be as simple as brushing your own teeth, rather than using the latest Oral B WaterPik to shoveling your own driveway rather than using a snowblower. I’m sure the term “Do It Yourself” did not exist before the 1960s.
2. Find an exercise routine that challenges you. The latest trend in fitness is something called CrossFit. It’s based on bringing groups of people together to train their ass off in a community of like-minded people. The training is controversial, some argue it is not even safe, but the concept is brilliant. It plays to the basic human need to be physical and communal, safety be damned. We all should find something that challenges us for exercise, forcing us to tap into some mental toughness that we may not have used since middle school athletics. Adults who regularly push themselves physically are more likely to be able to push themselves mentally. I’m not saying you should train insanely, I am saying that you should challenge yourself 3 to 4 times a week to develop some mental toughness. Walk, run, bike, lift weights, anything that challenges you physically is also likely to challenge you mentally.. Personally, I am partial to traditional martial arts and have practice karate do for over 25 years. A legitimate, traditional, martial art will test you physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as give you a system of wellness that can carry you well into old age. (see http://mindbodycoach.org/best-kept-mind-body-secret/ )

 

3. Constantly be looking for simple things you can do as part of your daily routine that are old school. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store, walk your own dog if possible, rather than pay the kid down the street to do it, mow your own lawn etc. You get the idea.

 

4. Take a look at your diet and seek to eat foods that are more natural. Processed foods have outlived their purpose. Eating food in their most natural state not only tastes better, but will increase the quality of our lives. That sluggish, lazy, kind of loggy feel you get after meals is not natural, and is a product of too much and too processed. I know that some of you will say “yeah, but…” Don’t worry. Raw milk, fresh eggs, home grown/farm stand vegetables and fruits are much better for you than the packaged stuff you are buying from that supermarket chain. A lot of research shows that low testosterone levels in men, and gynecomastia in adolescent males is coming from chemicals that are in our foods and in the personal products that we use. Convenient, but not contributing to a quality of life that most of us want.

 

5. Unplug periodically. Hanging out with your family, making small talk with your spouse, kids, and friends all will create a sense of tribal community that modern society has lost. Yes, many of us have 357 Facebook friends, but if life’s shit hits the fan who’s going to be there for you? (see also http://mindbodycoach.org/going-unplugged-age-distraction/ )

 

6. Visit your primary care physician on a regular basis. This is where old and new school need to intersect. The benefit of 21st century life is healthcare is readily available. Use it. Most people don’t go to a doctor regularly don’t go because of fear, and “what is he going to tell me”type think. It also applies to the dentist. Suck it up Princess and see both of these on a regular basis.

 

7. Develop some sort of spirituality. If you are a believer and have an organized religion great, congratulations, you have a great source of resilience, grit, and mental toughness. If you are not in organized religion type of person, then develop your spirituality in other ways. Spirituality can be anything greater than yourself, a sense of connectedness to mankind, nature, and the larger world. Anything that helps you solve life’s ultimate questions and be at peace with the answers can be your spirituality. Find ways to tap into your spiritual beliefs every day.

 

8. Become other orientated. Dedication to family, friends, and community has to be nurtured in 21st century life in ways that it didn’t have to be as recently as 60 years ago. Technology has created a more connected, yet isolated world that, if we’re not careful, IMG_0110leads to a state of narcissism for many. Come on, could you imagine great grandma posting a selfie or her lunch on the Internet? Neither can I. (see http://mindbodycoach.org/going-tribal/ )

 

By losing our sense of fragility, we can enjoy the benefits of modern living with the deeper connection to life enjoyed by previous generations. It will take some thoughtful effort, but I think you agree that it will be worth it.

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

The Half Fast Solution To Your Anger Management Problem

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”- Viktor Frankl

There is commercial making the rounds on television right now for an Internet provider cartoon angrtouting itself for its speed. The Internet service prides itself on being very fast, as opposed to its competitors who are merely “half fast.” When I first heard the commercial couple weeks ago, my initial reaction was, “Did I just hear what I think I heard?” And yes, that is what I heard. I also got an inspiration for the way that I teach clients anger management.

Anger is a very misunderstood and much maligned human emotion. Most of us develop a bad relationship with our anger because we never learn to recognize it correctly, control it, or learn to channel it in the right direction. Our bad relationship with this basic emotion starts, for most of us, in early childhood. The adults in our lives give us messages, before we even enter school, that anger is bad and is not a characteristic of “nice people,” whoever they are. Many of us spend the rest of our days struggling to be “good people,” who stuff their anger inside, keeping their mouth shut during times of turmoil. We believe that anger is an eruption that occurs when that stuffed down anger become so overwhelming that we simply have to “blowup” or “snap.” When this happens to most of us, we feel guilty, believing that we are like those “bad people” we were warned about in childhood. Even worse than that, we may get our needs met, as people back down in the face of our display of anger. I say that this is even worse, because it increases the likelihood that we will act this way again in the future. On a basic level, this kind of interaction teaches us that this is what we need to do in order to get our needs met. We also learn that the greater the need, the greater the amount of anger required to attain it.

So, at this point you are probably wondering what to do with that pent-up emotion that you have inside you at those moments that life puts you in those anger provoking situations. There are a number of ways to prevent you from going from 0 to 60 too quickly. Let’s call them “Half Fast Solutions” to your anger management problem:
1. Recognize that anger is a signal, not a state of being. Anger is a signal that you are either afraid, or that something going on around you is unacceptable to you. Quite often, if you examine the kinds of things that provoke your anger, you’ll realize that it’s often a combination of both fear and unacceptability. Anger is an action signal that you must change something. That something may be external to you, requiring you to influence some other person, place, or thing in your environment. It could also be internal. You may be the at fault party in an interaction, or you may be misinterpreting or misunderstanding something, leading to these disturbing feelings that you label as anger.
2. You must find ways to slow down that automatic response and chain of events that you have become addicted to in these moments. Take a look again at the Viktor Frankl quote. Train yourself to find that space by breathing, sometimes very deeply, and asking yourself two important questions, “What am I afraid of?” and “What is unacceptable to me right now?” This is the key to the Half Fast Solution that began this article. Between stimulus and response there is a space. Good anger management technique will teach you to find that space and use it to your advantage.
coke btl3. Learn to use visualization to slow the process down. I often teach my clients the analogy of the balloon that is overfilled with air. I hold my thumb and forefinger in the air pinched tightly together and ask my client if they had ever seen it balloon with too much air in it. Of course, they have, and I then ask, ‘What happens if I release my grip on that balloon too quickly?’ opening my thumb and forefinger. They describe how the balloon quickly flies out of control and lands on the ground exhausted. Another brilliant question I ask is, “Have you ever put your thumb on the top of an open Coke bottle and shaken it up?” You get the idea, and so do they.
4. The key to the Half Fast solution is to use that space that you have found to change, if possible, the thing that you are fearful of or that you find unacceptable. You are in a battle here, but the weapons are calm, yet assertive, words used artfully and skillfully in an attempt to get your needs met. You must make it very clear to the other person in this interaction how you are feeling using words that are skillfully chosen and artfully delivered. Remember, the goal is to get your needs met,not to prove to anyone what a bad ass you can be.
hulk anger5. Keep in mind that the solution is called Half Fast, not Do Nothing or Walk Away. Doing so continues that pattern that you’ve developed of stuffing your feelings inside. This passive behavior repeated over time can lead to physical illness and relationship problems with people in your life who you consider to be “safe.” How many times does a guy have a bad day at work, then come home and take it out on his wife and kids? Turn on the evening news and you’ll notice it happens all too often. Being assertive, using the Half Fast Solution defuses things more appropriately. Win or lose, after you apply the Half Fast Solution it’s done. You walk away knowing that you did the best you could at that moment.

Think of all the Half Fast Solution is a middle ground. Begin to practice these strategies with little annoyances, being sure to notice exactly what you are doing. This is a skill that you can master with a little practice. Start with the little things that have a tendency to tee you off and consciously seek to use these skills. As your skill set develops, you’ll soon find yourself handling things that used to resemble Hiroshima with ease. And, you just might find that you like yourself a lot better.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Be careful who you hit with that stick! Contact me at john@mindbodycoach.org if you are looking for some specific anger management training suited to your unique stressors.

 

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

A President’s Day Message: The Man In The Arena

Monday, February 15th, is President’s Day. In honor of all president’s, I am posting this chapter from my book,”Superior Attitude, Superior State of Mind: A Man’s Guide to Self Help,” available at Amazon Kindle. Here’s the type of attitude it takes to be President of the United States:

koMen love boxing analogies. We “go toe to toe, duke it out, and go down swinging,” or so we’d like to think. In practice, we often don’t take chances out of a fear of failure and looking bad in the eyes of ourselves and others. We need a better way to reframe setbacks and defeats. Often men stop trying at the first sign of defeat and never try again, convinced that an initial failure is the final verdict.

One person who loved the boxing analogies was American President, Theodore Roosevelt.  Although born into a wealthy family, Roosevelt did not have an easy childhood. He was a sickly child who suffered from bouts of asthma and was the stereotypical 97 pound weakling. To build himself up, he began to bodybuild, something almost unheard of in the 19th century, boxed at Harvard University, and bought a ranch out West to embark upon what he called  “the strenuous life.”  He overcame tragedy in his personal life when he was 26 years old and his wife died in childbirth. Throughout his life he sought out physical challenges and danger because he believed  doing so built up his tolerance and made him a better man.  In 1898,  using much of his own money, he created a military division called the Rough Riders and served voluntarily in combat during the Spanish-American War.

Roosevelt was not opposed to testing himself in combat sports .He was one of the first Americans to study the Japanese art of judo and lost vision in one eye while he was president in a boxing accident where he was sparring with one of the young Secret Service agents charged with his protection. Our 26th president had no fear of stepping into the ring  and testing himself. Perhaps, if he was president today,  he’d be testing himself with cage fights in the White House.

One of the most motivating speeches I’ve ever heard is the “Man in the Arena” speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910. True then and even more relevant for men of today:

manintheareana“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
TR keeping it real. No further comments are needed.

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my author’s page at amazon.com/author/johnsannicandro or using the Amazon link on this page. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Also check out my YouTube channel through the link to the right of this post. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

You Get What You Need: The Health Benefits Of Shoveling Snow

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you might find, you get what you need.”- Mick Jagger

“You can’t make cheesecake from snow. Work with what you have.” – Inuit Eskimo saying

Like some of you, I live in the northeast part of the United States. I live in mountainsidehospblog.shovelingsnowMassachusetts, in an area outside of Boston known as Metrowest. I’ve been shoveling snow lately, a lot of snow, and these two quotes came to mind today as I was shoveling. Funny how the mind works when you’re out there shoveling. The contrast of the soft sound of snow hitting the ground, the soft, yet ever present beating of your heart creates a stream of consciousness type of thinking like few things can.

I got to thinking about what great exercise snow shoveling can be. Normally, I do sprints on my bike 3 to 6 times per week while my four year old boxer dog, Boss, sprints beside me. With the record-setting amounts of snow we’ve had in the past two weeks, this hasn’t been an option for either of us. Having Boss is great exercise for me, as he needs to get outside every day for some vigorous activity. I also got to thinking about how it’s early February and midwinter. 2015 is a still a new, barely out of the box year. Over 70% of people who set New Year’s goals for themselves will give up by Valentine’s Day, which is this weekend.

 

Millions of people said to themselves on January 1st that, “This is the year that I get back into shape,” and plunked down some money and signed up for a gym membership. A February snowstorm is the most plausible excuse for getting sidetracked and eventually giving up this great New Year’s resolution. The way it’s going now, and I’m not sure what the groundhog said last week, it looks like we have at least 8 to 10 more weeks of this. I thought about how to incorporate snow shoveling and snow blowing as part of my exercise routine for Boss and me for the rest of the winter.

For those of you that decided to get back in shape on New Year’s Day and are beginning to struggle with getting there, there’s good news. Shoveling snow is great exercise. In fact, when done properly, it can yield better results than any piece of cardio equipment at your gym, provide many of the benefits of weight training, and is as efficient as circuit training with barbells and dumbbells for your overall cardiovascular condition. Don’t believe me, believe Harvard University. (And no, people in Massachusetts don’t pronounce it “Hah-vid”)

 
According to a research study done at Harvard Medical School, a 155 pound person will burn 223 calories in 30 minutes of shoveling snow. This compares favorably to 205 calories for that low impact aerobic class you were going to take at the gym, or that 149 you were going to burn walking 3.5 mph on the treadmill. And, shoveling snow trumps weight training. Our 155 pound friend will burn 112 calories for that 30 minutes, roughly half of what he would have received if he was shoveling. Yeah, I know some of you are going to ask, so here it is: walking behind a snowblower burns 167 calories for that same half hour. Pretty cool, right?

 

shermsnowIf you are a gym goer, then you know a lot of the allure of going to the gym is what you wear. If you are an in shape guy or gal, then it is a tank top or spandex. If not, then a baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants will do the trick so that you look ok in front of that wall of mirrors. If your workout is going to consist of shoveling, then dress in layers, making sure that your head, hands, and feet stay as warm as possible. You can peel off layers as your body temperature rises, and trust me, it will. Don’t worry about hypothermia or frostbite. You will be moving enough to keep your core warm. As long as your extremities are covered you will be fine.

 

Like any exercise routine, safety must always be a priority. A few minutes of gentle warm-up before plunging outside is a great idea. You should warm-up as if you were throwing imaginary snow for 5 to 10 minutes and do some gentle calisthenics before you head out the door to tackle that white stuff. Of course, it helps if you are already in decent shape. If you are new to exercise, then never load your shovel with a large amount. Snow, depending on the moisture in it, can be deceptively heavy, so it’s a good idea to feel that you are capable of working a little bit harder and a little bit faster than you are. Be sure to pace yourself. Shoveling is more on the marathon end of the marathon/sprint continuum.

 

Technique can also be pretty important. Use your legs as much as possible, squatting rather than bending from the waist to protect the lower back. Keep the shovel load low and on the light side to build strength slowly, there will be plenty of time for heavier loads from that snowstorm that is bound to come next week. To avoid overuse injuries, learn to shovel from both sides, that is, with right as well as left hand closest to the blade. This will give you a balanced workout and build both sides equally. Choose a shovel that is comfortable, experimenting with length, straight versus curved, and size of the blade. Push snow whenever possible, and don’t wait until the storm is over to get out there and get started. It’s probably safer to go out and shovel 4 inches of snow twice than to go out and shovel 8 inches of snow once. Don’t ask me why, it just is, doesn’t make sense to me either.

 

And finally, be sure to stay well hydrated. You will be sweating a lot more than you realize. In cold temperatures your sweat evaporates rapidly and there is a tendency to underestimate just how much water you are losing. And, don’t guzzle cold water during or after your shoveling. Try to stay ahead of your thirst by sipping water periodically. Don’t leave that water bottle outside too long, because it will freeze.

 

Just because there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground, it is not an excuse to allow yourselfboss to get out of shape, or not to get in shape. Mother Nature can be a great personal trainer if you are open-minded to what she can teach you. Go slow, erring on the side of caution. Work slowly and meticulously and you just may be able to have a little more of that cheesecake that our Eskimo friend was talking about.

“Rain is disagreeable, but snow is as much part of the mountain as are sunshine and clear skies.” – Gaston Rebuffat

 

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my author’s page at amazon.com/author/johnsannicandro or using the Amazon link on this page. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Also check out my YouTube channel through the link to the right of this post. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

Play 30: What The NFL Isn’t Telling You

“NFL PLAY 60 is the National Football League’s campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to help reverse the trend of childhood obesity.” – from NFL.com, the website of the National Football League

If you have been watching NFL games over the past few months, and there is a pretty play60good chance you have, you are probably familiar with the NFL’s Play 60 campaign. It’s a public service project of the National Football League designed to encourage American youth to get outside and play at least 60 minutes per day. It is an attempt on the part of the league to do something good for America’s youth and to also improve the league’s image, which has taken a plunge in this age of instant information. (Any organization that makes multimillionaires of males between the ages of 21 and 25 would be bound to have that problem, right?) It’s a great concept, play 60, and I’m sure it’s gotten more than a few kids off the Xbox and out the door. But, what about us adults? When do we get to go outside and play?

If you grew up in what was known as the Baby Boom Generation, you grew up in the Golden Age of American childhood. You had enough television to keep you entertained, and not enough to overwhelm you. Yes, there was violence on TV, but the special effects were so weak that you knew it was not real. Bad guys clutched their chest when shot, shouted “Ahh, you got me!,” and died like the rats that they were. No one complained, the ACLU did not get involved, and life went on. Routine displays like this taught a whole generation that people were accountable for their actions and, if you play the game wrong, you lose.

60s kidsWhen there was nothing good on TV in those days, you simply went outside and played. When your mother called you to come home for dinner, you often pretended that you didn’t hear her and continued to play anyway. You didn’t think of blatantly defying her orders, you pretended you didn’t hear her in the best passive aggressive manner that you could. Eventually, you returned home, had a healthy meal, maybe pretended you did some homework, and got to bed at a reasonable hour. The next day it was rinse and repeat. You walked everywhere or at least rode your bike. If you were told back then to “Play 60,” you would have been upset, feeling that you’d been ripped off because it wasn’t enough.

You probably played a lot of sports and games in your neighborhood. When you went to high school, you were still pretty active even if you were not in the athlete. You walked a lot, not for exercise alone, because back then walking was considered a form of transportation, not the form of punishment that kids sometimes think it is today. You walked to school or the bus stop, to work, and to your friends houses. Even if you didn’t think you were on a formal exercise program, you were in pretty good shape weren’t you?

You went off to college or started to work and were probably active for a few more years. Somewhere between then and now something happened. It’s really hard to pinpoint when and how it happened, but it did. Work, marriage, children, and life got in the way of your formerly active lifestyle. You began to stress out over things you could have never imagined as a child. You soon got caught up in a whirl wind of activities that became your new lifestyle. Unfortunately, most of these new activities weren’t very active all. Somewhere in those first 10 to 15 years things changed for you. You became “successful” and were “doing great.” Physically, however, things were beginning to go downhill and it was only a matter of time before your attitude and enthusiasm for life began to decline along with it.

Once a year you see your doctor for your annual physical. You get a decent review from your PCP, and you’re told that your numbers are “normal or just a little out of the normal range. We’ll keep an eye on them.” You get a few suggestions and head out the door relieved that your okay. Technically, your doctor is correct. You are okay. Over time that chronic state of okayness becomes pretty depressing, despite what your “numbers” say. Denial is a wonderful thing.

If you’re still with me at this point, it’s probably because you can relate to this story.You’re not alone.This story has happened to millions of Americans from the ages of 25 or so onward.. What’s the solution to this epidemic of blah that all too many of us live with. It’s not a pill or something that you can take or consume. And, so far, it’s not something that you’ll see advertised on television, at least not yet. If I became the Commissioner of the NFL, (and don’t worry, that ain’t happening) I would encourage the NFL to engage in a campaign for us adults. The campaign would be called Play 30 and it would encourage all adults over the age of 21 to engage in at least 30 minutes of activity each day. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have the time to go out and play 30 minutes each day. You’re right, most of you don’t have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to get outside and play. The Play 30 campaign is about adjusting to the realities of being a grown-up while seeking to retain the joys and health benefits of being a kid. It’s a chance for us adults to actually engage in a “wish I knew then what I know now” lifestyle.

So, how can us grown-ups engage in Play 30? There is good news here. It’s not going to be as hard as it seems, and it may even be a lot of fun. Here are some basic principles of Play 30:
-The 30 minutes each day do not have to be continuous. They can be cumulative.
-The 30 minutes do not have to be strenuous, at least not every day. They can fit into your normal routine. Parking your car a little farther from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking your dog for 15 minutes when you get home from work, all count towards your 30.
-Your 30 minutes do not necessarily have to include outdoor activities. They merely have to include some. outdoor activities as often as you can work them in.
-Your 30 minutes do not have to be things that you consider “working out.” It’s great if you can discipline yourself to “work out,” but it’s not necessary towards the accumulation of your daily 30.
-Your minutes only count if they are minutes that you are active. That 20 minute drive to the gym doesn’t count. In fact, you may want to reconsider if you want to go to the gym all. There may be ways that you can effortlessly find 30 minutes of activity without spending any money or making your life difficult. After all, the optimal word is “play.” If this becomes tedious, then it becomes work and that’s not the idea here.
-Your 30 minutes must be activities that are either fun or mindless. When you were a kid you engaged in the present moment, what self-help experts today call “the now.” That’s what you’re looking for, activities that don’t require thought. Deep, troubling thoughts and worries are one of the plagues of being an adult. The point of Play 30 is to get away from that mindset.

Use your imagination. There is never an excuse to be inactive unless you are sick. The simple act of laying on the floor and stretching gently can be an activity that is touch football 1beneficial. In fact, the mere act of laying on the floor and getting up repeatedly is a great activity. Formal exercise in the form of an exercise class of some sort, such as yoga, tai chi, a martial art, or dance are all good, but keep in mind the goal is 30 minutes EVERY day. There will be days that you do more than 30, but keep it realistic. You’re striving for a lifestyle change. This is not something that you will roll out every spring so you don’t look disgusting in the summer, it’s something you do for your mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to get you in touch with the joy of movement that you had as a child.

Get out and Play 30!

“Inside every old person is a young person wondering ‘What the heck happened?'” -Unknown

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my author’s page at amazon.com/author/johnsannicandro or using the Amazon link on this page. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Also check out my YouTube channel through the link to the right of this post. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

Craze Rage: Why We Enjoy Anger Despite Ourselves

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”― Mark Twain

Turn on any source of technology-computer, television, radio, or iPhone-and it won’tfrustration be too long before you come across some story of how someone is outraged, angry, agitated, aggressive, or otherwise pissed off about some real or imagined injustice that the world has done to them or others. It’s virtually impossible to go through a day exposed to any of these sources of information and not have this happen. You are going to see some aspect of man’s inhumanity to man that just sets you off. To quote Vince Lombardi, “What in the hell is going on out there?”

Is the world getting worse? Are people less kind and considerate than they were in the “old days,” whenever they were, or, is there something else going on here? Why is it that so many of us are willing to buy into the rage of others? Why do so many of us have a difficult time letting go of anger that is inspired by something that we were exposed to through the media and not in real time? More importantly, what impact does this have on our physical and emotional health?

I call this phenomenon Craze Rage. Like everything that is a craze, everyone’s doing it because it’s the latest thing. Craze Rage occurs when millions of people get outraged by something that has gone viral through television or the Internet. It can be something huge and significant, but it’s often something that has been captured on somebody’s iPhone camera, ends up on YouTube, and people post it to their Facebook timeline telling their friends what an injustice it is. Their friends tell their friends, and so on, and so on…. Ba bam. It goes viral and millions of people are outraged about something that they cannot control or do anything about. Craze Rage. Admit it, you’ve probably find yourself falling victim to it. I know I have.

What causes this? Why is this whole phenomenon so provocative and inviting? A major reason is the instant access we have to all kinds of knowledge and information available at our fingertips. Much of this knowledge and access is incredibly beneficial, healthy, and useful. Some of it, not so much. Internet search engines use the web in the same manner that supermarkets use the checkout line, for impulse buying. Many a day you probably go to your computer with the best of intentions and something pops up on your screen, or appears in one of the sidebars. It catches your attention, you click, and you’re off and running, Alice in Wonderland style, right down a rabbit hole that you never intended to fall into. We live in an ADD world, and Andy Warhol was right. We all can have our 15 minutes of fame.

Stories that inspire anger and outrage can be quite seductive, especially if they’ve phonebeen video taped. We can watch the injustice over and over, allowing us to really savor our outrage. Outrage leads to a sense of great indignation, often quite valid, that we just have to do something about. We talk about it to others, email the link to our friends, and post it to Facebook for all the world to see. We feel good about this, after all we have taken a step to expose an injustice, and enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction. What makes Craze Rage so compelling is that we get to be Rosa Parks and Gandhi with the flick of the finger. Pretty cool, right? Well, not exactly.

There are, however, some potentially unhealthy aspects to using the Internet and television in this manner. Anger, and its associated physical and emotional impact, is a great source of stress on the human body and mind. Here are some reasons that taking on too much anger is not a great idea:
⦁ Approximately 70% of primary care doctor visits in the United States each year are due to stress related complaints. Anger is, undoubtedly, stressful.
⦁ Craze Rage, in reality, accomplishes nothing if it’s not followed up with a righteous action. It feels good, we think we’ve done something constructive, but we often haven’t.
⦁ Carrying too much anger can spill over into our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives. The physical damage is obvious, as is the emotional. Too much dwelling on these injustices can cause otherwise very spiritual people to question the very meaning of life, existence, and what ever they believe to be is their higher power. How many times have you heard a person say, “How could God allow this to happen?” Whether you are religious or not is not the question here. Consider the impact of so many people feeling so powerless and alone.
⦁ Craze Rage is like junk food. We consume it, it fills us up, but with what? What nourishment does our mind and spirit get from it? While we certainly need to consume some, we need to be careful of how much, what type, and how long we wallow in it.
⦁ Craze Rage contributes to more of what the poet Robert Burns called “man’s inhumanity to man.” Our children get cyber bullied,(that never happened to Theodore Cleaver), there are more instances of road rage than there were 50 to 60 years ago, and more of us are taking the role of a bystander than probably anytime in our nation’s history. We become used to pushing a button in getting somebody else to do our dirty work. Many of us are living a Walter Mitty type existence, fantasizing, and identifying with people that are actually out there making a difference. Craze Rage can keep us on the sidelines.
⦁ Craze Rage also contributes to a lack of personal responsibility, personal involvement, and personal empowerment. These three things are characteristics of a healthy and self actualized person.

While I am certainly not implying that we should not be righteously indignant at times with all the world’s injustices, I am implying that we all need to be careful of what kind of impact this has on us and those we care about. If you are a parent of young children, think about how your Craze Rage can impact them. If you truly care about making the world different, ask yourself what you are doing, actually doing, to change a part of it. Taking some action, and yes it can be letting your friends know about it, can be healthy and empowering. Just be aware of what you get outraged about and what you choose to do with those feelings.

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person andphone to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” ― Aristotle

 

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my author’s page at amazon.com/author/johnsannicandro or using the Amazon link on this page. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Also check out my Youtube channel through the link to the right of this post. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

A Super Bowl Sunday Sermon

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy

Today is Super Bowl Sunday which is, for millions of us, the most important day of Tom Bradythe year. It’s a day when millions of people will gather with family and friends to celebrate athleticism, physicality, competition, and the pure joy of movement. We will revel in the excitement of what is one of the most brutal, yet beautiful in a strange way, of all human athletic endeavors. We will bask in the glory of the skills of others, deride the efforts of athletes we “hate,” yet never have met. We will also be reminded that our children need to play 60 minutes per day, we need to buy auto insurance from frogs, the right beer can make us attractive and sexy, and we shouldn’t engage in domestic violence. Super Bowl Sunday should be a national holiday.

Super Bowl Sunday epitomizes the state of physical fitness in the United States, as well as a lot of other things about contemporary American culture. For too many of us athletics, fitness, and healthy competition are things that we participate in through the efforts of others. Modern life has put us on the sidelines and taken us away from our need to be athletic just as certainly as any injury you had when you were an athlete. Sports on TV satisfies a basic human drive to be physical, competitive, and athletic. Today, we get to sit in the comfort and safety of our living rooms, yell at and ridicule dedicated athletes, and enjoy the rush of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Yeah, and many of us will be enjoying the heart pumping, sweating sensation of our own athletic days that we remember quite well. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

Super Bowl Sunday is a great day to be reminded of how enjoyable, spontaneous, and fun athletics can and should be for all of us. Today, we will enjoy these feelings vicariously through the efforts of some of the greatest athletes of our generation and perhaps of all time. It’s a shame many of us stop enjoying this firsthand after high school. It’s also a shame that, for a variety of reasons, many of us never get a chance to enjoy these feelings at all. Being deprived of athletics, the right to be competitive, and enjoying what it feels like to be physically fit should be right up there with other important rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This right to be physically fit should not have a an expiration date. And, unlike those other rights, whether we have them or not is entirely up to us.

Brady kdI often find it bizarre that we adults have to be reminded by paid television commercials to encourage our children to go outside and play, and choose to not physically abuse the women in our lives. I guess that’s the world that we live in. I also have to think that, if some of those kids are encouraged to get out and play for 60 minutes each day, then maybe someday in the future we will no longer need to be reminded of these things.

It might be a good idea to start an ad campaign that encourages adults to get out and Play 30. The grown-up world would be much better off if we all did this. Our health would be better. So would our moods, anger, stress management, blood pressure, and overall outlook on life. It would give many of us a chance or longer, healthier, and more productive lives. An adult population in the United States that was focused on 30 minutes of fun play would be more likely to create a better world for all of us, as well as those children that we need to throw outside an hour each day.

Today, when you’re enjoying all the emotional and physical sensations of Super Bowl Sunday, take mindful notice of how exciting it is. If you were once an athlete, then harken back to those glory days of yesteryear, and recall how similar your current, artificially constructed, feelings are to how you felt back then. Realize that you can create these feelings, to some degree, every day. Make a conscious plan to feel that way every day for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy the game, but remember, it’s just a game, and as important as this game is, life has much more important competitions.

“I remember my dad asked me one time, and it’s something that has always stuck wlsonwith me: ‘Why not you, Russ?’ You know, why not me? Why not me in the Super Bowl”-Russell Wilson

Go Pats!

John

P. S. Contact me if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my author’s page at amazon.com/author/johnsannicandro or using the Amazon link on this page. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Also check out my YouTube channel through the link to the right of this post. Email me at john@mindbodycoach.org.

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