Changes, Choices and Connections
Have you ever had an epiphany or an “ah-ha” moment? If you have, I bet you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing that day; those little doses of insight are unforgettable. And if you took the time to actually make sense of that insight, you know as well as I do that it can take your life to a whole new level.
Insight can be seen, felt or heard and is often referred to as your intuition. It could show up in your mind as a “red flag” like when you just know something is off, or in your gut when something doesn’t feel right. Or it may show up in the form of desire, disgust or desperation, longing for something new or different.
However it shows up, you should use it as a sign to take action right away. If you don’t, you may be closing a window of opportunity, a chance to grow or cash-in on your strengths and weaknesses. What if that insight was the key that takes your life to a whole new level? I love it when that happens.
The Mind, Body, Spirit Connection
About 5 years I walked into to a racquetball room that I frequented in, usually to play by myself for a good workout and enhance the new skills I was learning through a vision therapy program I enrolled in. But this day was different. I had a lot on my mind and my heart was heavy–I needed to vent and I knew that if my mind wasn’t going to stop running, my feet better catch up with it.
So in an act of desperation, I created the space I needed to let my body catch up with my mind.
I always believed in the idea that “you are your greatest challenge” and this particular day, I was prepared to meet my match. With that in mind, I played like a pro but I felt like an artist. I knew exactly where I had to aim the racquetball and how much force to use behind it for the ball to go exactly where I wanted it to go, I played left-handed and right-handed like I was ambidextrous my whole life, and when the stress of the day came to mind I hit the ball harder and harder knowing that every action created an opposite but equal reaction.
By the time I was done, 2 hours later, I knew something incredible happened in there–I knew exactly what I had to do and on that moment I realized “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”. For the first time I felt what it was like to be connected mentally, physically and spiritually all at the same time.
In a matter of a few months I made some tough decisions, had some tough conversations, quit the job I hated and applied (and got hired) for a job that allowed me to make more money, travel and ultimately spend a lot of time getting to know this new “enlightened” version of myself.
Not gonna lie, the idea of this new journey was terrifying. I was attached to my friends, family and social life so I wasn’t sure who I was without them or that and I feared what might change without me. But I stayed connected with why I was there in there in the first place and before I knew it I was reading and listening to audio books on personal development, neuroscience, spiritual enlightenment and life coaching on top of working full-time, teaching myself to play the guitar, doing vision therapy exercises and working out regularly. My days were anything but boring.
Now I’m not saying you have to get a job that allows you to travel, learn how to make music, go hard in the gym everyday or enroll in a vision therapy program to create a magnificent change, but what I am saying is that sometimes it’s not the plan that’s missing from our life goals, it’s taking the first step to creating a better life.
“Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” –Marie Forleo
Today I work with top industry leaders in health and fitness, I practice life coaching and I’m surrounded by people I care about and who care about me, and create more positive than negative experiences day in and day out. I’m a genuinely happy person. I don’t claim to know exactly what works for you and there are many things I changed (and continue changing) in order to figure out what works for me but if there are 2 things that I consistently do that I know for certain will always contribute to my overall happiness and well being it would be these:
1. Exercise your mind and body. It’s no secret that exercising can–and does–increase overall well being and happiness. According to a new study published by Psychology Today, going on a walk 30 minutes a day is equivalent to a $10,000 raise in psychological benefits. <–How’s that for a place to start?
It was once believed that the brain you were born with held the maximum amount of brain cells and neural pathways you would ever contain. But a breakthrough happened when MRI’s came about in the 70’s and neuroscientists learned that the brain is not only capable of changing but it’s constantly doing so in response to environment and various experiences (a concept known as neuroplasticity).
Not only was this a breakthrough for science but it’s also extraordinary news for us as human beings. This is proof that we are capable of changing. However, if the structures of the mind remain unchanged we will almost always create the same circumstances.
I know from experience that you can begin this process of change through training the brain and body and ultimately change your mind and your life. By stimulating the brain and body through exercise and cognitive brain training you’re creating new neural pathways and strengthening existing ones which fundamentally alters our information processing.
As complicated as that might sound, you really can keep it simple. For me, I enjoy going on a daily walk and working out at least 2x a week. I also like to switch it up and go swimming or do yoga, dance and as of lately some strength training. To improve my mental flex I play games 3x/wk using Lumosity which allows me to track my progress each time I play (includes: memory, attention, problem solving, speed, flexibility etc.) and compare my results with others my age (bonus: it also allows me the option to play from my phone).
As a general rule of thumb: schedule everything so that it becomes a commitment and not just a last-minute decision.
2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. In a coaching program I studied by Bryan Franklin, I learned a new concept that shed some light on what causes resistance to change: our ecology. Franklin explains that our ecology is made up our environment including the people, places and things, our past experiences, all that we know and all that we believe. Everything we don’t know lies outside of our ecology. Since our ecology can not support that in which it has no frame of reference to identify with, this explains why whenever we set new goals, naturally, we are faced with so much resistance.
The only way to achieve something you’ve never experienced before is by stepping out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself each day to learn something new or do something different–and it doesn’t even have to be related to your goals, eventually the act of stepping out of your comfort zone will fuel your ambition to achieve them anyhow because with one achievement you’re excited to meet another and then another and so on.
Not only will stepping out of your comfort zone each day create new experiences, expand your ecology and help you achieve goals but it will also create new and strengthen existing neural pathways which speeds up our ability to process information as I mentioned earlier. The more you step outside the comfort zone, the less resistance you’ll have to change.
How I practice this: Stepping out of my comfort zone varies day by day and sometimes it could mean taking a new route to work, singing and/or dancing in public, admitting when I’m wrong, asking for what I want, telling someone how I really feel or trying new food. But some of my most favorite uncomfortable experiences come from traveling, meeting new people, public speaking, karaoking and committing to new ventures I know nothing about.