Why I Write

Getting Out Of Your Head

I think often about why I write and why I even started this blog. Writing is something that I’ve been doing since age eight, at the age at which my father made me write an essay every day after school about what I had learned that day. Although I may have hated it at the time, looking back it was one of the best chores I ever had as a kid because it became a lifelong habit that I continue. The ability to communicate, especially through the written word has served me well in my time here on this planet. The most important aspect that I like about writing, as opposed to other forms a communication ( my college major), is that writing allows me to clear my head of the noise caused by thoughts. In a way, it’s my preferred form of meditation. The added bonus is that when I write, often I’m able to share my ideas with others. However, make no mistake, I write as much for myself as for anyone else. It’s my therapy. I can be yours as well. What follows are my suggestions for anyone looking to start writing.

1.Keep a journal. This doesn’t have to be a diary, but at least some sort of book or binder that you can use to collect your great ideas, experiences and insights. I use legal pads as well as The Five Minute Journal, which gives prompts on various topics to write short answers. Collecting your thoughts in physical form is a great way to clear your head and it provides you with something to pass on to others. Indeed, some of the great ideas and philosophy have come from the journals on incredible individuals.

2. Try to write at least one long paper, and a few short articles. The ability to write is something that needs to be exercised often to ensure it remains effective. The greatest advantage of college, in my opinion, is that students are forced to produce long form term papers. The ability to construct such documents is greatly advantageous in life, especially for scientists, authors and attorneys- the livelihood of which depends on their ability to read complex documents and produce them. However, short, concise articles can be just as effective to communicate with others.

3. Start a blog or write letters to the editor. Communicating your ideas to others with the purpose of influence is vital to furthering discourse in society. While you don’t have to hold strong opinions on all subject, nor should you if you’re not informed, it is highly useful to present an argument in writing and back it up with facts, logic and reason. Any argument will do, from why Disneyland is the best theme park on Earth, or why It’s a Wonderful Life is the greatest Christmas movie ever, to more serious subject like politics or the economy. It doesn’t really matter what you think, only that you’re able to convey it well!

4. Write for yourself, but understand your audience. As a former newsroom editor, I’m used to writing very short, easy to read sentences in the present tense. This is done so the writing is easily read by the on air talent and it sounds like they are speaking directly to you. If you notice, on television and radio, most of the dialogue is very short and to the point. However, I also like to read very dense literature like philosophy, biographies and so on. I also love poetic literature and plays. While I would love to write in this style, and I may do so in the future, I understand that short articles are more read and easily understood than most long form content. I know that may audience is busy and usually wants me to get to the point, so I keep most of my work short and I even use bullets and numbered paragraphs to make it even easier for them to follow. (I do hope this helps.)

In closing, I suggest writing a little something every day (other than a social media post), so that you may refine your skills of written communication. More than that, writing and note taking can be the best form of therapy you ever undergo because it allows you to take the thoughts in your head and “dump” them onto paper. It can be a form of organizing your thoughts and clearing your mind. You may even use this to write down and keep track of goals you set for yourself. Whatever you do, just remember to WRITE!!!!!

In Health,
Sean

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Guard Your Mind

Volumes of literature have been written about the impact that your thoughts can have upon your life. Although you are not your thoughts, (you are the one producing them) you certainly can become what you think about most of the time. Our thoughts influence our moods and therefore our actions more than anything else. But where do our thoughts come from? How and why do we produce the thoughts we do? Certainly some ideas and notions just “pop” into our head- the product of billions of neurons in our brains making connections without us consciously trying to cultivate such thinking. These random thoughts serve as a great reminder that we are not our thoughts. Our brain is producing them but we get to decide whether we “listen” to them and subsequently if we act of them. I believe that given the fact the brain/mind produces thoughts, it can be likened to a factory. Think of it as sort of a mental factory if you will. How do factories work? They take raw ingredients or inputs and work to turn them into a more finished product. Therefore, it is fair to say that our minds produce thoughts largely in part to the input it receives. Which leads me to this point…

BEWARE OF WHAT YOU FEED YOUR MIND!

If you find yourself having predominantly negative, unproductive or sad thoughts, or, if you find yourself in the same situations you have been facing for sometime without progress, it may be useful to examine what ingredients are going into your mental factory. Consider the input that you are giving your brain day after day, year after year. How many hours of television, social media, movies is your brain being “fed”? What type of media is it being fed? Dark fictional stories? Negative news programs? What people do you most associate with? Whose ideas do you let influence you? These are all questions that should be answered periodically. If your mind really is a factory, it would be wise to make sure the ingredients it uses are pure appropriate. Can you imagine trying to make delicious chocolate bar with rocks and dirt? I firmly believe that is what most people are trying do achieve on a daily basis. They would like positive happy thoughts and emotions, they want the chocolate bar. But they are baking with the wrong ingredients which leads them to producing negative thoughts and emotions. If it’s true that you become what you think about most of the time, and I believe it is, it’s clear to see how important it is to give your brain the right inputs so that you may have happy, productive thoughts and actions.

IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE THE BAD INGREDIENTS COME FROM

One of my favorite stories to listen to is business and author Jim Rohn speaking to a room of school children. He asked the kids, “what would happen if my worst enemy put sugar in my coffee?” The kids replied that he’d be okay. Jim goes on, “What would happen if my best friend accidentally put strychnine in my coffee?” “You’d be dead!”, the kids said. Jim says, “That’s right! Lesson one; life is both sugar and strychnine and it doesn’t matter if it’s your worst enemy or you best friend that drops the poison in your coffee. And that brings us to the next lesson; watch your coffee!” I love this analogy because it’s so simple and easily understood. Even if the people you trust and love are accidentally putting negative ingredients into your mind, the outcome would be as if your enemy was doing it. It’s important to understand who and what is influencing us and that we constantly guard our mind against those who would do it harm, even inadvertently. That doesn’t mean we should necessarily cut people out of our life, although sometimes I firmly believe it is necessary. It would be wise to understand how our brains work and that our minds are constantly being fed information and opinion and images and sometimes we are receiving information and ideas from people close to us those inputs are not serving us. Don’t just let anything into your mind without analyzing it first! It could be strychnine that is poisoning your thoughts without even realizing it.

In closing I’ll leave you with this Jim Rohn Quote. It would do us all well to read it daily-

“Every day, stand guard at the door of your mind.”

Perspective During the Holidays

Things To Keep in Mind This Season

I love the Holiday Season as a time for reflection on the past year as well as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. If I’m being honest, I could do without the cold weather and smoky fires and Christmas trees (I have asthma and all three of these aggravate the condition.) I remember countless Christmases and New Years being sick as a kid. In fact, I’m sick while writing this. All that said, I still get overjoyed and excited around this time of year because of the spirit of giving and love. I love seeing children go to church to celebrate their religion and learn about giving to others. I also love giving children presents and watching their eyes light up as they open their gifts. However, I know the Holidays are not all positive for many, including myself. Even with all the issues I personally have with the Holiday Season, I look forward to it all year. I know others do as well, despite the fact that millions report stress and anxiety during this season. To keep stress at a minimum, there are some things I like to remind myself of during this time of the year. I’m going to share them with you in the hopes that it helps you realize some wonderful experiences.

The Power of Anticipation/ Momentum- While most tend to take their foot off the gas and coast through the Holidays and into the New Year, I use this time to anticipate the coming year to really work hard so that I can build momentum heading into January. This is especially true with my physical training and business preparations. Being in the fitness industry, it’s vital that I build momentum heading into the New Years because those who join the gym during before the end of the year are more likely to stick around after those who didn’t realize their New Year’s resolutions drop off. I also like to kick up my training a notch so that I’m able to use the extra food I consume at parties to build muscle rather than store fat. By increasing the intensity of my training, I also have more energy for all my employees and family. Momentum is very important although most underestimate how valuable it can be. Use the Holidays to build momentum and absolutely drive pedal to the metal into the New Year.

Unrealistic Expectations- I have been guilty of having unrealistic expectations of what Christmas and New Years should be like and have suffered disappointment when my expectations were not met. I think that so many of us are like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation; we have a grand vision of what should happen during the Holidays and how it should happen and then catastrophe occurs because we become so attached to this vision. Now, I’m not usually one for lowering standards, but trading expectation for appreciation is really the key to happiness during this time of year. If we are more appreciative of the time we have with family and friends and less attached to the expectations in our mind, I guarantee less stress and more positive feelings.

What’s Under Your Control- Along the same lines as having unrealistic expectations, it’s important to remember, as always, what is under your control and what it not. You may fall ill during this season. If that happens, it happens! It’s not in your control any longer. You may wish there was a different outcome, but that will not affect the reality of the situation. You also may not receive the present or bonus you wanted. These are also not in your control. Certain family members may not be present at your get-together. Again, this is not in your control. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you act to external events. Therein, lies a big choice. You can choose to be happy and appreciative despite what is happening, or you can let yourself be overcome with stress, grief and disappointments. How? You can always choose to use reason. That is under your control. Everything else is not.

The Importance of Your Health- The stress of the Holidays, the financial stress, the stress of expectations, and the physical stress due to poor food choices and excessive alcohol consumption are very real. Heart-related deaths increase by 5 percent during the holiday season. Fatal heart attacks peak on Christmas, the day after Christmas, and New Year’s Day, according to a national Circulation study. People may also tend to put off health care during the holidays, leading to potentially fatal situations. My advice? The holidays are a time to enjoy the health of you and your loved ones, not ignore it. ‘Tis not the season for gluttony and alcohol abuse. Enjoy the treats and parties, but remember that health is a very serious thing. We tend to forget this until we experience a near death experience or have a family member pass away. Don’t ignore your health this season. Improve it.

What Is Really Important- Lastly, remember what is really important about this time of year. Faith, family, friends, traditions, health- these are all the things that should be celebrated during this special time, not material things. I love to give as much as anyone, but I realize now the most important thing I can give is my presence not my presents. (I know that’s a cliche, but indulge me.) I will say there is one caveat to this; if your family or work parties are not conducive to improving your spirits and health, as in they are blanketed with negativity and excess libations, I suggest it best to skip them and focus on reflecting over the past year and planning where improvements can be made. This may sound harsh, but in the end, you are the most important person in your world because you are the only one in control of you! So make sure the Holidays bring out the best version of you so that you can be a joy for others.

So there you have it. These are the five things I like to remind myself of during this time of year. I think it’s important to reflect them so that the Holiday will be filled with positive emotions rather than negative ones. The Holidays, like another other time of the year is what you make them. I hope this season will be the best one yet for you and your family and loved ones.

In Health,

Sean