Day #796:The Days Are Short But The Years Are Long

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Let me confess to you; most days I have no idea what I am doing. I don’t feeling like going to work, I feel like staying longer in bed on those days. When I finally crawl out of bed and get to work, I realize at the end of the day I haven’t really done anything with my day.That’s how I feel on some days. And on some days, I am full of energy, I am happy and ready to attack the day and achieve big goals. My mood is also significantly different on those days. The difference? It’s what Motivational speaker and coach Tony Robbins refers to to as ‘Hour of Power’.

What I have learnt about the good days is that I usually do a couple of things in the morning that help me get ready to attack the day.

I learnt most of what I practice from listening to Tony Robbins.

Tony is popular known as the ‘self-help guru’, however, to me, Tony is a coach and someone who pushes me to go above and beyond and create the incredible life I want.

Tony suggests setting up an “Hour of Power,” “30 Minutes to Thrive,” or at least “Fifteen Minutes to Fulfillment.” Part of it involves light exercise, part of it involves motivational incantations, but the most accessible piece involves 10 minutes of thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like. After that, visualize “everything you want in your life as if you had it today.”

Tony offers the “Hour of Power” segment of his Ultimate Edge series as a free audio stream (here’s the direct MP3 download)

Here are the top practices I use to get my day off to a good start.

A). Physical: In 2012, while living in Paris, I would wake up at 5am and run for one hour before getting ready to go to work.Running was enough for me to kickstart my metabolism and helps me get in rhythm and ready for the day. Doing something physical for me does not mean having this huge exercise regime. All you need to do, minimally, is exercise enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes. So about 20-30 minutes worth of exercise a day. This is not to get “ripped” or “shredded”. But just to be healthy.You can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy. So running did the trick for me.In Lagos however, I realize how difficult this is. I can’t get out of my house to run. So I bought an Elliptical Bike on Jumia. I use it for about 10 mins every morning and little push up here and there, you are ready to go.

B). Spiritual: When most people hear spiritual they imagine going to church, or mosque or worshipping a diety. This is religion and it has nothing to do with being spiritual. To be spiritual is to be in tune with your soul and connecting to a power larger than you. Here are the spiritual practices that help me stay grounded each day.

1. Gratitude: Everyday, I try to think of the things I am grateful for, the people in my life, my family, friends, my girlfriend and everything I have in my life. It’s a powerful exercise just to think about it and write it down. One time I even did an exercise to write down 50 things I am grateful for. I recommend this. You beginning to see life differently, you notice the good things you have and not fixate on the things you don’t have.There are tons of scientific research out there for you skeptics like me who didn’t believe this works. Gratitude is tied to how happy you are and this affects how wealthy you become. Get a gratitude journal and start writing down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of every day. Do this for 21 days, you will see the tremendous change.

2. Meditation: Dan Harris of CBS recently proclaimed that meditation is the new running and I agree. Like most things in pop culture, everyone is now talking about meditation. From investment bankers on Wall Street, to Athletes, rappers, company executives, everyone is going gaga with meditation. It may seem complicated, it’s not. It’s just sitting down for 5 minutes. Find a comfortable position, sit with your back straight and stay quiet for 5 minutes. I try to do this everyday but most times I skip it. Start with 2 minutes if 5 minutes doesn’t work for you.Not convinced? Check out this 2 mins video HERE.

C.Mental: Reading and writing is a good way to keep the brain active. Everyday I try to read something and write down something. I write once a day in my blog 1000daysofinspiration. This habit forces me to focus on finding something inspirational for the day. Reading also expands your mind. I hear a lot of people say I don’t have time to read. Yes you do. You unconsciously already spent 1 hour scrolling through your Instagram feeds, that time, you could have used in reading something. It doesn’t have to be a heavy self help or how to book, a good fiction helps to expand the mind and something good to do before going to bed. The most important part is to schedule it. If you want it to happen. If you have long commutes, figure out how to use this time to read. If you are driving and can’t read, get an audio book. I have been able to read 4 books a week by listening to them on my way to work or while I am in the bathroom or trying to fix a quick meal in the kitchen.

I also recently started the exercise of journaling. Just find a note book and scribble down things as they come to mind. They don’t have to be coherent. What you are aiming for is to find an outlet for thoughts in your mind.

We are all creatures of habit.The most important part of this is to do it consistently enough till it becomes a habit. Try it for 21-30 days. This is the time psychologist say it takes to install a new habit. Every time I feel down and I feel like my life is slipping out of my hands, I go back to these practices and immediately feel energized. Through this I can focus on whats important for the day and that feeds into my life. I don’t like the feeling of being helpless with how I manage my day and I am sure you have the same feeling.
We need to turn it around. Start some of these practices and let me know if it helps.

This post was originally published in my weekly newsletter to a group of friends titled #DesignYourLife. If you will be interested in being added to this email list, send me an email to iyiola.abraham@gmail.com with subject: ‘Add me to #DesignYourLife’.

Day #795:”When you complain, you make yourself into a victim..”

“See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Day #794: Everything You Need to Know about Meditation in 2 Minutes!

The practice of mindfulness meditation is incredibly simple – and yet explanations and instructions can be overwhelming. This two-minute video from Happify breaks it down in the most adorable way – with animated mice!

Narrated by ABC news anchor and author of 10% Happier Dan Harris, the video tells it like it is, noting that as soon as you try to meditate, “your mind is gonna go nuts – and that’s fine.” Beginners and advanced meditators alike can benefit from the three easy steps laid out in this video:

1. Sit with your back straight and your eyes closed
2. Bring your attention to the feeling of your breath coming in and going out
3. Notice when you’ve gotten lost and then start over

That’s it. As Harris explains, meditation is a simple, secular, scientifically-validated mental exercise – “like a bicep curl for your brain.” And how much meditation do you need to do to enjoy the benefits? According to the meditation mouse, just five to 10 minutes per day.
Ready to give it a try?

Day #793:What on earth would make someone a non-learner?

“What on earth would make someone a nonlearner? Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn. Infants stretch their skills daily. Not just ordinary skills, but the most difficult tasks of a lifetime, like learning to walk and talk. They never decide it’s too hard or not worth the effort. Babies don’t worry about making mistakes or humiliating themselves. They walk, they fall, they get up. They just barge forward. What could put an end to this exuberant learning? The fixed mindset. As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart. I have studied thousands of people from preschoolers on, and it’s breathtaking how many reject an opportunity to learn.”

Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success

Day #792:Grit and hard work

The story we tell ourselves and the stories we tell our children matter far more than we imagine.

There’s a huge difference between, “You got an A because you’re smart,” and “You got an A because you studied hard.”

Or

“I succeeded in getting what I wanted because I’m pretty,” and “I succeeded in getting what I wanted because I worked hard to be in sync with the people I’m working with (charisma).”

(And don’t forget the way we process luck, good and bad, as well as bias and persistence.)

Smart and pretty and lucky are relatively fixed states, mostly out of our control, and they let us off the hook, no longer responsible for our successes and certainly out of control of our failures. (And, as an aside, pretty sends us down the rabbit hole of surface enhancements and even surgery).

On the other hand, hard work and persistence are ideas we can expand and invest in productively. (HT to Carol Dweck and John Medina).

Day #791:Martin Luther King on the Two Types of Laws

On April 3, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began coordinating a series of sit-ins and nonviolent demonstrations against racial injustice in Birmingham, Alabama. On April 12, he was violently arrested on the charge of parading without a permit, per an injunction against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing” that a local circuit judge had issued two days earlier, a week into the protests.

On the day of Dr. King’s arrest, eight male Alabama clergymen issued a public statement directed at him, titled “An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense.” They accused him of being an “outsider” to the community’s cause, suggested that racial injustice in Alabama shouldn’t be his business, and claimed that the nonviolent resistance demonstrations he led were “unwise and untimely.” “We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations,” they wrote. It was such a blatant example of the very injustice Dr. King had dedicated his life to eradicating — the hijacking of what should be “common sense” to all in the service of what is “common” and convenient to only those in power — that he felt compelled to respond. The following day, while still in jail, he penned a remarkable book-length open letter. (“Never before have I written a letter this long,” he marveled as he penned the final paragraphs.)

Writing on the nature of unjust laws, he writes:

There are two types of laws: There are just and unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” … An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong…

An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority group that is not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Credit: Brainpickings

Day #790:Timeless Advice from Greek Philosopher Epictetus

“Popular perceptions, values, and ways of doing things are rarely the wisest. Many pervasive beliefs would not pass appropriate tests of rationality. Conventional thinking — its means and ends — is essentially uncreative and uninteresting. Its job is to preserve the status quo for overly self-defended individuals and institutions.

On the other hand, there is no inherent virtue in new ideas. Judge ideas and opportunities on the basis of whether they are life-giving. Give your assent to that which promotes humaneness, justice, beneficial growth, kindness, possibility, and benefit to the human community.

Just as we must clean, order, and maintain our homes to move forward with anything; we need to do the same with our minds. For not only do we risk inefficiency by failing to do so, we invite our soul’s very corruption. A disorganized, foggy soul is dangerous, for it is vulnerable to the influence of better organized but unsavory influences”.