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

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The Dirty Little Holiday Secret

WHAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON

There is a dirty little secret that no one likes to admit about the holiday season. It’s well known that millions suffer from additional stress and anxiety during the period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. Some of this anxiety is due to the additional financial stress from the feelings of guilt about purchasing presents for everyone in our lives. Household credit card debt spikes during the holidays leaving a lingering money problems for millions heading into the New Year. Then there is the stress about traveling and seeing all the members of your family you feel obligated to see. Let’s be honest, we all have some family and friends that require us to consume copious amounts of alcohol just to feel comfortable around. For millions others it’s the time off work that becomes a problem. If you are lucky enough to be paid for the time off, great. If not, not only do the stresses of additional purchases come into play, but also the loss of income. For some, all of the issues listed above are applicable. These, however are not the dirty little secret I’m referring to.

What We Think the Holidays Are

The holidays can be many things to many people. Whatever story we tell ourselves about the meaning of the holidays will become reality. Therefore it is very important to consider what you are telling yourself about what the holidays are. Are they about family? Are the holidays about your faith? Do the holidays mean giving to others? Are they about stressing out? Watching movies like Christmas Story or Die Hard? All of these meanings may be great and they may apply to you, but let me suggest to you what the Holidays and all other days are about. In fact, the Holiday Season is not unlike any other season in what it means for all of us. How can this be? If you look at what we really have control over in our lives versus what is outside our control, the answer is clear. You cannot control external events such as how people act at family parties, what movies are on TV, whether or not you come down with an illness or how much stress others have during this season. You only have control over one thing, your mind and how you decide to take action with it. The special feelings and rituals we have during this season are not exclusive to this time of year. Moreover, the positive lessons of the season are not meant to only be learned and remembered during winter. So the question then becomes, “how do we control our minds an keep the lessons of the holidays all year?” In a word, reflection.

What the Holidays Are Really About-

The Christmas season is considered the “season of miracles”. I think the greatest miracle is the human mind and what it is capable of. In the Bible, Jesus states “the kingdom of heaven is within you”, meaning all of us are capable of cultivating heavenly thoughts and therefore a wonderful life. We can also choose to ignore the miracle of our minds and allow ourselves to be overcome with negative emotions. One advantage of having Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and any other special holidays near the end of the year is that we are able to reflect on our actions and thoughts over the previous year. I believe that’s what the Holidays are really about- reflection. It is a time to look back at what we have learned, who we have met, what opportunities have come our way, what we are grateful for. This is not just about New Years. The emotions connected with all the Holidays this time of year can sometimes cloud our thinking, but strong emotional environments can also be useful for internal reflection. Sometimes is takes strong emotions for us to realize what is important. It’s important to reflect on what is in our control and what is not. By reflecting on the past year, we can learn much about ourselves and how we responded to things outside our control. For me, I like to write down situations that I was proud of how I acted as well as the times I am not so proud of. Also, what things were in my control that I maybe neglected? What do I need to work? See, the Holiday season is truly a time for miracles, a time to reflect on the miracle of life and our minds. The fact that humans can self-reflect is itself a miracle. We can choose our values and actions- choice is a miracle.

WHAT NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT- IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
So here’s the dirty little secret- the Holidays are really about the most important person in your life…you. Every day is about you. We like to think what we do is for others, but we cannot control others or how they react or feel. We can give all we like, but it’s still for us. We can only control ourselves and our minds. You are the most important person in your life because you are the only one who can control you. If you want to help others this Holiday season, fine, but understand why you are doing it. You are doing it for because it fits with your values and fulfills a need you have to contribute. There’s nothing wrong with that. No reason to feel guilty about it. In fact, it makes you a better person, a better you! Everything you do, even if it’s for others is still for you. Reflect on that this holiday season. Reflect on how you can do more for yourself so that you may help others. Consider what is in your control and what is not so you can live a life with less anxiety and allow yourself to grow. Reflect on what you are grateful for, especially your mind. Reflect on how important you are. To others, to the world, to your loved ones. You are the most important person in your world. So take care of yourself so that you may help take care of others.

Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!!!!

Sean

Picking Your Battles

Much of life is discerning between what is in your control and what is not in your control. So much effort is wasted on things that we have no control over and inevitable pain occurs from the wasted energy. It’s not always easy to establish what we have control over, but once we do, we can properly focus our efforts on taking action. However, as I have gotten a little older, I realize that sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. That is not to say that we should be lazy and do nothing. What I mean is that part of becoming wise is learning how to pick your battles. In other words, the question we should all ask is, “where will our efforts have the most effect?” Picking the right battle is essentially properly allocating your resources and energy. This means that we must ignore less important situations while the major ones are addressed.

I cannot even begin to express how much energy I have wasted fighting the wrong fights. This is especially true being a business owner because I often think that everything is in my control in the business. This is a mistake. Although I’m responsible for the business, I do not have control over every aspect. In business, owners like myself make the mistake of misdiagnosing what areas need the most attention and then we spend enormous amounts of money and energy on things that have very little impact. I’ve done this by focussing on advertising instead of having the sales staff properly trained. I didn’t realize that the ads were not the problem. It was the ability of the staff to close the sale because we had either the wrong people, or they were not trained correctly. This is just one example of picking the wrong battle to fight. Although I had control over both these aspects of my business, one battle would have yielded much more return on investment than the other. I’ve also made the mistake of adding more equipment thinking that would increase sales. In fact, the newer equipment had almost no impact on sales. What did increase sales was remodeling the locker rooms. Interesting.

Just because something is in your control doesn’t mean you have to take action immediately. Rushing into battle unprepared is often worse than taking time to properly analyze the situation and then choosing how and where to attack the problem. Most of us can understand how it would be a mistake to attack an enemy head on where their forces are the most concentrated and you are outnumbered. But that is exactly the mistake we make when we rush into taking action without analyzing where we can be most effective. Again, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should! Sometimes the best course of action is to save up your energy and attack a problem where you will have a huge impact. Think of this as getting a bigger weapon. Don’t throw a rock at a tank just because you’re holding one in your hand. Take the time to find the right weapon to take on the problem.

In health,

Sean

Thoughts Are Not Enough

THE PROBLEM WITH POSITIVE THINKING

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith“ – The Book of Timothy.

Being both an athlete and an owner of a somewhat large business in the fitness industry, I have noticed much more talk about the Law of Attraction and positive thinking as it relates to fitness and sports. Of course, these concepts are nothing new, but they seem to have found new life in social media circles as of late. I’m happy to see that there is an increased focus on the power of thought and philosophy as it relates to physical performance and health. I do, however, become a little concerned when I see so many people post about thinking positive without talking about the other major factor in achievement and health, WORK. Thoughts alone are not enough. You still have to do the work to succeed. Positive thinking without hard work is delusion. It’s the same as walking into a garden and chanting “there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds.” Guess what? There’s probably weeds and they will take over the whole garden without working to rip them out.

In fact, not only does it take work, it takes massive action to achieve your desires and make sure the garden of your life is beautiful. What does that mean? It means that it usually takes even more work than you think it’s going to initially. So be prepared for that. Not only do you have to think positively that you can do something, you must be ready to work as if your life depends on it. I believe like the quote says, much of life is a battle. We all must battle everyday against the negative thoughts we have. We must battle against the obstacles that stand in the way of our goals. We must battle against darkness in the world by becoming a beacon of light. But a battle takes work. Thinking you can win is not enough. You must begin the race by doing the work of taking the first step and then having the belief you can finish and following up to make sure you do. Optimism itself will not do. Positive thinking must lead you to take action for it to be useful.

The last key to making sure win the battle is keeping the faith in yourself and others. What good is it to fight for what you want if you let the fight change you into something you are not proud of? Look all around and you’ll find people who have been jaded and disillusioned because of their struggles in life. This is where positive thinking comes back into play. It takes both hard work and positive thinking, especially while the work is being done. Hard work has the potential to change us into worse versions of ourselves unless we have faith the work is worth it in the long run.

So remember, believe you can succeed, fight the fight to make success a reality and always keep faith in yourself and others that you can persevere and the struggle will be worth it. Remember too that few things worth having ever come easy. Positive thinking alone may only lead to disappointment without applying the massive action needed towards achieving your goals.

 

In Health,

 

50 Reasons To Be Proud

50 Things I Am Proud Of

Sometimes when you are battling with negative thoughts and problems in your life, it helps to remember all that you have accomplished and all the obstacles you have actually overcome. I’m making this list to remind myself of what I can do when I put my mind and body into action. I suggest that you take the time to do the same. You may just find that you are actually quite amazing if you would just see clearly. So here we go, 50 things I’m proud of.
I’m proud that:
1. I found and incredible woman to be my partner in life.
2. I have always been curious to found out what makes others successful.
3. I have learned a great deal and taken massive action towards reaching my goals.
4. I graduated college without debt.
5. My wife never stops trying in our relationship or business.
6. My children are so smart and well liked.
7. I have made incredible friends.
8.I became a professional athlete with the help of friends and family.
9.I was instilled with a sickening work ethic from my father.
10.My father made me write an essay ever day.
11. I have been able to read over 25 books a year for the last 5 years.
12. My wife and I have been able to travel and experience so much.
13. I have successful businesses that have made me a great deal of money.
14. I have been able to utilize reason and philosophy instead of drugs to get through problems.
15. My immediate family is very close.
16. I have been able to avoid medications for my autoimmune disease without side effects.
17. I’m still so in love with my beautiful wife.
18. My wife and rarely have disagreements or fights.
19. My family has multiple sources of income
20. I’ve made good investments decisions.
21. I’ve had the courage to try new things and learn from my mistakes.
22. My parents have stayed married longer than most couples do.
23. I have turned weak body parts into strong ones.
24. My kids are so loving and kind.
25. My wife and I have started our own traditions.
26.My wife has become an incredible athlete.
27. I have been able to build a company that people see as valuable.
28. I never let my mind focus on what I could not do.
29. I’ve been determined in various areas of my life and achieved what I set out to do.
30. My family comes together to help others.
31. I have been able to train myself to learn new skills and use those skills in the marketplace.
32. I have not let my genetics or disabilities hold me back from doing what I want.
33. I have a wife who makes me want to be a better man.
34. I have a relationship with more passion after 13 years than when it started.
35. I achieved millionaire status by age 25.
36. I’ve lived an incredible life.
37. My kids love learning and being creative.
38. I have surrounded myself with people who want me to do well.
39. My family is always willing to help others.
40. I have not been jaded about humanity despite seeing evil in others and myself.
41. Despite not liking school, I graduated college on the honor roll.
42. My sisters found good men to share their lives with.
43. My friends are all successful in many areas of their lives.
44. I have made an impact of others lives through sharing my knowledge.
45. I have been able to expand my businesses from one to many.
46. I have written extensively on various subjects.
47. I have been able to clear my mind from stress and anxiety with reason and philosophy.
48. I have read and studied history a great deal and have been able to apply its lessons.
49. I have free time to spend with those I love.
50. I have people who love me in my life.

What are you proud of? Let me know.

Sean

Words Can Kill

Words Matter

When tragedy strikes, especially ones caused by evil behavior like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, the initial reaction is to look for a motive. Most people are not murderous psychopaths, so our ability to understand why someone could hate their fellow man enough to indiscriminately kill and injure hundreds of them is limited. We understand the tools they use to kill so many, so it’s easy for us to target those tools and weapons. But weapons have no feelings. They have no motives. Law enforcement will attempt to figure out a motive, but I’m proposing that all this type of behavior begins early in life when we all form the beliefs, values and philosophy that forms who we become and how we act. I’m suggesting that something as simple as an “innocent” phrase can plant the seed of hatred towards others. After all, the one thing common in all mass murderers is a blatant disregard the value of human life. We know this is true because often times the killers commit suicide, showing they do not value even their own lives.

Below are common phrases that can be heard in nearly every culture and country on the planet that I believe contribute to the devaluation of human life and mankind as a whole. When reading the list, think to yourself how many times you’ve heard these phrases. Think also, whether you have ever uttered one. Who was around when you did so, or who were you speaking to? What did you mean by what you said? As we will see, words matter. More than you may know.

“Don’t trust anyone.” How many times have we all heard this phrase? Most of us begin hearing it when we are children and it drills into us a sense of fear and hatred towards humankind as a whole. If we can’t trust other people, how are we supposed to live? The answer is a life filled with fear, anxiety and paranoia that can push people over the edge.

“Don’t talk to strangers.” This is a difficult one to stop saying because we all want our kids and loved ones to be safe. However, while this phrase may have good intentions, when combined with the other phrases on this list, can and most likely will lead to a hatred of others.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I must say that I’m guilty of this one. Part of the reason for it is that I’ve had experiences which reinforced a belief that others are not reliable. The truth however, is that by uttering this phrase, I’m simply choosing to focus on negative experiences involving others rather than all the benefits I have received in my life from humans cooperating with each other. The truth is, if you are reading this, it’s because of the incredible capacity for humans to cooperate and create new things for the purpose of increasing the standard of living for everyone.

“You’re all alone in this world and then you die alone.” This is just patently false, but I continue to hear it. If you feel alone, again you are choosing to focus on negative human interactions in your life rather than ones that have brought you joy, income, housing, food or just about anything else in the modern world. You are not alone. Others have been through what you have. Others feel what you feel. It took me a while to realize this truth, but once I did, hundreds of opportunities opened up to me in my life.

“People suck.” Except for you right? I think this is probably one of the most common negative phrases I encounter. Sure some people suck. Sometimes we suck. Generic, ignorant statements like this do more to create a philosophy of hatred in people than almost anything else I can think of. Be very careful when uttering phrases like this, even if you’re just kidding around. Others who may be in your presence, who look up to you may not understand that. You just may be a cause of their distrust and possible hatred towards mankind.

“You can’t depend on anyone but yourself.” This is much like the “do it yourself” phrase that is so prevalent. Both statements are patently falsely and serve only to reinforce a philosophy of hate.

“Human nature is evil.” Sure. It is also kind, selfless, caring, greedy. It’s all those things and more. It just depends what you choose to see and focus on.

“Mankind is dangerous.” This is true, but nature itself is dangerous for all living things. Anything mortal faces constant danger from it’s environment.

“Rich people are evil and greedy.” You can replace the word rich with whatever you like- whites, Jews, bankers, business owners…It doesn’t really matter. What you’re doing by perpetuating these types of slurs is to create a lack of harmony between groups of people. In reality, there are no groups of people. There are just people. Any person is capable of certain behaviors or characteristics. The color of the person, their financial situation, their sexuality, all of that has no bearing on who they are as a person. The only thing that truly matters is the set of beliefs and philosophy they live and act by.

“Marry inside your own race.” This may seem like an “old school” belief, but it’s still found in the world today. I’ll say it again, your race has no bearing on who you are as a person. Your philosophy and values do. These phrases are so destructive, especially to impressionable young people. They serve to create discord and fear towards those we see as “different.”

“‘They’ are not like us.” Really? Do “they” eat, sleep, work, bleed, love and die? Oh! Then they really are more like us than you think.

Most of us have heard or even uttered some of these phrases. Let me pose a question; what good has it done? Another question; what harm has it done? The harm is unknown because everything we see and hear affects us to a degree. This is especially true among young people who are just beginning to develop their philosophy for how to live. Let me be clear, saying these phrases doesn’t not make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you hate people. It only means that you hold certain beliefs that cause your to be distrustful of other people. My request is only that you not let your distrust of others plant the seed of hatred of mankind in others. We cannot always know how our words affect others. Let our words be those of harmony, love and strength rather than hatred, violence and fear.

Is Pain Controlling Your Life?

The Real Problem With Pain

This blog began as a way for me to discuss how to find freedom and happiness despite having adversity and struggles in life. My thought was that even though everyone encounters pain in their life, not everyone realizes that others share in similar experiences. We are all on the same journey in life because we have been programmed genetically as humans to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Of course, no one can completely avoid pain and often times we mistake discomfort for pain and addiction for pleasure. Therein lies the real problem with both pleasure and pain- it blinds us to reality in the moment.

Pain is especially insidious in its ability to distort clear thinking. When we experience pain, depending on the severity, we will look for and do almost anything to stop the pain. That’s not the problem. The problem is that pain itself is a symptom of something else and it’s often the case that while experiencing pain, we cannot correctly identify the source of the pain. You may have a chronic shoulder or hip pain and blame it on a past injury or the fact that you have been sitting too long during your workdays. However, the real problem underlying the pain could be that your movement patterns during physical exercise are causing stress on the joints and therefore muscular imbalances. Again, it’s exceedingly difficult to diagnose the cause of pain unless the pain has subsided to the point where we can engage in clear thinking again. Then, once the pain is gone, we often forget to research the cause of the pain, or we just get distracted by our daily lives the the endless cycle of pain continues.

Another common experience among people in pain is they find that their ability to be patient and empathetic towards others declines rapidly. We forget that pain is not unique to our human experience, but something shared by all. The worst is when people have arguments over who has more pain! Have you ever seen this? It’s like a competition for who has the most ailments and who has the most difficult life. It’s as if the need for significance compels us to bring up everything wrong in our lives with others.

It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever, especially pain. No one should believe that because they are in pain, they will always be. Moreover, the pain you are experiencing may or may not have been caused by something you have done. It’s impossible to know for sure because the pain is keeping your from thinking accurately. Trying to diagnose the correct cause of the pain during the suffering of the pain is not the best course of action. Neither is it wise to engage in important conversations (especially with loved ones), business transactions or making important life decisions. Take it from someone with chronic pain, nearly every argument, blow up in temper, terrible decision or major mistake I have made is because my thinking has been obfuscated by physical or emotional pain. It would have done me well to acknowledge that I was in pain and was not thinking clearly before I took any action.

As human beings we can never escape our biological impulses to avoid pain and seek pleasure. However, we can as humans employ our ability to use reason in spite of the pain. All of us should acknowledge and accept that when we are in pain we are not thinking clearly. How do you know if you are thinking clearly? See( https://libertyandpain.com/2016/04/21/thinking-clearly/.) If we are not mindful that we are in pain, we will do something that leads to regret later on. I know, I know…. EASIER SAID THAN DONE, RIGHT? Nothing worth doing is easy. It’s worth at least reminding ourselves that we need to do the hard work when it comes to thinking clearly and acknowledge when we are being controlled by our pain.

 

In Health,

Sean