Living In Four Temples

Cluttered Life The lives we lead can tend to be a mess. They are cluttered with people, responsibilities, hobbies, jobs, and so much more on a daily basis. It can all seem out of control. For a while in my life I avoided as much of it as I could. I didn’t want to develop friendships or relationships that would eventually fade away. So I spent all of my time at home with the kids and my computer. The kids were still young then, so it was easy to lose myself in their lives. The computer never criticized me and relationships developed online were at a safe distance, and held no expectations. Those relationships were easy since my kids loved me unconditionally and well, my computer did too. At least until any of them got a virus then they were unbearable until it was removed/cured. In the last few years, as the kids grew up and other things changed in my life, I realized that I was missing out on a lot of what life had to offer. So I made a decision to do something I had avoided for so long, I joined the human race and started getting out there again. I made friends and acquaintances and with them came events and invitations. Soon my life became that cluttered mess that I alluded to earlier. I am a fairly organized person. I think the people at work call it ‘anal retentive’ but not to my face. I like routines, organization, and order! Maybe I learned it from my years in the United States Air Force, but more likely I picked it up from years of pseudo-basic-training that I called my childhood. Both of my parents were meticulous in their organization. We used to joke that my Mother would catch the dust before it hit the furniture. In the winter my Dad  would wash the Rochester, NY salt off of his car every day in the garage when he got home from work. In the summer he would re-mow the lawn due to the fact that my brother and I could never get the lines straight. I love them dearly, but I am glad that I didn’t absorb their mania too completely. So I like organization, and my life was growing beyond my control. This was not acceptable. I had to find a way to get things tucked away into smaller more manageable compartments. So one Sunday I’m at church, and Pastor Jim is preaching about chaos and order and the devil’s hand in our lives. He said something about the soul being a temple to be nurtured and that struck a chord with me and as often happens this article started writing itself inside my head. As my subconscious mind created and named other ‘Temples’ in which my life needed improvement, I began to create an order in my life that has allowed me to enjoy more, stress less, and live a full and happy life again.

 

Courtesy HAAP Media Ltd.The Temple of the Mind

It should come as no surprise that the organization of the mind should be the first step to creating order in your life. I recently read some articles on this subject and the theories vary from the extremely complex to the very simple. On the complex side was an article by Margaret Moore, director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital and the founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation and Harvard psychiatrist Paul Hammerness, called Organize your mind to organize your lifeIn their study they break down the organization of the mind into six rules. These rules create a path to an organized mind by first (Rule 1: Tame your frenzy) controlling negative emotions. Dealing with emotions like loss, sadness, and worry is not an easy thing for anyone, but finding a way to do it is essential to (Rule 2: Sustain your focus). Focus is a lost art in our society and increasingly so in the next generation. We are bombarded with instant information through mobile devices that serves to feed us information, but in ways that prevent us from retaining most of it. Focus is critical! Next is (Rule 3: Apply the brakes) knowing when to tap the brakes and shut out distractions can certainly aid in maintaining that focus. Moore and Hammerness go on to recommend memory exercises (Rule 4: Access your working memory) to better access your brain’s storage. In (Rule 5: Shift sets) they refer to a skill called set-shifting, which basically allows you to complete and leave behind a task and move to a new one with a fresh focus. This allows the brain to complete tasks more efficiently by maintaining full focus. The last rule (Rule 6: Connect the dots) is used to do just that. Simply connect the dots between the first five rules using them in unison to achieve mental order. I generally like a step-by-step roadmap when I set out to accomplish a goal. I find it easier to motivate myself through smaller steps to an achievement so a process like this would work for me. For others it could be as simple as just making lists, taking the time to organize your thoughts and your responsibilities, or just carving out time in the day to plan the next day, week, month. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to stop and plan.” I was there once too. If you take the time to plan you will waste less time and eventually buy back far more time than you spent planning. It’s an investment, buy in.

 

Temple of the BodyThe Temple of the Body

As important as a strong ordered mind is in your life a strong healthy body is just as important. Three years ago my 5’7″ frame was carrying around almost 200 lbs. I had high blood pressure, aches and pains everywhere, and I had no energy…ever. I was pathetic and uninspired. Again, I was motivated by a simple challenge, this time at work. My company, a large retail organization, decided that happy and healthy employees were more productive so they held a “Biggest Loser” type weight loss contest. Every participant paid $5 to enter, weighed in weekly and reported the results. The male and female winners split the pot that was no small amount when all was said and done. I didn’t care about the money, I used the contest as an excuse to do something that I couldn’t bring myself to do on my own. I went all-in. I downloaded a phone app that tracked calories and weight loss. I changed my diet completely, and I bought a DVD workout set along the lines of PX90 and used it every single day. I set my goal at 175 lbs, and achieved it by the halfway point in the contest, so I kept going. When the contest ended, just before Thanksgiving, I weighed 165 lbs. By then I had decided that 160 lbs was the right weight for me so I persevered. I didn’t win the contest, but I was a winner none-the-less and a thin winner at that. As my home-life deteriorated and my kids became even more self-sufficient I wanted to get out of the house more, so I traded my basement gym and DVDs for Planet Fitness. I still go there five days a week and continue my strength and cardio regimen. I have no intention of going back to the slovenly person I used to be. My new goal is to convince my Doctor that I no longer need the blood pressure medication at my next annual check-up in July. Wish me luck!

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The Beginning
About John Kowalski

John is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He is currently a retail manager in a company who shall remain nameless. He is the father of three awesome children, despite his parenting. He is fallable, imperfect and will tell you all about it, if someone doesn't beat him to it. He loves writing, with a passion, and uses it as both self-therapy and to help others.

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