Monday, August 11, 2014

Don't Delete Your Past

Many quotes in which we litter social media are in regard to our past. The advice we tend to give a friend or a loved one reflects the concept of looking forward. Moving on to the next without peeking back. We are all so quick to forget.

Our past is responsible for right now and has the greatest influence on the future. 

Prior relationships, experiences, decisions and mistakes are something we shouldn't ignore, let alone encourage others to forget. They are the stepping-stones that remind us what we want out of life. Simply because the past wasn't the finish line doesn't mean we can't celebrate, let alone recognize it.

We continue to evolve and grow on a daily basis. Our wants and desires change with the seasons. That 7th grade romance didn't end with the electric slide at a wedding reception for a reason. But you'd be a fool to believe that puppy love didn't help clear your vision for what you now look for in a significant other. Much like that entry-level position gave you enough exposure to question if it were a desirable career path. 

I suppose there is a certain level of comfort that accompanies shutting the door to our past. We see it as a room full of failure. Failed romances, employment, friendships, and advancement opportunities that we'd rather not have a scrapbook to reflect upon. 

This doesn't mean a quick reminder isn't beneficial from time to time. The pain and anguish that accompanies certain aspects of our past encourages us from making the same mistakes. Simply forgetting the past opens an additional door to potentially repeating prior offenses.

Maybe this is where we as a society go wrong. Pinpointing the damaged corner on a masterpiece that took years to create. The focal point should be the beauty and precision of each stroke. The small detail required to spawn such a piece of work. Instead, we allow the single flaw to attract the majority of our attention. Much like the artist notices his own imperfection that is invisible to the naked eye, we believe the rest of the world is fully aware of our mistakes.

It takes strength, but far less energy to focus on the positives of the journey than the negative outcome of a destination. If you take enough time to sit and reflect on the past that you were advised to forget, you'd realize there are far more smiles than frowns. We've just been conditioned to believe that the frowns are supposed to leave the lasting impression.

Embrace yesterday, seize today, and anticipate tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shutting Down

We have become a society fixated on technology and multitasking. Constantly over-glorifying our busy schedules and the amount of stress we manage on a daily basis. Our competitiveness restricts our mind and body from one of their most natural functions, simply shutting down.

The unlimited abundance of knowledge forever at our fingertips results in a consistent question mark lingering above our head. Social media has opened the door to debates without boundaries, decisions without repercussions, and opinions without credibility. Streaming newsfeeds to educate ourselves on world news, sporting scores, entertaining articles, pop culture and sometimes, the food our friends are seconds from devouring control our lives.

That's without mentioning the anticipation that accompanies actually posting something of your own. How many likes, comments, replies, retweets, favorites or shares will you receive? How many times will you check your phone looking forward to a notification that somehow, now signifies there are people who like you and what you had to say.

I'm guilty. I don't think twice before admitting I'm on my iPhone/laptop/iPad more than I should. I even catch my thumb checking different apps, simply out of habit. Hoping the swiping comes to a stop as I find something interesting enough to catch my attention for a mere second.

It's hard to determine exactly why we are constantly updating our newsfeeds, checking our email, or browsing the "on line". I'm not sure if it is the gratification that someone is paying attention to us or if we sincerely thrive off proving our lives are much better than theirs. So much so, that we consume the majority of that time snapping photos in attempt to take the perfect image that captures the moment. Rather than intimately enjoying that brief time period with those present, we seek approval from friends and followers whom we think so highly not to invite or couldn't attend because they were, "too busy."

What an insulting excuse.

I appreciate life because we have the ability to choose and the mental capacity to prioritize. In my mid-20's I have found making time is a continuous challenge that will only increase in difficulty. Families, careers, friends and hobbies each deserve a respectable amount of time. To be honest, I never want to be "too busy" to make time for the things that are important to me.

Simply saying we are too busy for the sake of coming off as important or active is a joke. Why glorify stress? To feel as if you are competing in a rat race of your very own? In the end no one wins. Whether you're being honest or not, your high level of stress will only result in a lower quality of life. It's necessary we find outlets to recharge our mind, body and soul to ensure they're at full capacity to handle the wear and tear that comes with the daily grind.

We should all possess goals and ambitions. We should all bust our ass to attain them. But to neglect your mind and body by not shutting it down every once and a while will result in you coming up short. Find some type of release that briefly disconnects you from the rest of the world. Search for that one thing that clears your mind and allows your brain to focus solely on it's own thoughts rather than the overwhelming amount of information coming through a LED screen.

As quick as we are to run for a charger when our phone reaches 1%, you would think we'd have the same urgency when our bodies do the same.

Disconnecting from constant technology and scheduling is difficult. It's a battle I fight on a daily basis. But change only comes with sacrifice. A sacrifice I'm willing to make to ensure a quality life. Because at the end of each day, you come that much closer to death. And remember, there's no such thing as being "too busy" to die.

Enjoy all the world has to offer.

Please share this on your own newsfeed. Hopefully it's enough to catch someone's eye long enough to stop their scroll.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Let it Go

There are certain aspects in life that are simply out of our hands.

The unfortunate declining health of loved ones, rainy mornings, and yellow stop lights are all inevitable forecasts in life. We have no control over this. Our best option is to flip the script and turn negatives into positives.

That your loved ones have been fortunate to live long enough to see a gradual decline in overall health. They've spent years wearing smiles and decades painting smiles on the faces of others. That the rain will be followed with a rainbow and sunshine. Each dreadful drop of water has fallen with a purpose, to give life to aspects of our days that we take for granted. That the yellow light may force us to tap our brakes providing enough time to finish listening to our favorite song on the radio. Or it may give us a few more minutes with a love interest before saying goodbye.

There is no such thing as bad luck. Sure, there may be trials and tribulations, but they aren't racist, prejudice, or even sexist. We are all forced to face certain challenges in life. This is what separates us from all other species. Our emotions, mental capacity and responsibility for others often makes it difficult to deal with complications that arise.

Things happen in which we are required to be strong for others who are weak. We mask fear and sadness with smiles and slight head nods to prevent any indication that we aren't putting one foot in front of the other.

I've realized the older we get, the harder certain choices become. Reactions can no longer be strictly emotional. And at the end of the day, your reaction is truly all you have when obstacles get in your way. The strong find ways to go over, around or through those obstacles… they find a way no matter what. The weak, they make excuses, ask 'why me?' and truly believe the world is out to get them.

But the strongest find a way to help the weak overcome that obstacle. They lend a hand, provide a boost, or at the very least vocally encourage them that the pain they currently feel is worth the joy that comes once they reach the other side.

Let go of the baggage that is weighing you down. Loosen your grip on all the unnecessary weight that truly brings zero value to your life. There are so many other things you can do with your hands than hold onto things that you can not control.

Lend a hand, give a high five or shake the hand of a stranger. Those 3 things are simplest ways to gift yourself inner joy.

Share this to give encouragement to someone you know who refuses to let go.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Merry Go Round Vs Roller Coaster

As a child I had the opportunity to experience the slowest merry go rounds and the fastest roller coasters. As an adult, I've also unenthusiastically hopped onto that merry go round, wondering when the ride will end. If there is any chance of that horse galloping away from the rest of the pack seemingly content repeating the same path. Slowly turning round and round.

Around this time last year, I was actually slumped over on the merry go round of life. Working a 8 to 5 not necessarily sure if this were the life for me. My job was predictable. Flexible, yet predictable. I probably had it better than most employees. There wasn't a strict dress code, casual Fridays (which also happened to be half-day Friday's), health insurance, stability, a great boss who loved to talk sports. I even had a co-worker who seemed more like a second mom. Always asking about my weekends, knowing I probably spent them at the bar. Giving me tips on marriage and what types of women to stay away from. She even made sure the office had snacks.

It wasn't the office or the people who made this job boring. I think I understood how much I was undervaluing myself. My impact was confined within my job responsibility. I'm the kind of person who thrives off competition. I'm the guy who steps on the treadmill right next to you even though we're the only people in the gym.

My job at the time didn't excite me. I brought zero passion into the office. My days became a routine. Wake up, shower, eat, drive to the office, stare at a computer screen, leave the office, fight traffic, workout, shower, eat, dedicate a few minutes to other projects, then sleep. I eventually lost who I was. I no longer felt my face tire from smiling. Excitement was gone.

Today, I am on one hell of a roller coaster… I'm even sitting in the front seat. I don't know where the next turn is going to take me, how fast we're going, I even try anticipating when that stupid camera is going to take an unexpected picture.

There are days I wonder how I'm supposed to get through the next week. When lows come, boy do they come. But every time I feel myself stressing too much this ride of a roller coaster takes me higher than I ever imagined.

The people you meet on a roller coaster are extraordinary. They live for the thrill. They have full faith in the engineers who designed the roller coaster, the pimple faced teenager asking you to keep all limbs inside the ride at all times, even the seat belt to keep you from falling out during a loop. These passengers get on the ride knowing all along the ride is worth the wait. It's exciting. The only people who don't spend the entire ride smiling are those who are about to throw up.

We are all passengers of some sort. Some of us rely on the steady pace that a merry go round brings. Trusting the consistency of speed, mesmerized by the soft music and lights. Others seek the unknown of roller coaster tracks. Willing to take a quick deep plunge after a strong, steady and slow creep to the top.

Whichever ride you decide to take in life, be sure it brings a smile to your face. Cause much like life, the amusement park will eventually close and I hope you leave without regretting spending too much time on the wrong ride.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alphabet Flash Cards - For Adults

We all remember the flash cards we used to learn the alphabet… A is for Apple… B is for Baby… C is for Carrot. These were all words we could identify with at the time. As adults, we don't necessarily focus on what we are capable of identifying with… we actually need to relearn the alphabet. Here is my attempt to change the way you think.

A. Ask - To put a question to; inquire of. Without asking, you'll forever wonder.

B. Believe - To have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right doing so. If you don't believe, no one else will.

C. Capacity - The ability or power to do so, experience, or understand something. The ceiling is always made of glass.

D. Deliver - Bring and hand over to the proper recipient or address. If something truly matters, you want to ensure it arrives at its destination.

E. Energy - The capacity for vigorous activity; available power. Exert it where it deserves it.

F. Forgive - To grant pardon to. Forgiveness is the easiest form of revenge, just never forget. 

G. Google - The answers to many questions can be found here. Consult a doctor or lawyer when needed. 

H. Hiccup - A minor difficulty, interruption, or setback that will occur often in one's life. It will be over shortly. 

I. Illustrate - A picture intended to explain or put thoughts into context. Put it on paper so it becomes real.  

J. Joke - Something said or done to provoke laughter or cause amusement. A smile is medicine, cure the world. 

K. Keys - Something that secures or controls entrance to a place. Hang on to these, you'll need them soon.

L. Listen - To give attention with the ear. You'll learn more by saying less.

M. Marathon - Any contest or event of great, or greater than normal, length and duration. Life isn't a sprint, if so, we'd all finish dead last. 

N. Next - Immediately following in time, order or importance. Always be aware of tomorrow and what it may bring.

O. - Open - Having the interior immediately accessible. Open physical doors for others, and metaphorical doors will open for you.

R. Respond - To reply or answer in words. Never leave a question unanswered, statement unacknowledged or smile unreturned. 

S. Speak - To communicate vocally. Speak up, speak out and speak with a purpose. 

T. Trust - Reliance on the integrity, strength, or ability of a person or thing. Without it, you will live a lonely life, paranoid.  

U. Utilize - To put to use; turn to profitable account. Tools are worthless until used.

V. Value - Relative worth, merit, or importance. Every person, place or thing has value, realize what that is and use it. 

W. Work - Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something. Freebies are always the first thing we throw away.

X. Xanthan - A water-soluble natural gum produced by the fermentation of sugar with certain microorganisms and used as a binder, extender, or stabilizer in foods and other products. Will come in handy when playing Words With Friends. 

Y. Yes - An affirmative reply. The most significant outcomes are a result of someone saying YES.

Z. Zero - Stands for the absence of quantity. We all begin at zero, it is the actions that follow which determines where we stand.  

Incorporate these words into your own vocabulary. You will begin to see a change.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What the Funk

This has been one of the most miserable winters I've ever experienced. It's completely understandable to have seasonal depression. The freezing temperature, slushy sidewalks and slippery streets do everything except put a smile on your face. Netflix and hoodies seem to be the only thing that have the power to keep a brain sane.

Winter is fully capable of putting every single one of us in a mild state of depression. Without much reason to venture outside, the walls within our domicile shrink with each sunset. Our minds wonder. Distractions only come in forms of screens (computer/TV/cellphone), eyelids and staring in the fridge long enough hoping the food you desire most suddenly appears. Winter is bullshit.

We gain weight. We lose color. We think our lives are miserable and we even question whether or not we've made the right decisions to get us to this point.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't spent a few days in a funk this year. To be honest, I'd be worried if I hadn't. In my eyes, a funk is simply a stage in life when you want more out of it. More from yourself, and more out of what's in front of you. Without funks, you're completely content in life. Which should never be the case. No one is that sweet.

A funk only becomes a negative when you get it confused with depression. A state of emotional dejection and withdraw. Your funk should always be a personal matter. There's no reason for you to allow your funk to affect other people. This goes for significant others, friends, family or even the dude at the drive thru who didn't give you Fire Sauce. At the end of the day, you're the one who has to come to grips with that funk. The solution to the problem must come from within. Don't rely on others to help you get out of it. Don't become dependent on your surroundings or take advantage of those who truly care about you.

The sun actually came out today. Spring is right around the corner. Shut the funk up and be ready to blossom. The only way to feel better is to be proactive. No one feels sorry for somebody who isn't doing everything they can to improve themselves or their situation. Sulking and begging for attention should only occur in a kindergarten classroom… and I promise you those are the children who end up being the most funked up.

The opportunity to improve is everywhere. Pick your chin up so you can actually see it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cause of Cancer

We've all had the unfortunate experience of watching someone suffer from the second leading cause of death. It seems like we can't escape it. But what causes it? There's no one answer, yet everyday someone is coming forth exposing the truth of what we once thought was harmless.

Today, Nestle recalled over 238,000 cases of Hot Pocket pastries because they may contain meat that was included in the nearly 9 MILLION pounds of "diseased and unsound" beef products. Unless you are a college student or still living in your mother's basement, this is what we are feeding our youth.

Recently we've seen numerous reports exposing popular food chains and their food processing practices. Subway's sub ingredients that contain several chemicals, including Azodinacarbonamide, a substance used in yoga mats and the soles in your sneakers. Since, thanks to the help of Vani Hari and her petition, Subway has agreed to remove the harmful ingredient. I guess this is the time we thank them? I don't know what is harder to swallow, that Azodinacarbonamide is so harmful that if caught using the substance you may face a $450,000 fine and may serve up to 15 years in prison… in Singapore (yes, the same country that regularly eats pig fallopian tubes doesn't even tolerate it), or that our nation including the White House endorse Subway as a healthy choice.

Food practices in such a developed country like The United States of America seem to be subpar from the rest of the world. Simply because we have access to 'premium' cut meats and 'homegrown' fruit and vegetables doesn't mean we have access to the intended, natural nutrition. We also allow common food that is banned in other countries to be sold on our shelves. As consumers, we've been blind and uneducated.

Ol' MacDonald no longer has a farm. Instead, major corporations and food distribution centers strategically implement practices such as harmful pesticides and hormones that devalue the food but increase shelf life and maximize profit. The same practices that help contribute to air pollution.

I'm not against someone earning a dollar, but it wasn't until recently that I realized 'buyer beware' was included determining what's for dinner.

It's apparent the FDA isn't capable of protecting our health. It comes down to educating ourselves of such practices and exactly what we are putting into our bodies. Instead of congress worrying about hormones and steroids in Major League Baseball, maybe they should focus on hormones in the food we eat. Instead of worrying about the next episode of The Kardashians, maybe we should focus on keeping up with the carcinogens.

Climate change and recent research are bringing the harsh reality of our diet into question. Nothing is suddenly going to appear that will cure these problems. Food shouldn't be a science experiment. There's a reason why the number of cancer cases increases each year.

Millions upon millions are spent each year on finding a cure for cancer. It's time we take a different approach and do what we can to prevent the disease. It starts in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Educating yourself on the practices and actual ingredients in food processing doesn't make you a hipster, hippy, liberal, or pussy. It simply means you care more about tomorrow than today. Which is a way of life we should all embrace.

This isn't a plea for you to become a vegetarian or vegan or even a tree hugger. It's encouragement to be aware of your surroundings. A lot of you get worked up over government control, taxes and healthcare… these are all effects of a cause. Prevention is the easiest way to avoid a problem. Educate yourself! You're not only doing yourself a favor, but you're doing the person next to you a service as well.

Or are we all so naive that we don't think it will happen to us? Before you answer that question, make a list of people you personally know who have been diagnosed with cancer in the past 2 years. Make a change that will truly make a difference. Running a marathon or wearing a yellow Livestrong (made of rubber) won't protect you or your friends and family from cancer.