Turn Off The TV And Turn On Motivation

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Written by: Jeffery Craig

When I was a kid, I remember spending my afternoons getting out and making use of my time. You would often find me riding my bike around the neighborhood, playing games with my friends in the front yard, or going to baseball practice. No matter how little free time I had, I was always productive.

Nowadays, more and more of us spend time indoors doing absolutely nothing. It is not uncommon to hear one of my friends talk about binge watching a television show. Topics of conversation typically center around what happened on the last episode of The Walking Dead or who is going to die next on Game of Thrones. Netflix has become a common term in our everyday vocabulary. And with this crazy cultural obsession of watching television for hours on end has come a significant consequence. We have started to become lazy, unproductive, unmotivated, couch potatoes.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is important to relax daily. Burnout is a serious issue in our society and there are some actual health benefits to “vegging out” every now and then.

But perhaps we need to take a closer look at our relaxation behaviors. Maybe what we believe is relaxing us to increase our productivity is actually hurting us. And could it be possible that we try to convince ourselves that we are relaxing when in actuality we are just avoiding getting things done?

First, lets look at the science.

Many people believe watching television is a great way to relax after a stressful day. Although it does feel great to sit down on the couch and shut off the insanity that is going on in our brains, this is not a good form of relaxation.

Us humans need to rest our brains. It can get overwhelming if we focus on a task or tasks too long. Our brains function on two different frequencies: alpha waves and beta waves. When we are relaxed and at peace, our mind produces alpha waves. These alpha waves allow us shut off external information and process the old information we have taken in throughout the day. This allows us to store important information and free up room in our mind for new information. Beta waves focus on taking new information. Beta waves are active when we are focused on a task or receiving external information.

One would think that watching TV would shut down the beta waves and allow our mind to relax, but it doesn’t. Although the neocortex, the part of our brain that focuses on analysis and reasoning shuts down, the visual cortex is still running at full force. Because of this, our beta waves are stuck in a limbo and we cannot achieve true relaxation.

Another main cause of lazy behavior is lack of motivation or fear of failure. Many of us have the energy to get shit done, but instead we choose to waste our time in front of the tube. This is because we either are unmotivated or we are afraid of the tasks at hand. A lack of motivation typically stems from ineffective subconscious thought patterns. We put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves, we fail to break our tasks into manageable pieces, and we focus on tasks that are unpleasant. As the cycle repeats, so does our lack of motivation.

It can also be caused by an attachment to our own self deprecation. Believe it or not, we sometimes lack motivation because we are comfortable with sucking at life. Yup! I said it! We are comfortable with sucking at life. It’s easy to suck. We don’t have to try hard and we don’t have to take risks, so we convince ourselves it’s what we want. Being productive is unfamiliar territory, so we avoid it at all costs and slip back into our comfort zone.

Our lack of motivation could also be influenced by a fear of failure. Many of us want to achieve great things in life. We see what others have accomplished and we want that for ourselves. But when the time comes for us to take action, we run back inside and grab the remote. A fear of failure can be detrimental to our personal happiness and overall well-being. We tell ourselves that our dreams are too big, that we aren’t worthy, or that we have too much going on right now to deal with it. It is these negative self-talk patterns that hold us back from doing what makes us feel most alive.

Finally, we as a society have unconsciously placed television at the top of our priorities. According to Nielson Media Ratings Company, adults spend more than 20 hours a week watching television. In fact, the average American watches more than five hours of television a day!

Now let’s think about this for a second. If we have five hours of time to watch TV, what else could we be doing? The time we spend on tasks throughout the day is a reflection of how important it is to us.

If you met someone who spends three hours a day working out, it would be safe to say that fitness is at the top of their priorities list. If you met someone who said that they spend two hours a day studying, one would assume that they place a strong focus on their education. Well, if you are spending five hours a day keeping up with the Kardashians, you are making television a top priority in your life.

So now that we all know the problems that cause the laziness, how do we fix it? Most of you reading this are probably expecting to see some tips on how to be more productive with your time. There are already numerous articles online that give tips on productivity, but that is not the answer here. This issue is about motivation and relaxation. We are here to heal the disease, NOT the symptoms.

If we want to make better use of our time, we must first allow ourselves the chance to relax our minds to re-energize. Then, we need to motivate ourselves to get off our asses and do something about it.

Below are some tips on how to overcome the inner couch potato and become a more highly motivated and highly productive version of you.

Relaxation

Get Out: Take a walk. Spend some time alone in nature. Take in your actual surroundings instead of an image projected on a screen. Studies have shown that exposure to natural sunlight provides us with Vitamin D, which can actually positively impact our mood and decrease symptoms of seasonal affect disorder. It has also been proven to reduce anxiety and stress.

Meditation: Meditation is a natural cure-all for the mind. Meditation silences our mind, allowing alpha waves to do their thing. Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Through meditation, we learn to relax in the truest sense of the word, focusing solely on our breath and nothing else.

Sleep: It appears that more recently, people have been neglecting this extremely important behavior in their daily lives. Sleep is necessary for us to allow our mind to process the information from the day. This is why we dream. When we don’t get enough sleep, we are exhausted, weak, and anxious.  When we do get a good night’s sleep, we are energized, refreshed, and calm throughout or day.

Nourish Your Body: Taking care of our body is an essential part of nourishing our mind. When we take care of ourselves physically, our mind functions more efficiently and requires less effort to accomplish certain tasks. By eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting regular checkups, we can ensure that our body is running as efficiently as possible so it can help the mind.

Motivation

Vision Board: This may sound like some cheesy self-help advice, but vision boards have proven to be extremely effective. They are great tools in holding us accountable of our goals and desires. They are constant reminders that we cannot get what we want in our lives by sitting on our ass. If you’re unaware of what a vision board is, basically you get a large piece of poster board and paste images of things you want in your life. Perhaps it is six pack abs or that car you’ve always dreamed of having; or maybe you want to see the Eiffel Tower, whatever it may be, it goes on the board and you put it up somewhere that you will see it every day. This will be a constant reminder of your life goals and will help get you moving forward.

One Step at A Time: If we focus on one small task at a time, our goals are more easily achieved. We cannot focus on the result and expect to reach it immediately. Small successes build over time and lead us to our final result. Studies have shown that if we break one big goal up into smaller manageable tasks, we will become more motivated to achieve them. Take your goals and break them into small achievable pieces. Chip away at the big block every day until you eventually reach the center. No one achieves success overnight. Every new page we write in our story adds up to create an epic novel.

Get Inspired: There is a reason Tony Robbins is a millionaire. People love to be inspired. Inspiration fosters motivation. When are inspired, we begin to believe that our dreams are reachable and we are worthy of achieving them. When we are inspired, our self-esteem increases. Watch an inspiring movie, listen to inspiring music, do whatever gets your blood pumping and the motivation will find you.

Try New Things: One of the reasons we lack motivation is because everyday we relive the same old boring routine. We wake up, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner and go to sleep. We visit the same bars, the same restaurants, we visit the same spots day in and day out without any deviation from our normal routine. Trying new things is great way to get ourselves out of a rut. It exposes us to new interests, new experiences, and new people. It opens our minds to new ideas and adds depth to our overall worldview. Try out a new restaurant, begin practicing an interesting skill you’d like to learn, travel to a place you’ve never been. These experiences will open your eyes and motivate change in your life.

Get Uncomfortable: There is a great quote by Neale Donald Walsch that states “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” You see, when we live a life of safety, we miss out on some of the most exciting things the world has to offer. When we challenge ourselves and give ourselves permission to experience discomfort, the world opens up to us. It’s never easy, but when we push ourselves to step out of the bubble we have lived in, we experience personal growth. We evolve as humans. If there is something you have been afraid to do because you feared failure, go for it. Allow yourself to feel the pressure. It’s good for you and may just lead you on a path of greatness.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying an episode of your favorite show every now and then. But if you find that you’re using the terms “binge watch” and “Netflix” on the daily yet you have failed to accomplish any of your goals, it might be time to reevaluate things. We all feel unmotivated at times. That is just one of many ebbs and flows in our lives. However, if we want to do great things with our lives, we must be willing to turn off the TV and go do something about it. We all love watching a great story of adventure unfold. Why not make one of our own?

Overcoming Sensitivity to Rejection

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I want you to use your imagination for a minute. Imagine that you are at a coffee shop. You see an attractive person of interest sitting reading a book. Your mind begins to race with all the things you could possibly say to this person to get their attention. You work up the courage. You are feeling hyped and positive about this interaction. You walk up to her. She glances up and sees you. You greet her with a slight smile. She smiles back. You say, “Hi.” and introduce yourself. She says, “Hi, not interested.”

What feelings are coming up for you? What thoughts are coming up for you? What would you do?

Yes, this might sound like an extreme form of rejection, but I know this has happened to a number of us guys.  Continue reading “Overcoming Sensitivity to Rejection”

Becoming A Master Communicator

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I pride myself on being a great communicator. Over the years I have mastered the craft of communication through my experiences and practice. My communication abilities have opened up many doors of opportunity and have also gotten me out of some really uncomfortable situations.

Ever since I was a kid, I was enthusiastic about talking and connecting with others. I was extremely outgoing and did not shy away from anyone. I was involved in musical theater growing up, which helped me become comfortable speaking in front of large groups. It became easy to speak in front of anyone from any walk of life.

Now in adulthood, I have accumulated over 10 years of sales experience. During these 10 years, I work face to face with customers, each with their own unique story. It has taught me valuable skills that not only make me successful in my career, but also my personal life.

Now as a Life Coach, I specialize in communication. It is essential to be effective at my job. With clients, I model effective communication skills, which not only helps build a positive relationship with them, but also lays the groundwork for them to become excellent communicators themselves.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is communication so important? I communicate all the time. Well, of course we all communicate. It is unavoidable in the world we live in. However, we can all use more effective communication skills. Continue reading “Becoming A Master Communicator”

Learning To Be Authentically Vulnerable

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It was the summer of 2000. I was driving to the continuation school that I had to attend in order to earn my general education diploma. You see I had failed my senior English class. Not because I did the work and failed, but because I stopped showing up for class.

As I was driving I was reflecting up my life. I was trying to define who I am as a person. Trying to figure out how I see myself. The question that we all try to answer, “Who am I?” Continue reading “Learning To Be Authentically Vulnerable”

Recognizing Fear and Transforming It Into Strength

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Written by: Jeffrey Craig

As a kid, I was a lot more fearless than I gave myself credit for. I remember riding my bike off a 10-foot dirt ramp because it looked fun. I recall standing on a lunch table in front of my whole school and professing my love for my second grade crush. I remember going up to bat in little league with certainty that I would hit the ball out of the park. There were very few things I was afraid of growing up, but I also didn’t see fear the same way I do now.

Growing up, I only saw fear in one dimension. Fear only existed when there was some physical thing that threatened my existence. Monsters, roller coasters, the dark. These were the things that frightened me as a child. Oh how times have changed.

Now as an adult, I have come to realize that fear takes many forms, most of which are of the nonphysical variety. It is not so much about fear of ghosts as it is fear of self. I have also come to realize that adults often experience more fear than their younger counterparts. This fear is more powerful and affects us on a far more serious scale.

So what happened that turned us all into a bunch of scaredy cats? Well from what I can gather, WE happened. We grew up. We learned to think in a more complex manner. We stopped focusing inward and took a look around us. Our ability to contemplate on a deeper level has deceived us. Our media has only fueled this fear by encouraging our irrational thoughts. Continue reading “Recognizing Fear and Transforming It Into Strength”

10 Steps to Spiritual Growth

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By: Jeffrey Craig

 

Growing up, I didn’t know much about spirituality. I heard the term, but didn’t quite grasp the context. I assumed it was synonymous with religion since that was usually the only time I heard it. Spirituality to me was some outside force beyond our existence. It was God, Allah, Krishna, and all the above. It was something I could not relate to because I couldn’t see it.

 

As I got older, I began to see spirituality take on other forms. I started noticing this “hippie” culture that claimed that they were not religious, but instead, deeply spiritual. They felt their spiritual connection through nature and meditation. Although this was the first time I had really experienced the concept of spirituality being separated from religion, it still seemed quite off. I still didn’t understand what spirituality was.

 

I spent several years studying religion and spirituality. I read up on Buddhism, Meditation, Chakras, and the like. I still couldn’t find a precise definition. Spirituality was still a mystery to me.

 

Then one day, it all made sense. Nothing spectacular happened to cause this epiphany. I simply was walking on the pier in Huntington Beach, California. This is a stop I would regularly make on my runs. I was walking down the pier, looking at everything around me. In that moment, I was incredibly present. I noticed the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the birds flying above me toward the sunset, couples walking hand in hand exchanging smiles. It was in this moment I felt more aware of my existence than ever before. I felt completely singular, yet completely connected at the same time. I was awakened to the universe existing outside of me.

 

This was when I realized exactly what spirituality is. Looking back at my life, I recognized experiences I had that were similar to this recent one. Experiences where I felt fully present and aware of my existence. Each experience was different in its own way, however, there was a common thread throughout. Every spiritual experience I had involved connecting with nature, others, or myself.

 

Spirituality is not about religion or perfection. It is about finding a connection to something larger than ourselves and it is through that connection that we can find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in our lives. Spirituality touches us all. It is not just for the religious, the holy, or the infallible. It does not require us to light incense or live a certain lifestyle. The hippie in the woods can be just as spiritually enlightened as the millionaire CEO driving a Bentley. That’s the most beautiful part about spiritual living. It can be a part of anyone’s life, we simply have to let it in.

 

Once I discovered spirituality and what a powerful impact it had on my life, I sought out opportunities to experience more. I wanted to grow spiritually and find ways to incorporate it into my daily life. Below, I have compiled a list of 10 practices that I have found useful in my spiritual growth journey.

 

  1. Meditation

 

Back in the day, it seemed to be that meditation was just for Buddhists, hippies, and gurus. But recent studies have shown that meditation has risen in popularity. Science has been able to provide evidence of numerous health benefits from meditation. When we look deeper into what meditation is, we discover how it can lead to spiritual growth. Meditation focuses on quieting the mind and being present.

One of the things preventing our spiritual growth is that annoying voice inside our head that refuses to shut the hell up. It is hard to be present in our lives if we have something that pulls our mind to a million other things. Meditation focuses on silencing that voice so that we may live in our present experience fully. When our mind is still, we are free to experience what surrounds us.

 

  1. Connect with Nature

 

Yes, the hippies got something right. Nature holds the key to a vast potential for spiritual growth. In modern culture, we are constantly surrounded by tall buildings, shopping malls, and freeways. We have lost touch with good old mother nature. We have forgotten that we are not the only living organisms on this planet. We share our existence with billions of other life forms.

When we spend time in nature, we are given the opportunity to reconnect to a part of our existence we have recently lost. It is through this connection that we derive a greater meaning and purpose to our lives. Plus, have you ever seen a waterfall up close? It’s pretty fucking amazing!

 

  1. Find Gratitude and Lose Ego

 

One of my biggest struggles throughout my personal development journey has been my ego. I have allowed my mind to convince me that I didn’t have enough, that I wasn’t enough, and that everyone else had more than I did. I know now that I am not the only person who has struggled with this feeling.

We are products of our society, and this is simply what we were taught to think. The problem with this is when our ego controls our mind, it blocks us from connecting to our present existence. We focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.

Gratitude practices are a great tool for spiritual growth. It pulls us to the present, it fills us with joy, and it connects us to our existence. If we can spend less time focusing on what we are lacking and more time on the blessings as they exist in our lives, we will have a stronger sense of spirituality.

 

  1. Ask Difficult Questions

 

Most conversations today involve something we saw on TV or gossip about people we know. Modern day dialogue is about as shallow as a kiddie pool. In a culture overly concerned about remaining politically correct, we have filtered our conversations down to meaningless drivel. We are afraid to ask the hard questions, not only to others, but even ourselves. We don’t want to offend, we don’t want to make someone uncomfortable, WE don’t want to be uncomfortable. What remains are surface level relationships that lack spiritual connectedness.

 

Asking difficult questions challenges us to be vulnerable, to open up. It requires us to truly think about important issues and ideas.  We may have thought one way about something our whole lives until we sit down and really think about our answers.

 

By asking others difficult questions, we are opening up a safe space for them to be who they really are instead of what happened on the last episode of Game of Thrones. It allows us to see just how different we are, but also how similar we are to one another. When we connect on this deeper level, it allows us to develop meaning from our relationships. It is when we go below the surface that our spirituality truly thrives.

 

  1. Be Authentic

Living in one’s true authentic self is one of most spiritual experiences a person can have. It’s real, raw, and beautiful. But how often are we being truly authentic? I used to think I was always myself. I would wear the clothes I liked, I would take part in activities I enjoyed, and I spent time with people I cared about. It wasn’t until recently I was able to look deeper into myself and see that there were little things I was doing or not doing that did not fall in line with being authentic.

 

Being authentic is more than just related to our interests, it is related to our behavior and how we interact with our environment. Speaking up when we believe something is wrong, communicating our true emotions instead of acting out in anger, and unconditionally accepting our flaws instead of ignoring them are all ways of being more authentic. It is when we can be our true, honest, unfiltered self that we grow spiritually. When we are authentic, we gain a stronger understanding as to the context of our existence.

 

  1. Change Your Perspective

 

It is quite common for us as humans to see things in a one dimensional way. When we have a view or opinion on something, it is near impossible to change it. Well it is hard to connect spiritually if we are stuck in a one dimensional world. Although it is not easy, taking a step back and looking at the big picture of a situation can have a drastic impact on our spirituality.

 

When we view things from a different perspective, doors are opened. We see things that we have seen one way our whole lives in a brand new light. It allows the opportunity to change course in our lives. It enables awareness of not only ourselves, but our entire worldview.

 

  1. Find Your Purpose

 

Many of us roam through life on autopilot. We wake up, go work a meaningless job, come home, and go to bed, only to repeat this process the next day. Many of us work jobs that bring us no sense of purpose or fulfillment. They simply pay the bills. It is because of this that many of us lack a spiritual connection.

 

The need to provide value to our existence is built into our DNA. If we are not living a life of meaning, then it makes it very difficult to grow spiritually. This does not mean we need to have a different job, a higher paying job, or hold a position of authority. It means that the present is the only time we have and if we are not pulling meaning and fulfillment from what we are doing, something needs to change. The important thing is to find meaning and value in the work we do NOW.

 

We all have a gift to share with this world. The challenge is to find it, live it, and share it with others. When we live our purpose, our life holds meaning. Our existence holds value.

 

  1. Do What Sets Your Soul on Fire

 

Have you ever seen someone living in their passion? I can remember one such moment quite vividly. I was on a beach in Kauai with some new friends I had made. One of the locals had brought his ukulele to the bonfire and began playing some of his favorite songs. He wasn’t there to perform or impress anyone. He was simply sharing something that he loves with those around him. As he played, I could feel this force surround us. He was living in his passion and it was through this that he created a spiritual experience for all of us.

 

We often spend so much time working or catering to others, that we lose sight of our passions. The amazing thing is a passion can be different for everyone. For one person it can be painting, for another it can be surfing, and for someone else, it can be dancing. There are no rules when it comes to having something we are passionate about. The challenge is finding what that is and making it a part of our daily life.

 

The best way to find our passion is to try new things. We must break out of our comfort bubble and try new experiences that challenge us to learn something outside our norm. Once we find something that sets our soul on fire, the next challenge is living it. By incorporating our passions into our lives, we will grow spiritually. It gives us a reason to breathe. It reminds us that although life can often times be quite shitty, at least there is this one thing that we can do that makes it all melt away.

 

  1. Rights of Passage

 

For those who are unaware of what this means, or the context in which I am using it, a right of passage is an event signifying a transition of one stage in a person’s life to another. This term is often used in relation to the transition of boyhood to manhood, however, it can be used at numerous points in any individual’s life. Rights of passage are amazing opportunities to grow spiritually.

 

A couple years ago, some friends and I took a camping trip in the Sequoias. It had been my first time camping in several years and my first time ever camping “off the grid.” I took this trip because I felt city life had made me soft and I needed to challenge myself. This trip was FILLED with challenges, but the experience made me so much stronger than I was. It was a true right of passage. It was in that experience, I was reminded of my own mortality, fragility, and strength. I was forced to look at my existence and acknowledge that despite my own weaknesses, I had a resilience in me that was undeniable.

 

These moments of clarity and self realization play a significant role in spiritual growth. It reminds us of who we are and why we are here.

 

  1. Loving Kindness

 

Love is one of the greatest aspects of the spiritual experience. Love is the common thread found among all religions. It costs nothing and cannot run out. Despite this, it seems our world is suffering from a dramatic lack of love. Today, our minds are ruled by fear and loneliness. At some point, we forgot how to love. But it is never too late.

 

We all want love in our lives. Some of us resort to desperate measures to find it. But love is not something that we receive. Love is not a material object. Love is a way of living. It is a force that comes from within and spreads to those that surround us.

 

Love is essential for spiritual growth. Love connects all things and transcends our physical existence. The best way to experience love is to live it through our actions. Loving kindness is not limited to just those we know, it extends to everyone we meet. Simply saying a kind word to a stranger can make a drastic impact on their life and yours.

 

Loving kindness connects us to one another. It reminds us that we are all in this together. We all hurt, we all struggle, we all make mistakes. Love reminds us that despite all the bad in the world, there is just as much potential for good. I dare you to go hug a stranger today and tell me it doesn’t make you feel amazing and spiritually connected.

 

 

Spirituality is something that separates us from the world around us, yet connects everything together simultaneously. It is not something that can’t be seen, touched, or heard. It must be felt. By growing spiritually, we gain understanding of our existence. Spiritual growth allows us to find meaning in why we are here and what to do with time we have. Spirituality allows for stronger, deeper, more meaningful relationships with those around us. It brings purpose and fulfillment to our lives.

 

It took a long time for me to understand spirituality, and I still have a lot to learn. Living spiritually isn’t easy. Some may think you’re weird, some may think you’re crazy, but it is through the steps above that I have been able bring more meaning and joy into my life than ever before. Call me a hippy all you want; I’d rather

“No Man Is An Island”

As I hammered into the heavy bag with my fists and feet, sweat pouring down my face in this raw, uncut gem of a gym I could see this young man out of the corner of my eye following suit. The bell rings time to rest. As we both relax before the next round of bag work. The young man asks me my age, I laugh and divulge. He has this puzzled look on his face, I am intrigued so I ask him, “What is with the confused look?”. He states how he thought I looked younger than that. Always a nice compliment to hear. We begin to talk and converse sharing little things about ourselves. Asking inquisitive questions of each other. Bell rings back to training. Continue reading ““No Man Is An Island””