Category Archives for "Healthy Living Series"

Feeling Flat? Here’s How To Create Oxtocin

I’m not going to point to all the research. You can Google it. Basically, there’s various ways you can trick the body into releasing Oxytocin. The benefits are simple: feel better, reduce stress, be happier and those things help us live healthy – longer.

It’s hard to know what to do when things seem to have flat-lined. I don’t like feeling too comfortable. Maybe another term for it would be plateauing.

Am I Flat-Lining?

On one side … comfort poses a threat to improvement, but that might be my perception and not true. I perceive healthy discomfort as an opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable. The world happens to the ready.

On the other side… “comfortable” – where I am present and things are sufficient with the “comfortable” is a great place to be.

It’s discerning between the two.

I Just Made A New Rule For Myself

I’m making this up now:

If things are flat-lining for 90 days and, to my best efforts, I can’t get things to improve or at least have hope for improvement, then I will shut it down and start from scratch.

Then again, I don’t know. It kind of sounds like an old behavior where I feel the need to put a Saber Toothed Tiger on my shoulder to make life difficult

I will live that question for awhile. If I’m going to live a question, I need something to do. That’s when I decided to get high on my own supply of Oxytocin.

Feeling Flat? Here’s How I Get High On My Oxytocin

A post shared by Eric Walker (@ericwalkerblog) on


Dancing is a state changer. It’s a big YES in my book. Dancing with kids, dancing with lovers and dancing with friends – all Oxytocin inducing, all remedies for feeling flat.


My most fondly remembered moments this past week were giving/receiving hugs from people. Almost as good was imagining myself being hugged by someone I love.


Even something as small as browsing my Instagram feed I “Liked” a photograph that a random friend from 25 years ago posted. I don’t consider calling this person to say, “that was a real cute photo of your kid that you posted.” But liking the photo is one small way (of many) of connecting with someone that I have felt close to at some point in my life, even if it was just because in middle school me and him played ball together, went “ding-dong ditching” and swam in his pool. It’s not insignificant if you’re present to the human being that is behind those digital pixels.

Do Something Rarely Done Anymore

I called people to chat for a few minutes.

Like we used to do when we were kids. “Hey, how are you doing? What’s up?” This feels good. It’s like a vocal hug with someone I like. I’m good at vocally hugging people. I want to do it more. Warning: it will throw people for a loop. They will be like WTF are you calling me for?


Being trusted feels good. It gives me more confidence to trust others too.

I find people that I trust to be charismatic, and I live with a permanent crush on those people. Same goes for endearing people. All it takes for me to think you are trustworthy, charismatic and endearing is a good sit down talk.

How to be more trusted? Simple … Integrity. In all of my past relationships if I lost trust, I broke integrity first. Integrity is the only ingredient for prolonged happiness.


I ask my kids all the time, What do you want to do? Always the same answer: I want to play. That’s the gist, anyway. Us adults spend a lot of time, effort, and money being serious. But play?

I played with my kids all day yesterday, and let me tell you, I hope you choose to get out and play. We kicked rocks, jumped from swings and drew pictures with our imagination, among other things. No screens. They didn’t even ask.

If you want your small angers to disappear in a flash of laughter, then let go of serious and play with your kids.

Other Things I Did To Create My Own Oxytocin

Outtake from this morning which is what set our #epicday into motion.

A post shared by Eric Walker (@ericwalkerblog) on

Humor – That video above made me and the kids laugh SO HARD! We couldn’t get enough of it. Kids laugh like 300 times per day. Us adults… maybe three if we’re lucky.

Jumping rope – My best physical habit at the moment is four flawless minutes of jump rope a couple times per day.

Being creative – I started an Instagram profile. The first and primary reason is to ignite my creativity using photos as idea starters and practice pairing my pictures with the brevity that our “tl;dr society” is asking for.

Helping people, being helped – I had to ask for help in the form of childcare. I helped members of our staff at the greenhouse by teaching them instead of being an impatient asshole.

None of This is Science

Who cares! Maybe it’s not Oxytocin that I created. Maybe it’s a Jedi mind trick I played on myself. But if it helps me to be more efficient with, and reduce my “carbon footprint” with shitting out my mental and emotional waste, then sign me up.

Oxytocin is the flower. The flower grows toward the light. My goal is to be the light.

The Deck

Keith returned home from Peace Corps looking like he should be modeling underwear for Calvin Klein. I told him he looked absolutely fit. Playfully, he credited chewing coca leaves every day. Then he told me about The Deck.

I rather make the best of my surroundings than go to the gym. I choose to do general exercises that require no equipment or weights.

My fitness routine is often changing. I’ve never forgotten Keith’s Deck workout, and lately, it found it’s way back into my life. I love it and today I’m sharing it with you. You might want to use The Deck to mix up your workout.

Here’s How To Create Your Own Deck

Dig into that junk drawer and pull out a deck of playing cards. It doesn’t have to be a complete deck. For example, this current set of mine only has 30 cards. O’well, good enough.

First, I write down on a note card the cards: ace, two, three, etc.

Next, I write an exercise next to each card: abs, push-ups, lunges, etc.

Then I shuffle the cards and complete the workout in random order.

I don’t always (actually rarely) make it through the entire deck in one sitting, but if I can make it through a deck a day, I know I’m doing great.

I try to make fun games for myself. For example, if I can complete a deck of cards before 7 p.m. I give myself a gold medal. At the end of the week I try to achieve five gold medals.

Want the perfect Deck just for your fitness level? That’s my thing. I can help you with that.

From Morning Moves

How I Stay Alive Today and Look Forward to Life Tomorrow

Here’s how I resolve to keep the flashlight turned on in the dark. It’s how I inject life into what I do as opposed to just going through the motions like a zombie.

Did I do my best to set my goals today?

This morning my goal was to wake up with five deep breaths, say my “ground of being” intention, pray for my loved ones, find a couple things to be grateful for, drink water and do my push ups and sit ups. I know that if I can do those handful of things off my list when I wake up, I’m on my way to getting just one tenth better, and for each day in a row that I get one tenth better, it compounds, and by the end of a year or three, that makes for significant improvement – life changing improvement. My real goal is to keep my improvements compounding.

Did I do my best to make progress today?

I define “progress” by assessing if I made my life happen today. When I make my life happen I am present with my kids. I am kind to my kids. I am engaged at work. I am writing thoughts and ideas in my journal. I am prepared for the day with enough nutrition that I am not in a situation where I have to compromise with Subway or the corner greasy spoon. I am following up with people and connecting with new people and doing my due diligence. I am doing what is right and asking useful questions. I am assessing projects (and even sometimes relationships) and asking myself if it’s time to stick or quit. I am asking if this is a dead end or a place I should leap. I trust these things make life happen.

Did I do my best to make meaning today?

For me, making meaning might be a conversation overheard, a scrap of story a coworker, friend or family member shared. It could be a dream I had and usually is when I do recall my dreams. It might be a twinge of a memory I have that longs for reconciliation in my journal. It might just be a resonant line that’s been replaying itself and needs to be quickly jotted down. Making meaning is remarkable communication and there is a craft in that practice that has always stayed with me among life changes. It’s writing this blog right now.

Did I do my best to be grateful today?

We gon’ do our best/ Never let it rest/ Till our good be better/ And our better best/ Said I don’t drink coffee/ For they say It’s just not right for me/ But what makes me irie/ Is if I could get a little piece of tree/ And build One good spliff/ Me and my little brothers We take a ride/ Gonna teach them/ All the lessons that I have learned in life/ * Ziggy Marley from “One Good Spliff”

My big thing since New Years has been “gratitude alchemy.” There’s like one hundred different ways to practice gratitude and it seems like before the year is over I will have tried them all. I think the number one reason I have gotten serious about gratitude is because all the happy elderly folks I know are artists at turning a negative thought into a positive thought. I want to live to be age 100. It requires “grateful alchemy.” It’s what saves a life, any life, your life, my life. The more and more practice with this and it will become routine to execute on positive thoughts. Being grateful helps us execute on positive thoughts.

Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?

The relationship I have with myself comes first so that’s where I start. Being integrous with my word is important to me. I ask things like, Am I making promises I can’t keep? Am I procrastinating on something that another person is counting on me for? I know that if I am integrous with my word that my relationships with others will automatically improve. I know that if I am practicing being kind and grateful my interactions with people and my relationships that matter to me will thrive. I do my best to review these things every day.

What am I doing in my last minutes before sleep?

I used to crawl into bed and open Facebook or Instagram or the Weather or the News or chase a link to an article on my phone and get mindless for 10 or 20 minutes. I thought that was a shitty habit to have. In doing so, I’m making myself susceptible to someone else’s thinking. It’s not an intentional way of being so I stopped. Now, I still open my phone but I go through this list^ I’ve just shared with you. I ask myself all these questions. I take a few moments to write any last thoughts, which I write on my phone. I’m such a “fat fingered” typist with my phone I have to go slow and be thoughtful, and this makes me drowsy. It’s a great way to fall away into deep rest.

Cheers to a good life. To me, a good life is being happy in the moment and looking forward to the next. This is my current practice to having a good life.

This post is from the healthy living series. 

Building a Highway to Happiness

I wanted to check my ex’s Instagram again. It doesn’t matter which ex. All of them at one time or another. Ugh, what a terrible feeling!

What a terrible thing to do to myself. Why was I doing this to myself?

Because I was sad. There’s nothing wrong with sad, but I recognized that by consistently connecting with that sadness, I was building a highway to hell for myself instead of happiness. There are dozens of other things to connect with. But what else could I connect with? I felt awful! Have you ever been in that state?

This post is about learning how to connect to something that’s going to make a highway to happiness.

This post (and the video too) is about how to change that state of being.

Here were three important pre-requisites I had to understand.

1. First step for me was to decide who I wanted to be, and why.

Once I got clear on that “being,” becoming anything else was more painful. I couldn’t go back to being how I used to be. I couldn’t just get into another relationship. I had to change. This gave me something to work toward. It didn’t matter to me if I was happy or not. What mattered to me was that I had a purpose. I had clarity. I have faith it will lead to a happy place.

2. Second step for me was to reach out to wise people.

I started meeting people for coffees, walks and email exchanges. I asked questions. They were kind enough to let me explore into their experience. I used their wisdom to help me navigate my way. Thank you Jeff, Jay, Virginia, Kim, Megan, Karina, Bill, Marin, James, Tony, David, Beth … (there’s definitely more people I could list).

3. Third step for me was to resolve inner conflicts.

At least understand them. I started getting to the bottom of inner conflicts by peeling back the layers, peeling back some more, peeling back more. I found a couple very good friends to help me unpack it all.

Here are 15 other things I do to either change my state, redirect my focus or proactively guide my state of being

1. Decide!  I decided to shift the focus. Every time I wanted to look at her Instagram, I picked up my phone and instead of looking at her profile, I looked at a memo I made for myself of the 11 characteristics my next partner will have. I did this so many times that I realized a more empowering meaning for the loss of that relationship.

Here’s that list, btw:

I will also offer these characteristics too. So I could just as easily say, I will be …

2. Start the day with the right intention. Give myself the first 10 minutes of my day.  Reality check. If you don’t have 10 minutes a day just for you, you don’t have a life. I call it priming the pumps and it’s the foundation of my day every day.

3. Exercise every day. Try this week’s morning move.

4. Jump rope. I crank Eminem and say my Ground of Being statement as loud as I can

5. Yoga. I stretch, breathe, lengthen and search for the “just right” placement for when I can rest in the pose. That “rest” is a letting go place.

6. Breathing. I breathe into my heart. I breathe into my stomach. I breathe into my back. I imagine my breath is traveling up and down my spine like an oscillating fan. I breathe in 4 and out 8. I observe my breath and ask why

7. Playing with and loving on my kids. I get so small. I get tiny. I let the world stop and I fill myself into their world with the presence of a giant.

8. Journal. I journal almost every morning. I jot down whatever comes to mind.

9. Meditation. It took me forever to “get” meditation, but now that I do get it, I enjoy watching my thoughts – like clouds – pass on by me. It’s a practice of not dwelling on anything.

10. Reading. This is how I find mentors. The best mentors are authors. Like from Steve Martin’s book Born Standing Up, I learned all the ways it’s far more important to gain insight than settle the score.

11. Hard gratitudes. This is great for us folks who can’t stop the monkey mind chatter because it requires us to solve a problem with a gratitude. The idea being that inside every difficult problem, there are tiny seeds of gratitude that can blossom into happiness in your life.

12. Cold temperature plunges. I dive into a cold shower. I step outside with bare feet in the cold snow. I learned this from another mentor, Tony Robbins. Here’s an article that explains the power of cold water.

13. Romantic movies. On Sundays, I watch love story movies. Maybe it’s just the time of life right now but it always brings happy tears to my eyes. Here’s a good romantic movie I recommend called The Age of Adeline 

14. Connect to something bigger than yourself. On alternating Sundays, I travel around Michigan to different churches.

15. Being creative at this blog and posting about healthy living.

All of these things, and probably more that I haven’t mentioned, are ways I change my state, redirect my focus and proactively guide my state of being to that highway toward happiness.

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. More about that here

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Sunday Newsletter – Don’t Say, “I Need To Lose Weight”

Instead, say “I need to burn fat.”

The point of this post is to be super clear about your physical fitness goals and to begin with an understanding of what you’re really trying to do for yourself.

Keep these three B’s in mind when it comes to finding your physical health. If you use these three B’s as a guide for finding the path of your physical health, you will be empowered for life. Here they are:

  • Burn fat
  • Build muscle
  • Boost metabolism

There’s nothing else.

How do you burn fat?

First, cut out sugar. Eat more protein and greens. Second, move more. Take the stairs not the elevator. etc. etc. Then begin walking. Every day. I suggest you not eat any food whatsoever after 6:30 pm. When you wake up first thing in the morning, walk for 40 minutes at 60% of your max heart rate. Wait to eat until you’re done walking before you eat. I’ve seen this work so many times for other people. This will burn fat.

How do you build muscle?

Most people don’t care about looking ripped. They don’t care about their max bench press. Build muscle with a simple home routine of basic calisthenics. Here’s my current at-home routine.

  • 100 push ups and sit ups
  • 100 squat hops
  • 25 pull ups or chin ups
  • 12 shoulder press against the wall

I do this in the comfort of my home four or five days a week. It’s a part of the routine. I get to it either within the first 20 minutes upon waking up in the morning, or at lunch at work, or after dinner/before bed time. It takes me no more than 15 minutes to do this little routine. It’s built lean muscle and toned everything on my body.

How do you boost metabolism?

All of the above will boost metabolism. In particular, metabolism boosting exercises are those that require a maximum amount of energy because multiple joints are involved like doing a squat with an overhead press. In a nutshell, you boost your metabolism by performing compound exercises with little rest in-between exercises in an effort to maximize calorie burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout. FYI, your metabolism (aka metabolic rate) is how many calories your body burns at rest. I do two metabolic workouts a week with a friend that last 25 to 30 minutes and they really kick my ass.

I want to help you be in the best physical condition possible. You don’t need diets or clubs. You need simplicity. This, to me, is simple. You only need to remember these 3 B’s described in this post. If you have questions, I can help. This is my thing.

This is from the Healthy Living series

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. More about that here

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Here’s Why I Don’t Focus On Happiness (Anymore)

Who doesn’t want to be happy, right?

I recently went through a happiness “curriculum” from a “happiness guru”. It was delivered through email and worth the few weeks of personal study.

Here’s what I learned about myself. It may resonate with you.

I discovered, that for me, it’s not about happiness. It’s about purpose. It’s about clarity of direction. I crave the certainty. It also provides better stability if I deviate from that path. I’m not saying I don’t want to be happy. More so saying these three prerequisites lead towards it.

Here are my three:

1. Freedom – free in this context means not giving power to a person, goal, object or situation.

I practice giving myself that power. That power is choice. Being free is choosing not to dwell in the past or future. Choosing not to attach to anyone’s opinion either. Freedom is the power to choose. And quite a responsibility too!

2. Competence – The only thing that matters, to me, is making things happen.

I gauge my competence on whether or not I get things done. I have difficult problems that I am solving. Or…wait, I rather phrase that by saying, ‘I have solutions to create.’ The more I improve every day, the more competent I become, the more I get things done, the more problems I solve, the closer I am to happiness.

3. Good relationships – no one is more deserving of love than me and you.

We can’t put love into the world until we love ourself first. In my experience, there’s a learning curve to understanding what loving yourself looks like and how to stay strong in that place even when you feel weak. My first task is cutting certain people from my life if that’s what is required, even if I love them. The second task is putting in the effort to surround myself with people who bring out my best.

When I focus on these three things instead of happiness, I’m happier than not doing so.

Personally, I am following those three guidelines to have purpose and clarity of direction. I have faith the rest will work out. I worry less about the rest

This is from the Healthy Living series

I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. More about that here

Subscribe to never miss a post.

Healthy Living – How to Find Alignment Between Your Heart and Mind

I do a gratitude meditation every morning that is working for me. I’m sharing because it might work for you. I do this meditation because I want my heart and mind to be in alignment. I have come to understand that I have caused the most damage to my relationships with others and myself when I am not in alignment with my heart and mind. They are two different animals that don’t always play on the same team. In order for me to be my best self, I need them to practice getting along. I need my heart to take the lead. Here’s how I am doing so.

Reenactment of the morning meditation courtesy of my daughter Ella. I usually stay in bed for this, or I will go to the floor in the living room.

Especially now – with so much anger and fear permeating our climate. You can’t be grateful and angry simultaneously. So every day in the first moments of waking I have to make my first choice: grateful or fear? What kind of person do I want to be? The obvious conclusion for me is that I want to be grateful.

BTW: I originally learned this from Tony Robbins and after doing it for awhile adapted it for me.

It starts with deep breathing. I try to imagine my breathing oscillating up and down my spine.

I do this as long as needed. Then I hold my breath and listen to my beating heart like I’m under water. That’s the first thing I am grateful for: my beating heart. It’s the only heart like it in the entire Universe. It was given to me for a reason, which is the second thing I’m grateful for (currently) because I have the wonderful opportunity of discovering the purpose of my heart every single day. In doing so, I am better able to let go of all the unknowns. I trust that the unknowns will unveil themselves perfectly as they are destined to do so. I trust that as long as I’m doing my work, my practice of being healthy, that things will be as they should. I am getting better every day.

Still with a focus on breathing into my heart, I consider who I want to be.

What kind of person do I want to be? What are my values? Since I’m a word man, I think it terms of words. They come and go with my breath. Words like self respect, integrity, confidence, creativity, committed parent (family), connection, love, courage. I start breathing those words into my heart. They’re like daily vitamins for my heart.

Then I start to let my mind into this… my mind wants to go through the “to-do” list for the day.

That’s fine. I’m compassionate with myself and understand that it’s a commitment to myself. My mind wanders. It wants to solve “problems” and mull over complexities and contradictions that exist between my mind and heart. It wants to worry about things that are currently without a solution. Once I open this door, I succumb to letting in those thoughts. Interestingly, that’s the moment my heart feels the squeeze and my stomach feels knotted and nervous. I start breathing deep into my belly and ready myself for a transition to get my heart and my mind in alignment.

I think of my all-time great gratitudes. Most of the gratitudes I acknowledge are day-of or recent gratitudes.

For example, a recent gratitude is of my almost 8 year old daughter doing the dishes with a smile and saying, “How about some music, Dad? If I’m going to be standing at this sink doing dishes, the least you could do is play music.” I love my daughter. That moment made me smile. I’m grateful for it. But it’s not an all-time great gratitude. Not yet anyway. It’s an in-the-moment gratitude that forces me to be present. Very important for sure because I’m always trying to combat time traveling far into the future or back into the past. The idea, for me, of thinking of the all-time great gratitudes is to get my heart and my mind-body into alignment.

Ella on dish duty

Making sure I have my hand on my heart, I breathe deep (again) into my heart and conger a few all-time great gratitudes.

Like the morning of February 4th 2009, after having been up all night with Kaitlin in labor with Ella, and being witness to the power of the Mother birthing a child into the world, and the birth workers who were present, and Patti and Irma present with camera and pot roast and support. Then finally, the sun coming through the windows and our daughter Ella Rose entering the world in the comfort of our own home and how I made eggs and toast for Kaitlin afterward and held my new daughter as she nourished herself. This is an all-time great gratitude. I step into that memory. I am there again. I hear what I would hear then. I see what I would see then. I fill myself up with that all-time great gratitude. I hold that for a moment.

I then consider how I smile when I feel that gratitude. What’s the look on my face? How am I holding my body? How am I breathing when I’m grateful?

I do this once or twice more. I go to whatever all-time great gratitude that was magical, tremendous and I breathe it and fill up with it.

I step into it and ask ‘What was I so grateful for?’ Or it could be coincidences in the moment, that in retrospect, had a deeper and more significant purpose for entering my life. I hone in on that initial “coincidence” and all the insights and value that resulted from it. I always ask, ‘Was it a coincidence or was I guided?’

Now here is the most important part of the process. Do this to find alignment between your heart and mind.

I return to breathing into my heart. I think about a situation in my life that is unfinished business, or something that is unresolved, or something that is unknown. Maybe it’s something that is stressing me out. I keep breathing. By now I am in a good state so it’s a good opportunity explore these unknowns. I say to myself ‘All I need to focus on… All I need to remember is … (what is it?)… All I need to do in this situation … (is what?).’

Your heart knows the answer. Your heart knows the answer. Your heart knows the answer.

Your mind might not always like the answer. If you practice this meditation enough, you’ll start to find alignment and acceptance between your heart and mind. This is what’s working for me.

Your next steps might be to make a list of your all-time great gratitudes. Your next step might be to give this meditation a try. You don’t have to get it right to get it going. Your next step might be to start a conversation with me about this. I’m your healthy living agent. Subscribe to receive updates here.

Healthy Living – Common Sense Physical Health

Here’s what I know from making exercise and nutrition a priority in my life. Since I’m a personal trainer, I also know it to be true for dozens upon dozens of others.


When I say good nutrition has raised the quality of my life, I mean I haven’t been sick. The worst thing about “sick” is your thoughts are stapled to that sickness. You can’t get rid of it. By being healthy, I’m free.


When I say regular exercise has raised the quality of my life, I don’t mean I’m shredded with muscle like Arnold from lifting weights in front of mirrors.  I mean I am a Jedi like Luke Skywalker. Because I can  jump out of a spaceship and land on my feet. I can do summersaults and quickly pop upright to fight with a light saber. I can run so fast that I save the Princess… that’s what me and my kids pretend play when we’re at the beach. I can play that part and that means the world to both of us.

Very First Step

What’s the first step toward making exercise and nutrition a priority in your life? Start doing what you already know. This is common sense.

You don’t have to join a club. You don’t have to go paleo. You don’t have to start juicing for 90 days. Nothing extra is required. Start where you are with what you have. Participate in your health, give yourself a chance.

Immediate Next Action Steps

Here’s how to tap into the common sense you innately have about your own physical health.

Make a list of five things you can do to have better exercise and nutrition. Use common sense.

Here’s an example I made for me. Yours will be different than mine because you’re you. One size never fits all.

1. Processed sugars are bad. Eliminate them 6 days a week. Go wild on ice cream and Oreos one day because rules are meant to be broken sometimes. It’s healthy.

2. Eat as many vegetables as I can whenever I want. Why aren’t I eating more veggies? The Veggie God said I need a w-i-d-e variety of 7-13 servings per day. I’m lucky if I get that in a week. I’ll start with more kale. Take Juice Plus every day.

3. Sleep 8-10 hours. Every night. Rare exceptions being celebrations, vacations, sick kids, epic love making and friends who need a shoulder.

4. Drink half my body weight in ounces of water. Every day. Being hydrated makes everything work better. There is no end to what I’m saying about hydration.

5. Move everyday. It could be shooting basketball  “around-the-world” for 20 minutes at the neighborhood basketball court. It could be a vigorous 45 minute walk. Yoga. Self defense class. Zumba class. During the summer of 2013, my thing was to put my son in the Ergo backpack and my daughter in the stroller and walk up and down Fairview Street, which was the steepest in the neighborhood.

Now Follow Your Advice

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a resolution. It’s not even a goal. It’s a theme labeled physical health. By the way, when you follow your own advice, that’s called wisdom. Be wise.

This post is part of the Healthy Living series I’m putting together for physical,  emotional, mental and spiritual health. Subscribe if you want them delivered to your email.

How I “Prime the Pumps” For the First 12 Minutes of Each Day

Emotion is created by motion. The way you move determines the way you feel. We have 80 muscles on our face. For most people that area is the biggest area of atrophy in our body. Most use the face the same way, have the same emotions.

Every day – these days – I have to prime myself to experience more range, more motion, deeper emotion.

It takes about 12-15 minutes. Sometimes I choose to go longer, but if I don’t have 12-15 minutes for myself, I don’t have a life. I am intentional about creating a healthy life for myself. That’s my number one thing. If I want to grow, there is no more “I hope I feel good.” Action has to be taken. Motion, motion, motion.

I will share my “prime the pumps” practice. This is what works for me. Whatever you do, I think some sort of morning (and evening) practice is important.

First, I physically feel my heart.

I put my hand on it and feel that heart. Lately, my inner peace meter is in the red zone so I seek to breathe deep and aggressively straight into my heart. It might even resemble heaving.

Steadily, I slow my breathing down so I can mourn for my heart.

There’s a 12 year old boy in there who is scared and nervous. That 12 year old’s mom is asking him if he would like her to walk with him, but he says No. He has to walk alone. That’s when the 40 year old version of me steps into the scene and tells the boy to follow.

I’m grateful for that 40 year old.

My hand is still on my heart, my focus still on breath. The 40 year old me is walking that 12 year old through a mural of grateful. He’s showing the boy all his value, all that he is meant to give and be. We stop. Hold our breath. Listen to our heart. Then breathe again. Our final grateful is for the uniqueness of our heart. I sit with this for a moment and find a normal breathing.

Then I reach for three things that I am grateful.

Sometimes, if I’m sharp, I find hard gratitudes. There are tiny seeds of gratitude inside every difficult situation. They can blossom into happiness if tended. Other times, they’re easy gratitudes. For example, this morning I heard the heavy breath of my son’s deep sleeping. I try to FEEL these three gratitudes. I want to overwhelm myself with it. Because I know that when I’m grateful, it’s impossible to feel worry, anger or fear. All my life it has been anger and fear that have set me back the most, whether that be in relationships, parenting or business.

Tony Robbins says you have to wire yourself every day.

That I can’t “hope” to be happy if my habit is to be worried, pissed off, frustrated or stressed. He says that most people have a highway to stress and a dirt road to happiness. Sometimes I visualize me and the 12 year old version of myself in good ole Mike Muligan’s steam shovel and we’re rebuilding my inner highway to happiness  – one load of dirt at a time.

I pray for myself.

This is a combination of actual prayer and a re-visualization of my dream board. I have a dream board I look at every day. I go through each item in my mind’s eye and narrate what is happening for each one as if it has already happened.

Current Dream Board 2017

I finish by saying my “Ground of Being” statement three to five times.

I say it out loud. My hand is still on my heart.

I am present. I am connected. I am creative. I am attractive. I am kind. I am confident. I am facing my fears and overcoming them. I am courageous. I breathe deep into my pain. I am opportunistic. I am making my life happen. I love myself. I am enough. I belong.

I do all this before getting out of bed.

When I am done with that process, I can get out of bed.

I pour a glass of water, take my Juice Plus capsules and open my journal. I write the date at the top of the page and recap the day before, intention how today will be and add thoughts, insights and responses. Next, I do 25 push ups, 25 sit ups and 25 air squats.

Now I can face my day. I have just given myself bravery. My pumps are primed. I have altered my state of being. My wires aren’t crossing. This is the work to be done.

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