Through tremendous heartache, the single most important thing that has helped me keep going is running. Running serves me in so many ways that it’s hard to describe how much it has benefitted me in a single blog post – but for you, I will try, dear reader.
Reason #1: Oxygen to the Brain and Cardiovascular Health
Running forces deep breathing, which is one of the beauties of aerobic exercise. As you may know, increasing heart rate and working up a sweat is absolutely fundamental to human functioning. You are dooming yourself if you deprive this from your life in any capacity. I know because I did deprive myself of aerobic exercise earlier in my life – this contributed to the development of digestive problems, mental health problems, and probably other issues that I’m not even aware of. The good news is I’m on track now.
I’ll bring it back to the breathing because that is the most important part, in my view. The breath control that running enables has translated into completely different situations in my life where breath control is vital, such as when I get anxious. Pertinent now, it relates to breathing while at my work desk for long hours every day (they say sitting is the new smoking, and I definitely think there is truth to that!).
Reason #2: Opening the Mind and Mental Clarity
Running has profound effects on my mood and mental state. I quickly go from feeling depressed, to feeling free, just from a great run! Running improves perspective – you subconsciously realize that challenges are manageable because you are pushing your body in this way, therefore, you can overcome whatever relationship issues or financial issues you are bumping into. Much of this is a result of more oxygen to the brain as mentioned above, which enhances brain functioning, which helps you to see solutions and unique perspectives that were previously clouded.
Reason #3: Pain Tolerance
Running is a test in pain tolerance. If you are like me, you’ll be astounded that you actually can’t resist going the extra mile. It’s just so damn rewarding to beat your previous mileage – or previous pace/time, for that matter. There are moments when I can feel pain in my body, but I’m mentally above it and entirely in control despite it. These “runner’s high” experiences are when my brain is surging with endorphins and I feel unstoppable. Do you need any more reason to become a runner?
Reason #4: Outlet for Frustration
There is one more honest reason why I run: to vent frustration. Rather than yelling or arguing with people, I will go for a heart-pounding run. I then return to conflicts not only having cooled down and released the physical tension in my body, but I come better equipped with a more rational perspective on the issue, as a result of the mind-opening effects of the run.
Look, if you haven’t tried running yet…what are you waiting for? All it takes is a decent pair of shoes (no additional sports gear required) and an ounce of motivation, which I hope I’ve provided. The world needs more people getting high FROM RUNNING :-)
Thanks for reading!
I recently started the practice of saying a gratitude prayer before eating every night. You might imagine me pressing my hands together and conjuring images of God, but that’s just not how I do it. My method requires no religious affiliation, or even a belief in God. The purpose of my pre-dinner prayer is simply to appreciate the food I am about to put into my body. That’s it.
I’m going to share with you exactly what I do.
The prep – I first remove distractions and light a candle (totally optional).
I sit down at the table with my food and turn off any podcasts, music, or TV. Then, I light a tea candle. The only reason for the candle is the role this plays in habit formation. I took a page from Charles Duhigg’s literal book, “The Power of Habit” and set up lighting the candle as a cue to solidify the habit. Each night, this begins my ritual of saying thanks.
The prayer – I reflect on three key points for a full feeling of gratitude.
1) Thanks to the Universe for providing me with the various tools and ingredients in order to make this meal
I first acknowledge each of the ingredients that make up the meal, sometimes reflecting on where it came from and how it came into being. I will appreciate that so many things had to happen in order for this meal to happen – for example, the food had to be grown over a long period of time and transported many miles to the grocery store.
2) Thank you to myself for taking the time, energy, and effort to make this meal
Next I give myself a “pat on the back” for being intentional with my food and taking the time to feed myself. Hopefully, it’s the healthiest food I could get my hands on. I appreciate myself for nourishing my body and tending to my needs.
3) Appreciation of the power and importance of this food
Finally, I experience a moment of awe and wonder at the power of food. It is very literally the fuel of my life. When I acknowledge the fact, the food tastes that much better. But more importantly, I feel so grateful to have it.
This powerful ritual really builds over time. It’s now a natural part of my evenings. I recommend you find your own spin on this practice, because your best version of “saying grace” will almost certainly look different than mine. And if you do try it out, I’d love to hear your variants, or any other comments and feedback.
In great appreciation,
Friendly Warrior is a Personal Development Blog abundant with wisdom and honesty — Ethan Small has been posting to Friendly Warrior since 2013 with the intent of inspiring others to improve their quality of life.
First time here? Start with these posts:
10 Reasons Pain is Good
5 Steps to Eliminate Worry
Persistence Makes Perfect