Friday, September 28, 2012

Nourish My Body

This is the fifth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.
 Everyone has heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  This is a statement that people should take literally.  By the nutritionally void food most people eat and the pandemic obesity in this country it is apparent most people either do not understand this or they no longer care.  Both are sad stories.  You only get one vessel to carry through this amazing adventure called life.
Stand in front of the mirror naked.  There you will see the harsh truth about the kind of care  that you have given you body over your time on the planet.  I know the media blitzes us with unrealistic body-type images all the time.  I am not saying that you need to look like a waif runway model or a chiseled athlete.
I spend a lot of time in airports.  I see more people who are obese or morbidly obese than those who have a relative level of fitness.  Some of these people can barely walk anymore.  Most have given up hope.  I am here to tell you that it is NEVER too late.  I am generally around a lot of very fit, hardcore athletes, but THE most inspirational people are the ones who were sick and tired of being sick and tired and decide to take charge of their body and their health again.
Percentage of the population with a BMI above 25
Measuring Body Mass Index (BMI) is a general approach that compares the ratio of height-to-weight.  It is not the perfect means of determining if someone is at risk for a myriad of health problems associated with being overweight.  A BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight, while the range of 30-35 is considered obese, and 35+ classified as morbidly obese.  A BMI over 32 can DOUBLE your mortality rates as you age and the accumulated stress on your body’s systems is compounded.
As more data gets collected the trend becomes even more disturbing!
I also spent significant time with elementary-aged kids in schools across 9 different states in our country this past summer.  The rate of childhood obesity in this country is scary!  In general these kids are eating thousands of empty calories every day and getting little if any significant physical exercise.  The psychological baggage some of these kids are already carrying can be debilitating and cause them to have a very poor self-image that permeates every aspect of their life and what they perceive as their own potential for their life as an adult.
Kids should be active outside playing and not stuck in front of the TV
What can we do about this?  I believe each person has to take responsibility for the food that they choose to put in their body.  I know that children cannot control this.  They are counting on their parents to make the right choices and show them the way to a lifetime of healthy eating habits.  We know that big corporation food manufacturers do not care.  They only care about the bottom line.  Do not rely on the government to tell you how to eat either.  Ex:  The government recommends you drink four 8-oz glasses of milk a day.  The dairy industry is one of the most heavily subsidized segments in our food supply.  Humans should not be drinking mass quantities of cow’s milk daily!  Especially the kind with all the hormones in it and affected by the genetically-modified feed the cows are given to boost milk production.  Cow’s milk is design to grow baby cows not baby humans or adult humans!  No wonder our playgrounds and airports are starting to look like feedlots!
This is not healthy for anyone including the cows!
I digress.  I am very passionate about this subject.  The solution is very simple:
DO NOT eat processed foods.  This means everything in the middle of the store that comes in a box or is pre-prepared.
DO eat lots of fresh, organic, local produce.  Know your food grower.  Seek out and support your local organic farm or grow your own!
DO NOT eat any food product that comes from CHINA.  Especially fish, any meats, or frozen fruits and vegetables.  Read the label to know the country of origin.  There are virtually no standards for cleanliness and sanitation in China and some other countries.
DO buy all your food from sources that are 100-150 miles from where you live.  It might take a little effort in the beginning and the geography of where you live could offer some challenges, but you should know the methods of production for everything you eat.  Otherwise, you are rolling the dice.
In general your diet should consist primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Limit red meat consumption and work in a few healthy, clean servings of wild-caught fish instead.  Look for healthy nuts and seeds for snacks.  Drink lots of water.  In all things moderation.  Do not skip meals and gorge at the end of the day.  Instead, graze throughout the day with smaller more frequent meals and healthy snacks.
So many amazing tastes and textures out there to enjoy!
And lastly…..Move your body!  Let your muscles and joints and bones know every day that they are needed and will be used.  Motion is lotion.  The more you move and keep moving the better everything feels.   Regular exercise will also help you stay on track with better eating habits, better sleep patterns, etc.
The longest journey starts with a single step.  Commit to one change today, this week.  Next week take another step.  Build new habits and replace old unhealthy ones.  The length of your life and the quality of your life are directly dependent how you choose to fuel and use your body.  Choose wisely. It is never too late!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breathe Deeply

Breathe Deeply
“Smile, breath and go slowly.” Thich Naht Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk
This is the fourth in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.

Back a few years ago when I was in a very transformational mood I came across a blog that has had a profound impact on me these past few years.  It inspired me to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, and to be present in every sweet moment that life offers.  The blog I speak of is Zen Habits by Leo Babuata.  Here is a link to his blog.  The page I pointed it to lists his 20 most popular posts.  There are thousands of additional post full of golden nuggets of wisdom.
The first one I read was simply titled: Breathe.  It is simply perfect.  It is a wonderful reminder you can read every day in less than a minute that will impact your every minute if you embrace it.  Here it is below in its entirety.  Take a moment.  Breathe.  Relax.  Read the words.  Breathe.  Let them wash over your every thought and concern at this very moment.  No matter what you are dealing with in your life it will make things better.
Post written by Leo Babauta.
Breathing can transform your life.
If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.
If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.
If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.
If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will help bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.
If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.
If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it for longer.
If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.
So breathe. And enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.
Tip: Put the word “Breathe” as a screensaver or desktop pic, or put it up as a note on your wall or fridge or on your desk. Then do it every time you see the word.
 Thanks for this Leo.  This post needs no further elaboration.  Smile, breathe, and go slowly my friends.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Follow Your Heart

This is the third in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.

There is a long-standing battle waged between one's heart and head.  People who filter important life decisions through what the logic their head tells them tend to be seen as lacking in passion.  Conversely those who follow their heart in the face of logic are seen as hopeless romantics who throw all caution to the wind without a care for future consequences.  Which end of this spectrum do you fit?  One of the extremes or somewhere in the middle?
For me it is all about the heart.  I have not met too many people who have said "If only I had followed logic and what my head told me at the time."  For the most part I tend to hear people express regret that they took the logical or "safe" route and later regretted not going for what their heart really wanted for their life.  This could be in the context of a relationship, a career, or other important area of their life.
I guess it is easy for me because I am a hopeless romantic.  It is the primary filter that I pass everything through.  I am definitely wired this way when it comes to relationships, but I am also this way with everything I choose to put my time and energy into.  I cannot  do a job or any kind of work that my heart is not into and that I do not believe in.  Logically, I could have made some other decisions and my bank account would be the better for it, but my heart would suffer.
Me.  Completely fulfilled doing what I love following my heart.
I have to be true to myself.  That is a huge part of following your heart.  You must know your true self and embrace who you are.  Too many people surrender their true selves to the expectations friends, family, and society place on them.  Go to college.  Get a steady paying job.  Get married.  Buy a house.  Start a family.  Deviate from the societal norms or think outside the box and get labeled a hopeless dreamer out of touch with reality by those who gave up on their dreams.
So what is the reality of losing touch with your heart and being too logical?  It means surrendering your hopes and dreams for what you hoped your life could be for yourself.   Much of my path back to embracing and following my heart has been influenced by Paulo Coelho, the author of the Alchemist and many other impactful works.  This particular quote captures the essence of what I am trying to say:
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream."
So many people are paralyzed by fear.  In the context of relationships it is a fear of making themselves vulnerable and potentially getting hurt.  In other areas of life it could be a fear of failure or judgement by others.  Allow me to quickly make a few points about Vulnerability, Failure, and Judgement.
Vulnerability:  The quote above really speaks to this.  Your heart will suffer much more alone than it will having made itself vulnerable and potentially be disappointed or hurt.  It is better to have love and lost, than to never have loved at all.
Failure:  What is the worst thing that can happen if you choose a particular path following your heart?  No matter what the outcome you will have the ability to re-start yourself and continue along a path that fulfills your true self in any area of your life.  Fail gloriously!
Judgement:  Those who judge are the bitter ones who have already long surrendered the dreams of their heart.  They cast aspersions upon those of us who still have the courage to follow the dreams of our heart.  RUN, do not walk away from these kinds of people!
I am not saying that there is no place for logic in one's thinking.  Ex. If in your heart you aspire to be a mountain climber please use lots of logic as you plan an ascent.  We need all of our wits to help us navigate along our path.  You can want with all your heart to stand on that mountaintop, but without the right logic employed at the right place you may never get there.
Middle Teton Summit this summer.
Follow your heart.  You will not regret it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Be Present

This is the second in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE.
Be Present
People have three choices as to what state of time they can be focused on at any given moment:  Past, Present, and Future.  Each has its appropriate place for thought and contemplation.  I contend that most of our time should be focused on the Present.  Let’s examine each state of mind and I will offer my thoughts on what I feel is a healthy mix in each.
The Past:  Obviously if you are stuck in the past how can you appreciate what is going on right in front of you at this very moment?  I am not saying that contemplating one’s life experiences is a bad thing.  All these things give our present a unique perspective.  We will always see things through the lens of our experiences.  They say those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.  This can be the consideration of good experiences and victories as well as the GLORIOUS FAILURES!  There is a time and place for this as we seek to grow as individuals.  Do not allow yourself to get stuck in a pattern of looking back and saying “What if…” or holding onto regret from past mistakes or situations where you wished you would have made different choices.  Generally what is done is done.  Take the nugget of wisdom gleaned and get back to what you can affect here and now in the Present!
At the finish of a 50k where I laid it all on the line...
The Future:  We become what we think about.  Our thoughts become actions and those in turn become results and outcomes that create our future state.  I firmly believe in having a healthy, positive expectation for all my future endeavors, wants, and desires.  One should expect to get the result they want when putting effort and energy into something.  What would be the point if someone had an expectation of failure?  Odds are in their mind they would have already given up before they even started and will subconsciously sabotage your own best effort.  It is very useful to dream and plan for what one wants out of life.  Build your sand castles up in the air!  Dream big, but act now.
Part of my future involves an off-the-grid cabin in the mountains...
The Present:    This is the here and now.  As you read these words are you truly present or are you trying to do three different things at one time?  One of my favorite expressions is:  “None of us are promised tomorrow.”  This is not a doom and gloom the world will end tomorrow mentality.  For me this is a simple reminder that each day in this life is a gift that should not be taken for granted.  Your whole world can change in 5 seconds.  How long does it take for a car crash to take place for a driver who is texting while driving?  Do not take the gift of a single day in your life for granted.
How not to be present: Our world is filled with conveniences that are designed to save us time and to keep us connected to people and make the world a smaller place.  I was in a restaurant on Saturday night and I saw a table of 10 ladies all having dinner together.  This was a great place in a historic, downtown area.  The room had great ambiance and energy in this eating establishment.  How great those 10 friends had come together and had this moment in time to share with each other.  What I saw though at one point as I stood at the front door waiting to leave was not such great fellowship. No less than 6 of them were holding their cell phones in their hands, with their heads bowed down, and fixated on the screen as they texted, checked email, or some other social media outlet.
This is obviously not being present and being distracted by a cell phone is an easy and obvious target for this conversation.   I am guilty of this as well.  I am trying to be more cognizant of this transgression.  Do not let technology that connects you to people thousands of miles away keep you from connecting and appreciating the person standing right in front of you NOW.  This could be the clerk at the store.  Do not be the obliviot who yammers away on the phone without making eye contact or saying a word to the person who just rang up your groceries.  Smile and engage.  Some of the best conversations of my day have come at the most unexpected moments.
How to Be Present:  For me the essence of being present is this:  Slow down, smile, breathe deeply, and soak it all in.  Nature seems to offer us the most poignant reminders and rewards for slowing down and taking it all in and fully appreciating the wonder before our eyes in that moment.  Funny how when we are in our everyday world of modern conveniences and time savers our schedule takes over and we find ourselves always in a time crunch hustling off to check the next item off the to-do list.
My campsite in the Rockies last week. Thankfully no cell service!
Have you ever felt that way on a camping trip?  Maybe at first as you hustle to separate yourself from the frenetic pace of your life, but once you have left all that behind time magically slows down.  Even when you have to gather wood and make a fire to prepare a meal out in the wilderness, it seems you have so much time to enjoy it all.  Gathering wood and making the fire in this scenario is not a task you quickly hurry through to quickly get to the next event.  Maybe while you are wandering the surround woods for deadfall you stop to admire the way the late afternoon light shines across the forest floor and illuminates a long-fallen tree covered with soft, spongy, green moss.  Looking closer you notice a clan of ants feverishly shuttling leaf-litter along their path.  Since you have now been standing still for a moment you realize how quiet and still things are all around you.  Out of the corner of your eye you see flit of a curious chip monk’s tail as he scampers from one point of cover to another.   All this and more happens in just a few short moments as you pause on a casual stick-gathering trip 20 feet from your camp site.
There are wonderful moments like this to appreciate in our everyday lives as well.  Make sure to give the people you come in contact with the kind of undivided attention you hope to receive.  You never know what conversation you might be missing otherwise.  Some of the most interesting and amazing people I have met have come at the most unexpected moments.  Slow down.  Look around.  Breathe deeply.  Smile.  The world around you is a beautiful place and today is a precious gift if you will just take the time to notice.
Here is a picture of me "Present" as I type these words.
HERE is another post I wrote back in 2010 on being present as it relates to running and headphones.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trust Your Journey

This is the first in a 10-part series of posts on some simple actions that always lead to happiness!  Read the original post that frames this discussion HERE
Trust your journey.  To me that means have an inner peace about the path you are on in life.  That does not mean that  you will not have moments that confound you or make you scratch your head and think "How can this be my path and how is THIS going to get me where I ultimately want to be?!"
Is there a true destination anyway?  Are these "destinations" or places or states that we seek, merely just way-points along the continuing path? Does your path have an end? A finish line?  Not for me.  I have found that life seems to be a wonderful combination of fate/destiny and free will/choice.
Let's start with Fate/Destiny:  To me this means that you are being true to yourself, your true nature of who you are as person.  One who follows their heart into the world being present in all the sweet moments of life by being fully present in the moment, but also having a forward looking perspective that expects great things for tomorrow and the continued journey along your path.
Horseshoe Bend- Colorado River
Free Will:  We have been endowed with this ability to make choices.  Choices that in any given moment can move us from one rushing current of life into another moving in the complete opposite direction.  These different choices may cause our path to meander quite a bit along our journey.
So once we recognize our ability to make these choices and we are fully present we can begin to recognize mileposts along the way that serve to encourage us to stay the course and to continue to trust our journey.  Sometimes these are very subtle and you might miss it!  Even if we miss our exit and seem to be off course, ultimately the flow of life will continue to carry us towards our destinies.  There is not always a big blinking sign that screams "Turn here!"  That is all part of embracing the journey along the way.  Celebrating the sweet victories and embracing the challenges and growth that comes from failing gloriously.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
This quote from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of my favorites.  It encapsulates much of this idea of trusting your journey.  I highly encourage anyone wanting to further explore these ideas to read this amazing, allegorical novel.  I have read my copy dozens of times.  Each time it reminds me to stay true to myself, lead with my heart, be present for all the sweetness life offers, and most of all to trust my journey.
Peace!  Dave

Monday, September 10, 2012

Use the Force...

View this post in it's entirety HERE.
Back in February I decided to start flexing my writing muscles again.  I actually made a semi-public statement about it to create some accountability for myself.  I did not do a very good job of following through on that!  So… I am again on September 6th seven months later making the same affirmation.  The good news is that we all have a choice each day.  We can begin anew at any moment of our choosing.  I choose now!

I found this amazing rock on my way to summit the Middle Teton this past weeekend....More about this very special rock later.
Here is a link to that post from back in February.  It is a pretty good read if I do say so myself and it has a sampling of some pretty good pics I have taken since moving to the Tetons.  Check it out HERE.
Here is my thought from the end of that post:
“I sat down tonight with a firm commitment to begin exercising my writing muscle again. At the top of the page I really had no idea what I might have to say tonight. Just start writing and let it flow. Pure, honest thoughts that are bouncing around in my head. Sitting down and pushing these thoughts onto this page have strengthened my resolve to follow through on the fusion of my running adventures/experiences with my writing and the pictures of the amazing places in this world this will take me.”

Top of the Middle Teton in the Shadow of the Grand
So as an update to my post from back on that very cold, snowy, beautiful winter day here are a few new thoughts and affirmations:
I still am resolved to bring my love for adventure in this life together with my writing and photography.  Now 7 months later I have even more clarity about what that might look like.  I know it will be a twisting and turning path to get to my destination, but that is where most of the adventure lies.  All those wonderful curve balls life throws at you, all the small beautiful moments, to only be noticed if you are present enough and slow down enough to realize that the place you seek to reach is not going any where.
So as I move forward I am going to:
1.  Trust my journey.
2.  Be present.
3.  Follow my heart.
4.  Breathe deeply.
5.  Nourish my body.
6.  Treasure and grow relationships.
7.  Create my ideal scene.
8.  Shoot every day.  My camera that is….;)
9.  Write every day.
10.  Walk the Earth and be happy.
Each day for the next 10 days I am going to elaborate on each of the above.  Make your today great and drink in your life deeply today.  None of us are promised tomorrow.

Happiness Simplified

View the original post in it's entirety HERE.
Most of my posts/blogs recently have a common thread how being happy is simple.  Simplify your life.  Simplify your stuff.  Prioritize your happiness.  I had a few people tell me that it is not that simple!  That life is complicated.  Yes, it can be, but that is usually because that as humans we have made it that way.  We have this wonderful thing called Free Will.  This means that in any moment we can change the direction of of lives.  It could be a tiny change or a complete overhaul!  Your choice.  It could be emotionally, spiritually, physically, or all three.  I came across this great post on a blog called Marc and Angel Hack Life.  This post is by Marc.  You can find the original post HERE.
He boiled it down to 10 actions that will bring happiness every time.  I could not find a way to disagree with any of them.  Here is his list with a few add-on comments from me:
Starting today…
  1. Appreciate what you have. – If we counted our blessings instead of our money, we would all be a lot richer.  Happiness is there if you want it to be.  You just have to see that it’s wrapped in beauty and hidden delicately between the seconds of your life.  If you never stop for a minute to notice, you might miss it.  Read The Happiness Project.  DC- And he is not talking about stuff.  We are talking relationships and experiences here!
  2. Focus on things that truly matter. – The simple fact that you are even here, alive, on this planet is a divine miracle, and you should not spend the time you have being busy, being miserable.  Every moment you get is a gift, so stop focusing on unhappy things, and spend your moments on things that truly matter to your heart.  DC- Again, experiences and authentic relationships, not stuff.  Be present today.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow!
  3. Define your own meaning of life, and pursue it. – What is the meaning of life?  Whatever you want it to be.  Don’t fear failure; fear a lifetime of mediocrity due to lack of effort and commitment.  There are so many people out there who will tell you that you CAN’T.  What you need to do is turn around and say, “Watch me!”  DC-  The naysayers are the ones who have already given up on their own dreams.  Run, don’t walk, as fast as you can away from these people (see #7).  Your idea of an ideal life does not have to conform to anyone else’s expectations for yourself.  Not your parents, kids, friends and family, etc.  Only yours!
  4. Embrace life’s challenges. – You may think that taking a detour in life is a waste of time and energy, but you can also see the detour as a means of learning more about who you are and where you are heading in your life.  Being off the beaten path may be disorienting and confusing at times, yet it challenges your creative spirit to discover new ways to build a stronger YOU.  In the end, it’s usually the tough situations that feel like your tomb that actually become your cocoon.  Hang in there.  You’re coming out of this stronger and wiser.  DC-Through adversity comes strength and growth.  Do not be afraid to fail gloriously!
  5. Find the balance that allows you to be who you truly are. – Your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel.  One of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and try harder or when to just take your memories and move on.  Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are.  DC- Trust your journey.  Follow your heart.  Life is a wonderful combination of fate/destiny and free will to make choices along that path.  You will get there.  Keep moving forward!
  6. Love your body enough to take care of it. – You’re beautiful; but keep in mind that not everyone is going to see that.  Never be ashamed of yourself because you are born into one skin.  You can scar it, stretch it, burn it, mark it, tan it, and peel it.  But you are always in it, so you might as well take care of it and learn to love it.  Read The 4-Hour Body.  DC-  Your body is your vessel for this 100-year journey through this life.  It is capable of amazing things.  Treat it well.  Use it.  Feed it clean wholesome foods.  It is the only one you get!
  7. Limit your time with negative people. – You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.  So protect your spirit and potential from contamination by limiting your time with negative people.  DC-  I will go a step further.  Do not limit, ELIMINATE your time and exposure to negative people.  Choose to spend your time with people who share and embrace your positive energy and enthusiasm for life.
  8. Treat others the way you want to be treated. – Be conscious of your attitude and your actions.  You may be on top of the world right now – feeling untouchable.  You may have all the tools at your disposal to do and say whatever you want.  But remember, life is a circle – what goes around, comes around eventually.  DC-  Karma baby!  Everyone you meet is fighting a battle on some front to be their best self.  Show them all kindness.
  9. Set a good example. – If you want to empower others in your life, you need to start living the most empowered version of yourself first.  You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.  Believe in what you want so much that it has no choice but to become your reality.  And don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else; stay focused on your own journey and leave footprints behind.  Read The Four Agreements.  DC-  You never know who you may inspire by your actions.  Think about the people who have inspired you.  Let them know how they impacted you positively.  Happiness and inspiration are contagious.  Pass it along!
  10. Accept what is, and live for the possibilities that lie ahead. – Never waste your time wondering about what might have been.  Get busy thinking about what still might be, and trusting that however it plays out, it will leave you glad that what might have been, never came to be.  DC-  Be present in this amazing gift of a day you have today and have a positive expectation for all tomorrow and your future can be.  Aim high, dream big, set your course, and make it happen!  Be flexible along the way trusting that you will arrive where you are meant to be at the right time.  Embrace all the sweetness life has to offer.
Me.  Happy!

So there it is:  Some tenets of happiness simplified.  Do a quick self-inventory of your own actions and attitudes and see where you can improve on any of these.  Pick just one for today.  Happiness is a choice, an intention.  Live you life with a purposeful intention to be happy!

Lighten up your load and live it up!

Read this post in it's entirety HERE.
I read a great quick-hit blog post today on minimalism.  It was written by a financial planner  who has been intrigued by the idea of minimalism so of course he examines what is the cost of having stuff.  In very simple terms the more stuff you have the more it cost you to keep it.  Physically, mentally, emotionally, monetarily, etc.  He created an amazingly complex and high-tech graphic on a very advanced form of paper:
Here is what Carl Richards had to say about this:
Carl Richards is a certified financial planner in Park City, Utah, and is the director of investor education at BAM Advisor Services. His book, “The Behavior Gap,” was published this year. His sketches are archived on the Bucks blog.
When a man named Andrew Hyde began an adventure in minimalism, he only owned 15 things. It eventually moved to 39 and now it sits around 60. It all started when he decided to take a trip around the world and sell everything he didn’t need. As Mr. Hyde noted on his blog, it changed his life after a brief period of befuddlement:
I’m so confused by this. When we were growing up, didn’t we all have the goal of a huge house full of things? I found a far more quality life by rejecting things as a gauge of success.
When I came across his original story of only owning 15 items, I was so inspired I immediately went home and found 15 things to give away. Most of these things were clothes that I had long since stopped wearing, but I held on them because . . . well, just because. In fact I have no idea why I still had a tie I hadn’t worn in four years or a shirt that no longer fit.
I still own way more than 39 things, but getting rid of some of them felt amazingly good. In the process, I realized how much holding on to those things was actually costing me. That is the paradox.
When we hold on to stuff we no longer want or use, it does indeed cost us something more, if only in the time spent organizing and contemplating them. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about getting rid of that tie (for instance), and every time I went to choose a shirt for the day, I would think about the few that no longer fit.
Even though Hyde’s example is an extreme one, I love thinking about extreme examples because they have the power to compel us to act. In this case I found myself thinking:
  • Why exactly do you own what you own?
  • What could you get rid of and not miss?
  • Do I really still need that?
  • What is it costing me to own that?
Maybe the attachment to stuff comes in part from a notion that we should be prepared for anything. When David Friedlander interviewed Mr. Hyde about his project, he highlighted this issue:
Americans in particular like to be prepared for the worst-case-scenario, having separate cookie cutters for Christmas and Halloween. We seldom consider how negligible the consequences are when we running out of something or are unprepared. Nor do we consider how high the consequences are for being over-prepared…
Think about that for a second: there’s a consequence for being over-prepared. Often that consequence goes beyond the financial cost. It can easily have a physical cost that we didn’t expect, say in the need for more space to put all of our stuff.
In a way, this all circles back to the notion of buying good things and holding on to them for a long time. It can help to think in terms of, “Do I have room—physical, emotional, mental—to bring one more thing into my life?”
If the idea of cutting down on your possessions is equally appealing, but still daunting, start simple:
  1. At the end of every season, go through your clothes. If you didn’t wear it one time, get rid of it.
  2. This process will generate a stack of stuff. For what it’s worth, don’t try to sell it on eBay. It’s another cost (in time). So save yourself a headache, donate it to a charity and take the tax credit.
You don’t need to get down to 39 possessions to feel the impact. Instead, this exercise is about getting clear on why you own what you own and what it might be costing you to own it.
I started my own journey into minimalism a few years back and it has and continues to be very liberating.  You can read one of my original blog posts from early 2011 on this HERE.
By the time I was done minimizing everything I owned it fit in a 10×5 storage unit.  I actually moved to the Teton Mountains shortly thereafter and only took two duffle bags, a backpack, and my bike.  All these months later and I am still paying $75/mo to store all that crap back in Texas.  Aside from a few personal/family items the rest of that stuff in storage can burn as far as I’m concerned.
Now I live in a cozy little cabin that is sparsely furnished mostly with built in furniture that was already there.  To this day everything I own here fits in my car.  I could pack it all and be on the move any where I want in less than an hour.  I love how light and free that feels!
Every now and then I have to take another swim through minimalism and make sure I have not let “stuff” creep back into my life.  Re-reading my blog from 18 months ago was a great reminder of how far I have come as well as encouraging to me as to how much adventure and greatness in life I have been able to experience since I have lightened my load both literally and figuratively.

Mental toughness: You are infinitely powerful!!!

View this original post by me in its entirety HERE.

I have learned to believe that many amazing feats of physical endurance/accomplishment are 80% mental.  True you must physical do certain things to train your body to be prepared for certain conditions and to do certain tasks for an extended length of time.  You also must properly fuel it and hydrate it to keep the machine functioning at a basic metabolic level.

What I have learned through my own personal experiences running ultramarathons is that our minds are infinitely powerful at controlling, directing, and influencing our bodies into dong things beyond what most people consider to be humanely possible.  The body does send certain signals to the brain as a defense mechanism to make the case to our command center that it has had quite enough and that continuing will result in permanent harm or even potentially death.  The key as an ultramathoner or other endurance athlete is to know what signal you MUST listen to and which ones are merely your body suggesting that this is very uncomfortable and outside of a long-term sustainable range of action.
This gets me to the main point I making here.  The human body is capable of doing some things that are well beyond anything that we think is humanly possible and that the key to breaking through these barriers and going beyond is to tap into an unlock the unlimited power and potential our mind has to see one through a lofty endeavor both mentally and physically.
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad is an excellent example.  She has made numerous attempts to cross the 103 miles from Cuba to Florida.  This feat has captured her imagination as an eight year old little girl.  Just this morning her latest attempt ended in failure.  Failure only in the sense that she did not accomplish YET what she set out to do.  I think it is fair to say this will not be the last we hear of Diana and lofty goal.
An article by Steve Siebold published in HuffPost today made some great points about Diana’s mental toughness and tenacity to tap into the mental strength it takes to stay the course in this very daunting and difficult pursuit.  Here are 10 great points the author makes about mental toughness:
1. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. Nyad has a “Whatever it takes” attitude. She’s made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory. She’s tried over and over again and she’ll probably be back to give it another try in the near future.
2. Nyad embraces obstacles to growth. When most people run into an obstacle, they seek escape. Nyad has a plan to push forward when this happens because she knows facing adversity is part of being successful. Her obstacles included jellyfish, rough seas and thunderstorms, but she kept pushing for as long as she could.
3. Nyad looks to others to support her on so many levels. One of the biggest problems is that most people have no means of accountability or a support system in place when it comes to what they’re trying to accomplish. She has a team helping her every step of the way, and if you get with people who support and encourage you to accomplish your goals, you’re more likely to be successful.
4. Nyad is a learning machine. She spend hours practicing, studying the conditions, looking back on past performances and works closely with her coaches and mentors. If the average person adopted just a fraction of her work ethic, the results they could achieve would be endless.
5. Nyad knows ‘very good’ isn’t ‘best.’ For the average person, to be classified as very good is something to be proud of. For the great ones like Nyad, it’s an insult.
6. Nyad makes “Do or die” commitments. When most people are burned out from the battle, the world-class are just getting warmed up. It’s not that she doesn’t fatigue; but her commitment to her dream keeps her going.
7. Nyad is consistently great. The reason they she is so consistent is because her actions are congruent with her thought processes. She has a very clear mental picture of what she wants, why she wants it and how to move closer to her target objective. Nyad has been thinking of swimming across the Straits of Florida since she was 8 years old.
8. Nyad is coachable. Most people will only accept the amount of coaching their egos will allow. Champions like Nyad are well known for being the most open to world-class coaching. The bigger the champion, the more open-minded they are. You can bet she’s going to have some long coaching sessions when she recovers from this latest attempt.
9. Nyad compartmentalizes her emotions. In other words, she has the ability to put aside anything else going on at that very moment and focus only on the task in front of her. Sure she has things going on in her personal life, but despite that she manages to stay focused on her goal.
10. Nyad is a big thinker. Ask most people what they’re thinking at any given time, and you might be surprised to learn how many think about just getting by. That’s called selling yourself short. Nyad is fearless and focused on manifesting her ultimate dream of accomplishing that swim.
This type of mental toughness can be applied to any lofty goal or pursuit.  This does not only apply to physical challenges.  When I reflect back on some of my greatest moments of triumph there were many of these aspects of mental toughness that I had to deploy to be successful.  Perseverance.  Determination.  Diana Nyad personifies this and more.  So the next time the going gets tough dig deep within yourself.  Think about how you can find additional mental strength to carry on.  You are not a failure just because you fell short this time.  You just have not gotten there YET.  You only lose or fail if you quit.  Never, EVER give up on your dream.