Get Happy With… Nature!

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Welcome to another edition of the “Get Happy” Series! If you are looking for ways to become happier in life, look no further!

Nature is our soul’s place. It is where our spirit can just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. In nature we are away from the everyday hustle and bustle, and there is space to just be… We can breathe in the amazing smells of the outdoors, and breathe out appreciation and relaxation. We can hear the birds and other animals, and we can see the amazing beauty of it all. This is the paradise we live in!

Just simply being present in nature does wonders to our happiness levels. There have been studies conducted which showed that by simply looking at a tree for a bit of time, we reduce our stress and anxiety levels. Nature gives you the space and time to think clearly and to feeeel. It is never in a rush, but never too slow either. It simply is, and that’s what is so great about it. There is just something about spending time in a place where you are completely surrounded by nature that brings you to a natural state of centeredness. You feel at peace and that you are supported by something greater than yourself.

These days, many of us are so disconnected from nature that we have never really spent enough time alone in nature to realize this. If you want to alleviate some grieving or depression, go take a walk alone in nature. You WILL feel better by the time you get back :). If you are stressed or anxious, take a break and go take a walk in nature. Let your mind wander and let your feet lead you where they want to go. You will feel much more relaxed and ready by the time you get back. I have done a lot of my deepest healing, thinking, and personal development in nature. It always inspires me and sends me messages. I am always learning from nature, and you can too if you are willing to take the time to be present and open.

“Nature loves efficiency, which is very odd for something supposedly working at random. When you drop a ball, it falls straight down without taking any unexpected detours. When two molecules with the potential for bonding meet, they always bond- there is no room for indecision. This expenditure of least energy, also called the law of least effort, covers human beings, too. Certainly our bodies cannot escape the efficiency of the chemical processes goings on in each cell, so it is probable that our whole being is wrapped up in the same principle. This argument also applies to personal growth- the idea that everyone is doing the best he or she can from his or her own level of consciousness” – Deepak Chopra

To your highest happiness,

Alex 🙂

My Goal This Year: Become The Happiest I’ve Ever Been In My Life (And How You Can Too!)

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Become my happiest self – happier than I have ever been in my life. That’s the goal I set for myself on January 1st this year. Now, I am not huge on New Year resolutions because usually I make a laundry list of goals that I would like to get done, and then I don’t get them done because it is too much and we forget and etc. So this year I decided to just focus on the ONE thing that I believe will improve everything else in my life as well by doing it: my happiness. I’d rather do ONE amazing thing than 1,000 mediocre things.

My goal for my happiness journey this year is not quite as simple as it seems. It precedes some bigger and deeper questions. How do you become your happiest? What is happiness and what brings more of it into your life?

I am taking a multiple pronged approach to optimal happiness. There are a few major categories that are scientifically backed in research to bring about happiness which I focus on improving:

The first one is doing what I love every day. Life is not about doing what is easiest and just lounging around all day. It’s not about playing it safe and taking the “normal” route. It is about pushing yourself to do something meaningful and worth doing in your life. It is about trying new things, meeting new people, helping others, and committing yourself to something that is bigger than yourself. For me right now, that is this blog and Life Tools. For those of you who don’t know, Life Tools is an online company and community I started to help each other naturally become happier and healthier for a higher quality of life. I love this mission and this is what I want to do with my time, energy, and passion. This is what I am here for and I know that I can help many, many people become happier and healthier, and live better lives. So, I do this every day. A lot. My passion comes from my WHY! So first step for you: find something that is bigger than yourself, be it a mission, a passion, or anything else that can help yourself and others, and make the world a better place. Make sure you love it and DO IT! Go all in! This will fill your life up with so much meaning and energy. You will have a huge reason to get up in the morning and your life will feel on track. You will know it is right because things will flow. From meaning, you find a deeper happiness and satisfaction in yourself and life.

Second area of my life that I’m improving is my health. Yep! Happiness and health are so interrelated that I’d actually venture to say they are the same thing. When you have a stomach ache or the flu or pain, do you feel happy? Exactly. It is much harder. I don’t think that you can have one without the other – at least not optimally. So this year I am focusing on becoming my healthiest to ultimately become my happiest. This means eating well, fixing nutritional deficiencies (through diet and supplementation), taking care of my body by stretching and staying active (such as riding my bike instead of driving a car), finding any hidden food allergies, having a calming morning routine, stopping and relaxing when I feel stressed, etc. There will be plenty of future articles on all of this! 🙂 Your brain and your body are one, and it is time we started taking care of it! So the first step for you in this area is to focus on eating a healthy diet with plenty of REAL food, and moving your body every day. You can do other things, but the simpler you keep it, the more likely you will stick to it. Once you’ve got this down, you can add more like looking for hidden inflammation and food allergies, balancing your hormones, supplementation, meditation, etc. I believe that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle is the 80/20 of health (what is the 80/20 principle?).

The next area of life that I’m improving is my social life. An active social life is SO important for optimal happiness, and it is something that I was definitely been lacking in for a few years. Just keeping yourself from being isolated and alone all the time is important and has been proven to dramatically reduce stress and anxiety levels. I most definitely learned that the hard way. But you don’t have to! For my social life, I have joined a few local groups where I am able to meet new people and make friends. I also plan on doing some volunteering at places I find interesting and enjoyable, or that I feel passion to help with. My business, Life Tools, has also been great for my social life since I am part of a few different associations and groups that meet up at various times throughout the month. I also started my own Life Tools Community group which I believe will become very successful and fun, since it is focused on helping each other become happier and healthier. There is no end to what you can do to bring more people and social events into your life. I am probably going to join and start a few more groups, and do a few more things as I continue to gain momentum, which I will write more about soon! So the first step for you in this area is to get social by joining a group, team, club, event, or getting a job that is social, etc. (NOT a cult though!). Just get yourself out there and get the ball rolling. The more you do it, the more people you will meet and the more events you will go to and get invited to, and the more people you will meet and become friends with, and on and on. Just start. This one is a compounding effect. 🙂

The fourth area of life I am focusing on is putting extra time, effort, and attention into those important people in my life. Looking back on my life, I want to remember the times when I did crazy, fun, amazing things with the people I love the most. I am still improving in this area of course, but what I have learned so far is that if you have a good, caring, and loving relationship with your spouse, kids, family, etc., your whole life feels so much happier and brighter. If you are happy within your romantic relationship, you feel much happier in your life as well. If you are in harmonious relationships with your kids and extended family, your own happiness levels are going to be harmonious too. By kicking out toxic, stressful people and only focusing on those amazing and wonderful people in your life, your quality of living will skyrocket! You will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders and you will feel much happier overall. Maybe because of less stress and more fun with each other. So the first step for you is to identify all of the amazing people in your life who you truly love and appreciate, and make sure they know you love them! Put extra time, attention, and effort into these relationships, and enjoy life with them. Even if they are far away, call them! Take a road trip to go see them. Whatever, but don’t let these important relationships fade. No excuses. Also, make a list of anyone who is toxic and stop having relationships with them as soon as possible. These people drain you of your energy, health, and happiness and you don’t need them in your life (unless you enjoy negativity, stress, and rapid aging).

The next area of my life that I am improving is focusing and simplifying my life and myself. I put these two together because I think that you can’t really have one without the other. How do you simplify your life without focusing on what you want and need? How to you focus on something without simplifying the process and simplifying your life around your focus? I have been pretty good so far this year about focusing and simplifying things – not necessarily on purpose, but I think a lot of my focusing and simplifying actually came from the changes above I am making in my life and in myself. Life is much more peaceful now, and I know what I need to do, and I know what I want. I don’t own much, but I’m getting rid of most of what I own because I don’t need it – and somewhat by accident I recently found out that I actually don’t even notice when most of my belongings are gone or inaccessible. It made no difference in the quality of my life whatsoever. Once you know these things, life becomes much more interesting and enjoyable. So the first step for you is to make a list of what (and who) is truly important to you in your life. Focus your time, energy, and attention into those things and people. Reduce your time, attention, and energy on pretty much all other things. It really is this simple. However, it does not mean that actually doing this is easy. Execution is the hardest part because it is much easier said than done. But it is something that anyone can achieve if they want a happier life, and to become happier within themselves.

The last area of my life that I’m improving is spending time relaxing and rejuvenating. You can’t work every second of every day. That’s why we need sleep – so that our bodies and minds can rest. So I am focusing on getting enough sleep, doing things that I enjoy that also help me relax (such as hiking or songwriting), and stopping whatever I am doing and taking a break when I feel stressed out or anxious. No one can do their best or most efficient work when they are in this state of mind. It is also really bad for you – kind of like drinking a soda or something. If you feel anxious and stressed out, you must learn to control this. It may sound hard to do, but if you can get good at just pausing and stepping back for a breather, this will become simple. For example, when I am working on my business and I start feeling uptight and anxious, I stop and do something relaxing until I feel better. Usually, I only need about 10 minutes to feel better again. It doesn’t really matter what I do in that ten minutes as long as it is enjoyable and relaxing – sometimes I take a walk outside, other times I do some gardening, sometimes I take a warm shower, other times I call someone I love and just talk, and sometimes I just read a book. The important part is just taking this time to relax and come down from this state of high stress and anxiety. The problem is that most people don’t take that ten minutes, and carry that anxiety around with them for the rest of the day, and they bring it home with them to the people they love. This is not the kind of pattern you want going on in your life (especially since you want to focus extra love, time, and attention on your loved ones, not extra stress, fights, and anxiety). So the first step for you is to monitor your feelings and notice when you are feeling stressed and uptight. Once you are able to identify this, you can practice taking breaks to relax and get yourself back into a better mindset. I know that this can be hard for many people, especially at work and places that don’t approve of you taking “unnecessary” time away from your work. Luckily, there are ways around this and if you just bring a little creativity to the table you will still be able to do it. I’m not saying be lazy at your job and try to do nothing; I’m saying when you are anxious and stressed out, take the time you need to reset or else your whole day will go down the anxiety toilet! If you need a break you need a break.

So, this is what I have been doing so far! If you plan on implementing these things above, don’t try to do this all at once – just do it as it comes. I am not trying to accomplish major, specific, set goals towards any of these areas above. My goal instead is to just improve my happiness and health every day. I spend time learning about happiness from experience and other sources, and any time I see an opportunity in line with my happiness journey, I jump on it. I say no to everything else. I can tell you that lately I have been feeling happier than I have felt in a long time, so what I am doing is definitely working! I’ll keep you updated on my happiest-happiness journey as the year continues, and hopefully you can learn from it as well!

Get Happy With …Stretching!

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Welcome to another edition of the “Get Happy” series!

Just as a reminder, the point of the articles in this series is to try different ideas and methods to bring you to a higher baseline happiness level. These “baseline happiness boosters” have cumulative effects, meaning that if done only once, you probably won’t get much benefit out of it. What we really want is the lasting effect of doing it so often that it is engrained into your brain, and it is part of who you are. If you do it on a regular basis to the point where you do it without even thinking, then you will see a huge overall positive surge of benefits!

In this post, we are talking about Stretching! 🙂

Did you know that when your muscles are stretched or exercised they send signals to the brain which help keep your body and mind from degenerating (damage and aging in the body)? That’s right! Even just 15 minutes of stretching every day will allow you to enjoy the benefits of a healthier mind and body as you continue to grow older.

Aside from just the long-term effects, the act of stretching literally loosens your muscles by creating a mild stress response in the body. When you do this, you are bringing oxygen into the muscles which in turn puts you into a better mood due to the increased oxygen and blood flow in your body. You feel better physically and mentally. While you are loosening and relaxing all of your muscles, you are literally eradicating your stress. All day long you have little things that cause you to feel slightly pressured, annoyed, stressed, anxious, etc. The amount and intensity of these emotions you feel vary from day to day, but we all feel them. When you are stressed, your body responds to how you feel by tensing up and tightening its muscles. By stretching, you are reversing this stress process and renewing your body for a more relaxed state of being. When done daily, stretching can really help eliminate stress while increasing your mood and health. It’s completely a win-win!

If you want to take stretching to the next level, you can also activate your spiritual and emotional side of stretching. To do this all you need to do is turn on some relaxing music and take some deep breaths while doing different stretching exercises. You will be surprised how great it feels, and how different it is from stretching without it. And by the way when I say relaxing music, I mean that it has no words. It is just calming music. You are trying to breathe and relax. If you don’t know what kind of music to listen to, then you can always put on some meditation music from YouTube. Just type in music for meditation, or for studying, or relaxing, etc. Usually hours of nice, soothing music shows up. You can also do Yoga. This has long been known for its mind body spirit connection. If you don’t want to sign up for a class, Yoga with Adrian is a YouTube channel and you can learn Yoga from your home if you have never done it before.

Most people say that your muscles and bones and everything else just gets weaker as you age, but research hasn’t actually proven that to be completely true. Yes, as you age, you do begin to degenerate from damage in the body and brain (that’s what aging is, damage. There are no aging genes). But that doesn’t explain how 80-year-old men are able to become just as fit and muscular as people in their 20’s. There have been a few studies based solely on these facts, asking how this is possible for some people at 80 while others are struggling mentally and physically at 50.

The secret has to do with physiology, or how people move their bodies on a daily basis. The reason most people’s muscles begin degenerating in their 40’s is not necessarily because they are aging. If that was the case then everyone at 40 would have this problem, and we all know that not everyone does. So what is it? The answer lies within the most basic concept. Move your body every day. Most people in their 40’s and up have set their habits and sit at a job all day to come home and sit around some more. Where’s the exercise?! Nowhere to be seen.

The people who have the least amount of problems with their bodies and minds as they grow older are usually the people who live more active lifestyles. It doesn’t matter whether that is walking, running, lifting weights, stretching, yoga, biking, whatever. As long as you are moving your body daily for at least 15 minutes, you are setting your present moment and your future up for lasting success, happiness, and health.

SO, by stretching for just 15 minutes every day your body, mind, and spirit will all be much happier and healthier. Try it out yourself! Just remember to not over-stretch. If it starts to actually hurt, then you have overstretched. That is an injury. Don’t stretch more than your body is comfortable with. Flexibility comes with time and consistency.

Here are some other benefits I noticed from daily stretching (which I have done for about 3 months now):

  • Greatly reduces the risk of injuries as long as you go at your own pace when you stretch to avoid over-stretching.
  • For women around their menstrual cycle, no back pain anymore and reduced cramps by 80% with the remaining cramps at only 60% of the usual intensity.
  • Puts you into peak state. In other words, it relaxes you and puts you into a centered state of being.
  • Increases flexibility a lot
  • Puts you in tune with your body, so that when you stretch every day you notice every little difference in your muscles or whatever else each day.

If you want to create a better life for yourself, start with your physiology. In other words, start with moving your body every day. I recommend starting with stretching because it is one of the easiest ways to move your body (compared to other exercise). Many health problems are created by people to themselves because they don’t take care of their own selves. One particular area where people are pretty bad at taking care of themselves is exercise. But it is one of the most important. Moving your body and eating Happy Food is key to an extraordinary life and a higher baseline happiness level.

 

To your utmost happiness and health,

-Alex 🙂

ps: One of my favorite ways to stretch is to use the Yokebar. I can usually get a deeper stretch and feel better in 15 minutes using the Yokebar than if I did 30 minutes of floor stretching. The Yokebar is used and known best for its intense workouts and exercises you can do to train like a pro, in fact it is even in olympic and military gyms. But honestly, I have used it for more than three years to work out and I still like it best for stretching.

 

Get Happy With…Happy Food!

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Welcome to the first edition of the new “Get Happy With…” series!

In these articles, we’ll analyze a bunch of ideas, both new and old, to see what kind of positive impact they can have on your life. Each of these happiness ideas and methods have cumulative effects, meaning that if done only once, you probably won’t get much benefit out of it. BUT if you do it on a regular basis and get into the habit of doing it, then you will see a huge overall positive surge of benefits! By putting these articles into action, you will see a large cumulative increase in your baseline happiness level (explained below). In this post, we are talking about Happy Food! Enjoy 🙂

What is this ‘Happy Food’ I keep mentioning?

Happy food is food that you can eat to help you have a higher baseline happiness level every day. Your baseline happiness level is determined by your typical daily mood. Answer this:

How happy do you usually feel from day to day on a scale of 1-10 (ten being the highest mood)?

Whatever number you chose, that is your baseline happiness level – the mood that you operate in most of the time. Now, it may not be where you want it to be and I’m sure that everybody would like it to be higher :). But how? This is where Happy Food comes in! When you eat Happy Food, each ingredient works hard to promote physical and mental health in your body, which in turn boosts your mood. When this type of food is eaten on a daily basis, your mood is also boosted daily, raising your baseline happiness level to new heights!

Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Truth About High School, about Happy Food:

 You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” According to Deadly Vibe (issue 205), “Every day an average adult loses – wait for it – 300 billion cells and the body has to replace them from the nutrients we receive. So, yes, in a sense, we are quite literally what we eat”. By eating better, you can live better.

It turns out that the food you put into your body directly affects your mood. This is big. It is such a simple fact that everyone seems to overlook because of all the hype with diets. What people should really be doing is eating for happiness and overall health. The next time you are trying to decide what to eat, rather than ask yourself, “What do I feel like eating?”, instead ask, “how do I want to feel after this meal?”.  This is a much better and easier way to go about eating food that is good for you and that you will also enjoy. Life is too short to be on awful diets and to eat awful-tasting ‘health’ foods… but it is also too short to always be eating junk food too. Eating junk food is exactly that: putting junk into your body. If you put junk into your body, do you think that you are going to feel great after eating it? Probably not. Why? Because you can’t get quality out of something that is junk. Eating tons of junk food all the time will literally shorten your life and you will very likely become sick in your (somewhat) old age because your body needs real, quality, and healthy food to function at its best. If the body can’t be at its best, then you can’t either and as a result, you will have more health and happiness problems. So eat happy food and ask yourself the right question before eating: “How do I want to feel after this meal?”. Of course, the food you eat isn’t the only thing that affects your mood, but it is a big one and it is constantly overlooked.

So all of this lofty non-actionable stuff I’ve written so far is nice, but I’m sure you’re wondering what the actual food behind this ‘Happy Food’ phenomenon is. Well, you have come to the right place! While I am not going to go into detail YET about why these foods are considered ‘happy food’ (these explanations will come in future posts), I will name some. Ok here it goes: Meat and fish, vegetables and legumes, and fruits and nuts/seeds. BUT The meat must be quality, organic, grass-fed, and local (I’ll explain why in another post soon but this is really important!). The vegetables, nuts, and fruit must be organic as well or from your own garden. The fish is best if it was wild, or caught by you. Why do I say all this? Am I some kind of health freak?

Nope!

But I have done my research. I could care less about organic except that in general, in non-organic meat and other produce, there are a lot of bad things done to the food to make it grow faster, bigger, and cheaper (understandably for higher profit margins). In organic produce, they do this as well, but they do it more naturally and they use healthier products to achieve these results. It is pretty obvious that pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones are not good for you to consume on a regular basis like this, even though many people do. Even though we eat small amounts of them, eating these damaging things does add up and it ultimately has a negative cumulative effect on the body and mind.

But just because a lot of people do it doesn’t mean that it is right, healthy, or the best for you personally. Do you remember being a kid trying to use the ‘but everyone else is doing/did it’ and your parents responding to you with, “Well, if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”. Same thing here. Of course the correct response is, “Well how high is the bridge?” :). And that is something you have to ask yourself here as well. How high are the stakes I’m up against? How much risk is involved if I continue to do what everyone else is doing? What evidence do I have to change my ways and is the alternative worth it to me?

These answers only come with careful consideration and research. Your own research. It all really just comes down to your own values. Just because something is right for someone else doesn’t mean it is right for you. Happy Food is right for me and so I like to promote it because I think that it can help others as well… especially because many people don’t really know what is going on behind the scenes in much of the food industry, or they intentionally ignore it because they would just rather not know and continue eating the same things. The problem is that there are bad consequences for people who aren’t careful, such as inflammation in the body, health problems later on in life, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, etc. Many health problems are linked directly to diet – so the type of food and the quality of the food you are consuming is of utmost importance. Your first wealth is health.

I’ll be posting more detailed articles in the future about specific foods and why they are considered ‘Happy Food’, along with information about the food industry that they don’t want us to know. It is time to get healthy! It is time to face what we all have been ignoring to some degree as a society… real, quality, healthy, food. By eating Happy Food, we can not only ignite our passion for optimal lifestyle health, but we will also find ourselves at a higher baseline happiness level as well. It really is a win-win! Stay tuned for future info…

🙂

To living your healthiest life,

-Alex

ps: If you liked this post, share it with someone who would find value in it! Let’s help each other become our happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest. 🙂

pps: If you want to learn more about real, healthy, and quality food, then here are some options:

  • Read Real Food by Nina Planck – She talks all about the benefits of real food and the dangers of industrial foods, all of which she backs by valid scientific research, history, and and experience.
  • Watch Food Inc. – This is a great documentary about the food industry and a little peak into what is really going on behind the grocery shelves.
  • Research on Google Scholar – Google Scholar is a place to find scientific studies and research done for any topic. Just type “google scholar” into Google and then search for what you want. BUT A WARNING: Be careful to check who sponsors each study. Many large organizations, such as big companies, the government, political parties, etc. sponsor studies and make sure that the studies get specific results in their favor. Yep, that’s a thing.
  • Follow @lifetools_official on Instagram – I post a lot of information about healthy food on there and it is another resource that I know you will find value in.