Swolehate: One of the Last Accepted forms of Prejudice

Now, normally I like to keep my posts positive, motivational, and upbeat…but I saw this picture and it really struck a chord with me and I’m going to go ahead and speak about it. Some people might not like what I have to say, if so maybe you should re-evaluate why you feel the need to be such a hater when you see people successfully being fit, but I digress… and we don’t really care about negative people’s opinions anyway. One of the beautiful things about exercise is the mental effects, the tendency to relax, be happier, and not be so affected by negativity.

Anyway, what I’m going on about is a picture that was posted on the Spartan Race facebook page, of a fit couple with six pack abs. They’re in the gym, lifting their shirts up and showing their abs…and the comments on the picture were pure hate! I understand that not everyone has the same opinions on what is attractive and what isn’t, but why is it acceptable for people to voice their undesirable opinions (loudly and proudly I might add, the most ignorant people tend to have the loudest voices/opinions) about fit people and publicly circlejerk about it? Those physiques aren't even that excessive in size and both are attractive; this hate is ridiculous, and the attacks on their occupations and mental state are deplorable.
My problem/amusement isn’t necessarily with the comments themselves, but the fact that there were so many of them, from people who probably never worked out a day in their life. And it was accepted, and allowed to stay up…yet (and yep, sorry, but I’m taking there) if that were a picture of a fat person, or person of a certain race getting slandered…people would be jumping all over those who made the comment, shaming them into keeping their hateful bullshit to themselves. (Proof of that is in the second picture that I posted, of a very pretty but overweight girl who submitted herself to the Most Beautiful Teen facebook page…nothing but support) If anyone were to be talking crap about her weight or anything like that they would get slammed, called shallow, mean, every name in the book for talking about her. Yet it’s okay for people to bash on two people who clearly put in a lot of hard work to get their bodies where they are? What kind of sense does that make? For the record, before this gets twisted into something it’s not, I don’t condone hating/negative comments on ANYONE, regardless of how they look. I do notice, however, that swolehate is real and it’s widely accepted.
For reference, here is the photos I am referring to:
Enlarge them to read the comments.

 I know how hard it is to get (and stay) as fit as the two lovely people in this photograph. It’s a 24 hour a day commitment to good healthy habits, and it takes a lot of determination and willpower. Yet for some reason when people see extremely in shape people, they feel like it’s alright to say hateful, rude, or just plain stupid things about them. The first thing that comes to mind is: insecurity. I guess it must suck for a lot of people to see what they don’t have. Still not a good reason for it to be publicly acceptable to rag on people who are fit.

Comments like the guy “must be on steroids” and the girl “took it too far and isn’t my cup of tea”….LMFAO! Do you really think she trained that hard, ate clean, and slept well just to be somebody’s “cup of tea"? Comments like that show a gross lack of knowledge on what being fit is actually about, how amazing it is to care for your body like a well-oiled machine. How great it feels mentally and physically.
Maybe people feel like it’s okay to publicly hate of fit people because they realize, deep down, that fit people are enjoying the benefits of a lot of hard work. Maybe they tried getting fit and failed somewhere along the way. Maybe seeing someone shredded brings back painful memories of not sticking with their regimen, or becoming out of shape. It’s the crabs in a bucket mentality…Many of these commenters are just trying to rationalize to themselves why they keep saying “screw it” and not working out and bettering themselves…Or why they continue to constantly eat like shit instead of eating clean…why they can’t find an hour out of their day to go to the gym but they can find a way to squeeze 2 hours of TV in (gotta catch that latest episode…right? Right?!)

I think the main reason why the fit/swolehate is so widely accepted is because unfortunately, being obese and out of shape is becoming the norm in America. We are embracing mediocrity. Well not all of us are just going to sit around and take it.
I get it, people get jealous. But jealousy is no excuse for widely accepted hate. Everyone has the right to their opinion…well guess what? I have the right to call you out for the insecure, jealous, possibly out of shape asshole that you are if you swolehate in front of me.
Stop the Swolehate!


Mythbusters: Exercise Edition - 5 Common Broscience Fitness Myths

It seems like everyone who works out has a different opinion on what you should and shouldn't be doing. The fact is, a lot of those opinions are dead wrong, and will keep you from getting the results you want. These are 5 of those myths, debunked.

1. "I worked out today, and after exercise your metabolism is raised....so I can eat whatever I want!"

Yeah...no. This one comes first and foremost because I hear people say this ALL the time. This is a surefire way to keep yourself from seeing the results of your hard work. I even fell victim to this flawed way of thinking when I first got into going to the gym right after high school. We would hit the gym for an hour, then head across the street to Carls Jr and demolish a combo meal. Then see no results (couple of my friends actually GAINED weight this way).

While yes, it is true that your metabolism stays slightly raised after exercise (your body is replenishing the glycogen and ATP stores in your muscles, repairing your muscles, and other things) the caloric difference it makes is not enough to warrant eating ALL THE THINGS! Not only that, but unfortunately most people vastly overestimate the amount of calories they burn while exercising, and underestimate the number of calories that they eat. That is an equation for gaining weight, and can be disheartening when starting an exercise program only to see yourself GAINING instead of losing weight.

The most important thing to focus on if your goal is fat loss or general fitness is the number of calories in versus the number of calories out. Since exercise tends to boost appetite plan them right before a meal, that way you don't overindulge, since you were going to eat the meal anyway. Keep track of how many calories you burned (this varies by your weight and exercise intensity level...so factor these in! A 200 lb person burns more calories during a 1 mile walk than a 150 lb person for example) and unless you are working out for over 1 consistent hour of endurance cardio stay away from sports drinks! They have as many calories as soda and serve no purpose during short workouts. Most importantly remember - YOU CANNOT OUT TRAIN YOUR DIET. If you are eating crap you might get away with being thin if you limit your calories, but you will not be fit!

2. "Muscle confusion" is the most effective way to quickly increase muscle size and strength and avoid exercise plateaus.

Oh man, this whole concept of "muscle confusion" is complete and utter BS, broscience to the max. P90x is to blame for tricking people into thinking this is actually a thing...alas, it is not. The claim is that switching your workout every few weeks or so "confuses" your muscles allows them to increase in size more than normal, and avoids the plateau effect (where your body adapts to an exercise and your fitness improvement decrease or level out).

As legit as that sounds...your muscles do not work that way. The ONLY way to increase muscle size and strength is through progressive overload (gradual increase of stress placed on the body during training). Switching up your workouts regularly is good for other reasons, like giving certain groups time to repair and things like that, but that alone wont grant a bigger increase in size/strength. You cannot "confuse" your muscles...either they are being overloaded or they aren't. The more fit you get, the more you will have to increase things like speed, intensity and weight to continue to progress. Taking a break from one exercise only to start again at the same level wont do much...it is all about increasing the load.

3. Protein is muscle food, eating it goes straight to muscles and it's okay to eat in any amount.

Yes, people who work out do require more protein than those who do not work out  (for muscle repair, synthesis, etc) 0.5 to 0.8 g of protein per lb of body weight is recommended for those looking to increase lean body mass... but protein calories are still calories. Protein is not some magic macronutrient that you can eat unlimited amounts of and have no adverse effects. Protein, whether it be from protein powder, meat, tofu, or veggies...will still make you fat if you consume too much. Once your body has used all the protein it requires the leftover calories are treated just like every other food source - converted to fat and stored in your body for energy. The crazy thing is protein powders and drinks tend to have a LOT of calories, and I see people chugging them all the time thinking they're doing their muscles a favor. Be mindful that protein, and any other health food for that matter, still has calories and too much WILL make you fat.

4. Going below 1200 calories in a day, or going a day without food will put your body into "starvation mode" and then you will hold onto every calorie you consume. Meaning eating too LITTLE will cause weight GAIN.

The good old starvation mode fallacy...this is another common misconception I hear very often. This is also a form of "fat logic" (logic about nutrition/exercise that is incorrect and will get/keep you fat). I am tired of hearing overweight people say that they think they are overweight because they don't eat ENOUGH, and their body is in starvation mode. There is so much wrong with this assertion, and I'm here to break it down for you: Starvation mode is not real unless you are ACTUALLY starving, and your body fat is low enough that it's below the minimal amount needed to live on. Even then, fat cannot come from nowhere, your body cannot magically gain weight from calories it did not consume. The laws of thermodynamics do NOT work that way. You don't absorb calories and fat through thin air.

The starvation mode myth got popularized by a certain Minnesotan study that tracked men on a very calorie restricted diet. Toward the end of the study some of their metabolisms had slowed down by as much as 40%....and people latched onto that to mean that will happen to anyone if they skip a meal or eat too little calories one day. NO. Two important things to note: The 40% decrease in base metabolic rate was only noted toward the end of the study, when these men had been on a severely restricted calorie intake for MONTHS and their body fat level was at or close to the minimal functional amounts. Also, the men STILL LOST WEIGHT even with the 40% metabolic decrease, because they were still eating very low calories.

Eating less than your body uses in a day will cause weight loss, point blank. When people reach a plateau during weight loss you are NOT IN STARVATION MODE. The answer is not to eat more, it's to introduce a new challenge/ exercise for your body to adapt to. The starvation mode myth is one of the main things keeping people fat. I have seen countless people who say they think they're overweight from eating too little have their actual macros/calories counted only to find out they were consuming a lot more than they thought they were. If you are gaining weight I guarantee you, it is not because you aren't eating enough.

5. Spot reduction, aka losing fat in one area of your body.

Hate to break it to you, but spot reduction is a myth. No matter HOW many crunches or how much pilates you do you will NOT have a six pack (or visible abs at all) unless your OVERALL body fat percentage is low enough. It annoys me when I see these ads for workouts promising "Six pack in 2 weeks" to everyone, because that is just simply not the case. Your body cannot only burn fat from one particular area, because muscles don't get fueled by local fat. Fat supplies us with energy by being broken down and circulated through the bloodstream, then used as needed. That means that even though you are working a particular muscle the fat used to provide that energy is what is coming from the body as a whole, and reduction of body fat is pretty balanced everywhere in the body.

From wikipedia: "The misunderstanding may be attributed to the firming and shaping effect of muscle hypertrophy. When additional muscle is built, it takes up new space which can briefly compress subdermal fat against the skin until the skin adapts, a larger bulging muscle shape is also more easily seen through the layer of fat on top of it. This can give the illusion of fat being reduced when it has not." The only way to lose fat from your abs (and anywhere else on your body) is through a caloric deficit, aka burning more calories than you consume.

These are just a few of the myths that I hear consistently about fitness. The amount of broscience that is misguiding people looking to eat right and get more fit is absolutely ridiculous! When you want specific results from a workout, do your research and don't believe everything the first gymbro tells you. Hard bodies come from hard work...there is no shortcut.


A Newbie's Guide to Starting Running

For some reason, about 2 weeks ago (give or take a few days) I decided to try my hand at running long distances. To be completely honest, I've never liked running. I could physically DO it decently fast (I ran sprints in school track teams) but I never particularly liked it. I just ran track because I was fast, got asked to, and I like winning...and fervently turned down any attempts made by coaches trying to get me to join the XC (cross country) teams. Hell No...endurance running has never been fun for me, not to mention I've had exercise induced asthma since I've been 11.

So I have no idea what came over me not too long ago to put on my most minimalist of trail running shoes (that I usually use for hiking), open the front door, and just go. I think part of it was realizing that very soon, I'll be training people in the art of physical fitness. It would feel hypocritical to call myself a decent trainer when I knew deep down I hate running and had never gone more than a couple miles before stopping. So I laced up and decided to jog the 1.5 mile loop I usually walk my dog on around the neighborhood. It went alright...though I haven't been a runner for long I was at least still in shape from the amount of hiking, climbing, lifting, and spinning I do...so the form wasn't amazing, I wasn't the fastest, but I finished. The second day I tried again, this time 2 loops (3 miles). Third day, same thing, 2 loops, 3 miles...kept on like that almost every day and next thing I know by this week it went from me "getting my run over with" to me looking forward to it.

Two days ago after a day of partying, too much beer, and unhealthy food it was night time when I got home. I decided to lace up and go on a light jog (it's become a habit already)...2 laps became 3, 3 became 4...I finally got that runners high (endorphin and serotonin rush in the brain) I've heard people talk about. It was euphoric, and amazing, and made me feel like I could run forever. If only my legs would let me. I ended up doing 4 laps...6 miles that day, and mentally craving more by the end of it. I was NOT expecting such a drastic mental shift so fast. What started as just a way to relate to/ understand training clients who were runners or wanted to run, quickly became an extremely enjoyable pastime with a ripple effect of awesomeness that spilled over to other areas of my life. I absolutely love it.

I did expect maybe some slight physical changes, but not much, since I hike ~10 miles a week anyway. Even though it's still early in the (running) game I'm already noticing a tighter core, tinier waist, and more solid thighs. It's the mental effects that really have me hooked though. As a lifelong insomniac on the days I run I actually can sleep somewhat decently, without a sleep aid. I'm strangely more energetic (I researched why, exercise actually provides us with more potential energy on a cellular level - interesting stuff, but that's another post altogether :) ), more productive, have better posture (this comes with watching your form and correcting problems in it as you run), in a happy and relaxed mood all the time, and I just all-around feel healthier. It even helps with ADHD symptoms and makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time (probably because running forces you to concentrate on one thing).

The best physical adaptation was just that: feeling and seeing my body adapt to endurance running, actually being able to do distances and terrain I never thought I could before. A couple short weeks ago I was definitely in shape, but not a runner by any stretch of the imagination. That first 1.5 mile loop burned, and sucked, and included a little walking because I couldn't jog it all in one go. Yesterday I ran 9 miles, and instead of wishing it was over the whole time I loved every minute of it. That's a big leap in just 2 short weeks. According to most fitness literature, it takes about 4-6 weeks to see results...so there is more awesomeness to come. My ultimate running goal is to be able to trail-run Mt Wilson to the observatory (about 8 miles of straight uphill mountain running).

I never thought I'd be saying this, but if you have ever had any curiosity about running...try it. Running does a body good, and it's cheaper than therapy. Put on your most appropriate shoes and gear, play your favorite music that gets your blood pumping, and get outside. See what you're made of...you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.


5 Facts About Fitness That You Probably Didn't Know

It has been quite a while since I've had a chance to post! School is back and session, and I'm going through the training to be a Personal Trainer too. I do have to say the curriculum is a lot more in depth than I expected...which is awesome. Anyway, I've been learning a lot of interesting things about fitness, nutrition, and how it effects our bodies.

1. Music is Power: In a way, it literally is. Studies have shown that people who work out while listening to music improved their performance by up to 15% compared to working out without music. Listening to music can help people in multiple ways, but two of the big ones are: avoiding mental exhaustion and (depending what type of tunes you sweat it out to) stimulating adrenaline production.

Music breaks up the monotony of a workout, especially long endurance training cardio sessions. Keeping yourself mentally stimulated and getting enjoyment from the music makes the entire workout more enjoyable. Multiple studies (and common sense) show that the more a person LIKES their work out the more likely it is they will stick with it long term. As far as the adrenaline goes, some music - especially with heavy basslines or fast BPMs - can stimulate adrenaline.

2. Mind over Matter: Mental exhaustion is a real thing. Long before people get physically exhausted in a workout, where their body cannot handle anymore and needs to stop, they get mentally exhausted. Mental exhaustion is something that can be adapted to and overcome (for longer and longer amounts of time) with integrated training.  Once you realize that it is possible to keep going past the point where your mind tells you to throw in the towel it becomes easier to learn the signs of actual physical exhaustion and listen to those instead. Mindset is a huge part of everything in life, exercise included.  Doing something mentally draining before a workout actually hinders your workout. Same with feeling extreme disdain for workout our, or feeling intimidated by it.

Something that helps me a lot when I'm tired or things start getting boring, is remembering what I'm doing is a choice, and the benefits of it are worth it. Going from a mind set of "Ugh I have to do this" to "I'm CHOOSING to do this." is a small, easy shift of thinking that can have big impacts.

3. The word gym comes from the Greek word "gymnazein"... which literally means "to exercise naked". Maybe that explains the people with no shame who lurk in every chain gyms steam rooms from time to time.

4. Exercise is more effective at increasing your energy levels than caffeine. Exercising does amazing things for energy because it does it at a cellular level. Increased demand on your body to produce energy (like for cardio exercise) makes the mitochondria in cells produce more energy, which stays readily available. The more consistent you work out, the more mitochondria get produced and the cycle continues.

5. Men who work out with a female partner are shown to lift heavier weights and get better results. This is most likely due to our social tendencies as a species more than anything. Humans are social creatures, having other people around who have similar interests serves as good motivation. Also, no one wants to look weaker than other people around them.

Exercise and fitness are so multifaceted, and have some kind of effect on so many different things, sometimes in surprising ways.One thing for sure though, it's always beneficial.  Get it in!


Cordyceps, Nature's Beautiful Killer

You know how some things are better off unknown? That would be the case for cordyceps and me, ever since I found out about it from a nature documentary the first thought of it makes my skin crawl. For the uninitiated, cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that slowly and agonizingly eats away at insects while they're still alive, and replaces their live tissue with long tendrils of fungus...the fungus grows and eventually alters their behavior...making them plant themselves on a leaf or somewhere high that the spores can spread. Then - here's the kicker - a bulbous, fruiting body grows out of the host insect and they slowly die while the spores get distributed among whatever is around the area where they died.

There have been signs of fossilized cordyceps-infected insects from as far back as 48 million years ago. Luckily for humans, the fungus cannot attack our tissues in the way it can for insects and arthropods. Actually, certain strains of cordyceps are known for their medicinal properties and are sold for 10,000 - 60,000 yuan in the Tibetan Plateau. They have also shown anti cancer properties in in vitro and animal studies. In mice, they produced an anti depressant effect. As awesome as all that (and other studies) sounds, I just don't think I have the inclination to ingest something that does THIS to insects. Cordyceps is one of those reminders that insects have to deal with uncomfortable and horrific things too, but I doubt that anyone can refute that it is quite the beautiful killer.


Friday the 13th, Ouija boards, and a haunted night hike to remember.

In Honor of Friday the 13th this post is deliberately creepy. Also, 100% true.

Every Friday the 13th I make it a point to do something that scares me, or has the potential to scare me. Last year it was several haunted hikes. I got a Ouija board, a friend who were equally as crazy as me, and researched the most haunted places in California. After some digging, I found an old Indian burial site (200 years ago a small village was massacred by the Spanish and buried there) called Black Star Canyon that is supposedly one of the most reported paranormal activity sites in the United States, and the scene of many urban legends. We drove a couple hours into the sticks of Orange County and got there around 1am. The last part of the drive was all through isolated mountain roads, pitch black and cavernous, with massive trees on both sides of us. The deeper into the mountains we got, the more unsettled we both got.

Let me tell you a little more about Blackstar Canyon's weird happenings for a moment. People have been found murdered there, this is confirmed from police reports (though that could have more to do with unsavory locals than paranormal). In the 1970's a school bus that was traveling the mountain road lost control and went off a cliff, killing the driver, teacher, and all the students on board. People reported hearing screams and crying coming from the wreckage debris, it was removed in summer of last year (2012). There have been multiple reports of people seeing shadowy, hooded figures on the trail. There is also a homeless man said to live within the canyon and attack hikers for "trespassing". Cults are frequently known to congregate in the canyon at night and perform rituals and animal sacrifices, many reasons people are advised not to go at night.

So, of course we went at night. We wanted to be scared. We pulled up to the parking "lot" (more like parking dirt road) in front of the ominous looking signs at the trail head. There was one other car there, and another pulled up while we were getting the ouija board out of the car and taking shots of liquid courage. The people in the cars acted kind of weird though, as the inside lights were on but no one moved or got out the entire time we were messing around with the board. This was actually my first time playing with a Ouija board, and I had bought a glow-in-the-dark one especially for this haunted Friday the 13th excursion.

We set it on the ground, put our fingertips on the glass and I asked:

"Is there anybody out there?" ..... Nothing.

I tried again.

"Is there anybody out here, that can see us right now?" .

The glass shot over to the "yes".

I thought (from movies, admittedly) that it was supposed to move slowly. I immediately snatched my hand back and accused my friend of moving the glass. He swore that he didn't. I quickly put my hand back on the glass, remembering that if you use the board you are supposed to do a quick ritual of saying goodbye. From the manual: "Failure to close the Ouija board session by saying ‘goodbye’ may result in the contacted entity remaining present long after you have finished playing. Doing could result in the spirit escaping from the board, allowing it to terrorize you and the other players indefinitely."

So yeah, we said goodbye. We kept accusing each other of moving the glass as I packed up the Ouija board and stuck it in my backpack to take with us. We walked up to the entrance and beamed our flashlights toward the signs. I do have to say they are some of the least welcoming entrance signs to a trail I have ever seen. Here they are:

One of the groups got out of their car, went to the signs, stared at them for a long time, and then got back in their car and left. We decided to stick with the plan, and in we went.

The trail was eerie. The remains of burned down trees (or lightning struck trees) left jagged shadows on one side of the trail. We walked silently, alert, listening for anything strange...looking for creepy things. After about an hour of walking the trail uneventfully the trail got a bit more narrow, a sudden gust of wind blew over the canyon, and we decided to try the Ouija board again. We sat on the side of the trail and I dug the board out and set it up on the ground. We put our fingertips on the glass.

"Is anybody out there?" .... nothing.

"Can anyone see us?".... nada.

"Are you still watching us?".....absolutely nothing happened.

Now that we weren't walking we were starting to get cold. We packed up the board and continued to walk the trail. Then we heard something weird. Footsteps, hushed voices. We turned around and were surprised to see....more people. Out of nowhere, behind us on the trail a HUGE group of 20-30 people walked up. We figured they were also there to be spooked on Friday the 13th, cool. We stepped to the side to let them pass, and one of the guys broke off and walked menacingly up to my friend, staring him down.

"What's up?" my friend asked.

No response.

More staring, about an inch away from his face. The guy put his hands in his pockets, then wordlessly turned around and left.

Ohhhkay. I guess that was a signal we weren't welcome there. We shrugged it off and blazed some more as the group continued down the trail. Then started the long walk back to the car in the pitch darkness.

Happy Friday the 13th, people.


Pain and Suffering: You Either Get Over It, or Die Pissed Off

The title and theme of this post makes it sound like it could be somber and depressing, but it wont be. This is just about why pain is an inevitable part of life, no matter who you are, and how it helps us grow. Suffering sucks, but there is always a silver lining to even the deepest of the depths of despair...it makes us stronger and it helps us to grow. A good quote that illustrates that point is this simple one: "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor." It isn't the easy things in life that make us who we are...if everything went easily for everyone we would all be the same. There would be nothing to thicken our skin, to teach us lessons that words can't, to force us to see what we are really made of.

There is inevitably going to be some type of suffering in your life. No matter how much you avoid it or how lucky you are, you're going to go through pain. The type of person you are is dependent on how you deal with that pain. Your reaction to things is exactly what makes you who you are. When bad things happen we have two option: Get over it or die pissed off. I know which one I'm choosing.

Trying to avoid pain, or attempting to live life like you're immune to it is not only futile, but also doing yourself a disservice by not allowing yourself to grow. Some people go the route of eventually getting cynical and jaded, but I feel like that is a futile route as well. Sure, you would be disappointed a lot less if you just lowered your expectations and assumed the worst out of everyone and every situation...but ugh, what kind of life would that be to live? Sounds like a miserable existence. That is letting pain affect you in a bad way and mold you into a negative person.

Then there are those who take negativity in stride, and learn from it. Learning from something doesn't have to mean always assuming the worst, it's just knowing all the options that are possible and accepting them, while still striving for the best. Some of the wisest people that I know, or know of, are zen in the face of negativity. They treat everyone around them with respect, even when treated unkindly. They keep their cool, don't act out quickly in anger, and genuinely spread positivity wherever they go. One would think off the bat that these types of people are just the lucky ones, who never had to go through any real pain, and that's why they are who they are. What I've found, however, is that it's usually quite the opposite. Look at Eckhart Tolle, one of the greatest thinkers and spiritual teachers alive today...in his book "The Power of Now" he talks about a time when his life completely crumbled and he found himself homeless, spending his days and nights on a park bench. He could have given up then, a lot of us would. Instead, he grew. He learned and gained strength from the crappy hand he got dealt, and most of us know him now as a bestselling author and spiritual mentor. That dark period in his life was a defining moment in shaping his success, it was a huge catalyst to his growth as a person. In a lot of ways, it helped him find his meaning in life.

The easiest thing to do when faced with hurdles and negative events is to give up. Some situations seem to suck the life right out of you. And if you do give up, you'll probably just get swept under the radar, and life will continue to go on. Nothing will get handed to you. That's why it's important to see pain and suffering for what it really is: an unavoidable part of life, a stepping stone. Everyone goes through it, and it will either ruin you or mold you.

Next time you're going through something that just makes you want to throw your hands up and give up, instead ask yourself how you can grow from it. You wont be hit by anything you can't handle, and life will go on, regardless. Might as well make the most of it, make the most of yourself, and come out a stronger and wiser person instead of a feeble and defeated one. The choice is yours.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
-Khalil Gibran


The High Sierras .... Like Backpacking on Mars

The High Sierras rock, this is just a little photo montage of my weekend trip up there. I've never been to a landscape where it turns from something so beautifully lush and green to straight rocky desolateness. The beginning of the trail was what you'd expect when you're in the mountains. Trees, lots of trees, animals, pikas (cute squirrel-looking things), gigantic bucks, greenery. 
Then you keep going, up, until you're at 12,000 ft and above the treeline. It turns into a massive rock pile that should be carefully climbed across, glaciers, and beautiful lakes. At the very top it felt like I was on Mars (assuming there was water there at some point), nothing but rocks and water (no trees, no soil). The higher you go, the trails disappear, leaving you to find your way through the crazy terrain with a compass and a topo map.

 Didn't see any bears :( Did see a massive buck and a bunch of pikas though.

 John Muir was a badass.

 Crossing a stream.

 This is where the trees start thinning out, going above the tree-line.

 And this is well above the tree-line, nothing but water, rocks and more rocks.

 And even more rocks.

 Back down in civilization.What better way to reward yourself after a climb than with a brewski? (And it was 110 degrees outside)


10 Statistics You Really Don't Want To Know

I have a habit of collecting weird or interesting facts. There is so much knowledge out there, about so many subjects, it's mind boggling. Here are 10 facts I've come across that are strange, unexpected, and a bit unsettling.

1. The world population has (more than) doubled since 1960.

Population facts are always a little unsettling. I love people, don't get me wrong, but there are just way too many of us. And it's not stopping. In 1960 there were approximately 3 billion people on the planet. That was 50 short years ago, and now it's over 7 billion. That is quite the boom on a planet with finite resources and habitable space, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

2. 1 in 5 women who masturbate don't wash their hands afterwards.
Think of all those hands you shook. I'm not a germaphobe by any means, but that's just nasty.

3. 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.

As an avid reader, this bums me out a little. Books are awesome, and just because school is over for some people doesn't mean the quest for learning should stop. That should never stop. Yes, you can learn an amazing amount from reading online articles, watching documentaries, having intellectual discussions...DOING things. But there is really nothing like the carefully written, edited, and verified information inside of so many books. Hell, even a good fiction story does amazing things for keeping one's vocabulary sharp.

4. CPR only works 5-10% of the time.

In some cities, where immediate help may take a bit longer than usual to get there, or a bystander attempts CPR the success rate drops to a mere 1%. From the wiki on CPR: "Estimates vary, but many organizations stress that CPR does not "bring anyone back," it simply preserves the body for defibrillation and advanced life support." Oh, and it also breaks peoples ribs, when done properly. Yikes.

5. In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes.

A combination of factors, like the preference for sons and female infanticide (leading to a skewed male to female ratio) and lenient penalties for sex offenders has lead to a huge increase in rape in India. This statistic is from the National Crime Records Bureau.

6. Since the 1950s, around 90% of the large predatory fish in the ocean are gone.
FMAP scientists claim that up to 90% of all large predatory fish such as cod, sharks, halibut, grouper, tuna, swordfish, and marlin have been depleted. Industrialized fisheries, FTL (for the lose).

7. There are 35-50 active serial killers in the United States at any given moment.

What makes my skin crawl the most about this is how normal and nice people always say that they seem. I actually had a first-hand experience with this, back in 2010 I was a bartender at a well known casino in Gardena, Ca. One of our semi-regulars there ended up on the news, tied to the rape and murders of multiple women. It's crazy, you really never know, but there are monsters among us...sometimes a lot closer than we think.

8. 50% of healthcare dollars in the US are spent on the last 6 months of life.
Pretty self explanatory, but food for thought.

9. In the US, there's an average of 217 million white blood cells per liter of cow milk.
Those white blood cells come from the pus of the infected teats of the cows.Not to mention, humans are the only animals that drinks ANOTHER mammals breast (teat?) milk, and also the only mammals to drink milk well into adulthood.

10. 5 to 10 percent of all people who ever walked this earth, are alive right now.
The sheer volume of us is mind boggling. The /Homo/ genus has been around for 2.5 million years...and the earliest remains for homo sapiens are around 150,000 years old. That's a huge span of time, yet 5-10% of people to EVER exsist are alive right now, and you're one of them. Life is crazy.


Mt Wilson: A story of tarantulas, road rash, and a sick view.

Most people who live in LA know what the San Gabriels look like. Look north, and you'll see some massive mountains that separate the LA area from the Mojave desert. They're 68 miles long, and 22 miles wide, and happen to be one of my favorite places to play. These are a few pics from yesterday's Mt Wilson hike, for anyone curious what's on the other side of the mountain once you cross over that front peak.

 It actually starts off pretty smoothly.

Dat elevation gain.

 A few miles up and the trail gets smaller.

View toward LA (blocked by the mountains)

 Over the peak, view toward the inside of the range. Literally nothing but mountains and woods, any way you look :) This is what I came here for.


Ran into this guy on the way back down. We both scared each other...I almost stepped on him (accident!) and he just froze there. The most massive tarantula I've seen that wasn't in a pet store.

I tried to jog down to beat the sun, tripped over a rock, flew forward and slid down the trail. (So graceful...lol) Not the smartest move with a pack on. And shorts. Still worth it :)


Why Do People Procrastinate?

Procrastination is a topic that comes up at some point with everyone - for various reasons we put things off that we know we should be doing. I just got back from a long vacation, and that first day of getting back into work mode and out of play mode (for the most part) usually tends to feel like it drags on forever. It gets easy to feel like putting things on the back burner or drag things out, which creates a vicious cycle of procrastination. Why do we do this?

For some people it's fairly easy to get themselves to do things they've been putting off. It's as simple as removing distractions (which can help everyone) and then filling that time with finishing more important things instead. When I have assignments I need to get done removing distractions is essential because it removes the temptation to stop what I'm doing and start something else (the looks more fun at the moment) instead. Taking the time to outline things and break bigger projects into manageable steps helps, too. But sometimes that isn't enough. When that's the case, it's the attitude that's the problem.

Negative thought patterns tend to contribute to procrastination. If you realize that your thoughts at any time are leaning more toward to negative than the positive side of things, something needs to change. It's easy to get bogged down by negative thoughts, but this is also something you can change once you take notice of it. Journaling (overview of your day and what happened in it) has been proven to help banish negative thought. The main reason it helps is because it takes a load off your mind and puts your thoughts onto paper, making it easier to analyze things you've been mulling over and then let them go. A lot of people are analytical thinkers and find it hard to let go of things until they feel like they've mentally sorted them out. Journaling streamlines that process, talking to someone about whatever you've been mulling over (sort of audio journaling if you think about it) can help as well.

While procrastination is a bad habit according to most people, it is also a natural behavior. Even animals in the wild exhibit some signs of it, they stay confined to one small area where they get most of the water, food, and basic needs met and generally don't do much beyond that. There are animals that have hundreds of times bigger roaming areas available than they typically use, who continue to stay in a smaller general space. It's easy and normal to feel unmotivated to do more when things are already okay. We're creatures of comfort. The key to being motivated to do more than what we're doing to just get by is 1 part desire and 1 part structure. Don't be hard on yourself for not being motivated or not doing more, but do realize that it's a natural way to feel and can be changed if want to change it. Either accept things as "okay" as they are, or find out what's driving your desires and identify the structure you need to change them.

Self discipline is similar to a muscle, in the sense that the more you practice it, the easy and more natural it comes to practice. Impulsiveness is a major hindrance when procrastination is concerned. Sometimes even when distractions are removed it's hard to stop thinking about them, or keep from getting bored. Delayed gratification is a good tool to get impulsive behaviors under control. What do you catch yourself doing when you should be doing something else? Once you identify what those main things are set up situations where you can choose between a small reward in the short term and a bigger reward in the long term, and attempt to choose the latter. This conditions you to be more patient and as a result (besides having your work done faster) it tends to motivate people do more naturally. The discipline to stop procrastination is a slow but not impossible process.

I'll leave it there, but if you haven't checked out "The Now Habit" by Dr Neil Fiore it's an amazing resource for figuring out why exactly we procrastinate, and how to overcome it.


Why Touching Strangers is Good For You

Hear me out before you dismiss this one, there is a lot of science behind it. Touching people, even those we don't know, has a subtle unconscious impact. I should preface this also by saying that when I say touch I'm referring to a *light* touch on the arm, shoulder, or something similar. Downright groping someone or touching them for uncomfortably long will have the opposite effect of what I'm about to discuss. Here goes:

A huge portion of the way that people communicate is through nonverbal cues. Since so many of them are given off at once: Body language, tone of voice, eye contact or lack thereof just to name a few, we interpret these cues largely through our subconscious. Most of the time people don't even realize why they're getting certain vibes off people that have nothing to do with the words that come out of those people's mouths. One of the pioneer studies on the power of touch was done in France, using an attractive French guy to ask out women chosen at random in public in the name of science. For half the women he lightly touched their arm while asking them out, the other half he did not touch them at all. the results? The women he touched were twice as likely to give him their phone number versus those he didn't. Those are some pretty staggering results. The kicker, when asked (after being told the proposition was in the name of science) most of the women reported not even realizing he had touched them. It was light, subtle, and highly subconscious.

This phenomenon of people reacting positively to a subtle touch was repeated in many subsequent studies around the worlds...servers in restaurants who lightly touched their guests when asking if there was anything else they needed before handing them the check received higher tips consistently. Another study showed that complete strangers were more willing to help someone pick up a stack of discs they dropped when they had lightly touched someone when asking for directions beforehand. In all these cases people acted more positively and compassionate after a slight touch.

This might be confusing to quite a few people who highly value their personal space. Some people recoil at the touch of a stranger. Interestingly enough, some of the tests subjects did as well, but generally still acted nicer toward the strangers anyhow.

This has been shown to some extent in non-human mammals as well. Mice and primates also get pleasure from social touch. This is part of the reason for grooming cliques. Grooming effectively takes only about 10 minutes per day, but the cliques tend to groom for hours on end. The reason being it is as much of a social thing as it is a necessity. Touching also can signify confidence and slight dominance.

We have a particular type of nerve fiber - mainly found in our arms and faces - that has developed specifically to infer pleasure from social touch, such as the light arm tap I mentioned above. They are connected to the part of your brain that deals with emotion (the insular cortex), in this case pleasurable emotion. So part of the reason a light touch is so effective is because we are literally wired to glean some sort of pleasure from it, whether we realize it or not.


How to Kick a Bad Habit

Habits are patterns of behaviors that govern our day to day life. I talk about them a lot because they make or break us; our habits determine who we are, how successful and happy we are, and how much we achieve in life. Most of our habits are acted out subconsciously, without us even realizing what we are doing. The reason why? We evolved to be able to put repetitive things on a mental back burner to free up our minds to concentrate on other tasks at hand. It would really be a drag to have to concentrate hard every time we did something like walking. This is how bad habits can creep into our lives without us realizing just how much of a hold they have on us until it is too late, and we begin to see effects that we don't like.

The awesome thing about good habits is that one you actually start them, they are just as automatic as bad ones. If you have things in your life that you aren't liking, something needs to change. Figure out what habits are producing the undesired effects, think about what little steps you can do to change them, then hold yourself accountable to follow through.

We all have something called "keystone habits"...small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives. Exercise is a common one, because it conditions you to put effort into something productive that you can see visible results from on a regular basis. Once most people start regularly exercising they subconsciously adapt other healthier and disciplined behaviors as well. It's one of the awesome mental benefits of working out. Find out what your keystone habits are, it's a game changer. Once you know what really makes an impact on you it is easier to motivate yourself to stop what you want to stop doing, and start what do wish to.

One of the ways I got out of the habit of eating unhealthy things was to think more carefully about what I'm putting into my body. As the old washed up cliché goes, we literally are what we eat. What you're eating is going to be broken down and supply nutrients to build your body. I started looking at junk food as what it really is, something that I probably didn't want chilling in my body, dragging down my energy. Once you start viewing things that aren't bad for you that way, thinking about the effects they'll have inside of you, junk food starts looking different. The first couple weeks of cutting out sugar sucked, but once they were over the cravings stopped. After that it's smooth sailing.

You can make things easier on yourself by first realizing you have habits that are producing results you don't like (that in itself is major) and then being more mindful when you catch yourself doing them. Consistency is important, once you repeat something 21 times it becomes a habit, it comes naturally. The key is making it that first few steps, and keeping at it. It all comes down to a little willpower and a lot of consistency.


If Winning Was Easy, Losers Would Do It.

Too many people take the easy route in life. Or if not easy, settle for "just okay", instead of their actual dreams or full potential. Life is hard enough as it is, so why put any more effort into things that are more difficult...right? That is the mindset of mediocrity. The mindset that so many of us fall prey to. If you are content with never seeing your full potential, or can't be bothered to suffer through a bit of discomfort in the moment to achieve what you want most, then this post isn't for you. Enjoy being normal, enjoy letting life happen to you instead of taking charge of it.

We all have the ability to do whatever we set our minds to. This is often said but it bears repeating, because somewhere along the twists and turns of life it's evident that a lot of people give up and forget this fact. There is nothing like completing a difficult feat, especially something you are passionate about. Not only from the joy of achieving the thing you did, but also from the sense of worth and accomplishment it brings. There are precious few people who have the courage to do something *because* it is hard.

Children have a good understanding of what it is to follow your dreams, because at that stage in life everything is still an opportunity, still a goal waiting for you to go get it. As we get older many of us start to feel defeated by hardships that have happened in life, and forget about what we really want. But it's never too late, the opportunity to have or be anything you dream of is always there. Some people feel like going back to school, training for something big, or doing what it takes to make their dreams happen is useless because it will take too long. Not true. The time will pass anyway, regardless of if you go for your dreams or not.

Don't fall into the pattern of taking the easy route or settling for less when you know you can accomplish so much more. On the route to awesomeness you will inevitably pass "decent"...and this is where most people stop, because fuck it, they're getting by. It's easy to do and that is precisely why you shouldn't. Taking the easy route is being run by life instead of taking charge of it. You would be surprised at how life changing just a little bit of effort can be. You're worth it.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said it best:


Why a Big Ego is the Opposite of Confidence

This is inspired by yesterdays post "How Not to Give a Fuck About What Other People Think Of You". As I wrote that, it dawned on me that a HUGE part of how we perceive other people and their actions, is through our own ego. Learning how to stop judging others will help you stop wasting energy wondering what others are saying about you. In other words, when you are used to constantly judging people you observe or come into contact with, it's only natural for you to assume that others are doing the same about you. Judging others is self projection.

Your ego is a sense of self directly derived from the comparison of others to you. A big ego is not true confidence because it's fed by other people, it's a false sense of confidence that constantly needs to be fed and does not last. The best way to lose an ego is to 1. Be honest with yourself about the real reasons you feel the need to judge people and 2. Recognize those thoughts, and STOP judging. Recognizing when you are being judgmental is half the battle. Most people just let their thoughts run through their head and they go with it...it takes courage to take control.

Ego is a big part of why people obsess so much over what other people think of them. I'm not saying that once you grow and expand your mind to recognize and stop judgmental thoughts that people will magically stop thinking negatively of you. What I am saying is that it's kind of like out of sight, out of mind. When your mind is off the petty stuff in general, it makes room for deeper thinking. You cannot control what other people do or say anyway, and trying to is futile. You can, however, choose to think beyond that. If you reduce your judgmental thoughts of others, it's a given that you wont be too concerned about their judgmental thoughts of you, or judgmental thoughts period. Also when you focus less on others, you can focus more on yourself.

Real confidence and self esteem comes from within, and can't be changed based on others opinions. Ego is the exact opposite, it's our idea of who we are based on the feedback we get from others. It lives on attention. It's a part of your psyche, but not the whole of it. It can be tempting to let it consume you, especially when people are feeding it regularly...but without have a true sense of who you are, and self esteem, you will feel hollow the minute it stops being fed. Food for thought.

[pic- surrealist oil painting by Jeff Christensen]


Lessons on How Not to Give a Fuck...About What Other People Think About You

All of us care to some extent what other people think and are saying about us, and that is a part of what makes us humans. Human beings are a social species. The problems start arising when that becomes the main factor behind the decisions you make on a daily basis. You end up being driven by fear of criticism, afraid to be who you really are. I am a firm subscriber to the belief that what other people say about you is none of your business. You can be the nicest person in the entire world and do nothing but good for everyone that you come across...and someone somewhere would still find negative things to say about you. People are funny like that. We only have a certain amount of energy, there is no point wasting it on fruitless efforts like figuring out what everyone is saying about you.

Easier said than done, you say? How exactly does one simply give less fucks about what others are saying about us? This is is pretty simple. How much do you love yourself? Who and what is important to you? Use as much of your energy and resources that you possibly can focusing giving love and strengthening THOSE things. If you put as much energy and emotion as you possibly can into loving yourself and being the best version of yourself that you can possibly be...there wont be any left over to waste on negative people or things.  It's also important to remember that people aren't focusing on you and your every little fuck-up...people are too bust worrying about themSELVES when they go out, their own fuck ups and slips. This is true for everyone.

Anyone who has every achieved anything great, or anything at all, has their fair share of people saying negative things about them. It comes with the territory, it's just a part of being alive. You can either rise above it, or let it consume you. You either run your life, or life runs you, no exceptions.

My brother plays something called the "rejection game" to get him out of his comfort zone, and as a result it really helped him grow as a person and I've begun doing it myself sometimes too. Basically the rejection game is getting yourself used to putting yourself out there and doing what you want, regardless of what others will think...especially if you think others will have something negative to say about it. For example: Asking out that super hot girl (or guy) you happen to pass, going to an event you really wanted to go to...solo. It's called the rejection game because even if you do get a "no" or don't have the outcome you expected, that is encouragement to go try again, and again. Eventually you get used to stepping out of your comfort zone and confronting your fears, you get used to not giving a flying fuck what other people think when it comes to achieving your goals...and a lot of times, you get a better outcome than you expected.

People are always going to have negative shit to say, but the main people doing the talking are the ones with too much time on their hands because they aren't doing much with themselves anyway. Progressive desensitization is a real thing, getting used to doing things that make you uncomfortable. If you don't, you are doomed to a life stuck in the little boring bubble that is your comfort zone.


The Importance of Being Social

"Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of others." - Albert Einstein

Human beings are social creatures, we all know this. People are meant to be around other people. As an introvert myself I love my alone time (ok - need it), but being around other people, especially those we care about, opens our minds in ways that we can't do alone. We get new points of view, different ideas, and connections to achieve more than one could ever possibly do solo. We accomplish things as a society that no other species or creature on earth has, because humans have the unique ability to work together and form networks. We've achieved amazing feats of mental and physical strength because of this. Some scientists theorize that the need for social interaction was the driving force of the evolution of humans superior intelligence.

Being social is actually good for our health as well. According to "Subliminal" by Leonard Mlodinow "social relationships are so important to humans that a lack of social connection constitutes a major risk for health, rivaling even the effects of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, obesity..." In one of the most in depth studies on sociology researchers tracked about 5,000 people, giving them each a "social network index" number according to how many social ties they had and interacted with regularly. Those who placed on the low end of the spectrum were over twice as likely to die within the nine years of the study than those who placed higher. That was some pretty shocking information, but it makes a lot of sense. The emotional support we get from those we care about has a huge impact on our moods, and our lives in general.

Social pain is actually processed through the same parts of the brain as physical pain. That connection also explains why social pain can affect our bodies physiological processes. Not only can social ties help ease things such as stress and other problems, apparently a lack of them can cause problems to manifest. Food for thought.

We are definitely all different, there are people who need other people much more than others, and some who truly get enjoyment out of being alone, and prefer it. Research shows that effects (positive and negative) vary based on the individual. Either way, it couldn't hurt to remember just how important our friends and loved ones are to us.

I know this is a lot more clinical than my usual posts, but the subject came up while reading "Subliminal" - an amazing book about how our unconscious mind works - and piqued my interest to do a little more research. The human mind, and all it's intricate connections, really is an amazing thing.


The Difference Between a Pessimist and a Realist

One pattern that I see all too often is negative, cynical people who use the excuse of being a "realist" as to why they act that way. If you're the type of person who is always finding or expecting something to go wrong in any situation, guess what? You're not a realist...you're jaded.

I'm not saying bad things don't happen to good people, they do. All the time. That alone is enough to put anyone in a crappy state of mind...but that is not running your life, that is letting life run you. What I'm saying is that life is only 10% things happens to us and 90% how we react to them. True story. Even at some of the hardest times in my life, looking back, the issue itself was not the main problem, problems arose from choosing to react in a way that adds more negativity to an already bad situation. It is all about outlook.

I'm sure we've all had times during our lives when we were extremely happy most of the time, and times when we were really low for a while. If you really think about it, what major things were different during those times? Probably not much...Reality is what we make it. If you have a negative attitude and outlook, then you will only recognize the negative around you. So sure...that is your reality if you choose it to be!

I've never quite understood that frame of mind, because going through life choosing to be cynical is like putting a cloudy filter over everything. You will only recognize negativity in life if that is all you are giving out. Negativity also tends to attract more negativity...It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you walk around scowling all day then of course you'll receive that back from people...and therefore assume that people suck, and the cycle repeats itself.

The beautiful thing about it, is so is positivity. If you consciously decide to appreciate everything, every day, and see the beauty of everything life has to offer...it's a like a switch is flipped. I guarantee if you smile and bring joy to every person you interact with in a day, you will receive positivity back. You start noticing things like how nice of a day it is, how healthy and energetic you feel, and of the endless things that are awesome. They're always there, whether you notice them or not.

The key is the wisdom to know exactly how to use the knowledge of past things that went wrong without feeling bogged down by it. THAT is being a true realist. Acknowledging negativity, learning from it, then letting go of it and making it a point to keep your mind on what makes you happy. It is hard to be dragged down when you are too busy finding things to be excited and happy about...and the possibilities for that are endless. So the next time you're having a bad day....remind yourself that there are no "bad days"...there are just days, and how you choose to think and react in them is what shapes your reality.


6 Signs You Might Be a Pushover

Being too nice is a blessing and a curse. On one hand it's good to be around people who genuinely care about others and want to help them, but on the other hand if you are that person you inevitably end up getting taken advantage of. As someone who has always been on the nicer, more empathetic side of the scale I've seen first hand how people mistake kindness for weakness. There's just a certain point where you just have to realize you deserve respect and act accordingly. Doesn't mean the solution is to be an asshole. Do no harm, but take no shit.

The world has enough ugly in it, there's no need to add to it...but these are a few observations I've noticed that tip the scale from someone who's just a really nice person...to someone who's a pushover:

1. You Always Say Yes

AKA being a people pleaser. This is a problem for a few reasons. First off, if your answer is always "Yes" or whatever people want to hear when they ask for your opinion, your opinion wont hold much weight after a while. I value a harsh but honest opinion over one that is flattering but not true any day. if you feel like you would lose friends or people wont like you as much if you say No when you feel like it, those people probably weren't friends to begin with.

2. You Bend Over Backward To Help People, Constantly

People who go out of their way to helps others when they need it are amazing friends, no doubt about that. But when you find that you are starting to inconvenience yourself by helping others out, it's time to re-evaluate. The bad thing about this is usually the people who will ask someone to do something that they KNOW is an inconvenience are usually moochers. Meaning it wont be just one favor, they'll ask you for things repeatedly, almost with a sense of entitlement after a while.

3. You Compromise a lot

Compromising is a sign of maturity. But when you are ALWAYS the one doing the compromising, you might be a pushover. Take a stand sometimes, your opinion is just as valid as anyone else's. Compromising a lot is another thing that can easily turn into a pattern, and make people have less respect for your opinion since you are so easily willing to change it anyway.

4. You're Overly Apologetic

When people are too apologetic it makes things feel awkward. I even know people who are apologetic for BEING apologetic. Stop it! Your opinions and action make you who you are, you are just being yourself...no need to apologize about that. Obviously if you actually goofed up or did something you regret, apologies are awesome, but if you find yourself apologizing for just being yourself...or liking something you happen to like, having your own opinion..you might be a pushover.

5. You get Taken Advantage of Quite a Bit

This was a big one for me. I would always try to be a super good friend, co-worker, student..whatever...and go out on a limb for people. Then I started noticing a pattern...people get much more comfortable with asking favors (big and small) once you start doing them. Instead of being seen as a nice person you start getting seen as an easy mark.

6. You Have Difficulty Expressing Your Opinions

Again, your opinions are just as valid as anyone else's. People who are too nice tend not to want to express their opinions so as not to offend anybody. Stop it. This also comes back to self esteem...value yourself and your feelings. Then stand behind them. If you have trouble speaking up or expressing what you're really feeling because you don't want to offend anyone, you're being a pushover.


Lessons on How Not to Give a Fuck...Every Day.

A lot of people want to know how not to give a fuck about certain things...appearance, other people's opinions, jealousy etc, because simply just letting go and not caring at all seems like an easy solution. Most of the time when a situation keeps coming up in your life that is bothering you and you're tired of wasting energy by giving a fuck about it maybe not giving a fuck and taking no action is actually just avoiding that situation. The key to truly being able to let go of any fucks given in recurring situations like these is to accept the situation you're facing for what it is, and then taking the steps that are necessary to change it.

Change is something that is easier said than done, both because of fear of the unknown and because it takes effort. Most people would rather try to find an easy solution rather than put in the work required to get the change they want. If you work hard at something, you will get some kind of results. Once you are doing that, then it's much easier to stop giving a fuck about other people's opinion on things. Really investing time and attention into yourself and being the baddest, most awesome person you can be is the key to truly being able to not give a fuck in almost any situation.

If you find yourself continually being anxious or upset about something you aren't accepting whatever it is. Ask yourself: 1. Are you accepting the facts? You are who you are, and everyone is awesome in their own ways...accept yourself as you are. That is the first step. Second question: Is this changeable? Can you take any kind of action to get yourself to a level where you would feel better? Then DO that. And if it's one of those rare things that you can't change, come to terms with the fact that worrying and stressing wont change a thing. So embrace it. The only other option is letting something that you can never change repeatedly stress you out, with no end in sight. Once you have accepted yourself and all your flaws, no one can use them against you. Just have the wisdom to know the difference between the two, be honest with yourself.

There are no shortcuts or magic bullets to get us everything we want, we get in what we put in. Sometimes there are things we need to either start doing or stop doing and we truly wont be able to NGAF until we handle those because deep down we know this. You realize just how much power you have over what happens in your life. Once you have chosen who and what you want to be and are actively working toward those goals, it's a lot easier to accept who you are. Once you have truly accepted yourself, it's effortless to not give a fuck about things like people's opinion of you.

We have to learn to accept some hard truths sometimes instead of ignoring them or trying to solve a symptom and not the problem. You can read about HOW to do that all day every day, but it wont mean a thing unless you implement it. Take steps every day to lead the most epic life possible, whatever that means to you. When something repeatedly comes up that bothers you, examine the problem, solve it or accept it, and (less stressful) life goes on.


6 Habits of Perpetually Happy People

Habits are the behaviors we do repeatedly, that shape our entire lives. General happiness is highly correlated to the habits that we do every day, and yes...people who seem to be perpetually in a great mood tend to have certain habits that contribute to that. Each one of these alone wold make anyone a happier person, but all of them together are powerful steps to leading a very happy life.

1. Gratitude and Appreciation

Gratitude is such an amazing emotion. When you are feeling truly grateful for something, it's impossible to be in a bad mood. Go ahead, try it. Gratitude is a deep, powerful positive emotion that is exercised naturally every day by happy people. There are SO MANY things to be grateful for, no matter who you are. The happiest people are the ones who genuinely appreciate all things - small and large - that they have. Family, friends, health, being able to walk, pets, nature, sunsets, having a home...I could go on forever.

Life is so amazing and so multifaceted, and there's over 7 billion life stories on this planet right now (not even including the animals)...there are so many things to appreciate...and that is enough to make anyone instantly happier. The happiest people don't have the most, they just MAKE the most out of what they have. If you are reading this, you have a million reasons to be happy...you're here! Enjoy it! It doesn't last forever, and time waits for no one...so enjoy the little time on this planet that you do have. The Earth really is a beautiful place. Live like you are dying...because you are.

2. Self discipline

Self discipline doesn't seem fun or happy sometimes when you're doing things to better yourself while you'd rather be watching TV, or eating junk food...but it is a huge factor is being happy. Self discipline is about not sacrificing what you want most for what you want NOW. This leads to happiness because it breeds self esteem, just as little or no self discipline breeds low self esteem. You can't lie to yourself, and you know whether you've been slacking on what you should be doing or not.

If you are acting in a way that you would lose respect for others should you see them acting like that, then guess what? You will lose self-respect too should you continue to act like that. This is why people with higher levels of self discipline have higher levels of self esteem. Same thing applies to the opposite...if you do things that you would gain respect for others if you saw them doing them...you will naturally respect yourself much more when you do them. So self discipline = higher self esteem = being happier.

3. Being Mindful (living in the moment)

   “ If you are depressed you are living in the past.
    If you are anxious you are living in the future.
    If you are at peace you are living in the present. ” - Lao Tzu

Being mindful is taking everything and each moment as it comes. Using all five of your senses (or at least four if you aren't eating) to completely savor the moment and what is going on around you. How many times can you say that you honestly do this? For most people, it's not many. Most people always have something, some kind of distraction. Just taking time to appreciate the fact that you are here, alive, the universe experiencing itself right now...all the sounds, textures, sights, smells around you..it's such a peaceful and happy way to be. Sometimes when I start to get upset about anything I take a minute to be mindful and ask myself what are 5 things about this moment that I love? The peace and quiet? Feel of the wind of my face? There is always something to love, when you pay attention.

4. Flexibility

Life is easiest when you are able to adapt. On an evolutionary level, only those who could adapt, survived. This is also important for satisfaction in life, and requires a certain level of zen.

Those who go with the flow when you can't always get your way, or when things change, are infinitely happier than those who resist any kind of change. Also, this is the only way to grow. Staying stagnant does nothing for you as a person, except make your mood suffer. The most zen, calm people are like water...they flow around obstacles and things standing in their way....they go with the flow when plans change, the weather sucks, whatever happens that was not expected. Part of this is letting go of expectations outside of your control, part of this is just being mature. Stubborn little kids get upset when they can't get exactly what they wanted. After a while, it's just better to grow up, work with change, and adapt accordingly. Staying calm is a much happier disposition than getting worked up.

5. Smile every chance you get

Laughing should also be included, but we naturally smile when we laugh. there is a TED talk about body language and how it effects our minds. Funny enough, the "Fake it until you make it" actually holds scientific weight when it comes to body language. If we have a dominant position, more testosterone gets released, and as a result we feel more dominant. If we smile, more dopamine gets released and other feel good hormones, leading us to feel better. So whether you are smiling because you're happy or happy because you;re smiling, happy people simply smile more.

I have always been a smiley person for as long as I can remember. My friends even gave me the nickname Smiley McGee (lol). I'm just one of those people who is easily amused, or sees humor or happiness in a lot of situations. Even when my mood isn't the best, I find myself smiling at something inevitably...and start to feel better. Happiness is infectious, should you choose it to be.

6. Taking Control

Realize that your life doesn't happen TO you it happens because of you. You get in what you put in, nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter...good things come to those who work for them. Taking control of your own happiness instead of waiting for someone else to come along and do it, or doing nothing at all, is the quickest way to be happy.

The victim mindset is one I have touched on a lot, because it is such an easy way of thinking to fall into...and it will do nothing but suck the happiness out of your life. Fast. I've been there, done that, never going back. Taking control of your own destiny is not only empowering, it's the only way anything will ever get done. Being happy is a choice, and it's not always easy. Happy people choose to look at the positive side of any situation, and learn from the negative ones. If you play the victim life with give you many things to be hurt about, it WILL beat you into submission...because it isn't fair and never will be. Happy people are too busy looking on the bright side and being determined to stay there to let negativity completely take over.