Saturday, June 18, 2011

Teflon's List of Shoulds

Here at Belief Makers, we tend to avoid the word "should". For most of us, "should" means obligation, duty, and/or correctness, and is typically used when criticizing the actions of yourself and others, as in "You should never, ever use the word 'should!'"

However, "should" has several definitions, one of which is: to emphasize to a listener how striking or significant an event is or was, as in, "You should have been there; you would have loved it!"

It is in the light of this alternate definition that I would like to present you with Teflon's List of Daily Shoulds, daily activities absolutely guaranteed to change your life for the better.

1. You Should Be Writing
Each morning, I tiptoe out of the bedroom to the kitchen, brew a cup of coffee, and then head downstairs to my office. I flip open my MacBook, scroll to an email folder labeled "Jenny", and open the day's writing prompt that Jenny Laird sends to each of us who are part of our writer's group.

The exercise is simple and takes just ten minutes. You launch a text editor or grab a notebook and pen, read the prompt, and write for ten minutes without stopping. You don't look back. You don't edit. You don't pause to figure it out. You just write.

Examples of Jenny's prompts include: Nine times out of ten..., or For a split second, I think it's..., or You are standing on one side of a closed door.

I've found that the experience is best for me when I don't think before writing. Instead, I start by typing the prompt and by the time I've reached the end of it, I'm airborne. I follow the prompt where it leads me and before I know it, ten minutes has passed.

What do you do if you don't know what to write? Simple, you just write, "Huh... I'm looking at this prompt and I don't know what to write. Why can't I think of anything to write. I wonder if..."

Before you know it, you'll have written for ten minutes about your process and what makes you tick.

Ten minutes of writing can leave you feeling clearer and more centered than an hour of meditation or working out.

2. You Should Be Running
One of the nice side-effects of being with Iris is that I get to pick new daily habits as she explores new activities, habits that I maintain long after she's moved on to the next activity of interest. A couple of months ago I decided to join Iris in a half-marathon. Since Iris had already completed a couple half-marathons, I started training every day to get in shape.

Our travel plans changed so that we missed the marathon and Iris is now spending more of her workout time on strength training than running. Nonetheless, I'm still running four to six miles a day and it feels really good.

Of course, your exercise of choice need not be running, but I must say that there is something to daily exercise that changes how you feel (not to mention how you look).

Although you'll often hear people suggesting that you need off-days to give your body time to recover, I've found that you only need them if you're not paying attention to your technique. If you run or bike or roller-blade in a manner where you pay attention to your body and find your flow, you can do it every day without issue.

The beauty of exercise is that it's one of those things in which you can engage your kids. I can remember doing hill-climbing workouts on my bike with my son Luke calling out from the child seat, "Hey, why are we slowing down!"

If you want to feel really good, workout every day.

3. You Should Be Juicing
You ever feel hungry even though you've had plenty to eat? Do you find yourself feeling rundown at certain times of the day? Do you get sick more often than you'd like? It's likely that your challenge stems from missing nutrients. When you lack essential nutrients you feel tired and your immune system suffers. Your body responds by telling you to eat and its often only by chance that you consume what's missing.

Supplements can be helpful, but it's unclear as to how helpful. The specified potency of a supplement is typically determined by the ingredients used to create the pill, tablet or powder. However, potency is lost over time as nutrients oxidize. I've yet to find any meaningful information on the potency of the supplement at the time it's consumed.

So, what do you do? You shorten the time between creation and consumption. How? By juicing.

When my friend Jonathan was diagnosed with lung cancer in November, he was placed in the population of people with a 15% survival rate. He was prescribed an aggressive regiment of radiation and chemo therapies, therapies that while killing cancer cells also beat the crap out of your body. To beef up his immune system, Jonathan started juicing daily. Iris and I joined him.

Jonathan went through the radiation and chemo like no one I've ever seen. He lost no hair. He lost no weight. He continued working without anyone knowing that he had cancer or was undergoing treatment. After the treatment, Jonathan's doctors found no traces of cancer.

When Jonathan started juicing, Iris and I joined him. Each day we make juice from fresh organic vegetables (no fruits because they have too much sugar). We use carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, broccoli, greens and kale. We add lemon, ginger and spices for flavor.

So, what does it do for me? For the first time in years, I didn't get even a sniffle in the winter. I never get hunger pangs or cravings. I have energy that lasts all day without dips. My body recovers quickly from hard workouts.

If you want energy that won't quit and to never feel hunger cravings, you should be juicing every day.

4. You Should Playing Music
I've played music pretty much every day since I was a kid. Over the last couple of months, I've been learning about music and neurology. It turns out that music is one of few activities that fully engages both sides of the brain. When you play music, you build and reinforce neural pathways that can't be built or reinforced with other activities. However, once they're in place, the ease of communication between left and right hemispheres will literally change how you think.

If you've never played an instrument or only played as a kid, I would suggest drumming as a great starting place. In particular, I would suggest the Djembe, an African drum that is inexpensive, versatile and easy to play. You can find them in most music stores or online and there are hundreds of YouTube videos that will show you how to get started. Whether your an analytical left-brainer or a creative right-brainer, playing the Djembe will make you a better thinker and, it's fun.

Playing Djembe provides lots of opportunity for social interaction. You can buy some hand percussion instruments for your kids to play along, join a drumming group or sit in the park and see who'll join you.

Teflon's Shoulds
Come to think of it, I have a bunch of other daily shoulds, but I don't want to overwhelm anyone. Just let me know when you've got the four listed above into regular rotation and we can start adding others.

Happy Saturday,

1 comment:

  1. Since I've procrastinated on the piano for a long time, trying to ignore the piano teacher of 4th grade, the Djembe sounds like a great idea!


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