Mind Body & Soul

balancing and feeding life's greatest gifts

Strategic Luck

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity

It’s amazing how those who are prepared are lucky enough to stumble upon the opportunities, or is it not luck at all?

With over 1.5 million different categories of jobs, over 7 billion people on earth, countless hobbies, the choices and interactions we make each second are endless.

The reactions we pass on to those around us become an interconnection of chain reactions, even the subconscious. The smallest adjustment to an action, reaction, judgment or decision can begin to change our outlook and output towards the world. There is a greater self in each of us just knocking to come out. It is our choice whether we open the door to the unknown changes, experiences, hurdles and opportunities that it may entail.

It is all about your perception on the situation
It is all about your attitude towards those around you
It is all about your approach towards the hurdle
It is all about your faith in yourself to overcome
It is all about taking that first step
It is all about moving forward when those around you say you can’t

For every step back, there are many steps forward
For every pain, there are gains
For every inability, there are endless abilities
For every rainstorm, there are rays of sunshine
For every mistake, there is a lesson learned
For every fail, there are many little wins

Don't be upset by the results you didn't get with the work you didn't do.

So…
Dream the impossible
Reach for the stars
Don’t bound yourself to the norm
Don’t be afraid to fail

But be prepared
To put the time in
To make sacrifices
To dig deep down
To defend your choices
To fight
To be a better version of you
To help change the world

You will truly amaze yourself at what you are capable of doing and accomplishing if you only give yourself the benefit of the doubt, an extra push, and the support of your dreams that you deserve.

 

 

 

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One Year Closes and Another Opens

newyearOne year.  525,600 minutes. Resolutions—both accomplished and fallen through. Life’s additions, subtractions, plans and surprises. How do you measure a year?

Perhaps it is like life on a smaller scale that you measure it in the moments your breath was taken away rather than the breaths you have taken. By the memories you made rather than the memories you planned for. By the unexpected smiles, changes and hurdles that were thrown over the past 12 months. But also by the completion of goals that were strived for, the dedicated time and work that was put into working towards a specific objective, the new part of who you have become as well as the part of you that you may have lost. And of course by the loved ones around you—the mountains you have climbed, the tears of joy and sorrow you have experienced and the new row of the tight knit relationship you have sewn.

So where does that leave us? 365 days less of life to live or 365 days added to our novel? It is all a page in the journey called life through learning, growing, and loving all that is bestowed upon us.

Before we dive head first into the goals and ambitions for the upcoming year, it is also important to reflect on the past year—the lessons we’ve learned, the changes we’ve made, the laughs we’ve had, and appreciation for all we have experienced as well as another year on this wonderful wild earth.

As this year comes to a close we are given a fresh start, a clean slate and a new stab at the year. It is a time of rejuvenation, mediation, and even hibernation as the holidays come to an end. But where do we start? How do we choose a focus for the year? Yes, of course there are the standards and favorites such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and spending more time with family. But without a plan that is nothing but a dream or aspiration. We first need to decide the purpose of these resolutions. Does it feed your mind, body or soul? Are you doing it because you truly want to, because it is a fad, or because you think it’s the right thing to do?

resolutions

It may be helpful to bucket your life and ambitions into different areas such as learning something new (mind), a new fitness and nutrition plan (body), reading more scripture or meditating (soul) to make sure that you don’t get off balance and focused too much on one area of life. It is about becoming an overall healthier and happier you. What do you have that you don’t want and want what you don’t have? Try filling in the below chart to start your resolution list.

That is what a new year’s resolution is about. It is about taking the next step towards a better and happier you. As some that follow psychology may put it, it is taking the next step up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to become a level closer to self-actualization. A new year’s resolution is not about a new fad, a

Now, how do you go about creating an attainable new year’s resolution? While I am the farthest thing from the master of them, I think these few tips can help make this year a more achievable and realistic year for your goals.

Write them down!

  • Doesn’t this seem to be the trick to everything? Whether it be losing weight, reminding yourself, to-do lists or going shopping, writing it down solidifies and makes the virtual reality. Lists are all the rage from buzzfeed posts to ‘5 things’ articles on front covers of magazines. My as well jump on the bandwagon. Making it publicly available is also an option but is definitely not necessary as it may be a personal resolution kept you yourself.

Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  • One of the most effective motivation and performance goal setting tactics is to make sure you are creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. The chart below lists each letter out but the basic gist is that each resolution and all goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound to help them be more attainable

Review your goals periodically

  • If ever there is a way to stress yourself out, it’s by procrastinating 365 days of resolutions into one month. We have all been there before. It does nothing but create a feeling of disappointment, stress and low expectations for future goals.  So review periodically. Perhaps set an appointment on your calendar to check in once a quarter, or—if you are feeling super ambitious—maybe once a month. This way you will make sure that you are on track and if you have your goals separated into simple steps you can see the progress and what finish line you are headed towards.

Reward yourself when you reach your goals

  • This is so important!! Rewards are crucial to motivation and acceptance. It helps give us a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment which then fuels us to keep going. This does not mean binge on eating a huge chocolate cake, a whopper, milkshake and fries after losing 5lbs, but it is ok to have a piece of cake at a baby step of a goal.

smart

So let’s make 2014 a big year. Dream big, hold yourself accountable, make S.M.A.R.T. goals, and remember that you are only human living in a crazy, unpredictable, unstable world. Things may happen and bump us slightly off track, but if we decide to stand still, find the negative and let life come as it may, be aware that you are just existing and not living. And in the same sense but different note, if you focus only making a living through long, stressful hours of work be aware that you have become so busy making a living that you have forgotten to make a life. For it is not the destination which will bring us satisfaction, but rather the journey will bring lessons and joy for the utmost success in life.

Here are 25 suggestions if you are drawing a blank:

  1. Listen moreNew-Year-Resolutions
  2. Learn something new
  3. Pick up a new hobby
  4. Embark on a spiritual journey
  5. Learn how the body’s muscles work for better more effective workouts
  6. Find a charity to volunteer at that you are passionate about
  7. Make 1 new friend
  8. Let go of the past
  9. Don’t take things personally
  10. Give more, expect less
  11. Read 3 books
  12. Journal your thoughts
  13. Take in more scenery
  14. Write things down
  15. Create a challenging yet understanding relationship with your body
  16. Create a budget
  17. Reach out to family more often
  18. Become an initiator
  19. Do something spontaneous
  20. Take on a physical activity
  21. Meditate
  22. Reflect once a month
  23. Mentor someone
  24. Be mentored by someone
  25. Make a difference in someone’s life

Additional Helpful Resources:

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If your life was a song…

music can change the world What would it be?

I don’t need to tell you that we live in a constantly evolving world. Every minute we are discovering new cures, producing new inventions, and enhancing what others have created before us. This holds true across all industries. One that I want to take a minute to focus on is the music industry. As new genres pop up almost daily and sub genres, or micro-genres, are created within genres, it is difficult to stay up-to-date with current artists, classifications and tracks.

Driving home a couple of weeks ago I had this thought pop into my head about life in comparison to music. As our lives continue to be increasingly complicated with new technologies and opportunities, so does music. But more importantly, we all have our own song and genre of music. No, this does not just mean what we like to bop around to, but the way that our life is structured and what empowers us.

Take these next few moments and open your mind to think about what truly inspires and satisfies the beat of your heart and the music of your soul in relation to the categories below and the breakdown of music.

Production
The production of music is compiled of multiple or few instruments, different sounding techniques, as well as a slew of changing technologies to enhance or alter the sound.
Is your life complete with the simplicity of life’s necessities and would be satisfied by the beauty of nothingness and silence? Or do things and the production of life excite you? Do you like to pampered and changed with different electronics and things that are constantly being updated in society?

Accompaniment
The accompaniment involved with music includes the additional sounds including instruments and other vocalists.
Are you the sole driver in your life? Do you motivate and empower yourself? Or perhaps you sing in the background as backup to someone else in your life. Maybe you are part of a larger chorus and the company of others fulfills and motivates you. Or possibly you are part of a small group that feeds off of each other. You are inseparable and your lives are intertwined and harmonize together.

Purpose
The purpose of music can vary not only between genres but even from song to song within one album. Some may be for a larger cause while others are something to help distract from the real world.
What is the purpose of your song in life? Is it to be fun, catchy and intriguing to those around you? Maybe you are very complex carrying a plethora of instruments in life and bring to the table an opus of intricate details and philosophies. Perhaps you want to bring harmony, give chills to those around you. Your song could align closely with something else in your life—so much that it is associated with that thing when others think of you like a catchy commercial tune. Or the simplicity of your song brings a clear message, as you are an open book. Alternatively maybe you are closed off and have a hidden meaning behind what others may not understand.

Lyrics
The lyrics of a song often can be the heart of the song, how it feels and the story it has to tell.
Do you leave everything on the surface so people can’t see the real you and judge you for it? Or are you driven to empower those around you and ignite the flame inside others? Maybe you are there to comfort others with your words, or be the silent presence that is open for interpretation. You could also be a thinker with twists and turns from reality to the imaginary world eluding to what something may be if one chooses to look deep enough.

Resonance
The resonance of a song is the catchiness and stick that lingers with you even after the song has ended.
Is your song or life something that is trendy at the moment? It is rising on the charts? Is it a legendary life and song that will never be forgotten? It could be catchy at the moment but be gone with the next passing breeze. Or maybe it is that song that everyone knows no matter how many years pass. Maybe it recalls a memory for people and invokes a particular feeling. Or conceivably it will be remembered by generations to come for the impact and inspiration it had on others.

Composition
The composition of a song often follows the pattern of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge chorus.
What is the structure and composition of your life? In your story where are you on the timeline? Are you building up to that powerful bridge? Or are you just getting started on the beginning of a new verse and chapter? Perhaps you are just bringing everything back together again and bringing this song to a close.

music is the voice of the soulThere are no right or wrong answers. Each situation in our life may beat to the drum of a different genre, particular artist, or current song. As life and music evolves it is important to understand and appreciate the versatility and impact that each day leaves us whether it be a good dance, a tear jerking emotion, or an action to set the world aflame. There is music to help us through each and every occasion in life, and there is life to be lived through music.

All music and every song is beautiful, precisely created and crafted in its own image. This is also true for each and every form of life. We all have that certain something that makes us tick—that song, melody, and aspect of life that motivates and completes us. The music of our heart and soul, as simple or complex of a symphony as it may be, is a masterpiece.

What is your song composed of?

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From Carrier Pigeon to Virtual Tweets

Randomly running into an old friend while crossing a street. A phone call with a loved relative on the other side of the country. Meeting up with a group of your childhood friends. An unexpected card from an old colleague. The little unexplainable sparks from human interactions that bond us together and touch our hearts in a way that nothing else can is what communication is all about. It is about the transmission of feelings, conversing about a common point, and connecting with others. Mankind subconsciously thrives on communication from the moment we are born through cries for help and transforms into the ability to express your thoughts articulately.

technology-surpasses-human-interaction-albert-einstein-quoteBut in a world full of constant interruptions and distractions, demands and opportunities, it is both interesting, and worrisome to think where communication is headed.

From bird to email, Morris code to mobile cell phones and cavemen drawings to online blogs—communication has slowly evolved over hundreds of years and is now changing at an exceedingly rapid pace. A small quantity of sounds and words have evolved into to dictionaries filled with hundreds of thousands of words, each potentially holding multiple meanings. Not only are trendy new words being added to the dictionary such as ridic, photobomb, tweeps and lolz, but the definitions of words are also being altered such as the recent change in the meaning of literally to now also mean “not literally true”. Huh?  Are you as confused as I am?

Where are we going with communication? Don’t get me wrong, I love social media as much as the next person, but do you see where we are headed as a society? We are spending more time sharing our memories with our followers than with the people we should actually be sharing the memories with. We are more focused on retaking “selfies” to look our best, than actually just trying to look our best. We think more about the funny, witty way to tweet something than the clever, amusing comment we could say to the person standing right next to us.

We are transforming, very quickly, to a race that is portrayed only as we want to be rather than how we are, hidden behind the mask of our new form of communication. The ability to wait and respond, perfectly craft what we want to say, add filters and crop photos has placed us in the perfect spot to become the fake celebrities we like to hate on TV. In a way, text communication and social sharing has enabled us all to have our own public relations manager. Ironically the additional forms of communication have enabled us to communicate less and have formed a wall and awkwardness when talking to someone face to face.

May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on FacebookIt is part of human nature to want to be liked, accepted and appealing. But when it matters how many likes you got on a picture that you retook 13 times to get just right more than enjoying the actuality of the memory you are creating, I think we may have twisted our priorities just a hair.

I know this may come off harsh, but again let me say I do love how far we have come and the ability to be instantaneously updated on the happenings in my friend’s and family’s lives from around the world. Technology is truly astounding and we are at a place we could have never even dreamed of 25 years ago. Take a second to think about if someone was removed from earth for 30 years and were brought back in 2013 and then asked you what the most amazing invention has been. I think we can all agree that the fact we have a device that can fit in our pocket that holds the answers to any questions we have, can communicate with people around the world, and let us basically do anything we want virtually is an incredible creation. WOW! It’s like magic! Cell phones are life changing as they give us the ability to answer those “I wonders” that we used to say we’d look up when we got home and would forget. It’s amazing to think how many lives have been saved because of the ability to call anyone or emergency services without a landline. And it’s astounding to think the amount of excess knowledge we have accumulated by carrying around a personal assistant.

Like all enhancements however, we must understand that there are pros and cons to all of life’s changing improvements. By having the world at our fingertips we begin to create an expectation that we are constantly accessible, and likewise we would like answers to all questions immediately. Along those lines in the realm of social media, we seek instant gratification, attention and reaction to what we post in the socialsphere. We seek higher friend and follower counts, try to top friends with likes and favorites, and hope to portray our lives as the most interesting journey God has ever blessed man with. But while getting caught up in the act, we are setting ourselves up for loneliness, rejection, and potential hits to our confidence. “Why didn’t people like this? Why hasn’t my tweet been favorited? Was I not witty enough? Did people judge my snapchat? Did I use vine “right”?”

Through these doubts and time spent worrying how our cover appears we lose site of the important connections and forms of communication. We have the ability to “mask” how we really feel, spend time to craft a response perfectly and become insincere. Therefore it is difficult to distinguish real from fake and our insecurities grow and give a sense of loneliness in a world full of endless connections.

So what happens next? Do you spiral down further into more apps and social presences? Or do we hit a point that we realize enough is enough? There is a reason whether it is explainable or not that a coffee date or phone call can touch a place in our soul and lift our spirits while an email or text can only give a small percentage of that feeling.

I can only hope that we try not to be a book judged by our cover, that we feed the soul by nurturing the quality relationships over the quantity of relationships we try to manage, and that we treasure the actual more than the virtual.

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
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Sleep Tight

It’s 11am on a Wednesday and the day has officially started. You had a full night sleep, a solid breakfast and coffee so your day is off to a great start. Then, out of nowhere you feel like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks. You can’t stop yawning, your brain seems to have taken the express flight to the Caribbean, and you feel like you haven’t had sleep in days. What?!?!

We all know the feeling, and sometimes it is more than indescribable—and always at inconvenient times. We have been told a million times how important sleep is since we came out of the womb, and for the most part it was always “You need 8 hours of sleep a night.” But do you really?

Just like everything other aspect in life, we are all different. Studies have been done to show the difference in need between men and women in regards to sleep, as well as different age levels. Although they have published the generalities for each demographic, that does not mean one size fits all. Depending on activity level, calorie intake, stress, and any other outside factors, we each necessitate varying amounts of sleep to function at our fullest.

With that being said, there is one thing that has been proven over and over again as well as taught in many fields from psychology to medicine—the power of the sleep cycle.

My Mantra: The Almighty Sleep Cycle

Like everything else in life, sleeping is part of a system–the most powerful astounding system, the human body. There are ways to use the system to its full potential, take advantage of it, and ways to harm it. In order to do so, we need to first fully understand how the process works.

Sleep is a natural cycle of activity which helps to rejuvenate and restore other systems of our body including the immune, nervous, muscular and skeletal systems. While the length of time each species need varies, the sole purpose remains the same across them all.

The average sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes at which point it starts all over again (about 4-6 times for a full night sleep). The two basic states of sleep are REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). Within NREM there are four stages. The breakdown of all is as follows.

  • Stage 1: During stage one, you can be awakened easily and feel like you haven’t fallen asleep at all. It is sometimes referred to as drowsy sleep and can be associated with twitches or sudden jerks as part of the commencement of sleeping. While you may not be fully asleep, you become mostly unaware of the surrounding environment and muscles relax. Length of time: 5-10 minutes
  • Stage 2: Stage two is a period of light sleep and results in a decrease of body temperature as well as a slower heart rate. Most time sleeping is during this stage—about 45-55% of total sleep in adults. It is a prep period for the body prior to going into deep sleep. Length of time: 10-20 minutes
  • Stage 3: The third stage initiates the start of deep sleep. While it only occupies 4-5% of our sleep, it is vital in the fact that the brain begins to generate slow delta waves. It is very difficult to be woken up, and may result in being cranky or disoriented. Length of time: 10-15 minutes
  • Stage 4: This is the deepest of sleep full of rhythmic breathing and limited muscle activity. The most healing and recovery occurs during this stage when the brain produces delta waves. While it is the deepest, it is also easy to be woken up. Length of time: 20-30 minutes

Now, the most interesting, complex and ironically the shortest, lightest sleep – REM. I could write articles and articles on REM, but for purposes of keeping this brief, we will leave it as a slight overview. This stage is very active with lots of movement, including “rapid eye movement”. Most intense, vivid and unrealistic dreams occur during REM. This stage is typically shorter at the beginning of a night’s sleep and longer towards the end. Although muscles are relaxing, eye movement is fast, the heart rate increases and breathing is rapid and shallow. While a lot is occurring in the brain and systems, both arms and leg muscles are paralyzed. Length of time: 5-10 minutes.

Tools Better than Counting Sheep: 
Download these super useful tools to help you better understand your sleep patterns and get the most out of your sleep.

  • Sleep Calculator: Find out how much sleep you need in order to avoid interrupting a full sleep cycle and feel well rested when you wake
  • Sleep Cycle: Analyze how you sleep, if you are hitting a deep sleep as well as your movement with this app

Although I am the last person to tell you I have had enough sleep, I have frequently been called the queen of napping whether it be a five or ten minute siesta to a calculated 90 minute slumber, naps are key. They help rejuvenate and give energy to mid-day lull and have been proven effective in stimulating brain activity. Since it has been said that sleeping after learning something new makes it more memorable, if not permanent, a quick nap should help to solidify that information. Here are a few tips to making sure you get the most out of your sleep.

  • Comfort – make sure you have a comfortable sleeping oasis with a firm supportive mattress
  • Temperature – the ideal temperature to help your body cool down and settle into a deep sleep is 68 degrees
  • Environment – having a relaxing environment will help you feel calm as well as you mind feeling uncluttered. This includes turning off the television, lights, and having electronic devices including cell phones more than an arms length away

To some there may be more necessities including personal rituals, unwinding with a book, wine, a glass of milk, or completing certain tasks. As more research is being completed, we can one day hope that sleeping will come down to such a science that we will each be able to understand what our body needs to perform and think at 100%.

Fun Factual Finds:

  • The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.
  • Sleeping directly after learning something new will improve your ability to remember it effectively.
  • 33% of those who drink 4 or more caffeinated beverages daily are designated at risk for sleep apnea – a disorder in which breathing is interrupted briefly and repeatedly, chronic snoring can be an indicator.
  • Dreams, once thought to occur only during REM sleep, also occur (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.
  • Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.
  • After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.
  • Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep
  • Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal
  • Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years

This is just a snippet from The National Sleep Research Project’s Findings. For more facts and info, read more.

More Sources:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/19/why-you-should-never-sleep-with-tv-or-dim-lights-on.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/sleep-101

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm

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