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Life

The Power of Living in the Present

Seek to embody the message that you wish to impart to others

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I ballooned up to 202 pounds years back and couldn’t stand it. I had been 182 for most of my adult life and felt comfortable at that weight. As a professional speaker, travelling the country speaking to groups, it was important for me to “walk my talk,” every minute of the day.

To optimally influence others, I decided to embody the message that I was verbally disseminating. If people were to believe me, that they could in fact win back their time, I needed to show up in the present as someone who looked like he had won his time back.

Embodying the Message

Here is what embodying the message I wished to impart specifically meant for me:

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* Maintaining my ideal weight of 182 pounds.
* Wear no watch. If I have appointments I simply make sure I’m near a timepiece.
* Staying off most mailing lists, except for the few that matter.
* Supplying business reply envelopes to others to ensure their ability of interacting with me.
* Pausing for at least ten minutes each day to stop, collect my thoughts, and take a deep breath.
* Avoiding television and electronic addiction; recognizing that a walk outdoors, talking to a good friend, reading, and other activities are more rewarding.
* Keeping letters and correspondence to one page or, at worst, both sides of the same sheet of paper.
* Doing one thing at a time. I don’t eat while I read, doodle while I talk on the phone, or give divided attention while in conversation.

Rationalizing = Ineffectiveness

As I began speaking to more groups, it became easy for me to rationalize that my normal exercise routine would be disrupted when traveling, and that it was okay for me to wait until I got back home.

The groups to whom I spoke covered my meals on the road, and often had huge luncheons or dinner banquets. It was easy to tank-up on great food, and rationalize that eating was part of the job.

While becoming more successful as a speaker, I had to devise a plan for staying fit both on the road and in between. I had to do so as to not experience hunger cravings, resort to diet pills, or make extreme sacrifices. In the present, in real time, I would honor my weigh and fitness related goals

Action Steps

Here’s a brief description of the six key action steps that enabled me to stay in shape and have more energy day in and day out:

1. Exercise a Little, Every Day. I learned a tip from a friend who is trim and toned. He makes it a rule to exercise for at least some portion of each day, even if it’s only a 15 minute walk around the block.

Some exercising each day is not just a good idea, it becomes a challenge for you to find ways to work out in confined areas. Suppose you’re stuck in a small city, in a hotel without athletic facilities, and there’s a thundering rainstorm outside. The test becomes using the hotel’s hallways, or even your own hotel room as your gym.

2. Use my Hotel Room as a Health Club. When you check into your hotel, ask for a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. You get your best exercise in rooms where nicotine does not infiltrate the carpets and curtains. You also want to ask if the hotel has a health club, pool, or other type of exercise facility. If they do, great. If not, it’s easy to use your hotel room for your workout.

When I check into hotels I often ask if a third-floor room is available (If there’s ever a fire I could jump or climb down). Staying on lower floors prompts me to take the stairs more often than usual – I feel guilty taking the elevator to go up a floor or two.

Walking up and down stairs is excellent exercise that gives a good workout to muscles in your back, derriere, and legs. Don’t use the stairs when you’re toting luggage, but once you put the luggage down, use the stairs as often as you can.

When it comes to TV, workout while you watch. Run in place, do arm circles, or squats. If you’ve ever taken an aerobics class, you know a variety of exercises that you can do in a four-foot square space.

3. Patronize the Hotel Health Club. If the hotel has a health club, then you have more tools at your convenience. The treadmills and bike machines are great for warm-ups; in each case you can start at slow speed. While exercising on the road, keep any health club workout light. This is not the time to try to break endurance records.

4. Walk the Halls. When the hotel has no health club facility, walk the halls or, if the weather is favorable, the grounds of the hotel facility. In many cases, a couple times around the block will give you 15 minutes of solid walking.

If you’re near a supermarket or neighborhood shopping center, or better yet, a large shopping mall, you can easily spend an hour walking up and down the aisles and hallways. Don’t stop to linger too much to look at the goods; your goal is to stay in motion.

5. Using Airports as Your Playground. Suppose you have a layover in an airport for an hour and 45 minutes. Check your largest bag, or all your bags, so you’re unencumbered. One of the great advantages of airports is that there are lots of people to see and shops to pass by.

6. Break the Cycle. When you work out vigorously for hours on end like many people in health clubs do, you might fall into a cycle that is somewhat hard to undo:

* Dehydration, so you fill up on water
* Hunger, so you fill up on food
* Weariness, so you get a lot of rest

You wake up the next day hungry and thirsty again, and can end up overeating as a result of your vigorous workouts. When you simply walk, do calisthenics in front of the TV, and pursue other methods of light exercising, you never face the dehydration, hunger, and tiredness cycle.

I was able to drop 21 pounds with no hunger cravings whatsoever, and without tiredness. It felt natural, it was relatively easy, and now I don’t know how I ever let myself balloon up to 202.

A New Beginning

With my new-found energy, I began playing basketball with 18 to 24 year-olds, and walking the historic parts of cities where I speak. All my clothes fit, people routinely mistook me for someone several years younger, and I felt great.

Your goal now is to pick something you wish to master and create measures for proceeding now, as you day and life unfold. Based on the measures that you choose, and the particular circumstances of your life, your plan will be different from someone else’s.

The plan will work best if you can initiate a part of it everyday. Here are reinforcement techniques:

* Seek others with goals similar to yours.
* Post reinforcing statements and reminders in view.
* Record affirming statements on cassette.
* Determine any cash outlays in advance.
* Take bite-size action steps.
* Have someone waiting to hear of your progress.
* Envision yourself succeeding.
* Plot your plan on the calendar starting from the end date.
* Build in some flexibility.

There are people who live in the present. These people can open the mail and deal with it when it arrives, respond to phone calls as they occur, and depart from the office each evening at a reasonable hour.

People who live in the present have a life after work, and take vacations. There’s no reason you can’t be one of these people.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Faith

Unleash the Spirit Within

It doesn’t take considerable effort to engage in spiritual-type behavior that will benefit everyone

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You can practice being more spiritual in little ways that add up quickly to your being a more spiritual person. For example, there are relatively minor things you can do to start the process, although nothing is minor when it comes to acting spiritually. As an example, if you smile at someone, they tend to smile back. If you go out of your way to help someone, that person might in turn help another and so on.

Spirituality certainly does not have to be restricted to the confines of organized religion. Freed from the rules, restrictions, and impediments that organized religion may impose upon you, how and where might you be more spiritual in your life?

Each little action sets in motion the potential for greater good. So, as you proceed through six items below, do not discount the value of engaging in any of these. Each has the potential to add up to more.

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Spirituality While Driving

Researchers report that when people get in their cars, they think they’re in some type of invisible vehicle. No one sees them as they motor down the road. If you curse or scream, who’s to know? Obviously, you’re not invisible and the way you conduct yourself as a motorist potentially impacts other motorists, as well as pedestrians.

The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, fails to use their turn signal properly or otherwise engages in improper driving, practice maintaining your composure.

Don’t curse, scream, or honk your horn. If the other person is in view, look at them blankly, but not with disgust or anger, or a mocking smile.

Often, the other party knows what they did wrong. If not, venting your spleen is not likely to change their behavior.

If you travel frequently, say as part of your job, and often traverse high traffic arteries, chances are you’ll have an opportunity at least several times a week to practice engaging in small displays of spirituality. As a goal, why not establish for yourself one composed response per week?

Each time you can remain composed, you increase the probability that you will be more composed in other aspects of your life. Perhaps you’ll even be kinder to people in face-to-face encounters when they commit a transgression.

Comfort the Less Fortunate

As a small gesture of spirituality, what can you do for someone you see right on the street? It’s one thing to write a check to charity; it’s another to encounter someone who is in need and aid that person on the spot.

When you have shoes that you no longer wear, but are not necessarily in pieces, keep them in your trunk as you motor around town. Then, if you see a homeless person with less than sufficient footwear, and it looks like you might be roughly the same size, pull over.

Promptly get the shoes from your trunk, walk up to the person and say that you want them to accept the shoes. If he or she accepts, fine, bid them good day, and be on your way. If he or she chooses not to take them, that’s okay too.

Your goal in this area could be to give away each pair of shoes or other worthwhile item of clothing that you no longer want, perhaps on a monthly basis.

Participate in Group Action

If this is not for you, volunteer once a month to serve a meal at a local shelter for the homeless. If you’re a busy career type, perhaps serving dinner will work best for you. Whatever your preconceived notions about this may be, once you actually serve dinner to real live people, you’ll see that reality is different than you thought.

Perhaps you think that people would be reluctant to speak up for what they wanted. Or worse, they’d be groveling, and you would have to do your best to remain humble. Perhaps you feel like you’ll seem to be some kind of “goody-two-shoes,” dispensing dinners with an overly pleasant, “And how are you this evening? Here’s a nice dinner for you.”

Actually, none of the above usually happens. Person to person, you simply serve another, as if you were in partnership. More peas? Fewer carrots? It’s much more matter-of-fact than you might imagine. They’re appreciative but not groveling.

Note: Some people who show up at a shelter are well dressed. Perhaps they’re temporarily unemployed, or they had a financial emergency they were unprepared to handle.

The more often you serve others in this way, the easier it becomes to do it again. You start to get the notion that there are a lot more similarities between human beings than differences. The old axiom, “There but for the grace of God, go I,” is much more true than we all often acknowledge.

Look for the Good in Others

Is there a co-worker with whom you have had a nasty relationship? Is there something good about this co-worker that you can draw upon, so that you can get yourself to  say something nice to him/her at your next encounter?

Will Rogers, a political satirist, entertainer, and beloved figure in the first half of the twentieth century allegedly said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Many people have interpreted Will Rogers to have meant that he could find something admirable in everyone he met. So, too, can we all.

Is there a neighbor with whom you have had a continuing squabble? What would it do to your relationship if you sent your neighbor a card or a brief note that said something along the lines of, “I noticed how lovely your garden was the other day, and wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you’ve done in maintaining it.”? Too syrupy, or, pardon the expression, too flowery? Guess again.

List five people at work or elsewhere in your life with whom you may not have a good relationship, but whom you can acknowledge. Next to each person’s name, write a dash and then what is good about them.

You’re going to be on Earth for a finite amount of time. Do you want to go through your life trading hostilities with people, never having the where-with-all to restore some semblance of civility to the relationship?

Listen More Closely

Human beings have a profound need to be heard. When you give others your full and complete attention, in essence, you’re telling them that you value them as a people. All activity and concerns in your life stop as the words and emotions of another person take on paramount importance.

Listening is one of people’s most underrated skills. Your ability to listen to another person, giving him or her your full and undivided attention, can be an act of spirituality, particularly if the other person needs someone to listen to him/her. In this rush-rush world, too often we want people to summarize everything they say.

Consider the people in your life who have mattered the most to you and, chances are, they were the people that listened to you best. Whether it was your parents, a brother or sister, a good friend, a relative, a teacher, a coach, a coworker, a mentor, or just somebody down the street, you tend to value those who value you by listening.

In Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, the young Siddhartha speaks about his most well-developed skills. He can listen, he can fast, and he can wait.

These talents don’t seem like much to the Western mind, but they’re handy if you want to increase the spirituality of your life. As a goal, why not to listen in earnest to one person per week in the workplace whom you would not have otherwise given such time and attention?

At home, give your significant other one good listening to per day, and I promise things will go better. Do the same with each child.

Judge Deeds, Not People

Judgment is a necessary and practical skill. It’s likely that you judge things, including others, all day long. After all, if you want to choose the colleges appropriate for you, friends that share similar values, and the professional, social, and civic groups that you will enjoy being a part of, you need to make some judgments.

We all judge one another, however, sometimes harshly. Everyone can learn from each other. It is so easy to fall into that game, as psychologist Carl Rogers articulated, of “mine is better than yours.” It is too convenient to conclude that people who walk, talk, or look differently than we do, must be vastly different, and by extension, inferior.

As you might have already concluded, it doesn’t take considerable effort to be spiritual and to engage in spiritual-type behavior that will benefit yourself, and benefit others. The opportunities are all around each of us, every day. All we have to do is be aware.

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Life

Life is Not Perpetually a Piece of Cake For Anyone

Everybody, nearly all the time, is facing an array of problems

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Everybody, everywhere, nearly all the time has a handful of significant problems. They could be related to relationships, health, career, finances, or unresolved traumas and dramas. Undoubtedly, millions of people are encountering some of the same problems that you are currently facing. Yet, it’s likely that everyone’s problems represent a distinct package – probably no one else, problem-for-problem, confront exactly what you face at any give moment.

Human Encounters

Often we are so steeped in our own problems that we fail to recognize that no one gets to skip along day-after-day without issues and challenges of vital personal concern. Everyone you meet is grappling with something.

The most successful, confident, and healthiest among us might be adept at conveying the image of a relatively problem-free life. Meanwhile, they are concerned about their issues as you are with yours.

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The ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Sometimes the battles of others are apparent to us; more often, such battles are not. Still they do exist.

Awareness and Balance

If you’ve ever attended a group therapy session, or a gathering where people focus on spirituality or self growth topics, then you know first-hand that others you meet have issues much like yours.

With the above in mind, we can choose to be a bit kinder in our encounters. The driver who cut you off in traffic, or the store clerk who is short with you, are exhibiting manifestations of their problems. Everyone is fighting a battle and some are fighting very hard battles. Our awareness of such allows us to stay better balanced, more empathetic, and ultimately more effective in the world.

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