Marriage Material

I blew up my first marriage in a year.

If you asked me about it then, not only would I have blamed my ex-spouse, I would have blamed the entire concept of marriage.

Roll forward a couple decades (!) and here’s a lesson that I’m seeking to pass along to my kids.

Sibling bickering is exhausting, painful and universal.

Rather than focusing on “fixing” my kids – who seem healthy, loving and normal – I use conflict as an opportunity to teach.

I wait for the energy to go out of the situation.

Hey, I want to teach you a Jedi mind trick.

When you are upset…

Watch your mind.

 

It is going to fix on something outside…

…Bella’s voice

…Axel’s question

…Lexi’s tone

…my face

 

Your mind is going to trick you into thinking that the problem is out there.

Not helpful.

Because you can’t do anything “out there.”

 

What you can do is pause and ask, “What do I want?”

And you’re going to find something to helpful to do.

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Simple, not easy.

What We Don’t See

Twenty-five years ago, I heeded a call to be a better person.

Just a bit better.

Frankly, at the beginning, it would have been tough to see the “better.”

My changes were, essentially, being less unhealthy and less of an asshole.

Even small acts of improvement are not easy.

They are challenging because, inside my head, I only “see” one side of life.

In the moment, my only experience is discomfort.

They are challenging because, I had created a life that supported my poor decisions.

Remember, what we don’t see.

Avoided Setbacks and Unforced Errors.

We never experience avoided health problems, relationships not falling apart, sidestepped addictions, bypassed financial ruin…

I’m grateful the 20-something version of myself was sick of being sick and decided to go for a walk.

 

 

Mental Health for Aging Athletes

Lucho shared this video of David Goggins.

So many memories come back when I listen to Mr. Goggins share his truth.

It takes courage to change.

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Here’s something I learned from the greatest triathlete of my generation…

If your mental health relies on a physical expression of self then focus your drive on reducing your patterns of self-harm.

Everything else is details.

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Some useful details…

What’s your objective?

Can you answer this question simply, and immediately?

What’s your objective?

Not because of the the importance of whatever you are working on.

Rather, because working towards an objective gives structure to your days and meaning to your life.

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What’s your pattern of daily release?

Strength training and uphill cardio have better long-term outcomes than…

  • drugs and alcohol
  • violence and anger
  • outrage and gossip

…if your current alternatives aren’t working then consider…

Strength training and uphill cardio.

Whatever works for you… remove the things that prevent you from getting your daily release.

Pay attention to the habits that screw up tomorrow.

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What is your pattern of breakdown?

You are going to see this in your peers, before yourself.

The closer you are to the sharp end, the brighter your flame will burn.

Whether it is 5, 15 or 25 years… each body and mind has a limit to the amount of elite-level output it can sustain.

Similar to how you conditioned yourself to endure, train the capacity to appreciate when you’ve had enough.

  • Enough pain
  • Enough challenge
  • Enough exercise
  • Enough work
  • Enough glory
  • Enough winning
  • Enough dessert

Encourage the humility required to admit you’ve had enough.

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When life seems out of whack, return to the basics.

  1. Objective
  2. Release
  3. Patterns of Breakdown

Then…

  • Do good deeds in private.
  • Be your own hero.

What To Do

2016-06-26 12.45.44We can be trapped into thinking that one person can’t make a difference…

…that there’s no point in bothering

…that we will be punished for good deeds

A bias towards inaction enables the enemies of a civil society to screw things up for personal gain.

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This is what I got done in June:

  • Sent in my naturalization papers
  • Wrote an elected official
    • Introduced myself and my kids
    • Told him where in his constituency I lived
    • Pointed out an issue where he had done a particularly good job
    • Told him my #1 issue for his consideration
    • Thanked him for his service to us
  • Continued my home-based practice of de-escalation — when my family watches me improve myself then our entire community is better off
  • I selected a political group and a politician that “don’t get it”
    • I picked an area from each where they “do get it”
    • I shared my areas of agreement with my wife
  • Consumed less violence – whatever your favorite source… MMA, NFL, CNN, hate speech, movies, video games – choose less – I pay particular attention to visual violence as well as violence I can feel in my body – the NFL scores uncomfortably high in terms of pleasurable, tribal violence
  • Generated less anger – I can hold emotions, rather than feeding them – my mantra is don’t act on anger – the “holding” is done while breathing calmly because speaking when angry merely feeds it

Each of the above was inconvenient but, collectively, improved my life.

I need to remind myself of the overall improvement because it takes sustained effort to create the life I want to live.

Indeed, it takes sustained effort to create the mind in which I want to live!

Do we care enough to change?

One small step, daily.

 

Two Gifts

2016-01-09 19.05.25For a number of years, I’ve chosen one thing and constantly reminded myself that I have far more than I need of this item.

If you’ve heard me talk about my experiences with finance, or sport, one theme that I emphasize is a feeling that I was far more successful than I expected to be.

Another example might be talking about living with preschoolers… it’s the most hugs I’ve ever had in my life. I’m very well loved.

Or what it’s like to be married to my wife… sharing my life with her is far from a hardship posting.

This habit need not be built with the “big” things in our lives.

2016-01-09 16.56.53Each time I leave a tip at a restaurant, I might pause and say, internally, “isn’t it wonderful to be in a position where I have a little extra to give.”

Each time I reach into the fruit drawer of my fridge, “pretty amazing that we can have crispy apples, year round.”

If I shovel my neighbor’s sidewalk, “it’s so cool to have the time to help this person out.”

The point being to create, and reinforce, a trigger than reminds me that I am surrounded by examples of having more than I need.

So the first gift I wish for you is a feeling of having enough, in at least one area of your life.

2016-01-03 12.59.47++

A new habit I’m seeking to build is paying attention to how I feel when I’m walking.

I picked this one up from The Art of Power, by Hanh. It’s a wonderful book, filled with stories about how I fool myself!

I have found walking a little slower feels better.

I’ve noticed that breathing a little deeper feels better.

Strengthening those two habits will lead to better outcomes.

Because…

Most my errors come from quick action when anxious.

So the second gift I wish for you is short, pleasurable breaks whenever you find yourself walking.

2016-01-01 11.49.55

A Young 46

boatingSomewhere beyond your 30th birthday the world might begin to tell you that you look young for your age.

If you say this to me, I might smile and reply, “This is what 46 looks like.”

Likewise, many people say… “but I don’t feel my age.” To them I note, that’s what your age feels like.

They might follow that up with… “I wonder what 50, or even 75, is going to feel like?”

It’s going to feel like right now.

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The practice of accepting my age helps me accept all phases of life…

  • The overtired toddler
  • The anxious teen
  • The sociopathic 20-something
  • The fearful cancer patient
  • The crabby elder
  • The grieving spouse

If we are fortunate to live a long life then we will move through most these phases of experience. At midlife, they surround me.

If we happen to be “young for our age” then it might take a few more years for us to arrive at the phase where we “look old.” But it’s coming.

So I will try to enjoy this day and I will try to accept whatever day you are going through.

And when I am scared, or angry, or tired…

I’ll pause, try not to pass it on and remember to live as best I can.

 

 

Fatherhood: Giving Myself A Break

disneyDuring the school year, my son and I have a routine. When I come back from my afternoon workout, he takes a bath while I have a shower. It’s a win-win-win as the two of us end up clean and my wife likes a fresh family.

Last week, as I was heading out the door for date night, my son asked me to help him get clean.

One of my reactions was fear.

  • Fear that if I gave into this request then I’d never get out of the house.
  • Fear that if I gave into the request then the requests would never stop.

Fortunately, I was able to pause before I acted on my fear.

While pausing, the thought arrived that I MUST break this pattern of behavior in my boy.

What pattern was that?

Loving me, or wanting to spend time with me? 😉

Pausing a little more, I thought about everyone in the situation.

  • The Sitter – being left with a dirty, unhappy four-year old
  • My Wife – sitting outside, content with her apps
  • My Boy – wanting his dad to spend time with him
  • Myself – feeling a wall rising inside me as I’m tempted to close out my son

I sent my wife a text that I’d be a bit late, enjoyed giving my son a bath and everything worked out fine.

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I share this story because it highlights a dangerous habit that is easy to create.

Closing my inner life because I’m scared of future demands.

If you look for this pattern then you will see it everywhere.

  • Gifting – refusing to help now, to avoid being asked later
  • Parents – giving into the desire to break the child now, to “help” them later

Inside me, the habit feels like a form of revenge.

I’ll turn away from you now, because that’s “easier” than having to say no later.

Looking deeply, I’m the one that is hurt by this habit (and I’m robbing myself of the feel-good benefit of being a nice guy).

Harsh people think their hardness is a long-term favor to the people in their lives. They probably learned this habit in a difficult childhood.

My heart tells me that I’ll be OK with the risks of staying open to the people in my life.

Be brave.