The Expensive Cost of Feeling Safe & Secure

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.

The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.   – Agnes de Mille.

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I have always felt very uncomfortable the moment I began to feel even slightly comfortable.  Some of my dearest friends have called me out on this. They say I have “commitment issues”. Maybe. Who knows. I just like the momentum of daring, trying, risking – smartly. Exposing myself and my mind to something new.

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Today’s post is a passage taken from week seven “Recovering a Sense of Connection” from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The passage below resonated with me. Why? Because I fool myself daily because while I think I am taking risks, I am not taking big enough risks. The type that will catapult me to the next level of living adventurously.  Here we go. Let me know if this rings true with you as well.

We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining. The success of a creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action. This brings us squarely to risk. Most of us are practiced at talking ourselves out of risk. We are skilled speculators on the probable pain of self-exposure.

I’ll look like an idiot,” we say, conjuring images of our first acting class, our first hobbled short story, our terrible drawings. Part of the game here is lining up the masters and measuring our baby steps against their perfected craft. We don’t compare our student films to George Luca’s student films. Instead, we compare them to Star Wars.

We deny that in order to do something well we must first be willing to do it badly. Instead, we opt for setting our limits at the point where we feel stifled, smothered, despairing, bored. But yes, we do feel safe. And safety is a very expensive illusion.

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In order to risk, we must jettison our accepted limits. We must break through “I can’t because. . .” Because I am too old; too broke; too shy; too proud? Self-defended? Timorous?

Protect your magic

Usually when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly.

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life is either

Minding What Really Matters

be what it is

Observing what happens around us without filters or prejudice. Now that’s something to soak up. A life skill worth practicing.  Try rewiring that into your brain. How often we get frustrated because life is not suppose to be this way or that way?  As if it was always our call.

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It’s so easy to get mad when things don’t go our way. It’s even easier to sleep walk through our days. On autopilot, we just cruise through the hours without even taking notice of the small things that need real care.  The tiny pain points that pop up, that if we just focused on now, would never get out of hand.  The things that really matter. Perhaps this is how bigger events and problems suddenly catch us by “surprise”.  When we avoid the smaller, seemingly “meaningless” things in life. We shrug them off. “It is what it is.” “She’s just like that.” “I’ve been meaning to take care of that.”

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An important skill to learn is to know how to sniff out the unexpected before it scares the hell out of you. It starts with paying attention to your life.

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I am sure you realize that more often than not, there are usually many warning signals before something goes surprisingly wrong. It’s just that we were so distracted at the time.

To detect early warning signals, you need to build up your curiosity. Paying attention involves asking many questions and developing a wide network of friends and family willing to tell you the truth, even when it is spiked with anxiety and panic.

Collect all the rumors and paranoia that blow around you and your life and then separate the signal from the noise. Now, that’s paying attention.

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Paying attention also asks that we ask the important question –

“What can you do today that will make a difference, not only in your life but in others?”

Becoming a More Attentive & Thoughtful Human

Encourage yourself to grow with quick and easy learning (YouTube), and create a personal mindset that allows you to make well-intentioned mistakes while paying attention. Taking notice, trying new ways of problem solving and staying awake at the wheel of life – it’s all a skill.

Don’t let your mind turn into a black hole where bright ideas go in but nothing useful ever comes out. Be an idea-driven human that values fresh thinking and doing.

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Understand your strengths and weakness which will show you where your vigilance is strong and where you are vulnerable. That’s paying attention to yourself.

Minding What Matters

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‘What actions can I take that will benefit not just myself, not just my  family, not just my community, not just my work, but all it’ – that’s when you start to see possibilities for greater freedom.”  That’s when you start paying attention to what matters. Inspired by “Leading the Life You Want“.

Happy and successful people focus on what really matters and who really matters to them. And then they take actions that are consciously and deliberately designed to make things better for them and the people around them.

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Find meaning in mundane tasks while playing on your strengths. Apply skills you have in one area of your life to another.

Act with creativity and courage—and continually experiment with new ways of getting things done. An exercise for enhancing your skill in being innovative is called Scenarios. Identify a goal in any part of your life, and describe the results you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can. Then identify three alternative courses of action that would achieve the same results. For each potential path, list the resources you will need, the people whose help you’ll draw on, and how much of a stretch beyond your comfort zone this would be for you. By taking time to think through different options, you increase the flexibility of your thinking. Brainstorming about creative possibilities puts your focus on the goal, or results, rather than on one way to get there.

Inspired by Leading the Life You Want and 18 Questions that could change your life

 

 

 

Dismiss What Insults Your Soul

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“Life requires of man spiritual elasticity, so that he may temper his efforts to the chances that are offered.”

Viktor E. Frankl

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“Change is essential for survival. All life forms must adapt to their fluctuating circumstances. All form of life result from the process of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. The universe is in a constant state of chaos. We each have chaos implanted into our bones. Nature wires all of us for change.”

Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

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“One of the most remarkable of man’s characteristics is his capacity for becoming used to conditions of almost any kind, whether good or bad, both in the self and in the environment, and once he has become used to such conditions they seem to him both right and natural. This capacity is a boon when it enables him to adapt himself to conditions which are desirable, but it may prove a great danger when the conditions are undesirable. When his sensory appreciation is untrustworthy, it is possible for him to become so familiar with seriously harmful conditions of misuse of himself that these malconditions will feel right and comfortable.”

F. Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self

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“Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.”

Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

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“There’s no such thing as a mistake, really. It’s just an opportunity to do something else.”

Ralph Steadman

 

A snake doesn’t mourn when it is time to shed it’s skin.

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Featured Illustration – Walt Whitman

 

 

On Trusting Yourself

tumblr_static_tumblr_static__640Perhaps stumbling through and failing at life sometimes moves us to lose the deep trust in ourselves that we need to thrive.

That loss of self-trust keeps us down, frozen and afraid to move forward.   Perhaps if we raise our “royal minds” and learn again to trust ourselves; no matter how many mistakes we make, as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests in his essay “Spiritual Laws” we can begin to understand the importance of trusting oneself.

What a man does, that he has. What has he to do with hope or fear? In himself is his might. Let him regard no good as solid but that which is in his nature and which must grow out of him as long as he exists.”

What your heart thinks great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right.

Emerson moves me so. If I ever get a dog (which I will one day), I will call him Emerson.

On another random note, after reading Daily Rituals “How Artists Work”, I have added two  new rituals to my day – the act of taking an “air bath” – a walk in the cool air to cleanse my mind after a long day as Ben Franklin did every evening and enjoying a “sun downer” – a glass of wine like Carl Jung.  So fun.

 

 

The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness

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My husband drives me crazy. He never writes anything down. Not a single reminder. Not even a note in his phone. He laughs at all my list making. So what.

The Secret to Achieving Your Goals

Now, I imagine if you are reading this, the headline got you and you are looking to achieve something great. Weight loss? More money? Better relationships? Peace of mind? Whatever you are attempting to get better at, it helps to set goals. Here is the formula I found works for anything I want to achieve and it is a mash up of some of the best advice and tips from experts throughout history on how to go about setting and achieving goals. 

Scientific behavioral studies at Harvard have proven that those who WRITE down their SPECIFIC and ACHIEVABLE goals increase their chances 10 fold.   I add that WRITING and SPEAKING your goals OUT LOUD with emotion each day in the morning (and maybe in the evening too) increases your success even further.

It’s simple, it’s easy and here is how it works.

STEP 1. SET PRECISE and MEASURABLE goals that you are CONFIDENT that you can achieve.

For example: I want to lose five (5) pounds by Thanksgiving, November 25, 2015.

body weight

I found this free Body Weight Planner recommended by Shape Magazine and developed  by the National Institute for Health with the help of Dr. Kevin Hall’s research group for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to better understand how diet and exercise quantitatively contribute to weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

According to this calculator, I’ll achieve this measurable goal if I walk/hike and run at a moderate jogging pace for 60 minutes a day seven (7) days a week consuming no more than 1,955 calories a day. I calculate this is a loss of .75 (3/4) of a pound a week.

STEP 2.WRITE them down on paper (or in your phone) and keep them in CLEAR site. READ the goal OUT LOUD each morning.

Me in the mirror every morning:

I will be 123 pounds by Thanksgiving in 48 days by following these easy steps to achieve this weight. I will practice self-discipline and design my days around achieving this goal. Relentlessly.

STEP 3.BREAK down the goal and REMOVE all obstacles involved in the process of achieving it.

Each Bite Counts

Each day, I commit to counting calories – the LoseIt App is wonderful for this, as is the FitBit calorie tracker. You can also use a note book. Here are 5 great calorie counting sites/apps that you might want to try. I will jot down what I ate or take a photo of what I ate to calculate my calorie intake every day.

What if it’s raining?

How will I make SURE that I get in a 60 minute moderate run/hike each day? What if it rains and I can’t go outside? Will I go to the gym? Do I have a way of doing this at home in the house?  Will I ask a friend to hold me accountable? Will I get it out of the way every morning? What if I am traveling?

Have a PLAN to REMOVE every obstacle.

No more chips. Damn.

I eliminate all refined carbohydrates from my daily meals. No breads, crackers, chips, cookies, etc. I will try to each a very healthy, plant-based meal with protein three (3) times a day and limit by alcohol to 1 glass of white wine. I will consume no more than 1,955 calories a day.

STEP 4.READ your goal OUT LOUD every morning and include HOW you will FEEL when you achieve your GOAL.

Me, in my head all day long:

I will look and feel amazing in my jeans, feel lighter on my feet and freer and more energetic. All that movement will also help me feel less anxious and healthier at 123 lbs.

Inspired by Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance

You can do this four step process with anything you want to achieve, including making new friends, getting a raise, building a business, whatever. The secret is a mindful attention with intention and focus on your goal.

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Visit Jason’s website here

This gem of a book by Napoleon Hill  Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

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And the book that inspired me to lose 25 lbs last year.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

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The Sky’s the Limit. Your Amazing Future.

human-robotWhen you stop to think about where you will be in 10 years, what do you consider? Will you be doing the things you are doing right now?  Will you be richer? Thinner? In love? Famous?

Tomorrow is Today

Focusing on our future selves helps us to make new decisions about what we should be doing right now. With this vision and connection to our future self we can apply the action needed today to make the changes in order to be a more fantastic future versions of ourselves.

One caveat. It will take self-control.

So if you really want to be 20 lbs lighter in the future, put down that bag of chips right now and stop mindlessly eating at your desk.

The Future is Here

top-10-robots-710x434Want to know what your future will look like? Thanks to technology, you can get a glimpse. This website lets you talk to your future self using a sophisticated combination of motion capture software, speech recognition and 3D imaging. You will need to download the latest version of Chrome to check it out here. It’s really fun, I promise.

Need a bit of help with self-disclipine and control? Who doesn’t?

Read The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control Is the Engine of Success

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Instead of hanging on to hope and possibility, you can increase the probability of your success with these tools.

If you want to be Fabulously Fit

Stop hitting the gym like an amateur. Workout like a pro, forget CrossFit, practice mindful movement. LearnSelf-Limiting Movement

jumpropeBoost up your cardio. Jump Rope Jump Rope Workouts: Cardio fitness for increased stamina, lean muscle building and fat burning

Find Your Very Best Friend and Soul Mate

Study Rules of the Game and don’t be afraid of finding love on line. Check out these top ten best dating apps here.

Rules

Crushing it in Your Career

Rev up the motor. Move the Needle. Read this detailed system that will help you achieve your professional and personal goals.

ReadMoving the Needle: Get Clear, Get Free, and Get Going in Your Career, Business, and Life!

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Remember

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The Smartest Way to Success

 

anais“We don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are.” Anais Nin

For those of you who have  been following me, you already know that I am determined to improve myself daily with the goal of going to bed a little smarter and stronger every day. I have a firm belief that it is my duty to give the best version of me to the world each day. anais-nin-always-weaving-bc-it-once-was-brokenBetter Together

I am on a quest to learn and acquire new habits, rituals, patterns and thoughts to become the best version of me, because I can’t just “think” my way there. It takes action and deliberate practice.  I hope to form a community here on this blog of like-minded motivated people so we can help each other grow mentally, physically and emotionally every day.  We can learn a lot from each other and in turn become our best versions together. So with that stated, I really appreciate your advice and contributions. What has worked for you? What books are you reading? What exercises are you doing? What classes are you taking?

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin

img_3307Lightening Up, Sparking Joy, Creating Love

So, today, I am sharing a smart, practical approach to organizing and achieving your personal goals for success.

Before that, a quick assessment.

What I have accomplished so far (a year of daily deliberate practice).

    • I lost 25 lbs on The Four Hour Body, a slow carb diet

I highly recommend: The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

  • I wake up with gratitude and journal everything I am thankful for
  • I started a daily workout routine and began Spinning and dancing weekly
  • I began a daily practice of mindful meditation to clear my head
  • A commitment to reading and learning something new daily
  • 30 minutes of writing and reading aloud  my purpose and plan for my life
  • and devoted Sunday mornings to a one hour spiritual ritual with my husband

tidying upThis next year I hope to spark joy in my life by letting go of everything that I no longer need while continue to lighten up and create love out of everything I do – cooking, working, writing, sharing, everything. Inspired by Marie Kondo’s book  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Taming the Wild Within

Just like everyone else, I struggle with certain things and one of my biggest challenges is getting overwhelmed. I have too many goals, too many dreams and I vibrate on the side of hyper mania. This drives my family and my friends nuts, but they love me just the same. So calming myself down daily is a big thing for me. See “mindful meditation” practice above. I meditate for me and everyone that has to deal with me. I believe that mediation + movement (exercise) = my daily dose of medication.

 

Dreams pass into the reality of action, from the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Anais Nin

So my practical advice today is to follow along with me as I show you how I am going to organize my goals in a way that will not overwhelm me, allow me to be successful and continue to become the best version of me. There is one rule: I can only do one goal at a time and make it a habit for the year.

Step 1. Categorizing Life

Here are my categories:

  1. Relationships & Family
  2. Professional & Career
  3. Financial Health
  4. Physical & Health
  5. Emotional & Spiritual
  6. Time Management & Routines
  7. Household & Living Environment
  8. Personal & Intellectual Development

Step 2. Rating My Development So Far

The rating scale: 0% = completely unhappy to 100% this is the best version of me

Here are my categories:

  1. Relationships & Family – 45% 
  2. Professional & Career – 60%
  3. Financial Health – 15%
  4. Physical & Health – 50%
  5. Emotional & Spiritual –80%
  6. Time Management & Routines – 75%
  7. Household & Living Environment –35 %
  8. Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%

Step 3 – Identifying What Needs Improvement

Chagall-la-PromenadeRelationships & Family – 45%  

“You cannot save people, you can only love them.” Anais Nin

  • More forgiveness, patience and quality time scheduled with everyone I love. Friends and family.
  • Make new friends from around the world through this blog.

Professional & Career – 60%

“One’s life shrinks or expands according to your courage.” Anais Nin

  • Continue to inspire each day by sharing what I am learning each morning.
  • Writing my book “Lightening Up, Sparking Joy, Creating Love” Giving Your Best to the World
  • Helping new clients grow with my marketing and public relations skills
  • Continue to improve my Social Media, Photoshop and WordPress skills

Financial Health – 15%

  • Learn how to invest in successful companies for the long term while allowing compound interest work for me.
  • Pay down left over credit card debt, reduce my living expenses and understand if the insurance I have is the best for my family
  • Save 10% of what I earn monthly, no matter what.

Physical & Health – 50%

  • Lose 5 more lbs, Tone my body with an increase in pushups, situps, planks and weights.
  • Carry less tension in my body and practice a full body scan meditation to release that tension
  • Visit my doctor for a full check up and blood work
  • Become a more mindful eater with a mindful kitchen to prepare healthy meals

Emotional & Spiritual80%

  • Continue to remove negative thoughts of anger and doubt
  • Practice radical acceptance with compassion and loving kindness
  • Develop a schedule of meditation practices to do throughout the day

Time Management & Routines – 75%

  • Develop a mindful relaxation ritual at night that does not include more than one glass of chardonnay
  • Continue to write my 90 seconds of daily victories each evening
  • No phones, laptops or tablets in the bed
  • Relaxation stretches and meditation before bed

Household & Living Environment35 %

“Anything that I cannot transform into marvelous, I let go.”  Anais Nin

  • Purge everything that doesn’t spark joy for me in my entire house and care for everything I decide to keep. – clean it, paint it, fold it, organize it, make it shine.
  • Refrain from buying anything new unless absolutely necessary for the entire year.

Personal & Intellectual Development – 75%

  • Find my work and home “uniform” – clothes that suit the occasion that I feel great in and that I don’t have to think about too much.
  • Read and learn how to continue to become a better writer. I just found this amazing list of 150 free writing tools here
  • Complete books I am reading including The Tools and my winter reading list.

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Something to Smile About

smiling_cat_small1Meditation is not just all breathing and quieting the mind. There are many types of meditation techniques including my absolute favorite, Smile Meditation. So, in honor of #worldsmileday  I share with you a simple way to lighten up and spark joy.

To begin the inner-smile meditation, sit comfortably on a pillow or chair with your palms on your knees. Straighten your spine, lifting it up from the top of your head. Then relax the muscles in your neck and throat. Take a few deep, slow breathes.

Close your eyes. If you are tense, gently move your neck from side to side and take one or two deep breaths that fill your abdomen and chest, then slowly exhale.

Next, smile outwardly. It might be helpful to use a positive memory to evoke the feeling of joy. Once you have a grin on your face, it’s time to smile inwardly.

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Picture a smiling face in your mind. Bring the smile to the space between your eyebrows – your third eye or “yin tang” in Chinese medicine – and allow it to rest there for a few breaths.

Now take the smile and glide it in turn to each part of your body. You can imagine your body as hollow and the smile as a glowing ball of light filling every dark corner. Alternatively, you can picture every organ, tissue and bone smiling. If your smile gets stuck or fades at a tense or painful spot, breathe gently into that part of your body. Imagine inhaled breath moving into that area.

o-SMILING-ANIMAL-facebookNow, try to maintain the sensation of the inner smile throughout the day. #worldsmileday

Read more about inner smile meditation here.

Letting Go of Judgement

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“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

Rainer Maria Rilke.
Read: Letters to a Young Poet

Rilke

Inspired by Tara Brach’s Dharma Retreat Talk “Letting Go of Judgement” 9/05/2015

“Letting go of “adversive” judgement does not mean letting go of wise discrimination,” Tara Brach.

True Grit, The Act of Envisioning and Living to 100

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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

Study: Meditations (Hardcover Classics)

marcus-aurelius-quote-fridge-magnet-2_largeSystem Restore -A Metaphorical Moment

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.

True Grit

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.

small-daily-improvementsThe “gritty” among us also –

  • 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

Ikaria_1428628iThe 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.

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Read: The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People