The fourth Pillar of Joy: Acceptance

This is going to be a tough one.  The fourth pillar in the Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams, is Acceptance.

I really like this chapter, it makes you think a lot about life and it is a hard one to wrap your head around.  It starts with this great quote often used by the Dalai Lama: “Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied?  And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?”  The author states that within this short teaching lies the profound essence of the Dalai Lama approach to life.  This is a very heavy and deep statement.  Why be unhappy if something can be fixed?  Basically do not cry over spilled milk.  And then what is the point of anger or resentment if something cannot be fixed.  If it truly cannot be fixed why are you worrying about it?  We need to learn to accept, or we put ourselves in danger of perpetual unhappiness.

I really like this next point they make: “once we see life in a wider perspective, once we are able to see our role in its drama with a degree of humility, and once we are able to laugh at ourselves, we then come to the fourth and final quality of mind, which is the ability to accept our life in all its pain, imperfection and beauty.”  Chew on that for a moment…. Acceptance is the fourth quality because it is the hardest to achieve.  We fight things and blame others because it protects us from the fact that we made a mistake.   It is not easy to admit we were wrong and we develop these defense mechanism at an early age.  I walked into the kitchen the other day and there was cup of juice on the floor, my 4 year old points at my 2 year old and says he did it, i look at the 2 year old and he has a full cup of juice sitting in front of him.  Our instinct is to protect us from harm, in this case it took a disapproving look, a rag and some time wiping up a mess.   We have to overcome our nature in order to have acceptance, but it is the only way to have true Joy in life.

The arch bishop chimes in and adds:  “We are meant to live in joy.  This does not mean that life will be easy or painless.  It means that we can turn our face to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through.  We cannot succeed by denying what exists.  The acceptance of reality is the only place from which change can begin.”    He also said the question should not be how do we escape a hardship?  The question is : How can we use this as something positive?

He says acceptance allows us to move into the fullness of joy.  It allows us to engage with life on its own terms rather than rail against the fact that life is not as we would like.  The Dalai Lama tells us that stress and anxiety come from OUR expectations of how life SHOULD be.  So much of our suffering comes from our reactions to people, events and circumstances.  They say acceptance allows us to relax, see clearly and respond appropriately, but we must respond.

This does not mean that we accept terrible things and try not to stop them.  This is not pacifism, it is powerful.  They don’t deny that we should take life seriously and work hard to change what needs changing.  The Dalai Lama says “You must not hate those who do harmful things. The compassionate thing is to do what you can to stop them – for they are harming themselves as well as those who suffer for their actions.

Acceptance to me means standing up for what I believe in, working to change the world for the better but understanding that I cannot control other peoples actions, only my own thoughts and actions.  It also means not holding grudges, because the weight of a grudge is heavy on your soul and prevents us from being happy.

So what do you need to accept in your life?

The next four pillars are pillars of the heart and the first one will be forgiveness.

.

Posted on Leave a comment

humor

A man is sitting at a bar when a lady walks up. She says, ‘This is your lucky night. I’ve got a special deal for you. I’ll do absolutely anything you want for $300 as long as you can say it in three words.’ The guy thinks about it and replies, ‘Hey, why not?’ He pulls his wallet out of his pocket and lays $300 on the bar, turns to the lady and says slowly. ‘Paint…my…house.’

The third Pillar of Joy is my favorite, Humor.  I love humor because nothing
brings a smile to my face or joy to my heart like humor.  I personally think that humor is the ultimate expression of our soul.  It feels right to truly laugh.   I cannot watch horror movies.  I just don’t enjoy them; they freak me out.  That said, I have no issue sitting and laughing for an hour watching a comedy.  Or, have you ever laughed so hard for such a long time that your face actually started to hurt?  You probably had tears of joy rolling down your face too.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts it all in perspective by saying ” Ultimately it is about being able to laugh at yourself and being able to not take yourself so seriously.  ”

They also talked about teasing someone you love.  This interested me because I wholeheartedly tease my wife and kids.  It is never mean or belittling but more playful.  They say it can be a statement of trust in a relationship.  It is an indication that there is enough reservoir of goodwill that you are really saying, ‘I trust you.  You trust me enough to know that I am not undermining you or disrespecting you.  I love you.’  This is the intent, but I should double check that with my wife.

The archbishop then eloquently stated “laughter lifts us up, allows us to recognize and laugh about our shared humility, our shared vulnerabilities, our shared frailties.  Life is hard, you know, and laughter is how we come to terms with all the ironies and cruelties and uncertainties that we face.”  Wow that is amazing.  I really think that this sums up humor beautifully.  It is not just laughing at something funny. It is sharing something with somebody else and saying that there are terrible things everywhere in this world but we are going to embrace the good things and spread joy.  Laughter truly brings people together.  It cuts through tension or awkward silence like a hot knife through butter.   Try starting a tough conversation with humor and see how it goes.  I bet it will surprise you.

They end the chapter by saying laughter, like everything else, is a skill that needs to be learned.  Start by laughing at yourself, it is really the easiest place to begin.  Remember we are all human, we make mistakes and we need social interactions.  So instead of bragging and watching people roll their eyes at you, why not try telling people how you locked your keys in your car.  Or how you dropped your phone in the toilet… that was my second phone in two months.  The first time I left it on the roof of my car with my wallet.  Luckily I found my wallet; i was not so lucky with my phone.  Needless to say I now own cell phone insurance.

It’s about humility.  Laugh at yourself and don’t be so pompous or serious,  “If you start looking for the humor in life you will find it.”

A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later there’s another knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says: ‘What the hell was that all about?’

Posted on Leave a comment

Humility

A man received a promotion to the position of Vice President of the company he worked for. The promotion went to his head, and for weeks on end he bragged to anyone and everyone that he was now VP. His bragging came to an abrupt halt when his wife, so embarrassed by his behavior, said, “Listen Bob, it’s not that big a deal. These days everyone’s a vice president. Why they even have a vice president of peas down at the supermarket!”

Somewhat deflated, Bob rang the local supermarket to find out if this was true. “Can I speak to the Vice President of peas please?” he asked, to which the reply came: “of fresh or frozen?”          -unknown

The second pillar of Joy in The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams is humility.  Humility is a funny thing. It is not something we can claim to have, but everyone around you knows if you have it.  Being humble makes you naturally approachable and allows you to easily connect with other people.  This can help you be much more effective, in your relationships, at work and creating new opportunities.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu remind us that we are all human, we are all born the same way and we will all die the same.  True that some people are born with talents or gifts, but as humans we can all aspire to great things.

I really like the point that the Dalai Lama makes:  “none of us are immune to the human traits of pride or ego, but arrogance really comes from insecurity.  The need to feel we are bigger than another comes from a nagging fear that we are smaller in some way.”  The Archbishop Tutu then warned that at times we confuse humility with timidity.  Holding back our gifts gives little glory to the one who has blessed us with them.  Humility is the recognition that our gifts are from God and not fully developed on our own.  Humility also allows you to celebrate the gifts that other people have. If you want to see joy on someone’s face, give them a heartfelt compliment.  Celebrate one of their gifts and you will make their day.

Humility does not mean you should deny your own gifts.  I think this is beautifully said by the Archbishop, “God uses each of us in our own unique way, and even if you are not the best one, you may be the one who is needed.”

It is through humility that we can accept Joy.  If you truly think you are the best at something and believe if you are not the best then you are nothing, you are in for a sad life.  No athlete is the best forever and no business stays at the top.  Look at gravity, what goes up must come down.   This is the nature of life.  Instead we should accept the gifts given to us, use them to the best of our ability and enjoy the ride!!

Next pillar is humor, the pressure is on to find a great joke….

Posted on Leave a comment

Finding Joy everyday

I recently read an interesting book called The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Douglas Abrams.  It was a collaboration between His Holiness ,the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  Both men have been through extraordinary hardship themselves and with their people.  Yet through faith and an extraordinary view on life they have found ways to not only survive but inspire millions to have love, forgiveness and faith.

Look at these two icons of faith, they are 80+ years old and finding joy in life every single day!

They talked about 8 pillars of happiness, 4 of the mind and 4 of the heart.  The mind consisted of: perspective, humility, humor and acceptance.  The heart qualities are forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.  I thought it would be interesting to highlight each point, I mean who does not want more Joy in their life.

Perspective:

Our perspective shapes our reaction to every situation.  If we take a different perspective we get a different view.   They challenge us to take a wider perspective when faced with a conflict.  Try not focus on yourself but on others, which is not an easy thing to do.  When we look at things from the other parties perspective we have a chance at understanding instead of anger or victimizing ourselves.  Remember people are innately good and most conflicts are a misunderstanding.

They also referenced an interesting study done by Larry Scherwitz.  This study  found people who think or talk with self-involvement; “I” and “me” and “mine” instead of the wider perspective of “we” and “us” and “ours” actually had a greater risk for a heart attack.    Self-involved thinking leads to an increase in blood pressure, stress levels, depression and anxiety.  When they looked further they found subjects had a higher rate of coronary artery disease, high risk of a second heart attack and higher chance of not surviving either heart attack.  Now if that is not a scary thought, I don’t what is.  Thinking about yourself and talking about yourself constantly to others actually physiologically increases your risk of heart disease and on top of that makes you less happy.

Life is full of happy and sad moments, that is part of life.  Our perspective lets us choose what we focus on.

“That car cut me off!!”  you probably weren’t the only one and who knows why they are driving like a jerk maybe they are late to work or rushing to the hospital…maybe they are jerk.

“why is this person yelling at me I didn’t do anything”  maybe they lost their job or are having trouble at home leading to having a bad day.  I am sure that person did wake up and think, “you know what today I am going to get super angry and yell at someone.”

They say having a wider perspective does not mean you let bad things happen to you or you do not work to your fix problems.  It means that when you approach the situation or before you react, you take a moment to think why it may be happening. So much easier said than done, I can’t count the times I react to something and then a moment later think it through realizing I have done nothing but make matters worse.

But if we can do this, if we can be more humble, we can experience more joy.  Thinking with a wider perspective makes us realize that we are all human.  As humans we are a social creature and we are all on this planet together.  Don’t you think we should work together?

Next pillar is humility…

 

Format ImagePosted on Leave a comment

Inspiration from a really bizarre person!

I love getting inspiration from places that you never ever thought could possibly produce an ounce of common sense more or less inspiration.  For example: a bowling ball, I could stare at it for an hour and do nothing but lose 60 minutes of my life.   I had a moment recently that almost caused me to fall over.  My wife was watching the Voice (okay so was I, I am a closet Adam Levine fan) and Miley Cyrus said something that really hit me.  Yes, the same Miley Cyrus that started as an innocent Disney girl and slowly turned into this:

How can this pop icon that trolls for publicity possibly be an inspiration…well maybe i am judging a book by it’s cover…but probably not.

She said, in a very emotional moment with one of her singers: “life is not what you choose or what you are given but what you make of it.”   Wow, this is really good.  At first I didn’t know if it was shock or truly a great inspirational statement.  I immediately searched the internet and could not find it quoted by someone else, so it is possible that she actually came up with this.

I originally had an issue with hre statement that life is not what we choose, because I believe that all actions have consequences.  We always have a choice and that choice has a big impact on our lives and on others.  But have you ever made a mistake?  If you are reading this you are human unless Watson is reading this.  As humans we make mistakes…everyday.

I believe life is about our choices but if you make a bad choice it is what you do next, “it’s what you make of it.”   Do you own up to the mistake, do you work to fix it and make it right?  Or do ignore it and pretend it never happened.

Life certainly is not what we are given:

I am not trying to show you that someone always has it worse than you, but merely trying to remind you that you are blessed and talented.   If these amazing people can overcome their disabilities, imagine what you and I can do with half the resolve.  Life is this amazing journey of finding where your passion meets your beliefs, then never giving up on them.  And remember, everyone fails so don’t be afraid of it, make something of it.

Life is not always what you choose, it is what you make of your choices.

Life is not what you are given it is what you create with the talents that you have.

LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT.

I tip my hat to Miley for that one.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

The Pronator really works!!

So to prove that something works we need to see evidence. (Warning: this is slightly nerdy, so proceed with caution)

I had the chance to go back to Marquette University this weekend and take part in a Continuing Education Course.   I attended Marquette for Physical Therapy school so it was very nostalgic to go re-live the feeling of spending countless hours in a lecture hall.  The course was presented by two great professors:  Dr. Starsky and Dr. Neumann.  If you ever get a chance to hear them talk, go for it.

Image result for marquette university

The coolest part of the course for me was a chance to see the Pronator in action.  For one of the labs we used EMG (electromyograph) to test muscle activation during specific exercises.  That is a really geeky way to see how well an exercise is actually working a target muscle.  Here is what is it looks like:

Image result for biopac emg
This is not real Pronator data

Basically the higher the spike the stronger the muscle contraction.

I could always feel the difference the Pronator made with exercise but now I had the chance to actually see what happens through a fancy computer system.  We tested two muscle groups: the rotator cuff (supra and infraspinatus)  and the scapular re-tractors: mid trap/rhomboids.  Both of these muscle groups are essential for our shoulder and are used in almost every arm motion.  When these muscles become weak they can also contribute to a lot of shoulder problems.

The exercise that I always thought was the most effective is the one pictured below:img_3237

I can feel the muscle burn in my shoulder and it was much harder then holding a dumbbell.   Looking at the results, The Pronator nearly doubled the activation of the shoulder external rotators and scapular stabilizers.  It was awesome to watch the computer screen as the lines started to go off the page.

Some students from Marquette actually did a small study last year with a couple exercises and this was one of them.  They showed really similar results.  The difference was that they had three subjects and compared the Pronator to a standard hammer and holding a dumbbell in your hand.

Here are their results:

screenclip

screenclip screenclip

As they say: “the proof is in the pudding” Actually, I am not sure how pudding ever proved anything, but it is still very cool to see that scientifically The Pronator really makes a difference!

And if you don’t believe science then I encourage you to try it for yourself.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Patterson Medical story

If you follow me on social media, you will have noticed that a pretty awesome thing just happen with The Pronator.  It was added to the largest distributor of rehab supplies in the world and the opportunity to help so many people.  Yes it maybe now one of thousands of products in the catalog but still a really huge deal.  The reason it is such a big deal, is because The Pronator is now visible to thousands, maybe tens of thousands of clinics around the global.  For every therapist in one of these clinics they can see 10 plus patients a day!  Which gives The Pronator a chance to help over a hundred thousand people every year.  That is what really makes me excited, now The Pronator can start helping more and more people everyday! I set out on this journey to help people and make a difference.  Helping people get back to work, being able to play with kids or to be better at a sport they love.

My history with Patterson is actually almost as old as The Pronator.  They were one of the first companies to see the value of the Pronator from the start.  I reached out to them as soon as I had applied for a patent and had a functioning product.  Right away they were interested.  One of my concerns was manufacturing. What if they started ordering lots of units and I could not keep up? At the time I was working with a local machine shop and assembling them in my garage.  They introduced me to one of their manufacturers and we worked out a licensing deal. This company also told me they would help finalize the design.  This was amazing and everything I was hoping for!  It sounded too good to be true.   I learned an important lesson then if a deal sounds too good to be true….it is.  Things were not quite as magical as I thought and after a couple months I cancelled the licensing deal.  This was a great decision but a scary one because I was afraid to lose Patterson as a distributor.  The deal was officially over in September of 2015.  Things still got worse, the manufacturer would not sell back any product or supplies that they had.  This left me with nothing.  It took three months, or what felt like eternity, for me to get back up and running.  The Pronator is actually better now that I took it back over, but now I am doing all the work again.

I never lost contact and never stopped trying to work with Patterson.  They were open to the idea but as a company they were going through a buyout, which really made them focus inward and my product was pushed back.  It was not until August of 2016 when everything finally got put back in place.  An entire year passed by! Here is the link: (I check it out every once and awhile to make sure it is still there) http://www.pattersonmedical.com/app.aspx?cmd=getProduct&key=IF_530403

There was a lot of good that came from this, first of all I learned a lot about patience and perseverance.  Which for me is impressive, just ask my wife.  It took a year and hundred emails/phone calls.  I had to file pages of paperwork, double my insurance policy, and redo a lot of work, but it was all worth it.  Taking back control of The Pronator increased my margins, even though I lost 3 entire months of sales and a whole year with Patterson.  It also has made me realize that when your product become one of many products in a company, they don’t care as much as you.  No fault of theirs, they have a company to run.  I realized that if The Pronator was going to get developed I would need to do it.  I was the one who invented the idea. I developed the first product and convinced a company like Patterson to believe.   I was also going to be the one to finish the job I started.

I am very excited for the future of The Pronator!  This is going to involve a brand new super kick ass version and a bright future with a distributor like Patterson Medical.

Sorry for the long narrative, I just thought that it was a fairly interesting story and gave some background on the recent events.

JR

Posted on Leave a comment

It is what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light….

I love it!!!! Under Amour you nailed it!!!

Let me repeat that, “It is what you do the dark, that puts you in the light.”

First off Michael Phelps is “The Man,” talk about a role model for sacrificing to be the best.  We all get to see Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic Athlete in the history of the games, stand on the podium to receive a Gold Medal while the National Anthem plays in the background.  But what we don’t see is what he does every day for the four years prior to the Games.  He works his ass off.

His peak training looks something like this: he phelpsswims 80,000+ meters a week, which is nearly 50 miles!!  He practices twice a day, or more if he’s training at altitude.  Phelps trains for five-six hours a day, six days a week and then weight trains 2-3 days on top of that.   He eats 12000 calories A DAY and still looks like this.

It is the hard work and preparation you do every day that sets you up to succeed.  Success is not given, it is earned.

 

I think this quote by Amy Hempel sums it up perfectly:
“There’s no such thing as luck.  Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”

What are you preparing for???

Format VideoPosted on Leave a comment

My awe of the Internet!

A quick disclaimer: This post is not intended to be boastful, but to truly reflect my amazement or better yet my admiration of how incredibly advanced and small the world has become.

In the last week I had the great opportunity to sell a Pronator to a lad in Herning, Denmark and then to an awesome person in Clarinda, Iowa.  In fact, just this year, Pronator’s have sold in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Queensland, Australia.  Plus several other countries outside these Untied States of America.

world map

I have never been to these countries and I don’t even know a single person living there.  For me to fly and talk to these people or even make a magazine ad, then translate it into 4 different languages, find a magazine to buy ad space and hopefully make a sale…. That would be incredibly expensive and time consuming if not impossible for one person to do.

Yet thanks to Al Gore’s invention of the Internet, selling to Brazil is as easy as Iowa.  People from around the world could view my videos or read this very blog post with a click of button.  You don’t need a million dollar budget or an office in the European Union, you just need a computer and an internet connection.  Then the entire world opens up literally right in front of your eyes.  That is so amazing!!!!

I am so blessed and thankful to be part of this world.  It is a gift to have these opportunities that lay in front of every single person reading this post…no matter what country you are in.

world palm of hand

Format ImagePosted on Leave a comment

Do you think you could ride this bike?

Do you remember learning to ride a bicycle?  Of course not, you were 6 years old.  Have you ever heard the expression ‘its as easy as riding a bike?’  I bet when you first started it was not that easy, but by practicing, falling and getting back up, you did it.

This is a really crazy video that gave me a whole new perspective on learning to ride a bike.  Please watch this 8 minutes video and take the time to challenge the way you look at the world.

First thing, I want to try this!!!  I am not sure what you learned from this but my big take home message was, if you truly want to change it will be harder than you can imagine.

 

What I really love about this video is the other 2 great lessons that it teaches.  The first: “knowledge does not equal understanding.”  He had the knowledge to know that the bike was backwards but his brain had a pathway already set that would not allow him to understand this.  He had to spend 8 MONTHS, re-learning a basic task that he mastered when he was 6.  Just because I think that I understand something doesn’t make it right.  If you traveled back in time 70 years ago and asked someone about talking on a telephone that has no cord they would say, “it is impossible you need a cord!!!!”  Not so true anymore.

The other amazing point, “truth is truth no matter what we think.  So be very careful how you interpret things because you are looking at the world with a bias, whether you think you are or not.”

Mic drop!?!?!?!

Are you kidding me?  You think you can ride a backwards bike, all you need to do is move opposite.  But you can’t because your learned neuro-pathways will not let you.  That is until you focus and dedicate your life to changing….for maybe 8 months.  8 Months is a really long time, we need to be very serious about change, or it will not happen.  It is not your fault, your brain is working against you.  Stupid Brain.  I want to lose a little weight and I have tendency to eat dessert after every meal…and between every meal…Stupid Brain.  I need to stop eating that dessert for 8 months before I can break that bad habit…and here I thought Lent was hard.  No wonder I give up sweets every Lent, it is not long enough.  I have to be dedicated to the change I want in my life.  Another great example: go to any gym in January after people make their New Year’s resolutions and count the people, then go back in May….

I love this video, the first time I saw it, it really opened my eyes.  Practice does not make prefect.  Perfect practice makes perfection.  It is not what I think I can do, it is what I do everyday that matters.  Changing is not easily accomplished because you have to physically change the neurological pathways in your brain but it can be done.  You just need to take one step at a time and then take that next step forward every day, and don’t ever look back!

 

Format VideoPosted on 1 Comment