Big changes made easy

Our mainstream media is always suggesting to us that we need to look and act a certain way to be happy, successful, popular, and important.  They are not always right, of course.  Advertising is set up to make you want to buy their products, so if you are not, they must create the impression of a need.

Nobody is perfect.  All of us know there is an area or two that we could and should improve on.  Sometimes the distance seems large when we look at where we are and where we would like to be.

Change is hard.  Our bodies and minds have a comfort zone they like to stay in.  They will resist even when you are trying to make a change that will make you feel better.

Fortunately once you do make a change, it becomes a new comfort zone and you don’t want to go back to where you were.

Thinking about big changes can be intimidating.  Looking at a large goal can be so scary that it looks impossible, or highly unlikely that you can do it.  It’s tough to get started when there is so far to go.

So how can you tackle a big change?  Make it a bunch of easy little ones.

If you want to lose weight, losing 20 or more pounds seems like a lot.  But what if you lost two pounds?  That’s not so hard.  You would feel a little better and your clothes would fit a little better.  You would recognize some progress which makes it easier to lose another two.  Do that a few times and people around you will notice and you will be on your way to getting to your big goal.

What about improving on a personality habit, such as complaining?  Can you go one minute without complaining?  Of course you can.  That’s easy.  Next try a longer but still manageable time, such as five or ten minutes.  Eventually you will create a new habit and build a new comfort zone that make you a more positive person.

It’s hard to clean up your whole house at once.  Instead, tackle one area at a time.  Clean up one closet or one room.  You will see progress and will feel motivated to continue.

Some people want to feel good again with massage.  Some say they can’t afford it.  What if you set aside one dollar a day?  That would let you enjoy a few massages a year.  When you see the benefits you get from lowering your stress and that you can do more of what you want when you feel better physically, you will want to continue.

Chances are good that the situation that you would like to change didn’t happen overnight, but gradually over a period of time.  To get where you want to be, start small.  Those small steps will take you to your goal.

Barry is a licensed Massage Therapist at Main Street Massage in Hudson, Ohio.  Find out more about him, his business, and massage at www.HudsonMassageTherapy.com

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Being content with enough

In case you start wondering what squirrels have to do with massage – this one is not about massage.  I occasionally write about other things in life.

I have a few hickory trees in my yard.  They are mature trees that produce nuts (hickory nuts that is), so I therefore have quite a few squirrels in my yard too.

One pleasant early fall day I was sitting on my deck enjoying the nice weather and trying not to think for a while.  The squirrels are busy in the fall gathering and storing the nuts.  The trees make more nuts than the squirrels eat and collect.  I always find plenty on the ground in the spring, and living in northern Ohio there isn’t anything growing over the winter.

As I was sitting on the deck I heard two squirrels squawking at each other.  One was in a tree, with a nut.  One was on the ground, with a nut.  Their argument went on for a while.  I wanted to tell them (if only I could speak squirrel!):  ” Hey you silly squirrels.  There are plenty of nuts for both of you.  There are plenty of trees too.  Why are you arguing?”

I don’t know what the argument was about.  It could have been the nut one had and the other wanted it, or the tree one was in, or some perceived squirrel insult.  Maybe one was having a bad fur day.  But to me it looked silly.

It made me reflect that we look silly to others sometimes with our arguments and how we treat each other.

If you have enough, with plenty more available, are you content?  It is a peaceful feeling to know you have enough.  I’m not saying  you should not be ambitious and have goals of what you want to accomplish in the future.  Just as the squirrels were collecting the nuts for the coming winter we have times we need to be busy providing and storing up what we will need.  But for a moment each day be grateful that you have enough.  When you have enough, you can share some of what you have or share your knowledge and experience on how you got to that point with somebody who needs it.

Our society through advertising doesn’t want us to be content with what we have.  We are told we need the latest cell phone, electronic gadgets, vehicles, and on and on.  You don’t have to listen to them.  People work extra just to buy more things and they miss out on having time to do what they want to do in their life.  You can buy more things and get more money but you can’t get time back or get more of it.   Use it the way you want.

What do you do on a bad fur day?  It happens on occasion.  Know that it happens to the people around you too and their turn is coming.  It’s also a temporary situation that you will forget about soon.  Don’t make it memorable by taking your frustration out on somebody else who had nothing to do with causing your problem.

There are plenty of trees and nuts out there.  Stop for a minute, catch your breath, calm your mind, and appreciate what you have.  If you have enough, be content, at least for a while.

Barry is a licensed Massage Therapist at Main Street Massage in Hudson, Ohio.  Find out more about him, his business, and massage at www.HudsonMassageTherapy.com

Lighten up on yourself

I know something about you.

You’re not perfect.

All around us we are shown images in advertising and media of how we should really be.  We are to be in fantastic shape, marvelous health, stunningly attractive, with no physical flaws from head to toe.  Great hair, white and straight teeth, never having bad breath, and on and on.  We are to be successful, making loads of money, and have all the latest in fashion, electronic and technological gear, and on the right track to realize all of our dreams.

How are you supposed to feel when you look in the mirror are don’t see this fictional ideal looking back?

The messages we get are mixed though.  How can we be in great shape and health if we are eating the all the donuts, fast food, snacks, and drinking soda and alcohol that are being advertised?  How can we be financially set while spending our money on all of this must-have stuff?

Nobody is perfect.  Think of the people you care about.  Are you surrounded by perfect friends and family?  No – but you love them anyway.  Think about a fictional character that you admire, maybe from a book or a movie.  The ones you can relate to the best have some flaw.  Some have multiple flaws, and some have big ones.  By seeing them overcome their flaw or just deal with it and still succeed can give you hope and motivation to keep on going with whatever you are struggling with.

If there is some imperfection of yours that is bothering you, consider a couple of things.  First, you have people who care about you anyway.  Second, there may be something you can do about it.  Some physical things you can change, others you can’t.  Almost all personality traits can be improved on – you are not stuck with being impatient because your parents were.  That is a learned skill that you can improve over time.  People have made amazing changes as they learn new skills and techniques to replace one way of thinking with a new way.  Remember that important changes take time and effort, and keep in mind how rewarded you will be when you achieve the change you desire.

Massage helps with body image.  It gives you a positive experience with the body you have now and can help remind you that you can feel good in your body.  It also helps give your mind a break and you can walk out with a different, better perspective of the issues you face.  Those issues may not seem quite so big and scary as they did before.  Are you facing an obstacle or is it a stepping stone to greater things?  A change in your outlook can affect your life in a wonderful way.

So I know you are not perfect.  Neither am I.  Give yourself a break and lighten up on yourself.  You may find much more joy, peace, and love in life when you feel better about yourself.

Barry is a licensed Massage Therapist at Main Street Massage in Hudson, Ohio.  Find out more about him, his business, and massage at www.HudsonMassageTherapy.com

Finishing

I didn’t hear the news when it happened.  I learned about it a couple of months later and was surprised.  An author whose books I have enjoyed, Vince Flynn, had died.  He was only in his forties.  His books had a series that followed a main character.

My son also read his books.  He had read most of them and was looking forward to more.  He asked me if he had finished writing the series.

That question struck me and has been rattling around in my mind.  It made me think of what I have not finished yet.

I have things I want to do.  There are places to go, things to see, experiences to have, people to spend time with, books to read, goals to reach, and on and on.  I’m sure most of us won’t be able to do everything they wanted in life – I’m always learning of something new that sounds interesting.

Are you waiting for the right time for get started?  I wondered  – what if the time wasn’t quite right for Flynn? If he had waited, he may never have written the books he did and enjoyed the accomplishments.  According to the typical life span here, he should have had many more years to live and work.

Is there a relationship you want to have?  Maybe you need to open up more to let them in.  I have discovered that no matter how many people I love, there is always room in my heart for more.  Let your guard down a little and allow yourself to be more vulnerable (not to everybody, of course, but to those you believe you can trust).  I know, it’s a little risky and scary, but the rewards can be so fulfilling.

Is there a relationship you want to be better or to repair?  Apologize or make it right if you need to.  Forgive if you need to.  Don’t let past unhappiness take away the joy you could be having today.  If it doesn’t work out the way you want, at least you did what you could.  It’s a chance worth taking and you won’t have to live with the uncertainty.  Be kind and give more and generally you will find that returned to you.

While you’re at it, make peace with yourself.  You have made mistakes and done dumb things.  So have the rest of us.  Forgive yourself and resolve to learn from those things and do better.  We all tend to be harder on ourselves than other people are.  You have friends and family that you look up to and love even though they aren’t perfect, right?  Do the same for you and enjoy the liberation.

Is there something you want to do?  It doesn’t have to be big like a career change or space travel.  Do you want to learn to play an instrument?  Travel (even somewhere close)?  Learn to cook?  If you want to practice making lemon meringue pie, I’ll be happy to test them for you and cheer you on.

What is stopping you?  In the future will you regret that you never did it?

I had a job that I was good at and the pay was good enough.  Eventually I had too many mornings that I didn’t want to go to work.  I began to dread Sunday evenings, because that meant Monday morning was next and it was back to more of the same at work.  Now I love what I do as a massage therapist.  Yes, there are challenges of having my own business.  A lot, actually.   But I am getting to spend time doing what I love, making a difference in the lives of the people I touch, and enjoy the accomplishments I realize.  Do you start your day with excitement and anticipation or with dread and apathy?

What do you want to do?  What do you want to have finished when it’s time to go?  Have you said “I’ve always wanted to …”

Do those things.

Barry is a licensed Massage Therapist at Main Street Massage in Hudson, Ohio.  Find out more about him, his business, and massage at www.HudsonMassageTherapy.com

* If you have read some of my other posts, you will notice that this was a very different post for me.  I usually talk about massage and health and business.  It was inspired by a combination of things I have read recently, including this intriguing post on opening up by Kate Bartolotta (such a wonderful writer).  Also this one on choosing what you carry by another great writer Allissa Haines, who I am lucky to have as a friend.  It’s also been a tough stretch with the loss of some family members.  Do you want to see more like this or do you want me to stick to massage?   Let me know what you think in the comments.