The 7 Step Formula for Reigniting Hope for the Over 40 Man

Thu, August 14, 2014

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A brighter day of great strength aheadIs absence of hope, the loss of a compelling future vision, an experience largely exclusive to the over 40 man? When did this feeling—or lack there of—show up and what you do to reignite hope and a passionate future.

In my 20’s I recall frustration. If an obstacle rose to great me I got active, maybe angry and then and only then, if it would not succumb, frustration found me.

In my 30’s things soared but no matter how much I was “winning” some things are still hard. When things got challenging I relieved stress, trained, played or rallied more resources to conquer. Ultimately, I either overcame of went around the obstacle.

I can’t say this for certain but so it seems that I didn’t know the feeling of hopelessness until my 40’s. A combination of wisdom, life experience, accumulated fatigue, overwhelm and a little post traumatic stress disorder is a fine cocktail for the emptiness of hopeless.

Hope.

To many hope is a pointless illusion, an investment in fantasy to avoid this moments reality. But I see it quite differently.

Hope is the ray of the human spirit. A belief deeper and wider than the current challenge that life is essentially good, that things are always trending for the better.

One can face all manner of set backs, challenge, losses and with hope find a way. We get back up, dust ourselves off and smile.

Hope is like light in that one pin drop of it vanquishes darkness instantly. Even in the worst of situations the seemingly smallest gesture can ignite the flame of hope in us that that craves ignition.

A thoughtful message from a stranger on a dark day. A “thank you” for what you do that is delivered when no one could know how much you need it.

Even in our worst negative mindset there is something in us that wants to believe things can and will get better, that there is reason to hope. Thus, we constantly scan the world for the smallest reason to believe.

I know that the depression that many burnt-out Type-A guys get in the middle years of life is different from “clinical depression” –the sort of mental illness that Robin Williams suffered with. So, let us be careful not to make light of it by comparing the two.

That said, I wonder if the more “run of the mill” depression and the clinical sort have a component of hope involved. Being depressed, simply by definition, means hope is absent. For hope is to depression as water is to dehydration.

When Hope Vanishes

Hope is an elusive thing for it seems like, for most of us, it’s always been there. So, the first time you wake up or try to sleep in the empty dark of hopelessness can be very unsettling; a sort of terrifying free-fall into the abyss.

The tricky thing is that hope always held a room in tomorrow, the future. We could be getting our ass kicked but at 30 there was always tomorrow. Suddenly you wake up 45 and tomorrow was yesterday. Hope has given way to the stress of life, the ticking time-bomb of years and responsibility.

Work, an unrewarding shit-show you indulge to pay the bills. Kids are lovely, rewarding but a constant drain on the life you can barely remember—that once included you. And your marriage high-points are the rare moments when you’re not wanting to run away or feeling attacked.

Without the dreams of tomorrow, the reality of today is kryptonite to hope. You’re living in an ocean of responsibility, stress, obligation and debt. Where does a guy find an island of relief—of recovery—a rainbow of hope?

Fact is nothing fuels hopelessness like fatigue, overwhelm and pure, simple energy debt. That’s why chasing the relief of hope in activity always fails. We think we can catch up, work until we get some success and then find some relief in renewed hope.

Hope that depends on success isn’t hope it’s fuel for the trap of doing—of chasing. Hope that exists for no good reason is where the magic is.

The Antidote to the Midlife Crisis


When a guy is lost or losing it, when the entire charade seems pointless the unconscious “way out” is often to blow it up. To passively create an even bigger crisis; financially or emotionally. Hence, the midlife crisis. A man his blows life up, steps into righteous justification and goes about chasing childish relief from the hollowness that he’d gradually come to accept as life.

This unconscious, like most choices made out of the light of awareness, rarely works out the way we want. In part because he didn’t make a choice in the first place—he hasn’t addressed the feelings that he ran from.

If you’re near 40 or over, I’m here to tell you you don’t have to blow your life, your career, your marriage up to find yourself and awaken your mojo again. It’s not as simple as a new car or a new house but it is a hell of a lot easier the “etch-a-sketching” your life.

Some times real change will be in order but those must be made from the light of awareness, of some objectivity on your life. When you’re floating in the darkness of hopeless, when life feels dull and uninspired almost anything looks like “a solution.”

The 12 Life Hacks you’ll find in The Owners MANual to Living Your 40’s at Full Strength is a simple, effective guide to gaining that perspective and awakening your hope and passion for life that you’ve not known in a decade or two. It’s how to push the “reboot” button on your life and step into a passionate relationship with the present moment and get excited about a life you love.

How to Reignite Hope

1. The first thing we’ve gotta do to allow hope back in is stop: regenerate and recover. You must allow the energy to stop escaping and it flow back in. Hope runs on energy and when depleted the world looks most ominous and overwhelming.

This of this like you’re racing an Ironman. Seems like the last thing you have time to do is stop, rest and recover. You keep pushing on when stopping—taking a knee to recovery—can make all the difference. Allowing you to move on stronger or to move on at all.

2. Next, let go of all that which is draining your energy. This can be huge so let’s focus it in on the crap which is silently draining you like yesterday’s regrets. So much energy is consumed and negative story spun by the regrets of success not achieved yesterday or mistakes made. This “releasing the past” is fundamental to your return to strength in the present—to being here fully.

It’s the essential first move in my book, The Owners MANual to living Your 40’s Full Strength. You can’t fix yesterday. You can only release it and it’s negative story and show up here, now, stronger and wiser.

3. Stop swinging for the fences at every opportunity. Focus on one, two or three small things you can do daily. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Build the strength of ritual, as you build confidence and belief.

Think of a golfer who’s hit a lousy shot. He can replay that shot over and over while he hits another one. Or he can release that shot and focus solely on the next—the present—shot. Allow this one to be good.

It’s one good shot at a time. It’s not focused on every shot or the end of the match but one shot at a time.

Physical fitness activity is especially ideal for this because it can be done every day. It’s a positive move even if you miss the perfect workout. It positively effects your sense of self and even bolsters your mental wellbeing and brain chemistry.

You don’t need the perfect workout. You don’t have to win a transformation challenge. Just focus on the simple, right actions, each day. Celebrate the win of doing it.

4. Fuel your mind-body well, with respect and in support of your best self. When you eat well, you feel well, you think clearer, you get stronger, you send a message of positive power to yourself.

Add some sound nutritional daily anchors. For me and many men, one of these is a nutrition shake daily, like my Full Strength. It’s good for your body, mind and mindset. If just feels good and you know you’re doing something great. It’s reinforcing of the positive.

It’s also essential fuel for the potent, positive brain chemistry. For we must accept that the hope, and the positive perspective is multifactoral. In that it’s part your environment—whom you are around and where; part the “you” thinking and part the mind that is doing the mechanical thinking. If you do some good, positive thinking and have zero fuel for forming the brain chemistry experience, you’re a tree falling in a forest.

5. Get Gratitude… Add to this, so far rather simple formula, the practice of gratitude. A daily ritual of positive focus and experience. It need not take a lot of time nor be perfect but it should be a daily practice. (More on how to set this up in The Owners MANual: Life Hack #4 – Get Gratitude)

6. Share the Strength. Nothing fuels your positive experience of life and rewarding sense of self like paying it forward, sharing yourself with someone whom you can benefit. Do something for someone else. Give back… Pay it forward.

7. Find your tribe. Get involved in a community. Get connected with men whom you can trust, share your experience with and both help and learn to receive help.

Phil for his authentic relief and celebration is legendary

Get engaged in your life. Do not sit and wait for happiness to find you. Start cycling and find people to ride with. Start training, belong to a gym where you feel a part of it. Join a Crossfit thing (just don’t’ tell me about the secret hand shake again).

Like love, hope is a terrible thing to live without. Don’t wait for hope to find you, go out there and start beating the bushes and scare her up…. Hope is there waiting for you to wake her from your slumber.

Life’s not wasting away… in the absence of hope, you are. Imagine yourself more alive and passionate about life than you’ve ever known and so it shall be so.

See it. Believe it. Live it.

NOTE: Over 35 Men

Oh yes… And if you’re a man over 35’ish, get your “T” checked. Please. Depression and the experience of “blah…“ is often and easily correlated to low Testosterone. I’m not saying that’s the cause because even healthy “T” in most broken lives will leave you hopeless but a lack of “T” is a serious man-di-kap to a hopeful, positive life. 

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My Top 5 Tips for “In a Hurry” Workouts

Wed, May 28, 2014

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After seeing a few “in a hurry” workout tips a friend asked me, “Shawn, what are your Top 5 tips for getting a workout in a hurry?”

Here’s what I said:

Easy…

#1. Take More Time!

Workout in a hurry is like sex in a hurry. What’s the really the point?

I’m not suggesting that you must invest an hour a day, although maybe you should allot that time. But “hurry,”  is less a clock thing than a way of being or of NOT being present. It’s about rushing from here to there and “checking off” the health to-do list. I say f%ck that.

You are way better off not lying to yourself about working out when you’re not really doing it. It’s just easier that living with the lie of the “quickee.” 

This lying only leads to that perplexing condition of “nothing works” where you tell the trainer/expert you’ve been training, eating well and all this for 6 months but nothing has changed. Of course, your expert has no idea what you’ve learned to accept and check-off as “workout completed.”

Don’t have the time? Here are a few strategies for making time:

  • Get fired from your job because you’re health is so bad, your performance suffering because you’re out of shape, overweight, and not thinking clearly (mental performance is closely correlated with health)
  • Get divorced because your partner wants to live a healthier better life and you aren’t joining in.
  • Get some devastating illness which will force you to focus on living and we all know was closely related to your lack of time for living healthy.

Get The MANual

Don’t like any of those time creating options? You might (as in do) consider  grabbing a copy of my new book, The Owners MANual for Living Your 40’s at Full Strength : The 12 Essential Life Hacks for Living Your Best Decade Yet.

The 12 Life Hacks are short, sweet, simple steps you can take TODAY that will help you reclaim your life… and get more time, more energy, more freedom. They are all about creating the space for your best life and letting go of the crap that’s killing you.

The 12 Life Hacks include:

  • Get Real
  • Get Simple
  • Get Zen
  • Get Energized
  • Get Connected…

The Owners MANual for Living Your 40’s Full Strength on Amazon

Since I released this book Arianna Huffington has come out with a new book, THRIVE. And I’m flattered to say that in more than most every way, her book is a longer, less targeted and likely less actionable set of steps which are stunningly close to the 12 Life Hacks.I haven’t purchased the book yet but it looks great. I am sure it is. But I’m pretty confident in suggesting that if you’re a man past 35 you’ll likely get more from my book, faster and more effectively. (But feel free to get her’s too.)

Yes, the easy way (the MANual) or the hard way (wait until things are bad enough)… the choice is yours.

While I am very serious about taking giving yourself the gift of more time to train, here are a few simple time saving tips you can bring into play while you’re waiting for my new space and life saving book to arrive.

Time Creating Tips for a Fit Life

 

1. Train with Focus and Intensity.

Learn to engage body-mind in synchronous flow state via the F.I.T. practice from Strength for LIFE. It turns the ordinary energy of a workout into laser like concentration for massive results, in less time.

2. Have a Plan and Work the Plan

When you go to the gym and get “creative” you spend half your time thinking, guessing and not moving with purpose and focus. When you come with a clear, crisp plan you get to it and can fly in flow. It’s a huge difference. Get one… Get a PowerBuilding custom program and see how much more muscle you can have and less time you will waste.

3.  Start Strong with a Total Nutrition Shake

Saving time or creating time isn’t just about the gym time, it’s about the life. And I know of no other more effective and more unfair of a competitive advantage a daily nutrition shake is. When you start your day not with a protein concoction where you’re scooping this, pureeing that, but with a total integrated nutrition shake like, the Full Strength Shake for MEN, you not only save time but create energy, confidence, clarity of action. It’s an action that screams affirmation for your best life all day, every day. Do it. Try it and find out why your life will change, fast.

4.  Train One Body Part 5 days a Week

This is a strategy employed by the icon Iron Mike Ryan (of Over 40 Muscle fame). It seems like more working out but the clarity, focus and speed of the single body part can really help set you in a steady rhythm of training by making the daily “bite” much more bite-size. You get in, get out. But you’re on it. And there’s no wondering what day you’re training, etc. If you choose to do some cardio on any strength days, make note to do the STRENGTH after the cardio. It seems that studies finally show that your body likes to respond to the LAST stimulus. So if it’s weights last, it’s muscle more so.

5. See #1 Above (at top of article)

Yep, I’m dead serious about that one. Give yourself the gift of more time to train, not less.

Footnote:

If you are in amazing shape, train your ass off and live to surf, ala one Laird Hamilton training in a hurry makes some sense. For starters, wouldn’t you too rather be out riding the big waves? Of course… but you are also active in so many ways. You are training in some fashion most all day and your fitness is epic. I suspect it’s sort of like a billionaire talking about retirement strategies. “Yeah, I figure the best thing to do is retire, and live on the interest if I can manage to spend it all.” Sure, a fine idea but not necessarily as helpful to the most of us as he might think.

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10 Ways Death Can Make Your Life Better (Okay, 12)

Tue, April 15, 2014

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The world is your oyster.

Success is reserved for those who really want it.

Do it. Grab the brass ring. Win, baby just win.

Oh, the places you will go, the things you will do…

And then you die.

It’s true. Last time I checked the rate of death is holding steady at 100%. So, while I can’t be sure how you’ll live, I am certain that you and I will die.

Ah, but what a negative thought that is…Right?

I’m convinced many people believe that contemplating the impermanence of life is pessimistic. As if an eternal life would be a more positive focus.

Actually, this is the opposite of the truth.

Turn away from death and you’ll spend your entire life running from it. For it is death which defines life by being it’s opposite. If not for an end, life would be without limits and value.

As life brings death, all good things do pass. Jobs, school, marriages and even football games; like life, all end.

I’m not suggesting that you hasten your imminent death but that you do as many of the spiritually evolved have for centuries and gaze directly at the reality, fearlessly and get the hell over it.

You can’t control death but you sure as hell can have a say in how you live. And step one for living a more fully engaged, awake life is to accept the impermanence of it all, with your eyes and heart wide open.

Stop acting like you’ve got forever and start acting like this moment matters. Gaze through the lens of your impending end, back upon your life, and consider what really matters—the stuff of legacy.

It Feels Like Dieing

Fortunately, I’ve not died yet but I have had my share of grief—which at it’s depth can leave one wishing for any end. Grief seems to blow the ego to smithereens. For me, I don’t care with whom or where the tears come. I’ll ask for support any time of day or night. And I want to accept any and all blame such that I can get the connection lost, back.

Cognitively, I get that grief is a necessary process and it has a lot to do with survival. We don’t like things to end, loss or change.

But the fact is things do end and change is both necessary and good for it awakens us, tossing us reluctantly out of our contracted slumber. By surrendering to the change process we can learn to trust the journey of life. We find that while life is often very challenging, we are ultimately in good hands. And while it may not feel like it at the time, all things are trending for our greater good.

Life is a precious gift. How you became so lucky who’s to say but upon reflection seems any semi-reasonable man should be overflowing with gratitude. And how best to honor this gift of life than to treat it with staggering reverence.

Life is fleeting. It’s too short to waste doing shit you hate. It’s too short to sacrifice your well-being for the illusion of security. It’s too short to live it in an unhealthy way. It’s too short not to live with less than the best strength and energy you can possibly enjoy.

10 Things Death Can Teach Us About Life

1. Life is best taken lightly—a laugh always beats a frown.

Control is the great human fantasy. Life has a huge momentum and the illusion we can control or even alter it is the source of much frustration and wasted time. The one thing we can “control” is our response and laughter is the highest energy vibration next to love. So if ever love is in short supply, laughter will do you well.

2. Nothing is as good or bad as we make it out to be.

Your emotions will most always amplify the situation. Know that in the moment and don’t feed it with more energy and emotion. With the benefit of time and distance, you’ll see the truth is always closer to center.

3. What you believe you see.

Life is the ultimate hologram—it reflects what you most expect to see. Hence, it offers you evidence of your beliefs. So, if you wonder what you beliefs are, consider what you see from the world. Want to change the world? Change your beliefs. That is all.

4. Fit people die too but life is better.

People who fail to recognize their responsibility to self-care and wellness often seem to revel in the death of a fitness icon. As if, “fit people die too,” is a good reason to live an unhealthy, painful, sick life. Fact is, life is short and few get or wish to choose the end. But a healthy, high-energy life of 20 years beats the hell out of 80 years of painful, slow death. Life is a gift and fitness is your daily expression of gratitude.

5. Dreams keep you young.

Goals can drive us, stress us, reward us, and push us. Dreams paint pictures on the canvas of the future that inspire our best selves. When you lose your dreams your future is bleak.

6. Time goes way too fast.

You hear this when you are young and it means nothing. Then in your late 20’s you feel a few years lost and can’t imagine what happened. Then shit gets real and each passing year feels a few months shorter. There is no way to stop it but the stronger your presence, the more fully you live in the present moment, mindfully aware, the longer the seconds will hold for you.

7. Kids are the best hardest thing you’ll ever fail perfectly at.

If you’ve got them, you don’t need anything from me. If you don’t, you don’t want to hear it.

8. Love is all that matters, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Okay, I admit, I get tired of the “love is all there is” crap. Okay, I get it but what about ketchup? There’s ketchup too and well, cars, and food and stuff. But in the moments of presence, of peace, of heartache and intolerable joy, when our hearts are blown wide open the truth of this statement is so blaringly obvious it seems pointless to say it.

9. Most of the shit you do every day is bullshit.

Sorry about the language but some things need to be said for effect. There’ll come a time when something so mindblowingly good, or it’s opposite, happens and your perception of what matters will shift dramatically in an instant and you’ll know this to be true. All this stuff you’ve been doing as if it matters will seems like the most insane waste of time. You may be pissed. But until this moment comes there’s nothing I or anyone can say you convince you of what you must experience to learn. But trust me, it’s mostly all BS.

10. The harder you work, the harder you’ll work.

I love to work hard. I like to do stuff better than anyone and every one else. I like to take on more than I can handle and you know what I have learned? Yep, the more you do, the more you’ll do. The more people will let you do and the less others will do. And really, doing more doesn’t get you more. It takes more time, more energy and leaves you more depleted but the most successful and productive people I know are those who know how to hand stuff to others and do less.

11. Experience trumps money.

Do more. Travel more. Experience life. I’ve had both gobs of money and great experiences and money comes and goes, experience is yours forever. It’s in your soul. It changes you. And plus, no one enjoys a gripping story about counting your stocks but everyone loves a great story of exotic places far away.

12. College is the best years of your life. Don’t miss them.

The point to college is to come through it having survived it reasonably well. I think too many kids take it way to serious and think it’s a life and death thing. For 99% of us, the future is not in getting straight A’s but in getting from one end to the other and while the grades will be forgotten, the experience will not be. With very few exceptions, people look back and realize what an amazing time in life college is and most wish they’d gotten this knowledge sooner, and more clearly. Carpe diem my friends… seize this day.

Facing the End Awakens Us Today

Consider your death, not in a gruesome, traumatic way but as you would any real deadline. Yes, dead-line…. It’s coming. What do you need to do—to be—to be happy with your life when you reach the end?

My hope is that by considering death, you will give your life with the importance it deserves. When the end is nearer the journey holds more meaning. Deadlines are useful tools. They focus us, remind us to be mindful, intentional and committed.

Enjoy this day to your fullest and may you tomorrow be more joy-full.

 

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