Increase Your Peace, Part 3
It’s time for installment number three in this 10 part series of proven ways to increase your peace. Let me just be really open with you right here. Today’s path to peace is hands-down the most difficult one for me to consistently implement. And yet, it is one of the most proven methods on the planet for increasing peace, decreasing blood pressure, and tons of other great stuff:
3. Exercise weekly – especially if you are busy. Why is it so hard to get into a regular workout routine? (Notice is is much harder to GET into a workout routine than to STAY in a workout routine. Hmmm…) Because it takes short term sacrifice to achieve a long term gain. And the truth is, American culture has largely become a society of folks who would rather make long term sacrifices for short term enjoyment. Not exactly a recipe for healthy living or for any real peace!Developing a habit of regular exercise (ideally about three times a week) requires you to push yourself through across a challenging, unpleasant bridge. Depending on your personality, your current level of fitness, and your frequency of workouts, it may take weeks to make it across this grueling bridge.
Down here in South Louisiana, we are all familiar with the Causeway Bridge that spans across Lake Pontchartrain. This is the longest bridge in the world. When you get out on the middle of that thing, you can look around and feel there is nothing in the world but water. It’s as if you have taken the bridge of no return. But keep driving. This mind game will eventually come to a satisfying conclusion as you keep moving forward and reach the far side. You can even learn to greatly enjoy the journey, if you are willing to accept where you are along the way, and not be impatient for the end.
Getting into an excercise habit is just like this. How many times have your started the journey enthusiastically, only to give up a few days or weeks later, when you haven’t “reached the other side?” I would urge you to be patient AND diligent, making steady forward progress. Once you cross that bridge of initial challenge, you will actually come to enjoy your workouts. And the benefits for your level of peace are numerous…Lower blood pressure. More calm. Less weight. Healthier heart. Longer life. Increased immune system. Chemical boost of endorphins, enkephalins, and catecholemines (your body’s natural mood-elevating drugs!). Better self-respect. Sexier clothes. And who knows how all this good stuff will impact your sex life!
One more thing. Notice I said “especially if you are busy.” Believe me, I know how easy it is let exercise go when schedules get full of demands. I certainly have not always been the best example here. But I also know when I am willing to commit even to just two 30-minute workouts a week, I feel more energetic and capable of tackling all my responsibilities. In fact, it often seems my overall pace actually slows down while my productivity goes up – giving me even more time for self-improvement.
It’s like the two lumberjacks who decided to see which could cut down 50 trees the fastest. One guy hacked and hacked and sawed away relentlessly. Occasionally, he noticed over his shoulder that his competitor was actually sitting down with his back to a tree. “With all those breaks he’s taking, there is no way he can hang with me!” thought the industrious lumberjack, as he kept toiling along without stopping. The “loafer” actually ended up winning the competition. Turns out those breaks weren’t just about stopping to rest. Every time he sat down against the tree, he took time to sharpen his saw and axe!
Ready to workout? Personally, I recommend the eliptical machine at the gym, but whatever works for you. What kind of workouts have you found most enjoyable and/or easiest to stick with? What kind of workouts have you found to be torture, no matter how long you kept going across that bridge? Are you willing to make short term sacrifices to achieve long term tremendous gains? (You can always post your comments on my site by clicking the title of the post you are reading.)