Physical Morality: Our Obligation To Strengthen Our Bodies

“Maintaining and preserving wellness is a duty, a privilege. Few are conscious of this piece of the wellness puzzle called physical morality” Dr. Trent McKittrick, DC

Modern Western culture has witnessed the slow erosion of many values it once held dear. Driven by endless opportunity for mindless consumption, most have stopped contemplating how to best live their lives and find purpose. Narcissism, consumerism, and moral relativism have combined to create a convenience-oriented culture that is typically far more concerned about rights (what I get) than responsibilities (what I do).

The human inclination to justify our own actions has magnified to epic heights only to leave our people alienated and emotionally fractured. The result is a growing mental health crisis. While I’ve often advocated an earnest quest for truth and intentional values as the path to fulfillment, I’ve recently been surprised to read more and more classical texts that profess the value of “physical morality”. Sure, we’ve known that respect for our human biological needs to move and exercise improves both health and happiness. Yet, I’d never made the jump from human need to ethical requirement. Could it really be a moral obligation to respect and train our physical bodies?

A superficial scan of the environment might seem to contradict any concept of physical morality? For many, religion is the primary source of what is right and wrong. The most popular religion of the West is Christianity, where my experience shows very little example of physical duty. Priests and pastors seem to look and eat like the average American. I’ve never heard of a sermon promoting physical morality and I’m fairly certain that most services end with the consumption of donuts, cookies, and sugar-infused drinks.

For the more intellectually inclined, their individual moral concepts might be created with the direction of philosophy, ethics, sociology, and psychology courses. Yet, again, my considerable time sitting in these classes and reading these texts never prompted contemplation about physical morality. Still, others are only socialized through public schools that continue to de-emphasize health and physical education while promoting a daily bouquet of sweets and sitting. One is left to conclude that clearly fitness and ethical responsibility have little to do with each other.

Yet, I believe these are all just symptoms of our time- an era that is more concerned about feelings and safe dogmas than nuanced truth and dialogue. We have forgotten the truth of physical morality and find ourselves in a human spiritual crisis, at least somewhat caused by our neglect of this notion. A scan of most religious and cultural traditions indicates a long history of respect for the principles of physical morality. In all 5 of the world’s dominant religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – there is an extensive history of fasting. The mastery of consumption has always been a prerequisite to human spirituality.

Christianity features verses prompting adherents to “Honor God with your bodies” because they are “temples of the holy spirit.” Sloth and gluttony, 2 out of 7 deadly sins, refer to neglecting responsibilities for physical morality. Likewise, ethical philosophies, like Stoicism, have always promoted periods of voluntary discomfort and physical refinement as necessities to personal growth and actionable moral constitution. And most great cultures, from the Athenians to the 19th century Germans to the early 20th century United States, believed physical fitness and health should be a full third of the educational formula.

Still, the best argument I know of for physical morality comes from British Philosopher Herbert Spencer who wrote:

“We do not yet realize the truth that as … the physical underlies the mental, the mental must not be developed at the expense of the physical…. Perhaps nothing will so much hasten the time when body and mind will both be adequately cared for, as a diffusion of the belief that the preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality. Men’s habitual words and acts imply the idea that they are at liberty to treat their bodies as they please. Disorders entailed by disobedience to Nature’s dictates, they regard simply as grievances: not as the effects of a conduct more or less flagitious. Though the evil consequences inflicted on their dependents, and on future generations, are often as great as those caused by crime; yet they do not think themselves in any degree criminal.”

What is morality if not adherence to Nature’s dictates- to our best conceptions of truth? How is it okay to consistently abuse and neglect the vessel from which we experience and operate in the world? Physical morality is a justifiable element of every ethical code because the maintenance of physical health and vigor amplifies the individual’s ability to behave morally and contribute positively in every other realm. Physical morality does not argue that we must attain a certain level of physical ability. It is not an excuse for the strong to humiliate the weak, but rather for all to bond over mutual self-development- that we should respect our individual physical bodies and seek a balanced approach to its nourishment and vitality.

The best defense for physical morality is modern life. The absence of models or socially prioritized development promoting healthy living indoctrinates generations with habits that ensure the pains and limitations of malaise. Society’s lack of intentionality is exploited masterfully by saboteurs of health happy to sell addiction.

When looking at the state of physical and emotional health and the tremendous financial and experiential tolls our future generations face as a consequence of our physical decay, it is hard to argue that the way we are raising kids is unacceptable. A Harvard study on child obesity indicates that of today’s youth, over 57% will be obese by the time they are 35. Actions mean more than words, particularly in the realm of physical morality. Our example shapes the next generation more than any other factor, and right now that is the problem.

Define Values

As I’ve explained in my article on how to define and act on your values, values are concepts of truth we aspire towards and constantly grow towards understanding better. While we may never have a perfect understanding of these targets, by aiming at them we are far better off than just pretending there is no right or wrong.

If anything has hurt humanity on a collective and individual level it is the belief that morals are all relative and it’s just as well to live in an impulsive pursuit of hedonistic pleasure. Hello, depression. Whether intentional or not, we all adopt values and their proximity to truth along with how we live up to them is the best determinant of our fulfillment. For most a set of values has been adopted that is creating the expectations, attitudes, and likelihood of mindless manipulation that are starving the human spirit.

Concepts of morality are not important so that people can feel morally superior, they are essential because they promote the common good. The point of my argument is not for fitness enthusiasts to pat themselves on the back while condemning those less active. The purpose is to acknowledge that our society conditions sedentary, junk food infused lifestyles and that we have a duty to address this.

By fighting to recapture an ethos of physical morality, we can create more successful, fulfilled generations. A society that does not share central values will grow increasingly alienated and hostile. We must share more than space and legal codes. We must define the pursued truths that bind us and collectively work to instill these in future generations. As it stands now, the only major influencers fighting to create values in society are the marketing gurus of our Saboteurs of Health in America. Schools must begin to combat them.

Define Physical Morality

Of all moral concepts, perhaps none is more overlooked and more essential than physical morality. Certainly, all values should be balanced to create a nuanced view of morality that avoids extremes. Physical Morality is only one element of ethical development and I am certainly not claiming to have authority in the realm of ethics.

There are certainly far more moral people than I, many of which don’t necessarily prioritize their health. Furthermore, a capable body cultivated without other ethical domains is susceptible to fascism, religious fundamentalism, or any other tyrannical ethic. Whatsmore, any virtue in the extreme can be a vice. My argument is not that people are immoral if they don’t value health, but simply that physical morality belongs in the pantheon of moral qualities and it is a vital part of the discussion, that most have forgotten.

At the root of human existence is the physical body from which we interpret the world. Just as baby’s minds are developed through physical experience and based upon the physical vehicle, so do the ethics of a strong society. How can we create the highest contribution to those around us, if we do not respect our physical bodies and their needs? At the very least, we have a lower ethical ceiling when we don’t honor physical morality.

Traditional concepts of physical morality are probably not what you’d imagine. Physical morality is not characterized by the locked up meathead who can’t reach back to pull off his shirt, or the narcissistic toned gal snapping gym selfies in her bra each day.

While the 1980’s brought us the bizarre conception of “manliness” as steroid infused hyper-masculinity, physical morality has traditionally abhorred the idea of any fitness extreme. It has always been a balanced image of healthy physical vigor- far more Audi Murphy and John F. Kennedy (two actual American Heroes) than John Cena or Schwarzenegger’s Commando.

In the 1980’s Clint Eastwood and the Marlboro man, with their quiet confidence, were replaced by less adaptable extreme images of what a man should look like. But what about ladies? If classical concepts of physical morality focused on men, perhaps that is where we can take the old and improve.

The pre 5th century BCE Athenian moral code “sought organic harmony and stressed an elementary curriculum in which grace and poise were not subordinate to stamina and physical endurance”. Similarly, notions such as Georges Hebert’s Natural Method had a very strong vision of physical morality’s goals being to “make strong beings, not specialists…, but beings developed physically in a complete and useful manner”.

Physical morality has always harmonized both feminine and masculine qualities. This paradox marks the nuanced balance where truth typically lies. Best expressed in the Daoist Yin-Yang, Eastern philosophies have long understood the harmony of feminine and masculine. We are individuals, and while women may gravitate towards feminine expression more than men, both must honor their authentic selves with complete, complex development.

“Womanhood” and “manliness” both require strong physical vitality and the authentic expression of the individual’s true masculine and feminine nature. Raw power and intensity are useless and damaging without balance, mobility, and restraint, just as patience and compassion without discipline or firm boundaries lead to docile victimhood. Woman and man, alike, thrive when respecting a sense of physical morality.

Spirit and Energy

Physical morality is not only physical training and ability but an ethos that directs this path towards useful inclinations. Hebert’s Natural Method was responding to the decreased physical wellbeing and capability that followed industrialization. He believed, “only the strong will become useful in the difficult circumstances of life…”. Strength, as Hebert uses it, is better conceived as fitness.

We must be fit to be useful- a notion that holds just as much significance today, despite our increased mechanization. In fact, this essential element of human thriving must become even more of a point of emphasis as our world demands less moving. Without it, we are simply less capable, and less human.

Training the body teaches what Hebert would call “moral energy”. Theodore Roosevelt considered a “strenuous life” the only path to moral living. In their minds, physical laziness begets mental laziness. Physical training requires one to explore their own limitations, strategize, adapt, and overcome adversity. It requires one to master their impulses to become the guide of their own lives.

The practice of exercise over time is the discipline of willingly entering discomfort in the short term for a long-term good. Physical morality respects the body and promotes energy over malaise through consistent practice. Coach’s have long preached to teams about “heart”, which seems to be best encapsulated by teammates grinding through physical adversity to find inner strength. While moral strength is possible without physical training, I doubt it is as common in a physically deprived society.

“A soft, easy life is not worth living if it impairs the fiber of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great, and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

A shared value system must be instilled that clarifies heroism and pushes us towards our heroic capabilities. What is the hero? She is physically capable, mentally resilient, morally inclined, and purposefully brave. Is citizenship at all a goal for our children, today? How can we preach rights without responsibilities?

Bravery, selflessness, and integrity are virtues predicated on activities and experiences. Like cognitive and physical skills, these virtues must be refined through practice and the best practice is rooted in shared physical development- in physical Rites of Passage. The fragility of young-adults’ characteristic of growing up in a world devoid of honesty, constructive criticism, expectations, and consequences do not serve them, long-term.

As Ben Sasse asserts in his book, The Vanishing American Adult, “We should be figuring out how to help build them a menu of really hard tasks to tackle.”

Physical rites of passage are the most powerful way to develop self-actualized, united people with shared values. To teach morality without ever physically demonstrating virtues is like learning to cook from reading a book while never touching food. The idea of a rite of passage itself is rooted in a physical experience that creates understanding.

We live in the physical world and are most inspired by the physical act- the epic heroic story. Nothing unites us like the physical challenge- the proximity and raw vulnerability of shared physical challenge. Picture the team cheering on a teammate as she embarks on arduous training or the chills you feel while watching movie scenes displaying physical heroism.

Let’s shift the conversation from what we want, to what we want to be capable of – what do we want to become. Healthy dialogue is the backbone of strong communities and there has been too little promoting the duties and values that develop great people.

Today’s article was written by Shane Trotter and is shared from the following website” https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/physical-morality-our-obligation-to-strengthen-our-bodies

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How to Change the Stories You Tell Yourself

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite William Blake

Around and around I went.

Like a Ferris wheel. 

It was only a pattern, a habit, an unexamined cycle. 

It wasn’t something I was proud of, but it was my reality.

It was the world I created for myself.

It was full of fear. Full of scarcity. It was survival.

I lived in it for many years until I examined my prison.

Fortunately, I was open to changing my perspective. If I am not open to examining my perspective, I accept I can create a mental prison.

It’s invisible. I had many blind spots.

Blind spots create pain.

Blind spots create struggle.

Blind spots create unhealthy realities.

When I examined my mental world, I realized it was full of scarcity.

My worthiness was scarce, although I had several accomplishments.

My happiness was scarce, although I did many remarkable things.

My finances were scarce, although I had plenty in the bank.

Love was scarce, although I was loved by many around me.

Relationships were scarce, although I personally knew many people in the area.

I was always afraid, although I was never in physical danger.

I had various phrases I used to think and tell myself.

Here are some examples of mental stories I told myself…

“You’re not good enough.”

“Who are you to do this?”

“You’re not old enough to do that.”

“What will others think of you?”

“What if you get rejected?”

And I’ve changed these stories. This article shares what I’ve learned in the process.

Powerful analogies to the stories we tell ourselves

When I get a flat tire while driving, it’s immediately noticeable that I get a flat. I feel the bumpy driving. Maybe I hear the tire get punctured. I know what needs to happen next.

In life, the equivalent of a mental flat is when we struggle for too long. It’s a mental growing pain. Until we look at this behavior under this lens, it can be a blind spot.

When a painter paints on his canvas and is too focused on the small area where he is painting, he can’t see the full picture. Sometimes, in life, when we don’t see the stories we tell ourselves, we fall into this trap of being imprisoned by the stories, stuck in a small area, thinking small, and living small.

When the CD skips and the music abruptly jumps, we know the CD is likely scratched. What’s the solution? Clean the CD. For this to work, we must first understand that it’s only a CD. It’s only a mental story. It’s not us, it does not define us.

The rear-view mirror of a car says, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” For us to gain another perspective, we must seek it. We must look for another perspective. Use another mirror or look over the shoulder in a car. This is not a reactive act. This does not happen by accident. This is a proactive practice.

When we’re consumed in fear, it’s hard to see our story. Fear, a biological survival instinct, used to keep us alive. Now, it can keep us in survival mode. In survival mode, we cannot detach from our story, we are simply consumed by it because we’re fighting for our survival. This takes effort to transcend.

Why you would want to change your inner narrative

Maybe you don’t realize it, but the story you tell about yourself says more about you than the story. The way you see the story says something about you. Neither good nor bad, it simply is. I want to raise your self-awareness to help you consciously and proactively decide if you want that story.

Until you understand your story, you may attract others with the same story. There are reasons why cycles and habits and patterns live on through generations of families. Objectively speaking, it’s because we don’t invest the time to understand our story and the way it’s affected us (possibly because we never had an opportunity to learn or it never entered our awareness). Conscious or not, who you choose to surround yourself with says something about you and the stories you tell yourself. Nothing good or bad, it just is. (Same is true for me)

Maybe you’re tired of blaming external circumstances. Maybe you’re ready to change yourself. Maybe you’re ready for one of the most meaningful journey’s you can take… the journey to better understand yourself. Blame is the discharge of comfort and pain. Maybe it’s time to face within and stop blaming.

The empowering truth about your story

You decide your truth. You decide what truths you want to accept. If you accept these truths, you will find yourself with less friction to change your story.

Believe that you are not your story. Your story does not define you, it’s just your story. Sure, it’s the only thing you have that’s unique to you. But it is not you. The more you attach your identity with your story, the more friction you create for yourself in changing your story.

Believe that age has nothing to do with it. It’s easy to say, “I’m X years old, this is not for me, I should have this figured out!” I believe that I am doing the best I can, with what I’ve been given, with where I’m at in life. Because I believe this for myself, I give this gift to everyone else. It is the foundation of my empathy and compassion. When we learn how to respect our own journey, we can respect the journey of others. Age has nothing to do with this. We are never taught this truth in school.

Believe that it’s only a story. To center myself, I like to zoom out. I like to remind myself that I am 1 of ~7 billion people on this planet. BILLION. That’s a lot of people. Everything I experience is affected by only 2 factors: 1) my biology. 2) the stories I tell myself (the inner narrative). If I had 3 hours of sleep last night, it will affect the way I experience the next day. If I tell myself I am afraid of what others think of me, then I live in that fear of what others think of me. I like to ask myself, “What am I telling myself that is making me feel this way?” After I acknowledge the story I am telling myself, I then ask, “What can I tell myself to better serve me?”

This is not about happy thoughts and positive thinking. This is about having the self-awareness to understand the stories you tell yourself so that you can rewrite your stories to reach new levels of awareness and personal growth. Not for yourself, but for others. For legacy.

Understand how your story affects your biology

I’ve written before about my past story of personal surrender.

It was the moment life brought me to my knees and I was forced to examine the story I was telling myself. It wasn’t serving me anymore.

A scab on my leg from a mountain biking accident didn’t heal itself after several months.

Eventually, I took notice.

The scab on my leg was not healing itself because my body’s immune system was weak.

Why?

It turns out, eczema (a skin condition) took over my scab.

Why?

My eczema is aggravated and triggered by stress.

Why?

Stress is experienced by what I believe about stress (and other thoughts). Yes, if I believe stress is good for me, then I experience it in a positive way. If I believe it’s bad for me, I experience it in an unhealthy way. Actually, if I believe it’s good, I live longer. If I believe it’s bad, I die sooner. If this sounds crazy, watch the TEDx talk.

Our thoughts, and the words we use, and more importantly, the relationship we have with the words we use, have the potential to affect our experiences.

I covered this in-depth in an article about self-awareness.

Burn out, depression, and having a stroke can be the result of weak stories that we tell ourselves that are not sustainable.

If you proactively practice gratitude, you’ll live longer. Think about it. Scarcity is fear-based. Gratitude is abundant and truly powerful. If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Stress and anxiety also manifest in our bodies in other ways. How about sweaty hands? How about sweating from nervousness? How about talking too fast? How about being unable to sit still? We can blame certain factors and pop a pill, or we can accept that maybe the world we’ve created for ourselves isn’t serving us. (It’s ok, it’s just a story…)

Why we have weak belief systems

At HX Works, I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection.

I believe there are 2 ways to respond to life: out of trust, or out of fear.

Often, we learn how to respond to life before we’re able to understand what we’re doing. Meaning: there is a childhood response driving us all (until we examine the behavior and move beyond it).

These seeds of stories get planted by society, caregivers, parents, teachers, bosses, professors, and various connections we make to others throughout our developing years (and even into our adult years).

Often, we have these experiences, and we cruise through life in autopilot, not aware of the stories in the mind. Since I am the only person I have to live with throughout my life, I invest the time to live with myself.

I believe that vulnerability is power.

Vulnerability is embracing uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure (Brené Brown). Vulnerability is the foundation of creativity, change and innovation.

All of these stories we often tell ourselves prevent us from vulnerability.

Many of the stories I told myself above tried to keep me away from being vulnerable. Or my struggles with perfectionism. Or how I gave my power away to others. All of this prevented me from being vulnerable.

When we embrace vulnerability, we embrace the truest sense of reality.

The reality is, life is uncertain. There are risks involved. If we’re not exposing our emotions to someone or managing them, they’ll force a surrender.

This is a natural law, like gravity, it cannot be fought.

Yet, the voice in our head makes it easy to avoid it and to ignore our objective reality.

I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection.

The root of many of the voices in our mind are rooted in the fear of disconnection from others. This takes effort to transcend.

Because we don’t experience life as it is, we experience life as we are, many high performers, entrepreneurs, and high achievers, are driven (conscious or subconscious) by the fear of disconnection. We’re not living to make a difference, we’re living to be worthy. (This used to be me, I know this story) When this is not understood, these things take power over you and they feed your blind spots.

Blind spots can lead to pain, discomfort, struggle, burn out, depression, or strokes… either we consciously decide to understand ourselves better, or natural law forces a surrender.

I like to ask myself, “Am I making this decision based out of fear or trust?”

Trust overpowers fear if we allow it to.

This is about self-awareness. I realize it’s easy to read this stuff and automatically think, “Well, that’s not me.” I challenge you to reflect on this. Not for me, or yourself, but for those around you.

Oh, and for the record, this cancerous lie we tell ourselves of “fake it until you make it” is not healthy. It disrespects our objective reality and further propagates weak belief systems.

When we trust, we embrace uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. We’re living.

When we fear, we seek certainty, perfection, rigidness, and absolutes. We’re surviving. (This also weakens us by forcing us to surrender our power to others)

This is about living more proactively and less reactively.

Understanding the 5 stages of competence

In psychology, the conscious competence learning model can help us understand the progression of changing our inner narrative. I’ve modified it with a 5th element.

Unconscious incompetence is the first stage of the model. Unconscious incompetence happens when something is in your blind spot. You don’t know what you don’t know. You may deny what you don’t know. Until you recognize what you don’t know, and see the value of the new skill/awareness, you can’t move onto the next stage.

A basic example of this is when you were a toddler and you didn’t know that one day you’ll probably drive a car. Until you accept that you don’t know how to drive a car, and until you see the value of learning how to drive, will you move onto the next learning stage. The same is true of your mental patterns. Since they’re abstract and not as concrete as driving a car, they require effort to work through. Usually, you need a powerful cause to force the effect of changing your beliefs. But does everyone need to learn the hard way?

Next is the conscious incompetence stage. At this point, you recognize that you’re conscious, or you understand, what you don’t know. You see your incompetence or lack of understanding or skill.

In our driving example, at this point, you’re in your mid-teens and you’re starting to see the value of driving for yourself. You accept you don’t know how to drive but see the value in it.

Thirdly, we have the conscious competence stage. This is when you understand or know how to do something. However, it requires focused concentration. The process needs to be practical, simple, and broken down into steps.

In driving, this often happens in a focused format during driver’s education. First, there is reading material and videos to learn from, and then there is focused time behind the wheel. Heavy concentration is required to carry this out. In the context of changing your inner narrative, this is often where people get stuck. People may, at some level, know what they’re doing and what they need, but it never moves beyond that because effort is not invested (or practical solutions are not discovered).

The last stage of the official conscious competence model is unconscious competence. This is when the skill or inner narrative becomes second nature. No effort is required because it’s automatic.

In driving, this is when you can talk on the phone, eat food, and drive with your knee. No, I’m kidding, I hope you’re not multitasking while you’re driving! However, most of us live our mental lives like this… we never see clearly because we’ve never turned on the windshield wipers to learn how to see past the dirty window. Strong belief systems give you power to live with strength (for yourself and those around you). It’s just a story, that’s it.

The last added stage to this model is mastery. It’s when what you’re doing happens with unconscious competence and you know what you’re doing enough to teach it and explain it. When you can teach what you’re doing, you can fully detach from it, examine it, and explain the behavior.

Simple strategies for changing your inner narrative

Before I continue, I want to repeat something I said earlier. I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection. Many of our behaviors can be described under this lens.

If you woke up one morning and you realized you put on socks that you didn’t like, how do you change them? Take them off and put on a new pair, duh. 🙂

Changing your narrative works the same way.

To change it, you must disconnect from the old story and connect to a new story.

Here are simple and practical tips to changing your narrative…

Understand the source

Some say this helps, some say it isn’t necessary. I want to include it here because I think it’s valuable. It’s easy to tell someone, “well, just change your thoughts.” When you understand the root of your thoughts, you may uncover other patterns and/or thought patterns related to that. Identify the fear or reason underneath the thought.

Understanding where that fear came from (maybe a person or an experience) can also be valuable to deeply understand how, conscious or not, you affect others.

Accept your narrative, but don’t embrace it, yet

Accept the narrative. If you don’t accept it, you add tension to moving past the narrative. No judgment, no critical thoughts, no negative feelings towards the thoughts, simply acknowledge the thoughts for what they are… thoughts. After you’ve taken off the sunglasses, or the narrative you have, analyze it. Ask yourself, is it serving you? Is it beneficial? Or is it holding you back? What would the narrative be if you focused on something else? It’s all perspective.

After you’ve accepted and detached from your narrative, how can you laugh it? Imagine all of your old narratives and stories that you tell yourself as gummy bears on the floor. Then imagine stepping on them. Seems silly, right? The more you can laugh at your narrative, the more you reduce the friction for getting away from it. It’s a mental game.

After you’ve accepted, detached, laughed, and examined your narrative, find a new narrative that you want and start to attach to it.

Be mindful of your body and how you feel

Depending on your life experiences, “feelings” may not be something that are valued. You may even be moving so fast onto the next thing that feelings are the last thing you think about.

Be mindful of slowing down and paying attention to your body. Pay attention to how food makes you feel. Pay attention to how your thoughts make you feel. When do you feel great? When do you feel uncomfortable? When do you feel nervous? The more you become aware of the tension within, the more you’ll be able to uncover the thoughts and patterns that create the tension.

Journal nightly

To detach yourself from your narrative, journal nightly. Express yourself openly and honestly. How was your day? How did you feel? Did you do what you wanted? When you’re done writing the summary, read it back to yourself. Disconnecting and connecting yourself to your story helps raise your awareness to your narrative and how you are. Be honest.

If you’re working through a certain narrative, or if there is a specific thought that you want to change and not have, ask yourself a question to counter what you don’t want.

For example, when I struggled with self-acceptance, I asked myself, “What do I accept about myself?” When I struggled with fear in my life, I asked myself, “What do I trust in?” When my world was full of scarcity, I asked myself, “What am I grateful for?” When I wasn’t aware of my wants or what I wanted in life, I asked myself, “What do I want?”

I asked myself various questions for hundreds of nights. Answering a question that counters a limiting belief for hundreds (or even dozens of nights) will raise your self-awareness.

You can write this down in an app (I like DayOne for iPhone), or you can write it down by hand in a physical journal. Whatever works best for you.

Speak the new narrative out loud

When I focused on gratitude, it didn’t stay in my journal. My gratitude found its way into my language. I started saying phrases such as, “I’m grateful to be here.” Or, “I’m grateful to have this time with you.” I also started using phrases such as, “I trust that…” when talking with others. Or, “I accept that I …” This process can take months or years. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done for myself.

To make this more real, tell a close friend or significant other what you’re doing. Share what you’re proactively working on. Share this article. Maybe even have them let you know when your old narrative comes out (whatever you want to replace). (You might inspire them)

Meditate

Meditative practices mean different things for different people. Maybe this means sitting in silence and paying attention to the thoughts in your mind.Don’t try to control them, simply observe. The more you do this, the more you intentionally connect yourself to yourself (crazy thought, eh?).

Maybe this means a guided yoga practice to do something different, focus on breathing, and focus more on being mindful of your body.

Maybe this means going on a walk every night and reflecting on your day.

Whatever you do, set reminders to do it daily. Everything I’m sharing with you are things I’ve worked on. Set triggers to help remind yourself.

Find a greater meaning

Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, coined the phrase “logotherapy.” Logotherapy is the process of finding a greater meaning behind your experiences in life.

For instance, if I had a bad accident, I could focus on the pain and my accident. Or I could focus on the lesson the accident taught me and believe that it’s preparing me for something greater. This meaning is highly personal. Where can you find deeper meaning in your life?

This, in a way, changes the inner narrative because it can put your focus on something greater than yourself. It can be something meaningful to you.

Mind your connections

Again, I believe the human experience (HX) is about connection. The sum of your connections brought you to this moment in life. You’re connected to your body, your DNA, the stories you tell yourself, your life experiences that have brought you to this point, and more. The more you understand all of these connections, the more you can shape them to serve you so you can create the greatest impact in the things you do.

The more you unpack your narrative, the more you can understand the narrative you want to change. The more you understand this, the more you can understand what’s connected to your narrative.

For example, when I was changing my inner narrative in the past, some of my narratives were tied to certain friends. While I proactively worked on that narrative, I limited my time with those friends so I can strengthen my narrative and gain control of it. (I could have also brought my friend’s awareness to what I wanted to change about myself, but I didn’t think of this at the time)

Often, we get caught in our narratives because we’re not evolving our environments and our relationships. Imagine if you hit a “refresh” button on all of your friends and you could start over by being whoever you wanted to be.How would you be?

Think about that for a moment. I’ve scheduled dozens of lunches with new people simply for the sake of re-telling my story and finding out what I enjoyed the most.

Friends, or environment (Facebook?), or significant others, or employees, or even parents, have the ability to influence your inner narrative (some more than others). When this happens, you get put in a box. In psychology, as the labeling theory says, you act out as you’re labeled.

At some point in your life, you taught others how you are (consciously or not), and that construct of who you were may be difficult to change. The more you’re aware of how others do this to you, the more you’ll be aware of how you do this to others. Pay close attention to the language. Be mindful of statements such as, “Oh, that’s just how he/she is” or “it’s ok, that’s just you.” These are powerful words.

Or maybe you connect your inner narrative to fear about your environment and decide to stop watching horrific news.

Or maybe you discover that the “I’m not good enough” narrative is getting old so you take a break from social media and seeing what everyone else is “doing.” Maybe, you decide to be selfish.

Be mindful of your connections. They often have more power over you than you think.

Know your connections, know your focus

Part of changing your narrative is by changing your focus.

When I’m mountain biking in advanced trails in the Southern California mountains, errors can result in intense pain. Boulders, rocks, roots, ruts, cactus, and cliffside exposure are the norm on many rides. When mountain biking, I focus only where I want to go. Not a split second of thought gets focused on where I don’t want to go.

In life, the same lesson applies. It’s a game of focus. I’ve explored this in-depth in my article on what mountain biking can teach us about focus.

Before I get on stage to speak in front of an audience of dozens or hundreds, I focus on my breathing. I slow my breathing down. It calms my body. Having done this dozens of times, the nervousness eventually goes away. If you want to escape a mental pattern, focus on your breathing. It affects your whole body.

When you understand your power, you’ll understand how to focus your power on what matters – often, your narrative. Willpower is finite. Your ability to make effective choices is limited. To optimize your days, focus on things that deeply matter to you.

And while I’m at it, who do you focus on the most? Yourself, or others? If you focus on yourself, what do you get out of that? For me, I get understanding about myself (which, as I write in a powerful article on self-awareness, helps me understand others). If you focus on others, what do you get out of that? I imagine, if I spent more time focusing on others, I would miss out on opportunities to learn about myself.

Reframe your narrative

Ah, the power of reframing.

I could tell myself, “But I have no experience in this, I’m not good enough.” Or I could tell myself, “My strength is that I have no experience in this, I bring a fresh perspective.”

I could tell myself, “I’m not old enough, I don’t have enough life experience.” Or I could tell myself, “I have the resources to learn and the ability to adapt and the energy to make it happen.”

The answer lives in changing the perspective. Take whatever you think is a weakness or a narrative you don’t like and find the opportunity or the strength in it.

After you’ve changed your narrative

After you’ve changed your narrative, you choose your world.

This requires focusing your power on the thing you have control over, your self-awareness.

Imagine showing up exactly as the person you want. No doubts, no insecurity, no limiting beliefs, no old you, only the new you that you want.

Too many die with their music inside because they don’t invest time into this process or were never aware of it. Don’t let that be your story.

As you take this journey, remember, personal growth is not personal. It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with your children (if you choose to have them), your friends, the people you work with, and the people you love the most. This is about how you affect them. That is your legacy.

Your external world is a result of your internal world.

Do you value self-awareness and want to strengthen your beliefs?

Today’s article was written by Michael Gallizzi and is shared from the following website: https://hxworks.com/insights/how-change-stories-you-tell-yourself/

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Build a Legacy Through Sharing Family Stories

What matters most is what lasts longest, and our FAMILIES are for eternity M. Russell Ballard

Every family has stories to share, whether the central characters are heroes or villains. Regardless of what color of hat they wore, most ancestors are worth remembering and their stories are worth preserving.

During RootsTech 2017, Hank Smith shared some moving stories about how his family stories have brought him strength and how he wants to ensure that that same strength is available to his children and his children’s children. As Hank reminds us, if those stories are going to get passed down, we need to commit to making it happen.

You can hear what he had to say about the importance of passing down family stories in the following video.

How will you make sure your own family stories are passed down? Here are some answers to common hesitations you might be having right about now:

Easy answers to your hesistations about recording family history.

Download infographic here.

  • “I don’t know what to write about.” Anyone can get writer’s block from trying to write on demand. Instead, capture ideas when they come to you, whenever they come to you. Write them down in a notebook or a notetaking application on your phone, tablet, or computer. Write or record the actual story when you have time.
  • “I am not a good writer.” Anyone can tell a story. You don’t have to be an experienced or award-winning writer to tell what happened in your own words, as you remember it. To make it simpler, consider using your phone’s audio recorder. The FamilySearch mobile apps are simple and free tools to help you record your stories and connect them with your ancestors in Family Tree. Learn more about how to use the mobile apps. If you do want to brush up on your storytelling prowess, a quick Google search can get you started.
  • “I don’t have time.” There’s no simple way to create more hours in the day. However, you can take advantage of little slices of time to capture a story here and a story there. Record stories on your phone while you are fixing a meal, walking to the bus, or visiting your parents or another relative. Don’t get hung up on the story being long or polished. Just focus on sharing the key moments that tell the story.
  • “I’m not good with technology.” If the idea of using a mobile phone or computer to preserve your family stories has you running for the comfort of your notebook and pencil, don’t fret. Just record your family stories in whatever format makes you the most comfortable. What you write can be shared and handed down to your posterity. Consider enlisting the assistance of a family member who is more comfortable with technology. It will be a blessing in their lives to help you preserve your stories and share them more broadly with family.

Take a minute today to make a plan for how you’ll make sure your family stories are told. You won’t regret it, and future generations of your family will thank you.

Today’s post is shared from the following website: https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/build-family-legacy/

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I attribute my success to this: I never gave nor took an excuse Florence Nightingale

Is your passion another person’s seeming disdain? If so, be sure to read on…  We all have a calling. Our heart speaks to us and gently attempts to guide us. I hope today’s story will inspire you to listen to your heart, find what your mission is supposed to be, and realize success in its truest of forms!

Florence Nightingale entered the hospital and was appalled and horrified by what she saw. Wounded soldiers lay on straw mats that lined the room like coffins waiting for burial. The floor was covered with dirt and blood. There were no hospital gowns: the men still wore their uniforms. As Nightingale passed them, each soldier tried to act stern and tough, but their boyish faces betrayed unmistakable pain. Those who were able to conquer their convulsions lay still, as if dead.

These were the hospital conditions in Scutari, Turkey during the Crimean War. Florence and a group of nurses were sent to this hospital to help make the hospital a more efficient place. The first change Florence made was scrubbing all the injured men’s clothes. Then, she spent her own money buying bandages, operating tables and other basic necessities for the hospital. Her nurses cleaned the whole hospital so there were no more germs and this helped to stop contamination and spread of disease. She is a hero because she changed the hospital and saved lives with her determination and hard work.

Florence Nightingale also changed the profession of nursing forever. Nursing was once an occupation with little respect: people didn’t think you needed any special training or skills to do it, and most nurses were poor and uneducated. It was very unusual for Florence, who came from the upper class, to work in a hospital. The hospital conditions were more sanitary after she reorganized everything. Funds and donations flooded into hospitals and the patients received better care. Hospitals around the world were changed forever, and caring for the sick became an honorable profession.

Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820. Although Italian born, she grew up in London, England where her education included the study of Greek, Latin, German, French and Italian. Her father taught her history and philosophy while her governess schooled her in music and drawing. As part of an upper class family, Nightingale and her her sister were expected to grow up as proper ladies who would “devote themselves to their family, husband, society, entertainment and cultural pursuits” (Bullough, 1993).

She was driven by a different dream. She believed that her attraction to nursing was God’s will, or “a calling,” and because of that she made many personal sacrifices to pursue her professional life with intensity.

Her family disapproved of her decision to take up the nursing profession, which was seen in her day as a vocation for lower classes, one carried out under harsh conditions in dirty hospital environments. The family’s disappointment did not deter her from her goal, and at the age of 33, having studied nursing for nine years, Florence began caring for the sick.

In 1853, she was asked to work at the Harley Street Nursing Home. There, she made improvements that included better organization and training for the staff, and she implemented a system that piped hot water to every floor. She also created a lift to bring patients their meals (Falkus, 1980).

The Crimean War began and the British army was unprepared to accommodate British battle injuries and casualties in Crimea. This led to disasters such as cholera, lack of supplies, and inadequate sanitation. British Secretary of War, Sidney Herbert asked Nightingale to take nurses and help the hospital in Scutari, Turkey. On October 21, 1854 she set out for the hospital with the 38 nurses she had trained.

The state of the hospital in Turkey was horrendous but

even more challenging was the hostile attitude the nurses received from the doctors. Many did not even allow nurses inside the wards! It wasn’t until the Battle of Inkerman, during which the British suffered many casualties and the hospitals became overcrowd that the doctors were forced to ask for help.

Nightingale used her own money to make the hospital a cleaner, healthier and more efficient place for patients. She brought in basics including bandages, extra clothes, 200 scrub brushes and better food. She also took all the dirty clothing outside the hospital to be washed.

She sent reports back to London about ways to improve conditions and assumed care of the patients at night, moving about each floor comforting patients with a lamp in hand. This intimate relationship with her patients earned her the affectionate title of “Lady with the Lamp.”

Though the male hospital team often resented her power to affect change, the troops were so grateful to her that they raised a special fund to allow her to continue her work.

Through selfless devotion and sheer determination, Florence Nightingale transformed the profession of nursing forever. She gave dignity and honor to what continues to be a female-dominated profession and revolutionized hospital conditions, making them more organized and above all, sanitary. Largely because of her efforts, funds and donations flood into hospitals, allowing patients around the world to receive better care.

 Today’s article was written by Gretchen and is shared from the following website: https://myhero.com/f_Nightingale

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God’s Love and Assistance

God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. - Unknown

Poem that will give you goose bumps…………..

A drunk man in an Oldsmobile
They said had run the light
That caused the six-car pileup
On 109 that night.

When broken bodies lay about
And blood was everywhere,
The sirens screamed out eulogies,
For death was in the air.

A mother, trapped inside her car,
Was heard above the noise;
Her plaintive plea near split the air:
Oh, God, please spare my boys!”

She fought to loose her pinned hands;
She struggled to get free,
But mangled metal held her fast
In grim captivity.

Her frightened eyes then focused
On where the back seat once had been,
But all she saw was broken glass and
Two children’s seats crushed in.

Her twins were nowhere to be seen;
She did not hear them cry,
And then she prayed they’d been thrown free,
Oh, God, don’t let them die!”

Then firemen came and cut her loose,
But when they searched the back,
They found therein no little boys,
But the seat belts were intact.

They thought the woman had gone mad
And was travelling alone,
But when they turned to question her,
They discovered she was gone.

Policemen saw her running wild
And screaming above the noise
In beseeching supplication,
Please help me find my boys!

They’re four years old and wear blue shirts;
Their jeans are blue to match.”
One cop spoke up, “They’re in my car,
And they don’t have a scratch.

They said their daddy put them there
And gave them each a cone,
Then told them both to wait for Mom
To come and take them home.

I’ve searched the area high and low,
But I can’t find their dad.
He must have fled the scene,
I guess, and that is very bad.”

The mother hugged the twins and said,
While wiping at a tear,
He could not flee the scene, you see,
For he’s been dead a year.”

The cop just looked confused and asked,
Now, how can that be true?”
The boys said, “Mommy, Daddy came
And left a kiss for you.”

He told us not to worry
And that you would be all right,
And then he put us in this car with
The pretty, flashing light.

We wanted him to stay with us,
Because we miss him so,
But Mommy, he just hugged us tight
And said he had to go.

He said someday we’d understand
And told us not to fuss,
And he said to tell you, Mommy,
He’s watching over us.”

The mother knew without a doubt.
That what they spoke was true,
For she recalled their dad’s last words,
I will watch over you.”

The firemen’s notes could not explain
The twisted, mangled car,
And how the three of them escaped
Without a single scar.

But on the cop’s report was scribed,
In print so very fine,
An angel walked the beat tonight
on Hwy. 109

 Today’s poem was shared from the following website: https://boardofwisdom.com/togo/?viewid=1005&listname=Faith#.WsKuxmbMxBw

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