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Life is difficult to negotiate even with a positive mental outlook. It’s easy to believe the world is out of control. This frame of reference affects our daily lives. It can seem that our individual actions become negligible with so many challenges. Here are a few very important applications to help balance our lives.
A Quick Aside.
I love writing music. It would be super-cool if there was more time available to pursue its creation.
One of the great techniques of writing lyrics is to appeal to the senses. Jim Morrison was a master. ‘I got up this morning and had myself a beer.’ He said it twice in The Roadhouse Blues. What a great line!
Everyone gets up in the morning. Who cares if alcohol fuels the morning? Most of us have been at that point at least once in our life. Sometimes we hit a place where it doesn’t matter anymore. Why bother considering the consequences of our actions?
There are five senses we use to collate our environment: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. Executing the ability of making people remember their own humanness is exquisite. Great writers know how to do this.
I’m not pretending I’m a great writer, of lyrics, or otherwise. It’s important to learn how to manipulate people’s emotions with imagery. It’s a great theory and certainly worth pursuing.
More on Imagery
If you are reading this blog, I’m guessing you know the concept of creative visualization.
Creative Visualization is using your imagination to envision desired results. What is your life going to be like once you achieve your ultimate goals? I have a friend who has written himself a ten million dollar check and carries it in his wallet. You might consider it an old Jedi mind trick. It is his way of reminding himself of his ultimate goal.
My friend has the right idea, but how is he going to check his progress?
Measure what is measurable. Taking photographs of your progress is one way to track your success. However, there are other alternatives.
As creative types, we have a catalog of projects we have accomplished. Tracking our wins and our progress over time reinforces motivation. I have had many, many times of discouragement; and still do. By mapping out and recording successes, I have managed to persevere.
Challenges and disheartening circumstances are inevitable. We have to fight to break through. Keep on keeping on.
Meaning helps fill the gaps; it helps you develop purpose and understand the world around you.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl
Here’s the big question: have you discovered a satisfying purpose in your life? It is surprising how many people don’t care if their lives have purpose. A lot of folks do not think their lives have understandable meaning. That’s not the way I want to live. I am seeking out as many possible ways that help facilitate a positive mental outlook and live a balanced life.
A way to increase well-being in your life is to develop a sense of purpose. A meaningful life usually equates to a satisfied life. There are a ton of benefits that go along with living this way.
Depression runs in my family. I watched my father deal with bipolar disorder for years. He had to experiment with a cocktail of medications before he could experience normalcy in his life. The effects of being bipolar impaired his ability to deal with the real world. It took him years, but eventually he was able to recapture meaning.
Mental and physical health enhances resiliency, increases self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression.
Part of a positive mental outlook is about developing peace. It is about learning how to understand yourself, what motivates you and the satisfaction that comes from it. These are things that can help achieve a balanced life.
It’s not the same for everybody.
It seems the world is in a state of confusion. And why not?
Is the world becoming a better place? Is it becoming worse? The answer is both. It seems there are catastrophic political, economic and social disasters on the horizon. At the same time, there are incredible advances in technology. We are stuck with a paleolithic brain, surrounded by medieval institutions, with technology that verges on the god-like. There isn’t a lot of congruence in our world.
Inner peace relies on many factors. A stable set of life-circumstances definitely contributes to the ability of maintaining peace. Upheaval in any form can create dissonance in one’s life.
Let me share some things I have learned.
You Have to Move
Stress is everywhere. It’s evident to both you and me. Sometimes I am so stressed out that I begin to actually vibrate.
When this happens I stop whatever task I am involved with and decide on doing an activity requiring physical exertion. Instead of hanging on to the stress, I use activities like taking a walk, riding my bike, working in the yard or going to the gym. Endorphins usually help calm me. Exercise is better than using alcohol. Alcohol ain’t bad but it tends to lead to lethargy.
Breathe, Get Some Air
Get outdoors. Spending all your time locked to a desk or closeted in your studio is not healthy. We have all spent those marathon 14 hour days where we are so zoned in we won’t come up for air. You can’t live in front of your flat screen forever. It’s not healthy!!!
Ideally, spend sometime in nature. You don’t have to go to the mountains or to the ocean. If you live in the city, get out on the street for a while. There are birds, trees, planters and shrubbery close by. You should think about getting outside, feeling some wind, rain or sun. This will help get you closer to nature.
At the very least, take a break.
Be Who You Are
To thine own self be true. Thanks, Will, great advice. Before we help and support others we must first take care of ourselves. This not only applies to financial health, but also to our spirit. In order to live authentically, we should conduct ourselves in line with our beliefs, interests, inclinations and aspirations.
My personal example is my relationship to my instrument. Regardless that I have a job, I usually get two hours of personal practice in a day. On my days off that pushes to 3 to 4 hours. This contributes greatly to my mental outlook.
When I’m not working for the man, my mental faculties are fully engaged.
My relationship to my drums defines who I am. It is the foundation of everything I work towards. From spiritual to creative aspects, being a drummer is what motivates me. I couldn’t be anymore true to myself.
Besides playing drums, I love to write. You can see that I spend a much of my free time sitting. During the height of the pandemic, being unemployed, I would spend ten to fourteen hour days working on my passions. Week-after-week and month-after-month is long time to be inactive. The gym was closed, winter had settled in, and I sat in a chair for hours, days and weeks.
After several months I started to hurt. The pain was from inactivity. I had been sitting in a chair at the kitchen table banging away on my laptop. My back, legs and neck ached.
I have always known I wasn’t made for a cubicle. The pandemic proved that.
Spring arrived. Yea, Spring!
I am an avid fair-weather bicyclist. In the Late-Spring to Early-Fall I will ride as much as 2000 miles. That is about one hundred miles a week. I was Jonesing to get on my bike. Just a couple of weeks of riding and my aches and pains pretty subsided.
Let’s not forget what that amount of exercise does for the spirit. I pretty much use my bicycle to commute to work.
My job is like yours: I’m not too thrilled to be there. Commuting to work in that fashion works to spin my attitude into a positive direction. There’s nothing better than a clear head space to help deal with the the negativity of the work environment.
I love to eat and cook. I love pairing wine and food. Because of my hedonistic tendencies I need to pay close attention how I approach eating.
Learning how to properly fuel myself has been challenging. I’m not preaching mindfulness, but by paying attention to what I put in my mouth sure helps.
I stopped eating packaged food years ago. Because of that, I stopped supplementing except for Vitamin C and Vitamin D. There is generally too much salt and sugars added to prepackaged foods. Salt is put into processed food as source of flavor and as a preservative. As a decent cook I know if I over-salt something then I can mask the salt taste with sugar. Those big food companies use a lot of sugar in their products. That’s part of the production of processed food. It’s an over-simplification of industrial food preparation, but it is a basic concept.
I believe that dependence on restaurant and boxed foods is damaging to spirit and health. Whenever possible, fresh is best.
My friend, Casey, is a super-accomplished chef. Not only does he work in one of the finest steak houses on the West Coast, he also markets his own line of chilies and hot sauces.
One of the things Casey does to give back is that he volunteers at one of the local missions. He uses his art and craft by helping prepare meals for Seattle’s less fortunate. I asked him why he did this. Casey replied, “Because it’s good for my soul. It helps give me peace.”
Volunteering, helping others, giving back some of what we have received, not only does this help society, it displays that we are grateful. Being thankful is definitely good for our well being.
This can be as personal as personal gets. Meditation is often identified as an aspect of religious discipline. This may or may not be true depending on how it is practiced. Meditation can be as simple as spending quiet time with yourself. The most difficult exercise for me in meditation is practicing patience. I want patience, like, right now. That sure would help.
Having a devoted study and prayer life is one of many forms of meditation. It is up to the individual to choose how they want to approach this. It seems the most successful people I know use meditation in one form or another. Find what is right for you.
Spend energy on things you can control. Why worry about how someone behaves?
We all react differently to how life presents itself. If we feel that someone has wronged or manipulated us, why be concerned? When you were in that relationship you were a willing participant. Everyone has a motive. Just because things did not turn out the way you desired doesn’t mean the other person intentionally tried to manipulate you. If they did, then why give them power over you by spending energy fretting over it.
There are situations which are going to pull us down. The challenge is not to let those circumstances suck the life out of us. Every person deals with frustration in different ways.
The goal is to achieve long term results by dealing with short term discomforts. Dealing with the crap and garbage thrown at us is about changing our mind-set. Pressing towards objectives may mean changing old habits. Old habits die hard.
There are relationship, family, financial and job challenges. That’s the short list. Learning how deal with life’s pressures isn’t always successful, but by making the effort there is a chance to put things in perspective.
Our lives can be difficult, but ask yourself, “Compared to what?”
Laughter, The Great Life Hack
Laughter is the best medicine. We all make our own decision as to whether this may or may not be true. As far as I can make out, the studies are inconclusive.
I have read that kids laugh 400 times a day and adults laugh 8 times a day. I’m not so sure. Like anything, it depends on who did the study and what motivations were involved.
All I can do is speak for myself, which is what I do anyway. When I laugh, I can actually feel the physical and mental changes. If a situation is heavy, lightness comes over me. Working in a high-paced, stressful environment, laughter helps me get through the day.
Laughter brings about physical changes in our bodies. Oxygen flow increases which affects heart, lungs and muscles. It really helps my mental outlook.
I love to laugh, It’s one of my great passions.
Sometimes it’s good to put down what you are struggling with and come back to it. Practicing super difficult drum exercises, there are times when I need to take a breather. Relaxation and calmness are necessary in the development of skill.
A perfect example is this very moment. I have been banging away for the last two hours and my brain is blanking out. Time to reset.
If you are stuck at a desk, get up and walk around. I recently picked up an iWatch Series 6. It’s one smart device. It notifies me when I need to get up and get away from the flat screen. I never asked it to do this, it just does. Because there is no argument, I get up and move around.
There is a concept called decision fatigue. I can make thousands of decisions in the course of two hours of writing or practicing. Decision fatigue is the idea that after making countless decisions the brain stops making effective determinations. What I do to counter this is to get up and move. I like to feed birds, the squirrels and neighborhood cats. I find my subconscious resets and I can attack the next set of decision-overload.
Ever find yourself in front of the TV after a long, hard day, pint of Haagen Daz in hand? Our minds get exhausted from all data it has to daily sort through. Decision fatigue affects us all day long and compounds right into the evening. Before bed, it’s influence is at its greatest. Making conscious decisions to take breaks throughout the day is a great way to keep focused.
Get around people who support you, who share your work ethic and vision. The creative process can be challenging. We need friends who are on similar journeys as ours.
Ever heard of norm-matching? This is a habit you are already doing. You are behaving like the people around you. At your job, there are cultural norms your co-workers expect you to follow. If your work environment is filled with humor, everyone is a joker. If your environment is rigid, everyone is rigid.
You get what I mean. That’s why association is so important. Want to kick ass in what you do? Get around those people who are excelling in their passions, and, guess what, you will excel also.
Doubt what you will, never doubt yourself.
Take a hard look at your wins. What are the things you have going for you? Reflect on and reinforce your accomplishments. Self-encouragement reinforces your attitude and creates a foundation for your work habits.
Share your victories with those who love and support you.
Can we help you?
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