Why do we need one another?
What does it mean to be absolutely human?
What is our purpose in this world and how is that purpose related to our responsibilities to each other?
What are we meant for?
What are the deeper things we are meant to do?
If you wish your heart to be bright,
you must do a little work.
– from Be Lost in the Call, a poem by Rumi
Featured Mutated Swamp Girl by David Choe
Kindness and 1+1 = love – Banksy
What are Keystone Habits?
Habits are what we do every day. Habits can help us grow or hold us back. Some habits are more important than others — they have the power to transform our lives.
Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. They start a chain effect in your life that produce a number of positive outcomes.
Getting enough restful sleep every night is a keystone habit. It will help you face the next day with energy, help you be more productive and think more clearly.
Exercising everyday is a keystone habit. Walking and working out will give you strength, keep off unhealthy pounds and boost serotonin to the brain, a chemical that will keep you serene.
Saving some money for the future is a keystone habit. Socking away a few bucks will keep each week will have you feeling more secure about that unpredictable rainy day ahead.
Read more about keystone habits in The Power of Habit.
Keeping Calm, A Crucial Keystone Habit
Chances are if you are reading this, you are to some degree stressed out. Focusing on managing our emotions while nurturing a peaceful mind is imperative to navigating the chaos of every day living.
The Multitude of Benefits that Come from Keeping Calm
- Keeping a cool head, remaining calm, no matter what situation arises is key to retaining common sense and gaining others’ respect.
- Managing our emotions in times of stress helps us maintain control over our lives.
- Standing composed while all around you is flipping out in a chaotic crisis helps keep your thoughts collected.
- A calm mind will bring about peaceful contentment.
- No matter what is happening, remaining calm will give you a sense of confidence.
- A peaceful and clear head will keep your vision for the future clear. Calm begets clarity.
- Staying calm during the biggest of battles will help you appear less crazy than your colleagues.
- Your concentration increases with each calm breath you take.
- Your worries become lighter and your state-of-mind more carefree.
- The thoughts that you have and words that you speak are less crass and more compassionate.
- Life is easier when we move with through challenges creatively in a calm way.
- We become more proactive and less reactive.
- We become kinder and less cruel when we are calm and take more thoughtful calculated risks instead of impulsively moving in every direction.
Okay, My Ideas on How to Stay Calm
Know that things are bound to go wrong today. They just are. Ain’t no getting around it. Someone will piss you off, drive you crazy, make you angry, but on the other hand, something good will happen today too. Guaranteed. Life is peppered with a bit of both.
Redefine what stress means to you. A dropped cell call? A cracked laptop screen? The wrong dressing on your salad? What does life-threatening stress look like to you? Define what a real threat looks like. Categorize what constitutes a real problem before you get hit with one. Everything else is easy.
Slow your speech and your gait. Seriously. Walk like a old wise spirit. No rushing, just simple, confident steps with your posture strong and your head held up high. Or sit still. Unless the house is burning down or someone is bleeding out, don’t react. Process the pain in the moment and then decide how you will react.
Put your hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Remember what really matters. Remember how short life really is. Ask yourself, what is most important to you right now?
Smell your way to serenity. Use calming oils throughout the day. Inhale lavender, rosemary or geranium before you send that scathing email or make that frustrating phone call. Keep an oil by your desk or burn a soy-based scented candle in your home or office.
Take calming action. Take care of what is in your control. Don’t hesitate. Get what you can get done. Don’t know what to do first? Make a priority list and check it off. Realize that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.
Clear all the clutter from your life. Your home, your desk, your relationships. If it isn’t serving you well, get rid of it. If you are going through a crisis, keep everything in your life really, really simple.
Carve out moments of joyful time. Hack your happy chemicals. Slip away for a while, get lost in a book, go for a walk, ride your bike, safeguard your sanity.If you are in the midst of a long-standing stressful situation, like caregiving for the terminally ill, making your way through a divorce, trying to find your next job, take a moment to do what you enjoy. Lower your level of cortisol by doing something that makes you happy.
Ask yourself what is good about this? Even though this horrible thing is happening right now, what is good about it? Perhaps it is a problem that finally came to a head? Maybe it will finally move you in a new direction that you knew you were suppose to go? Perhaps this problem offers you an opportunity to try something new?
Slow down on the consumption of everything. This includes drugs, alcohol, food and caffeine. Purposefully chew more slowly. Talk more slowly. Walk more slowly. Slow down to a very soft and gentle pace. Rushing to nowhere will bring no good effect.
Watch a sad, sad movie and cry really fucking hard. Cry until your eyes sting with pain. A list of heartbreaking movies to get you going here.
Realize how short life really is. Check out the internet’s friendly reminder of how long you are going to live, aka the Death Clock.
Give up your mind. Listen to a guided meditation. Author of Radical Acceptance and mindful meditator, Tara Brach offers a free podcast.
Play with puppies or watch puppies. Check out these live puppy cams.
and. . .
If we are truly living, then we are immersed in a life of learning and growing as human beings.
As we are growing, we are in a continual cycle of aspiring, succeeding or failing. With wisdom we realize these positions are transitory. Quote from The Ego is the Enemy.
Personally, depending on which “part” of my life that I observe, I am currently in all three cycles all at once.
Aspiring, Succeeding, Failing
I am aspiring to launch and build my business, I am succeeding at helping my parents navigate their battle with cancer and I am failing at sustaining a relationship with my brother.
I am aspiring to find the best way to help my parents without enabling them, I am succeeding at keeping up with my own health and fitness routine and I am failing at prioritizing my time at work each day. I over estimate what time I really have and over promise to those clients I want to please.
What helps me during cycles of failure, is to be my own best coach. Just like a coach who faces a loosing team, I champion myself through difficult moments of exasperation by reminding myself of who I am and what I am capable of. I promise to face each moment with my highest standards.
On Being My Own Best Coach and maximizing my own potential.
I remember and I realize . . .
- the impact of my attitude on my life.
- to believe in myself.
- I am never given more than I can handle.
- I don’t have all the answers right now.
- to remain solution focused.
- to ask questions and ask for help. I investigate and research those that have been here before me. I look for guidance.
- I should listen for answers and rely on others who can help.
- I need to make corrections. Corrections in my work, my attitude and my behavior.
- that God is working with me every day. Guiding me to do my best. I am not in this alone.
- I have done more difficult things before and I have made it through, successfully.
- I remember that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
While it is easy to be grateful for the abundance of gifts in our lives, especially on Thanksgiving -all of the goodness – our freedom, our families, friends and the food on our table, it’s appreciation for those that have caused us hurt and pain that give us a real opportunity to truly grow and evolve.
Give gratitude and forgiveness, because those that hurt, hurt. They need it the most.
When we remember that those that hurt are the one’s that are hurting we take the pain out of circulation and we begin to heal.
Our enemies give us a huge opportunity to practice love, forgiveness and patience. For if we do not choose to forgive, we give more power to the pain. In the words of Steve Biko “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
I am grateful today and everyday for the good, the bad and the hateful, as well as the inevitable suffering that comes with life. Bring on the pain, I will take it all and make meaning to grow.
I am adding yet another new daily habit of 30 minutes of focus and deep concentration by journaling precisely what I want to create in life with the honest intention of being in service to everyone I meet. I imagine and behold a (super) better version of myself, eliminating any negative thoughts including envy, hatred, judgement, selfishness or cynicism. No matter what, I will carve out this time to make sure this becomes a ritual in my life.
“. . . in applying one’s whole soul to doing right and speaking the truth. There remains only the enjoyment of living a liked succession of good deeds, with not the slightest gap between them.” – Marcus Aurelius
The other evening I was pulling my hair out while trying to free up some space on my computer with Daisy Disk (not worth the $9.99, a total waste). After backing up my laptop I had to restore my operating system. Not something I wanted to be doing at 11 pm at night. I have no patience for this, but it’s like laundry and cleaning the kitchen, it just needs to get done. But I had a moment of true realization while I waited for my Mac to restart with a new blank desktop – I am also in the process of refreshing and restoring my operating system. Some call it reinventing ourselves.
The Act of Envisioning the Future
The way I see it, we can worry about the future or we can focus on creating a better story for tomorrow. Recognizing that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually transform themselves into physical reality, I have committed to concentrating my thoughts on precisely who I want to become and I am creating a crystal clear picture of that person each day, by writing a new future. This also helps with incessant useless monkey-mind worry because I am putting my thoughts to better use. I highly recommend you try it for yourself.
Just like building a start up or pursuing any dream, this life project of mine requires deliberate practice and focus and as many have come to understand a great dose of grit. Grit defined as perseverance and persistence coupled with an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about my current state. It’s the ability to accept my reality and make the best of it, never wishing I was somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.
I have come to understand that people who value grit have a number of things in common. They appreciate everything in their lives and what they have right now.
- Remain cautiously optimistic.
- Exercise their muscle of self-control.
- Have a higher level of social intelligence.
- Maintain the ability to preserver through even the toughest times.
- Stay enthusiastic about the process.
- Embrace the art of curiosity about everything. Even their problems.
Grit: harnessing the courage, the resiliency, and the power within.
Climbing Hills and Recreating Blue Zones
Barring heavy rain or deep wet snow, every day I take a 25 minute steep hill hike around my town. What I am trying to do is recreate the effect that blue zones have on the body. Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.
The five blue zones are as follows:
- The Italian island of Sardinia
- Okinawa, Japan
- Loma Linda, California
- Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
- Ikaria, an isolated Greek island
The people in blue zones don’t need to artificially incorporate exercise into their lives with machines. The exercise comes for free, already built into their daily lives naturally. Common across all of the blue zones is that the people climb mountains, walk through the hills, work the land, and generally use their bodies in a constant grind as they perform their daily activities. And it doesn’t have to be high intensity “run as fast as you can” exercise either.
To live long and healthy requires a constant, daily lifestyle of positive enrichment for the body and mind. For many this may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read more about what it takes to live to 100 here.
The reality and truth is, when the eastern sages spoke about karma, they were speaking about selfishness. The word “karma” in Sanskrit means “action” and the Buddha believed in two types of action. Bad selfish action and good selfless action. Bad selfish action promotes, protects and aggrandizes the ego which in turn leads to inner suffering, distress, remorse and guilt.
I stumbled upon this explanation and more from Leo Gura on Actualized.org. What Is Karma exactly? – Watch a rational explanation of how karma really works and why it’s extremely relevant to your happiness levels.
On My Book Shelf
Instant Karma is a collection of thousands of ways to create good karma for yourself and others. The advice in Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book is based on the principles of Buddhism and emphasizes the importance of physical health, spiritual growth and peace.
- Throughout the day, ask yourself, Am I paying attention?
- Then ask yourself, Why judge?
- Do not expect praise or reward.
- Give confidence to others.
- Life is positive, only your thinking is negative.
- See everything in your life as a gift.
Remember that looking for happiness outside yourself is like expecting to get in shape by watching others exercise.
Read more, here: Instant Karma
Believe the best is yet to be.
My favorite morning tea
A crowd-sourced account that documents the social isolation and bizarre relationships we have with our devices of delusion in a world of increasing chaos and confusion.
Photos of people around the world, taking selfies, posting updates, merging calls, drafting emails, filming injustices, snapping and filtering their every meal.
My Friend Gary calls this the severe maladaptive behavior of Generation K – as in Kardashians.
I wonder what it will take to wake the world up again to true human interaction, face-to-face communication and co-existence with compassion.
One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed about the Dalai Lama is how he treats everyone equally. While one newspaper photo shows him lovingly embracing Jesse Helms, another shows him with his arms around the poor Tibetan refugee. When the Dalai Lama says, “My religion is kindness,” he is expressing his commitment to live with the unconditionally open and loving heart of compassion. Kindness is a facet of the jewel that arises when we remember that we are connected with every living being we meet.
Each person is precious, each person is fragile and each person matters.
Direct quote from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
Image of a girl at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.