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How to Win, How to Fail, and How to Be Lucky

How to Win, How to Fail, and How to Be Lucky

How to Win

The results in your life are a direct reflection of your thoughts manifested through your actions, which is one reason why so many of us feel like we are in one spot in our lives when we’re really in another—we keep thinking one thing and doing another. So today, take a moment to think about what is and what is not working. If you need some help, start with your physical health, and move on down to your personal relationships; which ones are contributing positively to your life and which ones are not? What’s working and what’s not working within your career or life purpose? Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, what’s working, and what needs to change? How can you change your life and create more winning opportunities for yourself and others?

We all live our lives with prejudices, and one of the biggest prejudices we hold has to do with ourselves; namely the things we are and are not capable of. The mind will always go back to what it knows from its past and what is comfortable and familiar to it. Your noodle doesn’t like to be confused, and it doesn’t like change. It wants things to stay the same, for you to feel safe and secure. There’s just one problem with that: the only thing constant in life is change.

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I don’t know how you feel about this, but I personally prefer to take responsibility for everything that happens in my life—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I like to think that nothing outside of me can influence my experience, and that no person thing can cause me to feel annoyed, anxious, pressured, happy, excited, sad, or uncomfortable—only I can decide these things. I get to choose how I react and respond to everything that is happening in my life. Where I am now and the direction I am going are dependent variables that are waiting for me to decide who it is I want to be and where it is I want to go.

The only way to get better at this life thing is by doing it. What do you do when you want to get good at something? You do it. You make it a priority; a priority above anything and everything else and get to practicing. Notice you won’t feel this way about work, as work as such a negative connotation to it: when you hear the word you probably think of something you don’t like or want to do. How many times have you said something like, “I can’t, I have to go to work” or “I have to go work out.” Forget that jazz! Creating more wins in your life involves getting to do stuff that’s enjoyable, pleasurable, and allows you the opportunity to constantly be learning and experiencing yourself in new ways.

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How to Attain Your Goals

  • Educate: Use those whom you admire, look up to, or see as heroes as motivation and inspiration. Take what they’re doing and accomplishing as a reminder that you can do it too. Read constantly: there should always be a book under your arm, and not just on topics you’re interested in, but also on subjects you don’t understand. Biographies, history, fiction and non-fiction, milk cartons if you need to—just read.
  • Take action: Actively participate in your life by taking small steps towards your goals. Break things down into tiny steps that can be practiced every day to allow you to build momentum. Some preach intensity, but I like to talk about consistency; I bet you don’t have to think about how to tie your shoes anymore—it’s effortless, easy, and requires little to no energy or thought. What’s one big thing you want to accomplish? Trying to exercise? Start with 5 minutes every day at the same time and work up form there.
  • Reflect: What went right? What went wrong? How can I build on these experiences to create a better tomorrow for not only myself but someone else as well.

How to Fail

Do you ever get the feeling that no one cares about your success? Yeah, I feel like that too sometimes, but guess what? That’s totally awesome because no one really cares about your failures either. They may care a little bit and say all the right things to convince you they care, but essentially they have their own successes and failures to worry about. You know what? It doesn’t really matter because no one is going to care as much about your achievements or your faults as much as you do.

Here’s a challenge, and it may be something you’ve never experienced before: I want you to think about something you want to achieve badly right now, close your eyes and imagine yourself putting everything you have into trying to achieve the outcome you’d like. Now here’s the kicker: picture yourself failing. Yup, you heard it right—I want you to see yourself as a failure. It’s not so bad, right? Julien Smith, the author of the book Flinch said it best, “For most of us the fact remains that the fall is not that far or hard, so take that leap and make it happen.” In order to make those necessary changes and take that leap you have to convince yourself that the benefit outweighs the cost and the best way for most of us to do that is by starting small.

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Tips for Failure:

  • Blame others: Never take responsibility: blame others, circumstances, and resources for your current situation. Assume everything is out of your control and you have no say in the matter.
  • Make excuses: Use as many as you can as often as possible. “Not enough time” is my personal favorite. The more you make the easier and the more comforting failure feels, it makes everything ok.

Be Lucky

There’s no such thing as luck: I’m sorry it just doesn’t exist. In Sebastian Marshall’s book Ikigai he references how life is made up of predictable outcomes that are either more likely to happen or less likely to happen based on probability. There’s no such thing as good luck or bad luck; there is only a more likely or less likely probability that something may or may not happen, and this holds true for anything you want to accomplish in your life. The good news is that you have influence over whether or not these things happen by making choices that put you in position for the more likely stuff to occur, as opposed to the less likely stuff.

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How to Increase Your Luck:

  • Pinpoint: Clearly identify your destination and accept that there are countless ways to get there. There’s an equation I love that goes like this: 100% intention + 0% mechanism = Results. What this means is that there are a million and one ways to do the same thing but you will never achieve it or “get lucky” if you never get started.
  • Get unlucky first: Make as many mistakes as you can, as long as they are not severely detrimental to your health and well being. Keep learning what not to do and eventually you’ll perfect what to do.

So again, just think about your life today and what’s working or not working. What are you going to do about it? Will you create tiny wins, will you commit to fail, or will you chalk everything up to dumb luck?

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Justin Miller

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Last Updated on June 15, 2018

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

Video Summary

Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

    Sit Properly

    If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

    Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

      Credit: StayWow

      Stand Up More

      Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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      Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

      Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

      Or get a standing desk.

      One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

      Exercise for Lower Back Pain

      Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

      But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

      The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

      Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

      Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

      This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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      Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

      Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

      There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

      Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

      I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

      Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

      If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

      Where to Start

      The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

      Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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      If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

      Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

      Keep a straight back.

      Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

      Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

      I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

      If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

      Stay Away From the Back Pain League

      Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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