What Do You Think?

Dominating Thoughts

“The greatest secret is, you become what you think about most of the time.”- Earl Nightingale

The above quote is one that I consider very true. So true in fact, that most would ignore it as a truism. Of course, they may understand the quote intellectually, but to embody the advice is a whole other thing. First, a distinction- you are not your thoughts. You are the one that produces them. You are the one that listens to them and chooses whether to act on them or not. That said, people often go towards the direction of their dominating thoughts. These are the thoughts that persist in their mind over and over. Many experience these dominating thoughts when they lie down and attempt to sleep. Some of these thoughts may be unfinished business. Some may be goals. For the majority of people who do not know how to harness these dominating thoughts, they are a curse- and incessant voice in their head that will not subside. For a select few, however, these dominating thoughts are the very fuel that drives them to get up and get to work. These thoughts are what allow these select few people to persevere through tough times.

I believe that your dominating thoughts, along with the use of reason can be your biggest tool to getting what you desire in life. Putting an idea in your head, never letting it die and then taking massive action to make sure the idea becomes reality is how all great things are built. I’d be willing to bet though that most people would equate anxiety with their dominating thoughts. To these people, their thoughts are not fuel for action, but a source of negative emotions. Perhaps it’s unfinished business, or their conscience nagging at them. Perhaps the thoughts can be likened to an hourglass, reminding them that time is running out. Or, perhaps these dominating thoughts are unhappy. Perhaps they are what the mind is producing to reveal to us that “we are living lives of quiet desperation”, as Thoreau phrased it. What amazes me is how these dominating thoughts affect people in different ways. How can one person use his desires and ideas to fuel a life of action, while another will let these thoughts literally drive him crazy? I think the answer is twofold; 1. Ideas can only act if you do and it’s difficult for us all to know where to begin to take action. 2. We are afraid of our thoughts. Some of the ideas that come to us cannot be spoken in polite conversation and therefore we learn not to trust our thoughts. So what can be done to transmute our dominating thoughts into reality? Reason.

Thoughts by themselves are nothing without reason and action. We need both to flesh out what is a solid, worthwhile idea from the garbage that our minds are capable of creating. My advice is to use reason to analyze your dominating thoughts and then decide if any of them are worth taking massive (not a little) action to put into reality. I will tell you that everything I have ever achieved in my life has come from my mind and body being fueled by dominating thoughts. From building businesses to allowing myself to fall in love, all were because of following my dominating thoughts. When I compete in bodybuilding, I put an image of exactly how I want to look in my head. I get obsessed with it and then put a plan in place to achieve it exactly. Yes, dominating thoughts can be likened to an obsession, but not all obsessions are negative. Like anything, obsession can be used as a tool. It can be used to build something incredible. It’s all up to you and what you focus on. Examine your thoughts. What do you think about most of the time? Use reason to decide whether those thoughts are serving you or you holding you back. It’s all up to you. Maybe it’s time to get obsessed about something constructive.

 

In health,

Sean

On Marriage

Seven Ingredients for a Happy and Lasting Marriage

            Perhaps the word marriage does not apply for some people. I don’t want the word to scare you off, so please substitute whatever word applies to you: relationship, partner, lover, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you understand the essence of any great relationship or marriage. Almost fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. An even greater percentage of dating relationships, around 80% end with break-up. What about just regular friendships? I suspect that friendships end for similar reasons to relationships. I’ve seen first hand how relationships, friendships and marriages end and while a romantic relationship has slightly more elements needed to make it last, the similarities in what makes all human relationships work or fail are fairly simple to recognize and understand. After 12 years of being with my beautiful wife, I can confidently tell you the ingredients necessary for a happy (very happy) and harmonious relationship. I’m not saying things last forever, but I will tell you that if something bad happens in my marriage, it’s going to be my fault. The reason… #1.

  1. Taking Responsibility—How much is each person in a marriage responsible for keeping it going? 50/50? 60/40? The answer is 100%. Each person must take extreme ownership of everything in a relationship. Each partner is responsible for 100% of what they do and the situation he finds himself in. Don’t like that? Too bad. Own your life and take responsibility for it. 100%.
  2. Desire for Harmony—First and foremost, there must exist a desire to get along with another person in order for a relationship to exist or a marriage to thrive. Believe it or not, I don’t think most people desire harmony. They look for problems. They look for drama because they know others can relate to it. They know their friends will love to hear about everything wrong, so they secretly want problems. You see, many believe in the fallacy that “all marriages have problems.” Or that “the seven year itch” is real. The truth is, whatever you look for, you will find. If you look for harmony, you will find it. If you look for issues, you will find them. Be careful what you focus on and…
  3. Know Your Outcomes—What do you want out of this relationship? What does your partner want? If you don’t know your desired outcomes, or they don’t jive with what your partner wants, your marriage will end. No exceptions. My wife and I talk about what we want and where we want our partnership to go at least once a week. My outcome is to live an incredible life by being in an incredible state with my wife and children. I want my family to always feel my love. I want my wife and I to be partners in our journey together. I know that my wife wants the same. How do I know that? We talk to each other about what we want. Communicate or expect your partner to seek it out elsewhere. Here’s a hint, you should not have to talk to your friends because they “are the only ones who get you.”
  4. Value and Values—All relationships must add value to the individuals involved. If you are not getting a significant amount of value by being with someone, or you are not providing value to another, you don’t have a relationship, you have an acquaintance. Along with bringing value to the marriage, you must value the other person. This almost goes without saying, but you’d be shocked at how many people take their partner for granted, or worse, detest them. You must value your partner as well as provide value to them. Beyond that, you must have similar values in how to live life. If your values differ to an extreme, the path your lives will take will be very different. That doesn’t bode well for a successful and happy marriage.
  5. Empathy—This is the area of life I think most people are lacking. I admit, even I have trouble with this at times. Seeing something from another’s point of view is very difficult to do and it’s likely the main cause for violence and despair in the world today. Do you know what’s going on in your husband’s or wife’s head? What’s the story they tell themselves about what they are doing here on Earth and who they are? I suggest that if you don’t know the answer to these questions, try to find them out. Empathy is the main ingredient to a lasting relationship. Without it, and without understanding your partner, you won’t have a partner for long.
  6. Passion—Let us not deny that passion is vital to a marriage. Attraction to your partner is a must. Sexual intimacy that occurs often and is fulfilling is how many relationships bloom and grow. The lack of it is how many relationships end. You should look forward to being close with your partner. It shouldn’t be a chore or a hassle. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. It should be a staple of your marriage. If passion is lacking, work to make it great. It’s such a vital and fulfilling part of the human experience, to miss out on it is a crime… in my opinion.
  7. Love—Its the strongest word in any language spoken in the world. Everyone wants love. We crave it from our families, our partners and our children. It’s vital to a happy marriage. Love, though, is very difficult to define. The dictionary definition doesn’t quite do it justice. Some define love as a feeling, but I believe it’s more than that. I believe that love, in addition to a feeling of deep affection, requires sacrifice. Whatever you love, you willingly sacrifice for. You go the extra mile, you give up opportunities, and you put their needs before your own. I know many in marriages that have deep affection for their partners, but are not willing to sacrifice anything in their own lives to make their partner happy. Is that true love? I would suggest that it’s not. I think love requires deep affection and the willingness to put another’s needs before your own.

So there you have it. The seven ingredients for a happy and lasting marriage (or partnership). I hope this helps. As someone who has never been unhappy for more than a few hours in my marriage (my fault), I think that what I’ve written above is true and valuable. Above all, if you don’t want a relationship to end, do what you did at the beginning of the relationship and there will not be an end.

In health,

Sean

Let’s Talk About Sex

Sex. Every species’ biological imperative. We don’t talk about it as a society like we really should. Governments ban sexual images, companies perpetuate them, we try to keep our kids away from them and there’s an abundance of sex related movies, TV shows and Internet material. Depending on your point of view, we either live in a highly sexual culture or one that is highly suppressive towards the subject of sex. Most adults want sex, men believe they don’t get enough. Women want it as well, although a higher percentage of women claim not to need it as often to be happy. There is a direct link between sex and happiness. Here are some interesting statistics to consider:

From a 2011 study on sex in Personality and Social Psychology Review:

“Over half the men in their national sample reported thinking about sex every day, whereas only one fifth of the women reported thinking about sex that often.”

“… found that “husbands continued to prefer intercourse more frequently than wives”. In fact, wives consistently reported that they were quite satisfied with the amount of sex they had in their marriages, but men on average wished for about a 50% increase.”

From the Paris Review (2014):

“Forty million Americans describe themselves as sex-starved. According to Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers and chief scientific consultant to the dating site chemistry.com, it is often a question of mismatched libidos—an adventurer paired with a traditionalist, for example.”

“Studies show single Americans are having sex especially rarely. Some have blamed Internet porn; the American sex therapist Ian Kerner theorized that everyone was too tired.”

“In a survey of five thousand Americans, 70 percent said they experienced sexual boredom in their relationship, but eighty percent of married couples said they would remarry the same person.

Women get bored sexually with the same partner much sooner than men. According to one study, women experience “a catastrophic decline of interest” after three years whereas men show a much more gradual erosion.”

Men and women approach the idea and subject of sex very differently as seen from the excerpts. There also exists a very strong correlation between physical fitness level and sexual activity and desirability. Study by Penhollow and Young (2004) found frequency of exercise and physical fitness enhanced attractiveness and increased energy levels. They write that those who exercise are more likely to experience a greater level of satisfaction and a positive perception of self, which may cause them to believe they are more desirable and may perform better sexually. Both male and females who are physically fit are also more likely to describe themselves as more sexually desirable—thus improving their self-image and the likelihood they engage in sex. Lesson: the more fit you are, the better and more often you have sex.

Sex, despite it’s negative association with STD’s and adultery, can offer a whole host of healthy benefits. The act of sex releases many hormones that contribute to overall well-being, such as oxytocin. Sex also releases endorphins, which can improve mood and block pain. Moreover, every time you reach orgasm, the hormone DHEA increases in response to sexual excitement and orgasm. DHEA can boost your immune system, improve cognition, keep skin healthy, and even work as an antidepressant. Therefore, the added health benefit is that you will feel—and look—younger, longer.

I’ve touched on the relationship between fitness and sex, but sex itself can be considered aerobic exercise, burning up to 200 calories per session. Among other benefits, women who engage in regular sexual activity with their partners have higher levels of estrogen, which protects against heart disease. Research has found that men who have sex two times per week have fewer heart attacks than those who do not. The hormones released during sex cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and it engages almost every muscle in the body. After sex, blood vessels dilate and blood pressure is then reduced. This change in blood vessel constriction may also help with tension headaches. NOTE—those with unhealthy or uncontrolled blood pressure issues should be wary. Consult your doctor often to see if you are healthy enough for sex.

So there you go. A little talk about sex. Did it make you uncomfortable? Did you maybe learn something? Do you want to go the club and lift weights to increase your desire and attraction level? Good. That’s the point of all this—to get you thinking about all aspects of your life and how health plays the ultimate role in your success in those areas. And, in case you needed another reason to stay fit, now you have it.

Stay strong,

Sean.