The Comfortable Uncomfortable – Overcoming Your Fears

All of us have some kind of fear built in.

Some fear is silly or unfounded, while other fear is necessary for survival. At one time I was afraid of being in high places. Now I can not get enough of them. Why, you might ask? Because I exposed myself to heights enough that they were no longer a big deal. It took some time, but over time I challenged myself to get closer to the edge of a cliff and look down. In all fairness, I still will not dangle my legs off the sides, but I still have something to push myself towards.
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Taking Back Travel – The Ultimate Freedom

Something you experience while you are traveling that you don’t typically experience while doing your day to day routine is what I call, the ultimate freedom.  This is the time where you can escape your 9-5, see amazing places and not be bound to your home responsibilities.  You can just pack up the car, and start driving.  Or pick a random place on a map and go, even if it is overseas.  Everyone has their own version of this that suits their budget and available time.

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There is a lot of value in getting this time away from your chains of responsibility to open up and see who you really are.  This is your chance to reflect on your life and see where you want to go next.  It is the time where you make lasting memories and yearn for more exciting times to come.  There is so much to see on this planet, and it would be a shame if you never even left your home city or country during your life.  It took me 38 years to finally leave the U.S. and I regret that it took so long.  Now I can’t wait to do more international travel.

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I strongly encourage people to take a vacation that is overseas in a location that doesn’t speak their home language.  While English is spoken all around the world, it is not spoken well in places like Japan.  It really makes you think about how small you really are when you go somewhere completely different than you are used to.  Knowing that there are other ways people live and work that are different from your own, helps you become a more well rounded person.  And who knows, you may just discover something that would be useful in your home town that wasn’t available before and start a niche business like a themed cafe for example.

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With so much intolerance in the world and so much fear of immigrants and people different from you, this is an opportunity to flip the page and be on the other side of that. You become the foreigner.  I believe as long as you respect the home countries values and customs, you will be welcomed.  If you go in all “I’m an American and this is how we do things in my country!” you will definitely be frowned upon.  Take time to understand the culture and do your best to take part in it.  It is a blast!  People naturally fear the unknown and this is the best way to overcome that fear.  It is kind of like the first time you go snorkeling, you are scared at first and then you overcome your fear and it is one of the most amazing experiences of your life.

Once you experience the ultimate freedom, it becomes addictive.  You become a different person, and your view of the world changes.  While you are taught your home country is “The best country in the world”, it may not be even though we all take pride in where we are from originally.  There may be places you would rather be as happiness is not defined by our wealth, location, or our possessions, but instead how we choose to live each day and the connections we make with other people.  I don’t consider myself or my country better than anyone else’s, it is just different.  This isn’t a sporting competition, we are all human beings that share this world together.

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I plan to visit my third country in a couple months and have ambitions to do trips that are longer than any two-week vacation entails.  There are ways to do this cheaply and this site has incredible information on how to do just that. World traveling isn’t for everyone, and I realize that. But for those of you who are adventurous, it can’t get much better.

I would like to hear about your travel experiences or any questions you have on how to plan an international trip in the comment section.

Au Revoir
お別れ
Adios
прощальный
อำลา

 

 

 

 

Taking Back the World

With the world changing every day, you generally aren’t able to make a huge impact on it. But you can do small things for yourself and others that bring back your spirit and humanity.  As a new year begins, we can look back and reflect on what is great in our lives and what is not so great.  We should all do this periodically to have an opportunity to change what isn’t working out well. For me this has been a few key things.

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One, my career is unfulfilling and merely a paycheck.  It seems to get in the way of the things I really want to do.  I always seem to need more time.  I have discovered I have more passions for life such as videography, travel, and sharing my experiences through this blog.  But my daily life is like a machine.  I go to work, then home to do even more work that I don’t want to do, and then go to bed and do it all over again the next day.  Weekends are consumed with grocery shopping and cooking. Finding time on the two days a week to get serious about what I’d rather be doing is limited.  I feel trapped in an endless cycle that I can’t get out of.

I’m finding ways to simplify cooking for my picky diet, and buy more prepared meals so I don’t have to do it from scratch.  I plan to dedicate blocks of time to my passions instead of it being something I do when all of my other obligations are complete.  As for my job, I plan to dedicate time to explore my passions to provide a new perspective of life.  Maybe I will come up with a plan to start my own business or try a new career.  You don’t know your passions unless you start trying different things.

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The next thing is I am surrounded by constant negativity, whether it is on Facebook or the local news.  These media sources always show the worst of humanity and it sometimes consumes me and makes me depressed.  Social media expands on this, especially on political views.  I try my best to stay out of the comments section.

I’m moving my news apps on my phone so they are less convenient.  I am limiting watching the morning news and instead will watch YouTube videos that are not related to news, but instead my hobbies or other interests.  These two things have greatly improved my mood, which has improved my sleep and my motivation to do great things.img_6537

Everything I have mentioned  so far, has impacted my relationship with my family and friends.

Relationships and social connections are some of the most important aspects of life.  They help you stay healthy and sane.  The people you live with matter even more.  If the situation at home is stressful or negative, you need to better balance home life with everything else you do and even prioritize it.  Because without family, what is the point.  This is your support network and if you don’t have them, then you could fall flat on your face and not get back up.  I’m making my home life more of a priority, going back to my roots with my wife and kick-starting it towards a more happy and fulfilling relationship.  I am also finding ways to be more social and get together with friends more often.  finishedbri-2984

What things are you doing to reboot and take back your own world?  Let me know in the comments.




How to overcome limiting beliefs

Everyone has that one dream that they will achieve someday, or when they have time or after they get married, etc.   Does this sound like you?  This is something I think all of us face at some point in our lives, and if these limiting beliefs are stopping you from pursuing your dreams then how do you overcome them.   First, lets determine what common things may be getting in your way and need to be overcome.

You are:

  1. Making excuses
  2. Procrastinating
  3. Worrying about mistakes or failure
  4. Trying to be perfect
  5. Hesitating
  6. Thinking negatively
  7. Complaining
  8. Forming bad habits

For example, you have a goal of purchasing your first rental property in the next year.  It may be a very realistic goal, but you may think to yourself.  I don’t know what I am doing and may fail.  Or a year passes and nothing has happened and you say: maybe in another year I will get a property.© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Your first step will be to identify what is getting in your way of achieving your goals.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How did I form this belief?
  2. Why can’t I overcome this barrier?
  3. Why do I continue to maintain this belief?
  4. How am I attaining happiness from this belief?

From there you should be able to identify the limiting belief and think differently about it. You may think that you aren’t very committed to the goal, don’t have the time, don’t have the energy, don’t have enough money or need more skills to accomplish it.  You need to instead determine if the goal is important to you and how you can make the time, get the training you need, and reallocate your priorities so that you do have the energy to accomplish it.

Going back to the rental property example, write down the steps you are going to take to accomplish that goal within a year.  Or even challenge yourself to get it done sooner!

Example steps:

  1. Listen to podcasts, read books, network with local investors to overcome the lack of knowledge limitation.
  2. If you don’t have time or energy to dedicate to the goal, find out what is eating up all of your time and decide what is time suckers are absolutely necessary and how you can make the time you need to accomplish your goal.
  3. Money is a tricky one, but if you focus hard on cutting spending or making some extra money on the side, you can have what you need to get started.   You can also look for others who you can borrow or invest with in order to get going sooner.  There usually are ways to either find money or do this with little or no money out of your pocket.  Be creative!

Think about the consequences of holding on to your limiting beliefs to help you transform your thoughts to work towards your desired outcome.  The simple step of changing, I can’t, with how can I, can really help you shift your focus.  You may regret it later down the road if you never overcome your limiting beliefs.  Step out of your box, discover your dreams and make them happen!

Take back your passion!  Please leave comments of your own experiences below.  

Photos by LotsaSmiles Photography

Taking Back Passion

Everyone has that one dream that they will achieve someday, or when they have time or after they get married, etc.   Does this sound like you?  This is something I think all of us face at some point in our lives, and if these limiting beliefs are stopping you from pursuing your dreams then how do you overcome them.   First, lets determine what common things may be getting in your way and need to be overcome.

You are:

  1. Making excuses
  2. Procrastinating
  3. Worrying about mistakes or failure
  4. Trying to be perfect
  5. Hesitating
  6. Thinking negatively
  7. Complaining
  8. Forming bad habits

For example, you have a goal of purchasing your first rental property in the next year.  It may be a very realistic goal, but you may think to yourself.  I don’t know what I am doing and may fail.  Or a year passes and nothing has happened and you say: maybe…

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Taking Back Social Life

Being social is a key to really living and enjoying life.   I’ve found that when I am socializing with friends, my happiness and health improve dramatically.  The problem with our current world is that we are connecting more to our devices than we are with the people we care about.  As a result we begin to isolate ourselves without even knowing it.

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Isolation behavior examples

  • A couple that goes out to dinner and spends half the time on their cell phones
  • The cousin that prefers texts to phone calls
  • Kids that don’t play with their friends because they prefer to play video games or browse the web
  • A programmer who works from home instead of going into the office

The internet allows us to do so much more without ever leaving the convenience of our home.  If we don’t get out, we stay isolated.  However, by using the power of the internet, we can obtain social interaction with a website called meetup.com. This site has allowed me to meet and establish several long-term friends with common interests.  You can find just about any type of group out there in your local area, and if you can’t, then you can start your own.  Here are a few other things that can help you be more social.

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Social behavior examples

  • Calling a friend (yes actually calling them, not texting)
  • Joining a group that has similar interests (volunteer groups, hobby groups or sports activities)
  • Walking the neighborhood with your dog (or cat) and chatting with neighbors
  • Rounding up your five best friends and doing some activity together
  • Dating, even if you are married to the one you date

So this is your chance if you are ready for it.  Turn off that device and find time to take back your social life.

Additional resources

 

 

 

Taking Back Health

My health journey has been a long one.  Reflecting on it now, I can think back to health issues starting as far back as elementary school.  So let’s start there.  Growing up I was raised on the typical American diet, which consisted of significant amounts of sugar. Bread, cereal, and other cheap carbs were the norm.  It was easy to become addicted and that has carried forward throughout my life.  I believe that this one thing has been more detrimental to my health than anything else.  So if you are a parent, you may want to think about this one a bit.  Look around your cabinets and you will not believe how much sugar is in everything.

In my adult life I see that sugar is the root cause of some health issues, but have learned that it is even more than that.  We drink water full of chemicals.  We eat food full of pesticides, and we are a laboratory experiment with GMO’s.  Anything processed has little nutrition so vitamins are added.  Hooray for human kibble!  So I switched things up a few years ago and started eating real food.   I cook all my own meals and use fresh local ingredients whenever possible.  I’ve limited sugar as much as possible as well, although I tend to find excuses to splurge here and there.  I think there is a healthy balance of treating yourself, but if the consequences outweigh the benefits it just isn’t worth it.  When you go without it long enough you don’t miss it or desire it as much.  Although it is hard to get past the initial withdrawals. Sugar sounds like a drug and it might as well be.

I believe that health is more than just food though as that is just one piece of the possible. Our society is very sedentary with all of our modern conveniences.  Many of us work in cubes sitting down all day.  We get up for a few breaks, but the deadlines keep us chained to the chair.  Without movement we waste away without optimal digestion and circulation.  So if you are in this type of situation, try to get up more. Honestly those few minutes of walking around energize you and you may accomplish even more when you get back to your desk.  Make exercise outside of work a priority and routine.  Find a way to make it fun.  Treadmills are boring, if you can get outside and play tennis, basketball, or just go for a run in a beautiful area it can work wonders for you.

Sitting in front of screens and putting out fires constantly in a job can create a lot of stress.  After work you get to sit in traffic and go home to a different set of fires.  Being stressed all the time impacts just about every area of your life (sleep, eating habits, exercise, relationships).   I am working towards entrepreneurship to break these chains and do something more meaningful with my time. I would rather be writing this blog relaxed in my living room than in an office.  You could also find a line of work where you are happy with what you do every day.   Life is too short to do something you dislike or hate. Please see Taking Back Passion  for more on this.

 

Next in the chain reaction is sleep.  Being stressed out all day, reaching for sugar to cope and possibly even drinking leads to sleeping problems.  Sleep gives your brain a chance to cleanse and be ready for action.  Without it, you build up toxins in your brain.  This leads to poor memory, concentration, motivation, and deprives you of happiness or feeling. Sleep is impacted by what you eat or how well you digest your food.  If you have poor digestion, you wont sleep well and if you don’t sleep well you will have poor digestion.  It feels like a never ending battle.

What I have done to improve sleep is watch what I eat before bed, turn off electronic devices an hour before bed, and create a relaxing environment to settle down that last hour before bed (reading, meditation, etc.).   Blue light is emitted from most screens and stops melatonin production, which is a hormone that puts you to sleep.  I bought these glasses to wear at night to eliminate blue light.  Blue Light Glasses.  There are more stylish ones, but these are cheap and do the job. This article from Chris Kresser goes into some very good suggestions around improving sleep.  Sleep More Deeply

Lastly, having a social life and regular friends have been beneficial to my health.  You need a place to vent your frustrations or celebrate your successes.  Friends or groups are a great place to fill this need.  If you have trouble meeting new people or making friends, I have found success on meetup.com.  There you can find groups that suit just about any interest and if you don’t see something you like, you could also start your own group.

In summary, these are the key areas of focus to health:

  • Eat Real Food!  Limit eating out of boxes and cook.  Pressure cookers and crock pots are great for making this easier with bulk meals.
  • Exercise! Get up from your desk throughout the day. Find a way to make exercise enjoyable so you stick with it and even look forward to it.
  • Sleep!  Create a good environment, eliminate blue light and shut offex electronics at least an hour before bed.
  • Stress Management!  Stress is unavoidable, but by doing the last three items you prepare yourself to better handle stress as it comes.  If the way you live is creating too much stress, find ways to prevent it or do something different all together.
  • Social life!  The human connection is critical for happiness and health.  Nourish it by finding people who like to do similar things and have regular friends.

Good luck!  I am currently fighting my way through this and writing this blog keeps me going with it.  I would love to hear any comments about your own experiences or advice.

 

 

Taking Back Passion

The typical person has a job that they do every day for a paycheck that seems unfulfilling, boring, stressful, and usually involves a lot of long hours for little recognition.  It takes away from family, hobbies, travel, and other enjoyable activities.  Life in a 5X5 cubicle is commonly a very sedentary  experience with tight deadlines and little time to poke your head up to breathe.  Coffee breaks are filled with donuts and other sugary treats.   Waistlines grow, health declines, and life fulfillment suffers.  You go home feeling tired and have to cook food, take care of kids and eventually go to bed to do it all over again.  Your sleep is wrecked, you’re tired, possibly depressed.

What is the point?  Do you really need the latest BMW and the 3000 sq. foot house on a hill?  Do these things really matter if all your time is spent in a cube?  Do they bring any type of happiness or are they just more things to take your time away from what you really want to be doing?  This all feels like a trap that is difficult to escape.  The trap is set when you have so many bills and obligations that you set yourself up for life long misery.

According to this Gallup poll, 31.5% of employees are engaged in their jobs.  I find myself growing more tired of it the longer i am in the workforce.   I’d rather be writing this blog or wearing a Darth Vader suit in the streets of Portland.  Below are some ways to get out of the grind.

1.  Passive income

Find what you are passionate about and see if there is a way to monetize it.  If you can’t monetize your passion, find a way to replace your job with passive income so you have time for your passions.  Here is a link to a site with many options to make money without the 9-5 job.  They will very likely involve a lot of hard work to get going, but once you do the checks should start coming in.  There is no such thing as easy money without work unless you inherit it.  I’d recommend getting this going while working until you have enough passive income to replace your income or a lower level of income that is sufficient to pursue your dreams.

2.  Stop wasteful spending

We are a consumerist society that just has to spend every last dime of their paycheck and live to that standard, and many times beyond with debt.  These actions tend to enslave you.  As I mentioned, you don’t need the latest model car when a 5 year old car may be in like-new condition and 2/3 the cost.  Take time to really dig into every expense you have and see if you can reduce it.  A big example I know of is cable TV.  With netflix, hulu and other streaming sites, I can watch shows nearly commercial free and do not need cable.  I don’t have to be up to the latest episode of anything and quite frankly, too much TV can keep you from your passions as well.  Eliminating the cable bill is huge.

Do you rent?  If so you may likely be paying someone else to get rich.  Flip the coin on that and buy a rental property with multiple units, live in one  and have the other units pay your rent.  The term I have heard used for this activity is “house hacking”.  I plan to take this step as soon as I have my down payment.  The great thing is you can use an FHA loan if you are living in it, so you can have a lower down payment.  With lower rent, you won’t need as much income.  See this article from biggerpockets.com if you aren intersted in learning more about house hacking.

Tell us about your own experiences in the comments, we would love to hear from you!


Taking Back Time

As I write this post, I’m thinking to myself; “I don’t have time to write a blog post.”  I’m thinking about what photo I should put in it and searching the internet for non-copyrighted photos.  Then I step back and realize that I’m wasting my time and need to put words down.  Reality hits me in full force…….

We spend our days surrounded with distractions that suck out our precious souls in exchange for quick bits of entertainment.  Facebook, twitter, cats in space, or whatever else is happening online.  People are glued to their devices and never realize how much time is slipping by as they are in another world all together.  I see endless people attached to their phones, walking aimlessly like they are possessed by demons.  Screens, day in and day out.

Meanwhile, we have all of these things we want to do or see and can never find the time.  Below are some ideas that may help you take back your time.

  1. UNPLUG: Dedicate screen-free blocks of time where you can’t watch TV, or review the latest Facebook post.  In my case I’ve dedicated Thursday night to be a screen free night where I focus on spending quality time with family, going for a walk to the park, having a nice dinner, or just getting some things done.  It feels refreshing to disconnect.
  2. LOG YOUR ACTIVITIES:  Keep a log for one week of how much time you spend watching TV, playing on the internet, cooking, doing chores, video games, or anything else you spend your time doing. See where you are wasting the most time and focus on removing or reducing activities that don’t help you reach your goals.  Do you really need to watch Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, and The Family Guy all at the same time?
  3. NO EXCUSES:  Stop letting the “I don’t have time” demons from resurfacing.  Make the time for what is important and overcome any obstacles that get in your way.  Have a plan to get A, B and C done before you play.  Eliminating wasteful activities will allow you the freedom to do more things you care about.

BREAK FREE AND TAKE BACK WHAT IS YOURS!  

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What is Taking Back Humanity?

With all of our devices, cubicles, and other chains, we are dulling our senses and losing meaning in life.  I am very passionate about breaking these chains and sharing my experiences in hopes that it helps you to do the same.  I’ll have to get comfortably uncomfortable and stumble through any obstacles to get there.  This is my story.

Taking Back Humanity is a blog dedicated to removing the barriers in life that prevent us from living our fullest and happiest lives.  Topics will include the below themes and my experiences with each.

Taking back:

  • Time
  • Health
  • Friends
  • Passion
  • The World

Enjoy!23268836611_dbd634cebc_z