Day 57 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Hope, (The Ancient Definition) is Necessary

rainbow
iPhone could not capture the beauty of the most magnificent rainbow Deb has ever seen…

Subscribers and regular readers know we never go more than a few days without circling back to spirituality. We do this because it is, without question, where the massive gap is in holistic living. No amount of organic food and exercise can fill the hole, that will occur if you live a life void of spiritual belief. You must have all three, period. Living in the moment without hope (as we define it below) for our future is an aimless ramble. Conversely all the vision for health and happiness in the future without commitment to body, mind and spirit, daily is a destination without a road. Whether you are ready to embrace this thought or not, we believe nothing, just happens. Certainly not an extraordinary life.

deb recent head shotYesterday we posted a picture of a rainbow.  In fact we posted it again today. That picture does not capture the beauty, size or significance of that rainbow. It was literally the largest rainbow Deb had ever seen and she has seen some of the most amazing rainbows in places like Hawaii. Why was this particular rainbow so beautiful and so significant? It is the setting and circumstances. Deb was driving, while talking with her mom on the speaker phone. Her Mother’s voice was weak from infection and lack of sleep. It was the 10th or 11th time she had kidney infection with most antiobiotics resistant to the bacteria. Her energy was low, her faith at its lowest. Deb was crying, trying to stay focused on the drive. Out of nowhere right in front of her was the largest rainbow she had ever seen. It was the full arch, colors vibrant, and she was driving right into it. She described this to her mother who stopped crying. Both of them laughed and the energy came back into her mother’s voice. With great detail Deb described the rainbow to her mother and when she turned right, it was still there, she was still driving into the rainbow. No matter where she went that massive, colorful arch was always right in front of her. A half hour later she pulled into the driveway just as John did. She asked him if he had seen the rainbow and confirmed his route was the same as hers. When he said no, he hadn’t seen it, and she showed him the picture, they agreed this particular rainbow was for her and also for her mother. There is a question here, when times are most difficult are you open to seeing the rainbow? Are you looking at hope the way the ancient Christians did, hope is certainty plus action.  When Deb told her brother about the rainbow, he jokingly said “was there a pot of gold at the end”, and she answered, “yes there was, it was called HOPE.”

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Day 56 of 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Vision Can Be Powerful

rainbow
The iPhone does not do this rainbow justice. It appeared over Deb on the drive home after a particularly difficult day.

John has been reading John Maxwell’s very first book, “Think on These Things, Meditations for Leaders”. Given to John as a Christmas present, it is very different from most of Maxwell’s books. This certainly fits into to the mental stimulation part of John’s day. Bonus here is the book is written from a deeply Christian point of view as well. So, John is getting some good spiritual enrichment as well. A son of a minister and written before he was a leadership guru, the influence of Maxwell’s upbringing is throughout this wonderful and thoughtful book.

The book is really a collection of short, two to four page thoughts pieces, on a wide array of topics, loosely under the leadership umbrella. To John more under the life umbrella for those that interact with others, which he believes is most of us. The section to be focused on tonight is entitled, “See it Like It Could Be” It starts out with a quote from George Bernard Shaw ,”Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream of things that never were and say why not?” He is talking about vision and vision is critically important to leading an extraordinary life. To sustain your holistic lifestyle, you need the foundation of 66 days of dedicated intense focus on your body, mind and spirit. That is the easy part- the challenge comes from sustaining it for the rest of your life. One of the most powerful tools to achieve this is something we both use every day, vision. Some might call it belief, others, hope, maybe even faith but at the end of whichever word you embrace, is a picture of the end state. You need to see yourself, healthy, happy and full of life and energy. You must believe it. In other words, “see it like it could be” really can become see it like it will be. When we apply this to a holistic life we need action, we need a plan. Remember that faith without works is dead. Same for anything. No matter how vivid the vision or strong the belief, without daily action to work towards it, you will never reach it.

shopping john
Heading in for some shopping at the organic market…yum

We have given you all the pieces you need to live an extraordinary life, based on a holistic lifestyle. We hope that we have inspired you, maybe even challenged you to go after this amazing gift. The truth is if you let the excitement wane, if life gets in the way of living, you will not sustain what you have started. This is why simple things like the almond app is so important. This is why we say every day you need spiritual enrichment, mental and physical stimulation, and you need to feed your body with pure food and water. Maintain that vision of health and happiness with you and let it guide you. Absent of such a belief, such a vision, and the commitment to achieve it, you have no idea where you will end up. Might be a good place, might be a bad one, but like the saying goes, when you have no destination, all roads will take you there.

The destination is an extraordinary life, we have given you the map. “See It Like It Could Be” as John Maxwell says and reach your destination.

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Day 55 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Beware of Some Beef Edition

meatWe were reading a great little magazine at a wonderful organic eatery, called “natural awakenings”. It was loaded with great tips and small articles on a wide array of topics. One we found particularly helpful and informative was on beef. First of all eat beef sparingly, if at all. If you are going to it though, read this entire blog. The first part will scare you but you need to know the truth. The second part will give you some specific guidance on eating healthy beef. So for our vegetarian and vegan or pescetarian readers might want to skip over the first section. That being said it is very good information so perhaps it will stimulate the mind, if not your appetite :)

First the ugly, bad news about most of our beef in America. More than 90% of feedlot cattle receive hormone implants to promote rapid growth. Another frightening statistic is the root cause of the growing resistance to antibiotics. Again, those that choose to eat, “normally sourced” beef are consuming large amounts of antibiotics. Over time, our body builds up resistance to these, so when we really have a need for them, they are not effective. If antibiotics become ineffective we could return to the days where simple infections were often fatal. So, where are many of us getting these antibiotics? We are getting them from beef. 70% of all antibiotics sold in America, are sold to stem infection in animals being raised in unsanitary and overcrowded spaces. All of these hormones and antibiotics are particularly dangerous to children. That being said they certainly are not a great choice for adults either.

So if you enjoy beef from time to time what is one to do? Well there are ways to get beef the way beef used to be before it turned into the mess it has become. Here are some specific things to look for, and to do, when buying beef:

-Choose only certified organic meats

-Select grass-fed and grass finished meats

-Buy from locally sourced/family livestock farms

-Do not eat meat more than twice per week.

We would tell you if you cannot find the first three items, don’t eat the meat at all. Stick with fresh fish and a largely vegetarian diet.

Finally portion control. We loved this tip, it really made so much sense we are surprised we have never read it or even heard it before. Pay very close attention to portion size. About 3 ounces. We have all heard of no more than a fist sized portion, well for beef make that about the size of a deck of cards. Here is the really cool tip. Think of beef or any type of meat as a side dish, not the main dish. Have most of your plate filled with fresh vegetables, leafy greens, beans and legumes. The meat is not the center piece of your meal it is a compliment to the other items. What a great way to view any meat, or poultry, for that matter.

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Day 54 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Best of Part II

reflection part IIWe covered some, best of, about our simple holistic tracking program, feeding our minds and basic diet guidelines yesterday. Today some, best of, on exercise and on spirituality. By the way best of really means selected topics to keep you focused or help you get focused. These posts are chock full of information, tips and direct guidance to transform yourself to living a holistic life. Use them as your personal reference library.  When you do, it will be extraordinary.

This truly is the best post on caring for your spirit. Contributed by John’s sister Liz;

….It’s the third topic here – caring for our spirit – which I’d like to talk about here. Caring for spirit needed to be integrated into our gypsy lifestyle. As John and Deb have stated before, it’s simple, but not always easy.

So here’s what I have most recently discovered. As John and Deb remind us, caring for spirit can occur in a number of ways: finding time for prayer, time for meditation, walking along the beach, watching a sunset, listening to music, for example. The key to the care of spirit is being present and attentive to what is going on right in front of you.

Let me give you a couple of examples of how this has unfolded for me. Our lifestyle now involves driving from place to place, endless hours of sitting in the passenger seat as my husband tows the trailer. I am sometimes asked how I “pass the time” while he drives. Do I listen to books on tape, in order to pass the time? Actually, I don’t.

Here’s why. About two weeks into the trip, I began to see little details in the towns and places that we passed along the roads. We travel mostly blue highways which means we get up close to communities and the people who live there. We drove through small towns with peculiar names (like Frostproof or Yeehaw Junction); we passed the local cafes that posted their specialties (like alligator stew, and possum jerky); we drove along empty stretches of highway that parallel old roads that seem to go nowhere and left me wondering why they were there; I observed the way the sky changed as weather moved in or out.

I stopped trying to escape the hours in the car and began to see them differently. I consciously decided that I needed to turn off the inpatient part of my brain (not an easy task for many of us) and settle into seeing what was right there in front of me. And without any chatter, or judging or comparing, I just noticed and observed and realized I really need to look at what was right here. This is another kind of spiritual practice. No need to go to church, to pick up a prayer book, just pay attention to what is right here, right now. To paraphrase Eckhart Tolle, the past is over, the future isn’t here yet, what we have is this moment, the present.

Caring for spirit happens whenever we turn off our busy mind, the thinking part of us that we use in our jobs, to make sure the shopping gets done, to get the bills paid, and keep our lives organized. Caring for spirit makes room for really seeing, really listening, to the silence, for the stillness, for experiencing the detail as all part of the larger tapestry which is our extraordinary life. Be present. Be here. See God in the details. Care for spirit.

A best of on exercise: The POWER of Accidental Exercise!

So what is accidental fitness? It is the art and science of maximizing both aerobic and anaerobic (resistance training to stimulate your muscles) during your day, not in addition to your day. Here is a list of things, many of which, anyone can do if they make exercise a priority.

  • Park WAY out in the parking lot if you drive to work and when you go to any place you shop. Not only will you increase your steps you will get significantly fewer dings from neighboring car doors. The quicker your pace the closer to that “brisk” threshold we often speak of.
  • When getting ready for work do “lunge” steps when walking around your home. Do the same at home in the evening. You could do this at work as well although fellow associates might question your sanity….
  • Keep some small free weights or better yet resistance bands, in your locker or at your desk (check with your supervisor, some companies have…interesting rules about this). Do resistance exercises throughout the day when you have a free hand.
  • “Fidget” at your desk whenever you can. If you have a mostly sedentary job you can burn up to 350 calories extra calories a day, not bad!
  • Stand when on the phone. If practical, walk in place when on conference calls, this all adds up, and adds up quickly!
  • Around the house spend more time playing outside with the kids than helping them with their video game settings. No kids, perfect, still spend more time outside moving. You can after all spend free time where ever you want to; John & Deb always prefer outside to inside.  Too cold outside, well walk in place while watching TV or listening to music.
  • Start or join a walking club at work- always great to have other people to walk and talk to. Too hard to get one started or there is no interest, go walking anyway at lunch. Remember “brisk walking” (we have a specific video on this, link at bottom of every blog). Lunch is a great time for those minimum 15 minutes of brisk walking by the way.
  • If your body allows, do squats (they are tough on the knees) while at your desk. John and Deb love wall squats, where you brace your back to a wall and “squat” as low as you can and hold for as long as you can.

The list is only limited by your imagination and your commitment to living an extraordinary life. At the end of the day it is about priorities. We promise you that if you do, as we suggest, for 66 consecutive days, you will find the synergy of mind, body and spirit, will open the gateway to an extraordinary life.

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Day 53 of Your 66 Day To An Extraordinary Life – “Best Of” Edition

reflectionTwo weeks left until day 66! People have asked what then? No the blog is not over, remember this is a lifestyle change and a life long commitment. The 66 Days is just boot camp/basic training, if you will.

We thought it important to hit some of the most important pieces of the last 52 posts. This will help you get focused, stay focused or reinforce what you are doing. This is part one of a two, maybe three part series. Here we go!

The Almond app is how you track your holistic life daily. Substitute raisins or baby carrots or give the almonds to the squirrels but you must have a system! Remember you start your day with 30 almonds and munch ‘um (starting with previous nights sleep), as you get your holistic living items done.

-7+ hours of sleep – 3 almonds

-At least 30 minutes of reflection, prayer, Reiki, meditation… – 3 almonds

-A minimum of 1/4 of an ounce (try to get to 1/3) of water per pound of body weight – 3 almonds

-A minimum of 15 minutes of brisk exercise and a total of 45 additional minutes of “accidental exercise – 3 almonds

-Within 100 calories (above or below) your daily caloric goal – 3 almonds

-80% of your calories come from unprocessed foods – 3 almonds

-No more than 60% of your calories come from carbohydrates – 3 almonds

-At least 20% of your calories come from protein – 3 almonds

-Laughter, that’s right do something fun, funny, silly, whatever – 3 almonds

-At least 30 minutes learning something of interest, documentary, or engaged in word or number puzzles – 3 almonds

That’s it for that, simple and powerful.

From Day 29 a section on the power of our mind and how to “feed it”

Dr Amen talks about feeding your brain to look and feel younger. A few hints here include actually decreasing the calories that you need. He says having the right nutrients is far more important then a lot of calories. So go ahead, restrict calories but increase organic vegetables, increase water, because hydration is critical. Here you see yet another source talking about the importance of water. Curbs appetite, hydrates the body, helps flush impurities it is just a wonderful thing for us. Additionally according to Dr Amen and many other doctors increase your activity. By activity, he means walking, running, weight resistance or any other activity that increases respiratory or heart rate for a period of 30 minutes or more. So, is Dr Amen saying that mind and body are directly connected?-absolutely.  He couldn’t be clearer about that. We would of course add the spiritual link to this because we will always believe you must have all three elements to achieve an extraordinary life.

From Day ONE. Eat right, and we LOVE those protein shakes.

-Portion control is critically important. Portions about the size of your fist and no more than three per meal. We strongly recommend a journal to record everything you eat and a calorie look up. There are books with calories counts as well as many online sources. everydayhealth.com has a calorie counter you can use online or you can load on your smart phone. Lose it also has an app for smart phones and an online counter at loseit.com

We cannot possible know your likes and dislikes with respect to food so we offer sample meals, just remember stay away from highly processed foods…….and snack items that are anything more than 10-12 almonds, walnuts or pecans or fresh vegetables, like carrot sticks. these are unlimited.

Breakfast – The protein shakes you have seen on our blog and our video is a great meal. Other favorites are an egg or two with a piece of whole wheat toast or some natural granola with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt. Yogurt and protein shakes are the preference because they are very high in protein something that is critical for your first meal of the day.

Lunch- small salad from home or I eat Subway chopped salads since the calories and size are predictable. I always have them add spinach, which adds nutrients.

Dinner-We have salmon and vegetable beef soup on our blog and videos. More potential items will be added.

Snacks – We love to see people eat nuts, almonds are our favorite either raw or lightly salted, with sea salt and roasted. You can also snack on baby organic carrots, raisins or some granola.

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Day 52 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – No, Really, Age is Just a Number

mature fitnessThis is a “continuation” blog, meaning we are writing more about what we wrote on day 51. Yesterday, we had discussed a different topic for this morning’s post but then we went to dinner. We have been visiting churches in our area, still searching for a new church home. Last night we had dinner with the Minister of a church we have been attending for about a month. During the get to know you portion, that always occurs, we realized all of us had 84+ mothers in various degrees of health. The minister shared with us his mother, age 92, was fighting the challenges of post cancer treatments. He also dropped an oh by the way that she just set the world record for the oldest person to complete a full marathon. We were stunned. We had seen this story on CBS Sunday morning, a month or so ago and were brought to tears by the tenacity of this woman. Fast forward to last night and we are eating dinner with her son. How cool is that! The 61 year old minster, also just coming out of a bought with cancer himself, has been inspired to join his Mom next year. Yes, she plans on running the San Diego marathon at age 93.

Well, if you need further proof of the myth of chronological aging, even when fighting something as horrible as cancer, look no further than this lady and her son. We talk about this transformation being a permanent change of lifestyle and along with that change comes many benefits. The primary benefit is a leveling off, or actually a reduction in your functional age- the age your body (including your mind which we always feel compelled to mention even though most of us know our brain/mind is part of our body) really is. You have a massive affect on your health, the earlier you start living holistically, the better, but if you are 85 and have never done anything close to this, start today. We are bombarded with preconceived notions about our age which we need to simply disregard. An example of this is until 10 years ago, it was strongly considered dangerous for people over the age of 60 to do resistance training. They were….too old. You might remember an earlier post when we talked about people past 40 losing 1-2% of their muscle mass per year. We also wrote that this could be halted and in fact reversed, meaning a 60 year old can ADD muscle. What we did not make clear is, why people past 40 lose muscle mass. The assumption would be it is just part of the aging process. This fits nicely into the narrative that our bodies just decline because they do. The reality is the narrative drives the deterioration, not our bodies. Said another way we are told to start “taking it easy” as we age. So since we are getting older we do exactly that, the result is we begin to atrophy. The more we atrophy the more we slow down. We are O.K. with this because after all we are getting older. Even our friends and family join in and typically either give us a pass or even worse warn us about too much activity.

Stop the madness and get control of your life. Absolutely work with your doctor, especially if you have not been living an active, healthy lifestyle, but at the end of the day it is your body. Aging is part of life, getting old is a choice. I’m sticking with that until I stop seeing people like Mom Vincent working out with resistance bands at 92 and the minster’s mom cranking out a full marathon at the same age.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER.

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Day 51 if Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Age Really Is Just a Number

age-is-just-a-numberBlessed to have surpassed 700 readers with subscribers signing up regularly. We had a testimonial come in from a healthy, active reader (he loves snowboarding), near 70, who made some simple adjustments to his diet and “movement” and has lost 12 pounds since he started reading our blog a little over a month ago. Way to go, Peter!

Peter is nearly 70, but we bet he does not think, act, or even understand what “70” means. We are conditioned from birth to “act our age” . When young, we never seem quite mature enough. As we age, society is designed to slow us down, to inhibit adventure, learning and exploring. It is not a conspiracy, it is just learned behavior. There is a relatively new field of study called, gerokinesiology. Essentially the study of the effect exercise has on helping in the prevention of getting old. If you really study it (John is pursuing his certification in senior fitness training) you will find it really encompasses, body, mind and spirit. You see at the end of the day, within certain limits, and excluding ravaging disease, or accidents, getting old is optional.

There are three types of age, chronological age, biological age and functional age. We have been trained since birth to pay attention exclusively, to chronological age. The problem is it is a terrible measure of what our age actually is. We do not deteriorate on some straight, line bar graph. Our genetics, life style including our physical and social environments, as well as our body, mind and spirit are contributing factors.  These factors, when combined with disease and physical impairment, due to accidents, or other factors, lead to biological or primary age. We lose function and we get older and older. Lastly we have functional age. This is where we focus, and it is the most accurate measure of what age we really are. We can measure it through fitness, cognitive tests and assessments- medical tests of our blood, urine, heart and other organs.  The funny part is these tests all refer back to chronological age. “You have the heart of a 40 year old”. “Your fitness test puts you in the 70-75 year range” (not good when you are 50 by the way). So our goal, is to reduce your functional age because age really is just a number.

The more you study gerokinesiology the more you clearly see that a holistic life, significantly reduces your biological age, and therefore the most important age, your functional age. The earlier in life you embrace a holistic life the “younger” you will be, period. That being said it is never to late to start! Slowing the process of getting old can start at any age. Remember John’s Mom started using resistance bands for toning at age 92! No you are not going to live forever, but we are designed to live 110-120 years. Few if any of us reading or writing this blog will get there but what about a wonderful quality of life into your 80’s? Change your mindset TODAY. Forget chronological age, it truly is just a number. Live holistically and reduce your biological age, which will absolutely reduce your real age, your functional age.

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Day 50 of Your 66 Day To An Extraordinary Life – Dedicate Exercise

fitnessToday is national fitness day, or something like that, so when in Rome….As our regular reader and subscribers know the bulk of what we write about, with respect to exercise, is around either accidental or intentional exercise. The intentional exercise piece, is  centered around planning your workday better to make sure there is movement. Today is about more traditional intentional exercise, we will simply call it traditional exercise.

When Deb and John first met, Deb would get a kick out of John’s view of exercise.  If you did not have gym shorts on, and you were not going for a jog, or working out with weights, for x amount of time, you were not exercising. Very rigid, very old school view of exercise, and frankly not where most of us will get our exercise from. That being said, we should absolutely build in 4 sessions per week of traditional, intentional exercise. That way you assure all muscle groups are being worked consistently. Stretching, followed  by a 30 minute brisk walk, fast bike ride or jog, either out in a mall (no bicycles in the mall, please) or outside if the weather permits, or on a treadmill. Make sure you stretch after you finish as well. Start to finish these are 40-45 minute sessions. Next workout is pure resistance training, free weights or resistance bands. We demonstrate several different exercises in our videos (link at bottom of every blog post). After stretching work two or three specific body parts, i.e. shoulder, chest and back, or legs, arms and stomach. The goal here is each exercise has you performing 3 sets with 10-12 repetitions of exercise in each set. Use enough weight, or tension on your bands to have great difficulty getting to 12 but you can at least do 10. When finished remember to stretch out again. Resistance training is not only critical for maintaining muscle mass as we age ( we lose 1 1/2 to 2% per year beginning around age 40 unless we do something about it) it also raises your BMR because muscle needs to be “fed” all day.  Always give a day or rest between this type of dedicated exercise whether it be running or weight training and never work the same body parts, two workouts in a row. Either the 3rd or 4th workout each week is a stacking workout, which we have talked about in an earlier blog. Basically stacking is combining your cardio with resistance training. Stop jogging and do some squats, lunges, or push ups. Stacking is best done in a gym, or at home (jog in place, do jumping jacks) when you do push ups in the mall there are two issues. First who knows what is in/on that carpet and secondly it might result in having security called on you :). So, do your stacking in a workout friendly environment.

When you build in these 4 traditional sessions, along with all that daily accidental and intentional exercise, it will get you well on your way to maintaining you body in peak condition. Congratulations!!

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Day 49 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Spirituality Is Critical

faithHolistic living is not complete, nor can it be successful without a strong spiritual component. It is a major reason we started this blog. Tons of quality material out there on diet and exercise. Some good stuff out there on the importance of mental stimulation and tons of great material on spirituality. The great divide we saw was nobody speaking about spirituality, really dove into the other areas, and it seemed that nobody talking mind and body, would go beyond a mention of spirituality, so here we are with this blog. You must have all three. We are Christians so that is our approach, but there are many others as well, find what works for you.

We talk often about spiritual development and have tied it to living an extraordinary life but today we wanted to explore the specific reasons why it is so important. The two we are going to focus on here today are anxiety and hope. All of us live through tough times. So many things can go wrong in life, illnesses, money problems, troubled children and losing a job, all can create significant challenges. Why does spiritual development help us cope with all of the bad things life throws at us? The answer is that it makes us realize in the larger scheme of things, this too shall pass. Joel Osteen in his book Become a Better You talks about keeping the strife out of your life. A spiritually developed person will know when strife enters and will see the dangers of strife taking over. A  spiritually immature person will create strife, put ego first and create drama, increasing anxiety, without realizing they were a contributing factor to their own situation. There is also a direct correlation between fear and anxiety. A couple of examples are fear of the unknown, fear of death, and fear of the future. Sound like anything you have experienced? According to Calmclinic.com fear shows a lack of faith in God. Increase faith in God, you reduce fear and therefore reduce anxiety.

In Bible.Org they talk about modern hope as a wish for, or an expectation without certainty of fulfillment. In the Bible, hope, in the Hebrew and Greek translations of hope, mean a strong and confident expectation. Do you see how if you view hope as a wish, it may or may not come true, and you may, or may not recognize, it if it does? Think of hoping for the dream job. Years go by and you are still in the same job. Eventually you give up hope and the new, dream job comes along, only you forget to be thankful because you actually forgot it was what you really wanted. Picture this, you hope for the dream job but you get the training you need for it, you apply, get a mentor to coach you on interviews skills and low and behold, you get the dream job. Your actions and belief were all in concert and created a new reality. You are immediately grateful and the next time you want something, it’s hope+action, Greek and Hebrew style.  In the Bible, hope is never a static or passive thing. It is always dynamic, active, directive and life sustaining. So, hope is a certainty, with action required. Buddhism also talks about hope as needing action. In the book Peace Is Every Step, it talks about hope being important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. The counter to this, is that clinging to the future does not allow actions today that can actually change the circumstances. In this situation, Buddhists see hope as a kind of obstacle not allowing the joy of today to shine through or the solutions of tomorrow.

Whatever your spiritual path, anxiety won’t go away without faith, and hope won’t change the circumstances without action.

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Day 48 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Less is More Edition

less_is_moreWhat we wanted to explore today was what gets in the way of having a completely satisfactory life? Why can’t we decide we want to lose weight, be healthier, have a spiritual awakening or go back to school and just do it? For most people, it’s the stuff that gets in the way. Stuff being commitments at work, home projects, cleaning, laundry, yard work and it goes on and on. In a book by Leo Babauta, called The Power of Less, Babauta explores the idea that if we had less stuff in our lives, we could really focus on more important things.

In the first chapter, Babauta discusses the kind of world we live in, where more is better. The more includes, cars, clothes, income, houses, vacations, and how we show we are winning at the game of life is having the most stuff. But stuff often just interferes with a deeper satisfaction that comes from very different places. One of Babauta’s strategies, and it does appear he’s figured it out, is choosing things with the most impact. What we would tell you is that if the choice isn’t something that stimulates the mind, develops the spirit, or feeds the body, it is a waste of time. What if we lived by limits but still participated in all life had to offer? Babauta writes specifically about living without limits and offers a superb analogy. If we just received a tax refund and wanted to go on a bit of a spending spree we would go shopping, spend a bunch of money, and wind up with bags full of things, we may or may not have any real use/need for. We wind up with stuff.  Now from time to time it is fun to “treat” yourself but the point is broader. If you said I’m only going to spend $200, no matter what I see, what I fall in love with, I’m only going to spend $200 no matter what. Now you have a clear limit. You look at the clothes, or the electronic gadget and you have to decide what do I really want. What a powerful and practical analogy for what we spend our lives doing. The point here is that without limits, you will spend your life full open, indulging in everything, but those things that truly bring satisfaction.

The essence of limits, the essence of the power of less, is eliminating the clutter. Take some time, make some time and record where your time, your money, your energy goes. Track it for a week. Just like tracking calories, exercise, sleep, fun, stimulating your mind, track where your time and money goes. After this look at what is on the “list” that really matters and what is just adding to your own life’s clutter. As we said earlier if it is not feeding your mind, body or spirit, ask why are you doing it, or why are you buying it?

The elephant in the room, we can sense from our subscribers is that what we do for a living, our work, drives unhappiness. It’s O.K. if we hate our work, if we don’t like anything about it after all, “it pays the bills”. Well we would argue that you should either find a way, for at least a portion of your work, to feed, your body, mind or spirit, or immediately start looking for a new job. This is not Utopian, it is something you control, if you choose to. Again is it adding to the clutter, or is it adding to the quality of your holistic life? This is clearly an important topic and not solved in this one blog, so we will explore it again in the future.

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