My Top 5 Lessons from 2015
Cold Showers, a Powerful Secret Weapon
There is perhaps nothing better to immediately invigorate oneself than being doused in icy cold water. It snaps the nervous system to attention like electricity flowing through the entire body waking it up, increasing blood flow and jump starting the immune system. This year I started doing this every morning, and the way I do it is taking a normal shower with warm water then turning off the hot water and experiencing the icy refreshment for about 5 minutes.
An intrinsic part of the cold plunge is the breathing. Simply take a long and strong breath in, followed by a short breath out and do repeat this for 1 or 2 minutes. This is a technique utilized by the supreme master of the cold plunge Wim Hoff to increase the amount of oxygen in the body which basically makes you not want to instantly propel yourself out of the water, exposing you to more benefits.
Passion Rules Over Skills
I find this to be best exemplified when choosing relationships. Especially when it comes to people you work with or are looking to hire for a project. If someone is skilled in lets say accounting or making food but lacks the passion for the purpose of doing the act then I find that creativity and staying power also lack. This person will soon quit and hopefully move on to their real passion.
On the other hand, when someone is passionate about something, for example sharing a vibrant healthy lifestyle that makes the world a better place, then they can more easily learn the skills to carry out that mission. This is how Love Grace came to be. We definitely weren’t the most skilled business people when we started but we were bursting with passion to share health and happiness and four years later are running a successful company supporting the health of people nationwide. Not one business class taken. Skills can be learned, passion cannot.
I believe that when our deepest passions are expressed the world becomes a better place and creative ideas that would never arise are born. Therefore let your passions drive your decisions and choose relationships with others that share in those passions.
Martial Arts and Combative Sports Are Essential (Especially for Men)
With political correctness and equality becoming more and more highly regarded values of our culture, there appear to be some negative side effects as a result when taken to extremes. One of such I have experienced is the suppression of healthy forms of aggression. Human beings (particularly men) have some natural innate aggression, indeed this has been what’s allowed our ancestors to fend off wild beasts and procure food. For me, the best way to channel this inner aggression has been through martial arts, Japanese Jiu Jitsu in my case.
Whatever the art is, the practitioner puts their body and mind to use in developing practical life skills. In a sense, our aggressive nature is channeled and transmuted into a force for good where protection, self-awareness, self-confidence, and fun are the byproducts.
There is a profound sense of peace and power that comes with the ability to defend yourself in life threatening situations. I think this is an ultimate form of self care that goes hand in hand with being able to provide for oneself or with living a healthy lifestyle that enhances quality of life.
Combative training is especially important for men because it deeply nourishes our masculine nature. This builds confidence to achieve other goals and helps create more polarity in relationship with the feminine. A man fully expressed makes him a better lover, partner, and leader. For me martial arts balances my yoga practice and lifestyle, which has left me feeling more passive in nature when solely practiced at times. The yin needs the yang and vice versa.
Problems Are a Sign of Life
When I die I don’t want my tombstone to say “potential intact”. I want to know I gave everything I had in pursuit of my dreams and in choosing this path its inevitable to get beat up. Sometimes really bad.
Having a few times like that this year, (after snapping out of a day or two of self pity) I came to accept that a rough patch does indeed suck and not to pretend like it doesn’t. But I also chose not to pretend like it was a sign to give up, on the contrary I learned to take a metaphorical black eye as a sign that I’m living my life to its fullest and gaining valuable lessons and skills along the way.
The author Norman Peale said, “Problems are a sign of life” and the only group of people who don’t have problems live in a graveyard. It’s the hard earned lessons learned from these experiences that when shared with future generations perpetuate our collective evolution. This is resistance training. This is how muscle develops.
So if you’re struggling and getting beat up by life, take it as a sign that you’re living and learn as much as you can in spite of the resistance.
Reviewing Lessons Is just as Important if Not More so than Learning New Ones.
In the age of information we have unlimited access to knowledge. This ceases to be a blessing when valuable lessons learned in the past are crowded out of our minds with new (often trivial) data. My Jiu Jitsu teacher always says good habits are slow to earn and quick to lose if we aren’t mindful. This is the reason it is important to review the valuable lessons we wish to keep and implement in our lives.
There are three good ways I have found to do this. The first is keeping a daily or weekly journal to record what gems you have picked up in your day to day life. I make sure to make at least one entry per week and I like to write my ideas down in batches or immediately on the spot if it’s a particularly burning one.
The second way is to take notes from the books you read. This can look like transcribing everything highlighted in a book into a simple word document where you can easily refer back to and see the most valuable notes taken from your copy of The Zombie Survival Guide or what have you.
And lastly, re-listen to your favorite podcasts or audiobooks. Podcasts are my new favorite way to learn because I can do it while on the go or while doing simple work that doesn’t require much thought. I listen to so many that I easily forget the most mind blowing lessons I’ve gotten out of them and I found that when going back just one or two more times the profound ideas become a part of my life.
Before scheduling your first organic juice cleanse or making intentions and resolutions for the New Year, take stock of the most valuable lessons you have learned in the past 365 days. Look over your personal journals and notes and meditate briefly on what was learned. I think we will find that a lot of the hard work has already been done. Lets make sure it’s not lost.