At this age, it IS fun being that bad at anything

6 years ago I went on a date once with a lovely girl. It was a blind date with a cousin of a university friend and we went to a patio for a few drinks. During the evening we chatted about many things and, after she told me that she had taken a lot of dance classes when she was younger, I mentioned that I had been considering taking ballroom dancing lessons. I had been, so it seemed like a good chance to set up for a second date.

When I said it she immediately said that I shouldn’t do it. When I asked why, she said “at this age, it isn’t fun being that bad at anything. You are going to be horrible because it’s new, so why bother?”

That statement stuck with me more than she did because there wasn’t a second date.

It is, of course, incorrect as it applies to me. Yeah, I suck at most new things, and yes, it is horrible to be that bad at anything. She was wrong because she was saying I shouldn’t do these things because I would be bad at them. To me, you try something new because it may be fun and if it is, you’ll stick with it and improve. It’s the doing of the thing that is important.

Her attitude also took out of play the enjoyment or pleasure you will get from actually improving at a specific task. I think this is the more tragic aspect of her comment. Learning can be fun if you like what you are learning but the act of learning is also very rewarding. Think about the last time you had something difficult to learn, blogging software perhaps. Do you recall the moment you finally got it and what that moment felt like? Many people refer to these moments as epiphanies and there is usually a sense of well-being associated with them. For me, the moment of getting something that I’ve been trying to learn is a good moment, it feels good.

It doesn’t really matter what it is, I feel good when I get it. I’ve had a bunch of different and seemingly random jobs, but all of them share two things in common, a chance to learn and a chance to improve. My ability to load bundles of Roxul insulation into a trailer may never be tested again in my life, but it was a rewarding skill to acquire – you’d be surprised the number of ways you can load a truck wrong, but each small improvement was accompanied by a small reward. Challenging employees is one of the key components to keeping them highly engaged because it creates a self-reinforcing environment for the worker. Once you stop learning, if you do not find the task enjoyable, you will soon stop performing the task.

I know with certainty that if I took up ball room dancing, it would have been challenging and I wouldn’t have been very good at it. But I would have practiced and I believe that I would have improved; others have learned how to do it so there’s a good chance that I could learn too. And I know with equal certainty that I would have found the learning to be rewarding because that is what motivates us to keep learning.

Maybe one day I will try ball room dancing and I’ll know for sure what it is like to be that bad at something. If she was right, it will be harder today than it would have been 6 years ago. If she’s wrong, I’ll find the activity enjoyable.

4 Things Your Girlfriend Should Know

Tony Gentilcore’s article 4 Things Your Girlfriend Should Know on T-nation.com has ruffled a few feathers {Note – this is the link for a revised version of the original article}. He makes the statement that “Yoga Mostly Sucks” at improving the body composition. He trashes steady state cardio (low intensity long distance) in favor of high intensity interval style training for fat loss. He suggests that women train more like men and that they should be using low reps and heavy weights. He’s even got his girlfriend deadlifting.

“But I don’t want to get big and bulky.”

Newsflash, ladies: You will not get “big and bulky” just because you’re doing squats and deadlifts. That statement is akin to me saying, “Eh, I don’t want to do any sprints today because I don’t want to win the 100m gold medal next week.” Getting big and bulky isn’t easy, just like winning the 100m gold medal isn’t easy.

If anything, it’s an insult to all those people who’ve spent years in the gym to look the way they do. It didn’t happen overnight, which is what you’re assuming by saying something so absurd.

And let’s be honest, most people (men and women) won’t work hard enough to get “big and bulky” in the first place. It’s hard enough for a man to put on any significant amount of muscle, let alone a woman. Women are physiologically at a disadvantage for putting on muscle due to the fact that they have ten times less free Testosterone in their bodies compared to men.

That being said, you still need to get the most bang out of your training buck, and that includes ditching the glute-buster machine and focusing more on the compound movements. Joe Dowdell, owner of Peak Performance in NYC, trains many of the top female models in the city and their programming includes squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, bench variations, sled dragging, and tons of energy system work.

Yes, Victoria’s Secret models are doing squats and deadlifts. And yes, that’s completely hot. Guess what they’re not doing? Watching Oprah every day while walking on the treadmill for 60 minutes.

It isn’t a rant on the evils of yoga, just on the lies that some yoga teachers attempt to pass off as fact and the impact that these notions have on how women work towards their fitness goals.

What I take out of it is that people will believe anything an “expert” tells them without so much as thinking about it. Anyone who suggests that deadlifting is not as good at building back strength as yoga has NEVER performed a single deadlift with their body weight.

If you want to look a particular way, do what people who look that way do. If you desire to be lean and have toned muscles, you’re going to need to work out intensely and lift a lot of weight.

Relationships – If you can’t give it your all, should you be giving at all?

I think it’s time to check out once you stop being able to give it 100%.

Watching someone spin their wheels wasting potential is hard, particularly when it involves a relationship. Rarely are these people happy with what they are doing, but so often they seem oblivious to the fact that they are not happy. Well, more accurately, they seem oblivious to the fact that things don’t need to be the way they are. They forget that they have the free will to change the situation, to make it or seek out something that is better. When asked about it, they seem to think that they’ve invested so much time into it, that it would be a shame to walk away without making sure it wasn’t going to work. This only makes sense if they know how to identify when it is not going to work out, but most people have no idea how to.

One of the first indications that things have hit the wall is when you stop giving a relationship your all. Lets face it, falling in love is nice and kind of irrational. It’s impossible to fall in love with someone you can’t love. You may be able to fake it, but it isn’t love. True love requires a leap of faith that you will take only if you feel a connection to another person. You need to be willing to give it your all because, it you ever stop and think about it, you may find yourself questioning the logic of your decision. Love is an all or nothing thing and it requires complete buy-in from both parties. The state of being in love is sufficient enough to prevent you from judging your partner harshly for things that you do not like. Feeling contempt towards another is impossible if you are in love, even if their actions are contemptuous.

Take one of your a love relationships that ended and think about the circumstances surrounding the breakdown and its eventual end. At the beginning they could do no wrong. You felt good being around them and the little things that you would usually find annoying were cute, funny or just little quirks. They’ll often stand out in your mind because you find them really annoying, but since they are the way your partner is, you start to consider them just part of how they are. You know they are harmless so you let it all go, but they are still annoying – her laugh pitches so high that it could break a glass, his constant “that’s what she said” joke to everything is classless, but you love them so it doesn’t really matter. You change your perception and presto, the annoying becomes part of the package that you love. You buy in and everything is fine.

Until one day when you find yourself not telling them a joke or a story because you don’t want your skin to crawl in response to her laugh or hear him say “that’s what she said” when you tell him about your mothers knitting group being too large to be fun anymore. They’ve worn a little thin on you, altering your perception isn’t so easy anymore so you alter your behavior. It doesn’t seem like a big deal because you know that you knew it was annoying before and you’re aware that things fade over time. Hey, that’s part of relationships and you’ll learn to avoid setting up the joke or making her laugh. Strange though, you’re changing yourself, not your perception but your behavior. Suddenly you are not being yourself anymore and you stop giving the relationship your all – when you give it 100%, you are being yourself, nothing is censored and you are being with all of your passion. It’s easy to sustain because it requires no thinking, just pure living. But once you start to alter your personality, you begin to give less and less of yourself. That can’t be good.

Of course it isn’t good because the next thing to appear is contempt. You will begin to resent the other person because they are not letting you be you, or you feel that you have to change what you give because of how they will interact with it. Contempt is one of the key signs that a relationship is in serious trouble. It indicates that a value judgment has been made and that you (the holder of contempt) has placed the other on a lower level and therefore worthy of less respect. Since people tend to act in a very self interested way, feelings of contempt will be followed by a further withdrawing – why would you invest in someone who you have little respect for?

Well, the pattern holds this to be true, you don’t invest, you begin to give less and less. The loving relationship that you gave 100% to starts to get less of your effort and passion. It is usually at this point when it has ended, but since you don’t want to walk out on the time investment you have put in and since you don’t know how to identify that it is over, you stay in it. Another couple of months (years) should be sufficient enough for you to realize that it is over and has been over for a very long time. Problem is, you can’t be friends anymore because your contempt has long since turned into hate and since you didn’t have the self-awareness to identify that the relationship has been over for a long time, you likely blame the other person for wasting so much of your time.

Well, here is the cold hard truth, you are to blame because you didn’t pay attention to the signs that things had gone south. We’re dealing with love here, one of the greatest emotional states of being that human kind can engage in, but also one of the least understood and illogical experiences on the planet. You were able to over look some very annoying behavior because you were in love with the person. Okay, you altered your conscious perception of the annoying behavior but you cannot influence your unconscious perception of it and this is where the difficultly lies. Your unconscious brain takes in and processes a lot of information that you are completely unaware of. Since the unconscious brain doesn’t really have a direct voice, you are never really aware of the results of this processing. However, it does tend to manifest itself in emotional states and gut feelings – remember the first time you didn’t make a joke and then thought “I don’t want to hear her laugh”? That was your unconscious mind directing your behavior. It is more powerful, or, more honest than your conscious mind because you cannot interact with it as efficiently. Remember when you withdrew slightly but didn’t know why? He asked you what was wrong and you said “nothing” when you both knew there was something wrong. Again, that is your unconscious mind telling you something very important. Even if you don’t know what it was, you DID experience the decrease in engagement; people who give 100% do not withdraw. They just don’t, that not what full engagement is all about. Sorry, the warning signs were there, you decided not to listen to them because, well, you didn’t and that’s all I’m going to say about that part of it.

So why should you watch for the behavioral manifestation of your unconscious mind? Simply put, if you feel in love in the first place, you already did listen to it. Think about it, if love was a conscious thing, you’d be able to fall in love at will with whomever you wanted – the rich unattractive guy could be the man of your dreams, the beautiful girl with a keen eye for antiquing and adopting vicious cats could be your wife, if only you could get on board with it. But that isn’t love. Love is an emotional state and it comes from the unconscious mind. Our species, and those species that we came from, have been mating for millions of years. Given that mating predates language, who we select as mates is determined almost exclusively by non-verbal factors. Your conscious brain is close to powerless to impact the process because it is so new on the evolutionary scene.

I can’t stress this point enough. As an individual, you are driven to keep the species alive through procreation. You are naturally going to seek out the best mate because this will result in the best offspring. Since the conscious mind plays almost no role in this process, your emotional state will impact it more completely – the best mate will appeal to you for unconscious reasons vs. conscious ones. Now given that you are directed by it to find a mate, you should also be in tune with it to let you know how things are going in the relationship. While there is no physical separate between the conscious and unconscious mind, each aspect of thinking has certain advantages over the other. In the case of the unconscious mind, it tends to work with nonverbal communication and other paralanguage components and create an emotional state based on the outcome. It is much better at picking up when it’s time to get out of a relationship because it isn’t going to be worried about all the time that has been invested in a relationship, it’s too busy worrying about finding an ideal mate and making the species stronger.

If you want to save months of your life and a lot of your immediate happiness, start identifying, accepting and actioning on the outcome of your unconscious thoughts. When it comes to love and relationships, since you can’t logically talk yourself into it, don’t use logic to keep yourself in it.

How Not To Talk To Kids

{Exercise} Before you read the article I’m linking to I want you to try something. The article is about praising children so write what you think is the best way to praise children if you want to improve their self-esteem.

After reading Po Bronson’s New York Magazine article How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise you may find yourself thinking “of course that is how it is”.

Dweck and Blackwell’s work is part of a larger academic challenge to one of the self-esteem movement’s key tenets: that praise, self-esteem, and performance rise and fall together. From 1970 to 2000, there were over 15,000 scholarly articles written on self-esteem and its relationship to everything—from sex to career advancement. But results were often contradictory or inconclusive. So in 2003 the Association for Psychological Science asked Dr. Roy Baumeister, then a leading proponent of self-esteem, to review this literature. His team concluded that self-esteem was polluted with flawed science. Only 200 of those 15,000 studies met their rigorous standards.

After reviewing those 200 studies, Baumeister concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievement. It didn’t even reduce alcohol usage. And it especially did not lower violence of any sort. (Highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves, debunking the theory that people are aggressive to make up for low self-esteem.) At the time, Baumeister was quoted as saying that his findings were “the biggest disappointment of my career.”

{Exercise} Were you correct with what you wrote down before reading Bronson’s piece?

I have a psychology degree and did learn about conditioned reinforcement and reward scheduling, but it never struck me that the things they learned from experimenting on dogs, pigeons and rats apply to human beings as well. If the rat will walk a maze 100’s of times to earn a food pellet 5% of the time, the child will read 100 pages to get praised for reading 5 of them. It makes sense now.

You are born with “talent”, which is what we are praising when we tell someone that they are smart or good. But children do not know how they came to be smart or good. Since it’s just something they are, they have no idea how to make more of it.

As a parent or mentor you can only influence behavior. Experience has taught us that you need to put a lot of effort into actualizing talent potential. If a child is to remain smart or good, they are going to need to continue to put sustained effort into achieving it.

Diabetes May Be Even Bigger Threat Than Feared

Diabetes May Be Even Bigger Threat Than Feared

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) — By last year, the number of people with diabetes in Ontario, Canada, had already surpassed the rate predicted for 2030 by the World Health Organization. The news is bad enough for Canada, but augurs even more ill for the world, which can now expect many more people to succumb to this chronic disease than originally anticipated, researchers report.

Great job Canada, we’re 27 years ahead of schedule! This isn’t a good thing, given that in most instances diabetes is a preventable disease.

The relationship between obesity and diabetes is as real as the relationship between obesity and a lack of exercise. People are choosing to engage in a lifestyle that leads to their eventual illness. While I am always going to advocate for more physical activity, people can eliminate a lot of the diabetes risk by changing their eating habits to lower their body fat level.

Birds Don’t Say “What is in the way IS the way”

About a year ago, one of my friends sent out a mass email to everyone he knew with the following quote “What is in the way IS the way”. I smiled when I read it. He was one of the few people who replied to my mass friend email with the “Who Are You Not To Be” quote. Today I happened across the quote “If a Bird Can’t Fly, It Walks”. Just fantastic.

I’ve seen my share of injured animals. The one thing most injured animals have in common is an intense desire to keep living. They will fight predators viciously, they will attack food rivals violently and they will engage the world using whatever powers they have left. Birds with broken wings keep looking for food, dogs with three legs keep looking for other dogs to run with and beavers that live in streams during droughts go looking for water somewhere else. They keep doing what they do, regardless of the hardships that my befall them.

I doubt the experience of consciousness for an animal is anything like that of a human, and that is one thing that makes them remarkably stronger in the survival sense. Maybe they have moments of feeling that they were unfairly victimize but the only thing that directs their behavior is a desire to survive. They’ll keep trying to attract mates, hunt and find food and seek out a safe shelter for protection. They are not going to become socialist victims looking for a handout and to be taken care of because something extremely challenging happened to them.

I don’t know the statistics for human beings that suffer equivalent injury to a bird losing its ability to fly but unfortunately it happens a lot. But if you pay close attention to it, you’ll notice more and more of these people interacting in society, living a life that is different, but rich and rewarding. It would seem that many who do find hardship falling into their life will do what the bird who can’t fly does and start to walk, using whatever abilities they have left to continue living. Once acceptance occurs, human beings have a remarkable ability to continue living and having a rich life.

The bird quote isn’t a direct comparison to a physical injury that a human can sustain, it’s a metaphoric equivalent to not having the ability to do something a particular way.

There is no doubt that the life of a now flightless bird is going to be different. It may have to adjust to eating different foods, particularly if it relied on flying to hunt, but it doesn’t mean that there is no food to eat, just that it’s going to be different food. Its shelter may not be the same, if, for example, it nested in a tree because it can’t fly to it, but it will find something that offers some protection and affords that bird the opportunity to rest in relative safety. It makes do and it keeps on trying to live.

The same is not true for most human beings. Many of them will see not having a particular ability as an insurmountable roadblock in the path to something they want and never consider the possibility that they may have other skills that would make it possible. We all know someone who wants something better than what they have but when you ask them what they are doing to achieve it they give you reasons why they aren’t actively pursuing it right now. For example, the friend who wants to be a manager but sees not having any management experience as the reason to not try, the female friend who wants to date a particular coworker but sees her height as a reason why he wouldn’t want to go out with her, the male friend who wants to have a better body but doesn’t know how to workout so doesn’t bother going to the gym because he doesn’t want to look or feel like stupid.

The lessons from “what is in the way IS the way” and “if a bird can’t fly, it walks” are exactly the same here. These people are defining the path they need to take to achieve their goal in terms of their limitations and therefore the only way to achieve a particular goal. If they were flightless birds they would have defined the path in terms of what they can do and come up with a second possible path, one that is passable based on their present abilities.

If you want to make life easier, you need to start thinking about challenges in terms of what you can do instead of what you cannot do. When you give reasons for why you can’t do something instead of coming up with solutions to address these deficits or ways to bi-pass them completely, you’re basically admitting that animals have more ambition and a stronger will than you do.

Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better

This great article Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better by Online Education Database is a must read for anyone who wants to get a little bit more out of their brain. It’s a fantastic list of tips and I’ll draw your attention to number 38:

Every skill is learned. With the exception of bodily functions, every skill in life is learned. Generally speaking, if one person can learn something, so can you. It may take you more effort, but if you’ve set a believable goal, it’s likely an achievable goal.

I think maybe we forget that the ability to learn is an innate survival skill for us and that the abstract ways that we use this ability are just adaptations in human thinking and not new skills in themselves. Even if you didn’t forget, seeing that someone else was able to learn something really does mean that you can learn to do it too.

My First Bulk

I got pretty sick at the beginning of November 2006 and when I went to the doctor, their preliminary test indicated that there was protein in my urine – a bad sign and an indication of kidney dysfunction. I got a second test a week later. I went to Toronto to see my doctor and when I left his office with the “all clear”, I sort of floated along College Street to Union station in a blurry happy fog. I was going to have the time to do all the things I thought I would be going without. It was a fantastic feeling.

That night I started planning my first bulk. For those who are not familiar with a bulk, it’s a body building term use to describe a period of deliberate over eating to force the body into a more anabolic state allowing it to create more muscle. It’s an approach with a long history and it is generally accepted that you need to hold your body in a caloric surplus state to facilitate growth.

At the beginning:
Before I started, my weight was 168 pounds and my body fat level was 10.4. My weight has been around 168 for the last 3 years, basically since I started mountain bike riding. There is a seasonal fluctuation in body fat, with it bottoming out at around 9% at the end of the summer. My goal was bulk for 3 or 4 months to try and get to 190 pounds with little consideration being given to my level of leanness.

It was going to be a clean bulk, which meant that I wasn’t going to be eating everything that I wanted. A lot of lifters will treat their bulk as a period of non-stop gorging and will eat foods that are very high in calories but not very high in nutrients. The goal of a clean bulk is to limit the amount of body fat that you gain while providing enough nutrients and energy to build dry lean body mass (actual muscle vs. water and glycogen stores).
I needed to create and maintain a caloric surplus. That meant that I had to drastically limit the amount of cardiovascular exercise that I did. This turned out to be the toughest part of it because I LOVE cardio – I race a mountain bike and love indoor cycling classes and find my bliss state when my heart rate hits 150. Unfortunately for me, I had to limit both the volume and intensity of my cardiovascular work. I did one or two sessions a week trying to keep my heart rate below 140 and my usual high intensity warm-up was scaled back to the same level.

The diet and food management:
I followed all of the rules that I have outline in the Newstasis.com weight management program with very few deviations. I would occasionally eat when I wasn’t hungry because I needed to ingest the calories. My daily calorie count went from about 2000 per day to about 3000 per day and my daily meal count went from 4 to 7 or 8, a meal every 2 to 3 hours usually right after my stomach emptied into my intestines.

My breakfast was always the same, 150 grams of oatmeal, 50 grams of whey protein powder, 50 grams of dextrose and 5 grams of creatine, all mixed with water and eaten within 15 minutes of waking up.

My post workout shake was always the same, 80 grams of sugar (dextrose and maltodextrin combination), 50 grams of whey protein and 5 grams of creatine, all mixed with water and I would start to drink it within 10 minutes of finishing my workout. It was the same regardless of the number of workouts I did in a day.

My first whole food meal after the gym was usually the same for my first workout of the day, whole-wheat toast with a smear of margarine, and scrambled eggs with sliced turkey. I would use 250 ml of egg whites and 1 whole egg. I would drink water with this meal.

The rest of the meals would contain either lots of carbohydrates or lots of essential fats, but NEVER both because the body will use carbohydrates for energy if they are available and, when fats are also present, the body will just store the fat. Fats consumed in the absence of carbohydrates will be utilized for immediate energy.

I drank 2-4 liters of water a day.

I consumed no alcohol for most of the bulk because alcohol suppresses growth hormone release. I was sacrificing so much that it didn’t seem to make any sense to me to slow my progress because of a couple of beers.

I would eat 150 grams of cottage cheese before bed to make sure my body had a long acting protein available throughout the night and I made Venom’s Protein bars to make sure I didn’t go to sleep hungry. I’m one of the few people I know who admits to eating in bed before falling asleep. Venom’s recipe offered a low GI carb option that tasted fairly good.

The workouts:
This was an over reaching program, one that had me doing way more volume than my normal routine. In hindsight this was too much work. It burned a lot of calories that could have gone to repair and muscle building but at the time, I didn’t feel like sacrificing workout time and enjoyment. I just replaced my cardio with resistance training. Some days have me working out three times and I was more than happy to do it most of the time although there were a couple of times when I got to the gym and knew I needed to skip the workout.

The workouts were shorter than usual, each about 45 minutes, and I did a lot of high intensity training methods to completely fatigue the muscles, like retraining a muscle group later on in the day and it was during this time that I discovered the concept of training movements and not body parts. All I all, it was an amazing program and I felt stronger and bigger with each workout – I bench pressed over 200 pounds for the first time in my life and finally broken the 20 rep mark with wide grip pull-ups (something I haven’t done since university). I learned a lot of biomechanics and how my body responds to exercise stress and movements. I also introduced plyometrics training and added skipping as a warm-up exercise.

The results:

They were fantastic! I broke the 180-pound mark on January 21st with a body fat level of 11.4%; 50 days after starting the bulk. I gained about 9.5 pounds of lean body mass and a little over 2 pounds of body fat. I was very pleased with the results.

When I weighed myself today (March 6, 2007) I was 176 @ 10.6% body fat. That means that I have lost just less than 3 pounds of lean mass and almost 2 pounds of body fat.

Here are the numbers:

Nov 3, 06 Jan 21, 07 March 6, 07

Weight: 168.6 181 176

Body Fat: 10.5 11.4 10.6

Lean Mass: 150.9 160.3 157.3

Body Fat: 17.7 20.6 18.7

The toughest parts were not being able to do as much cardiovascular exercise as I wanted and all the extra eating I had to do. Human beings are state dependent creatures, so my body had adjusted to function effectively on ~2000 calories a day with 4 or 5 intense cardio sessions per week. When I started cramming in an extra 1000 calories of nutritionally sound foods, the body wasn’t used to them and it didn’t need them as it had found stasis with 2000 a day and some cardio, now it had to adjust to find stasis on 3000 with almost no cardio. I was forcing a caloric surplus of ~1500 calories through increased eating and decreased exercise. There were some digestive consequences to it and elimination frequency increased.

The best part of it was the feeling of gaining weight – I actually felt like there was more of me and that I was taking up more space on the planet. The workouts were awesome as well. They were both fun and all the volume I was doing meant that I needed to come up with some creative exercises to find new ways to attack the muscles. My favorite exercises to do were ISO leg press shrugs and wide grip platform dead lifts, two movements I had never done before.

I don’t think I’ll go on another bulk again because I don’t see the need for it. As a learning experience goes, I would recommend it, providing you are in good health and have your doctor’s approval. As a lifestyle, and that is what you have to make it to get the most out of it, I’d have a very hard time keeping up with it. There were times when I didn’t feel like eating and I have to force myself to eat. Plus, I missed working out the way I like, with intensity and my heart rate soaring.

What Is Karma?

Karma is the consequence of an action. It is neither good nor bad. However, since you have very little impact on what the consequences are you are best to try and limit the amount of karma that you create or allow to be created because there is always the potential that the outcome will be negative.

The concept of karma is misunderstood because people want to believe that the world is a fair and just place so that those who create suffering in others will get what’s coming to them – you get what you give. It’s an understandable desire because we do seem to be exposed to extreme cruelty and uncaring, but the world doesn’t work like that.

If you act according to your nature, you will create the least amount of karma. If your nature is positive, as most people’s true nature is, you and others will enjoy the consequence to your actions. If you act in a way that is different from your true nature, for example looking at the world with yourself as the center of everything, others may suffer as a result of your actions. Also, in the long run, any enjoyments you experience may dissipate and fade away completely. Very often these actions will create a feeling of cognitive dissonance within you that will be immediately experienced as a negative feeling such as anxiety, tension or sadness. If your nature is not positive, all of your actions will come from a place were you are the center of them and others will not enjoy the consequences of these actions.

Karma is minimized when someone is fulfilling their life purpose because they will be taking fewer actions that deviated from their natural tendencies; you will create only intended consequences.

One goal should be to create as little karma as possible through living the life that reflects your nature. This is why it is important to figure out what your nature and your life purpose are. Steve Pavlina outlines how to uncover your life purpose with his simple and effect method – it worked very well for me and I found the experience to be very powerful.

An example here may be useful. My life purpose has something to do with trying to empower people to achieve their goals and potential. While this has always been my purpose, I haven’t always known it and in fact it only became evident to me after a training seminar early in February of 2007. Before it was uncovered, when I would try to fill this guide role for others I would either feel shame for trying to change them, incomplete because I felt I needed others to change in order for me to be useful or just completely creepy for talking to people about what I saw in their essence. Try and tell a complete stranger at the gym that you see that they could be an excellent personal trainer because of the way they engage the front desk staff or that the person who pumped my gas should be a motivational speaker because of the clarity of their observations about whatever. People aren’t used to this kind of honesty or insight and they tend to be very suspicious of anyone who brings it to them. So before it was clear to me why I do what I do, I would suffer from the dissonant feeling that I was acting weirdly. Worse was the often-hurt feeling I would get when people would respond poorly through lashing out or just ignore what I had said. I have alienated a number of people through voicing my observations in a genuine attempt to help them.

To draw this back to karma, I was actualizing my life purpose through these interactions. The consequences to these actions were, for the most part, non-existent because very few people are receptive to what I said such that my talking to them created very little karma – any karma that results from their continuing down the same path is their creation. However, in the odd case where someone buys into what I tell them, they take some strength from it and begin to move towards their potential, a lot of karma is eliminated – their path through life has been changed or reset to a path that more closely represents their true nature. My actions were the result of my nature and they serve only to decrease the amount of karma that is created. In fact, if I had kept my mouth shut and said nothing I am, in essence, knowingly creating karma through willfully allowing others to continue down the wrong path.

The moment of enlightenment when I uncovered my purpose was very liberating because it allowed me for the first time to see my actions as appropriate and independent of the outcome. I am following my nature by TRYING to help others find empowerment to grow and not by GETTING them to find the empowerment to grow. The result is not as important as the effort. The result is only important for me. I MUST become empowered and TRY to help others but others actions are not even a consideration in the karmic equations that defines me. When it comes right down to it, I create more karma when I do not take an action that I feel I should. If my pure actions are inhibited it is because I am putting myself as the center of everything because I want to avoid shame. This is the recipe for Karma so I work to avoid it.

I’m recommending that people take the time to figure out who they are and what they need to do on the planet to have a meaningful life. Then go out and do it. Stop living a life that doesn’t complete you because you are creating a lot of needless Karma.

25 Years, 25 Mistakes

25 Years, 25 Mistakes by Mike Boyle from T-nation

Most of the mistakes deal with weight lifting and physical training, but there are a few very good general life lessons in the list:

Mistake #14: Confusing disagree with dislike
I think it’s great to disagree. The field would be boring if we all agreed. What I realize now is that I’ve met very few people in this field I don’t like and many I disagree with. I probably enjoy life more now that I don’t feel compelled to ignore those who don’t agree with me.

Mistake #15: Confusing reading with believing
This concept came to me by way of strength coach Martin Rooney. It’s great to read. We just need to remember that in spite of the best efforts of editors, what we read may not always be true.

If the book is more than two years old, there’s a good chance even the author no longer agrees with all the information in it. Read often, but read analytically.

Mistake #16: Listening to paid experts
Early on, many of us were duped by the people from companies like Cybex or Nautilus. Their experts proclaimed their systems to be the future, but now the cam and isokinetics are the past. Just as in any other field, people will say things for money.

You don’t think his post applies to you? Read mistake 25.