Life of Virtue
Can you imagine a world where everyone had this standard of living? What would this world look like? I believe most people strive for good but lose it in the matrix of life. Living a life of virtue isn't easy with all of the life's distractions. The older we get the more we see and the less we see. What if every day we saw virtue and goodness - of joy and calm - of self-love and worthiness with everything around us? All living things working together with virtue as the end goal.
How about doing this today - As the day passes by seeing the things around you as good and honorable - the trees, the leaves, the people, the water, the animals. See if it makes you feel something new.
"If we judge good and evil only the things in the power of our own choice, then there is no room left for blaming gods or being hostile to others." Marcus Aurelius
Cheer them on!
"It's in keeping with Nature to show our friends affection and to celebrate their advancement as if it were our very own. For if we don't do this, virtue, which is strengthened only by exercising our perceptions, will no longer endure in us."
Have you ever caught yourself feeling jealousy or selfishness when looking upon others successes? I hate to admit this, but this has happened often in my life. It's the toughest thing to overcome especially if we are struggling. Our brains sometime take us to the mentality of "if they win - I will lose." Their gain is my loss. Having compassion and empathy for other's successes is just like anything. We get better with practice. It's a muscle - once we are aware of the muscle and the exercises to strengthen it, then we slowly rejoice in other's accomplishments. Next time something great happens to your friend, colleague, or families life cheer on their success. This doesn't have to be out in the open. It could be a text message or just a nice thought. This might be difficult but your morality and integrity desperately need it.
“If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.”
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Why Sleeping In Is OK
You don't really understand how important sleep is until you have a night where you don't sleep well. With all the life distractions, it is more difficult now than ever to get a good night's rest. There are plenty of successful people out there that talk about how they only need 4-6 hours of sleep, and some others that think sleeping in causes lack of productivity with their habits. I don't see anything wrong with sleeping in on the weekends in order to set us up for the week. Getting that extra hour or two could be the difference with shipping your work or putting it off.
There are many things you can do in order to set you up for a great night sleep, and Shawn Stevenson's book "Sleep Smarter" is a great start, also he has a three-part series on better sleep with his podcast "The Model Health Show" (Part One, Part Two, Part Three). I am the ultimate light sleeper and sleeping through the night is always a significant moment.
Here are a few things I've begun implementing that I think have helped:
What are some ways that help you get that restful night sleep? I would love to hear about it.
Read, Read and Read - Find The Author
In this edition of "Monday Meditations" I talk about reading. This was something that took me thirty-six years to figure out, but I finally understand. Our book for September in the Main Book League was "Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell and although many things have flown way over my head - one thing stood out. This book is based on a PBS documentary conducted by interviewer Bill Moyers. My suggestion if you do decide to read this book is to watch the documentary or listen to the audiobook. I read the paperback and felt like my brain didn't capture what the audio could, but one thing did speak to me. Bill Moyers asks Joseph Campbell how do those that are non-poets and artists find mythology and humanity? Campbell responds with "Sit in a room and read - and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level....When you do find an author that really grabs you read everything he has done.....don't bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go and read what he had read."
"Sit in a room and read - and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level....When you do find an author that really grabs you read everything he has done.....don't bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go and read what he had read." Joseph Campbell
I enjoy reading other authors, but a couple in particular stand out to me and my plan is to read all they have written. I do believe that when going from one author to the next the ideas get lumped together. And I believe it to be true for podcasts, and even movies. When you begin to understand one author, poet, or director they become a part of your narrative. So what are your favorite authors currently? Mine at the moment are Ryan Holiday and Stephen King. My favorite director is Kevin Smith. How about you? Who are your favorites?
"More often than not, a hero’s most epic battle is the one you never see; it’s the battle that goes on within him or herself." Kevin Smith
Organization - 3 Ways to Organize your Life and Work
Welcome to another edition of Monday Meditations, I am your host Jon Belt, I hope this Monday is a great start to your week!
My focus this week and the focus for this episode is organization. I would consider myself quasi-type A. I want to be organized, but I don’t lose sleep over it if I’m not. I know the more organized I am the more my brain relaxes and focuses on the important stuff. Benjamin Franklin is quoted for saying “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned."
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned." Benjamin Franklin
And I know this to be true. Some of the most successful people I know whether it be administrators, teachers, coaches, entrepreneurs are detailed oriented and plan ahead for everything. If you tend to procrastinate like me there is hope. One step at a time. Here is a short list of how to get started. This list is based on the research I have done that fits my personality, so you might look into what works for you. If some of the things I list sound like a good idea then test them and see, and if they don’t work try something else. Do not give up because it doesn’t work, keep pushing through.
Number 1: Write it down
Our brains get inundated with new tasks sometimes minute to minute. So writing down the essentials is key. Start with just making a wish list of what your ideal environment would look like (your office, desk, classroom if you’re a teacher). Then make a list of things you need to fix (too many papers, add more binders, place for your pens and highlighters)
Number 2: Priority and Timeline
Turn that list into a number of priority. One being the first thing you tackle. Remember the things you would least like to do tend to get pushed to the bottom, but usually need to be bumped up to the top. If you knock those out first then your momentum starts to take hold, because the things you were dreading got done first. Next to each item put how long you think it would take to get started.
Number 3: Time Block
Use the days of the week to tackle one or more of the priorities. For instance, if you want to move all of your files into binders and to keep that a regular thing then maybe make it "File Friday." Or if you want to have a day where your focus is organizing your random small items make it "Small Item Sunday." The alliteration is corny but makes it easy to remember and keeps your mind focused on one thing instead of many things per day.
That’s my simple list that I am going to start working on this week. Do you have something that works really well for you? Leave a comment below.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu
by Jon Belt
Weekly Challenge: Weaknesses
Welcome to another edition of Monday Meditations. This week we will focus on a weekly challenge, and this challenge stems from a quote by Knute Rockne
“Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.”
– Knute Rockne
1. List three things that you perceive as your weaknesses
2. List how those perceived weaknesses could become strengths
I know that my weaknesses hold me back from so many things in my life, but listing them and seeing them on paper plus visualizing how they can become our strengths can be a tremendous breakthrough and habit to build.
You have roughly 10,000 minutes to accomplish the challenge this week. That puts things in perspective doesn’t it.
To end is a quote from the greatest basketball player of ALL TIME: Michael Jordan
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
You're Future Self Will Be Proud
By Jon Belt
A year from now you may wish you had started today." ⏤Karen Lamb
I thought a short quote from author Karen Lamb could be a great beginning, and a quote we can put in our pocket for the rest of our lives! “A year from now you may wish you started today.” This sentence is short and simple but so powerful. Having that mantra in the back of my mind gives me some perspective and motivation to do. I am a big believer of dropping tiny knowledge bombs in our brains and letting them simmer without expectations. This is one of those quotes that has been hovering in my mind for the past week. So, what is that project you know you need to start that your future self will thank you for? Or, if you teach, what can you start chipping away at now to relieve your future self? If you want to start that blog or website, what is stopping you? Not knowing how to do it? Google it, and find the answers. Sometimes it’s that simple. I struggle with this daily⏤stepping away from my distractions to get those things started that I know in the future will give me an extreme level of satisfaction. Like I said last week, start small. Set aside five to ten minutes and let it build.
DO." ⏤Gary Vaynerchuck
Get Lighter on Your Goals
by Jon Belt
We all have goals in one form or another, and some come to fruition and others die quickly. I’m talking about the big lofty goals because many times we want them to happen tomorrow. For the most part, we are all about instant gratification. We want it now. I want to lose twenty pounds yesterday, but why do my attempts always seems to lose self-esteem after a few weeks? There are many answers, Cal Newport in his book "Deep Work" seems to think our will power comes into play and that it’s finite, “Willpower is a limited resource. The more you use, the more you lose. So use it wisely during the day.” Whereas former Navy Seal and best selling author of "Extreme Ownership" Jocko Willink seems to think that his will power gets better throughout the day, and it all depends on how you start your day. “When you stay strong you get stronger...stay strong hold your discipline in place.”
“Willpower is a limited resource. The more you use, the more you lose. So use it wisely during the day.”
“When you stay strong you get stronger - Stay Strong...hold your discipline in place.”
Our huge lofty goals are great, and attainable if we are patient. If I offered you one-hundred dollars today, or one-hundred twenty dollars in a year, which one would you take? More than likely you will take the hundred bucks. I liken it to losing weight. If my goal is to lose fifty pounds and I had two options. Option 1: lose two pounds in a month knowing I would lose twenty-four pounds in a year and Option 2: lose twenty-four pounds in a month but know that I would gain it back in a year, which one would you choose? I probably would choose the twenty-four pounds quickly, because my ego will get the best of me and say “you’ll keep it off, let’s go the easy route." The fact is there is no easy route, to find lasting success we must be patient and work on our smaller goals to fit under our big lofty ones.
So let’s go easy on ourselves, and not set ourselves up to fail. Set those small lighter goals in order to gain momentum for your big heavier ones.
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
How Classical Music Is Making Me Productive
By Jon Belt
I never thought in a million years that I would be rocking out to and loving classical music.
My go to before were playlists like this:
Swagga Like Us by T.I.
Heartbeats by The Knife
Not Afraid by Eminem
Wake Up by Arcade Fire
Where is My Mind? by Pixies
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 by The Flaming Lips
Diary of Jane by Breaking Benjamin
Through Glass by Stone Sour
MakeDamnSure by Taking Back Sunday
Help I'm Alive by Metric
These are just a few, I didn't get into hair bands, 70's Rock, or 90's Rap/Hip Hop.
So, yes it's a bit of a shock to my brain to know that classical might be my new jam, at least for being productive.
I have made it a point to search classical through Spotify on numerous occasions in my classroom because
1. It has no cuss words (cheers!) AND 2. It is soothing and I've read it helps with studying and remembering
BUT I never thought I would be listening to it in my spare time. Maybe, it's just me getting old.
I'm sure there is research out there talking about the benefits, but I'm not big on determining how helpful something is because a few rats had a couple connections change within their brain cells. I like to experiment with it myself before I get too excited about the research I didn't see for myself.
But if you enjoy the research, here are a few pieces to look over.
The Mozart Effect
Studying for Finals
Mozart Make You Smarter
Oxford University Study
Improves Sleep Quality
Increase in Productivity
When listening to the classics like Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart my sense of accomplishment and production goes up. I'm focused, and determined to get whatever task I'm working on finished. When I don't have my headphones in with the classics I'm easily distracted. So, try it out and tell me what you think.
by Jon Belt
I've always known that I'm lazy, but I never wanted to acknowledge it. I know that most people in this world are lazy, but I also know that people have overcome this bad word by developing healthy habits. Distractions are all around us and my distraction is TV. I love television, not because of the great things that are everywhere on Netflix, Hulu, HBOGO, Redbox, Showtime Anytime, MaxGo, Starz, ESPNGO, iTunes, youTube, NBA, NFL, PGA Tour, and the list goes on and on and on and on and on. I can always find something to make my brain stop working. That is exactly why I love it so much, it makes my brain stop working. I need an intervention because I know it is my resistance. Once the AppleTV is on and ready to search, I'm hooked like a moth to a flame. In order to turn it off, it must be time to sleep. All the aspirations I have and dreams I want to accomplish are all determined by this device, whether I turn it on or keep it off. If I keep it off, I read, I blog, I research, I clean, I read some more, I listen to podcasts, I listen to audiobooks, I write, I create, I find, I'm productive. Why do I let this simple distraction have a hold of me so tightly? Because our brain wants the least amount of suffering and TV makes the brain suffer the least. My resistance is television. What is your resistance?
Jon Belt is a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City, and the host of the Teacher Tunnel Podcast.