One of the most important lessons I have learned from strength training and fitness is the difference between Reaction and Response. Not only have I learned that there is a marked difference between the two behaviors, I have learned how to utilize these behaviors intelligently.
Reaction is what I would like to deem an amygdala driven behavior. This is the area of the brain that is responsible for our flight or fight reactions. Reaction is emotionally driven and is a behavior that is limited to instinct.
Response in the sense that I use it, is the cerebral driven behavior. It is based in the ability to skillfully use the forebrain for an intelligence driven behavior. This is where the word “responsibility” comes into play. It means our ability to respond to the circumstances in our lives.
By no means is one behavior better than the other. Each behavior has it’s place. I am a man who is comfortable with his emotions. I am comfortable feeling them and using them to react to situations in which the forebrain is not necessary. This puts me at an advantage over those who are too “heady,” people who live in their head. If you are someone who constantly lives in their head, this puts you in a dead space. The “head” or “intellect” is nothing but dead ideas that tries it’s best to join a party that it’s not invited to. The party of life dances in the river of liveliness.
Now, responding is a wonderful behavior that allows us to use the newest, most powerful addition to the human body, the neocortex. This part of the brain levels us out as human beings. This part of the brain is more intricate and powerful than a computer. In situations where emotion cannot compete, we can use our cortex to respond intelligently and favorably to any situation.
When both of these behaviors are use in conjunction with one another we have a force that can surmount any situation and circumstance.
In this day and age we have more technology at our hands which means we can move at a much faster rate than previous eras. Combined with the fact that we are living in the information age, we have a recipe for being the most productive people in history if we are productive enough. Here are 8 ways to become more productive:
Proper Sleep – More than a third of Americans are sleep deprived, says the CDC. It seems as if this “#teamnosleep” culture thinks that this is a way to become more productive if they were not before. Believe it or not, sleeping more increases production. It is just common sense that if we are too tired to function, we end up making more mistakes than average, forcing ourselves to go back and correct these mistakes. It is better to get enough sleep, bang our tasks out efficiently rather than doing the task over again because of neglecting to sleep properly.
Lift – Whether it is the first thing in the morning or after a long day at work, lifting will decrease stress levels. Decreasing stress levels by lifting allows us to get all of that pent-up aggression out without hurting anyone in the process. After a great training session, we get a rush of endorphins that allows us to feel light as a feather. Almost as if we are floating down the street without a care in the world. Imagine feeling like that while having a ton of things to do! Alright, maybe this is wishful thinking but exercise in generally increases a sense of overall health and well-being. This thing called our body is where we approach all of our tasks from. It’s the aperture through which we actualize our dreams. Increasing it’s well being is a great way to become more productive.
Get busy – Yes, get busy. In order to be productive, we have to be busy in the first place. I’m not talking about busy work, I’m talking about doing work that is meaningful to you. Find your purpose, for those of us who do not know what our purpose is we can find our purpose by doing a bunch of things as a way of “getting our feet wet.” Or we can think about what it is we would be doing for fun if we had already amassed a fortune. Getting busy is a way to actually fuel our passions as well. For example, we need to jump out there and try a few things, excelling in one field while realizing our true passion. We can use knowledge we accumulated in one field, as well as its resources, and apply it to our true passion and desire.
Eat right – Now that we are busy having a go at life, we have to literally fuel our bodies, most importantly, our brains to engage our day-to-day life. Personally, I had to learn this the hard way because I was one of those people who put tasks before diet. Many of us seem to believe that by not eating properly, we are devoting more time to getting the things done on that long list. Eating a proper, balanced diet means better focus and concentration.
- Breakfast: Breakfast literally means to “break fast.” We have been sleeping for about 7-8 hours without a meal. It is ideal to have a meal high in carbs to start off fueling ourselves for the day. These carbs should be complex. Breakfast cereals and oats are ideal because these are slow digesting carbs; sources of steady energy that is released into our system a little at a time without sending our pancreas into overdrive. Ditch the sugary drinks and pop tarts for breakfast that only serve to have you crashing before half of your day is over. Pairing oats, breakfast cereals, fruit juice with some eggs is where it’s at for a balanced, functional start to the day.
- Lunch: Keep it simple and light on the carbs. Depending on the kind of work we do, we want to keep the carbs light to avoid getting sleepy after lunch. It is ideal to have a salad with some form of protein source such as chicken, fish, beef, etc.
- Dinner: It is ideal to have another meal fortified with veggies, protein source and again light on the carbs. Heavy carbs late in the day means the likelihood of our bodies struggling to digest it while we are sleeping. Dinner should be about 2 hours before bed, giving the food enough time to digest in order for us to have a good, quality sleep.
These next four are a little far out for some of us but bear with me. They have a connecting theme that weaves them all together:
Meditate – First thing in the morning, meditate for at least ten minutes. This is a great way to raise our spiritual and mental vibrations. Meditation increases focus and allows us to balance our emotions in a conscious way. Doing this in the beginning of our day, as soon as we wake up, addresses any concerns we have about the day before we even start it. Allowing ourselves to sit in silence for the first ten minutes of the day sets the tone for the rest of it. We find our peace and carry it with us through out the day without getting frustrated (well maybe a little bit from time to time) by the small irritations of daily life. We don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on the important things that need to get done. This is a great way to get connected with source energy and therefore empowering ourselves to become more productive.
Affirmations – Our circumstances and everything in them are a series of affirmations that we have accepted over time. Whether circumstances are what we want them to be or not, we can all agree that these are things that we have chosen as adults once we understand the deeper currents at work. Intentionally affirming what we would like to see happen changes our lives first on a subconscious level, then on a physical level. Affirming “I want to become more productive” is a great affirmation. Once this affirmation is repeated over and over and held in the mind for a period of time, this affirmation becomes a thought, then a feeling, then a behavior over time. Boundaries go up and anything that does not serve this thought is therefore kept out.
Let’s write down our goals – …on paper. Let’s map our goals out. Let’s make a plan. For some strange reason, whenever I write my goals down(on paper) they always seem to manifest even long after I’ve forgotten I’ve written them down. A real world example is this website and all of the content I have put up so far. A year after I have conceived the idea and WRITTEN it down, here it is. I have never thought I would be designing my own website, providing content for millions of people to use and watching videos of me. If you do not take anything else from this article, take this one bullet point and it will change your life. I have no idea if it’s some sort of magic, or if it’s a deep-rooted psychological thing but it works.
Make the decision – This is one of the more important points. You have to get up off your ass and take action. Applying information that you have picked up here and there is where the magic happens. When we make the decision to do anything, including the decision to become more productive, even if it’s a small step in the right direction, things change for the better. There is no doubt about that. It is non-negotiable. We only change the things we decide to change. No one else can do it for us.