Part 1 of 3
1 - GETTING INTO A STATE OF FLOW
(First off, let’s talk about) FLOW. What is ‘flow’? Flow is the state you get into when you lose track of time. Some call it ‘being in the zone’. A day passes in a moment, an hour in the blink of an eye, and yet every moment is filled with such delicious richness it could be an eternity on its own. This is flow. Every one of us has a trigger that gets us into this flow. Flow is where time literally stops and in that moment, you cannot possibly imagine the idea of mortality. Your flow might happen during the middle of a soccer game as you score that winning goal in the last minute, or while you’re driving Route 66 in New Mexico on a cross-country road-trip, or possibly at the beginning of your favourite yoga class as you chant a resounding, ‘Om’ (there is a reason why one of the forms of yoga is literally named, ‘flow’). Flow can happen anywhere, at any time, but more often than not you can induce it when you’re doing something that you absolutely love. It is a state of absolute being and absolute non-thinking. For example, orgasm only happens when you’re in that flow. Flow keeps you happy, it keeps you young. It is inversely related to how many pharmaceutical drugs you carry in your pocket. Kidding (not kidding)! The purpose of meditation is to get you into this zen state but let’s be honest, not all of us have that easily accessible in our arsenal. For those of us that do, meditation is an absolute must, but for those of us that cannot yet, doing the activity that induces flow is imperative to mental sanity and happiness.
Here is a TED Talk titled Flow, the secret to happiness, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Flow is happening right now as I write this blog at a late-night cafe, knowing that not a soul will disturb me. For the most part, however, flow happens when I am dancing West Coast Swing. A few years ago, when I was working as a corporate recruiter in downtown Vancouver, I made every excuse I could to justify social dancing several times a week, even to the detriment of my work efficiency the next morning. In fact, in my last year at the corporate zoo, I think I went to over 6 or 7 swing conventions and that really wasn’t even that much. Some real fanatics will go at least a couple of times a month, travelling across Canada, the United States, and even Europe. Professionals, of course, will be at one nearly every weekend of the year. Just to give you a bit of an idea of the level of athleticism that is required of a dancer at one of these conventions, allow me to enlighten you. Usually the events last from Thursday until the following Sunday evening. Workshops begin at 9 or 10 in the morning, Competitions happen throughout the entire afternoon and evening at 1.5 minute intervals, there is a break for dinner followed by professional shows, and finally the social dancing begins around midnight until the wee hours of the morning (I think my record was 9:30 am). Let’s not forget the inordinate amount of social drinking that’s involved at these events.
In short, the weekends were extremely physically demanding. Even as such, they were an oasis of fun and excitement I looked forward to, a fantasy land of fun that lasted a whole four days! I was on an adrenaline rush nearly the whole time, but the subsequent endorphins more than made up for consequences. I woke up happy and excited every morning! Except, of course, the Monday mornings after a West Coast Swing convention. They were quite a different story, being the most torturous, tedious, torments I could imagine. Normally after a late, Sunday night flight, sleep-deprivation, and an aching body that had been dancing for four days straight, combined with the seemingly never-ending onslaught of emails, marketing calls, resume screening, and candidate interviews, it was more than enough to make me want to crawl under the desk and rock side to side, in foetal position. I never did that; well, at least not when someone was looking.
My body was an inflamed mess from the physical stress to which I had subjected it during the weekend, and because I wasn’t doing what I loved on a day-to-day basis, the juxtaposition of the two worlds was just that much worse the week after. It was so, so difficult to temporarily live a life of passion and excitement, only to return to the monotony of what was then my reality. The mornings were a struggle. It took me about half an hour to get out of bed after laying in child’s pose, then required about 16 ounces of coffee and a sugary butter tart on my way to work to jump-start the day. The anxiety of having to muster energy for my work when all I wanted was to go back to bed was almost more than I could bear. I knew it was psychological, because a few days when I felt like I was actually physically ill, I called in sick and it all went away after a walk around Stanley Park and some sunset gazing at English Bay. The fact of the matter remained, however, that the depressed state I was in had a real physical impact on my brain and mental happiness.
Jessica, you told us you were going to show us how to be happy. This turning out to be a lot like the plot-line of Les Misérables!! How does this story turn around you might ask?
2 - TAKE YOUR NRF2 SUPPLEMENT EVERY DAY
At that point in my life I wasn’t yet ready to relieve the psychosomatic symptoms of the depression on an emotional level by quitting my job - I was simply too scared. But there was something I could do for the physiology of my brain, and thanks to the persistent prodding of my nonna (Italian for grandmother), I eventually decided to take it. The first question we have to ask is why does depression (or any neurological disorder) occur? Sure, you can blame genetics, your messy roommate, or Donald Trump, but the real cause is actually inflammation, which is more scientifically referred to as oxidative stress.
What is oxidative stress, in simple terms? According to News Medical: Life Sciences & Medicine Journal,
“Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.”
In other words, oxidative stress causes damage to your body’s cells, thereby affecting every aspect of your body's physiology. Oxidative stress occurs when our cells release free radicals as a naturally biochemical process of eating, sleeping, exercising, drinking and basically living; but because our current life styles are overwhelmed by environmental stresses, toxins, pollution, smoke, alcohol, chemical drugs (both pharmaceutical and recreational), electromagnetic frequencies, GMO diets, over indulgence in milk, sugar, saturated fats, and meat products, our body’s natural mechanisms are having a hard time keeping up. What does this mean? What this means is because inflammation and oxidative stress is the main cause behind ALL diseases and disorders, we are ageing and getting sicker, sooner. In fact, inflammation is a proven causative factor in diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, neuromuscular disorders such as MS, as well as a host of other issues. They are also now discovering a causative relationship between inflammation and depression. (Click here to see study).
So, doing all that exercise, keeping up late nights, and then adding the stress of working a job I hated, I was racking up all this oxidative stress and it was showing up in my psychology as depression. For those of you who have known me since childhood, you’ll know this isn’t my natural state at all and it was frustrating. I had no idea what to do. Honestly, at that time, I was ignorant to all this information. I always ate whole, organic foods, never took any prescription medicine, and always purchased the most eco-friendly, chemical-free products. I had hemp smoothies every morning with fresh fruits and veggies - seriously, what more could I do!?!?
Up until about the last 15 years we have been combating oxidative stress with antioxidants, particularly vitamins. Antioxidants are intrinsic in fruits and veggies which is why when you eat well, you feel well. Another thing that fruits and vegetables do that isolated vitamins do NOT do is they activate something called the nrf2 pathway. This is your body’s natural antioxidant mechanisms, and you’ve had it since you were growing in your mother’s womb. Human, meet Nrf2. Great! I’m glad you’ve finally met. You’ve heard of antioxidants - such as vitamin E, vitamin C, etc., but did you know your body creates its own natural enzymes that are literally 1million times more powerful than exogenous (i.e. outside the body) antioxidants?
Fortunately, my Uncle Michael has always been on the cutting edge of natural health and he introduced Protandim, the world’s first patented, 100% herbal nrf2 activator, to my family. (There are a few pharmaceutical ones out there you can opt for that cost $50,000 and have minor side effects such as, well, death, but I personally prefer to opt for the natural route and if you’re reading this blog this far you probably do, too).
What does this Protandim do you, you ask? Well, it’s very specific. Using a blend of 5 herbs in a specific, unique ratio, it is able to talk to the DNA in your cells to jump start the Nrf2 pathway to continue to produce the antioxidant enzymes it used to at the rate it used to when you were 20 years old and is medically proven to do so. By initiating this enzymatic process in your cells, it is able to significantly reduce oxidative stress in the body. (Click here to see peer-reviewed studies). As I mentioned earlier, inflammation (i.e. oxidative stress) is the top causative factor of disease and thus the reduction of it is the number one factor necessary to whole-body healing.
About a week after taking my Protandim I woke up with clarity in the morning. I felt energetic and good about myself, well-rested and happy in my body, to be alive. I still hated my job, but I didn’t hate waking up in the morning.
So, those are two of the three habits that I do every morning to ensure a happy morning: (1) Get into a state of flow every day, by following my passion and (2) take my Protandim.
There is one more simple habit I want to talk to you about in the third part of this series, but before we get there, I’d like to tell you more next week about how I finally got over my fears and followed my passion of dancing on a daily basis in the hopes that it might help you navigate through to your passions, too.
To order your own bottle of Protandim, click here.
Monday, April 4 @ 6 am - 3 Simple Habits to Ensure a Happy Morning, Part 2 of 3
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