3 Steps to Become More Resilient

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           (Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com)

Success of any kind takes time, consistent effort, failure and resilience. Take the late Louis L’Amour, for example. He’s regarded as America’s greatest storyteller, with over 60 published novels — most of them bestsellers.

In his autobiography, Education of a Wandering Man, L’Amour shares his failures like a badge of honor. It was a big badge, too. A picture of his submissions log reveals countless rejections. Had L’Amour identified with his failures, he would’ve quit long before greatness. Instead, he viewed failure as a step to success. And he kept stepping.

“I knew there was going to be failure, I just didn’t know how much,” L’Amour said.

If you’ve dealt with some colossal failures in your business, you’re on the right path. Keep going. But if you want to convert those failures to success, you need more resilience.

How I grew resilience

For my first 24 years, I had about as much resilience as a kale chip. I refused to try anything I wasn’t automatically good at, and I rarely, if ever, put myself on the line. I was so brittle that if I failed, that meant I was a failure. Because of my fear of failure, I was completely dependent on my parents, which only fed the fear.

But in my mid-twenties, I realized that I could only be happy if I provided for myself. So I confronted my demons. I saw just how brittle I had become, and I planned to become more resilient.

In studying experts like Brené Brown and Josh Waitzkin, I learned that resilience comes through celebrating effort, not results. That concept conflicted with my perfectionist attitude. I wasn’t used to coaching myself, and the idea of positive thinking seemed laughable, considering my lack of success.

But what choice did I have? I couldn’t surf couches forever. So I began my own three-step resilience routine.

1. Affirmations and encouragement

Each morning I looked at myself in the mirror and said out loud all the good things I saw or wanted to be. (I know, this conjures up images of Chris Farley’s motivational speaker character from SNL. But funny as it may be, it worked for me.)

I listed all the things I knew I’d accomplish. I congratulated myself on the effort I gave the day before, regardless of the outcome. And I gave myself permission to fail.

2. I started a daily planner

I wrote down all the goals I wanted to achieve in a week and gave myself daily directives to reach them. When I checked off an accomplishment, no matter how small, I would flood myself with encouragement for the effort, for the consistency and for the persistence I showed.

Instead of depending on results for motivation, I relied on my own encouragement and the checklist of accomplishments that told me I was succeeding. I chose to depend on the things I could control.

3. I adopted a nightly journal

I used a journal to reflect on and dissect my daily effort. I praised the energy that I put into succeeding, noting the important thoughts and actions that pulled me through. I reflected on how my attitude affected my efforts and what I could do to change my attitude.

I also wrote about where I didn’t give my best effort. But instead of focusing on the negative, I appreciated myself just the same, told myself how much better I would do the next day and made specific plans to do so. Every directive I came up with through journaling was fed back into my daily planner so that I could improve the next day.

Resilience gave me independence

My resilience routine obliterated the brittle mindset that had held me back. I took a leaf from L’Amour and started my own rejection list. Each “thanks, but you suck” letter I received meant that I was one step closer to results. So, like L’Amour, I kept stepping. (Unlike L’Amour, I am still waiting on my 60th bestseller.)

Related: 5 Daily Habits to Optimize Your 2017

The more I praised my effort, the more courage I had to step into the arena and face failure. And I failed with style. I got rejection after rejection from all the big websites, including this one. Query letters to new clients went unanswered or rejected. There were even people who got offended at my attempts to succeed. But, unlike my brittle former self, I kept going. I celebrated the failure. Every time I chose to applaud my effort rather than dwell on mistakes, I became more resilient.

Within one year of adopting a resilience practice, I went from a couch-surfing boy adrift to an independent man, a writer — published on the world’s best sites — and a contributor to my local business community.

My resilience practice gave me an inner strength that helped me succeed not only as an entrepreneur, but as an athlete, friend, brother, uncle, role model and son too.

Conclusion

Are you where you want to be professionally? Are you able to take risks? If not, start your resilience routine today.

Come up with the affirmations that you need. Encourage yourself from dawn to dusk. Plan out your day, celebrating your efforts as you achieve. And reflect on your day each night with a journal, assessing what you did right and where you can do better.

Encourage yourself. Take risks. Accept failure. And embrace success.

15 Signs You Need a Social Media Cleanse

Social cleanse

(Article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com)

The shiny red notifications. The ‘likes.’ The tags.

Don’t kid yourself — you live for those little guys.

But they’re nothing more than a digital high. Social media is fast becoming an addiction in our hyper-connected world, and it’s silently wrecking you. Maybe you don’t even realize how much you depend on those comments, shares and follows. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s time for a social-media cleanse.

1. You’re uninspired.

Inspired people do inspiring things. Of the 99 billion options, social media is not one. Make room for inspiration in your life by trimming the Facebook fat.

2. Your to-do list never gets done.

One step at a time is the best advice for accomplishing anything. But our modern world begs for a caveat: One uninterrupted step at a time. Social media competes for your focus and swamps your ability to power through work.

Related: 3 Ways to End Technology Distraction

3. You haven’t hung out with offline friends in a month.

Social media is instantly gratifying. Flip open your laptop or glance at your phone, and you get a quick fix that affirms your opinions and latest selfies. But it’s not truly satisfying because it isn’t the real thing. Trust me: You need the real thing.

5. You mindlessly navigate to social media during downtime.

Success is a combination of dozens of small habits. Each of your programmed responses either pushes you forward or pulls you back. Reaching for your smartphone like a zombie doesn’t scream “success.” During your weeklong social cleanse, retrain your brain to fall back on useful things. Engage in mini-sessions of directed mindfulness, read a book or reflect on all the gifts that make you grateful in life. See how many success-boosting habits you can form in the gaping void created by social media’s absence.

Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life

6. You’re stressed by big deadlines.

Big projects require massive focus, and that can’t exist alongside little distractions. Eliminate the biggest of the media and step away from social media. Make these self-imposed breaks a deadline ritual. They can help get your head in the game and prime your brain for peak performance.

7. You’ve started to think in Facebook posts.

You know it’s bad when a pithy quote pops in your head in the form of what’s sure to be a well-received Facebook post. I’ve been there, too. It’s why I’m writing this article.

8. You’re having problems with impulse control.

Whether your guilty pleasure is snarfing down an entire bag of popcorn or binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” impulse issues arise when you forget how to say no. Continually checking in on trivial matters that rule Facebook and Twitter is a recipe for atrophy. Exercise your executive function and take back control by refusing to be tempted to check your notifications and timelines. Abstain for a week, a month or however long it takes for you to get your head together.

Related: Study: Constantly Texting and Checking Social Media Makes You ‘Morally Shallow’

9. You’re indecisive.

We use social media as a crutch for uncertainty. Instead of identifying the best possible solution and making a plan to pursue it, we turn to social media as an escape. No bueno. A social cleanse forces you to make tough decisions from your own place of self-knowledge, without crowdsourcing a response to each little thing life throws your way.

10. You haven’t read a good book in a while.

Life is better with books. But it’s hard to read something useful when every spare second is devoted to social media. Your online fast is the perfect opportunity to make reading a habit. Read a book — the kind with pages — an hour before bed. The routine itself and the calming activity will help you drift into a more restful sleep.

Related: Reading Books Makes You Smarter, Richer and Surprisingly Healthier 

11. You’re falling behind on fitness goals.

You have only so much room in your life to choose which habits you’ll cling to. Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, strap on your Fitbit, lace up and beat feet. When you feel the urge to tweet, bust out some jumping jacks or squats. Do useful things for your body.

12. You believe you need social media to be OK.

You don’t. I promise. You experienced happiness before you lost yourself in social media, and you’ll be happier without it interrupting your life every five minutes.

13. You’ve stopped doing your favorite things.

Nearly 100 percent of entrepreneurs are human beings who need fun to recharge and strike a balance. Social media feels good, but it steals time away from doing the things you love. Even worse, its insidious nature means it tries to intrude when you do let yourself live in the moment. You don’t really need to send an update on whatever you’re doing right this second. People can wait three hours (or a lifetime) without learning what you were up to for an afternoon. Rediscover what it feels like to be a human.

Related: How Wanting ‘Likes’ on Social Media Is Killing Our Capacity for Actual Joy

14. You worry you haven’t grown as a person.

Personal growth is a product of undistracted reflection. It’s difficult to assess your thoughts and habits against where you’d hoped to be by now. But if your mind is constantly shifting back to social mode, it’s downright impossible. Shed your social shackles and get to know you.

15. You don’t get time away from your computer.

There’s only so much screen time a person can take before she loses her soul. (I seem to have misplaced the study link, but you get the picture.) If your job keeps you at a desk for eight hours a day, you need offline stress relief. Your soul can’t do much to further your goals and career if your eyes and posture are shot from all those hours parked in front of a screen.

Related: The Shocking Lessons I Learned After I Quit My Social Media Addiction in 3 Days in the Desert

4. You’re so distracted you forgot to add No. 4 in its cozy and rightful place between No. 3 and No. 5.

This might be more of a personal problem, but maybe you can relate. I’ve lambasted social media, but it’s only as evil as you make it. Get some perspective by going cold turkey for a week or a month — whatever you need to regain control. Then, integrate social media back into your life in appropriate doses. When you first rejoin the social conversation, 15 minutes a day is plenty. Maintain your new direction through self-discipline. During the week, daylong fasts can prevent social media from regaining its hold on your life.

The Meditation Guide for People Who Don’t Meditate

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(Article originally appeared on Fitbit.com)

Research shows meditation is medicine for the mind—clinical scans prove it literally changes the brain. It’s the mini-vacation where I can lie in the grass, gaze at the clouds, and sort out my thoughts. If I don’t do it, I go bonkers. I start obsessing over minutiae. Inconsequential fears blow out of proportion and paralyze my life. Perhaps you can relate?

But when I force myself to let everything go and just do nothing, I feel more like myself again. The stress melts from my mind, then my neck, and my shoulders, and all the way down to my fingertips. I laugh when I think of how small my biggest problems actually were. And I embrace the stillness that seems so scary when I run from it all day.

If stillness is so good, why do I run? Why does anybody run from the one thing proven to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and burnout? Simply put, chronic busyness is a habit. And you can break it with a meditation routine.

Don’t meditate? This is the guide for you.

How to Meditate in 5 Easy Steps

Meditation doesn’t have to be stoic or still. Thousands of people meditate on their surfboards in the barrels of 15-foot waves. Others do it a thousand feet up slabs of granite in the Yosemite Valley. But you can do it anywhere that you have control of your breath.

Here’s a simple meditation guide that has worked wonders for me—the non-meditator.

1. GET COMFORTABLE

Find the position you like best and train your brain to associate that position with relaxation. For some that’s seated, cross-legged on a cushion or mat. But since many people associate work and stress with the seated position, I recommend lying down to newbies.

2. ENJOY YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Today, I picked up a dandelion in the park near my home. I held the flower up against the sky, and I noticed the contrast against the deep, deep blue. Then I noticed how the cool grass felt beneath me. I heard the birds twittering and observed the morphing clouds. And I completely forgot about the worries of my day.

Then I realized…I’m meditating! And that’s the point of meditating—it’s a mini-vacation.

Don’t have access to the outdoors? Try carrying a beautiful picture of nature in your wallet. Or you can create a mental image of your perfect place, complete with streams, mountains, lakes, trees, and whatever it is that makes you feel at peace.

Wherever you go, or whatever you look at, just focus on appreciating the things that would normally pass you by: colors, smells, textures, breezes, beauty. Just enjoy.

3. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH

After you become aware of your surroundings, tune in to your breathing—it’s the essence of meditation.

Deliberate breathing harmonizes your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, calms your fight-or-flight response, and induces relaxation. When you concentrate solely on your breath, you don’t have room to worry about the million and one things you haven’t done.

Place your hands on each side of your navel and feel your stomach pushing your hands out as you breathe in. This diaphragmatic breathing draws oxygen deeper into your tissues for more energy and rejuvenation.

If you’re crunched for time, you can get the most out of each breath with Relax, the guided-breathing feature available exclusively on Fitbit Charge 2 devices. The feature monitors your heart-rate variability to determine your best breathing rate.

4. FEEL GRATITUDE

Once you disrupt your busy thoughts with breathing, you can shift your focus to gratitude. Appreciate your body, the breath in your lungs, the sun, the sky, your family and friends, your fitness and health, and the opportunities you have to live an extraordinary life.

I feel good after noticing my surroundings and focussing on my breath, but when I shift to gratitude, the experience can be transcendental. That’s when my stress really melts away. My body feels lighter, my mind clears, and even though I’m technically meditating, meditating is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m just enjoying my life, and all the people and things in it.

5. VISUALIZE

Now that you’re buzzing with gratitude, you might begin to feel open to possibilities that seemed unrealistic earlier today: like finishing your first 10K, meeting that tight deadline at work, or organizing a junk drawer. It’s time to visualize yourself doing these things, as if they were really happening.

When I do this, I feel unstoppable. My confidence soars. I feel more creative; more in touch with my dreams. And when I end my meditation with a visual, I’m prepared to tackle the challenges I’ve been putting off for days, or even weeks.

You can incorporate meditation into anything. When I’m pressed for time, I blend it into my walks or jogs. And, if quiet isn’t your thing, you can meditate with classical music or any kind of instrumental that is calming to you.

This “non-meditation”-style of meditating is a ritual for me. It has helped me achieve my fitness goals and career aspirations, and it has improved the quality of life I lead. It energizes me and brings meaning to my work. It inspires me. And, when I do, it works 100% of the time.

Try it today. Riff on it, and make it your own. Do it daily for life-changing results.

3 Reasons You Need to Be a Nose Breather

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(Article originally appeared on Fitbit.com)

Tens of thousands of people are taping their mouths closed each night before bed. But before you start thinking this has to be some sort of fad from the pages of a kinky novel… It’s for a better night’s sleep—and better health. Nose breathing, it turns out, is almost as important as the air you breathe. Wondering why? Here are three very good reasons. (Plus, an exercise to get your nose back in on the action.)

Nose Breathing Can Reduce Your Risk of Colds

Your nose, though beautiful, is no ornament. It’s your first defense against viruses and bacteria—but only when you breathe through it. The microscopic hairs located inside your nose, called cilia work with mucous to trap pathogens. The result? Snot, boogers, and a healthier, happier you. Your nose also warms and humidifies air, which helps to reduce your risk of colds. “Proper heating and humidification of air in colder climates are important for respiratory health,” explains Nathan E. Holton, PhD, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa.

Nose Breathing Improves Your Stamina

There’s a reason why ultramarathon legend Scott Jurek encourages breathing through your nostrils: it enhances endurance. One study shows nose breathing reduces breathing rates by over 50 percent, and decreases perceived exertion by 60 percent—which means you might be able to workout harder and longer if you simply close your mouth when you walk or run. (Give it a try: Next time you hit the sidewalk or treadmill, spend thirty minutes alternating between nose and mouth breathing and notice how you feel!)

Nose Breathing Boosts Cardiovascular & Sexual Health, Too

In 1995, scientists discovered that the nose produces nitric oxide—an important compound for cardiovascular, immune, and sexual health. Swedish researchers from the Karolinska Institutedescribed the process: “Nitric oxide (NO) is released from the nasal airways in humans. During inspiration through the nose, this NO will follow the airstream to the lower airways and the lungs”

After NO reaches the lungs, it gets circulated through the bloodstream where it “plays an important role in vasoregulation (the opening and closing of blood vessels), homeostasis, neurotransmission, immune defense, and respiration,” says Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage.

How to Become a Better Nose Breather

Breathing through your nose is scientifically superior. But years of mouth breathing can make nose breathing seem impossible. “Mouth-breathing causes blood vessels in the nose to become inflamed and enlarged,” says McKeown, which makes inhaling and exhaling through your nostrils difficult. Ready to become better at it? Here’s a simple exercise from McKeown:

  • Inhale and exhale through your nose, then pinch your nose and hold your breath.
  • Walk as many steps as you can, building up a medium to strong air shortage.
  • Resume nose breathing, and calm yourself as fast as possible. (If you’re not able to recover within 2 to 3 breaths, you’ve held your breath for too long.)
  • Wait 1 to 2 minutes, then do another breath hold.
  • Repeat for 6 breath holds.

Once you’re comfortable with your nose breathing, you can consider taking it to the next level by taping your mouth shut at night.

“Most people breathe through their mouths all night long,” says McKeown. That’s eight hours of poor oxygenation and zero nitric oxide uptake, which could be explain why you might be feeling groggy in the morning. He believes it’s possible to correct the problem by pressing low-adhesive paper tape, such as 3M Micropore, lightly over your mouth. If you’re uncomfortable with tape, McKeown recommends a stop snoring strap.

The tape might fall off during the night, but McKeown says you should notice a dramatic improvement in energy throughout the day. He recommends using the tape nightly until you’re breathing through your nose all night—your mouth will have plenty of saliva in the morning, and you’ll feel refreshed.

This Breathing Exercise Increases Oxygen and Boosts Your Energy

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(Article originally appeared on Fitbit.com)

Americans will spend over 10 billion dollars this year on coffee and energy drinks. It’s clear, you need an energy boost, but you don’t need to bombard your body with caffeine, load up the landfills with cups and cans, or spend your hard earned cash. What you really need is a shot of oxygen.

Breathing is simple, free, and you can do it anywhere! But to get the biggest energy boost you’ve got to breathe the right way. According to Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage, breathing more is “exactly the wrong thing to do.” Strange as it may seem, over-breathing could reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood.

The problem isn’t a lack of oxygen, says McKeown, “but that not enough oxygen is released into tissues and organs, including the brain.” The result is a tired, sluggish you—and maybe even a missed deadline or a skipped workout. So why aren’t you getting enough energy-boosting oxygen into your cells?

Carbon Dioxide is the Key

You may have been trained to think of carbon dioxide (CO2) as oxygen’s evil alter ego—just a waste gas—but that assumption is dead wrong. “Carbon dioxide is the key variable that releases oxygen from red blood cells,” McKeown explains.

Carbon dioxide gives hemoglobin the green light to pass oxygen along to the body’s cells. When you take fewer breaths and breathe easier, you’ll have all the oxygen and energy you need to thrive.

5-Minute Breathing Exercise

This counterintuitive exercise, adapted McKeown’s book, will allow you to get the most oxygen out of the air you breathe:

  • Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed, neck lengthened.
  • Put one hand on your chest and the other above your bellybutton. Feel your stomach pressing out as you inhale, and moving inward as you exhale.
  • Gently press your hands against your abdomen and chest to create resistance.
  • Breathe against your hands, gradually reducing the size of each breath.
  • Inhale less air with each breath and until you have a tolerable air-hunger, making sure to stay in control of your breath.
  • Pause at the end of each exhale. Then, repeat. (If you find yourself gasping for air, you are holding your breath too long—reset with a full breath and try again.)

Continue this breathing exercise for 3 to 5 minutes and aim to maintain a tolerable air hunger. “Practicing 2 sets of 5-minute exercises is enough to reset your breathing center and improve your body’s tolerance for carbon dioxide,” says McKeown.

If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel warmer, you’ll have more saliva, and you might even blush—all of which are signs of increased carbon dioxide. Stick to this simple practice and you’ll have enough natural energy to tackle your entire to-do list and fit in a workout! You might even be able to kiss coffee goodbye.

Getting Rich In Entrepreneurship Begins With Altruism

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(Article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com)

You want a nice car. You want a nice house, and lots of money so you can do everything you want — I get it. But those things aren’t going to make you successful.

It’s like Jim Carey said: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

It’s what you give that counts.

How I started giving.

At 24, after half a lifetime of stealing and mooching, I came across a Zig Ziglar quote that struck me: “You’ll get everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

It made perfect sense. But what did I have to give? I’d been expelled from school, rejected by the army and, to complete the failure trifecta, I’d dropped out of college. Who could I possibly help?

It turned out to be more than I could imagine.

Since all my relationships had been fiascoes, I figured I could at least give advice on what not to do. Following Zig’s advice, I wrote to help people avoid the insane pain I had experienced in love. And it gave me purpose.

That purpose got me published.

Related: 3 Secrets Behind the ’80/20 Rule’ of Giving — and Getting More In Return 

The audiences were small at first, but I got positive feedback. A couple people emailed me saying they needed to hear what I wrote. Nothing huge. But those simple comments were the first gold coins on my new giving path. It felt insanely good, and I was inspired to get better at writing so I could help more people.

But in order to improve, I had to give up the habits that kept me from giving.

What I gave up in order to give more.

Porn was one of the first things to go. It didn’t inspire me to think outside of myself, or to be better than I was; it was all take, no give. And I realized porn was a big part of why I was still living at home at 24 — it kept me complacent. Ditto for my laziness and negative thinking.

So I let those selfish habits go.

Immediately I had more time and energy to write. I trimmed the fat from my life and started a positive feedback loop:

I got more positive responses from my audience, which got me published on bigger sites, which gave me opportunities to make money writing, which boosted my confidence to take bigger risks, which got me on even bigger publications. That allowed me to help more people, which increased my pay, my opportunities, my confidence, my value and my happiness.

What I got by giving.

As giving became my lifestyle, I gained all the traits I needed to be successful: discipline, confidence, commitment, patience, responsibility, honesty, resilience, vulnerability, focus and perseverance.

Related: How Giving Could Become Your Default Weapon of Choice

I still lived with my parents when I started, but I was able to save enough money in four months to move out on my own. When I took the leap, I had faith to back me up. I knew I wouldn’t fail because I was giving everything I had to make life better for others.

It wasn’t a cakewalk though.

I remember looking at my thirtith straight bowl of white rice and thinking, “I can’t do this.” But writing for other people was all I wanted do — it was the only thing that made me feel whole. So I swallowed the hunger and pushed on. When rent was due, I always had the money.

As I broke my personal barriers and struggled to succeed, my stories became more visceral, more valuable. I wrote on an empty stomach more times than I can count, but my heart was full. I was giving everything I had to help people just like me. I knew I would make it.

And six months later I finally made my break. I got published on Entrepreneur.com, which gave me a larger audience and more people to help. I gave that audience everything I had and wrote the best articles of my life. My performance didn’t go unnoticed.

International companies saw what I had to give and they liked it. I got jobs that paid more in a day than I used to make in two weeks. When people saw my success, they hired me as their coach.

After a year of writing for millennials, I decided to take my giving to the next level. I created a website where I could share world-class advice on succeeding in business, life, and love. Giving has given me everything I love: my career, my independence, my happiness, and my purpose.

How you can give more.

If you want to reach the next level of success, whether you’re at a dead-end corporate job or living with your parents, think about what you can give.

Related: 4 Ways Leaders Can Get More by Giving More

What talents, experiences, and passions do you have that could make life better for others? What’s preventing you from sharing those things? What could you give up in order to give more?

I found the answer to those questions with these daily habits:

Start a journal.

I can’t recommend it enough. Writing every detail of your day helps you discover what makes you valuable and what detracts. So get to know yourself with 15 minutes of nightly journaling.

Self-knowledge is your gateway to giving.

Forget about relationships.

Focus on you, on giving yourself everything you need to give selflessly. Resume relationships when you’re rich from all the people you’ve helped. Then you’ll be able to love someone for who they are, not for the insecurities you’re trying to fill.

Plan your day.

No matter how good your intentions are, nothing good gets done unless it’s scheduled. So plan everything. Plan your studying. Plan your working. Plan your exercise. Plan everything you want to do, and set goals for avoiding time wasters like TV and social media. Brainstorm what you’ll do tomorrow every night before you go to bed.

4 Ways to Find Pain Relief in Motion

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(Article originally appeared on Fitbit.com)

Jason Wachob is a paragon of vitality these days, but eight years ago the author of Wellth and founder of MindBodyGreen, a top destination for holistic health, could barely crawl out of bed in the morning.

“I flew 150,000 miles coach in a single year for my first startup company,” says Wachob. “When you’re 6’7”, that’s torture.” By the end of 2008, the former Columbia basketball player’s business went bust. He had nothing to show for it, but two bulging disks in his lower back.

“It was excruciating pain. I literally couldn’t even walk a block,” says the New York City dweller, referring to his inflamed sciatic nerve.

Wachob visited doctor after doctor. And each one revealed the same grim prognosis: Get back surgery, or be crippled for life.

The Yoga Prescription

“As an afterthought,” mentions Jason, “the last doctor said, ‘Oh, you might want to give yoga a try too.’ So I started light yoga for 15 minutes in the morning and evening. And within 6 months, I was completely healed.”

That’s an audacious claim. But Wachob believes his choice was simple. “I’m a pretty optimistic guy. So I knew one way or another I was going to be fine. I thought if the yoga thing doesn’t work out, I’ll just have surgery and I’ll be fine.”

So he started practicing yoga with just five poses for his lower back. And week after week, he began to feel better. The pain receded gradually, then it disappeared entirely. “It’s really important to find a teacher and practice that works for you.” Jason says about opting for natural movement over surgery. “You need that to persist long enough to see the benefits.”

Though Wachob found his cure through yoga, there are plenty of options to manage your pain and heal your body through movement.

3 More Ways to Find Pain Relief in Motion

TAI CHI

A form of moving meditation, Harvard Health Publications calls Tai Chi “medication in motion.” Peter M. Wayne, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, notes a growing body of evidence shows Tai Chi is useful for preventing and rehabbing many age related conditions.

AQUATIC THERAPY

Water-based movements reduce the effect of gravity, which can broaden your range of motion and reduces impact on your joints. Aquatic therapy is often used to treat fibromyalgia pain and to improve quality of life.

SLACK-LINING

Slack-lining is a form of tight-rope walking that has become popular on college campuses in the last four years. But according to one study, it can be useful for rehabbing injured ankles and knees.  “[It may] be useful for athletes to increase sports performance in general, but also for advanced therapy after ACL ruptures or ankle sprains,” Juergen Pfusterschmied, the lead researcher on the study, explained to Men’s Journal.

Pain prevents you from getting your steps in. So does recovery time from surgery. But, like Jason Wachob, you might be able to eliminate both by regularly practicing natural, healing movements. Discuss treatment options with your doctor, decide which combination of movements are right for you, and find the best instructors in your area.

Discipline is the Key to Successful Millennials

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(Article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com)

Living at home after the age of 18 used to be an unthinkable shame. Guys jumped into manufacturing jobs straight out of highschool, women married young and parents were left at home to go about their lives.

Thankfully, times have changed. Domestic laws have relaxed, and assembly jobs are competing with the Dodo for the most boring thing in non-existence.

Today, if you’re under 30, and out of the nest, you’ve got it going on.

 But regardless of all the benefits of incubating a bit longer – more time to discover yourself, less pressure to marry, etc. — millennials are lacking one trait that will make or break our success: discipline.

Discipline is harder to come by now than ever.

Discipline used to be a product of survival. You either got disciplined and ate, or you got dead. Today, our mothers continue stocking the fridge so there isn’t any mortal motivation to succeed. So in lieu of fearing starvation, we need a different approach.

We need to fall in love with success.

Unfortunately, society has a pathetic definition of success, and millennials are too smart to not be jaded. We’ve been told that success is limited to the confines of academia, desk jobs, corporate ladders and marriages that we’d gladly trade for alcoholism and loneliness. Where do I sign up?

Along with losing our hunger for food, we’ve also lost our taste for success. And we’ve fallen back into the nest.

Who could blame us? We see our parents locked in jobs they hate – bad marriages too — and we’re told to be successful like them?

“No thank you,” thinks the intelligent millennial, “I’ll take my basement.”

But what if success was different?

What if success was doing the thing you loved most, on your own time – married or single — while making a difference to people who appreciate your talent?

What if success wasn’t a formula laid down by the starch-necks that came before us, but rather something of your own design? Would millennials then find the discipline it takes to succeed?

I think so. That’s what happened to me anyway.

I redefined success, and I discovered discipline.

I was the paragon millennial male: stuck at home after I dropped out of college – desultory and dependent. But I knew the standard of success and refused to take part because I wanted to be happy. And I wasn’t happy living at home.

After several failures to launch, I was 24, glued to my parent’s couch and feeling totally impotent. I didn’t want conventional success, but I couldn’t let my wings atrophy at home either – that was too painful.

Out of necessity, I created my own version of success.

I decided that success was making a living and a difference doing what I loved most: writing. Since finding my passion for writing, I learned how good it felt to do what I loved, and I wanted to help others find their own success.

After carving out a more suitable definition of success, for me – one that didn’t necessarily involve more college or office jobs — I found myself at the starting line all by myself. My path to success was distinctly my own. No one had ever done it before me so no one could show me how to do it.

So I had to trust that doing what I loved would be enough if I did it every day – if I stayed disciplined.

You have to stick with it.

Since I had a burning passion to write, all I had to do was schedule time every day to make it happen. That way I could improve my skill. And I did, but only after I physically wrote down my objectives for the day.

It didn’t matter that I’d been fired from or quit every job I’d started, or that I’d been branded as unreliable and irresponsible because I loved writing. But more than simply loving it, I needed to make a difference through it.

With my new formula of success – one that didn’t involve slaving away for someone else’s benefit — discipline came naturally. One week of daily writing became two, then weeks became months, and months became years. In small increments, my character changed along with my habits and my entire life.

Related: 7 Behaviors of Successful People

Discipline over time works miracles.

Staying disciplined with writing summoned all of my demons to the surface – my insecurity, my little-me complex, my arrogance and my fear of the unknown. But because I was hungry for success, I got over these limitations, and I shed my small skin.

I didn’t get many paid opportunities at first. I became familiar with rejection. But because I had committed to writing each day – to writing better and to improving others lives through writing — I learned to cope with failure. And I got better.

My writing got published on bigger and bigger sites. Companies eventually came to me with job offers, and I landed work with local businesses I scouted out. I made enough money to move out and support myself.

I’m learning more now than I ever had in all my years in college. I read about syntax and style, and it’s fascinating. I study writing for several hours a day, which is as much as I practice. And as I stay disciplined, my opportunities – and pay — keep climbing.

What’s your definition of success?

I’m sharing my story because I’m a lot like you. We both have our own unique path to success that only we can walk. We both have a desire to make a difference in other people’s lives through our passions. And we both need to stay disciplined in order to find success and feel happy.

If you’ve rejected the modern definition of success, good for you, but that’s only part of it. You need to come up with a unique version of success that no one else can touch. It needs to be centered on doing what you love and on helping other people through your talents.

And if you want to realize your vision of success, you must be disciplined.

So figure out what you love, then do it every day. Learn as much as you can about your career, and pursue it with vigor. If you’re developing a bona fide passion, discipline will come naturally. No amount of suffering will keep you from sticking with what you love.

I left the nest after a year of committing to disciplined writing. And now that I’m on my own, I’m hungrier for success than I’ve ever been. I’m achieving more than I ever thought possible. Discipline has given me freedom and the ability to improve others’ lives, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

How to Let Go of Old Habits and Break Into the New You (Fitbit)

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(Article originally published on Fitbit.com)

Ugh. You know the feeling: the mounting dread, the creeping anxiety, the little voice in your head that scoffs, that says you can’t. Ugh… Here comes another New Year’s fitness commitment.

Maybe you’ve broken one before. Maybe you’ve broken 30. But you’re back at the starting line, again, and you’re here because you know this is the step you need to take for the life you want to live.

You want to feel good in your body. You want it to take you to new levels of satisfaction in your work, play, and personal life. And you want it so bad you’re willing to face the humiliation of failure. Again.

You are brave. With your courage (and your Fitbit tracker!), you have the basics for crushing your fitness goals. But it’s not enough to simply have the tools, you need to know that your odds of of triumphant success is 100%. Really. Here’s how you’re going to rock your New Year’s intentions in 2017:

Start an Affirmation Practice

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers

Most people fall off their fitness wagon because they aren’t secure in themselves. Many people are so intent on being something greater, they forget to accept, acknowledge, and encourage their current bodies.

“I’ll be positive when I’ve worked all this flab off,” you might think, when in this moment, the moment in which you have resolved to improve, you need the positivity now more than ever.

If you don’t think you’re worthy of support, you won’t give it to yourself, and you won’t reach your goals. But you can change your fate in an instant with one decision: begin an affirmation routine.

Use Affirmations to Achieve Your Goals

Like the famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say, affirmations work whether you believe in them or not. And here’s a little secret: you’re practicing affirmations this very moment. Your subconscious mind is a constant wave of affirmations, but if you don’t know what those are, chances are, they’re sabotaging your fitness efforts.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung

So start reprogramming your affirmations by saying them out loud, every day, in front of a mirror, with spirit and intensity, until you believe you’re the very thing you want. It’s only a matter of time and practice.

Practicing affirmations will make you unshakeable; they’ll renew your confidence. And they’ll help you accept each version of yourself on the way to becoming better—and fitter—which is a lifelong journey.

Customize Your Affirmations

“I am confident, courageous, bold, accepting, resilient, capable, disciplined, perseverant, reliable, grateful, hopeful, honest, realistic, patient, joyful, energetic, organized, focused, creative, confident, adventurous, encouraging, inspiring, flexible, fit, and entirely accepting of me. Right now. And for as long as I live.”

This is just a small sample of the positive traits you should be flooding yourself with daily. For best results, customize your affirmations to strengthen your weaknesses.

If you’ve had trouble finding the energy to work out, you might use a template like this:

“I am healthy, vibrant, energetic, and committed. I eat the right foods and get enough sleep so that I’m energized and motivated to complete my goals. Whatever I want to do, I make it happen. I feel so good about myself because I work hard to be the happiest and healthiest version of me.”

Wake Up with Your Affirmations

It’s best to recite your affirmations as soon as you get up in the morning. The routine can be hard, especially if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling down about yourself. But if you commit to it, if you find the grit to give yourself the support you need in the morning, the habit of encouraging yourself will become natural, and the choice to be positive will seem easier throughout the day. Essentially, you’ll train your brain to look for the best in yourself at every turn of the day.

It sets you up to be mentally prepared to bring your best effort to all of your activities. And by the time 5:00pm comes along, or whenever you can fit in a major step session or a workout, you’ll be motivated and ready. You’ll feel even better after killing it in the gym, or out on the sidewalks, and your attitude of affirmations will make it easy to congratulate yourself for the hard work you’ve done. That’s when you’ll see explosive results.

Start your affirmation routine today. Commit to it in the morning before work, right after lunch, before you slip into bed, and anytime you start to feel down on yourself.

Stick with this little habit and you’ll achieve your fitness goals. And, even better than that, you’ll become the person you were born to be.