Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Where to Begin...

I always seem to put the important things off and do the easy ones first because I feel like I need to put a lot of time into the important ones and make them say something very “profound”.  I do that with emails a lot.  Put off the ones from good friends but answer the not so important ones with ease.

Same goes with this blog.  I have grand plans for it but was waiting for things to be “perfect” before I started.  I’m starting to see that if I wait for that “perfectness” I’ll never start and this blog will forever be “coming soon”.

This path month I've had a lot of time to think about things and have thankfully had the time to start reading a book that I picked up at the library for $1.00 called First Things First by Stephen R. Covey.

I've taken a couple of his classes before at my previous job and have always liked what they had to say.  I've wanted to read this (and other) books but just haven’t had the time (at least that’s what I tell myself).  In Chapter 2 of this book he asked a very good question that really made me think.  It goes:
What is the one activity that you know if you did superbly well and consistently would have significant positive results in your personal life? 
What is the one activity that you know if you did superbly well and consistently would have significant positive results in your professional or work life? 
If you know these things would make such a significant difference, why are you not doing them right now?
 It's a simple question with simple answers and made me think, "why am I not doing this now?"  I have a few things that I know would improve my life in a number of ways.

1. Go to bed at a reasonable time.  For as long as I can remember, even as far back as fifth or sixth grade I've kept a pretty bad sleep schedule.  Staying up way too late, and waking up with the only thought in my head being that I can't wait to get the day over with so I can go back to sleep.

2. Do not eat right before bed.  Lately I've found that by working out I can eat a lot more than I normally could and not gain weight.  And since I'm a former fat person (lost 100 lbs at one point in my life) I love to eat and eat a lot.  Unfortunately I like to do this while I stay up late...this means not only do I go to bed late and wake up early, but on top of it I have a stomach ache which makes it that much harder to have that positive attitude needed to start the day off right.

3. Watching too much TV.  Try as I might, I can definitely get addicted to TV.  I know it's not good for me but it can give me a cheap laugh and take my mind off things at the end of a long day.  With articles like this and this, I should know that television is not my friend and that I'm letting it take my time away from being productive.  Here's an interesting excerpt from the articles above:
As Steve Watson explains in his article, The Idiot Box: How TV Is Turning Us All Into Zombies, studies have confirmed that watching television or even having it on in the background actually impairs brain development in children – damaging their ability to learn cognitive thinking and develop language as well as increasing their chances of developing ADHD and social problems. 
Television programs watched by children increase aggressive tendencies while decreasing attention spans, creating a zombie-like reactionary mindset that represents the antithesis of true knowledge and enlightenment. 
For adults, television has been proven to alter consciousness by reducing brain activity to below Delta frequency, ensuring that critical thinking is bypassed and whatever message being pushed is emotionally embraced with total disregard for any form of logic.
That's not to say that I think all television is bad, but some evenings I can easily watch 3 or 4 hours of it and by the end of the night my entire evening was spent staring into a light box...a real waste considering we're not on this earth indefinitely.

4. Meditate for even 15 minutes a day.  I know the value of meditation and numerous scientific studies have proven it as well.  it's free and easy...just sit, breathe, and think about nothing.  It's another one of those things I put off because I'm too busy (I'd rather be eating, staying up late, and watching TV...haha!).

Meditation Influences Emotional Processing Even When You're Not Meditating: Study
Brain Imaging Illuminates Neuro Basis of Meditation
Strongest Study Yet Shows Meditation Can Lower Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Wikipedia - Research on meditation
Researching Meditation with Dr. Ramesh Manocha
Meditation Appears to Produce Enduring Changes in Emotional Processing in the Brain
Why meditation helps you focus: Mindfulness improves brain wiring in just a month
In Sitting Still, a Bench Press for the Brain
Meditation Training Program Shows Brain Effects Even Outside a Meditative State
Mindfulness Meditation Linked With Positive Brain Changes, Study Suggests
Study Shows How Prayer, Meditation Affect Brain Activity (VIDEO)
Stanford studies monks' meditation, compassion
With all of those studies and articles, it's hard to make a case that meditation can do anything but good for you.


I think that if I can focus on these things over the next few months my mental health will improve, I'll have a more positive outlook on things, and be able to get things done that really interest me, like writing, listening to music, reading, and keeping up my relationships with others.

I hope this is my first post in a long line of posts over the next few months....The plan is for these habits to become my new way of life and I can be a happier person who takes the time to enjoy things in life.  I lie being able to sit down and write all this out without feeling guilty because I'm not doing some other thing that's more "urgent"...although that's a topic for another post...

Take care,