The Only Way To Change Your Habits

Last year I set a goal to eat less chocolate. Then on day 1, I failed.

I went to work that morning and by noon I was face to face with the glistening golden wrapper of a Twix bar. I dropped 4 quarters into the vending machine and smirked as the Twix fell to where I could reach it. After that, I scratched that goal off my list. I didn’t think I could do it. Chocolate was my favorite.

That’s why I never get too excited about goals or New Years resolutions. Most of them don’t get achieved or accomplished because we carry along old habits and expect new results, which never works.

Setting goals is more than just writing aspirations down on paper. There are fundamental habits that we have to change in order to achieve something other than the ordinary.

But who wants to change their habits? It’s way too hard. The only time that I change habits is when I hit what I call a “mini rock bottom” and get burned out with whatever it is that I’m doing.

So our only hope is to learn how to hit rock bottom faster by paying attention and honoring ourselves.

I was finally able to cut back on eating sweets after my doctor mentioned that it was contributing to my anxiety. That was the last straw. I was willing to give up something good for something better. My anxiety was driving me nuts. It was a mini rock bottom moment.

I realized that I had to change the way I treated myself and my body if I wanted to get back on track. I had to honor myself. I could have ignored his advice. I could have kept believing my own lies and excuses, but I was paying attention and noticed that my nonsense was no longer serving me.

Sometimes we treat our desires with too much respect. We give them the power to rule us. That’s no way to live.

I wish I had better advice, but I don’t. When you get burned out, you’ll want to change. For some of us, that’s just the way it is.

Changing habits is possible, it’s just a pain in the ass. There’s nothing more challenging than uprooting our patterns, but it’s worth it. Cut yourself some slack.

It felt good to be able to give up chocolate for a while because I was back in control of my mind and actions.

I still suck at changing habits, I’m like a wave pool. Good for a while, then I fall back into to my old ways. You’re not the only one. That’s life.

It’s a slow upward journey. Things will change at some point, you just have to be ready for it.

Why You Should Say Yes To Everything In 2017

It was a cold, dark and windy weekday night. One of those nights that I dread having to make a late night run, but I needed gas.

I stopped at the pump, opened the door and began filling the jeep with fuel. I stood there and gazed at a patch of pine trees in the distance.

I started to think…It’s too cold out. When is this wind going to stop? Did I pick the slowest pump here? I wish I got better gas mileage.

Then I caught myself. Those thoughts didn’t seem to be helping me. It felt like I was rubbing salt in the wound. It was cold and windy and taking forever to fill the tank, but why did I have to keep reminding myself and wishing things were different? That’s insane. And we all do it, all the time. It cant be healthy.

I decided that it would be easier on my mind and body to say yes to the situation, since saying no was only making it worse.

I actually started to feel relieved. Like I didn’t have to fight the situation tooth and nail. I appreciated being able to experience the moment, minus the extra chatter.

When we say no to life we’re not only closing the door on our direct experience, but we’re also distancing ourselves from being able to see our problems clearly because our vision is clouded by incessant thinking and resistance.

2016 was a wild year. We can all agree on that. That’s why in 2017 we need to start saying yes to how screwed up things are. We can’t keep denying whats happening and arguing over opinions if we want to fix things. Shaking our heads and chalking it up to hard times isn’t going to help either.

Change starts with each one of us. On a personal level. There are things we wish were different and there’s nothing wrong with having aspirations. But in order to get from here to there, we have to accept where we’re at. Then we can drop our resistance, free up our energy and focus on creating new intentions.

Appreciate the fact that you see the need for change. Respect your deep seeded desire to see yourself and others free from all of this stress and suffering.

As hard as it’s going to be, try to say yes to 2017 and everything that comes with it. It’s what we need.

Happy New Year.

What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do

The holiday season is stressful. Even those who don’t celebrate are forced to stand in those long checkout lines for a measly carton of milk. “I’m sorry ma’am, self checkout is closed!”

And although Amazon has made it easier than ever to avoid other human beings, there are plenty of other things to lose your mind over.

Like…cooking food, cleaning the house, wrapping gifts, going shopping.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and trying to come up with a stress free way to get things done when there’s just too much to do. Some ideas that came to mind were: cutting out what isn’t critical, creating to-do lists, focusing on one task at a time and not worrying about results.

But I mean, who really wants another list? We’ve seen enough of those. The real issue is that we haven’t gotten to the bottom of what causes stress in the first place. We don’t need more ways to manage it, we need to know how to shrink it.

And theres only one way to do that. Stop creating it.

That doesn’t mean we should quit shopping and log on to Netflix. It means that we should stop doing what is stressing us out. The internal stuff, not the external stuff.

Let me give you an example.

I stopped by Whole Foods for a bottle of tea and a chocolate bar. It’s down the street from where I work, so I figured I would be in and out. WRONG.

They only had a few cashiers and apparently everyone shops on their lunch break. My mind started racing – Why did I come here on my lunch hour? Why are there so many people? Where are all the damn cashiers? Why is this man buying so many green beans!? Who could possibly need that many green beans? 

Now that’s stressful. Not the people in line, not the cashiers, not the green beans. It was the thinking. It was my opinion about what was going on.

All that mental pinball pushed me over the edge. But what’s wonderful is that it’s optional, we don’t have to live that way. We can’t necessarily control our environment, but we can control the way we think about it.

One thing I noticed when I first started meditating was that I thought stressing out was normal, but my body felt off. I asked a teacher about it when I was on retreat and he said “What makes you think that’s normal? How does it feel?”. I knew what he was getting at.

Sometimes this is just the way things are. We overthink, we stress out and we beat ourselves up. But that doesn’t mean it’s the way things have to stay. Stress feels like were rubbing sandpaper on our insides. It’s bad news.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Your body is a great teacher. And if you really want to get to know it well, try meditating. Like everyday, for the rest of your life. It’ll build up your awareness and your willingness to notice what’s here.

No drugs or alcohol or any of those other fancy concoctions are necessary. If you can learn to be at peace with whatever is here, right now, it’ll change your entire life.

I’ll bet 10 bucks on it.

Going Nowhere Fast

It’s time I face the facts. Creating things of value takes time. And while I know this, it hasn’t persuaded me to stay patient.

I’ve been writing for how long? I’ve been coming up with business ideas for how long? I’ve been coming up with “fixes” for how long? In the grand scheme of things, not long at all. Good luck telling that to the little voice in my head.

Nothing happens quick enough for us. We’re in a rush for no reason. Life isn’t about being 200% more productive in 50% of the time, but if you want to keep life hacking your life to death, be my guest. I can’t do it anymore.

It’s the textbook definition of going nowhere fast. What happens when we get to the end of the road and none of it lives up to our expectations? Then we’re screwed. It’s not worth it.

Life’s a blur when we race to the finish line. Happiness doesn’t happen in a hurry. Achieving anything worth while takes a bit of momentum, which is a good thing because we don’t know how to appreciate the stuff that pops off overnight.

A few years ago, me and my girlfriend went to Las Vegas and I won $646 on a penny slot machine. It was easy to make and even easier to spend. Half of it was gone before the end of the night. If that was hard earned cash rather than a stroke of luck, do you think I would have blown it on $15 hot dogs and $30 drinks. I couldn’t have cared less because I didn’t have to put in any work to earn it.

Is that how you want to treat your dreams? The things you’ve always hoped and wished for? Probably not. Trying to make things happen quicker usually just screws it all up.

Do the work and let things unfold naturally. Watching flowers bloom is the best part of spring. Let your life bloom and water it as needed.

Pay attention to where you’re placing your focus. Don’t lose track of the why behind what you’re doing.

Just keep doing you. Don’t get caught up with the ideas of mountain tops. Enjoy the view from where you’re at, where you came from and where you’re going.

My dream is that I’ll finally realize that everything I’ve ever wanted was just a disguise for what’s already here waiting for me.

I dream the same for you.

When I slow down everything comes true.

Please Don’t Forget About Us

Sometimes I hold my dog and he reminds me that relationships don’t last forever. Eventually one of us will have to go.

It feels like somehow he knows this better than I do. It’s hard to put into words.

I’ll be writing with my stomach and mind in knots because I can’t seem to get words to come out, and he’ll tap me on the forearm.

I’ll look over and he’s standing on his hind legs, with eyes made of glass saying Hey I’m still here, do you have a moment to spare?

We get pretty wrapped up with all the stuff that we do, to the point that we forget everything else that exists. Especially each other.

I don’t want to lose my connection to the world just because I’m busy. Most of the stuff I do probably isn’t even that important. I’d rather be here with my dogs, my girlfriend, my family and all of you than be doing some fruitless busy work.

If I can’t do that, I think I’d prefer to do nothing at all.

You know I keep trying to write these posts that are interesting. That’s the thing I’m always getting caught up in. How am I going to reach the world? How am I going to get people to read these words? How the heck am I going to turn this into a career?

When I write with those questions in mind, it doesn’t feel genuine. It’s just too calculated.

Good thing I usually end up throwing in the towel and writing something like you’re reading now. Because clearly, it’s more me.

We’re hopeless when we’re not ourselves. And being ourselves doesn’t involve conscious thought. It involves letting go of the ideas around who we think we are or who we think we should be and learning to live and be as we are. Something tells me that that’s more important than anything else.