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. 

Training Without Headphones

Ever since the rise of portable radios, listening to music during workouts has become a standard for many.

Just think, when you walk into a gym, how many people aren’t plugged in to their headphones?

While music during my workout is a big energy booster, it can also cause us to go through the motions and have mindless workouts. Here are 3 reasons why working out without headphones can benefit your workout and your health.

1. It forces you to pay attention

Often times when we’re listening to music during a workout, it’s to distract us from the fact that we’re exercising. But this also allows our mind to drift from what we should be paying attention to during exercise: our bodies.

Exercise, lifting weights especially, requires full attention before, during, and after our actual workout. We should be constantly paying attention to exactly what our bodies are doing, feeling, and telling us. When we have blasting music in our ears, our minds drift and the things we should be focusing on are being de-prioritized due to our brain trying to focus on the words and sounds of the music.

There’s a reason why we always seem to turn down the music when trying to park a car, music confuses and distracts our brain while we’re trying to focus our attention elsewhere. It effects our vision and concentration.

2. It challenges you to channel energy in a different way

Music has great power, but it also is a different kind of energy. When listening to music your mind has something to channel energy from; a good beat, angry lyrics, goosebumps from a favorite song, etc.

But this, in a sense, is artificial. It’s energy derived from something created.

Working out without headphones forces you to channel energy organically, through your own body and mind. Doing this, will help you speak to your body, listen to it, and act as one with it.

Now you could use some angry thoughts or pent up aggression, but this is a little bit more real than what music can provide.

You may notice that you weren’t able to lift as much, or you felt a little distracted. And this is a good lesson to learn, as overtime you will be able to naturally channel energy and focus more and more with yourself without the aid of music.

3. It’s better for your ears (and eyes)

This one is pretty straightforward, albeit important. When you go to a gym, there’s typically music already playing. There’s also loud banging of weights, treadmills, and machines. All loud stuff.

Adding loud music right next to your eardrums can be even more overstimulating and it may damage your ears overtime. 

Lots of us spend so much time with a phone next to our ears or have headphones in listening to music, that we rarely give ourselves (and our ears) a break. The gym could actually be a perfect time to do that. Listen to the music that’s already playing, or just tune everything else out and focus on what you went there to do.

It’ll also keep you off your phone during a time for a need of intense focus. Having to skip or jump through songs and giving yourself one more reason to be on your cellphone can be distracting during your workout and disrupt your session. Keeping your phone and music in your locker can help you be more present and mindful, as well as sparing your ears of the damage. 

Music is powerful and a great workout tool if used correctly, but challenging yourself to workout without music a little more will help in many ways, guiding you towards a stronger, happier, and healthier life.