Surprised by Kindness

I recently went on vacation with my family, and not long after arriving we couldn’t help but to point out how nice the people were who lived there.

I find this to be a very interesting thing that all of us seem to do, which is pointing out and even being surprised at the fact that a large group of people in a certain area or setting can be so nice. Specifically, there are two things I find fascinating and thought provoking when it comes to this situation that I’m sure all of us have been in.

1. Why are we so surprised that people can be NICE?
2. What does that say about who WE are?

I think it’s astounding that we live in a world where it is a surprise and it is something that needs to be pointed out when people are genuinely kind and nice to you. Why isn’t this the standard for how we live our lives? When can we live in a place where we’re more surprised by unpleasant, cold people than we are by kind, compassionate ones? This phenomenon is something I think about almost every day because I myself feel surprised when people are overwhelmingly nice, and I get so discouraged that I fall into this trap of being surprised, it’s just simply because it is true.

To my second point, I think this fact says a lot about who we are as a society, both locally and globally. I live my life attempting to be nice to anyone and everyone who passes my way, even if that means just a simple smile or thank you where one may not be necessary. I’m not saying that everyone doesn’t do this, but the mere fact that we point out when people are so nice tells me that most of us aren’t. And this says something about the places we travel to who all seem to be so nice. Different cultures, even within the U.S. alone act and behave differently, and in some cases, more pleasantly and kindly based on where you go. Sure, this is a generalization, but we do tend to notice this phenomenon, making it a fairly agreeable one.

So I challenge you, both in your mind and the way you think, and your matter and how you present yourself to others, to be gentle and kind to all of those around you. You’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll make someone feel better about themselves, and you’ll be contributing to make our world a place where we aren’t thrown off when someone is genuinely and sincerely nice, and instead one where we are thrown off and want to correct those who act in any way other than with pure kindness.

The importance of getting angry at the gym

I see this all the time at any gym I am in: people going through the motions and looking like they are bored and not challenging themselves during their workout. If this sounds like you, I ask that you read this post with an open mind and just hear me out. If you tend to work out pretty routinely, but don’t like it, are always tired, or for any other reason and you don’t feel like you are getting results, a simple fix may be to just get angry. This can work for those who are sluggish in the gym, or who just want to see better results. The easy question one may ask is, well, “why?” And, “what do you mean by angry?” Let me tell you: Getting angry at the gym means before your set, before you step on the treadmill, just get mad. Think about something that fires you up. This may be your boss earlier in the day, or anything that you are currently dealing with. Even get angry at the fact that you aren’t lifting as much as you want to or running as fast as you want to. Tap into that anger and/or stress, and take it out in your workout. Anger in the gym is a great motivator and energy booster. It will intensify your workouts and it will also make your workouts more therapeutic. (See my post Why Everyone, I Mean Everyone Should Go To The Gym to learn more about the benefits and reasons to go to the gym and lift). If you spend a lot of time at the gym with a calm mind, more often than not you will just end up going through the motions in your workout and not make the best of your time at the gym. Getting angry and mad makes you want to work. Put your headphones in, blast some music, and get down to business. There’s a reason why you are taking time out of your day to go to the gym and you should not let that go to waste. This anger should not last during your entire workout, however. In between rests or sets you should calm yourself as much as possible, breathe deep, then channel your energy and get mad again when it’s time to work. This may seem weird, and may cause you to grunt and make all kinds of weird faces at the gym, but embrace it. Plenty of people in the gym do it. You may think it’s annoying or embarrassing, but pay attention to who those people are next time you are there. More often than not they are in pretty good shape. The gym is an open environment to get down and dirty. It’s a primitive environment, you are lifting heavy things or running as fast as you can. It’s where everyone goes to improve themselves. So turn the treadmill up a couple notches, add a little more weight, turn up your music, and work hard no matter how it makes you look, sound, or act. Getting angry isn’t always the solution. But it may be the one you need to increase the effectiveness of your workouts and to start or end your day with a nice little therapy session.

What I need for success

HATE self help books that say: “Do these X Number of Things and You Will be Successful!”. There is no one path to success, and NO ONE can tell you what to do in order to be successful.

However – there are things, habits, and tips that people have that can help you kick start or get you to understand and recognize things that you as an individual need in order to be successful in your own way. Everyone has a different definition of success and everyone has their own right to one. But here are my 5 things that I keep in mind and I do in order to help guide my success and help me live a better life. These things are by no means prescriptive, but I hope there are takeaways here that you can learn from and possibly implement in order to help guide your own success.

1. Sleep

I know what my body needs when it comes to sleep. Over a life of sleeping a lot and sleeping a little, in order to get through the day with enough energy to keep focused and tackle whatever life throws at me, I need at least 8.5 hours of sleep. AND, if I’m not in bed a half hour before I want to fall asleep, I won’t get the actual amount of hours I set out for myself.

Knowing what your body needs when it comes to sleep is the most important thing you can do for yourself. If you don’t sleep enough – or even too much – this can have harmful effects on your day. You won’t feel focused, you may skip some activity because you’re too tired, and it can cause a lot of harmful affects on the body.

Regulating sleep is also very important in how energized you feel. This means going to bed and waking up at fairly consistent times each day. So if I want 8.5 hours and go to bed at 10:30pm every work night, but then on the weekends don’t go to bed until 2am but still get 8.5 hours of sleep, this messes up your cycle and it will make for very rude awakenings on Monday morning.

This isn’t to say you can’t have a late night and have fun on the weekends – just be wary of your sleep cycle throughout the week and weekend. It’ll also help you hate Mondays a little less.

2. Go to the Gym

It’s probably clear from the title of this blog, and my first post, that I like going to the gym. But I truly believe that exercising is the key to unlocking all of life’s possible successes. Now by this I don’t mean playing basketball with your friends once a week. While this is GREAT and I strongly encourage activity that is dynamic and fun, I am talking about going to the gym to sweat, to grind, and connect with your body by yourself. Giving yourself time to listen to the machine that is your body and to become one with it in an animalistic, primal way.

In order for myself to feel successful and to feel my best to promote the most success, I know I need to go to the gym at least 4 times a week. This allows me to lift the way I want to lift, give my body enough rest, and put me in a place at which I feel best. It’s also a realistic number. Anyone can say they want to go to the gym 6 days a week, but this will only leave you feeling like you have failed. If you set out to accomplish a number like going 2 times a week, complete it don’t skip any days, and exceed it by maybe going even 3 or 4. That’s ideal. Then, you can reassess your target amount of days and move forward.

I tell everyone to go to the gym. It keeps you young, it can be incredibly existential, philosophical, and enlightening. But only if you make it that way. Don’t dread going to the gym. Look forward to going and making yourself better. (And, at least, it’s one day down and one less to go to reach your target gym days.)

3. Eat

This is something that everyone knows, but often doesn’t understand why this is so critical for your life, and for your overall success. Eating regularly and routinely, like going to the gym, keeps your body in line with itself and regulates your entire system. Eating right also gives you more energy throughout the day, will improve your sleep patterns, and keep your mind sharp and focused. If you don’t know what you should be eating and are curious if you are eating right, talk to someone who can help. If you sleep a lot but still don’t feel energized of focused, or you aren’t reaching your fitness goals, chances are you aren’t eating right, so again, talk to someone.

I am the last person to tell you that you should become a health nut and only eat foods people ate in the cave-man era, that stuff just isn’t practical anymore and it can be expensive and extremely time consuming. Instead, I really believe in the idea of eating foods you like to eat, that will give you the nutrition your body needs yet doesn’t make you throw up at the sight of another cup of broccoli after eating it at every meal for a week. “Everything in moderation” is an idea that is set up to fail. It is an immediate excuse to splurge here and there on things you know you shouldn’t be eating. You can still eat a lot, and a lot of tasty food, while also eating healthy. You need to find out what healthy foods you like and what combinations of foods taste the best and focus on making those the center of your diet. Knowing what your body needs and making sure you are putting that in your body, as well as some sweets or guilty foods you can’t live without (the occasional Yodel, for me), you will feel great and great about yourself. And, because you’re exercising at least twice a week and even though you know you shouldn’t, go ahead and eat that extra piece of cake at your friends birthday party, too. Don’t be lame.

4. Be nice

Here’s another piece of wisdom I’d like to share with the world. This is one of the most important lessons anyone, at any age, can, and should learn. The goal here is to be nice to everyone and every thing. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the planet, everything. NOW. This doesn’t mean becoming a pushover and people pleaser just for the sake of it. This will only leave you frustrated and angry at everyone and everything which is the exact opposite of what we want here.

What I try to do is to be positive and nice 24/7, while still communicating frustration and discontent. This means always approaching a situation positively and nicely, however when something makes you angry, or is unfair, or is wrong, you must express your feelings. Communicating frustration and discontent does not translate into being mean. It simply means you need to know when someone has crossed a line and still express it in a nice and “friendly” way.

You will win more friends, colleagues, and people who will do you favors this way. I cannot stress how important this is in life.

5. Do something you’re scared to do

This is often the point I need to explain most when talking about these points to people. And it’s for good reason. Because who wants to do something that they are scared of? But this is the most important piece of advice I can give.

I find that doing something you’re scared to do is crucial in discovering yourself, your passions, getting the most of life and becoming successful. What I mean by doing something you’re scared to do is: once a month you should force yourself to do something that you are nervous doing, something that forces you to step out of your shell and expose yourself and feel vulnerable. Whether it is singing in front of a group of people, or asking someone on a date but you’re afraid they’ll say no – do it. Just once a month.

What this does for the mind cannot be understated. Tackling your fears, even just little ones that make you nervous, opens your mind up to what you are missing out by over thinking. We can’t constantly disappoint ourselves by not doing the things that make us nervous that we know we want to do. It will lead to regret and sadness. Exposing yourself and becoming vulnerable boosts your confidence and ability to become the best version of yourself.

The high of doing something you’ve always wanted but were too scared to do cannot be replicated by anything else. Feeling good about yourself and not caring about what other people think, understanding that people aren’t out to judge and make fun of you, accepting possible rejection are all lessons you need to learn through experience. It’s the only way you can learn these lessons.

So go ahead and ask that person out. Make the first move. Go ahead and perform your talent to a live audience. You’ll only find yourself wanting to do it all again and you’ll be even better at it than the last time.

 


 

Again, my goal here is not to tell people what they need to do in order to succeed and if you don’t do them you’re a failure. Just try these things out for a little while. Use some, use none, use all – these are things that I’ve learned to be instrumental in feeling successful and to form the best version of myself. We’ll all have days or weeks where we can’t do it all. But jumping back into the routine as soon as you know you will have the time, do it.

I encourage everyone to think about what they need to feel successful, and what will help you achieve your measure of success. I hope that my list has either brought new things to your attention or that it has helped you recognize the importance in creating a routine to feel better about yourself and striving to live by it every day.