Tag Archives: improving fitness

How to Use Your Strengths to Overcome Every Challenge

Do You Know You Have Gold Others Want?

2 minutes to read

What part of your life frustrates you? Are you exasperated about your marriage, job, children, or health? Or life seems okay, but you have a nagging feeling it could be better. Either can lead to unhappiness. Fortunately, you have the ability to change. This isn’t rah rah pep talk. Each of us possesses gold. What’s more, we can swap it while increasing our own supply. We call this amazing currency our strengths.

How to Use Your Strengths to Overcome Every Challenge

The Influence of Loved Ones

Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” If you look around, you see successful people associate with others at or above their level. You may think you’re immune from the influence of other people. But examine what you love and hate. They connect you to family and close friends. You share them in common. Or a loved one’s opposite view reinforces your love or hatred.

Given such enormous impact, precede any change by examining who you spend the most time with. If they don’t exhibit the quality you want, you’ll have to create a new relationship. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Convince one of your current family members or friends to change with you. In doing so you’ll learn how dedicated a friend you have. Upgrading your lives together will build an even more solid friendship. You can hold each other accountable. But if the person proves unreliable you’ll have to…
  1. Search for a new friend. Find someone who embodies the strength you want to acquire. Look for ways to spend time with the person. Observe how he exhibits your desired quality or skill. Ask for mentorship. If the person isn’t interested, find someone else.
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If your current group of close associates isn’t growing you won’t either. You’ll have to break away to advance your life.

How to Use Your Strengths

Six months ago I decided to coach an acquaintance to run the L.A. Marathon. Since then, we ran 30 to 35 miles per week. Several Fridays I returned home soaked to the skin after running 20 miles in pouring rain. Fun did not factor into the training. I’m proud to say yesterday, despite throbbing knees, we finished the race in under six hours.

A great physical accomplishment you say? Sure. But its importance lies elsewhere.

I admire the character and work ethic of the man I coached, Moshe Cohen. He models excellence as a husband and father. His self-discipline is legendary among those who know him. Humility tops a long list of admirable qualities.

For me, training for a marathon wasn’t about physical endurance. Rather, I saw an opportunity to have a friend who would help me make positive change in important areas of my life. I haven’t asked him, but I hope he got the same benefit from my coaching.

The medals we got for finishing the marathon have nothing to do with running. Rather, they represent a friendship that will help both of us continue to improve our lives.

Your strengths are gifts you can give to people who will show you how to improve. Use them to overcome your weaknesses.

Which of your strengths will benefit others most?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

4 Things You Need to Do to Be Happier

3 minutes to read

Some days I feel bombarded. It seems like everyone needs me to make a decision. Can we get another dog? Can we go to Knott’s Berry Farm this weekend? Can we have pizza for dinner tomorrow night? May I go to my friend’s house? No, no, no, yes. That should keep them satisfied for a few minutes. But it will start again soon, you know what I mean?

4 Things You Need to Do to Be Happier

 The Connection Between Choice and Happiness

When someone asks me a question I feel obligated to give it due consideration before answering. Then there’s all the decision that I initiate. Some days I barely make it to bedtime before collapsing. Others, well let’s just say it’s not pretty when I hit decision fatigue before my day is over.

Barry Schwartz, in his eye-opening book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, puts his finger on one of the central challenges of life. For much of human history, lack of choice has made people miserable. So it would seem the more choices we have the happier we’ll be. Turns out that too many choices decrease happiness.

Professor Schwartz identifies two tendencies: maximizing and satisficing. Maximizers strive for the best. Satisficers seek to meet self-defined criteria. When they do, they make the decision.

Wanting the best becomes ever more elusive as the number of choices increases. When you have three of four options, deciding on the best one can be straightforward. But when you have twenty, fifty, or even a hundred, comparison becomes impossible. Still, you have to make a choice. Whatever you do choose will leave you unhappy since you’ll have the niggling feeling something better is out there.

Satisficers tend to be happier because when their criteria are met they can move on without regret.

Limiting Choice to Be Happier

Understanding how choice affects happiness will help you to be happier. By reducing the number of choices you have to make you’ll reduce decision fatigue and leave more time for activities that increase happiness. Counterintuitively,

You can make choices on four levels:

Ignore. Some areas just don’t need your attention at all. I used to vote the proxies for every stock I own. But rarely is an issue decided against what the board recommends. Now I ignore them. Try ignoring a trivial choice that takes up too much time relative to the benefit you get. Then ignore one more.

Habituate.   By creating good habits you’ll be happier. Your health is a prime candidate for developing good habits. Have a set bedtime and wake-up time. Schedule regular times and routines for exercising. Focus your diet on healthy foods. This will improve your nutrition while cutting down on the time and number of decisions you have to make when shopping. Set regular visits to the dentist and an annual checkup. Set reminders on your cellphone and when pinged just do them.

Satisfice. Learn to accept good enough as the standard in most areas of your life. Do you actually need the best cellphone? Must you have the best body or children? Heretical! I know, especially for a Californian. But wouldn’t you and your family be happier?

Maximize. You don’t have to give up maximizing altogether. Save it for one or two of your passions. I maximize in my work and relationships. I want the best relationships I can have with my wife and daughter. So I do my best not to insist they be the best. When we argue you can bet I’ve violated this principle.

Combine Ignore ← Habituate ← Satisfice ← Maximize with the Three Pillars of Fitness.

Physical Realm → Health ∞ Finances ∞ Play

Mental Realm → Intellectual Challenge ∞ Social Engagement ∞ Emotional Soundness

Spiritual Realm → Family ∞ Life Purpose ∞ G-d

For each domain within each realm, examine what you need to do. Then decide whether you’ll ignore, habituate, satisfice, or maximize in that area. If you think you satisfice, try habituating a choice. You may be surprised how much you maximize. Being aware of this tendency will help you control the urge.

Living intentionally doesn’t require your making hundreds of decisions.

If you want to be happier, focus on deciding when you’ll exercise choice. Bringing clarity to when you choose will ease decision fatigue and give you more time to spend with who and what you really love.

Where do you unnecessarily maximize?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

4 Times You Should Seek Out an Expert

2 minutes to read

A few weeks ago while running I got a sharp pain behind my right ankle. Like most runners my first thought was, “Keep running. It will stop.” But after another half a block I knew something bad had happened. For the first time I called my wife mid-run to pick me up.

4 Times You Should Seek Out an Expert

Pride or Progress?

I could barely walk when she found me hobbling down the street. A week of rest, icing my ankle, and ibuprofen didn’t get me back to running. Enough was enough. I went to see the doctor. My podiatrist, Dr. Robert Joseph, isn’t just your run of the mill health care provider. He tells you his mission up front. “I’m here to make sure you can keep exercising.” He got me running virtually pain free the next day without using drugs.

Lest you think this is a fluke, he did the same for me about a year before. That time I had a pain in my left foot when running but not when walking. I wasted over three weeks trying everything from ice packs to taping. Nothing worked. Finally I went to see Dr. Joseph. He had me running my regular 5-mile route the next day. Pain-free.

I’m an accomplished runner. I’ve kept up with physiology since high school. My wife is a registered nurse. Often I dither when she tells me to go see a doctor. The sooner I overcome my ego and listen to her the faster I can get back to training.

I could cite similar examples for mental and spiritual blocks that I overcame with my coach’s or rabbi’s help. The choice comes down to indulging my pride or making progress toward my goal.

Time to Seek Out an Expert

Pain indicates you need a top adviser to help you. But it isn’t the only indicator that you need a specialist. Consider:

  1. You’re striving for world-class status. Take a clue from Tiger Woods, Richard Branson, and other preeminent performers, you need a mentor to excel.
  2. You’ve hit a plateau. Whether it’s you’re golf game or professional life, you’re going to hit roadblocks. The barrier could stem from inadequate skills, the wrong mindset, or spiritual misalignment. It takes an expert to diagnose and help you overcome the issue.
  3. You don’t know what to do. Are you looking to change careers or create or improve a relationship? If you’re entering a new arena you can learn by trial and error or get coaching that will substantially reduce your learning curve.

Two characteristics identify a professional. They know their business inside and out. They seek out an expert when they’re outside their own area of expertise. If you’re wrestling with any of these four challenges, don’t let ego hold you back from the success you desire. Find the expert you need to breakthrough.

Where are you looking to excel or transition in your life? Please comment below.

Do You Want Security? Challenge Yourself!

2 minutes to read

With the world changing so much how do you keep up? It’s no news that every industry is in a state of perpetual change. Our personal lives face constant new challenges. People crave a slower pace. Keeping up seems to mean staying on an ever-faster treadmill. Where can you find security?

Do You Want More Security-

Traditional Places to Find Security

I speak with lots of veterans. Most want security above all else. They focus their job search only on jobs that fit the skills they’re comfortable doing. Many look for a GS job or one with state or local government. They get frustrated when they can’t find one. Those that get a position figure out working for the government isn’t secure today. Limited resources and periodic budget battles frequently cause job uncertainty.

Community used to be a source of security. But for people over 25, less than half stay in the state in which they were born. That’s just for their home state. I suspect for towns the number is even lower. Phones and social media allow you to stay connected to far-flung friends. But these connections are not as secure as face-to-face relationships.

People used to find security in church. But regular attendance has dropped to around 20%. Community and stability can be found there but few people are seeking it out.

The family seems to be the last bastion of security. But over the last 50 years the number of people living alone has nearly doubled. The number of people living with a spouse or partner, as opposed to children, continues to decline.

None of the traditional places people sought security is stable.

Exercise Your Ability to Absorb Change

Ignoring change is impossible. Like it or not new ways to communicate and drive are coming. Companies will adjust to new opportunities so your work will be different in the future. You have two choices for handling perpetual change:

  1. Let yourself be blind-sided by new challenges.
  2. Intentionally confront change and condition yourself to adapt to it.

In the first case you will always feel insecure. You won’t know what to expect or how to deal with it.

When you take the initiative to learn the skills it takes to adapt you’ll feel secure. You’ll be prepared to deal with life’s twists and turns. Coupled with the skills and experience you already have, the ability to adjust and reposition yourself in the job market means you’ll always have an income. The ability to overcome new challenges in your relationships will bring you greater emotional security.

You can learn to absorb change through coaching and by having a mentor. You can find people to help you in a faith community. Many clergymen and lay leaders are trained to help their congregants build resilience.

Resolve today to stop being a casualty of life’s unceasing change. Live intentionally by choosing to challenge yourself.

How can you confront a change that will better your life? Please comment below.

How to Get the Most Benefit from Pain

Sometimes getting older isn’t much fun.  Case in point, while exercising I got a stab of pain in my leg. Miles and miles of running has injured my Achilles tendon. You may know the drill. No exercise for the last week and half. Custom orthotics. Get an MRI. And Pray.

God grant me pain that I may grow…

Pain Isn’t Bad

Despite it hurting, pain is good. You get an unmistakable sign to be aware. When you’re alert to your physical ∞ mental ∞ and spiritual well being you can immediately take action. You have two choices:

  • Push through it. Sometimes pain is just a test of your commitment. When you persevere you come out stronger for having pushed beyond your old limit.
  • Change course. Other times, continuing your behavior despite hurting causes greater injury. My Achilles tendon is a case in point. Had I kept running when I felt stab in my calf I could have severely damaged my leg.

When you’re in tune with all the realms of life, physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual, you’ll be in the best position to decide which path to take. If you have to make such a crucial decision, a little prayer certainly won’t hurt. So I wrote this one for you. I hope it helps.

How do you respond to pain? Please comment below.

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