Thursday, December 30, 2010

Everyday lifestyle

Too often, we see advertisement about that quick new diet, new regime that claim that it'll change the way we live our lives to make us prettier, happier, and more satisfied.

Yet when you really think about it, will we really be prettier, happier, and satisfied?

Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't, but how long does it really last? How long can one maintain one's weight at this stage. What you'll find that it only provides short term benefits and doesn't or isn't something that necessary lasts a long time as you will find it will be challenging to maintain the appropriate discipline or that there may be side effects.

However, rather than focusing your effects on taking shortcuts to achieve short terms gains such as this, I believe we should focus on changing aspects of our lives for the long term in ways that we will always enjoy and love. Because when you think about it, there are simple and easy things that you can incorporate in your life that will yield benefits without you trying too hard, so that it becomes part of your everyday lifestyle.

Here are some examples of things/ activities that you can incorporate into your lifestyle to keep you healthy:

Exercise

  • Stairs - Take the stairs where possible especially when only go up a couple of levels. An easier task when going down rather than up. 
  • Getting off the bus stop one stop early - Consider getting off the bus that one stop earlier. If you think about it, it's generally a block or two more that you might need to walk, but you'll be able to explore a new part of an area you probably won't have seen before.

Nutrition

  • Eat nutritional over not as nutritional food - Use your commonsense and understanding of what would have more vitamins and minerals. For instance, a over a hamburger would generally have more vitamins and minerals than a hot dog due to what's normally in a hamburger (i.e. lean/ minced meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese) vs a hot dog (i.e. sausage, bread, cheese). Of course, having neither at times may be the better decision but if you had to choose between the two than I'd say take the one that comprises of those vitamins and minerals that will keep you healthy. See nutritional value for more details.

Measures such as these may seem small, but incorporating them into your everyday lifestyle is often what allow you to find the time to fit exercise in and actually feel like you're not just exercising or eating healthy for the sake of it. It's more than that and allows you to achieve something else in your life at the same time...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Living up to 'expectations'

Each of us have had expectations put forward on us at some point of our lives, and sometimes we feel as though we have been expected to undertake some of the most challenging feats of our lives.

Yet amongst it all, we generally don't realise the effect that these expectations can have of us. For example, back in your high school years, if you weren't expected to get high marks, than would you have achieved some (or all) of those high marks you achieved? If you weren't expected to finish high school, would you have finished anyway? These are some of the questions that can be asked to determine how motivated you were to actually learn and socialise rather than simply undertaking activities as it was expected of you. Would you simply complete the task and leave it at that? Or would you go above and beyond the task at hand? Would you achieve the latter if you felt as though you had potential to do more?

Well, recently I came across this interesting concept called the 'Pygmalion effect' that discusses the effect that expectations can have on people. Basically it desires some of the possible effects of 'expectations' and can give you insight into why you find people behaving the way they do and what drives them to go that one step further.

The Pygmalion effect is when people tend to live up what is expected of them and they to do better, when treated as though they're capable of more.

So when someone expects you to finish just high school, you'll finish it, yet if they have encouraged you and made you feel like you can do more than that, then you'll not only finish high school but you'll complete it with flying colours, perhaps even going the step further and seek to undertake the next challenge - going to university.

That is in essence, the effect of the Pygmalion effect.

Expectations fall upon us not only from others around us but from ourselves, and sometimes that is the hardest expectation to overcome of all. Yet realising how expectations can affect us so hopefully helps you to understand how to set realistic expectations on oneself. If you've ever done goal setting before than that is simply a form of setting expectations on oneself, and one of the suggestions they give when setting goals is to make sure that it is realistic and that you feel like you can achieve the task. So if we can manage our self expectations of ourselves, we can improve our self confidence. If we believe we can succeed and contribute, than our own thoughts rise to allow us to bring us to reach our goals and encourage ourselves to exceed them...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The responsible citizen

‘Responsibility’. It’s a strong word, and even dreadful to some, but what does it mean to be responsible?

Dictionary.com defines ‘responsible’ as having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action.

So that mean being responsible is undertaking rational actions right?

Well the other day I saw someone exhibit a clear display of responsibility. Someone who if you saw downtown at the local pub you’d might think twice and assume that they weren’t the type to do so but I’ve find that people will always surprise you. Given the right situation, people can exceed your initial expectations which is why they say looks can be deceiving and that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Well this situation was just that. So there I was waiting at the local train station, and nearby there was this empty beer bottle sitting there on the train platform – sitting really close to the tracks. It wasn’t rolling or anything but it seems as though it has been sitting there for a while. Perhaps even the night before, but since I was at a manned station maybe not that long, but still, I’m assuming a couple of hours at the least.

Anyways, there was bloke probably in his mid 40s, tattoos and the like, the typical bloke you’ll probably just be extra cautious of and seek to not look at him in the wrong way... Well, he just casually picked up the bottle and threw it in the bin (the proper recycling bin by the way) and walked off as though there was nothing of it.

I just thought it was just surprising to witness someone doing that, particularly someone unexpected, as it must have been ignored by so many other people.... He acted in a responsible way, unlike many others who you generally hope would in similar situations. Perhaps it was having no fear of the bottle as the others may have, fear of germs, the perception of others etc.

Well, the moral of this story is never judge a book by it's cover as you never know what to expect from people, as I always find, people will always surprise you! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Those jolly old Christmas cards...

It's that time of year again, a time of rest, joy and time with friends and family. That is, it's Christmas time!

I'm generally not much for presents, but I do find that there is something that I particularly enjoy and that is giving and receiving Christmas cards. Now I hadn't given and received one for years (around primary school) but it wasn't until about a year ago when I received a Christmas card from my fellow Lions club members that I remembered the feeling that was.

I'm not too sure what it is about it, but it's the simple act of taking the time to think of and write kind yet simple words that seems to be able to lighten one's day. So this year I made sure I have written my cards and made them as thoughtful as possible. It can be quite surprising how a gesture so small and simple can have such an effect, yet it's effects can be quite 'priceless'...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Some of my favourite quotes

I'd thought I'll share some of my favourite quotes with you. Someone once told me that these can also be called  'affirmations' (positive statements), if you find them as words or phrases that help inspire and motivate you, as it does for me at times. I learnt most of these during my uni days when I studied philosophy as an elective. I hope that they serve you as well as they have served me. If you're looking for some context, I do mention these in my posts from time to time (which you'll find tagged as 'quotes').


"If we only do what is required of us we are slaves, the moment we do more we are free" - Cicero 


"Experience suggests that though we cannot do everything, we can always do something!" - Douglas J. Soccio


"a person is nothing else but what he makes of himself" - Jean Paul Satre


"Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is" - Erich Fromm


"Reach what you cannot!" - Niko Kazantzakis

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Basic introduction to meditation

I picked up this meditation book the other day called, "Journey into healing", which I found described how to meditate in a very easy to learn way. I'd thought I'd share it some of their tips as well as my own. I hope you find it useful, particularly if you were thinking about meditating or trying again if you haven't been able to successfully meditate yet, as it can be a bit tricky to get started.

How to meditate:
  1. Find a comfortable place to sit - You can start by sitting comfortably in a quiet place where you will have a minimum amount of disturbance. Some people find it easier to lie down and meditate you can do so also but you’ll need to make sure you don’t fall asleep. Later on with practice you may find that you may be able to meditate anywhere.
  2. Close your eyes – While closing your eyes is not essential, doing so will help you to stay focused as you will won’t be tempted to observe possible distractions.
  3. Observe your breathing – Observe your breathing while trying not to control or alter it in any conscious way. 
  4. Gently keep your attention on your breathing – Now as you keep doing this you will notice that your attention drifts away from your breathing and you are thinking about other things or listening to noises around you. When you notice this, gently bring your attention back to your breathing. 
  5. Meditate and come back to normal slowly - Once you’re comfortable for the duration of your meditation, say 10-15 minutes. Spend another couple of minutes allowing yourself to slowly come out of the meditation and open your eyes fully.
Possible outcomes:
When meditating you may find that one of the following occurs: 
  1. Feeling of boredom or restlessness and your mind may become filled with thoughts –  This may indicate that there are deep inner stresses and emotions that are being released from your system – as you meditate you may find it helps you to begin to clear them from your mind and in turn, its effects on your body. 
  2. You may fall asleep during meditation – This may mean that you need some more rest.
  3. You may slip into the “gap” -  This is when the breath becomes very settled and feels more comfortable, and you have found that you’ve slip into the gap between your thoughts. You may find yourself unaware (blocking out) sounds and the world around you. This is where you want to be as your mind is free from the general everyday disturbances. 
Next steps:
  1. Practice often - Once you feel you've mastered the initial step of meditating you can start meditating more regularly and for longer, and may find that you feel much calmer and relaxed as a result. Some people suggest that you meditate twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. While this is great, please make sure that you are generally enjoying the benefits of meditating and that it doesn't become a chore (otherwise, like most things, you may find it ineffective for you). 
  2. Use techniques to enhance your meditation - There are different postures and gestures that you can use while meditating that simulates different aspects of meditation, this includes changing the way you breath (such as breathing more from your upper chest, or deeper breathing). I'd say try as many styles as possible and then select the few that you are most comfortable with. 
  3. Meditate in a way that's comfortable for you - I sometimes meditate in the full lotus position and often create a chi energy ball (see chi bending), but not always. Sometimes I meditate in the half lotus position, or even while just sitting down on the bus or on the plane, essentially when I may be feeling anxious. With practice and concentration, you'll find that you can meditate anywhere and anytime you wish. 
  4. Learn more about meditation - As mentioned earlier, I read "Journey into healing: Awakening the wisdom within you", by Deepak Chopra, as I am always looking for ways to improve and learn how to do things differently. I would encourage you to do the same and find what works best for you, whichever way, just make sure you enjoy it :)