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, or 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 purely appropriate. Can you imagine trying to make a delicious chocolate bar with rocks and dirt? I firmly believe that is what most people are trying to 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 businessman 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 were 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. Sometimes we are receiving information and ideas from people close to us, and 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 you 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.”

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 probably is 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 then 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.

Don’t Major in Minor Things

“I can’t get no satisfaction.”- The Rolling Stones

There is an area of my life where I am not satisfied. It’s true! Call me insatiable. Call me ungrateful. Call me whatever you like, just don’t call me comfortable, because I’m not. This area of my life nags at me for attention. It keeps me up at night. It forces my mind to work overtime on how to quash this unease. This dissatisfaction in my life has forced me to question why I have not paid more attention to it before. The answer I have arrived at is the purpose for this article.

The reason I believe that many experience dissatisfaction, sadness and a feeling of lack in their lives is because they focus on things that don’t matter rather than designing a life. In other words, if life was a university, they are majoring in minor things. Many are well versed in sports statistics, celebrity gossip, the new flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and so on. I’d liken this type of trivia to pouring trash into your mind. The mind’s capacity for knowledge is so great, yet we fill it with information and stories that keep us from achieving our true potential. I think we are guilty of this to a certain degree. Why? I would suggest the answer lies in our human desire to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Trivia is fun, it’s exciting, it’s good in conversation. However, the pleasure gained from it is fleeting.

Disciplined thought and action on the other hand, will lead to long term pleasure and avoidance of many day to day pains that plague us. However, it’s not sexy. Talking about your disciplined routines and life goals at a party or family event will likely get you awkward stares, and rolling eyes. Thus, we go back to majoring in minor things–to avoid the social pain we might face. We all have the desire to be liked by others and our ability to do so determines a great deal of success. However, in our desire to be liked by others, the danger of being distracted by things that don’t matter becomes very real.

If you are not where you would like to be physically, financially, emotionally, it’s because you are not making that area of your life a priority–A MUST, if you will. You always get your MUSTS in life. You find a way to make them happen. But, if you are focusing on other areas instead, you are essentially HOPING for change without making those areas a priority above all else. So, be careful what information you pour into you mind. Choose you majors well and take massive action be sure that you are getting what you determine you MUST have. If it must happen, you will find a way. I have decided to refocus attention on those areas I believe are lacking. I hope you find the will to do the same.

In health,

Sean

The War is On!!!!

The War is Underway. Are You Prepared?

“Circumstance does not make the man. It reveals him to himself.” -Epictetus

There is a war underway. It is happening to us and affecting us all and though you may not have heard a shot fired, I can assure you the war is very real. Do you feel the struggle? I assure you that you do because the struggle I’m referring to is the one for the ownership of your soul. The enemy is one you are familiar with on an intimate level. He or she is the one you look at in the mirror! That’s right, your biggest enemy is you. Your only opponent is you. It’s always you versus you. You are always the maker of your circumstance because of your power to choose the thoughts that you listen to. Your thoughts can be your ally in this war for your soul or they can be your enemy.

“Thoughts can be your jailer, being base. Or, they can be angels, being pure.”  – James Allen

The enemy within is very real. He may never be completely defeated, but he can be subdued and made to retreat every day. How? Every day stand guard at the door of your mind! Be vigilant and exacting about the thoughts that you allow to take root in your mind.   Your mind is like a garden. It must be cultivated regularly, or the weeds will take the garden. Similarly, your negative thoughts, anxieties, fears and will take your mind. They are the weeds that must be cut back. Your mind, your body, your life is your garden. Pay attention to what is taking root or you may wake up one day to realize that enemy has won and that weeds, the weakness, the disease and the unhappiness has taken over.

The enemy is real. You have met him. He is you. So do what is necessary to build up the disciplines to take control of you mind and your life. We are the masters of our lives because we have the ability to disregard our instincts and instead instill disciplines that will improve our own quality of life as well as the ones we love. Discipline has no regard for emotions, which often fail us. Discipline does not negotiate with the whims and desires of the mind. Establishing disciplines that will serve you in life is the only way to combat the enemy of negative thoughts that have the capacity imprison us all. Start the disciplines today so that you can be free in the future.

“Discipline equals freedom” – Jocko Willink

In Health,

Sean

Words Of Encouragement

Words of Encouragement

I’m a huge believer in self-talk to amp yourself up and power through obstacles. That said, I think most of the self-talk people have is negative and doesn’t serve our lives in a positive way. Therefore, here is a list of 50 (yes 50!) phrases that you can tell yourself so that you may achieve the necessary state of mind and body to achieve tranquility, success or whatever you may desire.

  1. I can do this.
  2. I am not rushed.
  3. I am strong.
  4. I am capable.
  5. Keep going.
  6. Discipline equals freedom.
  7. Progress equals happiness.
  8. People love me.
  9. I matter.
  10. I care about others.
  11. I’m a good person.
  12. I can figure this out.
  13. I have all the resources I need.
  14. I lack nothing.
  15. Nothing disturbs or distracts me.
  16. I understand others.
  17. There are good people in the world.
  18. I am blessed.
  19. Every day above ground is success.
  20. I’m proud of myself.
  21. I can learn anything.
  22. There’s nothing I cannot do.
  23. I am grateful.
  24. I know there is an answer.
  25. I see things as they are, but not worse.
  26. I can see how to make things better.
  27. I enjoy my life.
  28. My happiness depends on me alone.
  29. I am not my thoughts.
  30. I can do anything I set my mind to.
  31. I have faith in others.
  32. I have faith in myself.
  33. I respect other and they respect me.
  34. I feel goodness.
  35. I feel loved.
  36. I see beauty all around.
  37. I am present in this moment.
  38. If I can think it, I can do it.
  39. I have courage.
  40. I use fear as a tool to grow.
  41. I dance with fear; it doesn’t control me.
  42. I know what I have to do.
  43. I know what I am capable of.
  44. I don’t negotiate with my mind.
  45. I control my life.
  46. I take responsibility for everything in my world.
  47. I take MASSIVE action.
  48. I create energy, it’s not something I lack.
  49. The only limitations are the ones in my mind.
  50. I am unstoppable!

I sincerely hope one of these sayings, or mantras if you will, will be of use to you. Remember, you cannot always control your thoughts, but you get to decide which ones you listen to. Put some of these thoughts in your head and eliminate the stories that have held you back!

In health

Sean

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

Conquer Fear Forever

What’s the biggest problem in your life right now? If you are like most people I know, the “problem” that you have probably isn’t as bad as the fear you have from what you believe will be the result of your problem. Sure, you may have a legitimate obstacle in your life, standing in the way of your desired outcome, but it is the perception of your problem, the fear you have that may be a bigger problem. In other words, people fear a certain outcome before it has even happened, causing them anxiety, worry, nervousness, even depression (the fear that you lack agency in your life, that you have no control over what happens to you or what you do about events in your life). All of these emotions are just fear manifesting itself. Stress is another code word for fear. We feel stressed because we fear something is not going to happen as we like it. I’m going to reveal a big secret here–fear is only possible because of… attachment. 

            Fear always results from feelings or beliefs of attachment to something or someone. Attachment to success leads to the fear of ridicule. Attachment to loved ones leads to the fear of loss or death. Attachment to wealth leads to the fear of poverty. Attachment to a career or project leads to fear of loss of that work. Attachment to a relationship or romantic partner leads to the fear of adultery or rejection. Attachment to beauty and youth leads to a fear of old age. Attachment to a certain outcome leads to the fear of failure and ridicule. Attachment to your own life leads to a fear of death and discomfort. Above all, attachment to things that are not in our control leads to the fear of lack of fulfillment and eventual disappointment. It is clear, to me at least, that fear is only possible with attachment. This leads us to the inescapable conclusion that the answer to conquering fear forever is to remove any attachment that we have in our lives. Right? Right… easier said than done.

As social beings, we have the natural tendency to allow ourselves to feel attachment to others. We develop attachments to things and people and develop strong emotional ties to them throughout our lives. While strong relationships and physical objects that improve our lifestyle are necessary, attachments to people, outcomes and objects is not necessary, nor do I believe it is healthy. Yet, most of us do it anyway. Opinions differ on why this occurs, but I believe, as do many philosophers and psychologists, that we form attachments because of a perceived lack or void within ourselves. The belief that we are not enough leads us to feelings of attachment. Feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and emptiness are all terms we use to explain the void. Therefore, the only way to avoid attachment that leads to fear is to accept that we are the void. Loneliness, emptiness and the like are natural to the human experience and you do not need to validate yourself with anyone or anything else. When we accept something, we can stop running from it and begin to reason as to what is in our control and what is not.

There are some tools that exist to help us deal with attachment and eliminate the fear that holds so many in prisons within their own minds. The most powerful, in my opinion, comes from the ancient Stoics who used negative visualization–daily meditation on the impermanence of all things and people. By constantly reminding ourselves that “this too shall pass”, we keep from becoming overly attached because nothing lasts. The beauty of impermanence is that is can remind us that life is short, so how we spend our time matters a great deal. Relationships with others can become stronger using this technique too. If you remind yourself that every moment matters, you will be less likely engaging others in triviality, choosing instead to savor every moment with that person. The most important aspect of negative visualization is that it reminds us that we truly do not own anyone or anything, including our own lives. Everything is on loan to us. We are the void. We have nothing. And someone who has nothing has nothing to fear.

The other most effective tool for controlling attachment and therefore fear is developing the ability to recognize what you have control over and what you have no control over. In modern society with the abundance of food choices, you mostly have control over your diet. Therefore, you have some control over your body and physique. You do not, however, have control over whether someone is leaner or more attractive than you. Thus, envy, jealously and the fear that you are not enough is irrational because you cannot control others. Another external factor that humans have a tendency to form attachment to are the outcomes of events. Take a sporting tournament. You may believe that you have control over how you train yourself and therefore how well you will do in the tournament. You may then develop certain expectations for the outcome of the tournament. However, whether you win the tournament is actually outside your control for the reason that you have no control over others and how well they have trained for this event. Therefore, developing an attachment to winning the tournament should not be the goal, but rather focusing on performing as well as possible. By focusing on what is in your control (your performance), rather than what is outside it (the outcome of the tournament), you may in fact win the tournament. Most people develop anxiety and nervousness from competition. By realizing that you only have control over yourself, you will spare yourself the fear of failure and disappointment that comes from attachment to an outcome. The irony here is that by focusing on your performance alone, you are more likely to win the tournament than allowing yourself to become anxious or nervous.

Fear is something that all humans battle throughout life because it is in our nature to form attachments. By remembering that we own nothing and that even our own lives are on loan to us from nature, despite our best efforts to increase our lifespan and quality of life, we can allow all attachments and the fear that accompanies them to fall away. Additionally, by reasoning what is in our control and what is not, we can better focus our energy and time on what we can work to improve, rather than allow ourselves to worry over external events. (Hint: if you look closely, there is always some control you have in any situation, starting with your beliefs about the situation.) My hope is that these tools are of some use to you while navigating through life. Remember, these tools, (negative visualization and reasoning what you have control over and what you do not) are always at your disposal. They are sitting in your tool bag at all times. Whether or not you decide to use them is up to you. As I often remind my wife, most projects that fail do so because the proper tools were not used. I hope this is not your fate.