Tom Matt’s Boomers Rock Radio Talk Show is on WKAR 870 AM from the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
We recently spoke with Mark and Jeanne Simon about how to develop ideas for television. Baby Boomers have grown up with television, many of us feel in our bones what makes a great show, and if you ever wanted to take it a step closer to realizing a dream of creating a show, the TV Pitch Kit is a great step to take.
Boomers Rock Talk Show Can Now Be Heard in Grand Rapids
Tom Matt’s Boomers Rock Talk Show can be heard on WJRW 1340 AM in Grand Rapids.
The show is broadcast Saturday at 3pm and again Sunday at 7am.
Tom Matt’s Boomers Rock Talk Show is on WKLQ, 1490 AM in White Hall/Muskegon, Michigan.
Tom Matt’s Boomers Rock Talk Show is on WMMI, 830 AM in Mid-Michigan.
Tom Matt’s Boomers Rock Talk Show is carried on WGHN, 1370 AM in Grand Haven, Michigan on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
Tom Matt’s Boomers Rock Talk Show can be heard on WJIM in the Lansing, Michigan area.
Tune your radio to 1240 AM on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
The world is not a fair place. And it’s not an easy place to get along. But it is possible for people to thrive. We see it all around us, every single day — someone who looks good, or who has a bunch of money, or never seems to get sick, or just always has fun.
So how do they do it?
Let’s Start With Fun
What is fun for me may not be fun for you. I like movies and novels — I think that’s pretty understandable. But I also like working on computers, working with video, and mowing the lawn. There are likely people in the world that would think I’m crazy for enjoying that combination of things. Similarly, I think people that love NASCAR are a bit crazy. The point is that what is fun for me may not be fun for you.
I pursue what is fun for me because it makes me feel good. And the lesson is that you need to decide what is fun for you, and pursue it.
Fitness is as Personal as Fun
What works for me in helping to make me fit is running, walking, and strength training. That seems pretty typical, but how I do it works for me. I run on treadmills to get the cardio. I walk whenever I can to keep my body moving. And I lift weights to get enough exertion to challenge my muscles. I make that work with my schedule, at levels appropriate for me.
What works for me may not work for you. So you must be mindful and persistent in your exercise until you figure out what helps you achieve the fitness level you desire.
(And if you think you don’t have any time at all, or simply don’t need it, please keep reading because I truly believe we all need a little bit of fitness every day.)
Health is the Most Personal
The big takeaway here is that the nutrition you get is also personal — probably the most personal thing there is — and has the greatest impact on your quality of life. When you decide what to eat, you are deciding based on urges deep in your bones, memories of food recently eaten, family customs based on your entire life, and the onslaught of messages you must process every moment from the media and the people immediately around you regarding what is the best thing to eat RIGHT NOW.
It ain’t easy, and it’s that much more important that you pay attention to how your body reacts to various foods, what your desires tell you about the available food, and how satisfied you are with what you’ve eaten.
The diets you hear about every other day may be a miracle for you, or they may confuse you. I think some rules of thumb are helpful, like keep the portions small, eat on a schedule, and don’t demonize food — it’s a wonderfully abundant gift that brings us life and energy. Don’t hate food. But do take care of yourself, and choose what is best for you.
My Money Problems are Not Your Money Problems
Possibly the most vexing of all is the fact that money both rules and propels are way through society, and is as difficult to come by as it is to keep around. The best approach for money is to pay attention, listen to experts, and use it to make your life better, rather than acquire things for fun.
If what is fun and meaningful to you requires money then, by all means, use your money for that purpose.
It’s All About You
The articles and books and videos we provide here at Boomers Rock are intended to help you improve your life. The path to an improved life may start with finances, and end with fitness. Or it may be the other way around.
Please take the time to think about what is meaningful for you, what problems you need solved first, and ask us if we can help.
We truly want you to improve your life.
Would You Like to Feel Better Each Day?
This book will help you improve your life. The values it espouses are shared by its authors, two people that demonstrated for themselves that exercise, proper nutrition, and learning about health and happiness can lead to radical improvements in the quality of their lives. They formed a company called GRT Fitness, and hosted fitness events in their community, the mid-Michigan area. You can visit their website at www.grtfitness.com if you’d like more information about the authors.
Living What They Preach
The two main authors, Tom and Regie, became exercise partners, and then became certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as Personal Trainers. Regie has continued to train individuals, and Tom is now focused on sharing knowledge about health, fitness, and quality of life issues as the host of Boomers Rock, a radio show syndicated in Michigan (and growing!).
Your Mother and Father Were Right All Along
What they learned was surprising only in the simplicity of the approach – eat healthy food and move your body in the way it was meant to be moved, and it will respond with healthy growth and improved vitality. It sounds like a cliche, or like a commercial, but it’s true, and the people they have helped during the past few years attest to it.
Clear and Convenient
This book, then, presents in a clear, convenient volume the basics of nutrition and exercise that can improve your life. It won’t berate or frighten you – if you need to be harassed for your motivation, you should read a different book. But if you want to know the simplest of techniques to help you feel better every day, and sleep better at night, and possibly even live longer, this book is a great start.
This book can begin your journey towards great fitness.
Do you realize that you control the factors that have the greatest impact on your quality of life? “Ignite Your Life!” will:
- Help you eat more nutritious food, exercise more effectively, find more time for enjoyment, and get started with the rest of your life.
- Show you how to feel better throughout your day, sleep better in the night, and enjoy your time with friends and family.
- Explains the essential elements of brain health, motivation, nutrition, and exercise that will help you improve the quality of your life.
Written in a workbook style to engage and assist you from the first chapter, Ignite Your Life! helps you adjust your attitude, fix your broken processes, and improve your habits so that the benefits are immediately realized. Read this book, embrace its lessons, and you will improve your quality of life.
Movement improves your brain functions, joints, and digestion. Consistent activity can help stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the insulin cycle that stores energy as fat. Would you like to feel better in every aspect of your life? Would you like to feel younger, look better, and live longer?
This workbook will guide you, inspire you, and entertain you on the way to the best part of your life. Aren’t you ready to ignite your life?
Mickey Hadick, a public speaker on quality of life issues, who founded the Boomers Rock movement with Tom Matt, blogs here on fitness, nutrition, finance, and brain health. Now he has created “Ignite Your Life!” as a complement to Tom’s book, Maximize Your Quality of Life–The 200% Solution, to help Baby Boomers improve their quality of life.
In last week’s blog I touched on my demon, (alcohol abuse), where it started and ended. This week’s piece takes the topic deeper and draws a parallel to dealing with the demon, and dealing with your life and wellness.
I became a problem drinker as a release, and as I stated previously it was a slow descent, however by the time I reached my bottom, the tipping point it was a daily occurrence. The stresses of life, work, children, divorce, abuse, it all adds up. I think everyone can empathize with one or more of those issues, and as the world gets busier, as our economy continues to contract and change,(especially in Michigan), more pressure is heaped on the existing heap. How to deal with it all of these issues, is the million dollar question.
Taking the easy way, the quick fix, that’s how, and that’s exactly what I did. Who cares if it’s a terrible thing to do for your long term health, heck I was in my 20’s and 30’s no worries right. I never had that drunken driving arrest or conviction, was a single dad (for most of that time), maintained a steady job, hey who is to say I have problems, who cares if I was selfish and only thinking of myself.
When you live for the after work cocktail it’s no buddies business but mine, right; well not exactly.
Everyone has someone who depends on you for something, and when you put yourself at a distinct disadvantage through abusive behavior whether you realize it or not you are being selfish. You can’t be your best when you are hung-over and dehydrated, overweight and eating terrible food, there is just no way.
I can speak for myself, and I am, all of this I have gone through and then some. The point is you don’t have to live this alone and you can get it back, you just need to decide that abusive behaviors are in fact selfish, that you make your own decisions in life to compensate for stress in a positive way, not through substance abuse.
I am one to tell you that losing over 50 pounds, (in large part to quitting the sauce), gives you a new energy level, a new outlook. And will propel you forward and help your body to cope with all of life’s trials and tribulations.
That getting a fitness program started will add years back on to your life, that eating healthy food will give you that younger feeling and help you rest better, that dealing with stresses does not have to be done in a negative light.
People make choices in life, and I am here to tell you that if I can do this, so can you! That making that time to prepare your lunch the night before work, that getting up a little bit earlier to stretch or do a little bit of cardio or strength training, is a commendable goal, and it is up to you.
Stop being selfish, start thinking about taking better care of yourself, and commit to improve, set one goal and build on that. I am sure there are people out there need you and you deserve the best quality of life possible.
Small steps lead to big improvements, make yourself a better person, today.
[Note: This post, written by Tom Matt, was originally published on grtfitness.com, but we wanted to share it here, as well. –Mickey, Editor and Webmaster]
Being in the health and wellness industry gives me the opportunity to share my advice and feelings on many health related topics. I enjoy writing from my heart, have had great feedback on my blogs, and I truly enjoy using self deprecating humor and analogies. I think it bring the realness to my articles and as I have said many, many times “just and ordinary guy doing extraordinary things.
Pulling experiences can sometimes be very easy, and sometimes not, really honesty in my opinion is what makes our site what it is. So in that vein this week’s topic is my alcohol abuse, finding myself, conquering the demon, and getting through it.
Personally I am a problem drinker, being a very, almost obsessive compulsive, ( if there is such a thing), tends to feed into the demon of my alcohol abuse. It has been almost 19 years since I “Indulged”, and frankly when helping others with their health and fitness compulsive behaviors are common.
I started drinking at the tender age of sixteen, and frankly did not like the effects, at first. At that time, (late 70’s) it was a different time and alcohol use and abuse was common and accepted, almost encouraged. It was the socially acceptable thing to do, so I became accustomed to using and started the slow descent into problem drinking.
I drank consistently and at times abusively for twenty years, ( and for that let me say I am sorry to everyone I may have been a jerk off to), so when I finally did quit, I was surprised at how easy it was, I just decided one day to stop, period. However the demon was still in my mind and not until I saw a psychologist for 6 months did I come to understand my “why”.
He explained to me there are two types of people as far as alcohol abuse is concerned, the alcoholic, and the problem drinker, binger, and the drunk. One is a sickness and a chemical dependency, the other is a compulsive destructive behavior that when you start you can’t stop; its hammer town or nothing. Both are terrible and potentially deadly.
My therapist made me understand my internal “why”, the OCD behavior that is what makes me, me. That knowledge, that understanding, has helped me to grow as an individual, understand that compulsions that are channeled into a positive energy can be a very good thing, that everyone has the potential for some sort of behavior disorder; it is just understanding your “why”.
I love being sober, love my life and my family my job, my friends and all of you who follow my writings, those who want to improve their lives.
If I still was consuming I would have never married my wife almost ten years ago, she would not have had me. The point of this whole blog is growth and change. That anything is possible, that achieving unreachable goals is possible, that finding people and finding yourself is truly possible.
Channeling your growth and your life into the positive is completely achievable, you just have to try.
I will revisit this topic, obviously there is so much more that can be discussed, however I am at my word limit. I just want to say if you are in that place and you don’t like it you can change, never give up, we all have so much to give, and life is a beautiful thing.
[This post, written by Tom Matt, was originally published on grtfitness.com, but we want to share it here, as well. –Mickey, Editor and Webmaster]
My next door neighbor and I have helped each other out in more than typical neighborly ways, especially in improving our health and fitness. He was always driven to achieve a lot of whatever he was doing.
I thought I was doing fine, just coasting along, putting on my five or ten pounds every year, losing muscle because I wasn’t using it. The growing old edition of the American dream.
What You Do When No One Is Watching
When we first moved into our house, there were no other houses on the road. In fact, there wasn’t even a road on the road. I would walk my dog when I was dressed in nothing more than my pajamas, or in my underwear, weather permitting. So if the dog decided to go pee, so would I. There was no one around.
Then other people started building houses and moving in, and things started to change. I had to actually mow my lawn.
Atilla the Gardner
Tom moved next door, and the guy was constantly moving. He was building walls, moving trees, planting flowers and shrubs. He was like a five-foot-nine dwarf, whistling while he worked. He would mow the lawn once, twice, three times a week if needed, and then water and fertilize it so that it would grow some more.
I, on the other hand, hadn’t edged in years, and there were bare patches all across my sod. It was a mess.
I was compelled to improve my lawn just from the energy I saw expended next door.
The Coincidence of Epiphany
Tom has described his epiphany of being related to his near-death experience. It motivated him to improve his health even more than he had.
My epiphany came of its own, and was the culmination of three decades of struggling with my weight, my fitness, and yo-yo dieting. I tried every gimmick out there, but couldn’t make any of them last more than a couple of months.
Tom took his workouts seriously, and as we shared notes, I became more focused in my training just from the energy I saw expended next door. Being around someone with a positive, enthused approach to exercise helped me sustain my habits.
(NOTE: Tom had attached greater meaning to his habits, and I did as well. That’s what allowed the lasting change, but habits are tricky and complicated, and sharing energy and positive feedback make them stick.)
Tom tried to bring me up to his intensity level, but I have a lot of other passions. Exercise was not my main passion, so I couldn’t catch on to it like he did.
Then Tom took it to another level with his even bigger goal of becoming a body-builder. I exercised with him a few times during that phase, but it just wasn’t for me.
The point for him is that he used a big goal to help him improve many aspects of his health, and attached greater meaning to his efforts. The point for me was that I had my own goal — different from his — but took inspiration from him, and used the greater meaning (for me) to motivate myself.
I don’t exercise and eat right just because I want to exercise and eat right — I do it because doing that helps me work towards what is truly meaningful in my life, and that makes me happy.
I wasn’t always this awesome. I used to be an average guy, a joe-schmoe, a mr. cellophane. Now I’m great. But what is the difference between greatness and mediocrity? What separates the chaff from the wheat? Enthusiasm? Really? Is that what I meant?
I really was mediocre back in the day. I didn’t change my life to be great, but I was just a bit tired of mediocrity. I do try to be great, but it ain’t easy, this being great. For the record, being mediocre is easy.
The world doesn’t necessarily think I’m great. The world thinks I’m pretty mediocre. I’m okay with that. It’s hard to change what the world thinks of you. But I feel great.
You might think I owe it all to Tom Matt, Founder of Boomers Rock, Talk Show host, author, and all around good egg. I give myself quite a bit of credit. I make myself feel great.
Here are the steps I took to starting feeling great:
Step 1: Realize That I’m Worth It
At the height of my mediocrity, I believed I was destined to be average, with an average amount of success, an average amount of money, and an average amount of happiness in my life. I didn’t think I deserved to be all that happy.
My epiphany was realizing that I was finally worthy of happiness, and that I was responsible for making it happen. No one was going to make me happy.
What Was So Bad About Being Me?
Being mediocre, I was not particularly fit, and on some level of my psyche I thought that if I was fit, other things would be better. I was mostly wrong about that, but it brought me to a better place, so it’s worth mentioning here.
Along the way, I learned what would make me happy, so I’m very grateful I started down that path.
Once I decided I was worth it, and that I wanted to improve my fitness, the next question was how to make it happen.
Step 2: Realizing That It Wouldn’t Happen Overnight
The decision is one thing. The work to make improvements is quite a bit another thing. I gave myself a present:
It took 40 years to get out of shape; I can give myself a couple of years to improve things.
I did not look for any shortcuts for quick results. I looked for problems in the process of how I did things and tried to correct those areas. For instance:
I was the king snacker. I had these triggers going back to when I was a latch-key kid, when I got home from school, I’d eat a cool-whip sandwich and a bowl of Lucky Charms. As an adult, any time I arrived home, day or night, I was immediately hungry, and scrounged up food.
I worked to change that trigger. I still eat when I get home, but now I have carrots or cauliflower or cabbage. (I have a thing for c-words.)
I started preparing my meals, and choosing whole foods first, especially vegetables. What I have discovered along the way is my sensitivity to carbohydrates, especially starch and sugar, and so those items I push to the back of my list. It’s not that they are evil, but they don’t help me stay healthy.
I was very spotty on exercise, and also very much able to talk myself out of a workout if, for instance, my foot had fallen asleep, or if it was raining, or if it wasn’t raining. It basically didn’t take very much to convince myself to wait until the next day to exercise, and then the next day never came.
By the way, formal exercise is not really necessary if you happen to have a demanding lifestyle, or can walk enough to be human, but here in America we drive a lot, we sit at desks, or have machines do the truly heavy lifting.
If didn’t see Les Miserables, starring The Wolverine, it opens on a group of prisoners dragging a large, wooden battleship into a dock from the sea. There are hundreds of men pulling on ropes. My first reaction was, “Wow, that sucks.” But my next reaction was, “Hey, there’s a total body workout that really must burn some calories.”
We don’t do that stuff anymore. I arranged my desk at work so that everything I need, for hours at a stretch, is at my fingertips. Phone on my right, input tray next to that, then the monitor and keyboard right in front of me, and my notebook on the left. I don’t even have to go looking for the stapler because it’s tucked conveniently underneath the monitor, but I don’t even print paper anymore because everything is digital (poor stapler!). I queue up what few print jobs I do have so that I get them after I go to the men’s room. If I installed a urinal in my cubicle, I wouldn’t even have to get up to do that.
I would exercise every day. I had been an “every other day” guy for workouts. I decided I would do a little bit every single day, no excuses. I would just do something. I figured that if smoking a couple of cigarettes a day would slowly kill you, maybe doing a couple of push ups or running a couple of miles would make me better. I didn’t demand of myself a total body, cross-fit killer workout like dragging a ship in from sea with Jean Val-Jean; I just wanted to get about 30 minutes in of something.
Step 3: Figure Out What Matters
Eating right and getting some exercise is all well and good, especially if you saw that vitamin commercial back in the 70s (“I eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Oh, and I take One-A-Day vitamins.”). But is that all there is to life?
If it is, you may not be able to sustain the habits that keep you healthy. We’re meant to be happy — I realize that sounds stupidly obvious, but “happy” is the name we’ve given to the state we are wired to seek. But it’s not the endless pursuit of fun or pleasurable distractions. Those are important, but they aren’t the point.
To make a lasting change in your healthy, wellness, and overall quality of life, you have to attach meaning to your life, and figure out what really makes you happy. The answer to that is elsewhere in this website/book/seminar series. Seriously, we have discovered the meaning life. Someone else wrote it down much better than we have, but it’s out there, and we’ll help you find it, too.
Meanwhile, you need to understand that, in my case, by clearly articulating to myself what mattered, my life-improving habits were not a burden or a chore, but a joyful experience that made me glad. I was happy that I was caring for myself, because it gives me more energy to pursue fun, and care for my family, and create things I want to share with the world.
For me, my true passion is storytelling, and that’s what I work on, everyday, and hope soon to get so good at that people will want to read or hear those stories. But I also have fun playing table tennis, and playing the ukulele, and joking around with my friends and family. I even appreciate going to work more than I ever have because it is part of my bigger picture that allows me to care for my family and work on my passions.
It’s the Little Things That Make a Big Difference
Smoked every day, or ate a can of cake frosting every day, over time, you would make a big, and likely negative change in your life. The tar would reek havoc on your lungs, or the sugar would wear out your pancreas.
But if you can figure out what matters in your life, and use that knowledge to motivate yourself to take some small steps toward improving your health every day, over time, you would make a big, positive change in your life.
Now and Then
The trick about making a positive change for yourself, about yourself, is that it sets off a lot of warning bells in your mind. It’s kind of like fixing a boat that is sailing across the ocean: there will be plenty of people on the boat screaming, “If it ain’t sinking, leave it alone.” There’s that constant threat of whatever you might do to improve the boat making it worse, and sinking it in the cold and unforgiving ocean, to be forgotten like so many lost souls of history.
The brain has a bias to over-value the current situation, and fear the unknown. Let’s get back on that boat in the middle of the ocean. It’s international waters so we can gamble. Gambling is one of those activities that, if you play long enough, you are going to lose. The casinos, even in international water, aren’t going to let you play if they aren’t going to win–over time. But casinos seem fun. People are engaged in the activity, there are lights, drinks, and scantily clad women. It seems like the thing to do, especially with so many other people doing it. That’s when the bias to over-value the current situation kicks in.
We think we can have a bit of fun now, because we don’t know when we might get this chance again. Why save our money, or put it to work in an annuity, or invest in our future, when we can have fun now? Over-valuing the current situation may well condemn your future. We do it with our finances, the food we eat, and the exercise, or lack thereof, each and every day.
So how do we break out of that mindset? How do we fix what we are built to do naturally?
The greatest successes come from an impassioned dedication to an art, craft, or duty for which the practice is the reward you seek. Caring for your family because you care about them. Walking because you enjoy the movement and the time outside. Making music because you love music.
Passionate practice gives us an opportunity to do something we enjoy, that can help our brain get some needed exercise, and may even offer our body some exercise as well, if your passion happens to be physical. But if it’s playing the ukulele, then by all means do that.
Even something as simple as walking like you mean it can be done with passionately, and lead to greater things. It’s something you can do now, and it invests in your future.
Succeeding In Spite of Your Willingness to Fail
Our psyche is very wary of danger, and the embarrassment of failure can be devastating, so our minds will often predetermine that something is too difficult, so it will be okay to fail. So how do we assuage those fears to give us the best chance to succeed?
You must take the time to assure yourself that you are trying something you care about, and that it will help your future. I mean you literally have to think those very words, and then thank yourself afterwards for giving yourself the chance to try it.
Giving to Others. Loving Yourself
Sharing your time and talents may be the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself, and demonstrates how much you care about yourself. You can’t expect others to love you or care for you if you don’t love yourself or take care of yourself.
It’s like those pay-it-forward commercials in which people help the blind guy, hold open a door, or pick up trash from the sidewalk. Chipping in and helping the village take care of business connects us with the community. You deserve to live in a place with people that do just something like that, and the best way to make it happen is to do it for yourself first of all.
Enthusiam and The “Law of Attraction”
The difference between the internal compelling enthusiasm and the external expression of enthusiastic action that others may notice. People are inspired by enthusiasm. It’s contagious, and a big part of the joy of living.
We humans developed the ability to notice dangerous situations and recognize suspicious characters who might do us harm. We also enjoy the ability to immediately trust people who seem like-minded and sincerely interested in our well being.
That’s the great payoff for being positive, showing enthusiasm, and doing something you are passionate about — people that share that passion will be attracted to you, and will want to talk to you. Your circle of friends will grow because you do what you enjoy, and do it with enthusiasm.
Build Your Brain Muscle
Our intelligence is not limited to a certain genetic allotment, or even to a particular area. Quite the contrary, we can develop and improve our ability to think, the speed at which we think, and explore new areas of intelligence, including the ability to learn. If you have a sincere interest, and pursue a passionate practice, you can strengthen your ability to think.
It’s possible I’m delusional, but I am convinced that since I began practicing music (currently playing the ukulele) and exercising regularly, and eating primarily whole foods, and taking supplements like fish oil, my brain works better and I think more clearly.
If this is crazy, I don’t want to be sane.
At the Boomers Rock seminar this past week, Regie Reider of On Target Living explained the importance of groups, especially how groups make the individual better.
Definition of a Group
Common terms might be the last thing you think need to be defined, and I thought “Group” was common enough to be understood by all. But I was glad that Regie took the time to explain it, because it matters how you define the term group to understand the effect on the individual.
A collection of Individuals that are in contact with each other, share comaraderie, and also share one or more common goals.
Some examples are: * a business group * a religious group * social or personal groups
The key is that they are based on belief systems.
If people are hanging around each other but don’t believe in the same thing, they really aren’t in the same group.
When groups assemble for the purpose of accomplishing something, they must follow some steps to succeed. They must: * create bench marks * establish accountability for their actions * exhibit growth
By measuring current capabilities on a agreed upon scale, a group creates a bench mark for their performance in the area where they hope to accomplish something. Weight Watchers asks you to weigh in. A karate class will assess your abilities on their belt system.
Take responsibility for accomplishing a particular task, and also measuring performance, is accountability. Without it, nothing would likely ever get done. There would be just enough confusion about the work towards an accomplishment that the point of the task would be likely somewhere in the group’s distracted thinking (for without accountability, distractions would run rampant in the group, as they would have nothing in particular to discuss about their shared belief).
By measuring performance in the group’s efforts to accomplish a task, growth would be exhibited. The success would likely compel the group to continue, or urge them to fix what is being done wrong if progress had not been made.
Group vs. the Individual
To make a group work better for an individual than what the individual might accomplish individually, the group must have fun while also exhibiting growth. And if the amount of fun is more than the individual can enjoy on their own (like who can laugh at their own jokes more than a couple of times, anyway?) then it will compel the individual to stay in the group.
People have struggled with the meaning of life for thousands of years. One of the best expressions of that struggle is in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 9-11.:
What advantage has the worker from his toil? I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.
That passage tells me that it is common for people to not get the big picture. The why of why we’re here, the what of what we’re supposed to do, thinking that there is some plan for us. It’s a tricky picture, and may make you think there is no point to it all.
But We’re Human
Being human means we have an amazing one-two punch: self-actualization, and self-determination. We can discover who we are, and we can decide what we shall do. We may pursue whatever we so desire to pursue.
The Pursuit of Happiness — It’s in the Constitution
If pursuit of happiness is in the Constitution, you might think that it’s a fine thing to do. But that phrase, “Pursuit of Happiness”, was a compromise from the original, “Ownership of Property.” In the haggling over slavery during the constitutional convention, that phrase implied that owning slaves was fine and dandy, so abolitionists wanted it struck. Pursuit of Happiness was put in its place.
I do not believe the founding fathers wanted us to chase joyful distractions during our waking hours, just as I don’t believe they wanted us to own military weapons with large capacity clips. They wanted us to lead responsible lives if given the opportunity to decide our own beliefs. And I am certain that chasing joyful distractions is fun and important, but it won’t bring lasting happiness. Joyful distractions fade from sight like shooting stars, and you must search the heavens for more and more of them.
A State of Permanent Happiness Cannot be Found with Fun Alone
Pursuing joyful distractions can not lead you to a place where you will always be happily distracted. That sort of fun is fleeting. It is not a lasting happiness. It’s important, but will not fulfill you.
Lasting happiness requires three things:
- Something to do
- Something to love
- Hope for the future
It works especially well if we care about the something, and our hope involves that same something in the future. For instance, caring for your family or friends gives you plenty to do, involves lots of love, and will develop in the future based on the care you provide.
A job that helps others improve their own lives, or helps the community, can also fulfill the three elements of happiness.
The trick about being human is that the self-determination is our gift that allows us to attach meaning to our lives, and to choose activities that support that meaning. For instance, I am a father and husband. I believe part of my purpose here on earth is to help raise my children, and share in their life. I am meant to do that.
You May Not Know the One, But You Get to Choose the Other
Like the author of Ecclesiastes, you may not ever understand God’s reason for giving you life. That may be frustrating, or baffling, or even discouraging. But we were given that one gift — free will — for good reason: that we may decide a meaning of our own.
You may decide that your life is meant to provide yourself with shallow or selfish pleasures. If you do, then you may feel unfulfilled at some point in your life.
But if you decide that your life is meant to connect you more closely with your family, friends, or community, you experience a deep and lasting happiness from the good work you accomplished, and from the gratitude and favor returned by those you have helped.
In the book “Maximize Your Quality of Life, The 200% Solution“, the single factor under your control that determines your quality of life is revealed. That factor may surprise you, because it’s not genetics, and it’s not socio-economic status, and it’s not your birth order or your parents marital status. Those items are all important, but those items are all out of your control.
If all of those items were working against you, the single factor under your control that determines your quality of life can still overcome those items, and help you improve yourself. It’s not voodoo, it’s not a mystical power of the universe, and it’s not will power. None of those things can help.
The single most important factor determining your quality of life is your attitude. If you believe you can improve your quality of life, you are correct. Similarly, if you believe you can’t improve, you would also be correct. That belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it’s a deadly accurate factor. It can also be the most difficult thing to change about yourself.
If you were born into an angry, dysfunctional family, that was poor and rarely generated good opportunities, and perhaps you just never clicked with you classmates at school or friends in your neighborhood, then you may have become convinced at some point that you would never amount to much, or you would never feel fit, or simply never have a chance at happiness. Life has a way of being very discouraging.
But here’s a few things scientists have proven about people that might help you change your “life”:
- People adopt the habits, language and attitudes of the five people closest to them.
- If your friends smoke and drink and refuse to eat salad just because, you will likely do the same.
- If your family deals with problems with anger, vulgar insults, and temper tantrums, you will likely do the same.
- But if you hang around people that walk, laugh, and respect each other “just because”, then you will too.
- Your brain needs the right fuel to function well
- If you eat a diet thick with sugar, you may feel lethargic all the time, in spite of the energy in your blood
- But if you eat a balanced diet, with the right amount of sugar for your activity level, you will likely be alert
- Physical activity can boost your mental capacity and improve your mood
- Light to moderate activity helps balance the sugar levels in your blood, improving your brain function
- moderate to heavy activity can release endorphins that improve your mood
- Any amount of activity will lead to more restful sleep, which allows your brain to process information and improves recall in the future.
You can decide who you spend time with, so choose your friends carefully. (If your family has dysfunctional problems, work to improve the problems, or control your time with them.)
You can decide what foods are best for you. If you are hanging around people that don’t eat a balanced diet, plan your meal times carefully to ensure you get the correct nutrition for you.
You can decide what activities you do. If you like to run or workout at a gym, that’s an awesome choice for getting your brain to work better. If you like to walk or dance, then make plans to have those things happen.
If you take steps in some of these areas, I promise you that you will notice the difference, and you will want to take additional steps in other areas, as well. And when you are improving multiple areas of your life, your quality of life will improve. You will have taken control, and determined for yourself what your life will be.
You will have used your brain to help your brain, and you will have thought things better for yourself.
The short answer is to exercise 30 minutes a day, every day, like you mean it. You don’t have to hurt yourself, or collapse from exhaustion. But it takes a bit of exertion and may make you sweat.
The question, as found in the title, is how do you extend your life, and improve your brain by working your butt? If you cling to the belief that relaxing instead of exercising is clever, you are only cheating yourself. The human body is a miracle of nature. Like all living things, it can do amazing things, and adapts to the environmental challenges it confronts. We wouldn’t be here if humans had to have things just so. The human body figured out how to clear the hurdles that history has presented.
For instance, if you run to the point of breathing hard, and sustain that exertion, your body responds by growing more blood vessels to deliver additional blood to your muscles. Your body assumes you had a very good reason for running, and begins to build more of what you need to help you run more and faster. If you keep running with consistency, your body will improve its capacity for cardiovascular exertion. Kenyans have a reputation for being great runners. You may think they are born that way, but they aren’t. They grow up that way, though. It’s their “thing” to run everywhere, starting in childhood. There’s just a lot of people in Kenya that run a lot, so some of them become the fastest runners in the world at all the distances.
If you exert your muscles in a particular way — namely, to make them burn off the oxygen and glucose in their immediate energy stores by doing about a minute of heavy lifting — the muscles will respond by growing more muscles. Your body assumes that you need to lift heavy things, and begins to build more of what you need to lift heavy things. If you keep lifting heavy things consistently, you will grow more and more muscle. You may think that some body builders are freaks of nature, but they aren’t. They spend a lot of time exerting each of their muscles, encouraging them to grow bigger, and ensuring the muscles have what they need to grow.
It turns out that you can, within reason, make your body into pretty much anything. You can stretch your muscles so they are really flexible, like a yogi. You can make them stronger by challenging them with nothing but your own body weight, like a gymnast. We all have a genetic pre-disposition for a certain body type, but with consistent exercise and proper nutrition you can change your body.
The one thing the body doesn’t like is complete and continuous rest. When a leg or an arm is clad in a cast for a couple of weeks, the muscles start to shrink and whither. Unused, they withdraw like jilted lovers, and leave us.
A couch potato turns to mashed potatoes. That may be the body that they want, but what you may not realize is how the inactivity harms all parts of our health. Left unchallenged, the body thinks there is less need for blood flow, and arteries and veins begin to disappear. Muscles atrophy. Your heart grows weaker, and must beat more often to keep things flowing.
If inactivity persists, your immune system weakens, your brain activity slows, and the ability of the brain to control the body decreases. Even something as simple as walking becomes a chore, and, with core muscles weaker, people have to lean from side to side to walk forward.
The great news is that you don’t have to run, or lift weights, or practice calisthenics like a gymnast if you don’t want to. A brisk walk for half an hour will provide great benefits. Gardening — if you are digging, lifting, reaching, and moving around — will also provide great benefit. Dancing can be one of the best things to do because you move, challenge your brain to command your body in tempo with the music, and do it in conjunction with someone else. Sex, by the way, wouldn’t hurt either.
The list of fun, simple things goes on: tennis or table tennis; walking a golf course or a frisbee golf course; playing soccer or softball. In fact, playing games has the double bonus of social interaction, having fun, and challenging your mind and body to perform.
Modern life here in America can still present a challenge to getting enough activity into our life. What am I saying? Of course it’s a challenge when we drive through a restaurant to pick up a meal, eat in the car, and then sit in front of a television most of the night. The temptations are great. I recommend you choose some simple techniques to keep your body moving.
I like to do some light calisthenics and stretching first thing in the morning. I barely break a sweat, but I feel the difference. My day goes better when I start it with the light exertion. I know some people that will run or walk a mile on their treadmill, or take their dog for a walk first thing in the morning and for the same reasons: they feel better the rest of the day.
I walk after lunch. Maybe just a mile, but it makes me feel better the rest of the afternoon. If you don’t do it now, give it a try.
For a special, “because it’s there” effect, I will climb the seven flights of stairs in my building late in the afternoon just for the heck of it.
In the evening, after supper, I will run a little, or do some calisthenics (push ups, pull ups, and squats) to the point of exertion. I try to keep it under 20 minutes. And that’s it.
After that, I know I’ve done something good for myself, improved my health, and taken care of someone I love — me.
You should too.