Is There Such A Thing As Healthy Paranoia?

My first instinct is to answer “YES” to the question in today’s title. And my judgement and opinion are likely clouded by my chosen career and past experiences, but what are we if not the result and development of our past experiences? But most people would disagree. Paranoia is usually not viewed as a good thing, but there are times when it can be a useful tool.

By most standard definitions, paranoia is considered to be a mental condition. This condition usually causes the afflicted person to feel persecuted, watched or threatened despite any evidence to the contrary. There are a number of outlying conditions that can be associated with paranoia, including but not limited to schizophrenia, Paranoid Personality Disorder and many others. But certainly, a person can be paranoid without having a mental condition. In fact, most people have experienced paranoia at some point in their lives.

“Fear Is A Logical Response To Actual Danger!”

– Peter Griffin, Family Guy

Paranoia can be a destructive instinct. It can cause damage to your job, home life and your relationships. Especially if you let it control you (I’m referring to non-mental condition based paranoia, of course). After all, developing the ability to trust others is the foundation of living within modern society. But being aware and wary of a real and genuine threat is a form of paranoia that can be instrumental to life and survival.

I’m not saying that you need to be suspicious and wary of every other person and avoid the outside world. Doing so finds us slipping back into the mental health realm… But sometimes a dose of healthy suspicion is a good thing. The more you observe, the more you notice. So long as you don’t find yourself falling into the loop of more suspicion causes more worry and more worry causes more suspicion. ☯

Because It’s There…🌋

Every once in a while, I’m reminded of something that I used to do in my youth. Specifically, things I used to do in my home Province of New Brunswick. I’m originally from a small town called Dalhousie (not to be associated with Dalhousie University, which is in Nova Scotia) but I would frequently travel to a neighbouring town called Campbellton, which is about 25 kilometres away.

Given that Dalhousie was lacking most amenities throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s with the drop in the paper industry as the digital age started to kick in, my friends and I would often lean on Campbellton as it was designated as a city (despite only having about 5,000 people) and had plenty of commerce, restaurants and stores. It also had the only Tim Horton’s in the area at the time, if you can believe it.

So we used to travel up there a lot, and when I hit my teens I started using my bike to cycle from Dalhousie to Campbellton. It’s ironic to think that just at the beginning of this year, I considered 20 kilometres to be a milestone, when I used to bike 25 kilometres to reach Campbellton, THEN bike around town and make my way back to Dalhousie. Oh, how youth provides a certain little something…

My friends Christopher (left), Kevin (centre) and I about to go climb Sugarloaf Mountain

In the late 90’s, I got into the habit of cycling to Campbellton quite frequently. Although once I got my driver’s licence and purchased a vehicle, my dynamic switched up and I started travelling up by car. I needed to find something to replace the exercise I was getting from cycling, so I chose to climb our local mountain, named Sugarloaf. Now, if you Google Sugarloaf you’ll find a number of different locations from around the world. But MY Sugarloaf is located on the southern side of Campbellton.

Sugarloaf Mountain, as seen from Highway 11, heading West towards Campbellton

Just to keep things interesting, I’ll give you some basic stats on this tree-filled lump. Sugarloaf Mountain is an extinct volcano. It was formed some 420 million years ago when thinning of the Earth’s crust allowed it to peak its nosy face out of the ground. It’s about 922 feet from base to tip, and has a walking trail around its base as well as a ski resort and multiple downhill skiing trails on the west side of the mountain.

I started climbing the mountain by its designated hiking trail for the first couple of years. But as I got bolder, I started wearing protective gloves and solid shoes and scaling the vertical sides, as well. I got a few friends to join me on some of those climbs, but they usually ended up quitting within the first 30 minutes claiming that I was out of my mind. And probably with good reason.

The boys and I, soaking wet after climbing back down in the mountain in the pouring rain

I miss climbing. I obviously don’t get to do much of it (none) considering I live in the Prairies now. There aren’t a great number of mountains out here. But I definitely plan on trying to make an effort to reconquer the mountain on the next occasion that I visit my folks. It’ll be interesting to see how different in may be, considering the mountain likely hasn’t changed, but I definitely have!

I haven’t seen or spoken to Christopher or Kevin in over fifteen years. We didn’t have a falling out or anything; we simply got on with our respective lives. And sometimes, that’s the way of it. Friendships sometimes come and go. But the good and happy memories you make along the way are yours forever. ☯

Mind And Body Connection

What is this mind and body connection we hear about in the martial arts? Depending on the instructor you have, you may hear the term often. In some circles, they throw “spirit” in there, and it becomes “mind, body and spirit,” but it’s the same concept. So, what does it mean? What are they referring to and how does it relate to martial arts?

If I have to explain what the body is, maybe you need to turn off your internet and go back to school. Your body encompasses everything that you are, INCLUDING the mind. In some respects, the body can be considered the vehicle of the mind. The real question is, what the difference between the mind and your brain may be. Is there a difference? Of course there is, and I’m going to explain it to you…

Your brain is physical (d-uh, right?). It’s the organ contained in the skull and is the most complex organ in your body. The common human brain contains over 70 billion neurons (when you total up all parts of the respective brain) and those neurons communicate through synapses that helps to control the body as a whole. Your brain is physical, tangible and part of your body. The mind is a tad bit different…

The mind is the invisible part of who you are; your thoughts, feelings, emotions and personality. Everyone has a brain. But your mind? That’s yours and yours alone. It defines who you are and how you behave in everyday life and in all the things you do. Without your mind, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. And THAT’S the difference. How does this relate to the martial arts?

In karate, we perform drills ad nauseam, the idea being that repeated drills will help “drill” the technique into us. And it’s extremely effective. It’s called “muscle memory” and it’s quite good at helping us to train to the point where, if someone attacks we can respond accordingly without hesitation. But the mind still needs to have an active role in there, despite muscle memory.

Mind and body are both part of the same whole, and it’s important that you train with that totality in mind. Your mind will tell you how to feel so that your body can react. Proper training and martial arts cannot be studied without both. So pay close attention to both. This is the only way to truly accomplish any goal, martial arts or otherwise. ☯

Sure, Go To Bed Angry…

Have you ever heard the saying that you should never go to bed angry? Of course you have! Most people at some point in their adult lives have heard that saying. It used to be an important staple of relationship advice and previous generations stuck to it like glue. In fact, it’s even quoted in the Bible. Don’t believe me? Check out Ephesians 4:26 and tell me that Paul wasn’t talking about this exact thing.

Realistically, trying never to go to bed angry is an outdated and archaic way of looking at things. And it doesn’t just refer to marriage. It applies to most relationships, regardless of their nature and/or type. There are some sources that explain that going to bed angry can actually be helpful.

According to an article posted by Psychology Today, people tend to fight over nothing when they’re tired. They’ll even fight over issues that wouldn’t faze them if they were well-rested. The worst part is, resolving whatever the issue is winds up being more difficult due to the fatigue. The same can be said of trying to resolve a problem when you’re hungry.

Going to bed while you’re still angry is not only a good idea, it can lend some significant benefits. The fact is, you’ll likely be rested, refreshed and able to approach whatever got your hackles up with a renewed perspective. You may avoid saying something stupid because you were too tired. And as I said earlier, this applies to all relationships.

There are days when my 5-year old makes me angry as hell. Strange how kids can get under one’s skin sometimes, right? Rather than lose my temper and yell at him, I usually prefer to distance myself and let him go to bed. Once I’ve got a proper night’s sleep (or some close approximation) I can deal with the previous night’s issue with a better frame of mind.

The old school way of thinking isn’t always wrong; this just happens to be one of those times when it falls short of what’s necessary. So when tempers flare, don’t be afraid to take a step back. After all, “sleep on it” may be more beneficial than “never go to bed angry.” But what do I know? I’ve never fought with my wife before bed. ☯

The Sword Saint

This week, I’ve decided to focus my attentions on someone whom I’ve read about since I was a young child: Miyamoto Musashi. Most people aren’t familiar with the name, though he was well-known in feudal Japan as the greatest swordsman to have ever been. People are more familiar with the book he wrote before the end of his life: The Book of Five Rings.

Musashi is thought to have been born in Japan in the late 1500’s by the name “Bennosuke” to a farmer. The history is a bit difficult to trace, but there is some debate as to exactly where and in what Province Musashi was born. Musashi was raised by his uncle after the death of his father, and was taught Buddhism, reading and writing (which was not a common thing in that era).

Musashi’s name was changed to “Takezo” later in life and he began to study the sword, either from his father or under his uncle, fighting and winning his first duel at the age of thirteen. Musashi was said to have fought (and won) 61 duels and battles, leading to the creation of a legend in his own right. He developed and refined his own style of two-sword combat called Niten Ichi-ryu, making use of both a katana and a wakizashi in combat.

Although best known as a swordsman, Musashi was a philosopher, artist, painter and calligrapher. I could go on about the different skills he developed and mastered throughout the course of his life, but suffice it to say that Musashi was a firm believer in studying one thing in order to master another. For example, if you study only the sword you will grow to be ignorant and unaware of anything else. In order to truly master a skill, you need to branch out and have some variety.

Miyamoto Musashi is a source of inspiration for me, because he walked his own path. Although receiving instruction at some point in his young age, he went on to develop and master his own style, suited to his own needs. A variation of his style of swordsmanship is still studied today. He’s written various works and created multiple pieces of art, and can be cited as a source of popular quotes (feel free to Google “Musashi quotes”).

To be honest, I could share quotes and passages from some of his works, but that would scarcely do him justice. If you want to learn all you can about Miyamoto Musashi, my best suggestion would be to get tour hands on a copy of his book, The Book Of Five Rings. The version translated and written by Hanshi Stephen Kaufman is the most popular version (and the most complete one). It’s a fascinating read, and the material can apply to many aspects of life, not just combat. ☯

The Right Frame Of Mind

Developing yourself and reaching a goal can be difficult. Especially when you don’t allow yourself to have a strong frame of mind or proper perspective. Having a partner when you work out can be extremely helpful, as I wrote about in a previous post It Takes Two, Baby…🎶. But although having someone there to spot you and motivate you can be quite the benefit, you need to allow yourself to have a correct frame of mind behind your workout.

The distance I achieved yesterday

A friend of mine recently pointed out something important as it relates to fitness. Let’s say that you’re trying to lose some weight. You intend on climbing the nearby mountain with a partner, which is not only smart for safety reasons but can motivate you to push further in order to keep up. As you start climbing, you begin to feel tired. Your body is having difficulty continuing due to the excess weight that you’re trying to shed, and you feel compelled to stop.

Perhaps you tell your partner you need a rest. Or perhaps you tell them you can’t go on. Maybe you surrender to your body’s urge to have you sit down and give up. A terrible thing to allow, especially if you’ve set yourself some fitness goals that can be important for your health. For someone with Type-1 Diabetes, this can be a common occurrence, since fluctuating blood glucose levels can have the unfortunate side effect of making a person groggy and sluggish.

Yesterday’s route around the Regina Bypass

As I’ve often mentioned before, it’s important to ask yourself why? What is the reason behind your motivation? Your body should and will give out, long before you do. Why do you think people listen to music when they work out? It’s not simply for their love of it, although for some I would believe that’s included. It’s because music motivates us (and in some ways, distracts us from the physical exertion we’re going through).

This is why it’s so important to motivate yourself and stay positive. When I started cycling for fitness this year, I would get home after about a dozen kilometres and my legs would kill, I’d be exhausted and I would feel like total crap. But as you can see from the images above, the day before last saw me hit 65 kilometres. And yes, when I got home my legs killed, I was exhausted and dehydrated and needed food. But I can promise that a dozen kilometres now seem like a trivial amount, and I can do it quite easily in only about half an hour. This is something I wouldn’t have imagined when I started.

Sometimes it’s better to take things in small increments. If I’d hopped on my bike and tried to reach 60k on one of my first times out, I likely would have floored myself and became discouraged. But by staying consistent and building myself slowly, I’ve been able to keep building and developing how far I can go. The same can be said of martial arts or any fitness regimen that you may be attempting.

Let’s get back to our friend who’s attempting to climb the mountain. When exhaustion sets in and you feel like you can’t go any further, there’s no shame in taking a breather. But then, look ahead and spot a point further up the trail and tell yourself, “I can push at LEAST until that tree…” Then go for it. Once you reach that tree, maybe you’ll need another breather, maybe you won’t. But fix yourself another short goal and strive for it.

I think it was a Navy Seal that I had seen years ago, who described taking his training in steps, from day to day. At the beginning of the day, he would tell himself to simply get past breakfast. That’s it. Once this period had passed, he would focus simply on getting through the afternoon. Nothing more. With each piece of the day’s puzzle reached, he would be able to shift his focus and move on to the next, thereby guaranteeing he would make it through the day before hitting the rack. If he were to focus on completing the entire day, he would likely become discouraged and lack motivation. This is a concept that anyone can apply to their daily routines.

The idea is to allow yourself the time to grow. Have a positive and motivated perspective and you’ll go much further. If your thoughts are negative as soon as you begin, you’re sure to fail. how can you be motivated if you’re already defeating yourself? But if you focus on the positive, music, goals, health benefits, perhaps the scenery that surrounds you as you climb, you’re more likely to push farther and accomplish more.

Your own health and fitness is important; critical to your survival, really. And the proper mindset is what will help get you there. For someone with weight issues or Diabetes, staying fit and healthy can mean the difference between life and death. This is one of the reasons I push so hard. Life has too much to offer to lay down and die sooner than necessary.

And Diabetes or not, death will take me. Of this, there is no doubt. But I can promise two things: Death will lose ten pounds in sweat trying to make it happen and he’ll lose a mouth of teeth in the attempt. I intend to go down fighting. (Gee, that would make a great t-shirt) ☯

Aren’t Kids Just The Best…?

Having children is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, they can provide a significant amount of reward in the way they grow, progress and develop into their own little people. As long as you have the strength and foresight to ensure that they don’t grow up to be little thugs or criminals, you get to pat yourself on the back on a job well-done and move on with life (and potentially enjoy some grandchildren).

On the other hand, kids can be little assholes. And while some are probably reading this and thinking how shocked they are that I would refer to children this way, they also know I’m right. And this is a story of why… First of all, let’s be clear on a universally-known but not always acknowledged fact: kids smell bad. This isn’t a judgement, it’s simply a reality. You see, kids go through a curve where at birth, they smell amazing. You ever smell a baby’s head? If you could find a way to bottle that scent, you’d give Giorgio Armani a run for his money.

Now, that “new baby smell” is a leftover biological defence mechanism that humans evolved to ensure bonding with their mothers. This was important during the existence of our prehistoric ancestors because, since babies are normally crying, shitting and eating everything in sight, our less-civilized ancestors may have said “Not today, Satan!” before leaving their little bundle to die in the wilderness. But this isn’t important to the story, so I should get back on track…

As kids get a bit older, they spend a few years where they care a bit less about hygiene. They need to be prompted to wash their hands, forced to bathe or shower, and don’t even get me started on the eternal battle for brushing one’s teeth! Once children get past the “kid” stage and slip into the adolescent and teenage years, they start to discover that staying clean and smelling nice are not only important aspects of health, they’re pretty important aspects of societal acceptance as well.

Anyone who’s a parent will recognize this phenomenon, simply from walking into their child’s room, trying to keep the family vehicle clean or even hugging their kid after a day of playing outside. But none of it was made any truer than after an incident that started almost two weeks ago with my 5-year old son, Nathan…

For the most part, Nathan is a catch-22 in the behavioural department. On certain days he’s like an angel of mercy, following every demand and instruction with total obedience and making for an almost peaceful day. On other days, he’s a walking nightmare who requires constant prodding or blackmailing in order to accomplish the simplest of tasks around the household.

We had recently started cleaning and using our universal air conditioner, and at one point I walked into my son’s room and commented on the fact that it smelled rather funky in there. I chalked it up to the possibility that his bedding needed to be changed (kids sometimes won’t QUITE make it to the washroom in the middle of the night) and made a mental note to change it up. We opened windows and aired out the house as we cleaned, especially since our home is up for sale.

Several days later, I remarked that the room still smelled a bit odd, almost like stale urine. Nathan was known for occasionally wetting himself and hiding the wet things behind his bed so he wouldn’t get in trouble, so I made a point of searching his room. Nothing. I stripped his bed (with his help), washed and disinfected all of his bedding with the hopes that this would eliminate whatever the mystery source of this odour may have been.

Flash forward to over an hour later, I felt the house starting to get a bit stuffy from the heat and asked my wife to turn on the air conditioning. Once Nathan’s bedding was dry, I walked upstairs with my arms full of blankets, sheets and a pillow cover, intent of remaking his bed in anticipation of bedtime in a few hours. When I walked into the room, the smell hit me! It was clear, pungent, and almost reminded me of some rather less-than-pleasant environments I had attended in the course of my job.

I gagged and retreated out of the room and told my wife there was a problem and she needed to come to Nathan’s room. Now, my wife has allergies and usually can’t smell things worth a damn, but even she was able to detect the strong odour of urine that permeated our every sense. Her next comment fed the suspicion that I was trying not to admit:

“Oh boy, what did he pour down the air vent…”

I kneeled down next to the A/C vent and inhaled. Sure enough, the source of the smell was coming from Nathan’s A/C vent. The I looked closely enough, I could see the telltale swirls of dried urine on the top surface of the vent cover. He was outside playing at that moment (which was probably better for his sake), so I investigated the only way I could think of. I removed the vent cover, carefully lowered my phone into the air duct and video recorded what was going on in there… (head’s up, the photo below IS disgusting!)

A screenshot of the inside of my son’s A/C vent…

I apologize for how disgusting the above photo may appear, but it was even less pleasant to deal with, trust me! What you’re looking at is a screenshot of the video I took right at the elbow of his air vent. You can see various bits of Cheerios, wax crayons and what I can only assume are pieces of chocolate (I hope, although why would one waste chocolate???) sitting in a brackish quarter-inch of stagnant Nathan-pee!

Lucky for me, the vents are actually really level so the urine was sitting still within the first four feet of air duct and wasn’t crawling it’s way back to the furnace or beyond the immediate stretch that you can see in the photo. I was pissed (pun fully intended). My wife and I discussed whether we would need to have someone professional come in to clean out the air ducts when my precious first-born chose that moment to put his life in jeopardy and come in from outside.

I sat him down, controlled my breathing and showed him the video. I started by asking him why he would pee down his air vent and received the same answer every parent receives from a child trying to prevent further punishment: I don’t know. I moved on from the why long enough to explain to him that under no circumstances was there EVER a good reason to use one’s air vent as a toilet, and that all his needs MUST be done in the washroom, without exception.

I left him sitting on the landing with a pouting lip and set about the task of trying to clean the mess up myself. I removed the fifty-year old masking tape that the previous owner had used to seal with vents. I then loosened the four-foot stretch of air duct AFTER the pee-filled area and removed it. This ensured that there wouldn’t continue to be a rush of cold, urine-scented air filling the upstairs area.

Unfortunately, when I removed the second stretch of duct, the piece still connected to Nathan’s room dipped down and released its golden bounty… all over the laundry room floor and my legs. Lovely. I pulled the affected air duct free and brought it outside where I laboured using a pressure washer to scrub out the inside and get it clean. I also took advantage to clean out the excess crayons and food bits that were sitting at the base of the vent.

All in all, the whole thing took almost two hours by the time I removed everything, cleaned it all then put it all back in place and used actual duct tape. Yes, duct tape is ACTUALLY meant to seal joints in your air ducts. Take that, Red Green! (I’ll just let you newer generation Google who “Red Green” is…) While I was outside pressure washing, my wife managed to get some rudimentary explanation out of Nathan involving his laziness and not wanting to walk to the washroom in the middle of the night. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best evening.

The following morning, Nathan sought me out once he was out of bed and immediately asked me if I was still mad at him, complete with a hug and kiss. He can be such a good kid in some respects while being the reason we can’t nice things in others respects. And that’s the thing about kids: they may drive you crazy with some of their antics, but it usually only takes a show of affection to remind us how important they can be. ☯

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey

As usual, I’ve been reserving my Sunday posts for people that have inspired me or motivated me in some way. While going through my Kobo with my wife, we came upon the autobiography of Ronda Rousey, entitled “My Fight/Your Fight.” I started talking about the autobiography and about everything Rousey has been through in her life (up to that point) to get to where she is today. My wife suggested that I seemed pretty inspired by Rousey and that perhaps I should write about her. And here we are…

Many people in martial arts circles and non-fitness circles alike have expressed a love/hate relationship with Rousey. Some believing her to be more of a passing fad than a genuine athlete, some idolizing her as a true martial artist and pioneer in the women’s division of one of the most male-dominated forms of sport entertainment currently in existence. But the truth of it is she’s accomplished many great things. Most of which were accomplished through sheer force of will and has beaten odds that would have crushed a lesser person.

Rousey was born in California in the late 80’s and was born with a condition known as apraxia, which is a particular childhood speech disorder that made it difficult for Rousey to speak in a coherent manner for the first years of her life. This would be one of the first obstacles she’d overcome as she would eventually go on to speak normally, as anyone who has heard her speak in recent years could attest.

Rousey suffered tragedy early in her life as her father broke his back while sledding with Rousey and her sisters. Rousey’s father became a paraplegic as a result and took his own life in 1995. Years later, Rousey would begin training in the martial art of Judo, as her mother had been an accomplished athlete in Judo, having been the first American to win the World Judo Championship in 1984.

Rousey progressed, promoted and moved up the ranks in Judo and won more medals and trophies than I could possibly list here (you should read her biography for deeper details) and never gave up along the way. She faced personal difficulties at home, which saw her leave her family to train elsewhere and injuries that made continued training and development difficult. But along the way, she never stopped fighting, in the physical and metaphorical sense. Rousey became an Olympian by winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic games, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s Judo since its creation.

After winning an Olympic medal, Rousey retired from Judo professionally, and sought some direction in her life. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of it, my impression was that she slipped off the rails a bit when she failed to find that direction in her own life. I can definitely relate to that, on a number of levels.

Rousey fell into the world of Mixed Martial Arts in 2010 as an amateur, a term that wouldn’t apply to her for very long. She trained with the same passion and fervour in MMA and she had in Judo, and quickly came to make her mark on the sport and ultimately, the world. Her signature move was submission by armbar, and it seemed that no opponent could best her.

Rousey stepped into professional MMA in the following year and became Strikeforce’s Women’s Bantamweight Champion in 2012. Rousey would go on to be the first female signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, after a great deal of debate whether women would ever be in the UFC. Once part of UFC, Rousey was named the UFC’s first Women’s Bantamweight Champion, a title she defended over and over until her loss to another fighter in 2015.

Rousey was away from MMA for about a year before she returned to reclaim her title. She ultimately suffered another loss and unofficially retired from the UFC in late 2016. She was, however, inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018. Rousey has since moved on to professional wrestling, and has continued to make an impact there, as well.

The thing about Ronda Rousey is that despite the obstacles, difficulties and losses she’s faced in life and career, she never stopped fighting. Even at her lowest, when she felt she had nothing more she could lose, she found ways to rise up and pick herself up like a proverbial phoenix. Rousey has gone on to author books, star in action films accomplish inspirational things despite said obstacles.

If you want to learn about Ronda Rousey the person, I would definitely recommend picking up her autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight. You can get it from your local bookstore or you can get it as an e-book for your Kobo, which is what I did. It’s definitely worth the read and will give you insight on her character and her development as a person, as opposed to an entertainer and athlete. But, what an athlete! If you need some proof, just Google her fight record… From Judo to MMA to professional wrestling, the scales definitely tip in her favour.

As most of you know, I’ve never been a great fan of MMA. To a traditional martial artist, the term “mixed martial arts” doesn’t ring true under any circumstance. So, for me to be inspired and motivated by an MMA athlete is a bit of a step out of my comfort zone. That being said, holding a 6th degree black belt in Judo definitely helps. She’s a good combination of traditional and modern, with a warrior spirit to back it up. ☯

Peace Is A Habit, Not An Accident

Although frequently misquoted, Bruce Lee continues to be a source of knowledge and inspiration to many people, martial artists or not. In my opinion, one of the best quotes he’s ever come up with is, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” The lesson there is pretty simple; life isn’t MEANT to be easy. Humans, as a species, would not have evolved if life was all comfort and ease.

Finding your inner peace in the midst of modern life isn’t easy. It’s made all the more difficult through recent developments that see most families isolated inside their homes together for extended periods of time. It probably SHOULDN’T be like that, but the reality is that everyone needs a bot of time alone, sometimes. Letting your head cool and finding time to be alone and to mediate can be challenging, even frustrating. This leads to an endless cycle of frustration feeds lack of peace, lack of peace increases frustration and so on and so forth…

I’m sure you’ve heard people say that life is what you make of it. And while this is true, you need to acknowledge that your life is YOUR life and that one often needs to adapt in order to find that inner peace that is so needed to make life work. That’s why there should always be a bit of time in every day that you take for yourself. It doesn’t have to be long or measured in hours, but every member of the household should be able to enjoy a bit of solitude in order to centre themselves.

For my 5-year old son, this means sprawling in his bed with his iPad and watching Paw Patrol or Hello Ninja on repeat until he decides to go outside and try to reenact what he sees on screen. For my wife, it involves doing digital puzzles. For me, it involves finding time/space to meditate or go out on a bike ride. The bike rides have won over the most in recent weeks, especially since I’m trying to build my tolerance for long distances.

Wayne Dyer once said, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than what you think it should be.” If you wait until life is exactly how you want it in order to find peace, you may be surprised at how empty and shorter your life will be. Accept what is and make a point to find your own peace within your daily life. You and the people in your environment will be all the better for it. ☯

Your Way Of Living Can Be THE Way Of Living…

I’ve often seen some of these so-called “life coaches” and motivational speakers go on about the “right way to live” or the right steps to take in order to be successful. Although I will agree that some motivational speakers have got some decent advice and can sometimes provide some inspiration, an individual’s specific success is dependent on, well… the individual!

Each person is customized and grows according to their own specific circumstances and lifestyle. So it stands to reason that finding the right way to live for you can be as individualized and specific as certain medical treatments working for one individual but not the other. Makes sense, right?

As deep-rooted as this way of thinking is for me, I occasionally find things that resonate with me and I would be remiss if I didn’t share them. And here we are! I found this list while I was busy wandering down the ol’ internet rabbit hole one night, and I was surprised to find that I agreed with everything on it, which again is a rarity for me. So here’s the list for a simple formula for living:

  1. Live beneath your means;
  2. Return everything you borrow;
  3. Stop blaming other people;
  4. Admit it when you make a mistake;
  5. Give your unworn clothes to charity;
  6. Do something nice whether others see you do it or not;
  7. Listen more, talk less;
  8. Take a 30 minute walk every day;
  9. Strive for excellence, not perfection;
  10. Be on time. Don’t make excuses;
  11. Don’t argue, get organized;
  12. Be kind to unkind people;
  13. Let someone cut ahead of you in line;
  14. Take time to be alone;
  15. Cultivate good manners;
  16. Be humble;
  17. Realize and accept that life isn’t fair;
  18. Know when to keep your mouth shut;
  19. Go an entire day without criticizing anyone;
  20. Learn from the past and plan for the future; but
  21. Live in the present;
  22. Don’t sweat the small stuff;
  23. It’s all small stuff.

These are all excellent practices to develop, and I’ll admit that #12 is likely the one I have the biggest difficulty with, as demonstrated in a post I wrote entitled Let The Hate Flow Through You… I have an unfortunate intolerance for other people being unkind to me or my family, and my very capable mouth has a tendency of responding accordingly.

Find the daily practices that are important to you and fit with your values. There’s nothing wrong with finding inspiration for this from other sources, but be sure that they work for you. What fits well in one person’s life may not fit in yours. And ultimately we are only responsible for our own happiness, nobody else’s. ☯