The Mind Amazing and a Half-Baked Thought on Karma

I haven’t forgotten about my post regarding food politics, but I’m distracted with other things that have been happening…which brings me to this post.

The power of positive thinking. We’ve all heard that seemingly trite phrase used by so-called new age gurus and self-help quacks. In some people, that sort of phrase brings out pure rancor–I posted a tweet (when I still had Twitter) that basically said “If you want it, go get it; you are the only thing that is stopping you.” I got some comments talking about how wrong I was, listing institutional discrimination, white privilege, and a bunch of other woes that we all learned about in first-year women’s and cultural studies. I went to Trent–I get it. But let’s stop being dogmatic and actually give people some agency to choose their own paths, rather than telling them they probably won’t succeed, given their socio-economic, racial, level of ability, or gendered backgrounds. It’s exactly why the power of positive thinking is actually a wonderful philosophy–it doesn’t discriminate: any person with a thinking mind can think positively. And even if you don’t believe in this particular approach of mind over matter, you can be a pragmatist and admit that it won’t hurt.

Stress can be a killer. Literally. The Mayo Clinic lists positive thinking as a way to increase longevity, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, greater immune system function, and lower rates of depression. Can we argue that positive thinking may not be a cure-all, but it could be a key step in preventing major health problems? Deepak Chopra (Oh, that Deepak…) offers up the recommendation that if thinking positive all the time is too much work, the next-best alternative could be relaxation through meditation. Here is an article he wrote for CNN on this very topic.

Also, I’m of the belief that we get back what we put in (to the universe). That is not to say that we get what we deserve–I wouldn’t say any child has incurred enough karmic wrath that they should go hungry or that people who are very sick have necessarily done something to get that way, sometimes it is a matter of luck and geography. However, if you are thinking and doing positive things–without trying to profit or having selfish motives–I do believe that you are more apt to have good things happen to you. Even in the case of someone who is terminally ill, let’s say they put out positive thoughts and did good deeds, unselfishly, before they got sick…I imagine they will have a different experience with illness than someone who has always pointed fingers, been a Debbie downer, and has always felt sorry for themselves. The last days, actions, thoughts of those two people in the same situation are likely going to be very different for them and those that love them.

I watched “The Secret” the other day. Some of it, I found inspiring…some of it, I found to be ludicrous. One moment, in particular, where this guy says that he concentrates on being positive while he’s parking his car and he never has to wait more than a few seconds to get a primo spot. Really, buddy? You’ve discovered how to harness the laws of attraction and that’s what you use it for? Parking near the entrance at Wal-Mart? Wow. But there were some great examples of people who use vision-boards to focus on their aspirations and self-image they wish to cultivate. I don’t think it’s as “ask and ye shall receive” as parking space guy made it out to be, I think it’s more like making karmic investments and getting a return (maybe a physiological return, too!).

Here’s one of my favourite TED talks about happiness, by Shawn Achor:

I especially like the recipe for retraining your brain to be positive. Amazing.


Mojo Returns!

I’ve gotten my mojo back!

This past week, something has inspired me. I’ve read that champions are not made during the holiday season, and that may be true, but I’ve definitely felt more myself this week than I have in awhile.

Three major causes of the turnaround:

1. My partner is competing in a martial arts tournament at the end of January, so he is dropping 20lbs to compete in a different weight-class. I figure I have about 20lbs to drop to get to competition weight. What a happy coincidence.

2. Again, my partner is not just a supporter, but a great motivator: my Christmas gifts were one-month unlimited hot yoga; coaching sessions with a bikini pro (someone I admire very much and is regularly featured in the health/fitness/meathead magazines I read and subscribe to); and Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s biography. I can’t think of a more inspiring set of gifts!

3. I’ve offered to start training a friend of mine, pro bono, to help her prepare for a trip she’s taking in May. I’m so excited to help her get started on her health and fitness goals! I’m building her a program this week and then we’re getting together to discuss, tweak, and get-started. I’m very much a practice-what-you-preach person–so I’d better start adhering to my health and fitness philosophies, if I’m going to be coaching someone else.

My next post, I’m going to share the program I’m building for my friend–stay tuned!


Motivation and Moral Support

Okay, so this blog is usually not very personal, but let’s do something a little unorthodox today; I’m going to talk about my everyday life.

Since deciding to do the OPA event on October 20th, friends and family have shown me their true colours: I’m surrounded by people who want me to do well and people who want me to succeed. So far, I have not come across a single nay-sayer. Even co-workers and regulars are pumped for me to compete!

It can be especially difficult to work toward a goal and to achieve that goal when you surround yourself with people who have “I can’t…” as a staple in their vocabulary. Not only do they think that they can’t, but they will tell you that you can’t, either; I’m not sure, but I think that sometimes people will poo-poo the goals of their loved ones because they want to spare them disappointment, or maybe to spare themselves some work (if your partner is improving their life, maybe they’ll ask you to do the same). I think sometimes people are worried that if their partner has goals, their own goals will go by the wayside.

I’m seeing someone now who is an incredible motivator; when I’m too tired or too sore to bounce out of bed in the morning, he’s there with coffee and an inspirational speech, video, or song to get me pumped; the last 500 metres of our morning run, he gives me a literal push to keep me going; when I was debating the cost of a trainer and a coach, he was the one who told me to invest the money in my own success and the pursuit of my own goals. Even something as simple as grocery shopping–if I’m not eating it, he’s not buying it. It helps that I’m seeing someone who understands and appreciates competition and hardwork in sport, as well. He has his own goals of competing in and winning jiu jitsu and mma tournements…so his assistance and support with and for my training, will also benefit his training. Having goals that so closely align with my partner has never been so important and so rewarding.

HIs support has also made me aware that I must reciprocate and ensure it’s not the Rachel Show 24/7; he has made himself available to me in a very important way–I need him to know that I am equally as excited, supportive, and confident about his pursuits. It’s more of a team effort than an individual endeavour; there is a degree of accountability when someone makes personal sacrifices to contribute to your success. When you have someone who is equally invested in your pursuits, there is no need to be selfish because the importance of your endeavour is apparent to them–so there’s no need to elbow your way to the front of the line.

My family has also given me the green light to pursue the competition to the nth degree; normally, they can be very uptight about my finances and the way in which I choose to spend my time and money. However, when I revealed the cost of training and coaching for the next 10 weeks, they were full of ideas to help me make the financial end of this endeavour work; they asked me to start an on-going grocery list so they can provide assistance and support via nutrition and keeping a clean, well-stocked arsenalt of foods for me; they are also lovingly ignoring the fact that there is always a light sprinkling of whey powder coating their kitchen counter, the stink of gym clothes and shoes in the hallways, and tolerating my impromptu power naps that tend to take place in the middle of the day–in the middle of the living room.

I am so grateful for the opportunity and for the support; I’m going to remember this journey and the outcome forever, so we’re doing it right. Nothing worth having was ever easy to come by–I’m just glad my friends and family understand this and are on the bandwagon. Here we go!