Make your bed for discipline

Make your bed, how small disciplines make a difference.

My mother never instilled the habit of make your bed, in me. I believe it could have helped me more in my early years to develop discipline and commitment. While this small action could have created a flow on effect, I can’t know that for sure. My mother never nagged me about making my bed, I think she just gave up. The bed only got messed up, so there was no point, I didn’t feel like making it anyway. I could have come up with a thousand excuses not to make it, if pressed hard enough.

Make your bed
I told you if you make your bed it would make a difference

The reasoning behind make your bed correctly first thing in the morning, is the act of creating a good ritual. You find other intrinsically good habits naturally follow. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a sense of pride if you make it correctly and encourage you to do other tasks correctly. Making your bed correctly will reinforce, that the little things in life done well, do matter. If you can’t do the little things right, doing the big things right will be harder.

Bed making in the Military.

The military drills its recruits over and over again in the skills of bed making, the men have to do it right, with no excuses and it has to be done quickly. This action develops the soldiers discipline and attention to the smallest detail. The discipline of bed making can seem ridiculous in the context of what these soldiers are being asked to do, but bed making has been proven to help with discipline. If done right, the bed has “hospital” corners, the covers pulled tight and the pillow centered just under the headboard.

This symbol of a well made bed, is a scene familiar to fans of war movies. The Drill Sargent paces up and down the barracks, inspecting the soldiers beds. Tension fills the air, as the men break out in a sweat. He takes a quarter from his pocket and bounces it on the bed. If it’s not tight enough and doesn’t bounce correctly, it’s give me fifty push ups and remake the bed. We recognize this as setting the standards for the individuals future actions, these actions will require attention to detail in possible life and death situations.

Hospital beds.

Hospital bed making is a discipline that nurses perform as a fundamental part of their training. Only this time the comfort of patients is paramount. In the past the fiery matron did her rounds on the wards. Nurses had to remake the beds if they weren’t made to a certain standard. The patients were the focus, in the various bed making styles that the nurses performed. As in the military, the detail in bed making was seen as a discipline, to excellence in all areas. While the discipline of bed making is no longer the responsibility of the matron. This responsibility for bed making still exists.

The discipline of bed making is used in a counter intuitive way, even though the bed is made to an excellent standard, it’s not seen that way by the instructor. Which makes it hard to understand as everything required has been done. The lesson being taught is, even if you do everything right in life, there are no guarantees that it will be judged that way. Life can be unfair at times. Therefore, having to push through these situations when they arise, is a lesson well learned.

You’ve made your bed.

“You’ve made your bed, now lie in it” implies, that you’ve made your bed poorly, or made bad life choices, so making it uncomfortable to lie in and now you have no choice. This mindset is normalized and is often never questioned. Decisions that met your needs and desires are often out-grown. You may have tapped into a creative or different way of thinking that wasn’t available in the past, also love and respect can be a part of that. Leaving the “bed” and trying out different beds as we need to, is a healthy and productive way to live life.

Making your bed to an excellent standard, is a great start to the day and can lead to developing discipline in life. Small things done well, can lead to bigger things done better. Because comfort in bed is vital for a good nights sleep, to have the covers pulled so tight that we feel like a cheese slice between two pieces of bread is uncomfortable. Our desire is to feel snug, comfortable and protected, in the bed we choose to lie in.

Make your bed
Make your bed not me I’m just a dog

 

Eudaimonia benefits arrive later

Eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia is a Greek word often translated as happiness, Aristotle thought that true happiness was found by leading a virtuous life and doing what was worth doing. He argued that realising human potential was the ultimate goal, existing in every individual only awaiting the proper conditions to be released and expressed. He saw these conditions as working hard, cultivating virtues and excelling at tasks that nature and circumstance brought to you. Happiness is an emotion, whereas eudaimonia is a comprehensive state of being. Happiness is created and lost in a moment, but eudaimonia takes effort to build and has staying power.

Eudaimonia doesn’t come from pleasure but hopefully leads towards it. Eudaimonic acts are generally harder to practice in the moment, benefits arrive later. They exact a cost in effort and discipline, but enhance long term excellence. Eudaimonic desires are about giving to the world and in doing that becoming a better more virtuous individual.

Intention.

Eudaimonia benefits arrive later
Eudaimonia the goal for true happiness

Eudaimonic acts must largely be cultivated intentionally going against our natural inclinations. Carving out a new mindset where our desires are lined up with eudaimonic acts most of the time. Looking for a shift of emphasis, rather than complete abstinence. What matters is that we start where we are and move in the right direction, this can be applied immediately. For each action taken throughout the day, ask yourself if your moving towards eudaimonia or towards hedonistic acts. Wants and desires naturally shift as we go through life and it’s important to except these tendencies.

Our desire for food keeps us from starving its the desire for food after we have eaten enough that causes us problems. The same applies to money when we have very little there is a need to want more. But  when we have enough and keep pursuing more this can cause problems. As I’m getting older my wants are naturally less, but with entrenched habits being harder to deal with, intention is being alive to the reality I have and not denying it.

Benefits.

Working with unadulterated focus, to develop body, mind and spirit to their fullest potential can reap many rewards. Especially when undertaken in ones youth, it can act as a foundation that sets the rest of life on the right course. Even if we are older we can and should find ways to periodically escape from the noise and distractions of the world to find solitude and “sharpen our saw.” Whether it’s a morning hike, an evening meditation, or a solo camping trip. These solitary acts clear the mind, rejuvenate the body and leave us better prepared for life’s challenges. This helps to develop a moral compass, guided by the virtues of courage, fairness, consistency, selflessness and respect. A personal code of honor that keeps the mind pure and sharp.

“I  wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life. The life of toil and effort, of labor and strife. To preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph” Theodore Roosevelt

Cushy life.

How do we find a worthwhile struggle, in a culture that doesn’t seem to have much to push against? Deciding to work hard and exercise is relatively easy to do. It could be finding the less obvious challenges. Trying to solve a problem that may not have an answer. Building something that nobody cares about yet. Or saying out loud what you believe in when your not on the side of the majority. Or doing something for no other reason than you want to, because you have trust in yourself that it’s a good idea. In our strongest moments we assume we can resist what others couldn’t, if we can get past the BS we are often fed there will be more of a chance.

A frugal heart.

A frugal heart.

We stayed silent by the brazier until far into the night. I once again felt how simple and frugal is the thing called happiness. A glass of wine, a roast of chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else. And all that is required, to feel that here and now is happiness, is a simple, frugal heart” Zorba the Greek. When we cultivate a frugal heart we can enjoy life no matter what the conditions. We know that money might enhance the number of our potential pleasures, but we can also be content with the possibilities we have for enjoyment now. This emboldens us to live more fully and to enjoy living in the present.

A frugal heart frees us to make decisions based on creating the life we want to live, instead of optimizing money at every turn. Many people dedicate their lives to something they couldn’t care less about, because it’s the most profitable path. If we have a frugal heart, we are less likely  to go into debt as we don’t need wealth to live the good life. Without the burden of debt, we’re able to make decisions more freely. A frugal heart makes it easier to act honorably and to live a flourishing life. The desire for money weakens and values change as a result.

Simple pleasures.

“Simple pleasures are always the last refuge of the complex” Oscar Wilde. It becomes harder to enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer in a complex and stressful world. We often tell ourselves we have no time. Clicking on social media often happens because of boredom, this subtly creates more complexity and obligations of comparison. We have and create so many obligations, ruminating on the past and worrying about the future. The needy heart  enslaves us where as a frugal heart can set us free. The less we expect from others the better our relationships. The simpler the food we eat, the better our health. The less passion we expect from life the more tranquility we’ll have. It’s not to aim for less, but to learn to appreciate less.

“Two different models, two different pictures, are held out to us, according to which we may fashion our own character and behavior the one more gaudy and glittering in its coloring. The other more correct and more exquisitely beautiful in its outline. The one forcing itself upon the notice of every wandering eye. The other, attracting the attention of scarce anybody but the most studious and careful observer. Adam smith. 

Everyday life.

It’s socially dangerous to enjoy what others consider ordinary. Shunning desire for the extraordinary life we are supposed to “dream” of, in favor of embracing the ordinary life that we normally have. It’s really about having respect for are own personal experience, as we live our everyday life. “Everyday life has been vilified as the worthless residue left behind….the coffee grounds that must be thrown out when the stimulating potion has been brewed. If the everyday is everything that is ignored by official forms of knowledge and authority, this very invisibility gives it the potential for strangeness, freedom and even subversion. Henry lefebvre. Perhaps the bravest thing any of us can do , is to be willing in the ways that truly matter, to be ordinary and embrace the concept of the frugal heart.

A frugal heart
A frugal heart

 

Grateful for being.

Grateful for being.

God, if you just let me get through this crisis in my life I will be so grateful, I will try my hardest to be a good person and never complain about trivial things ever again. “Why me” though, what did I do wrong? God must think, now that’s a question only you can answer. Ok then “Why not me” I’ve noticed bad things don’t just happen to bad people. Good or bad is a value judgement, but when I look at friends and family, it’s obvious some people have more than their share of tragedy. They don’t go looking for it either, it just arrives again and possibly again. There’s no rules involved, it’s completely random, getting through one tragedy doesn’t absolve you from another.

Are tragedies and bad luck character building, maybe that’s the answer. We don’t know what we have, until we don’t have it anymore, then we are grateful for a short while. “Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairytale” Wale Ayeni. Being grateful is almost a cliché now, it’s common sense and most of us give being grateful some thought, but often not for very long. Grateful for getting out of a difficult situation or averting a bad moment in our lives. But not grateful for just being and hanging on to that feeling for an extended period of time.

Grateful for health.

Well we’re all grateful for that aren’t we? When it comes to our health and wellbeing, we’re told to count our blessings. Self help books swear by the process and increasingly so does science. Ask anyone about life’s pleasures. It’s often the quality of social relationships and the purposefulness of activities which derive the most satisfaction. Put simply, gratitude is a state of being thankful or a readiness to show appreciation for and returning kindness. This can be from helping people and when you focus on the positive aspects of your own life. I have commented on this before, as I continue to focus on all the wonderful aspects and people I am surrounded by, my outlook on life has improved.

Hiking in nature has been my passion for a while now, and something I have been grateful for. Living in an area that permits me to escape into solitude on a regular basis. The last few weeks have changed those feelings as it became painful to walk. I struggled on of cause, never one to admit defeat easily or own up to a problem. Men go to the doctor less often than women anyway. As long as we’re working and feeling productive that seems to be enough. Two hernias in my groin was the diagnosis “but” why does there have to be a “but” when you don’t want one? There is also a suspicious area that was highlighted by the scan on the pancreas as well.

Grateful for social media?

Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Michael Landon all come up on social media sites. Thanks google for calming me down and bringing everything into perspective. I had a diagnosis a few years ago of plural plaque on my lungs from exposure to asbestos fibers. This wasn’t the very serious mesothelioma, but it can turn into it at any time. This involves yearly check ups to monitor the situation. Every year it’s the same, I ask and answer the same questions. If it’s all right again this time I will be really grateful and never complain about trivial things again. It has made me more grateful, but with each passing each year I gain more confidence. This confidence seems to take away some of the gratitude I had in the early stages.

Pancreatic cancer the silent killer, by the time you discover or have the symptoms it’s to late. Web Doctor could be wrong this time. I had plenty of restless nights wondering how things would turn out. I convinced myself that if somehow I managed to last a bit longer, I would do one more hike somewhere peaceful and be really grateful to be able to do that. “But” I would be even more grateful if I only needed my hernias fixed up. Well I went to the doctor yesterday for the final results of a follow up scan. I’m a freak of nature apparently. Born with an unusual configuration of the pancreas, the unusual configuration mirrored a tumor but was in fact, normal. Of course I’m grateful really grateful this time and I have a really strong feeling that I will never forget, how grateful.

Grateful for being
Grateful I’ve seen the light

 

 

 

 

Occuring in the presence of more oxygen

Oxygen improves thinking.

Walking does more than work the area below your neck, it has many cognitive benefits as well. Blood pressure and blood flow increase in the body and the brain. More blood means more energy and oxygen, which makes the brain perform better. Especially relevant to grey hikers are recent studies that indicate exercising can actually reverse shrinkage in parts of the brain. Consequently this leads to a memory boost in older adults. Our “hunter gatherer” ancestors were probably fleeing a predator or chasing their next meal. Extra blood flow to the brain helped them react quickly to any impending threat, or to kill prey that was critical to their survival. Opposite to us who spend the majority of our time sitting down, or doing very little sustained exercise.

How can I get more oxygen to my brain? We all know our bodies need attention in order to grow and be healthy. This means we need a good diet and exercise, but what about our brain? What does it need to be able to grow, to heal and to learn in the best way it can? Walk for an immediate dose of oxygen for your brain, a low intensity activity like walking effectively oxygenates your brain. Without expending oxygen on other parts of the body. The key is to breathe from your abdomen in a relaxed way. Breathe through your nose and not your mouth under normal conditions. Forced walking or running may be good for you too. But it causes your muscles to absorb much more of the oxygen in your system and that can hinder your thinking process.

Normalize breathing.

The prime goal is to normalize breathing and body oxygenation. Normal breathing is invisible and inaudible also light and relaxed. We take a tiny or small inhalation and immediately relax for a longer exhalation then take a small inhalation again. Normal breathing provides the body with superior oxygenation, so the brain is getting it’s fair share. Creative thinking tests on subjects while seated and while walking found the walkers thought more creatively. Walking of course offers infinite chances for engagement with the outside world. If you see a beautiful flower and decide to stop and smell it, you can. Or if you see a side track hidden behind the trees. It’s time to explore with curiosity, it’s all about engagement, relaxation and bringing more presence to the moment.

Normal breathing coupled with backward walking interestingly makes your heart rate rise higher than it does walking forwards at the same pace. Which suggests that you get greater cardiovascular benefits in a shorter period of time. There appears to be benefits for our brain too. Walking backwards obviously sharpens your thinking skills and enhances cognitive control. Backward walking is a physical activity also quite passive. It’s also a movement that requires brain activity that may help you stay mentally sharp. Your senses are put into overdrive as you move in an unfamiliar way, oxygen levels are stimulated in the brain as a result. I can’t see it catching on, but it could open up some interesting possibilities. Try these more formal ideas for creative thinking.

Oxygen for creative thinking.

1 Walk away from your desk, in doing this you walk away from your phone, fax and e-mail. Don’t take them with you.

2 Use a digital handheld recorder. The recorder not only captures your ideas, but also the level of energy and passion behind them.

3 Prepare before you go. Decide beforehand the topic or project your going to work on. This helps you stay focused.

4 Don’t combine your creative thinking walk with other errands, that will distract you.

5 Vary your trails, the stimulation of different scenery can only enhance your creative thinking process.

6 Pick a pace that works best for your creative process. For some of us it’s walking slowly and methodically thinking things through. For others it’s a fast pace that helps more.

7 Try to stay away from high traffic areas, street noise and distractions take away from the thinking process.

8 If you have a dog or dogs then you get to walk twice a day. You can’t get caught up in their digging or interaction with other dogs.

9 Dress appropriately and comfortably.

10 My personal favorite, walking in the rain, this is where my creative juices really start to flow.

There are many other methods that can be used to stimulate the creative thinking process, hopefully some of these ideas may possibly work for you.

Occuring in the presence of more oxygen
More oxygen we need to think about this

Work your way into Passion

These are the good old days.

Everything sucks some of the time, everything we do has a cost, spending time on one thing is an opportunity lost to another. The question becomes, what struggle or sacrifice are we willing to tolerate? What determines our passion to stick with something we care about? It has to be our ability to handle the bad patches and ride out the inevitable bad days. Great things are, by their nature, unique and unconventional, to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality and do what scares us.

We can’t “think” are way into our life’s passion, we have to “do” our way in, take a mental note from Nike and  just do it. To find your passion you must see that your mission is bigger than yourself, it’s knowing that you were put on this earth for a reason, if you don’t know your why yet, it’s time to fight for it, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how Friedrich Nietzsche” 

Follow your passion?

A lot of career and life advise is built around the platitude of  “follow your dreams” “follow your heart” but if we wait for our passion, we will always be waiting, it will be pure chance if it ever happens. We have to put strategies in place to enhance the possibility of finding our passion. Trying many things for the first time with curiosity and discovery. We may have to go down blind alleys, but that’s something we need to do. We have to allow ourselves to see things differently. Gratitude can help, realizing we already have far more than most people could ever dream of. Freedom, a safe environment, clean drinking water and many other things that we take for granted. From the perspective of most of the worlds population, we already have a head start in finding passion.

Follow opportunity.

Work your way into passion
Passion at work

The notion that we can just find a passion and follow it, is a very destructive idea, very few people have any idea what their passion is or how to fulfil it. Find your passion not only by “doing” but by working hard doing something which can then, become your passion. Never giving up on your dreams may keep you from finding your passion, because your looking in the wrong direction. We have become obsessed with the idea that the only way to find happiness is to follow your passion. Passion is about authenticity, it’s partly discovered and partly created. You cant expect to have a good working life until your actually good at something.

Authentic.

Inside each and everyone of us is at least, one authentic thing. Something we are born with, that is ours alone, that doesn’t need to be taught or learned, it only needs to be remembered. Think back on your life and try to remember the things that came naturally to you. It doesn’t matter how quirky they are, a clue could be lurking there. Take a look at your book collection, magazines and CD’s, these are the things your gravitating towards. Look at the things your already spending your time, money and energy on, are there recurring things happening?

In the mundane.

You can bring this touch into everything you do, no matter what the task, do it with as much enthusiasm and energy as you possibly can. Focusing on every task, washing the dishes, cleaning your teeth or the task at hand in your workplace. You may not need a complete overhaul, if you can’t change what your doing, you can always change how your doing it. We only have two choices, stop doing it, or change our mindset and try to enjoy it. Any other choice will only bring unhappiness.

Taking action on your passion often involves little or no cash outlay, it can be a hobby that fires you up, or a cause that you feel strongly about. It can be brought to the mundane, bringing motivation to an otherwise ordinary task. These definitions of passion seem plain ordinary, aren’t passions supposed to be artistic, or inspirational, aren’t they supposed to wow !!! everyone.

Old age isn’t for wimps.

Old age my personal unwish list.

 

1. No matter how much I shake my penis after I  pee it’s never enough.

2. Not too many compliments. A guy needs a compliment from time to time.

3. My wife expects me to kill all the bugs, I’m scared of spiders too.

4. I’m polite with everyone, but I really don’t give a fuck anymore and that’s not written on my tee-shirt either.

5  My mind signs contracts my body can’t keep.

6 Testicles require readjusting at times, this can be anywhere any time.

7 Getting up twice a night for a pee and tripping over the cat because I forgot to put my glasses on.

8 Asking someone to repeat what they said for the third time, then taking a guess and looking like an idiot because I got it wrong.

9 Going to the shed three times because I  keep forgetting what I went for.                                                                                         

10 Hiding down the supermarket aisle, because I  keep forgetting that persons name, who remembers mine.  

11 My kids are looking  middle aged.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

12 Meeting friends I once played strip poker with, now we’re comparing the medications we take.

13 Are my ears getting bigger?                                                                                                                                              

14 The next car I buy will probably be the last.

15 I can remember what I was doing when President Kennedy was assassinated.

16 I had better slow down, the traffic light is green. 

17  I drove the car down to the fish and chip shop, brought a paper as well, walked home reading the paper and left the fish and chips and the car behind.

18 I found the car keys in the oven.

19 I found the car keys in the fridge.                                                                                               

20 It’s my wife’s fault, she keeps hiding things.                                                                      

Old age is a privilege.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were? How can we ever regret growing older when it’s a privilege denied to so many. We all hope to live through to old age, but then complain when it arrives. If you have been mean or petty, old age will exaggerate these vices, but if you have been generous and gracious, old age will expand these virtues. You reap what you sow either way. If you live your life with generosity and graciousness then you will enjoy satisfying memories of your decency.

Age also brings gratitude and the knowledge that with every passing year we’re privileged, then being grateful becomes a daily ritual. Enhancing our lives in so many ways, it can feed our spirits with delicious things like learning, creating and serving others. There’s another phenomena that many people around my age experience, I get nods and smiles from others with similar thoughts to mine. We are in fact invisible, honored, respected, even loved, but not worth listening to anymore, we’ve had our turn, now its time for us to move aside.”That’s the third time you’ve said this” who said my memories bad?

Old age isn't for wimps
Who’s a wimp