3 Simple Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Life
We live in a fast paced culture where people spend less time engaging in the activities they want to and instead run around like frantic rabbits, anxious and overworked. People often underestimate the negative health effects of living in a reactive state.
The incessant need to constantly be doing, planning and staying busy is not a good recipe for long term health. If you rarely take the time to unwind, decompress, play and think, then this article is especially for you.
If you already take daily breaks to “Pause” then you will be further motivated to maintain and create more margin in your life. To break this vicious cycle you must develop the habit of pressing “Pause” at some point during your day.
This “pause” during your day to stop and reflect can be performed in various ways. The ultimate investment in yourself is to create more life balance by focusing on the following three methods of intentional daily PAUSES.
For many people, this will be the most impactful habit for clearing out your mental clutter and begin organizing your mind and thoughts in a more structured manner. Imagine a desk full of clutter, stacks of disorganized papers, notebooks, bills, magazines and books. Just looking at the desk makes you feel uneasy and anxious.
Now imagine that same desk completely organized, crisp and clean with everything it the proper spot. How much better does it feel to sit down at that desk and get some work done?
Think of journaling as organizing the inner desk of your mind. Until you clarify what needs to stay and what needs to go, you will literally be spinning your wheels finding it almost impossible to get any meaningful tasks done.
Journaling helps you clear the clutter and organize your thoughts, projects, goals and values into specific folders and locations.
Here are some of the benefits I have found with Journaling:
- Helps Organize my Thoughts and Remove the clutter in my mind.
- Helps me Discern the Essential from the Non-Essential.
- It Connects me to my Higher Values and Purpose.
- It clarifies my WHY.
- Allows me to brain dump and get everything down on paper.
- Helps me prioritize what activities and behaviors I need to engage in.
- Guides my decision making process on what to say NO to.
- Guides my calendar and time management.
- Helps me to be Real and Transparent.
- Sparks my creativity by helping me ask greater questions and seek deeper truths.
- Energizes me with a vitality and optimism I never knew possible.
- Helps me analyze thought patterns that do not serve me.
- Motivates me to commit to a life of excellence and pro-activity.
At first journaling can be a bit intimidating because it will feel awkward to put down on paper everything that comes to mind. I encourage you to not judge your thoughts, fears, goals and what flows out of your mind. I think better when I type, write or speak and don’t know what I truly think about anything until I get it down on paper.
You may be similar in that in order to understand your thoughts about a specific subject you have to see it in front of you in print or on a screen.
My guarantee to you is that if you begin the habit of daily journaling you will discover many things about yourself that you may not have known. You will also improve your writing and thinking skills which will bring you increased clarity, purpose and direction.
If you need to make difficult and life altering decisions then it will be impactful to get all of your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Do not worry about what others will think about your ideas and thoughts because nobody will read this journal.
This is your journal designed to get you to operate at a higher level and this is only possible when you let your subconscious and conscious mind interact on the page.
Let it flow out of you and capture it all. Many people call it a “brain dump.” You can go back at any time to reread it and see what you were thinking that day and what insights and nuggets of wisdom you can use.
This may come as no surprise to you but organisms that do not move are usually dead. We cannot separate the body from the brain. To maximize our mental output we must be willing to move our bodies often and move in a way that builds health.
Much of the modern fitness dogma encourages a “more is better” methodology. I do not agree with this concept. More is not better. Better is better.
A good movement practice should align with the following principles:
- Sustainability — Your exercise plan should be repeatable over the long run. If you cannot repeat a training session than either the volume or intensity or both are too high.
- Metabolic — Your training program should keep you muscular and lean.
- Enjoyment — If you despise your training program you will not see reap the benefits. You do not need to enjoy every training session but you there should be some satisfaction and joy in the training process as a whole. People that study and become students of their preferred movement practice tend to get much better results because as they attain more wisdom they tend to adopt a more serious approach to their practice.
- Maximizes General Physical Preparedness — GPP is a fancy term for being generally fit across the broad spectrum of motor qualities. It means that you have adequate Strength, Endurance, Flexibility, Coordination, Balance, Speed and Power. You don’t have to be world class in any one area but you need to be generally very good in all of these areas. Your training practice should prepare you to handle most of life’s challenges and make you a more capable and strong member of the human race.
- Promotes Health and Wellness — A good training program and practice should produce a healthy body. That means that your blood work, blood pressure, resting heart rate and sleep should be in a healthy zone.
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety — Proper training should alleviate and help us manage stress. We all have internal and external stress that we need to deal with in life. A good training practice will help us manage the inevitable stress we will all have throughout life.Consistent and intelligent exercise and training has been shown to increase BNF in the brain which makes us feel healthier, happier and bullet proofs the brain.
With over 22 years of experience as a Personal Trainer, I have learned that quality will always trump quantity. If you do not move well and perform too much of a given movement you may end up excessively sore or even injured.
There is nothing wrong with challenging yourself with your exercises as we need the challenge to make us better. However we must understand that we need to be patient and gradually allow the body to adapt to exercise and movement which means we need to slowly increase volume (reps and quantity) and intensity (load and speed).
Perhaps the one area of daily pauses that most people need to return to is PLAY. Strength coach Chip Conrad stated that becoming an adult is dangerous to your health. He calls this process “Adulticide.”
This funny but scary term is now a reality in our society as the majority of adults do not take time to PLAY. This lack of play has many negative effects on health and happiness.
What is even more sad is that the modern day child plays outside far less than in previous generations.
Stuart Brown, founder and president of the Institute of Play, has authored a fascinating book called Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorated the Soul.
The basic premise of the book is that the rough and tumble play of children actually prevents violent behavior, and that play can grow human talents and character across a lifetime. Play is an indispensable part of being human. Brown describes his thoughts on play:
“Once people understand what play does for them, they can learn to bring a sense of excitement and adventure back into their lives, make work an extension of their play lives, and engage fully with the world. I don’t think it is too much to say that play can save your life. It certainly has salvaged mine. Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing things the things necessary for survival. Play is the stick that stirs the drink. It is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun and wonder — in short, the basis of what we think of as civilization. Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.”
Personally my life needs play and I have had periods of my life where I did not include as much play as I needed and that took its toll on me. My physical and emotional health suffered as a consequence. These days my version of play might look like this:
- Throwing and catching a frisbee. I choose the Aerobie as my frisbee of choice.
- Playing the Piano.
- Playing Tag with my kids.
- Playing a multitude if sports with the kids including basketball, baseball, soccer and sprinting.
- Shooting Basketball.
- Sprinting, trail running and hiking are also PLAY for me because I always invent fun physical challenges which turn into games for me.
- Practicing Juggling and kicking my hacky sack around the house.
I believe our very nature as humans is to be playful and to seek adventure, challenge and fun. You do not need to have any reason to play other than it makes you feel alive and present. That reason alone is enough.
My advice to you is to find your favorite versions of play and do it frequently. Daily play would be ideal.
In conclusion, I hope I have impressed upon you the importance of taking the time to “Press Pause” frequently in your life.
Life is meant to be lived with clarity and purpose and that is why journaling can be so helpful. The human body flourishes when it is challenged physically. We are meant to be active which is why we must move daily with an emphasis on quality. Lastly, life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest and full of laughter and play.
Now go outside and play.
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