The First Thing You Need to Do If You Want to Change Your Life

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” ~Eckhart Tolle

There are two ways to live life.

One is a more reactive approach, where you fight back when you encounter challenges in your personal or professional life. The other is a more proactive one where you are mindful of the trends within you and around you and ready with your surfboard whenever a big wave hits!

The only difference between the two is awareness.

Awareness empowers you to make conscious choices based on an understanding of yourself and the situation, to notice what your choice created, and to then choose again. This is why awareness is powerful. By becoming aware, you are snatching control back.

Merely observing your thoughts and behavior can spur positive action.

Big words. How am I so sure?

Just by tracking my sleep, I was able to gain insights into what aids my sleep and what disrupts it.

When I started tracking my food, I realized calories don’t matter but macros do. I then changed how I consumed food.

Journaling allowed me to observe my mental chatter and learn from it. It made me aware that most of my anger and frustration stems from lack of sleep, food, or water.

Tracking my finances made it easier to make tough calls with my spending.

I didn’t make these changes overnight. They took days and months of being aware before the changes actually happened.

Awareness is knowledge. Knowledge gives you power. Power makes it easier to change.

In the absence of awareness, you react mindlessly to your surroundings because all you have is the movement of thought. Your reaction will then depend on your past experiences and conditioning.

If in the past, you dealt with stress by eating, you are going to reach for your favorite snack. If your past experience taught you to raise your voice to get heard, you will easily shout when you are being ignored.

You start to believe what you are experiencing is reality when actually you are experiencing the narrative your mind created as a reaction to what is going on around you. Without awareness, you confuse what is happening in your mind with reality. You are at the mercy of the conditioned mind.

“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” ~Deepak Chopra

Most of us are clueless about why we do what we do, how we present ourselves, and how others perceive us. And we get stuck in negative patterns as a result.

Here are some ways you can improve your awareness so you can improve your life.

Practice self-reflection.

This allows you to take a step back and ask probing questions of yourself. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ask yourself: Why did I react this way? Why is this making me sad? Why am I so against this viewpoint? Where did this belief come from? 

Doing this will allow you to make stronger connections. It will make your convictions stronger and give you the fuel to argue your viewpoint in a civil manner. It will also make you aware of your bad habits and thought patterns.

For instance, self-reflection has taught me that I have a tendency to eat unhealthy food when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I also have a tendency to shut myself off from people when I am angry instead of talking to them calmly. Knowing this about myself, I am able to catch these unhealthy habits and choose healthier responses.

Journal.

Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection, since it helps you understand and challenge your thoughts and beliefs, and it’s also an stress reliever. It acts as a brain dump. Think of this as a parking lot for your thoughts. Just like your back feels lighter when you take off your heavy backpack, your mind will feel lighter and less stressful once you dump your thoughts on a piece of paper.

You can do this once a week, once a day, or even once every fortnight. All you need is a diary and a pen to get going. Trust me, nobody is so busy that they cannot take five minutes in a day to journal.

Take personality and psychometric tests.

Whereas a personality test can give you insight into why you do the things you do, a psychometric test can help you asses your skills, knowledge, abilities, and characteristics. I am not a big fan of these, but there are scores of free tests available online. You might find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with the results, but they will give you some food for thought.

Since they’re all based on some sort of questionnaire that you answer, I would recommend taking more than one to get a broader understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and behavior patterns.

Ask for feedback.

There is a catch to this one. You need to be willing to take the feedback someone gives you without being offended or getting into an argument. If you can ask probing questions from them to dig deeper, even better!

If you are uncomfortable with people pointing out your mistakes and shortcomings to your face, you can ask through email. This way you have time to digest what people write before responding and will be less likely to react defensively.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Once you become aware of your limitations, the next step is to push them and face your fears.

I used to hate talking to large crowds or presenting in front of people. Nothing made me sweat faster!

Since I was aware, I decided to tackle this by joining a student organization in college where my role was to go to different classes and present about the organization in efforts to recruit more students. It wasn’t easy, but within a year, I wasn’t sweating anymore!

For you, this might mean setting a boundary with someone after recognizing your habit of letting people take advantage of you or applying for a job you’ve been interested in after recognizing that you usually hold yourself back with fears of not being good enough.

This is how awareness changes your life: when you not only recognize what you’re doing and why but consciously choose to do something different.

Awareness makes you stronger. With awareness, you are able to bounce back faster after adversity. You are conscious of your insecurities and shortcomings. You have gone through the cycle enough times to understand what triggers them and how you can recover from them.

For example, in my case, when I am feeling sad and depressed, I know I can recover if I take a nap or go workout. It helps me shake off the bad mojo.

Awareness allows you to empathize with people. You can relate to the other person because you know the signs, having experienced them yourself. It becomes very easy to step into the other person’s shoes instead of judging them. In fact, it will come naturally after a while.

Your agility increases because of your awareness. You can pluck yourself in and out of any situation when you want and are able to adapt and pivot as needed on much shorter notice. In other words, you are able to move, think, or act quickly.

The pursuit of self-awareness also leads you to your blind spots. It uncovers the unknown and makes it known, so at least you are aware of it, even if you are not able to act on it right away.

When I look back, I have been blessed to have experienced many moments of awareness discovering things either by myself or because someone in my trusted circle caught it. I am pretty sure when you look back, you will also be able to spot those moments where your transformation first began because of the awareness bringing it to light.

The wheels of change begin to move with the first sign of awareness.

6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning. The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

 

Morning routines. Everyone has them. Everyone wants a better one.

But instead of adding items to your morning in hopes of starting your day more productively, consider eliminating a few things from your routine. Consider it addition by subtraction.

What should go on your not to do list for first thing in the morning?

1. Don’t plan out your day.

Instead, make a to-do list the night before. That accomplishes a number of things.
One, you’ll sleep better. As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says, “Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it’s certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head.” Deciding what you’ll do tomorrow — especially deciding what you’ll do first — instantly relieves a little stress and anxiety.

And ensures you don’t waste time deciding what to tackle first. Or mistaking the seemingly urgent for the truly important. Or wasting time gathering up whatever you need to actually work on what you want to tackle first.

Try it.

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow. Then determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer’s desktop) so you can hit the ground running first thing in the morning. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure you have answers to your questions.

Starting your day with a productive bang creates natural momentum — and provides the motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on your to-do list.

So, yeah: Don’t make a plan. Have a plan.

2. Don’t make unimportant decisions.

Malcolm Gladwell only drinks five kinds of liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso, and milk. Why?

As Gladwell says, “There are so many other things I would rather do with my time than agonize endlessly about those kinds of trivial decisions.”

Plus, we all have a finite store of mental energy for exercising self-control. Some of us have less, some have more, but eventually we all run out of willpower steam.

That’s why the more choices you need to make during the day, the harder each one is on your brain — and the more you start to look for shortcuts. That’s when you get impulsive. That’s when you make decisions you know you shouldn’t make.

The fewer decisions you have to make, the better the decisions you will make when you do have to make a decision.

Maybe you’ll start having the same thing for breakfast. Or always working out before you start work. (More on that in a moment.) Or scanning the same key metrics.

Or, as President Obama once told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Automate as many decisions you have to make in the morning as possible, especially when they don’t improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Don’t forget to exercise.

Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours. (Keep in mind “moderate” means an average heart rate of between 110  and 120 beats a minute. So, no: You don’t have to go all HIIT on yourself.)

Not only will a short workout increase your energy level afterward, it will also put you in a better mood for up to 12 hours.

Which means exercising first thing lets you take full advantage of the “happier” 12 hours that science says follow.

4. Don’t forget to include protein in your first meal.

In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss recommends consuming 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. At least one nutrition professor recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast.

Why? Protein tends to keep blood-sugar levels steadier. Protein tends to help prevent hunger spikes. Most important, research shows dopamine regulates motivation, helping you to “initiate and persevere.”

Which is exactly what you need to do first thing in the morning: get started and keep going.

Granted, knocking out 30 grams of protein might sound daunting, so try a protein bar or protein shake. That’s what I do: My first meal is always a protein bar and a glass of water.

Decision already made, protein consumed. Win-win.

5. Don’t forget to take the right breaks.

Generally speaking, we can only focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15- to 20-minute break so we can recharge and be ready to perform at a high level on the next task.

So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking an 6-, 8-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have, say, four or five tasks — or chunks of tasks — you will get done a lot more efficiently.

Just make sure you take the right kind of break. Sitting and chilling is fine, but taking a break to knock out a few relatively mindless tasks could be just as useful (and leave you feeling a little more productive).

Think of it this way: Momentum is everything. Breaks should reinforce your sense of activity and accomplishment. So take a quick walk. Grab a drink or a snack.

Or, if you feel the urge to stay Type A, pick a few productive tasks you like to perform — and gain a sense of accomplishment from — and use those for your “breaks.”

6. Don’t stick blindly to the same morning routine.

Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little earlier to take advantage of “quiet time” to complete your first task. Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little later so you’ll feel more rested.

Maybe you’ll need to exercise later in the day after all, or adjust what you eat, or change a few of your other “automatic” decisions.

To be more productive, you can’t do what you’ve always done.

Nor should you slavishly stick to the new routine you create. Every once in a while, take a few minutes to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And adjust as necessary.

Because the key is to do what makes you most successful.

Which, over time, is likely to change.

So make sure you change with it.

Why Your Attitude Is Everything

 

One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you.

Related: It Takes a Positive Attitude to Achieve Positive Results

I generally start my workshops and seminars by asking a fundamental question: What attitude did you bring into this meeting? Often, this brings puzzled looks. In truth, people generally don’t have a high level of attitude awareness. They’ll know if they are hungry or if their feet hurt, but they usually don’t have a good handle on their attitude. That is a mistake because attitude is everything. It governs the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you.

We all have a choice. We can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and self-motivation, or we can choose one of self-defeat and self-pity. It’s a power we all have. Each of us encounters hard times, work performance, heartache, and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you choose to respond.

Your mind is a computer that can be programmed. You can choose whether the software installed is productive or unproductive. Your inner dialogue is the software that programs your attitude, which determines how you present yourself to the world around you. You have control over the programming. Whatever you put into it is reflected in what comes out.

Related: Why It’s All About Attitude

Many of us have behavior patterns today that were programmed into our brains at a very tender age. The information that was recorded by our brains could have been completely inaccurate or cruel. The sad reality of life is that we will continue to hear negative information, but we don’t have to program it into our brains.

The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your selfcritic. It can work for or against you, depending on the messages you allow. It can be optimistic or pessimistic. It can wear you down or cheer you on. You control the sender and the receiver, but only if you consciously take responsibility for and control over your inner conversation.

Habitual bad attitudes are often the product of past experiences and events. Common causes include low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, anger and an inability to handle change. It takes serious work to examine the roots of a harmful attitude, but the rewards of ridding ourselves of this heavy baggage can last a lifetime.

Here are 10 strategies from my attitude tool kit to improve your attitude:

1. Self-Coaching Through Affirmations

Affirmations repeated several times each day, every day, serve to reprogram your subconscious with positive thinking. An affirmation is made up of words charged with power,

Help Keep You Motivated

. You send a positive response to your subconscious, which accepts whatever you tell it. When done properly, this triggers positive feelings that, in turn, drive action.

2. Self-Motivation Through Discovering Your Motives

Discover what motivates you—what incites you to take action to change your life. Basic motives include love, self-preservation, anger, financial gain and fear. Self-motivation requires enthusiasm, a positive outlook, a positive physiology (walk faster, smile, sit up), and a belief in yourself and your God-given potential.

3. The Power of Visualization

Studies of the psychology of peak performance have found that most great athletes, surgeons, engineers and artists use affirmations and visualizations either consciously or subconsciously to enhance and focus their skills. Nelson Mandela has written extensively on how visualization helped him maintain a positive attitude while being imprisoned for 27 years. “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free. I fantasized about what I would like to do,” he wrote in his autobiography. Visualization works well to improve attitude.

4. Attitude Talk for Positive Internal Dialogue

Attitude talk is a way to override your past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with a conscious, positive internal voice that helps you face new directions. Your internal conversation—that little voice you listen to all day long—acts like a seed in that it programs your brain and affects your behavior. Take a closer look at what you are saying to yourself.

Related: Attitude Adjustment 101: Say It Out Loud with Me…

5. The Power of Words—WOW

Once released to the universe, our words cannot be taken back. Learn the concept of WOW—watch our words. What we speak reflects what is already in our hearts based upon all the things we have come to believe about ourselves. If we find ourselves speaking judgmental and disparaging things about our circumstances or those around us, we know the condition of our hearts needs to change. You can create a direct path to success by what you say.

6. The Power in a Positive Greeting

When people ask me how I am doing, I say, “Super-fantastic.” Most people enjoy working and living with others who try to live life for what it is—a beautiful gift.

7. Enthusiasm: Vital Tool for Staying Motivated

Enthusiasm is to attitude what breathing is to life. Enthusiasm enables you to apply your gifts more effectively. It’s the burning desire that communicates commitment, determination and spirit. Enthusiasm means putting yourself in motion. It’s an internal spirit that speaks through your actions from your commitment and your belief in what you are doing. It is one of the most empowering and attractive characteristics you can have.

8. Connecting to Your Spiritual Empowerment

The ultimate level of human need extends into the spiritual realm. Just as we feed our bodies in response to our primary need to survive physically, we need to feed our spirit because we are spiritual beings. Many people find powerful and positive motivation in their faith. I happen to be one of them.

9. Lighten Up Your Life with Humor

Humor is a powerful motivator. The more humor and laughter in your life, the less stress you’ll have, which means more positive energy to help you put your attitude into action. There are also health benefits to lightening up.

10. Exercising Will Help Keep You Motivated

One of the best ways to move to a more positive and motivated frame of mind is to exercise. A regular exercise routine can provide relatively quick positive feedback in the form of weight loss, muscle development and a sense of doing something positive for yourself.

Seek your personal and professional success by using the tools in this attitude tool kit. It is no secret that life seems to reward us most when we approach the world with a positive attitude.

Thank You for Condolences

Hello Everyone –

“I was very sad and heartbroken by the death of my uncle, but reading the fine words that you wrote on my wall I felt some relief.  I thank the Lord for helping me find comfort and every one of you for joining me at this very sad time. “

“Someone very special was gone forever from this world and I feel an immense pain, however with your display of affection and affection you have made my heart rejoice. I am grateful to all of you for your special messages that have helped me find peace and tranquility I needed. “

 

 

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For the break that will make it ok
There’s always some reason to feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction oh beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
They may be empty and weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an Angel fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There’s vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don’t make no difference, escaping one last time
It’s easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of an Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

To the Children

 

To you, the children…may you grow wise and strong–strong of heart.

With clarity and purpose may you learn well to care for her on whose back you walk…Mother Earth.

Even now, it is we who learn from you, as we watch you grow.
You forgive so quickly, and you love so unconditionally.

The light of spirit shines so brightly within you.

May you cultivate these things as you grow to become the leaders of tomorrow.

May you learn to live in harmony with one another, that your world may be a world of peace.

For you mom

 

For you mom Giovanni Marradi

==========================
Who sat and watched my infant head
When sleeping on my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
My Mother.

When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gazed upon my heavy eye,
And wept for fear that I should die?
My Mother.

Who taught my infant lips to pray
And love God’s holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way?
My Mother.

And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who wast so very kind to me,
My Mother?

Ah, no! the thought I cannot bear,
And if God please my life to spare
I hope I shall reward they care,
My Mother.

When thou art feeble, old and grey,
My healthy arm shall be thy stay,
And I will soothe thy pains away,
My Mother.

I beg of you

I beg of you not to fear
If people call those ambitious, ambitious simply, and not humble;
Those that are rascals, rascals simply, and not noble;
Those that are distant, distant simply, and not present.

I beg of you don’t ever fear
A frank word that is spoken;
A frank word never kills a person,
It only makes a closed wound open.

If you are a child and you are hungry,
Never fear to cry loudly;
Since if a child never cries loudly,
No one will give it breast feeding.

Never fear to scrub a rusty cup,
Never fear, it will not rotten.
Never fear to write the truth about that which is false,
For in so doing you will not undo that which is false.

I beg of you to do some maths just for a while,
But on condition not to add up the just to be unjust,
But that you divide the unjust with the just;
Not to add up sympathy to sorrow,
But that you divide sympathy with sorrow.

Don’t ever boast around by the question,
But that you be proud with the solution,
With correct open brackets,
The remainder and also the quotient.

I beg of you to be also a little aware of the psycho,
So that if a child with his sad song is mourning his parent’s death,
I beg of you don’t ever stop him simply because his song is not good enough.
I beg of you never to bother me and make me involved
In such questions and ones alike.

“Never Thought (That I Could Love)”

Can I touch you?
I can’t believe that you are real
How did I ever find you?
You are the dream that saved my life
You are the reason I survived
Baby…

I never thought that I could love
Someone as much as I love you
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
I never thought that I could need
Someone as much as I need you
I Love You…

Can I hold you?
Girl your smile lights up the sky
You are too beautiful for the human eye
You are the dream that never dies
You are the fire that burns inside
Baby…

I never thought that I could love
Someone as much as I love you
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
I never thought that I could need
Someone as much as I need you
I Love You…

You are the sunshine in the sky
You are the sparkle in my eyes

I never thought that I could love
Someone as much as I need you
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
I know it’s truelove
I never thought that I could need
Someone as much as I need you
I LOVE YOU

 

 

A Fable

A Fable

Securely sunning in a forest glade,
A mild, well-meaning snake
Approved the adaptations he had made
For safety’s sake.

He liked the skin he had—
Its mottled camouflage, its look of mail,
And was content that he had thought to add
A rattling tail.

The tail was not for drumming up a fight;
No, nothing of the sort.
And he would only use his poisoned bite
As last resort.

A peasant now drew near,
Collecting wood; the snake, observing this,
Expressed concern by uttering a clear
But civil hiss.

The simple churl, his nerves at once unstrung,
Mistook the other’s tone
And dashed his brains out with a deftly-flung
Pre-emptive stone.

Moral

Security, alas, can give
A threatening impression;
Too much defense-initiative
Can prompt aggression.