How you value your time is how you value your life

 

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Pretend Your Time is Worth $1,000/Hour and You’ll Become 100x More Productive

How you value your time is how you value your life

“Pretend your time is worth $1,000/hr. Would you spend five of them doing extra work for free? Would you waste one on being angry?” –Niklas Göke

You have very few hours here on on this earth.

Still, many people waste much of their time on pointless, low-quality activities that don’t help them reach their true goals — their mission.

The truth is, most people value their time at far, far less than it’s worth.

They say yes to things they have no business doing. They give away their talents, attention, and effort to others who take, take, take.

They spend hours watching low-quality television and social media when they should be productive and effective.

See, many people could be making a fortune (if they used their time well)…but instead, they give away their time in unproductive ways that leave them broke, unhappy, and stuck.

But what if you placed a high value on your time?

How would that change you? Your life? Your family? Your future?

Imagine that an hour of your time is worth $1,000.

What would your life look like?

What people would you stop putting up with?

What problems would you stop wasting time on?

What things would you stop — and start — doing?

Your results would be incredible. You’d become exponentially more productive, focused, and effective.

“Most people have no clue what they are doing with their time but still complain that they don’t have enough.” -Grant Cardone, NYT best-selling author

“Busyness” Isn’t a Badge of Honor; It’s a Sign of Weakness

“Being busy is a form of mental laziness.” -Tim Ferriss

It takes discipline to not become “busy.”

If you let it, your world and the people around you will take all your time. Your time is not unlike your paycheck; if you don’t budget for things, you’ll have nothing left over by the end of the month.

This is how lives are wasted — by doing thankless work for ungrateful takers that didn’t deserve your time in the first place.

We’re all busy — with work, our families, our friends. It’s not bad to be “busy.” But in the words of best-selling author Jeff Goins:

The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.

Are you focused, making tangible action steps towards what truly matters?

…Or are you just “busy?”

When you’re busy, you are on autopilot. You can’t see the hours slipping away, time you’ll never get back.

Wrote the ancient philosopher Seneca:

“Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations…If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own.”

Who’s in charge of your time?

You?

Or everyone else?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Busyness and Stress Are the Enemy

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.” -William Irvine

Most people prize “being busy.” They proclaim it with pride, as if it’s a badge of honor.

But for most people, this “busyness” is nothing more than distraction and procrastination from what really matters. They just like feeling busy.

Said author Benjamin Hardy, “Most people lack the confidence to go big. They prefer the dopamine boost of getting lots done, even if they aren’t making any progress.

For world-class performers, busyness and stress are the enemy. They’re a sign you’re off-track. It means you’ve been lazy and undisciplined, and have let too many unimportant tasks take you away from what really matters.

“Being busy is a form of mental laziness.” -Tim Ferriss

Bestselling author Jeff Goins once wrote, “The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.” Extremely successful people don’t tolerate busywork or distraction. They have crystal clear vision on their goals, and do what they need to do to get there, every single day.

In his landmark book Deep Work, Cal Newport recounts some choice insights on how to develop insanely productive results through removing all distraction and entering flow states:

“Busyness and exhaustion should be your enemy. If you’re chronically stressed and up late working, you’re doing something wrong. Do less. But do what you do with complete, hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of your day.”

Deep work means absolutely not tolerating distractions and producing monumental quality and quantity in a very short time. This is how you can complete far more with focused efforts than unfocused efforts with far more time.

Do you want incredible productivity?

Then cultivate extreme focus with whatever you do.

If you don’t manage your time, it will manage you.

“When you have less time available for work, you have to make better choices about what to work on (and what not to).” -Tim Metz

As You Think, So You Are

“As a man thinketh, so is he. As he continues to think, so he remains.” -James Allen

You teach people how to treat you.

If you let people know your time is free and low-valued, people will treat it as such.

But if you teach people that your time is expensive, important, and valuable, then people will respond in kind.

What you think is what you become. If you think your time is worth a few bucks an hour, that you’ll begin to act like it. You’ll find yourself saying “yes” to meaningless, pointless obligations.

But if, in your heart, you know your time is valuable…

People will recognize that.

People will respect that.

People will treat you differently.

Wrote author William Irvine:

“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you don’t treat yourself and your time with respect, you will become unhappy, resentful, and tired. Your body and mind long for mastery and freedom; you can’t have those things if your time is cheap and easily taken.

You become what you are.

You attract what you look for.

Back in my early days of writing, I didn’t think I was much of a writer. So I spent a lot of time on low-quality activities, like begging other low-tier/no-name bloggers to let me write guest posts.

No one responded to me. I rarely was invited to write. I think people could see how little I valued myself, and didn’t want to promote my message. I don’t even blame them.

Years later, I finally began seeing my time as very important. I began saying “no” to almost everything. I had a mission, and I became unwilling to fill my valuable time with things that wouldn’t help me achieve my goal.

I turned down high-paying, exciting, interesting opportunities…because they weren’t the right fit. In the end, they were all wasting time I needed to focus on my mission.

As you think, so you are.

Treat your time as a valuable commodity, and people will begin to treat it like that, too.

You Can Do Amazing Things, But Only If You Have Time to Do Them

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffet

You probably need to say “no” more.

Every time you say yes to something, it means you’re saying “no” to a dozen other opportunities. The world’s most successful and extraordinary people say no to almost everything, but yes to a few things.

Those few things determine their career, legacy, and livelihood.

Warren Buffet, investor extraordinaire and a net worth of over $70 billion dollars, has said that for every hundred opportunities he is given, he might say yes to 1–2 of them.

Really successful people say no to most things, because most things won’t get them to where they truly want to be.

Steve Jobs also shared this mentality. Decades ago, Jobs was quoted:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

This process of weeding out the merely “good” for the truly great opportunities is easier when you value your time at $1,000/hour. Anything you can honestly justify doing for $1,000/hour is probably a good thing.

In Conclusion

“Living in frenzy is a sign we’ve squandered too much.” -Niklas Goke

In reality, a lot of people are living a frenzied, busy life. They wear their business as a badge of honor, and brag about their full schedules.

Frankly, most people prefer the little dopamine boost of checking boxes on a to-do list than actually getting important work done.

How do you value your time?

Take stock of the things you did this week. How many of them were worthy of $1,000/hour?

How many activities were a true waste of time?

Value your time at what it deserves to be. The higher the value, the more important and productive work you’ll do — and the less trivial and mindless tasks you’ll get caught in.

Tips for Learning Anything Faster

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Some Tips for Learning Anything Faster

It’s great when we finally learn something new. It’s wonderful to finally have grasped a new topic or have mastered a new skill such as a foreign language.

Yet, the task of actually sitting down and putting in all that nasty work to learn seems overwhelming. It seems like learning anything new will take years, and you have an insanely busy life to lead.

Of course, like anything else in life that is worth doing and requires work, the first thing is to get your mind right. You have to really want to do it. It has to actually mean something to you. It has to hit you on an emotional level.

Until you truly commit to doing something you are likely to fall short of your goal. Here are some tips that will convince you to commit, but also help you reach your goals faster:

  1. Practice and Repetition: Doing the same thing over and over again eventually hammers it home. The more your mind is exposed to something the quicker it learns it. Use flash, i.e. note, cards to practice any material you are trying to learn. Writing something down over and over again is also foolproof. No, it’s not sexy, and it’s not exactly fun. It just works.
  2. Listening to Music: Listening to music has been shown in studies to stimulate learning. Listening to Megadeth at full blast probably ain’t gonna do it, but listening to classical music has been shown to boost performance on tests when taken immediately after learning while listening to music. It also helps to listen to ambient electronic music as well as listening to the same song on repeat many times. You fall into a groove and focus harder.
  3. Visualization: Picture yourself actually working on what you will learn. See yourself sitting down with a book, or using flash cards, having the music on, what you are wearing, the time of day, the whole nine yards. And most importantly, picture yourself enjoying it and being successful at it. This way you’ve taken some of the dread out of it, and gotten used to the idea of putting in that work.
  4. Overviews: If you are learning from a book or an online course, take a look at the table of contents and skim the topics. Then go to each chapter and get a brief overview of what it is about. Again, this can take away some of the dread you may feel, and it may even make you look forward to it. It will also demystify the subject and ease you into it.
  5. Learn by Dreaming: Say what? Stop laughing! This sounds hokey as hell and I don’t blame you for rolling your eyes but I can assure you I have had so many good ideas come to me in the middle of the night. The key is to think about what you are learning right before you go to bed. The best thing to think about is something you are confused about. Our minds actually do process information in our sleep. It might not work every time but it does work.
  6. Discuss with Others: Working on just about anything with other people usually leads to quicker results. Talk over hard material with other people. They can give you tips, but just explaining it to them is a new and different way of learning material that you may have struggled with locked away alone trying to learn. Albert Einstein had his most important breakthrough in formulating his Theory of Relativity when discussing it with a friend. He had been close to giving up before that conversation.
  7. Know Why You Are Learning: Learning about history is easy for me because I enjoy history. Learning about constitutional law was not easy for me, but I did it because it was necessary to become a lawyer. Figure out why you are learning and that will aid you in actually getting it done. There has to be something in it for you; figure out what it is.
  8. Engage Your Senses: When I was studying for a 19th century American history final in college I went out and saw a movie called Dances with Wolves. Yes, I sort of rationalized going to see a movie to get out of studying but it actually helped synthesize what I had been studying. Seeing how Indians lived and how they interacted with whites gave me a better appreciation of that history. So if you are learning about a subject don’t just read about it, watch a show on TV or Youtube on it or listen to an audiobook.
  9. Take Some Well-Time Breaks: Cramming for an exam can help you learn a lot of material in a short amount of time, but you only retain it for a short amount of time as well. To really learn something you need to take your time. Work intensely for short bursts, and then take a break. You avoid burnout this way, but your mind also needs this time to refresh itself. Your mind also subconsciously continues to work while you take a break.

I hope that takes some of the stress out of learning for you. To have learned something is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, but putting in that work is not always pleasant. Follow these tips and I know you will find learning easier and faster than you previously imagined.

Why You Can’t Break Your Bad Habits

bad habits

I’ve tried many different ways to break my bad habits. But none of the conventional tips and tricks brought me lasting success.

We try the weirdest things to get rid of our bad habits. And we blindly believe every single person who gives us advice on the topic.

The most popular advice is this: “Replace a bad habit with a good one.”

It’s wrong. It doesn’t work.

I’ve discovered a much more effective way of changing our lives by changing our habits. I’d love to share it with you. But first, let’s ask ourselves a question.

What’s A Bad Habit?

To me, everything we do that doesn’t have a positive return is a bad habit. Sometimes, it’s what we don’t do that’s the bad habit. For example, I consider laziness as a bad habit.

If you’re too lazy to get out of bed in the morning, clean your house, or go to the gym; you’re not a worthless person—you simply have a bad habit that you need to get rid of.

That’s how I look at most unproductive behavior. I’m not saying that everyone has the same ideas about the meaning of life. But if you, like me, believe that the purpose of life is to be useful, you need the right habits to back that up.

Simply put, anything that prevents you from being useful is a bad habit. We all know that a lot of our behavior is bad. It doesn’t require a genius to understand that eating junk food, smoking, drinking alcohol, complaining, watching the news, browsing social media, lashing out to people, and sitting on your ass all day are bad things.

They have no positive return. No one feels good after doing those things. And yet, we keep sticking to our bad habits because we can’t break them.

Advice About Habits Is Misunderstood

What’s the best way to form a habit? I’ve been researching that question for more than a decade. And I’ve tried every piece of advice that I’ve read about.

I’ve learned that you’re more likely to actually form a habit when you focus on ONE habit at a time. To be honest, that’s not a groundbreaking finding. Every single person who writes about habits will tell you that.

But as humans often do, we’ll blindly assume that the same is true for BREAKING habits.

However, it doesn’t work that way. I only discovered that recently. I will tell you more about that in a minute.

Here’s something else that I’ve learned recently. We have the ability to form more than one habit at a time.

“What?! So I don’t need to focus on one habit at a time?”

The most common criticism that I’ve heard about the “form one habit at a time” idea is that it takes “forever” to change your life. I think there’s some truth in that. Given that it sometimes takes months to form a habit, it can take years to build a foundation of good habits that support your goals.

To be honest, that’s not my biggest concern. Like the cliché says, patience is a virtue. And I think we all need to be more patient. Good things come in time.

But that’s not the problem most people face with habits. Most of us give up before we actually have formed a habit. And if we quit a good habit, we often fall back to our old (bad) behavior before the season changes.

You Need A More Extreme Approach

Look, I’m not saying that replacing bad habits with good habits is bad advice. The problem is that most of us only apply that advice to one habit at a time.

And yes, that does not work.

Think about it. If you drink alcohol every day and eat unhealthy food, what will happen if you quit drinking? If you continue to eat candy bars, salted nuts, potato chips, burgers, pizza, it will not take long before you think “a beer would sure taste nice with this burger.”

If you’re addicted to consuming content on social media and watching tv shows, you can’t “just” get rid of your social media apps on your phone. If you have a tv, you’ll simply binge watch some crap on Netflix. And before you know it, you’ll reinstall those apps with one click. Most of the time, you can pick up right where you left off. You don’t even have to sign in again.

Don’t go down that road. Instead, be committed to change. If you truly want to break your bad habits, go extreme on yourself. Yes, I’m actually saying you should take it seriously. Why? Because your life is a serious matter.

Remember this: If you want to break your bad habits, BREAK THEM ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Go all in. Or don’t go at all.

What We Need Is A Different Lifestyle

It all comes down to one question. How serious are you about living a purposeful life?

I’ve asked myself that question many times in the past. And every now and then, I still have to ask myself that. Falling back on bad habits happens for a reason.

Life is hard. We experience setbacks, stress, and hurt all the time. And our natural reaction is to escape our challenges. Every time we say things like “I need to relax with a glass of wine on the couch,” we’re fooling ourselves.

We’re trying to escape the desperation of life. Inside, we feel lonely and empty. And we try to fill it with bullshit. Now, that bullshit is different for every person.

I might crack open a bag of potato chips and watch a movie, you might be on the phone all night with your friends, another person might hit the nightclub to pop pills, and another one might buy the latest gadget.

But if you want to make a contribution and make yourself useful during the little time you’ve been granted on this planet, you and I both need a different lifestyle.

We need to take care of our body and mind. We need to sleep well, eat healthy, work out, read books, reflect on our lives, and most importantly: Be someone others can count on. You can’t do that with bad habits.

What’s Next?

Think about how serious you are about living a meaningful life. Then, identify the habits that are holding you back. If you’re looking for inspiration, I’ve created a list of 11 unproductive habits that I’ve quit in the past.

Once you’ve identified your bad habits, decide to quit them ALL. And decide that RIGHT NOW.

Now, all of a sudden, you’re a new man or woman. You’ve been given a clean slate. You can form new habits. This article with a few practical tips to form habits might help.

Remember earlier, when I said that you don’t have to form only one habit at a time? What I meant was that if you quit ALL your bad habits, you have the mental ability to form more than one habit at a time.

There’s only one limitation: Focus on one habit per area of your life. To me, the areas are career, health, learning, money, and relationships.

For your career, you might want to show up earlier every day. For your health, you can run every day. For learning, you can spend an hour a day on learning a new skill. For your relationships, you can practice kindness. For your money, you can save 20% of your income.

And yes, you can do all those things. Why not? But remember, your chance of success decreases when you try to take on too much. Can you learn multiple skills at the same time? Can you save money for your retirement and buy a new car? Maybe, but you’ll be much more successful if you do just one thing at a time.

We can achieve many great things in life. We only need the right habits to support us.

 

Your Fight Has Power

Everything You Fight Has Power Over you. Everything You Accept Doesn’t.

“two red boxing gloves on grey surface” by rawpixel on Unsplash

We continuously seek answers outside of ourselves. We look for them in self-help books, podcasts, seminars, mentors, and spiritual teachers. But continually looking outside ourselves for answers isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the expression of our soul’s calling. Eventually, to find our answers, we must turn inward. But going inward requires us to brave the wilderness, explore uncharted territory, and in the words of my friend AJ Leon, not follow well-lit paths, but grab a machete and hack our own.

When we go inward, we can no longer avoid our pain. We have to confront it. But there’s a strange paradox to pain. The more we fight it, the more we empower it.

Everything you fight has power over you. Everything you accept loses its problem it never gets solved? But when you finally let it go, somehow it gets sorted out. A perfect example is dating. In his course on relationships, Mark Manson says one of the best ways to meet somebody is to find something better to do than trying to meet somebody.

When the longing, striving and pushing to get what you so desperately want finally come to an end you’re free. It’s only from that place of freedom and unapologetic, no-bullshit, self-expression that you can create what Jennifer Boykin calls your beautiful immortal work and live a meaningful life.

When we surrender to the circumstances we’ve been fighting, they lose all of their power over us. But we have to be careful not to confuse surrender with resignation or apathy. When we surrender, all of our actions come from a place of peace and abundance. When desperately we fight a circumstance, we do so with the frenetic energy of chaos and scarcity.

A few days ago I was in a meeting with my content strategist. We were looking at book sales for An Audience of One, and I saw that we’d sold roughly 50 copies over the course of the week. That wasn’t going to put me on any bestseller list, or make my publisher salivate. But it made me recognize the importance of playing the long game. It was my moment of surrender. With surrender, I found clarity. I asked him what small things we could do to move the needle, and all of the following ideas came to surface:

  • Change the copy on the home page and feature someone’s Amazon review
  • Create a new graphic with all the pictures readers had posted on Instagram and use it in our newsletter.

A focus on progress gives you power. A focus on perfection disempowers you. When we’re obsessed with perfection, we overlook progress and fail to appreciate our accomplishments.

If I were only satisfied when I sold 10,000 copies of my book, I would have completely disregarded and not appreciated the fact that I had crossed the threshold of my first 1000 copies.

It’s likely we can find everything we crave from some external source within ourselves. However, it requires inner work. We can’t order it on Amazon Prime and have it show up at our doorstep the day after tomorrow. The hedonic treadmill is necessary for economic sustainability. If everybody woke up one day and decided they were enough, had enough, and didn’t need to buy anything else, the economy would collapse.


When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Surrender doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be disappointed and that everything will go your way:

  • Somebody will break your heart when you put it on the line . My sister had probably the most wise perspective on relationships I’d heard in ages. “Everybody is going to break up with you eventually until you meet the person you marry.”
  • You might get fired from a job, but it could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you.
  • A creative project might fail to live up to your expectations, but what you learn from it could be a profound personal growth experience.

If you choose to live a full-color, full contact, and fully self-expressed life, you’re going to have setbacks and disappointments. The only way to avoid disappointments is not to take any chances at all. That’s an incredibly limited way to live your life. As I said in An Audience of One, “Your circumstances can give you colors to paint with.” It’s all material.


Honor the Past

For most of us, when we think of a challenging experience from our past, whether it’s a relationship that didn’t work or a job that we got fired from, we focus on the negative and overlook the positive. We carry that energy with us into the future, and the future ends up looking like the past. But when we honor the past and take the most valuable lessons from it, and the power it has over us dissolves.

One of the exercises in a book I was reading was to write something great about every person who broke up with you. But you don’t just have to apply this to intimate relationships. It can be applied to just about anything. When you do that you see that often people give you many amazing gifts despite the pain they might have caused you. As Dani Shapiro wrote in Still Writing, the blessing is next to the wound.

  • If weren’t for the bosses who fired me, I might not be an author today
  • One girl I dated taught me how to cook, another to dress better, and so on. It didn’t work out. But it didn’t mean there wasn’t a positive gain from it either.
  • A few weeks ago my business partner Brian Koehn and I decided it was time for us to part ways. But we both agreed ending our friendship would be a much higher cost than ending our partnership. He kept us from going out of business in 2014, helped turn our business around, and because he’s left it’s forced me to step into the role of CEO finally.

When you let go of the resentment you feel towards a person who hurt you and forgive them or make peace with a difficult experience from your past, it loses its power over your and more importantly over your future. When you accept your setbacks, they become an opportunity to turn endings into new beginnings.

As somebody who has dealt with cycles of depression, I’m hyper-aware of the fact that this is easier said than done, particularly when you’ve just come out the other side or are still braving the wilderness. Here are some things that I’ve found to be helpful to both honor and let go of the past.

  • Gratitude: While gratitude doesn’t magically solve problems, it is a subtle energetic shift that can also begin to shift your mood. When you practice gratitude, you become aware of all the great things in your life you usually take for granted.
  • Upgrade Your Environment: Nothing has a more profound impact on your behavior and your emotions than your environments. While you don’t have to burn everything from your past in a blazing inferno (although that can be fun), you want the environment to be representative of who you’re becoming, your next chapter, not your previous one. This alone can have a dramatic impact in making you feel better. My conversation with Jim Bunch goes into extensive detail about the role of environments.
  • Go to Therapy: I think everyone should see a therapist at least once. A therapist is like a trainer, but for your brain instead of your body. They raise your awareness of patterns in your life. And they’re objective. You can tell them anything without any shame or fear of how you’ll be judged.
  • Self Care: Do something nice for yourself to close a chapter of your life and start a new one. Upgrading your environment is a form of self-care. Exercise, travel and new hobbies can all be forms of self-care.
  • Perspective: The other night I took a Lyft from Denver to Boulder. My driver was from Congo. He told me about the civil war, corruption, and poverty in Congo. Then I asked him about his work schedule. He drove for 10 hours each day or until he earned $200.00. It was 1 am when he dropped me off, and I asked him if I was his last ride of the day. He said that he planned to keep driving. When I heard his story, suddenly all the things I was feeling stressed about didn’t seem to matter all that much. Who would have guessed that my Lyft driver would become a spiritual teacher?

When we honor the past, we create an open space for the future. When we cling to the past, we’re likely to repeat it.


Honor What Could Be and Embrace Uncertainty

There are many things I thought would have happened in my life by the time I turned 40: marriage, family, etc. And they haven’t. For the first time in my life, I’m being forced to accept that kids might not be in my future. There are three potential scenarios for every life circumstance:

  • The way we thought it would be
  • The way it currently is
  • The way it could be

When the way it currently is isn’t the way we thought it would be, we’re shut off to the possibility how it could be. We are effectively trying to turn the past into the present.

Honoring what could be means honoring uncertainty. And for most of us, uncertainty causes fear, anxiety, and a projection of worst case scenarios. But as Michelle Florendo said on a recent episode of Unmistakable Creative, what we overlook when it comes to uncertainty is the amazing things that could also happen.


The Divine Order of the Universe

If you’re feeling behind the eight ball and you’re thinking you should have the bestseller or the marriage, or why did that happen, or why’d you get fired, if you’re in a dark place, just take one grain of what I’m saying now. Just believe me for a nanosecond, that really, there is a divine order to things. Every single disappointment and I’ve had some significant ones. Every failure, every heartbreak, everything that I went after so, you know, vigorously that didn’t turn out, thank God. I was spared some kinds of destiny. I just have a deeper level of trust now. Doesn’t mean it’s easy all the time. Doesn’t mean I don’t want what I want.” — Danielle LaPorte

There seems to be divine order to the events of the universe:

  • Every loss becomes an opening for a gain
  • Every setback becomes an opportunity for a comeback

But embracing the divine order of the Universe requires faith in forces beyond our control. It’s difficult to see the good that will come from something terrible in the moment that it happens. It’s often something that we only recognize in retrospect :

  • I thought not getting a job offer from Intuit after my summer internship and graduating into the great recession was the worst thing that could happen to me career-wise. But it turned out to be the catalyst for starting what eventually became the Unmistakable Creative Podcast.
  • In 2013, I was laid off from a freelance writing gig. The woman I reported to said I was outgrowing the role. Shortly after that, I self-published The Art of Being Unmistakable, which became a Wall-Street Journal best-seller, and eventually led to a book deal to write An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake, and Unmistakable: Why Only is Better than Best.

Thanks to the divine order of the Universe, I was spared working at a job I probably would have hated, and spared writing about subjects I didn’t care


Surrender goes counter to nearly every one of our cultural instincts, in which we’re taught to, strive, hustle, grind, kick ass and take names. But when you surrender, the result is inspired action. It has a different kind of energy to it. What we know about energy is that like attracts like. Acting out of desperation results in more desperation. Acting out of inspiration results in more inspiration. The paradox of surrender is that it puts you in a position of power.

Yoga for High Blood Pressure

Low Angle View of Woman Relaxing on Beach Against Blue Sky

Nearly 1 in every 3 Americans has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s around 75 million adults. Now that the definition of high blood pressure has recently changed, it’s estimated that up to half of all Americans will now have the condition.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, greatly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. They are, respectively, the first and fifth leading causes of death in the United States, according to the CDC.

Beyond medication, there are a number of things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. These include:

Yoga can actually help with three of these lifestyle changes: exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and stress reduction.

Be aware that some standing poses, back bends, and inversions should possibly be avoided if you have hypertension. Check with your doctor before starting yoga. Talk with your yoga instructor to be sure the specific poses in class are safe for you.

Gentle yoga practice

The following yoga practice is gentle and can be therapeutic for people living with high blood pressure. The routine is most comfortable when done on a yoga or exercise mat, preferably on a nonslip surface.

1. Bound Angle Pose

This seated pose is an excellent hip opener. It also stimulates circulation.

Muscles stretched: neck as well as the inner thighs and hips (adductors and gracilis)

Muscles worked: lower back

  1. Sit on your mat and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you, bending your knees as if you’re about to “butterfly” your legs.
  2. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can, grabbing hold of your toes to gently help this motion.
  3. As you inhale, sit up tall on your sitting bones. Don’t tuck your pelvis here. That will crunch your lower spine.
  4. As you exhale, press your knees to the ground.
  5. Gently and while keeping your spine straight, begin to bend at the hips, taking your ribs toward your feet. If you have the flexibility, you can use your forearms and elbows to press on your knees. This motion should be gentle, not forceful.
  6. When you lower down as far as you can comfortably go without letting your spine start to curve, release any tension in your neck by dropping your chin. Stay here for 3 to 5 slow, even breaths.

2. Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose provides gentle strengthening of your hamstrings, abdominals, and glutes. The pose can help relieve hip and lower backaches while strengthening your core.

While bigger backbends may need to be avoided for people with high blood pressure, this gentler pose provides many of the benefits of deeper backbends without the issues they can cause for people with the condition.

Muscles stretched: lower back and hip flexors

Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominis.

  1. From Bound Angle, release your feet and place them flat on the floor, knees bent, as you lie back on your mat. Your legs and feet should be parallel and approximately hip-width apart with your arms alongside your body.
  2. As you inhale, rock your pelvis so your stomach pulls in and your lower back gently presses against the floor. From there, in a fluid motion, lift your hips as you press into your feet.
  3. You can also press your hands and arms into the ground to help you balance and support the movement. However, the main work should come from your hamstrings, glutes, and abdominals. Keep your shoulder blades in contact with the floor at all times to avoid pressure on the neck.
  4. Hold the pose for a few breaths with your hips in a diagonal line from the chest, no higher. Avoid strain in the lower back by only raising the hips as high as the abdominals, hamstrings, and glutes can support the movement without arching your lower back.
  5. As you exhale, gently roll your spine back onto the ground one vertebrae at a time, from your upper back down.
  6. As you rest and prepare for the next bridge, be sure your spine is neutral. This means your lower back is slightly off the ground, respecting the natural curve of your lumbar spine.
  7. Do this 10 times with 10 slow, even breaths.

3. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

This is a therapeutic pose for high blood pressure. It may improve digestion and calm the brain, while it stretches the spine, shoulders, backs of the legs, and groin. Don’t be intimidated by how some people can place their foreheads on their legs. Even if you aren’t super flexible — most of us aren’t — this is a really beneficial pose.

Muscles stretched: gastrocnemius (calf muscles), hamstrings, spinal extensors, and latissimus dorsi (lats)

  1. From Bridge, simply sit up on the mat, stretching your right leg out in front of you and pulling your left foot into the juncture between your right leg and your groin — much like Bound Angle but with one leg out straight — so your sole is against the opposite leg’s inner thigh.
  2. Press your left hand into the crease of your thigh and groin and your right hand into the ground as you inhale and sit up straight. Extending your spine, turn your torso just slightly, so your bellybutton is lined up with your right thigh.
  3. As you exhale, begin to fold forward from your groin, not your hips. As you do this, you can use a strap or towel around your foot and hold on to both ends. Or, if you prefer and it doesn’t compromise the bend or your spine, you can reach for your shin or your foot as you bend.
  4. Your elbows should be bending out to the side as you ease forward. You don’t want to pull yourself into the stretch, but rather keep your spine and neck long as you round your spine forward over your right leg.
  5. When you’ve reached a comfortable stretch of your hamstrings, calves, and back, pause for a moment. Inhale and feel your spine lengthen. Exhale and ease yourself forward again, deepening the stretch.
  6. Hold this for 3 more deep, even breaths. Gently sit upright, switch legs, and repeat on the other side.

4. Legs-Up-the-Wall

Legs-Up-the-Wall is a passive and calming inversion pose. Because your heart and head are on level ground, this is a safer inversion option for people with high blood pressure. However, some yoga teachers say no inversion is safe for high blood pressure, so check with your doctor before adding this pose to your routine.

Muscles stretched: hamstrings and hips

  1. Place your mat perpendicular to a wall that’s on level ground. Sit parallel to the wall on your mat.
  2. Lie down with your feet on the ground, knees bent.
  3. Using your lower back and upper tailbone as your pivot point, pick up your feet and gently swing your torso so it’s perpendicular to the wall. Nestle your sitting bones up against the base of the wall.
  4. Once you’re comfortable, extend your legs up the wall. You may have to wiggle a little to get there. You can also place a cushion or folded blanket under your lower back if it feels better, but try not to go too high on that angle unless you’ve checked with your doctor first. Keep both shoulder blades in contact with the floor at all times to avoid pressure on your neck.
  5. Rest your arms next to you, palms up. Hang your hips heavy into the mat. You can stay here as long as you like, as a type of Savasana for your practice.

The takeaway

In general, exercise is a wonderful way to avoid and combat high blood pressure. But you should know which types of exercise are safe and which to avoid. Checking with your doctor and then trying this gentle, therapeutic, calming yoga routine is a great place to start.

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Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

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10 Small Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

habits return on life

Over the years, I’ve adopted many different “positive” habits.

To me, a habit is positive when it improves the quality of my life. A lot has been written about forming habits.

How hard is? How long does it take? What’s the best way to break habits? How do we adopt new habits?

My experience is that everyone can adopt any habit they want. There’s only one condition though: You need a good reason to make a change (I talk about that in-depth on this podcast episode).

And in 99% of cases, the reason to change comes from personal suffering, sadness, and hurt. At some point, you can’t stand your current behavior anymore.

Don’t worry about how you will change. Focus on what habits you want to form and why.

After one of my friends recently asked me about my current habits, I decided to share them here—with a brief explanation of what the habits are good for.

1. Do a full-body workout with weights 3 times a week

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Strength training has several benefits. It protects bone health, muscle mass, keeps you lean, increases energy levels, and prevents injuries.

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16. It’s the only habit on this list that I’ve been doing for that long. Like many people who lift weights, I started with split routines.

That means you work out different muscle during every session. With most routines, you’re training a specific muscle only one time per week. It turns out that muscles need more stress to become stronger.

Ideally, you want to train all your muscles, 3 times a week. That’s why I’ve been doing full body workouts. It’s simple, practical, and it works.

2. Set 3-4 daily priorities

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This is one of the best productivity strategies there is. We all know that focus is what brings us results.

No focus? No results. So how do you focus? By limiting your options and tasks. Elimination is the key.

Be very clear about what you want to achieve every single day, week, and year.

Every day, work on 3-4 essential (and small) tasks that will bring you closer to your weekly and yearly goals.

3. Read 60 minutes a day

Woman Sitting on Grey Concrete Pavement Reading Book

I get it, you’re too busy to read. Or maybe you just don’t like to read.

Well, you’re not getting off that easily.

Reading is essential for your cognition. But you already knew that. How about this? Reading will also turn you into a better thinker and writer.

“But I still don’t like to read.” Well, there are many things in life we don’t like, but we still do them. Instead of telling yourself you don’t like to read, learn to enjoy it by doing it every day.

And like magic, one day, you’ll love to read.

4. SLEEP 7-8 HOURS A DAY

Photo of a Woman Hugging a Blue Pillow

I never sacrifice my sleep for anything. I recently canceled a meeting in the morning because I slept late. The night before, I was reading a good book that totally consumed me.

After reading, I started taking notes. And before I knew it, it was 2 am. I had to wake up at 7 am to make the meeting.

I canceled the meeting. I’m not going to sleep for 6 hours so I can make a meeting when I know that I’ll be tired the whole day.

Some people can perform well with 5 hours of sleep. But most of us need more. If you’re part of the latter group, make sure you get enough sleep. And be dead serious about it. If you’re not in a position to cancel meetings etc, sleep early.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day

Three Women Walking on Seashore Under Blue Sky

If you can’t MAKE the time to go for a daily walk, you’re not in control of your life. I don’t even walk for the health benefits. Sure, walking keeps the body moving and is good for you.

But I go for a daily walk because it breaks the pattern of our mundane lives. Look, we can’t deny that life is routine. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you walk outside, you’re forced to be one with the world. It heightens your senses. You can go alone or with someone else. You can have a good conversation. Or you can simply enjoy the surroundings.

6. Follow the intermittent fasting eating pattern

Woman in Brown Classic Trench Coat Eating Mcdo Fries during Daytime

 

I don’t eat anything after my dinner. And I skip breakfast. That means I “fast” for 15-16 hours every day.

There are some health benefits associated with intermittent fasting. But we have to be careful with making claims.

The reason I like it is that it makes me feel and look better. Plus, I can eat whatever I want during the day without gaining any weight.

I don’t eat junk food. I stick to whole foods with high nutritional value. Also, my first meal contains a lot of unsaturated fat and protein. And finally, make sure you consume the calories your body needs to operate (2000 for women, 2500 for men, on average).

7. Be present

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We’re so focused on our goals that we forget to enjoy the present moment. This is one of my biggest pitfalls.

I really need to remind myself EVERY SINGLE day that I should enjoy the now.

We’re always waiting until we achieve something. “I will be happy then.”

Nope, you won’t if you’re always stuck in the future. Find a trigger that brings you back to the present moment.

For example, I recently bought a new watch. During the same time, I was reading a lot about this spiritual stuff. Now, every time I look at my watch, I say, “What time is it? NOW.”

8. Practice kindness & love

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We all treat our love like it’s a depletable resource. That’s false. Love is unlimited and never runs out. You can give it away as much as you like.

But your ego stops you from doing that. You always want something in return.

So give this a try. Realize that you have an unlimited resource. Give some of your love and kindness away every day. Don’t worry about keeping score. You have enough love anyway.

9. Journal or write 30 minutes a day

Free stock photo of woman, hand, notebook, pen

I need to get my thoughts in order every day. I do that by writing. That helps me to focus on what matters to me. That’s why I journal.

Even when I’m not writing articles, I sit down and journal—only for myself. I don’t write in my journal for others. Journaling is also an excellent tool to become a better thinker and person.

10. Save 30% of your income

Ballpoint Pen on Top of White Printer Paper Beside 100 U.s. Dollar Bill

If you can’t save 30%, save 10%. Saving is not so much about how much. It’s about how often.

You save by cutting out useless things you do daily or weekly. You don’t need to buy a latte every day. You also don’t need to buy “organic” cashew nuts for $10.

Save on the small things. They will turn into big lumps of cash in time. Especially if you invest that extra cash.

And that is also the secret to these 10 habits. They are all small. And the daily progress you make seems insignificant.

You will only see the return it has on your life over time. You must stick to these habits until your life gets better.

And when that happens, you’ll keep going—not because you have to, but because you want to.

10 Lessons From 10 Years of Yoga

Excellent topic on YOGA.

existential ergonomics

I began yoga at age 19 after a car accident caused some damage to the muscles around my scapula. After a year of physical therapy did nothing to resolve the muscle weakness, my mom suggested we try yoga. I reluctantly agreed.

Together, we attended private lessons, where the instructor worked with our unique bodies and structural weaknesses. Within a few weeks, I had built up enough muscle around the traumatized area to support its recovery. Quickly and unexpectedly, I fell in love with yoga.

I began attending classes several times per week, gradually deepening my stretches and building my strength. In 2014, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training, where I learned how to breath, modify poses, and assist others in doing the same.

What I love most about yoga is that the lessons learned on the mat can extend out to all areas of our lives. Here are 10 valuable…

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