Where Have I Been?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written something for myself, in fact, my last post I wrote for Mind & Matter Fitness was on February 28th.

That’s quite an anger-inducing amount of time.

Now I haven’t been silent due to lack of caring about this website or my thoughts, ideas, and motivations. I’ve been silent because I was experiencing one of the busiest times of my life to date.

From personal training at a big-box gym, to a promotion at my day job, to writing for The Well Path, (latest post HERE), to exploring new business ventures (more to come on that soon), things were hectic.

Now without complaining too much, I’ll get right into why this post to me is so important. I was really busy. I couldn’t even make time for my family and friends due to my schedule, and it was drastically affecting my mood, behaviors, and outlook on my life. And it wasn’t for the better. I’ve written about the choice to be happy, but as I got busier and busier this choice became harder and harder.

It really showed me how negativity can be so incredibly toxic. While laugher is contagious, negativity is infectious. It takes over you and it can spiral out of control.

It also opened my eyes to the importance of maintaining a list (even a mental one, at best) of my priorities. This list should serve as a means of asking yourself, what are the top 2 things I want to accomplish in the next month, 3 months, year, and what are the steps, people, and things I need in and out of my life to get there? And even though during this time, the activities I was pursuing kept me busy and felt like they were helping me to get where I need to go, I found that the tradeoff of doing too much and not thinking about my priorities outside of my jobs was not an advantageous one for my mental health and happiness.

Having priorities is extremely important to goal attainment, however priorities cannot exist in silos. While I was very busy and seemingly working towards what I ultimately want for myself and my career, other priorities like my own workouts, my friends, and my family, got put on the back-burner. This led to a feeling of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction. Our priorities must work synergistically. Because just like a well oiled machine, if one piece is malfunctioning, the entire system suffers and does not perform at maximum capacity or ability.

There’s a reason why we have priorities. And there’s a reason why they are priorities in the first place. They are the most important things in your life. And if you aren’t working to satisfy or accomplish those priorities as a whole, then they either aren’t actually priorities, or your life is not in balance, and you are choosing to put those priorities on hold which can lead to unhappiness and a sense of stagnation.

No matter how full our lives feel, or how much other people may tell you what you’re doing is right, it is extremely important to align priories with actions. If we aren’t working towards goals we set out for ourselves but also are not giving the proper time to the things we truly care about, it won’t take long before you start to feel unsatisfied and unhappy.

We need to always be working towards something. Striving to attain what it is we want. For those that already have the fire within them know that any activity not working for the vision is a distraction. For those that are in a smolder, waiting for a gust of oxygen to invigorate you into a flame, be honest with yourself and make an assessment of your activities and how they align to your goals and priorities. Are you doing everything you can to make you happy? Are there people, jobs, physical things in your life or in your way that are setting you back? More importantly, are there people or things in your life that must remain in your life in order for you to truly be happy and who will encourage you to accomplish your goals?

It is often more important to think not about what you can give up in order to accomplish your goals, but what you must keep in your life. I made the mistake of only thinking about what I could give up (personal time and sleep), and not what I needed (time with friends and family) in order to remain happy and help me accomplish my goals.

So when thinking about your priorities and setting and accomplishing your next goal, try to spend as much time (if not more) thinking about what you need to keep versus what you have to give away. This will allow you to make smart decisions about the true sacrifices you are willing to take, and who or what in the end will help you to achieve more.

Kindness is Not Conditional

It’s frustrating when you’re not thanked for holding a door open. It’s annoying when people snap back at something innocent you say.

It’s unsettling when people do not reciprocate kindness.

But we must remember that we never know what kind of day someone had or is having. Maybe things in someone’s life are really tough right now. Maybe someone just lost someone they love.

You never know.

So if you’re being polite and kind, and it’s met with nastiness or rudeness, this is not the time to bite back. In fact, it’s a time when you should be even kinder. Because whether or not someone is going through a hard time in their life, it doesn’t matter. We need to always be focusing on how we can make other people’s day and life better, not blaming other people for their lack of kindness.

“But it’s everyone’s responsibility to be kind, not just mine! Having a bad day doesn’t give them the right to act that way.”

While we should all be kind, polite, and well mannered, we need to take accountability and ownership of ourselves and our own actions, instead of focusing on how everyone else should act.

And if you yourself are having a bad day, try to project kindness even still, because putting a smile on someone else’s face when you’re down might just put a smile on your own face.

We all can improve ourselves and be better to one another, so let’s start from within. Kindness is contagious, so focusing on being nicer to those around us regardless of its reciprocation, will spread joy and even more acts of kindness organically. Leading to a happier, more united life within ourselves and all who surround us.

Why You Need to Fail

I’m going to try as hard as I can to not articulate this point like every other cliche article, video, speech about why you need to fail. But if you feel like you already know what’s coming and don’t want to hear my take, feel free to move on.

Whether it’s in the gym or it’s in life, failing is essential to growth. Why?

Because we must be constantly reminded that progress is not linear. That we can’t always succeed and succeed and succeed, and that our goals can always be achieved effortlessly.

In the gym, failing a rep or failing at a PR attempt is a great thing. Because that’s exactly the moment when you grow the strongest. Until you fail at a rep, you never truly know what your threshold is. You may be getting stronger rep by rep, day by day, but you never truly know how much you can go before you can’t go any more. Your mind is never met with true adversity in the gym. While you may struggle at reps, really failing a rep, I mean failing hard, not even able to budge the weight, gives your body and your mind a threshold and challenge.

You’ve suddenly realized there’s something you can’t do.

And you learn from that. You change up your programming, you change up your diet, you change your mindset, you change your behaviors, then get after it to attack the weight the next time to lift that barbell off the ground.

This is important in the gym and in life to fail because not only do we find motivation in that, but it reminds us that success and growth isn’t easy. And it shouldn’t be. If we continue to have everything given to us without the need of hard work, dedication, and intention then we’d go through life living with a dull flame, and excitement, achievement, and self-pride would hardly exist.

We must also keep in mind that rewards from success are not always monetary. Doing a good job at work or hitting a PR in the gym brings increased self-confidence, pride, and allows you to learn the steps that it takes to succeed so that you can apply it to the next goal you have set.

So train to fail. Embrace failure as something to learn from. You will never know your true potential until you reach your maximum threshold. From there, you will be able to recognize just how much it will take to achieve the goals that are important to you, and you’ll be informed and educated from the failures you’ve had to help you succeed in the future. All to help you become the strongest, healthiest, and happiest you can be.

“Let me tell you why I’m right”

There are a lot of people out there who will go to all ends to be “right” in any given argument, discussion, situation. And a lot of times, what they want to be right about is entirely of opinion.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting your opinion to be right, it’s important to remember who may be on the other end of the conversation, and what they are thinking and feeling, and what those people’s opinions are.

While it’s very important to tell some (politely and with a smile) when they are factually incorrect, it’s also important to remember that everyone deserves to have a voice and an opinion, about anything. And that sometimes it’s more important for your friendship, relationship, job, to let someone have that opinion and to let it go if you think they’re wrong.

People want to be heard and understood, and a lot of times they want to be heard and understood about very minor, opinion-based comments. They’ll say it to raise an eyebrow, to elicit a “hm, never thought about that”, but when they’re met with comments on why they’re wrong or why you’re right or unnecessary explanation about a point they made, it might made that person upset or less likely to speak up or confide in you later.

It’s important to keep in mind that some people are more sensitive than others, and that while you may think that you’re just merely adding to the conversation, you may actually be insulting that person and their opinions, or taking things out of context and molding them into your own thoughts and beliefs.

Especially now in a time when many people are divided in our country on a broad array of topics, it’s pivotal that we keep our conversations constructive, but also come from a place of understanding. Facts are facts, but everyone has opinions which they are entitled to, so instead of forcing yours onto others, let’s all try to discuss and understand why people may have the thoughts and opinions they have in an effort to make conversation more challenging, thought provoking, constructive, and beneficial to all parties to learn from others.

Trying to impose your will and opinions onto others when unasked can be harmful to relationships, so we should be mindful of exactly what someone is saying so that we don’t listen to respond, we listen to understand.

Don’t Make Resolutions This Year

Last year at around this time I wrote about how to make resolutions that stick, and after reflecting on my 2016 resolutions, I did do a pretty good job at sticking up with them.

But this year I’m trying out something different.

With all goals, big and small, there are going to be some that you achieve, and some that take longer than you thought, and others that you just flat out don’t achieve and never do. And sometimes this can be pretty daunting and even disheartening to think about.

That’s why this year I’m not making any resolutions. 

Instead, I’m choosing one quote (and possibly a big word or mantra) to live by for the year. And that quote is:

“Leave not for tomorrow that which can be done today”

The reason why I am choosing this quote is because it’s short and to the point. We so often get caught up in saying “I’ll just do that tomorrow” that it never gets done.

This quote is one I can repeat to myself whenever I am falling into this habit and snap me back into it so that I don’t procrastinate, and so I don’t leave work off for later when I am able to do it today.

Reenforcing a quote is much easier to do and to keep yourself accountable to than a list of goals or resolutions for a whole year. They’re hard to keep track of, they’re hard to set, and often times they never happen.

Keeping a quote on the top of your mind, writing it down at your desk, and repeating it to yourself whenever you need it is simple, easy, and effective, helping you live a stronger, healthier, and happier life in the new year.

What will your quote or mantra be for 2017? Let me know in the comments below!

“Good” Morning

I recently moved to New York City, and now instead of the bus, I ride the subway to get to work. I’ve written before about the start to your day, but as my commuting habits have changed, I experience and witness new behaviors and interactions, all that make me think quite a bit.

Typically the subways are very crowded in the morning. Crowded like, you’re literally shoulder to shoulder with others, crammed into a tight subway car at 8:30 in the morning. This isn’t the most comfortable way to start the day by any means.

That being said, it amazes me that so many people get so incredibly angry and frustrated, when the day has just begun.

Yes, there’s not much room for personal space or breathing room, but this is something that almost all 8 million people in NYC experience. Each individual commute is no different than the millions that are happening at the same time as you.

So when someone gets bumped into, or someone shoves their way onto the subway to cram themselves in, it can create a lot of tension, frustration, and even yelling. Presumably not long after we’ve all just woken up.

Now I’m not saying that these people should push their way into the subway car, or keep their backpacks and purses on while on the train, but confrontation, arguments, and self-mutterings only add to the stresses and frustrations of the daily commute.

It’s important to remember that the way to make change is by doing it with a smile. 

Not many people are morning people, but your own lack of sleep, personal dealings, and moods shouldn’t be pressed onto others if they aren’t acting in accordance to your will.

We’re all living together in a very crowded city, anger and argument will only lead to an even more frustrated, anxiety filled commute. 

So even if everything is going well in your commute, take your headphones off once in a while and get out of your own little world. Smile and chuckle to the person next to you as you both cram closer and closer together as more people fill the subway car.

Half of the reason why we continue hate our commute is because we ourselves take no action to make it better.

And if no one else is going to do it, you should.

Recognize that everyone on that subway, train, bus ride or walk is in the same position as you. You’re no different than the person who’s jammed up against you. So meet them with a smile instead of an eye-roll and sigh. Say hello instead of turning your music up louder.

Because while the city is so dense and crowded, disgruntled morning commutes could not bring people any farther apart and into their own world.

Start the day off with a smile to a stranger, and you just might set the tone for the whole rest of your day for each of you. 

When the Gym Isn’t Just a Task

I’ve written posts on will power and the importance of lifting, and I live I life that prioritizes health and physical fitness over many other things.

But I often find myself in conversation about dedication and how disciplined I am about lifting weights and going to the gym, and people tend to say:

“Man I wish I could be that good about going to the gym”… or something to that effect.

See the gym is much more to me than something to do to keep myself in shape. That’s actually one of the last reasons why I go so regularly.

The gym for me is an outlet. It’s an escape. One where I can blast music, let my stress go, and listen to – and connect with – my body.

For these reasons (and also that it’s good for me) I keep it close to the top of my priority list.

But what people see on the outside, though, is someone who finds time to go to the gym more times during the week than not, to keep themselves in shape. And this is something that seems to be envied by a lot of people.

But when the gym is more than just something you do to stay in shape, it isn’t always a good thing, or something that should be envied.

Because when I miss a workout, I’m missing much more than just an hour of mindless sweat and fatigue. Missing a workout means missing time that I need with myself, and it can make me stressed, anxious, upset, and angry.

When someone goes to the gym with the sole intention of it being good for you and something you should do on a somewhat frequent basis, it’s easy for those people to skip a workout to do something else, like grab a few drinks with friends instead. It’s easy because there aren’t many other elements tied to the workout, like the therapeutic effect, the self-competitive effect, among others.

See these people have actually subconsciously mastered the idea of moderation and balance. An idea that doesn’t come easy for some, including me.

No matter what your reasons are for going to the gym, it’s important for us to always remember that a life of balance will ultimately give us more joy than one with unequal weights.

Sometimes we must recognize when it’s okay to take a step back and enjoy the things around you and experience all that we can to help us live a stronger, healthier, and happier life.

But priorities are priorities for a reason, so we must help each other understand what’s important to each of us so we don’t feel like balance is a difficult thing.

And if you surround yourself with people who truly care about you, they will understand and work with you to have balanced relationships and friendships that will only grow stronger as time goes on, while also allowing you to attain the personal goals you set out for yourself.