The Magic of “Every Day”

As I mentioned in a previous post (An Early Riser, me?), I do a set of activities every day. As I look at this paradigm of “Every Day”, at both the things I do every day, and the things I don’t, I realize that there is real magic in “Every Day.”

I’ve been getting up even earlier for the last week or two, at 4:30AM. But one night I didn’t get in bed until after 1AM. So I set the alarm for 5AM. I got up, but I was really tired!

I went into our “serenity room” to get started on my Morning of Mindfulness, and my mind kept saying things like, “You’re too tired, you could skip exercises today.”, “Skip the pushups.”, “You don’t have to play guitar.”, “You’ll fall asleep meditating, only do it for a few minutes.”

But I ignored all those suggestions and went through my routine, just as I do every day. The Morning of Mindfulness invigorated me and I went on to have a happy and high-energy day.

What I realized was that there was no decision to make: I always do these things, so I did them. Contrast that to things that I don’t do every day, but try to do “a few times a week”, like walking. Walking is probably the best form of exercise for general health, quality of life and longevity. I’d like to walk a lot, but I haven’t found a place to work it into my daily schedule. So I say that I’ll walk at least three times a week. But what ends up happening is that since I don’t have to walk on any given day, it leaves me open to saying, “today’s not the day, I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Even if it’s a perfunctory version of the thing I’m trying to do, just doing something every day will instill the habit. I read once that if you want to exercise and are having a hard time doing so, don’t make a pact with yourself to exercise, but only to get dressed to exercise. That is, if you want to go running, all you need to be sure you do is to don the shorts, put on the running shoes. If you do those things no matter what, then chances are you’ll go running too. For me, I think what I’ll do is do some sort of walk every day. Even if that’s around the block once, or even up the street and back. Chances are if I do that, I’ll want to continue doing it for a few more minutes. My goal is to walk 15 minutes a day.

The lesson, for me at least, is to figure out what is worthwhile to do, and to schedule a time to do those things every day.

Peaceful Warrior Workout

One of the things in my “Morning of Mindfulness” routine that I do every morning is the Peaceful Warrior Workout.

I learned this workout at a seminar I took with Dan Millman. It’s a series of exercises including stretching, qigong, and yoga moves that get me going in the morning. It’s not really possible for me teach you each step online, but here’s an overview.

The first half of the routine is done standing up. It stretches and exercises all parts of the body. The second half is done on the floor and I find does deeper stretches and exercises for the larger muscles.

Throughout the exercise routine, breath is important. Breathing should be conscious, and in through the nose. Breath work is an important aspect of the mind-body relationship that I’ll write about later.

To the Dan Millman routine, I’ve added some strength training exercises. I do push-ups and crunches on alternating days. In the beginning I tried to do both push-ups and crunches every day, but found that my muscles needed a day of rest in between. So now one day I’ll do crunches (currently I do 100 of them) and then the next day I’ll do pushups (30). If you do this every day like I have, you’ll be amazed at your progress. When I started, I could only do three pushups, now I can do more than thirty!

For crunches, I do 25 straight crunches, then 25 oblique crunches (lying on my back I put both my knees on the floor on one side) on each side, then 25 straight ones again. This works the whole abdominal area. Strengthening the trunk of your body is important for balance, your spine, and providing a strong core for the rest of your body to rely upon.

I also touch my toes in the beginning of the routine (partly to make sure I can still do it, but also to do some additional stretching.) And, in the middle of the routine, I add some leg extension semicircles that help a lot with balance.

The routine is designed to exercise your whole body so that if this is the only exercise you do, it’s enough. Dan says it can be done in under 4 minutes, and his original version can, if you hurry. But I don’t like to hurry, and I’ve set aside time to do this every day, so with my additions it takes me around 10 minutes. Can you spare 10 minutes a day to be physically fit? If not, drop the things I’ve added and do it in under 4 minutes. 4 minutes a day … you’ll feel better now, and your self in 10 or 20 or 30 years will thank you.

I also use the routine to get energy any time of day. If I hit an afternoon tired slump, I do the routine (not including the pushups or situps), and am energized! Much more healthful than a cup of coffee, for sure.

It used to be you had to take a seminar, or find a rare copy of a video tape that Dan created to see the workout in action, but I see that Dan has created a DVD with it. Samples are available on his web site. It’s also described in Dan’s book, Everyday Enlightenment.

The Peaceful Warrior Workout: A 45-Minute Instructional DVD


“Everyday Enlightenment : The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth”

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Pay it Forward

I ran across a column by Tim McGuire that I thought would be worthwhile to share with you. In it, he exhorts people to make a positive difference in others’ lives without expecting anything in return. It’s the concept popularized by the book “Pay It Forward” (by Catherine Ryan Hyde), and subsequently the movie).

(Normally, I won’t recommend any books, movies, sites, or anything here without reading, seeing, or trying it myself. But in this case, the concept stands on its own from the book and movie. The Pay it Forward DVD is on my shelf, ready to be watched. I’ll report back when I do.)

I especially like the concept of giving significant, life changing, help. That is, holding the door for someone, or dropping some change in a hat isn’t enough. You really need to find a way to make a big difference in someone’s life, and not expect anything in return.

For many years at my current and previous jobs, I’ve mentored interns. Tim mentions that his son is an intern and is getting real value from his internship mentor. I can only hope that I’ve done the same for some of my interns.

And I’ll be on the lookout for more worthwhile things to do for people. Maybe you will be too…?

Take ‘you’ out of the equation and see what happens
by Tim McGuire

While Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors, I have never known him to be a philosopher. This quotation of his has been impossible to escape, since I read it on one of those quotation desk calendars: “If you’ve done well in whatever business you are in, you should spend at least half your time sending the elevator back down.”

“Sending the elevator back down” is a sensational image to illustrate our debt to young people and to people who have not achieved the success some of us have enjoyed. I hope I have sent the elevator back down with some of these columns that reflect my 30 years of mistakes and lessons in a corporate environment. When I teach at universities and in the seminars I conduct I am trying to use what I’ve experienced to help others.

One of my closest friends enjoyed a sensational newspaper career, but often it seems he relishes the successes of the people he mentored or tutored more than he appreciates his own accomplishments. When he brags on the accomplishments of “his people,” it is obvious “sending the elevator back down” is one of the great joys of his life. His wife is proud of what he’s done for other people, but I know she has raised her eyebrows more than once over his intensity in helping people get jobs, promotions and honors.

My youngest son is about to graduate from college and he’s doing his final “for credit” internship. He’s on top of the world because he has encountered a reporter and a producer at a TV station who do not regard him as a mere piece of meat passing through their halls. They not only value him, they are intent on teaching him.

Both men have counseled Jeff about his career and helped him with his audition tape even when it requires a lot of extra time. They have worked hard to make sure Jeff has a variety of assignments and learns everything he will need in the work world. Both those men know that “sending the elevator back down” is rewarding for them and for Jeff.

This whole concept is similar to the one set forth by Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of the book “Pay it Forward,” which was later made into a movie starring Kevin Spacey. My e-mail friend, Karen Hoffman from St. Louis, whom I have written about before, is an ardent advocate of “Pay it Forward.”

She said Ryan Hyde “had an experience with her old car catching fire, late at night, in a high-crime area. Her car was saved by strangers in that area rushing toward her. (At first she wondered if they were coming to harm her) then they left before she could thank them.” Hoffman says that was the beginning of the concept behind “Pay it Forward.”

Hoffman wrote me this: “Tim, if the premise behind ‘Pay it Forward’ were embraced, in your lifetime you would choose to do three significant things to help someone else (more than a random act of kindness) and the people you helped could not do anything in return for you, but you request that they pay it forward to three people in their life …”

Hoffman wrote, “Think of the math on this…3 x 3 = 9x 3 =27 x 3 = 81 x 3 =-243 x 3 = 729 x 3 = 2187x 3 = 6561 x 3 = 19683 x 3 = 59,049 = 177, 147 x 3 = 531, 441 x 3 = 1,594, 323 x 3 = 4,782,969 x 3 = 14, 348, 907 x 3 = 43,046,721 etc.”

Both the math and the premise are staggering. In a “me-first” world the concept of truly changing other people’s lives with genuine kindness is not one that is easily embraced. Yet, think of what the concept could do just in your own workplace. An atmosphere that encouraged and accepted “sending the elevator back down” and “paying it forward” would create high-performance and spiritually rewarding workplaces, which could change American capitalism.

Dreaming can be good for the soul.

TIP FOR YOUR SEARCH: So much of the workplace is based on “If I do a good thing for her, she will repay me by doing X.” Think about how transforming it could be if you did nice things for other people with no expectation of being repaid or gaining some sort of advantage.

RESOURCE FOR YOUR SEARCH: “Pay It Forward” (Catherine Ryan Hyde)(Pocket, 2000)

“Pay It Forward” (Catherine Ryan Hyde)
“Pay It Forward” (Warner Home Video)

Update: I just ran across this very apropos quote:
“The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.”
Julia Alvarez

Frugal vs. Cheapskate

Ok, I’m the first to admit that I’m a frugal person, and that I consider this to be a virtue. But sometimes I go too far and become a cheapskate. Being a cheapskate is not Worthwhile Living. Here’s an illustrative story:

Last summer we went to Water World, a water-oriented theme park, with lots of rides where you get wet on each one. A whole lot of fun. One of the great things about Water World is that you can bring your own picnic, so you don’t have to pay their prices for the greasy food they offer there.

Along with the several families we went with, we set up a picnic area; claiming a piece of grass on one of the lawns for our own. We’d leave our stuff there all day. But what to do with the keys to the car?

Here’s where the cheapskate (and maybe even the worrier) in me becomes apparent.

Waterworld has nice lockers to rent for 50 cents. Cheap! But they’re 50 cents each use. What if I needed to get in there more than once? Why, that’s a whole dollar! What about leaving the keys with the rest of our picnic stuff? NO way, I’d be worried that someone would take our stuff. And then I’d lose the key. How would I get home?!

So I elected to keep the key in the pocket of my bathing suit. I’d taken the key for the car off the ring and left the rest of the keys (to the house, etc.) in the car itself. So, I put a single key in my bathing suit pocket, closed the little velcro on the flap and hoped for the best.

Throughout the day, I checked to see if it was still there, and it was … up until after the last ride. Thereafter ensued a frantic search for the key. We never found it.

A friend had to bring me home to get a spare key, then drive me back. I finally got home with the car many hours later.

Then I had to replace the key. It’s not a normal key, but a transponder key. (A neat theft-preventing technology that makes it so only the right key will start the car even if the teeth on the key are correct.) So the key is expensive.

The key cost $300 at the dealer.
It cost $60 at a local locksmith.
It cost $15 at ebay.

I ended up getting a replacement key from ebay. That’s being frugal.

Through this episode, I’ve learned that there’s a difference between being frugal and being a cheapskate. To me, when the frugality begins to have a negative effect on my life, I’ve become a cheapskate.

Since making this discovery, I now take a mindful look when I’m being frugal to make sure I’m not going too far. Am I skimping in areas that diminish the joy of living? or are harmful to my health? or will cost me more in the long run? May be a good area of inquiry for you too…

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