How I Attracted the Best Things Into My Life...and the Greatest People


30 by Carlos Gracia, on Flickr
Photo by Carlos Gracia (CC BY 2.0

Written by Raymond Salas

Many of the best things in my life happened when I wasn’t trying to make anything happen at all.

Many of the greatest people entered my life when I wasn’t looking for them.

My secret? Well, it’s not really a secret.

Be open. Be curious. Be myself (yes, geek and all).

Have no expectations. No agenda.

Say “yes” to opportunities when they appear (if they feel positive, healthy, “right” or interesting in some way). 

Then, follow wherever this leads...until the “yes” becomes a “no.” 

Stick with the yes’s. Let go of the no’s. 

Repeat.

Or even better: If it's not a "HELL YES!" then it's a "HELL NO!" (Thank you Alan Cohen.)

Don’t know if this will work for anyone else...but it has worked well for me. Often, better than I could have ever imagined.

12 Ways to Eliminate or Reduce Your Stress Now


Laughing Buddha by Bluddha, on Flickr
Photo by Bluddha (CC BY-NC 2.0

Written by Raymond Salas

Do you feel stressed on a daily or regular basis?

Do problems in one or more areas of your life feel overwhelming to you?

Are you unable to relax and enjoy your life fully?


12 Ways to Eliminate or Reduce Your Stress Now


Here's some proven ways for eliminating or reducing stress and truly enjoying life more every day:


- Focus on the present.

Whenever we focus and dwell on the past, especially the challenges and problems; or project about the future, including all the things that could go wrong and other worst-case scenarios, the beauty of the present is tainted, minimized or lost.

The solution: do your best to keep your focus on the present. See this moment as new, a fresh start. Try to adopt a “beginner’s mind,” as if you are experiencing this moment for the very first time...because you are!


- Focus on solutions.

If you’re facing problems, focus on possible solutions instead.

No matter what the problem or challenge is, it has been overcome by someone. Use these individuals as guides...as inspirations, and learn from them to help solve your own problems. After all, they've already been there. They know. So, follow their lead and example.

Then, do all that you can from where you are and let go of the rest.


- Tell yourself a different story.

Tell a different story, a story of what you truly want and stop telling the story of what you don’t want (e.g. complaining, blaming, worrying, etc.).

Whatever you focus on will expand in your consciousness and life. So, if you keep playing the “All The Ways My Life Sucks” program over and over in your mind, thoughts, speech, and actions, your life will mirror this. It has to. It has no choice. Energy flows where attention goes.

If you want something different, you must shift your focus, be willing to see things differently and do things differently, and stop complaining.



- Focus on one thing at a time.

When you have many things to do on your “to-do” list, it can be overwhelming and demotivating.

Here's what helped me the most to reduce stress and actually become more productive (and happier too):
“Toss productivity advice out the window. Most of it is well-meaning, but the advice is wrong for a simple reason: it’s meant to squeeze the most productivity out of every day, instead of making your days better. I now focus on one or two things to do each day, and (if) when I get them done, my day is golden. Everything else I do that day is gravy.” - Leo Babauta

- Don’t take things personally.

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz advises: “Don’t take anything personally.”

When we take things personally, we create unnecessary stress in our life.
“If you take it personally and take on the poison of another’s words, it becomes a very negative agreement you have with yourself. What anybody thinks about you, or says about you, is really about them. Not taking it personally allows you to be in relationship with anyone and not get trapped in their stuff.” - Don Miguel Ruiz

- Stop trying to control everything.

The decision to stop trying to control everything (e.g., people, circumstances, situations, etc.) is really just a decision to let go of the illusion of control because the truth is that we can’t ever really control anyone or anything outside of us. We only fool ourselves into believing that we can. It’s not true. It is a myth.

The only thing thing we can control is how we respond and focus our attention in the present moment. That’s it. Nothing more...yet we still try.
“When you think you control something, you’re wrong. It’s amazing how often we think we’re in control of something when really we aren’t. Control is an illusion...” - Leo Babauta

- Meditate.

In the 1970’s, a Harvard physician Herbert Benson developed a meditation technique called “the relaxation response.” Dr. Benson found that meditation creates a deep relaxation within us that decreases breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure. When practiced on a daily basis, it can reduce stress, enhance mood, and lower blood pressure.


- Breathe deeply.

I learned the importance of breathing deeply when I had a full-blown panic attack, just after I graduated from college and found myself away in a new town with a new job.

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know that it can feel like you’re having a heart attack. You have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, chest pain, and other stress symptoms.

Unknown to me at the time, with the stress of a new job, new city, and new residence, my breathing pattern had changed subtly and become shallow over time. This eventually resulted in a panic attack.

The doctor who treated me told me that I could prevent this in the future by taking several slow, deep breaths (from the belly) whenever I began to experience any of these symptoms again.

Since then, I have developed a daily habit of pausing several times during the day to take several slow, deep belly breaths. It always energizes me, clears my head, relieves stress, keeps me balanced, and improves my mood and focus.


- Genuinely smile more.



The benefits of genuinely smiling include relieving stress, positively changing our mood, boosting our immune system, and lowering our blood pressure.
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.” - Dr. Mark Stibich


- Exercise.

You might be thinking: “Yes, I know that exercise is good for you. But who has the time?”

I hear you. My response is to keep it simple. You don’t need to undertake a big exercise program, join a gym, or get a trainer. Just walk.

Many studies have proven the powerful benefits of walking.

A Harvard study showed that walking at a moderate or brisk pace for 30 minutes a day can cut the risk of heart disease by 40% in women and comparably in men.

So, get moving. What are you waiting for?


- Spend time in nature.

There are numerous therapeutic benefits to spending time in nature.

Being outdoors has always been an elixir for me. Whenever I go for a hike in nature or sit by the beach or read quietly in the park, I always feel so much better afterwards.
“In a series of studies, scientists found that when people swap their concrete confines for a few hours in more natural surroundings -- forests, parks and other places with plenty of trees -- they experience increased immune function. Stress reduction is one factor. But scientists also chalk it up to phytonicides, the airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting and insects and which also seem to benefit humans.” - Anahad O’Connor (N.Y. Times)


- Find a way to be happy now.



If you took only one idea from this article on eliminating or reducing stress, it would be this: find a way to be happy now.

Take tiny steps if you must, but keep moving in the direction towards feeling good. And, if you don’t know what direction that is, then simply ask yourself: “What would bring me the greatest peace of mind now?” and go in that direction. Take the path of least resistance.
“While situations, encounters or events may seem intrinsically ‘stressful,’ it is truly how an individual perceives and reacts to an event that determines whether or not the stress response is activated.” - Institute of HeartMath

16 Things That Make Life Better

gasp at life by maessive, on Flickr
Photo by maessive (CC BY-ND 2.0

Written by Raymond Salas

16 Things That Make Life Better


Here's my updated list of 16 things that make life better:

Prince Ea

Prince Ea is a twenty-something poet and filmmaker from St. Louis, Missouri. He creates short, yet powerful spoken word films on a diverse range of topics including environmentalism, work-life balance, and spirituality. His work has received over 500+ million views on YouTube and Facebook. 

One of my favorites is "Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives."


Others include:
- Why I Got Rid of Most of My Friends
- Working to Live or Living to Work?
- MAN vs EARTH


"Make It Count" by Casey Neistat 

Nike hired Casey Neistat to make a movie about what it means to "make it count." Instead of making just a normal commercial, he took their money and over the next ten days, he traveled around world filming his adventures and redefining what it truly means to make life count. The inspiring video has nearly 25 million views on YouTube (as of February 2017).

"Make It Count"




"Caine's Arcade"

"Caine's Arcade" is a short 11-minute documentary about a 9-year-old boy's handmade cardboard arcade in the back of his father's auto parts store in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles and his dream of having customers. A local filmmaker Nirvan Mullick happened to stop by the auto parts store one day and saw the arcade. He was impressed with Caine's great attention to detail, ingenuity, and imagination. Upon learning that he was Caine's first and only customer, he became inspired to make a short film about Caine and his arcade. The film went viral and received over 10 million views worldwide. As part of the film, Nirvan set up a college scholarship fund for Caine which has raised over $240,000 to date. 

"Caine's Arcade"




"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"

"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life" is an Academy Award-winning documentary short subject film about Alice Herz-Sommer, a German-speaking Jewish pianist from Prague who, at the time of her death in 2014, was the world's oldest Holocaust survivor at 110 years of age. In this compelling film, she embodies and discusses the power of music, laughter, and having an optimistic outlook on life. 

"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life"




"Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory"

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory" is an award-winning documentary showing the power of music and how it can help relieve the suffering of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. By simply placing headphones on patients and playing some of their favorite music from the past, we watch as they come to life and become very expressive, even recalling distant memories. It is a very inspirational film that captures many amazing transformations, providing hope and greater possibilities for those challenged, trapped, and isolated within themselves by these conditions.

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory"




Verilux full-spectrum lighting

While working in an office with fluorescent lighting, I noticed that I began to feel moody and lethargic, without knowing exactly why. I thought that it might be the lighting. I did some research and found the healthy lighting company Verilux. They have been making lighting products for over 50 years that are engineered specifically to produce a patented form of full-spectrum light that effectively mimics natural daylight. The result is improved vision, less eyestrain, reduced fatigue, enhanced clarity, truer colors, and greater contrast. I felt better almost immediately, literally within minutes of switching to their lighting products. I was truly amazed!

Verilux full-spectrum lighting



Primal Pit Paste

After using a deodorant crystal daily for many years, I learned that although these crystal stones don't have the forms of aluminum widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants, they do have a form known as potassium alum or potassium aluminum sulfate. As a result, I began my quest for a natural deodorant that was not only free of this known neurotoxin aluminum in any form, but also worked. After a lot of trial and error without any success, I tried a product called "Primal Pit Paste" and my search was over. Victory! 

Amy Cazin, a certified CrossFit trainer, athlete, and mother, created Primal Pit Paste after her daughter began having body odor at a very young age. She did not want to subject her daughter to the harsh chemicals found in the leading, most popular deodorants. Instead, she wanted to find a healthy, natural alternative that worked. Ultimately, she never found what she was looking for, so she created it. And, Primal Pit Paste was born.

Primal Pit Paste


standing desk

In 2012, the NY Times reported the results of two studies that concluded that “the more time someone spends sitting, especially in front of the television, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be.” 

After further research, I found that there is a growing number of people using a standing desk, which as its name implies, is a desk that you use while standing up. 

There are many types and styles to choose from. After some deliberation, I decided on a standing desk that can be placed on top of my existing desk. This gives me the option of standing when I want to stand and sitting when I want to sit.

I chose the Varidesk Pro 30 model, which is well built and very easy to use.




After using it daily for over a year now, I can report feeling more energy, clearer thinking and focus, and better circulation. I highly recommend it.

Varidesk standing desk

I also strongly recommend standing on an anti-fatigue mat whenever 
using a standing desk

Imprint Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat 



cinnamon 

While growing up, my paternal grandmother always put cinnamon in her coffee...old school Mexican-style. I was always intrigued by this. Eventually, as an adult, I tried it for myself. Wow! Not only is it delicious, but I felt energized and clear-minded afterwards. What's in this stuff?

Well, it turns out that research and studies have found, among other things, that cinnamon can help:

- blood sugar control
- alertness, memory, and cognitive development
- lower LDL cholesterol
- prevent stomach bug / flu
- slow Alzheimer’s disease 



Bulletproof coffee

Dave Aspery, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and multimillionaire, discovered while hiking in the Himalayas that adding yak butter to tea gave him energy and made him more focused, even at high altitudes. After researching, experimenting, meeting with cutting-edge doctors and scientists, and investing almost $300,000 of his own money over the next 15 years, he came up with what he calls “Bulletproof coffee” -- 16 oz. of brewed mycotoxin-free coffee, 1-2 tbsp of MCT oil (a mix of coconut oil and palm oil with the lauric acid removed), and 1-2 tbsp of unsalted grass-fed butter or ghee all mixed together in a high-speed blender for 15-30 seconds.

On the surface “Bulletproof coffee” sounds disgusting, but I found it to be...well, kind of awesome. I’ll be the first to say that it actually tastes good. Next, I noticed that it gave me a lot of energy, without making me jittery. My brain felt like it was functioning at a very high level, with my metabolism and blood sugar balanced the entire day. Surprisingly, after drinking it for a couple of weeks, I noticed that my pants started to feel looser around the waist. I spoke to a few others who experienced the same thing. Wow!

Bulletproof Coffee


Tabata workout

After looking for a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that I could do in about 10 minutes, I discovered Tabata, which was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata for Olympic athletes in Japan. Basically, it consists of 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times without stopping. Although short in duration, research has proven that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts have significant aerobic, metabolic, and cardiovascular benefits.

Here’s the basic Tabata workout routine I follow (3x/week):

Tabata workout




reducing grain intake


With the popularity of the Paleo diet and best-selling books Grain Brainand “Wheat Belly,” many have discovered the many benefits in reducing or eliminating gluten and grains from their diets. Even though I had already significantly reduced my gluten intake with great results, I still consumed a lot of brown rice. So, I decided to try reducing my daily grain intake to see what happens. The results? I noticed improved energy level and mood, reduction of brain fogginess, and the balancing of my blood sugar levels. 


pumpkin seeds 

I started consuming organic pumpkin seeds almost daily, primarily because they're a quick, easy, and delicious snack. As an added bonus...pumpkin seeds' benefits include: 

- heart healthy magnesium
- zinc for immune support
- plant-based omega 3 fats
- improved prostate health
- anti-diabetic effects
- benefits for postmenopausal women
- heart and liver health
- tryptophan for restful sleep
- anti-inflammatory benefits


Ion Me wristband 

If you are a sports fan, you may have noticed many professional athletes wearing colorful wristbands during their games. These bands incorporate negative ion technology which proponents say improve the strength, balance, flexibility, and energy of the wearer. After researching many wristbands, I chose the Ion Me brand which has some of the highest levels of negative ions. After I started wearing it, I noticed a definite improvement while playing sports, exercising, and staying balanced throughout the day.

Ion Me wristband



Brushing Rinse

Brushing Rinse is an oral rinse developed by Mystica Linforth, after she received a diagnosis of advanced periodontal disease. After researching many options, she began brushing her teeth with a combination of food-grade hydrogen peroxide, aloe vera, and potent essential oils. With regular use, her teeth turned whiter, her gums stopped bleeding and receding, tartar significantly reduced, and her teeth were no longer sensitive. Her Brushing Rinse is also very helpful for “morning mouth” and keeping your teeth clean throughout the day.

Essential Oxygen Plus Peppermint Brushing Rinse, 16 Ounce -- 2 per case.


sleep mask

Fortunately, I’ve never had any problems sleeping or falling asleep. But, after noticing the light coming through my bedroom window and blinds every night from the street lights outside, I started experimenting with using a sleep mask, which is designed to block out light, create a state of darkness, and induce the production of melatonin, the sleep chemical in the brain. Immediately, I noticed that I fell asleep easier and slept deeper. How did I not know about this? 



14 Surprising But TRUE Things About Love and Romance

Sweet disposition,hearts texture,hearts by *nacnud*, on Flickr
Photo by *nacnud* (CC BY 2.0

Written by Raymond Salas

Regardless of how you may feel about Valentine's Day, it has a way of shining the spotlight on the current state of love and romance in our lives.

Questions come to mind like...

"How’s my love life...really?"

"Have I found the one yet?"

"Am I truly happy in love and romance with the person I'm with? Or am I just settling?"



14 Surprising But TRUE Things About Love and Romance



After many lessons learned and myths shattered...

Here’s my 14 surprising, but TRUE realizations about love and romance:


- Who you’re attracted to now may or may not be the person you imagined or pictured in your mind.

We often think that we know who (or what) would make us happy. The truth is that our preferences are always based on the past, which may have little or nothing to do with the present or future.

As a result, we may find ourselves attracted to someone who doesn’t fit what we believe to be our ideal “type.”

When then have the choice to deny and resist what we are truly feeling in the present moment or be open and follow where our heart is leading us.

Love and attraction are never logical. 


- Just because you broke up doesn’t mean the relationship failed.

Maybe it ended because it was simply over. In other words, it had run its course, played itself out, and there was no more growth or good that could come from it. 

In this case, it’s time to move on to whatever is next for you.

The amount of time that it takes a relationship to reach this point varies. For some, it’s days and weeks. For others, it’s months and years.

It happens however it happens.


- There is no “special” one just for you.

This is a concept that many people struggle with: “Who is my soulmate and how can I find them?” 

The truth is that there may not be only one person who is right for you. There could be more, with each person being right for you in different ways, at different times of your life.
 “While the idea of each of us having an ideal soulmate might seem reassuring...it could deprive one of the opportunities of discovering many suitable partners. This fixation of the mind on just ‘one’ soulmate will make you miss living your life while you wait for the arrival of the ‘one.’ You could equally just be placing too much pressure on your existing relationship, which could lead to its failure.” - www.loving-relationship.com

- The first 3-6 months of a romance are no indication of whether or not it will last.

Yes, it’s true. The first few months of a new romance can feel like magic, a high like no other.

However...
“Realistically it is not advisable to commit to someone in the first 3-6 months of a relationship when you are likely running on Oxytocin. which is a chemical found in chocolate. Oxytocin creates the sense of well-being and euphoria that comes with ‘falling in love.’ This might as well be dubbed the period of temporary insanity, because you are not in command of all your faculties; your brain is hijacked by those lovely chemicals, interfering with your ability to think clearly.” - Yangki Christine Akiteng

- If you’re needy or desperate, you won’t find what you’re truly looking for.

Whether it’s with love and romance or anything else...
“When we ask for what we want, while being grateful and not being needy, we increase the odds of attracting it to us. It’s the feeling of desperation that pushes away the very things we want. Attachment isn’t good for manifestation. You have to let go.” - Joe Vitale
Ironically, when you no longer need the object of your desire, but would welcome it, that’s when it usually comes...when you are free from attachment.


- How attractive you are has nothing to do with anything external.

This includes your job, job title or work, income, the size or shape of any or all of your body parts, your age, hairstyle, clothes, home, the vehicle you drive, etc. ...despite what advertising, social media, and popular culture may be telling you.

While each of these things can influence how you feel, how attractive you are in any given moment all comes down to how you feel inside, your self-esteem. Nothing more.

“...self-esteem has nothing to do with anything external, such as looks, approval, money, relationships with others, or having a baby. Self-esteem, or the lack of it, is solely the result of how we treat ourselves.” - Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

- Just because you both _______ doesn’t mean you’re right for each other romantically.

You can fill in this blank with anything that you both have in common, such as:

- like to “mambo”
- are from the same city, state, school, gym, yoga studio, etc.
- love sushi, Thai food, etc. 
- enjoy hiking 
- love going to the beach

You get the idea. 

While common interests are definitely a good starting point, they don't necessarily mean that there will be "sparks" or romantic compatibility and harmony.


- Like you, the other person will change over time.

Each of us is continuing to grow and evolve as individuals. Therefore, the person you’re attracted to now will be different in a year from now... or five years from now... or ten years from now.

Expecting them to remain the same is contrary to nature, love, and life, where change is the only constant.

How you respond to these changes will make all the difference.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” - Charles Darwin

The same could be said for relationships, love, and romance.


- Being involved in a romance may or may not be the best thing for you right now.

Sometimes we just need some space, time on our own to “fly solo,” without a partner, to clear our mind, balance our emotions, rest and rejuvenate ourselves.



- Another person cannot make you happy.

The bottom line is: either you’re happy or you’re not. It has nothing to do with the other person or anything outside of yourself.
“Nasty people can’t make you mad. Nice people can’t make you happy. Events or people are simply events or people. They can’t make you anything. You have to do that for yourself. Whatever emotions arise in you as a result of external events, they’re powerless until you pick them up and decide to act on them.” - Adrian Savage

- You will never like or love the other person in the same way 100% of the time.
“No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater...The love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences. And that’s the key.” - Sarah Dessen

- The only thing that really matters (after being romantically involved and together for at least six months) is how you truly feel when you are with this other person.

 Do you feel truly comfortable and at ease around this person? Do you trust them? Can you express yourself, who you really are, warts and all, with this person? Can you just be yourself around them? Do you have fun and enjoy being with them most of the time? Do you like who you are when you are with them? Do they see and support the best in you? 




- To attract the person, romantic relationship, and life of your dreams, you first must become the person who would be attractive and a match to this ideal person, relationship, and life that you desire.

How?
“When you visualize your new reality, you must imagine yourself BEING the kind of person who can attract and hold on to all the good stuff you wish to manifest. That means you’re going to have to work on yourself and grow into that kind of person. 
In order to manifest what you desire, the total package must be congruent. There must be harmony between what you’re attracting and what’s attracting you. Too often people fall into the trap of trying to attract something that would naturally repel them, such as...trying to attract a loving relationship without becoming a loving and attractive person. 
This is largely common sense, which many people seem to lose sight of when trying to apply the Law of Attraction.” - Steve Pavlina

- Opposites do NOT attract.

Despite what romantic comedies and Hollywood would have us believe, numerous studies and social psychologists have found that opposites do NOT attract.

In fact...
“Opposites tend to attract in the short term, but not in the long-term. Over the long haul, one of the biggest predictors of success in relationships and marriages is similarity.” - Catherine Sanderson, psychologist 

Related and recommended post: 
5 Steps for Getting Over Someone and Healing A Broken Heart