What I have learned over the years
Tomorrow I turn 40 years young. In many ways it’s hard to believe. I remember as a young man thinking how “old” 40 was. I also recall this idea that whenever I eventually reach that age, I would be wise and mature with answers to all of life’s problems. Well, I may have overestimated my abilities. I have so many more questions about life than I do answers. I’m hardly the Yoda like entity of wisdom that I once imagined and my corny/inappropriate sense of humor would suggest that I’m far from mature. I still have a long way to go and much to learn, but I have gathered a few ideas along the way that I’d like to share with you.
Exercise Every Day
I currently exercise much more now than I ever did in my younger years. This daily ritual has been paramount in keeping me young both in body and mind. While some of my training has been tapered to work around a few nagging injuries, I am more physically active than ever before. I run, lift weights, do calisthenics, yoga, and, of course, Jiu-jitsu 1-2 times daily. This weekly routine has kept me going strong and is the most important part of my mental health. You don’t have to train like an olympic athlete and run yourself into the ground. But an ‘intensity appropriate’ exercise session every day will improve the quality of your life in a way that is second to none. And if you are not currently a Jiu-jitsu student…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Read More Books
Here’s something you may not know about me. I was a slightly below average student throughout my school years (which didn’t include any college). I hated to study and I absolutely dreaded reading assignments. These days, I read about 3-4 books every month. Reading (or audiobook listening) helps me see the world through a fresh new lens every week. It is nearly impossible for life to become dull while in the process of learning some new and exciting. While writing this, I was coming up with dozens of ideas about what I’ve learned over the years and I realized that the majority of my education and knowledge has come from books. I’m enjoying the process as much as I did when I really upped my reading game over 20 years ago. Even if I lived another 1,000 years I still would never get to read everything about all the fascinating aspects of life. That fact alone is humbling and fascinating (actually, I bet there’s a book written about that very topic). I equate the ongoing education I receive from books to that of martial arts training. Both are incredible journeys, filled with adventure and unending knowledge.
Less Social Media, More Time With Friends, Family and Nature
I love posting on Instagram and Facebook about the exciting news happening here at the school. Recently, I had the honor to promote 6 new Black Belts! I was sharing stories and posts while tagging everyone and keeping the celebration going strong. Social media can be a great way to connect and share memories and events with the people you love. But there is a catch. And when I say “catch”, I mean a destructive and addictive force that causes anxiety, depression, FOMO (fear of missing out), envy, anger and negative thoughts that pile on to one another in a vicious that won’t end because you can’t stop from scrolling down to read the comments or see just how perfect everyone’s life is but your own!!! Am I exaggerating? For some, yes. For others, I barely scratched the surface on how much of a negative impact social media/their smart phones have had on their mental well being. Now, I don’t want to bash smart phones all together. Suffice to say, there was probably a pretty good reason why Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his own kids have IPads. But here’s a bit of advice…Never start your day or end your day on your phone. Before you go to bed, put your phone just out of reach. You can keep it close enough to hear your alarm, but far enough that you cannot reach it without getting out of bed. When you wake in the morning, drink some water, stretch your body, do some deep breathing but leave your phone alone. After you have completed this ritual…wait 5 more minutes, it won’t kill you. When you inevitably return to the dark world of smart phone addiction, see if you can refrain from checking it every 45 seconds. This can be difficult, especially when it’s buzzing with alerts and notifications! Those are so exciting, aren’t they!?! Here’s an idea, the next time you go to the bathroom (number 2 lol), leave your phone! I know, I know…you never do that, right? 😳
Sorry, that was a long “smart phone” rant. I think that’s what you would call “Projecting” as I feel that I’m giving this advice to myself. Once you have curbed your smart phone addiction, call an old (or new) friend, family member or loved one and go hiking in the woods together and keep your phones on airplane mode. If a mountain hiking adventure isn’t doable, your local park will suffice. Spending time in nature is good for the soul and spending actual time with actual people is what humans are wired to do. We need to be directly connected with the ones we love and we need to connect with the natural world.
I am always learning and my views on politics, religion, jiu-jitsu and the Corona virus might change from one week to the next. But when I push my body to sweat, learn something new and exciting, and connect with my fellow humans and the natural world we all share, I am right where I need to be. I believe these ideas are true and I hope you share this view. Thanks for reading. Happy Birthday to Me!