Ditch the Resolutions and Do This One Thing

What if I told you that, instead of making any New Year’s Eve Resolutions, if you did this one thing, you could:

  1. Lose 15 pounds of excess weight
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Cure gastrointestinal issues
  4. Eliminate panic attacks
  5. Become 10x more productive

Would you believe me?

You should, because I did all of those things. And it was all because of this one thing that I did.

The most important thing that I have learned to do over the course of the last couple of years is very simple. But it is life-changing.

When I began to do this one thing, it literally changed my life. It made me a kinder, gentler person.

Even my friends have noticed that I am happier and more at ease in my own life.

So do you want to know what this thing is?

Read on. But don’t think it is going to be a big surprise. Nothing is all that surprising.

For instance, we all already know that we are overweight because we eat too many calories and don’t exercise, and yet we don’t eat better and exercise more.

So, it is not really the thing, it is putting it into action.

Can I ask you a couple things?

When you get up in the morning, do you rush to the bathroom to brush your teeth, to comb your hair, and then dash to the kitchen to stuff a bagel down your throat before hurrying off to work?

I mean, who doesn’t do that, to some degree, right?

When you sit down at your desk to do your work, do you find yourself suddenly slumped over, your neck and shoulders tight and uncomfortable? Do you then sit up straight and stretch your neck muscles, only to find yourself in the same slouch minutes later?

Our bodies are designed, to some large extent, to operate in an automatic mode.

There is a balance to be had, there. We want to be somewhere in the middle of automatic and hyper alert. The balance is difficult to find. You could say that all of us are simply looking for the right balance between those modes.

It is sort of like how our eyes have rods and cones, in order to see the big picture as well as hone in on the specific details.

No matter what, finding that balance between those polar opposites is key.

Instead of focusing on finding that balance, we tense up and power through the day. Instead of trying to understand how our bodies and minds operate best, we patch something together and make it through just one more day.

I know it sounds fucking ridiculous, but think of it this way.

The way we do any little thing is kind how we do everything. Like when we speed through brushing our teeth. I’m guilty of that. My brain is just like “get done, get done, get done, do more important things, more important things, more important things.”

It’s just a big old hurry up and wait situation.

Because each of those things that we are hurrying through, right, are the majority of the things that make up our hours, our days, our years.

And then BOOM! We’re 40 or 50 or 60 and life has rushed by in a blur.

Now, at this point you are probably thinking “Oh, he is going to talk about meditation, and staying in the flow, and being present and mindful in the moment. Basic yoga shit. I already know all this, so I am outta here!” And then you are going to close this tab and open up another tab and go to some other site and get all tensed up about some awful shit happening in some far away place, or maybe just look at cute pictures of cats.

I don’t mind. But whatever you do from this moment on, don’t forget this next word.

“Breathe.”

That’s all. Carry on with what you need to do, or read on to the end of this piece and see what breathing has helped me accomplish. (Hint: pretty much everything)

Breathing is our basic state.

“Prana” or “Chi” is the energy that gives our mortal bodies the spark of life.

Some people call itt he “soul” or “spirit”.

They are all words that point to the line in the sand that delineates between two realms: life and death.

Right now, we are alive.

We need to breathe to stay that way.

Breathing is the simplest form of relaxation.

I know. Relaxation seems like a waste of time.

But I implore you to consider this.

Stress is the number one cause of preventable death in the USA.

Here is a list of diseases that chronic stress produces or exacerbates:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Lung ailments
  4. Accidents
  5. Cirrhosis of the liver
  6. Suicide
  7. Obesity
  8. Diabetes
  9. Headaches
  10. Depression and anxiety
  11. Gastrointestinal problems
  12. Alzheimer’s disease
  13. And on and on and on…

Chronic stress creates or worsens all of the above.

So basically, the only real cure for these chronic maladies is to reduce our stress levels. Meditation and yoga and exercise can help immensely. All of these things have a thread that binds them together — our breath.

But nobody seems to really take this to heart. I know I didn’t until the last couple of years of my life. And when I did finally let go of the white-knuckled grip that I had on my breathe, then my body began to finally, and I really mean this, finally feel okay.

I mean, I literally hadn’t felt okay for decades. A lot of you know what I’m talking about. The events in my life, like divorce, running a business, managing animals, moving a handful of times, and so on, they all took their toll on my body and mind. The way I felt better was to try to create some more control over my personal circumstances.

Finally, though, after years and years of trying to keep it all under some kind of control, I realized that I didn’t really need to do that anymore. I could just let go. I could just loosen my grip.

Why did I realize this? Because it became so obvious, so obvious that my stress was all my own creation. My imagination created all the doom and gloom scenarios that haunted me while life kept passing me by.

Having control over my circumstances stopped meaning so much to me. What really mattered was all those little things that I had rushed through, day after day, in order to get to the next step.

There are more steps to reach, but I don’t need to rush. I’ll get there, sooner or later.

And as soon as I understood that, I realized that I had been holding my breath for many years.

I stopped breathing a long time ago.

It all started when I began to rush through all the little daily activities that make up a day. I rushed through chores and rushed through work. I rushed through driving home and rushed through making dinner. I rushed through getting dressed and rushed through grocery shopping.

I just fucking rushed through everything, and literally nothing was fun anymore. I couldn’t experience enjoyment of any kind. There was certainly none of the joi de vivre left that had filled me as a young man.

Everything had seemed to lose meaning.

Then, I met someone with a beautiful soul who calmed me down. She let me be whoever I was, and I finally realized that, whoever I was was great. I was fine, I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone.

Instead, I could focus on enjoying my life.

I realized that I had been in a constant state of flight or fight for over a decade, and my body was now conditioned to return to that state of being at the fucking drop of a hat.

So, it was up to me to to rewrite that program.

I had to give myself a pause. I had to learn how to breathe, again.

I finally gave myself permission to relax.

I sat myself down and said, “It’s okay, you can breathe and be alive, and that is just fine. When you figure out what you want to do next, you will do it.”

It took awhile to adjust though. I’m still working on it.

Every moment that I feel myself tense up, I will conscientiously relax the muscles that are tensing, whether in my face, or shoulders, or hips, or even my mind when I think of a stressful situation or problem.

We can literally step aside from something and look at it objectively, if we let go of our grasping mind.

Now, I have done this simple practice for over a year and can say with some evidence and full honesty that it is the single most important thing I do every day to stay healthy and happy.

Why? Quite simply, because if I am not relaxed, nothing I do is easy and nothing I do is fun and nothing I do is worthwhile. Relaxation is the key that unlocks the enjoyment of life.

Basically, the more that I can relax, the more balanced my vision becomes. In a relaxed state, I can see the big picture and the little details more clearly.

If I take an hour to relax a jumbled up mind, the next hour can be 100% more productive.

So I want you to forget about your New Years Resolutions completely. They are stupid, and they don’t work at all. 99% of us will fail at a resolution and that failure will cause us to feel shame and fail more quickly next time etc..

No, forget that rat race and simply follow my advice to began to breathe with consciousness.

Relax every single time that you feel the tension build.

A chronic state of fight and flight will kill you, but a constant state of relaxation will help you live longer.

Plus you will enjoy your life more.

More specifically, try this out:

  1. Every day, acknowledge that you will inevitably feel tension and stress
  2. The idea isn’t that you will live within the fight and flight mindset
  3. No, the idea is that you will recognize when you enter it, when you begin to grow tight and angry and ready to run or hit something
  4. Then, become conscious of the stress, tension, and pain in your body
  5. Focus in on where in your body it resides, or what thoughts you were having when you begin to tighten up
  6. Then, consciously relax those parts of your self, until you began to feel yourself become more “at ease”
  7. Breathe in and out slowly, remembering that:
  8. You are just like everyone else. You were born, you will live, and then you will die. You do not want the middle part to be spent in a fight and flight mode.

I hope you take these words to heart and slowly began to experience life again like I have.

Our singular life is our one true possession, so treat it with all the respect that it deserves.

Everything is fine just the way it is. You do not need to prove anything, you simply need to be all the “you” that you can be.

Thank you!

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Words are Code - "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi