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The 2 Most Important Things You Should Never Take For Granted

The 2 Most Important Things You Should Never Take For Granted

Why is that sometimes we need to suffer from adversity or experience the pain through others to appreciate the things we often take for granted?

There are plenty of stories and experiences out there from which we can learn. Viktor Frankl’s book Mans Search for Meaning is one classic example where he discusses survival and hope in a Nazi concentration camp. It is a truly inspirational book.

Reon Schutte is another who was held captive in a brutal Zimbabwean prison for 13 years where he came to understand the truths that allowed him to be free.

Unfortunately only once it’s all taken away can life be broken down simply into what is truly important and most valued. Part of living an enlightened life in a state of happiness and at peace is the ability to acknowledge these attributes of life which shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In fact, it takes time and effort to practice being grateful and achieving this state of well-being which is well explored in Buddhism and other religions. Each of us need to work our own way to practice gratitude – whether that be through prayer, reminders, a gratitude journal or even through meditation or yoga.

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We shouldn’t have to experience pain to be able to appreciate the most things we do have now.

Here are the top two most important aspects of life which shouldn’t be taken for granted.

1. Freedom

Remember Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the Hollywood film Braveheart when he yell’s “FREEDOM?” He fought for freedom for his people as have many leaders have through the course of humanity. Only once you’ve been restricted physically or emotionally can you fully appreciate the feeling of being free.

Whether that be physically restricted as in having the ability to roam free, to come and go without restriction or freedom from physical abuse and to live without fear for our safety. In many cultures and cities, that fear still exists. The feeling of being liberated and free from oppression, imprisonment and slavery. People may even feel these traits at work or at home, with their boss, partner at home or with family to some extent. Sure we may not technically be slaves, but sometimes it may feel that way. Luckily though we have the choice in setting ourselves free in such circumstances. We have the freedom to choose and take action. We have the keys to our own shackles.

Emotional Freedom – the ability to freedom to feel and think without being harassed, abused, to speak freely. Freedom to act, choose and say. Freedom to laugh, think, say, act, feel, criticise, smile, cry and more. Have you ever felt that you couldn’t express yourself freely? This is a form of oppression.

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Imagine your thoughts weren’t able to be expressed. There’s a long list of martyrs who have fought long and hard to be heard freely. Today we live in a digital world where we can say what we think on Facebook, Twitter and more and we can influence opinion from behind a keyboard.

Freedom means the ability to use your five senses: to see, hear, taste, smell and touch. This sounds really simple but its fundamental to freedom. Imagine being unable to eat chocolate for the rest of your life? I am sure you would probably cope,, but then imagine you were only given one bowl of vegetables a day. Reon Schutte was able to retrain his body to not feel starved and be at peace with a lack of nutrition and still eats very minimal since being free. Our western lifestyle offers us indulgences beyond recognition that many parts of the world still suffer from.

By appreciating our freedom we can experience pleasure in many simple day to day events which we would normally take for granted. “Wake up and smell the roses” is a great way to start and finish each day while acknowledging moments during the day in which we would normally otherwise overlook.

The same goes for your health.

2. Health

Why do we need to be standing at a funeral only to once again be reminded that our health is all we have? Without that we have nothing. Once we are in a hospital bed, or sick at home do we appreciate being mobile and feeling physically capable of doing the things we love doing.

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No one likes being in bed for two weeks with an illness let alone on their death bed at a too early an age.

Appreciating good health should be a daily occurrence rather than an occurrence once we experience suffering, pain, illness or loss of life. Most people leave a funeral thinking about how they will change something about their life, only to click back in their day to day routines by the time they are on the road home.

Equally so, we wake up with our physical health and our mental capacity to function. Our minds are a powerful tool. Without our minds, we can’t function to our potential. If we are mentally ill, sick or weak, we are not at our fully functioning best. In times of adversity, we should awaken with the mindset that we have our mind and body available to us and its only up to our levels of determination to turn things around!

Sure we can overcome physical and mental illness and do our best. There are plenty of happy, successful people who are physically incapacitated, but I’m sure most would prefer to be fully functioning if they had the choice.

With freedom and health we can do anything. The rest is easy. Without freedom and health, we have nothing.

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Here’s a scenario. If you had a choice to save yourself or someone you love and pay for their freedom or health would you spend everything you had? Let’s say it’s a ransom or a lifesaving treatment. It’s probably an easy answer. Losing everything financially to save yourself or someone close to you to be free and healthy to live is clearly worth losing everything right? Everything else can be rebuilt, hence this shows where money sits in the scheme of things.  Ironically though it’s money that would be required to ‘buy’ health and freedom in this scenario.

There is a list of a million other things we take for granted each day, like the ability to have internet and be online! How annoying is it when email doesn’t work or your internet crashes for a moment. See how trivial these things become when they are put in perspective!

The trick is to recognize and appreciate moments of ‘now’. Life is made up of lots of moments of ‘now.’ As it becomes habit, you can reach a state of higher contentment. Once the top 2 ticket items are well acknowledged you might find that your level of happiness flows down the list of things to be grateful for. However, let’s not wait until we are in solitary confinement or on our death beds to fully appreciate our freedom and health.

Featured photo credit: photopin via photopin.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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