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Death by sitting

Tom Rath, in his book Eat Move Sleep,(Missionday, 2013) called sitting “the most underrated health threat of modern times.” So are we at risk of death by sitting? He claims that sitting more than six hours a day greatly increases your risk of an early death.

An article in the November, 2014 Scientific American proves this is not just a case of shock journalism. The author of the article, James Levine, co-directs Obesity Solutions, a program of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale Arizona. The title of his article is “Killer chairs,” and he gives some statistics based on 18 studies reported during the past 16 years, covering 800,000 people – in addition to his own research.

Here are a few eye-opening findings:

• Following 8800 adults for seven years it was found that those sitting over four hours a day watching TV had a 46% increase in deaths from any cause when compared with those who sat in front of the TV set for less than two hours a day.

• Sitting for more than half the day doubles the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

• Comparing lean and obese people in the US with similar environments and diets, the obese people sat 2.25 hours longer than their lean counterparts every day, and expended 350 fewer calories.
The surprising thing is that neither Tom Rath nor James Levine seem to be suggesting jogging or marathon walks to remedy the problem, but rather to just get out of your chair. Get up and move around, as we were created to do, rather than lead a sedentary life. Walk around while you talk on the phone, work at a stand-up desk, have stand-up meetings, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the local mall instead of taking the car — are the type of recommendations these authors seem to be supporting.

Tom Rath claims that as soon as you sit down, electrical activity in your leg muscles shuts off, the number of calories you burn drops to one per minute, and enzyme production, which helps to break down fat, drops by 90%. And after sitting for two hours your good cholesterol drops by 20%.
Simply standing increases your energy, and walking increases energy levels by about 150%. Take the stairs and you could increase energy by more than 200%. Stand, stretch, move, walk — anything that will get you out of that killer chair.

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The power of purpose

PurposeI have seen the power of purpose in action where a dying person stayed alive long enough to see a loved one or witness an event. But I’ve yet to hear of one case where a person lived longer because they didn’t want to die. It is not fear that motivates us; it is purpose.

Comedian George Burns for many years claimed he was booked to perform in the Palladian in London when he turned 100. Perhaps that had something to do with his living into his 100th year. Clarify your purpose, set goals that will lead you in that direction, work on those goals each week – and you have a greater chance of leading a long happy, fulfilled life.

Having a sense of purpose in life not only allows us to set goals compatible with our personal values, it also allows us to retain a positive self-image even if we don’t achieve them. Purpose addresses what we are as opposed to what we do.

It is said that the chemicals in our body, on today’s market, would probably amount to about $3.00. Thinking in these terms, we’re not worth much. But based on the number of atoms within each person, the human body could generate enough atomic energy to be valued at $85 billion!

Skip Ross, in his book, Say Yes to Your Potential, asks this question: “Just what are you really worth, not in dollars, but in personal power?” He feels we are all geniuses, created by God and equipped with certain talents and individuality. But most of these abilities lie untapped.

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying the average person uses 2 percent of his intellectual capacity. Using more of our potential, and directing our skills and talents towards a worthy purpose, would not only make an impact on the world, but would do wonders for our self-esteem.

You could fail to achieve a goal; but it’s difficult to fail a purpose. A purpose is a reason for living. As Robert Ringer, author of several books, including Winning through intimidation and Looking out for #1 feels that man’s real purpose is not to achieve goals, but to constantly strive towards them. He provides another benefit of having a purpose in life when he quotes Victor Frankl: “If there is a reason for happiness, happiness ensues. It is a side effect of having a purpose, a meaning to life.”

“A life purpose encompasses all of your goals,” claims writer and seminar leader Sybil Stanton.” And since it’s your purpose that determines your goals, you don’t fall apart when your goals do.”

This makes sense. But where does the purpose come from? How do we develop a purpose in life? Stanton, in her book, The 25-hour woman , suggests you think of a scenario like this. You are celebrating your 80th birthday when you are approached by a publisher who wants to print your autobiography. Right away he needs a title for your life story. What will you suggest? “Naming your autobiography is a start to nailing down your purpose. The title you ascribe to your life has something to say about what you count most important and, therefore, what you are living for.”

Your purpose may be condensed into a brief sentence or take up a whole paragraph; but it will express your aim in life. It could be as simple as the one developed by a psychiatric nurse in one of Sybil Stanton’s seminars: “Learning to love and express love in all aspects of my life.”

Goals can be thwarted by a sudden change in your employment, health, or family situation; but your purpose remains constant. To quote Stanton, “Imagine yourself luxuriating in an exquisite estate, surrounded by a loving family and a host of servants. Then think of living in a refugee camp, subject to squalor and starvation. If you can realize your purpose in both places, you have something worth living for.”

Activities should be derived from your purpose, not the reverse. And yet many people, convinced that happiness and fulfillment depend upon setting and achieving goals within the work environment, become so engrossed in their profession that work becomes their reason for living. Their status, friendships, self-esteem and identity are all connected with their position at work. When that connection is severed their life collapses.

Ironically, the things that most people count as important in their lives are not the things they are remembered for –if they are remembered at all. Bob Shank, author of Total Life Management uses an interesting exercise in his seminars. He asks people to jot down the names of the greatest people in history (e.g., Joan of Arc Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein), then to note the one thing that distinguishes them as great. Seldom do these things relate to their material possessions, incomes, hobbies, travels or recreational preferences. Most of them had a single-minded purpose to which they dedicated their lives.

To quote Shank, “The great men and women of history were not great because of what they owned or earned, but rather for what they gave their lives to accomplish.”

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How to stop worrying

WorrierIf you learn how to stop worrying, you will brighten your days, reduce stress and anxiety, increase your personal productivity, and improve your relationships with others.

By worry, I mean having negative thoughts about a future event that may or may not happen. This negativity is more common than you may think. Robert Leahy in his book, The Worry Cure, (Harmony, 2005) claims that 38% of people say they worry every day, and more than 19 million Americans are chronic worriers.

Researchers find that worriers show an increased activity in the area of the brain associated with executive functions such as planning, reasoning and impulse control. Strengthening your executive skills, outlined in my brief book, A brains-eye view of time management, (as well as in previous blog articles) will help you control your tendency to think negatively.

A positive attitude tends to stress-proof your life. It’s important to get sufficient sleep, daily exercise and social support. And it’s equally important to be aware of the good things that happen to you – those positives amid negative events. Be more conscious of the things that go right in your life, and remember that when things look bleak, humor helps. Also, volunteer on a regular basis; by helping others you are also helping yourself.

If you let it, your brain will take any thought about financial problems or job insecurity or a disagreement with your spouse and create worse case scenarios to worry about. According to an article in the December, 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind, research showed that “the more we dwell on negative thoughts, the more the threats feel real, and the more they will repeat in our skulls, sometimes uncontrollable.”

Trying to put a negative thought out of your mind only tends to make it hang on that much longer. It’s like trying to ignore a song that replays repeatedly in your mind. It makes more sense to spend a few minutes accepting the fact that you are worried, mulling it over, assuring yourself that you would be able to survive even if the worst were to happen, and then get on with the next item on your “To Do” list.

Action dissipates worry.

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The power of positive thinking

The power of positive thinking

The power of positive thinking was illustrated in one study where cynical women who harbored hostile thoughts and mistrusted others were 23% more likely to suffer a cancer-related death, and 16% more likely to die from any cause as compared to women who were most trusting. An earlier study found that cancer patients’ mental attitude was a better predictor of survival than the size of the tumor, its severity, or the patient’s age

The December, 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind referred to studies done at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine on the impact of doctors showing sincere concern for their patients. Patients of doctors who expressed concern had a cold disappear sooner than those whose doctors focused on just the facts.

Randomized trials showed that colds lasted an average of just six days for patients with empathetic doctors vs. seven days for patients whose doctors had little empathy. It was shown that the empathy also boosted the patient’s immune system. Never underestimate the power of the mind. Empathy on the part of doctors can heal.

Alan Loy McGinnis reported an interesting study in his book, The Power of Optimism. He tells of Christopher Paterson, a University of Michigan psychologist, who measured the amount of optimism and pessimism in 172 people. One year later, the pessimists reported twice as many illnesses and doctor’s visits as the optimists.

We have come a long way since Norman Vincent Peale wrote his popular book, The power of positive thinking, in 1952. Joe Dispenza’s book, You are the placebo: making your mind matter, published in 2014, explains how, through self-directed neuroplacticity, we can actually form new neural pathways in our brain and heal ourselves – and even create a new life for ourselves.

Most people know, and many have experienced, the impact that positive thinking can have on their lives. New knowledge about how our brains work, and books such as You are the placebo, now explain how it works, and makes it possible to achieve, through the power of our mind, what we once considered impossible.

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Holistic time management extends the time in your life

Holistic time managementIt is impossible to manage time; but you can gain more time through holistic time management. As the average age of the population increases, people become less interested in how to get more done in less time and more interested in how to get more time in which to do what they are already doing.

As an example, much has been written on diet when it involves weight control or diabetes or blood pressure or cancer or dozens of other possible afflictions. But until recently we haven’t heard much about maintaining brain health through proper nutrition. The three-pound mass of nerve cells and supporting tissues that we call the brain is so complicated with its 100 billion neurons, or active brain cells, that it is still not fully understood. But it is known that brain health is linked to proper diet as well as the other things such as a physically active lifestyle, stress management and adequate sleep.

There’s a lot of good information on nutrition and lifestyle changes needed for a healthy brain in the book Fantastic Voyage: the Science behind Radical Life Extension by Ray Kurzwell and Terry Grossman. Recently, there have also been many articles appearing in newspapers on “brain diets” as interest in healthy aging increases.

Based on research, foods commonly recommended for healthy brain cells, improved cognitive skills and fending off dreaded Alzheimer’s includes such things as berries, walnuts, leafy greens, fish and the healthier unsaturated fats such as olive oil, flaxseed oil and non-hydrogenated margarine.

But diet is only one of many strategies that will increase your health and well-being. More and more people continue to buy into the idea that the greatest time management strategies of all are those that help you to live longer, healthier and happier. These strategies are covered in the new field of holistic time management.

I offer one-hour teleseminars on holistic time management on a regular basis. Click here for details and to register. These eight areas will be discussed in more detail at our holistic time management teleseminars. The next one is scheduled for Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 8 pm to 9 pm Eastern time. You can learn more about the teleclass or register here

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What is holistic time management?


Health-TreeI define holistic time management as “applying the strategies necessary in order to lead a happier, healthier, longer, more productive and fulfilling life.” It encompasses both external and internal time management, as well as health, stress, lifestyle and environmental issues that affect the body, mind and spirit.

Just as holistic medicine treats the whole person, so holistic time management goes beyond the quest for efficiency and looks at all aspects of a person’s life that influences both personal productivity and health and well-being.

The major topics covered in my workshop on holistic time management fall neatly into an acronym, which spells out the word HOLISTIC.

Health. Although time has been touted as your greatest asset, it is really your health that is your greatest asset. And too often, health is being put at risk in order to save time. Health management is the most important component of holistic time management.

Organization. You can still be successful in spite of being disorganized; but it takes greater effort and uses more of the precious commodity called time.

Lifestyle. Next to health, longevity is your greatest ally in managing your time. Living a few extra years in good health beats efficiency hands-down. You not only get more accomplished, you are around longer to enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Internal body time. Overlooked in most traditional time management workshops, working in sync with your biological clock makes life easier and allows you to accomplish more things with less effort. It also recognizes the brain’s role in your concept of time – if you don’t remember something, for you, it didn’t exist.

Spirituality. It takes mind, body, and spirit, working in unison, to produce a long, healthy, happy, productive life. Holistic time management involves the development of all three.

Time use. You can’t ignore traditional ways of managing time efficiently and effectively. Setting goals, planning, scheduling, prioritizing, and focus remain integral parts of holistic time management.

Interpersonal relationships. We do not work or live in isolation. How we interact with others – communicating, networking, delegating, socializing and collaborating – all impact our success in managing our time.

Cognitive skills. As mundane tasks are outsourced, creativity becomes the gold rush of the future. With the advance of technology, effective time management is becoming more mental than physical. We must understand how our brain works, and how we can take advantage of its untapped power to enhance our time and life management skills.

These eight areas will be discussed in more detail at our holistic time management teleseminars. The next one is scheduled for Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 8 pm to 9 pm Eastern time. You can learn more about the teleclass or register here

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A Guide to Holistic Time Management

Slowing Down the Speed of Life

We’re not that great at judging the passage of time since our concept of time is influenced by so many things, such as heat, activity, stress, and speed.

For example, according to the March, 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind, a person with a fever experiences a given period as being longer than someone without a fever. Also, when we are busy, jumping quickly from one job to another, time seems to pass more quickly. Continue reading A Guide to Holistic Time Management

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Holistic Time Management

The Best Things in Life are Free from Technology:
A case for holistic time management.

A heading of an article in the May 17, 2012 issue of the Toronto Star caught my attention – “Outsourcing Life.”

It’s true. We’re outsourcing all the enjoyable, time-consuming things that make us distinctively human – so we can free up time for the mundane, work-oriented drudgery that makes us robots to technology. Continue reading Holistic Time Management

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Holistic Time Management and Technology

The Best Things in Life are Free from Technology:
A case for holistic time management.

Holistic Time ManagementA heading of an article in the May 17, 2012 issue of the Toronto Star caught my attention – “Outsourcing Life.”
It’s true. We’re outsourcing all the enjoyable, time-consuming things that make us distinctively human – so we can free up time for the mundane, work-oriented drudgery that makes us robots to technology.

Why waste time in a leisurely shopping spree with a friend when you can get someone else to do it for you? Better still, don’t leave your computer – spend a few more clicks and a few more dollars and have it delivered.

Sure you enjoy gardening; but look at the time it consumes. Hire someone instead. And walking may be good exercise, but why walk when you can have the Internet? And don’t forget “laundry on wheels”, grocery delivery, on-the-spot car washes and the many errand services that will do all the running around for you. Play your cards right and you may never have to leave home again. You have an entertainment box, digital access to any place in the world, and 5000 friends on Facebook. What more could you ask for?

Think about that for a minute. We are indeed outsourcing our lives for the sake of efficiency. The ultimate efficiency would be not having lived at all!

Holistic time management is hanging onto the whole – doing things, sharing things, enjoying things, and experiencing the emotions that go along with them. At the rate we are “progressing”, soon all our laughter, enjoyment, grief, and feelings of love and affection might be outsourced as well.

Yes, I am hanging onto my paper planner – and my friends – and my hobbies – and my long walks. I buy my own groceries, make my own phone calls, visit my friends in person and waste time along with my family. That’s what life is all about. It’s not about cramming as many activities as possible into each hour or expanding the workday or being available to others 24/7.
Sure, even holistic time management involves productivity. But productivity to me is producing more of what’s important, meaningful and enjoyable to myself and others. I can’t see how racing the clock, being sleep-deprived, anxious and stressed-out, emotionally drained and not being able to enjoy everything life has to offer as being productive.

Outsourcing, multitasking and technology are not the cause of our problems. But, these things were meant to be used as we embrace life. Life was never meant to be used to embrace these things.

Read more articles on Holistic Time Management.