A friend of mine called me last night and asked, “How do you find yourself?”. He is struggling through a personal crisis and sought my advice.
My advice was as much for me as it was for him: Unplug and Reconnect.
When I am struggling with a crisis…
When I am unable to solve a problem…
When I am feeling lost or alone…
The most effective way for me to overcome difficulties, or put myself in a better way, is to begin by eliminating distractions. Unplug my mind from the artificial noise for a time and just be with me; Turn off the radio, turn off the computer, turn off the phone, turn off the television. I call it digital abstinence.
When I’ve done this, I’ve found that it takes some time for the noise to die down- It’s like the ringing in your ears after going to a rock concert. If you are disciplined enough to go a few days without using any of your digital devices, you’ll find it much easier to focus. And as the digital noise begins to subside, you’ll begin to hear an inner voice that had been drowned out by all of the distractions.
Giving up your devices means you will have much more time. And what to do with this time…?
Moving your body, using your muscles, getting your heart pumping, feeling resistance- Doing this connects you to the physical world. Whether its weight lifting, hiking, yoga or playing a sport, getting off your ass and doing something that requires using your body will improve your life.
Aside from the health benefits, it will make you happy. Ever heard of runner’s high? Yep, that’s the reward your body gives you after an arduous workout; A shot of dopamine to soothe the burn. You will feel better and, as a result, feel better about yourself.
If you focus your intention on making physical activity a central part of your life, other parts of your life will soon align with this intention. Getting that super-sized shit-burger at the drive-thru won’t sound as appealing when it conflicts with your fitness goals.
Now that you are thinking about what you are doing with your body, its time to think about what you are putting in it. The expression, “You are what you eat” has deep psychological roots. The value you assign to yourself as a person is reflected in how you treat your body.
It is more than likely that any food that you buy that is ready to eat is inherently bad for you. Processed foods that are overly sweetened with refined sugars, preserved with chemicals and artificially flavored are marketed so deceptively that it is hard to know what you are actually eating.
There is tremendous satisfaction in buying whole foods that are grown locally and preparing them into meals that are delicious and nutritious. Eat ‘real’ food (and nothing but) for a week and you will find that there is plenty of natural sugar in grapes for even the pickiest eater.
Making your own food is cheaper, will improve your health, make you look better and make you happier.
Let’s face it, if you are not reading, you are not growing as a person. No matter your field(s) of interest, there is a library of books on the topic. There is a reason why everyone says, “the book was better than the movie”, right? Books allow the author to dive deeper into a subject and develop the stories behind the story.
You say, “But I’m not much of a reader.” There are two reasons for this: 1. You have gotten spoiled with instant, on-demand entertainment that demands no discipline, and 2. You have not found the right books.
Movies, TV and the Internet are the junk food of entertainment. Reading a book is like getting a home-cooked meal made of real, natural ingredients.
Making daily entries in a journal allows you to focus your intention and measure your progress. Writing out your dreams and aspirations has the effect of putting them into the universe. Putting them on paper puts them one step closer to becoming action.
Writing out your thoughts and feelings has the effect of releasing them from the captive audience of your mind.
In the same way that telling a friend what pissed you off feels like a relief, writing it down gives you another way to get things off your chest that you may not feel comfortable sharing otherwise.
Or, write a letter to your mom. This is a sure fire way to brighten her day.
Service to others is a multiplier: you add value to someone else’s life while adding value to your own. Helping others enables you to forget about your problems while you’re busy resolving someone else’s. When you are done, you may just realize that your problems are really not all that bad after all. And remember, you may need the charity and kindness of someone, someday.
Just as there are books on nearly every subject, there are clubs, groups or associations to celebrate them. Humans are social animals. We have a fundamental need to be a part of something greater than ourselves.
Belonging can give a sense of purpose. Clubs like Rotary, Shriners and Eagles (to name a few) are organized to create friendships amongst the community in order to address problems that people individually cannot solve.
Belonging creates accountability. By joining a club or group, you become a part of their mission. People will come to depend on you bringing your time and talents for the advancement of the mission.
Belonging gives you a reason to wake up and get out of bed. Signing up for activities and being a part of a group means getting up and out the door.
Quit the smoking, drinking, drugs and porn for a while. Don’t worry, they will still be waiting for you if this whole “living the good life” thing doesn’t pan out.
If you fully commit, you will find that there are more people than you know who also want to live an active life eating and sharing good food that read awesome books when they are not doing great works in the service of the greater good. And if you are reading this, you are officially invited to be a part of my club…Welcome aboard!