7 Things Emotion Scientists Agree On

On March 19, 2019 I attended a workshop titled: Designing Emotional Awareness with Dr. Eve Ekman, the prominent emotion research and emotion instructor at the Greater Good Research Center at Berkeley.

@fabian_gieske

@fabian_gieske

In the workshop she shared the top 7 things that emotion scientists agree on from a survey of 250 emotion researchers and scientists published by Dr. Paul Ekman.

Here they are:

  1. 88% = True, There are universal emotions.

  2. 80% = True, There are universal facial signs to emotions.

  3. 91% = True, Anger is a universal emotion.

  4. 90% = True, Fear is a universal emotion.

  5. 86% = True, Disgust is a universal emotion.

  6. 80% = True, Sadness is a universal emotion.

  7. 76% = True, Happiness is a universal emotion.

  8. 66% = True, There are universal triggers to emotions.

  9. 51% = True, There is universal physiology of emotion.

  10. 49% = True, There are biologically discrete, separate emotions.

  11. 11% = True, Emotions are constructed by social factors.

  12. 3% = True, Emotions are both biologically separate and socially constructed.

What is surprising about this study is how little scientists agree about emotions and emotional research globally. Historically very little research has been done on emotions. But this is changing fast as more and more work is done in the realm of emotions, positive psychology, mindfulness and behavior modification.

My most important takeaway from this event was:

What Dr. Eve Ekman said to us: "I have to say it's fascinating. There has not been that much research on emotional awareness and the research that has been done has been just like this… [by asking people to identify where in their body they feel an emotion after being asked to remember an experience that made them feel a certain way/emotion] - You are the expert on your embodied emotional awareness. Nobody else is better than you. Emotions are highly subjective. And if we can learn to report on them accurately then we are the best person to be researchers of emotion."

This quote gave me permission (from a prominent researcher and Phd) to trust myself, my own personal work and my own experience of my emotions - as long as I am training myself to understand my emotions accurately.

Read: What is emotional awareness - to discover the 8 emotional awareness skills that you can work on to be your own emotional mesearcher.

Scientists Disagree on Definition of Emotion

When the prominent emotion research, Dr. Paul Ekman surveyed 250 scientists who study emotion he found they disagree on many topics. One area of disagreement is how to define an emotion or an emotional experience.

Also Read: The 7 things that more than 75% of emotion scientists agree on.

What exactly is an emotion and how can we define it?

One dictionary definition of Emotion (e·mo·tion) is - a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood or relationships with others. But it is not proven that emotions derive from moods or moods come from emotions.

"State of mind" may not be accurate enough to be considered correct. Another common definition accepted by wikipedia is Emotion is a mental state associated with the nervous system[1][2][3] brought on by chemical changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioral responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. As that wikipedia definition states and I've written on the blog before emotions, feelings and thoughts are not the same thing.

What can we do if emotion researchers and scientists can not agree on what an emotion is at it's origin?

Rely on the highest level definition that the majority of scientists will agree with:

Emotion is a process, in which we sense that something important to our welfare is occurring, and a set of physiological changes and behaviors begin to deal with the situation.

That is it. Simple and useful. This definition is all we need to be able to do our own research on our emotions.

I was presented with this definition in a workshop on designing emotional awareness with Dr. Eve Ekman the emotion research and PH.D. at the Greater Good Science Center at Berkely who also happens to be daughter of Dr. Paul Ekman.

Male Loneliness & Emotional Awareness

Remember our co-worker, Max?

He’s our erratic, emotionally unaware avatar. (Read more about him here)

Many of us know a Max. Heck, we might even be Max. Chris thinks he was a Max.

What we might not know about Max is that he is lonely. And he is suffering. But Max might not even think his loneliness is severe. And he might not know that if he doesn’t ask for help now, he is on a path to chronic illness, heart disease, dementia, and maybe suicide.

Research is now showing that loneliness is an epidemic impacting up to 40% of American adults 45+ years old. We are also learning that this epidemic is now more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and obesity. (See #6 one nation under stress)

Crazy, right?

Let me ask you this...

Are you feeling lonely?

Are you embarrassed to answer yes? That's the trap.

You’re not alone.

Young boys naturally cultivate deep relationships with other boys. But through adolescence, young men start to lose those deep relationships. And as we develop romantic relationships in our early to mid 20s, our relationship priorities start to change.

As we leave the forced connectivity of high school and college our society and culture often silently tells us we no-longer need those connections. We might even feel like we don't need to maintain that same level of connection with the men in our lives.

Around 35 years old, men begin to feel symptoms of loneliness--isolation, loss of interest in hobbies/activities, chronic fatigue, and increased substance abuse. But many signs point to this problem starting as early as 20-25.

Fact: the highest demographic of suicides in America are committed by men ages 45-65. (more stats here)

Here’s a sentence you can complete to assess whether or not you might be lonely, “If my car died on the side of the road, I can call  _______ to help me out.”

Having trouble filling in the blank?

Again, you’re not alone. You and a 3rd of men in America report feeling lonely.

Also - If you answered “yes” to feeling lonely, you’ve just taken an emotional rep. Nice work! 

Chris and I have the tools to help you feel reconnected.

You can discover a few of these emotional tools by attending our next free training.

Max feels lonely, but hasn’t identified it yet. You’re a step ahead of Max. Identifying your emotions is a step towards a healthier lifestyle.

So what do you do now?

Call me. (link below to find a time)

Let’s find 15 minutes to chat. I’d love to learn a little more about you and your story.

I can help you build your emotional awareness and get you back to feeling connected again.

Don’t worry, I won’t shame or judge you. And our call is confidential. Promise.

Click here to find 15 min to speak with me (Mike Sagun).

If you are a good fit for our program I will offer you a free 90 min breath-rough call.

The first 15 min call is just a chance to make introductions.

Still not convinced?

Here are some common myths about loneliness, debunked:

  • Loneliness is real. It’s not made up.

  • You can have a rich social life and still feel lonely.

  • Loneliness is not your fault.

  • Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people.

  • Loneliness has nothing to do with social intelligence.

Maybe you’re telling yourself, “I can’t be lonely. I have a high IQ and I’m successful.” 

Guess what? Having a high IQ has nothing to do with EQ.

Read on to IQ vs EQ - what makes emotional intelligence so important - here.

EQ vs IQ - What makes emotional awareness important.

Bravo, you scored a 140 on your IQ test! You are brilliant at reasoning and solving problems quickly. And this likely isn’t new news to you. Too bad EQ has a higher correlation with success in life than IQ.

@chrisliverani

@chrisliverani

But we can get into that later. May I speculate?

You are intelligent. You have the ability to recite all kinds of information faster than your peers. And you think you a likely more intelligent than the rest of the room. 

You graduated summa cum laude from college. Landed a high paying gig right after college. And worked your way up the ladder. And even if you've rubbed some people the wrong way - you don't think it matters - because you're smarter and you get results.

You’ve spent the majority of your life learning and it’s propelled you into the career you are in today. Along the way you met a person that you’ve deemed qualified to be your long term partner. And you’ve met a group of people you consider good friends. On paper you are successful. But something feels like it’s missing.

And you’re right, something is missing.

Connection with yourself.

Connection with others.

Remember our friend, Max?

If not you can read about him here in emotional awareness and men.

Max produces great work. And he is really good at what he does. Some say that he is a genius. But his peers don’t like to be around him. Max definitely has a high IQ.

What’s missing in Max, however, is his ability to recognize how his actions affect others. Max might even be completely oblivious of it. He might even dismiss it.

If you are reading this and you are Max. Welcome. We get you. We might have even been similar to you a few years ago.

And just like Max, you might be feeling like your partner and friends are pushing away from you. You’ve been told that you are hard to work with. Your partner doesn’t feel safe venting to you anymore. And you don’t know why things in your personal life aren’t working out. You're smart - what's wrong? Why can't I think my way out of this?

Yes, you are brilliant at reciting facts and solving the world’s problems. But how good are you at feeling?

How good are you at naming and labeling your feelings?

How good are you at recognizing others’ feelings?

How good are you at remaining calm, cool, and collected in challenging times?

And how good are you at responding to your emotions rather than reacting to your emotions?

Heck - how good are you at understanding and creating space for your partner and their emotions or your other important relationships?

Over the last couple decades, research has shown that a higher EQ is correlated to higher levels of success than having a high IQ. People with higher EQ’s are not only wealthier and better leaders, but they have healthier, happier relationships. They even live longer.

Having a high IQ does not determine how high your EQ is.

They are completely separate.

May I speculate a little more?

You’re craving connection. You want to feel connected. And I’m not talking about surface level connection. I’m talking about deep, intimate connection. The connection that releases all those feel good hormones into your body. That feeling you get when you share a piece of your story and it’s validated. It’s the feeling of being seen and heard. 

Guess what? Developing your EQ will help you satisfy that need. And it’s not too late.

Men who have high EQs are... 

...are self-aware. They have the ability to trace their emotions back to their origins and see them logically. And they have a realistic grasp of their strengths and weaknesses.

...are great at self management. They can catch intense feelings and respond to them with compassion. They also know how to neutralize difficult situations and difficult people. And they know how to delay gratification.

...are socially aware. They can read and understand how people feel. They also know how to feel out the energy and see interpersonal relationships of a group.

...excel in relationships. They manage conflict well, listen and communicate well with people, and positively inspire/influence people.

We are building the foundation of our EQ when we practice emotional awareness.

And to get there we need to grow our emotional vocabulary and become emotionally literate. We also need to understand the differences between emotions, feelings, thoughts, moods, and stories.

Chris and I are here to help you grow your emotional awareness so that you can be an effective partner, friend, coworker, brother, father, and leader in your life.

You can start by attending our next live emotional awareness training.

And if you are really ready to make a shift in your life - let's start by making introductions - schedule a 15 minute intro call with me (Mike). We will gauge where you are in your life and we’ll provide feedback about next steps to help you get the life that you want.

Right now is the best time to start working towards your dream life.

Emotions vs Feelings vs Thoughts vs Moods vs Judgments vs Stories

*** Update: In response to a few messages about this post. This has become my most popular post and I am in the process of editing it. My intention in writing and sharing this article is general awareness. It is my hope that general awareness of the differences between emotions, feelings etc can help us relax, open and connect to our life experience. These are simply new ways to zoom in and out when examining and inquiring about your life. It is not an expectation that anyone be capable of or try to live their life this way from moment to moment.

One of the most amazing things in universe is language.

Our ability to think thoughts and to interact with our mind, body and other humans is an amazing thing. You are reading words that I wrote right now and I’m not around and you are able to have thoughts that are in some way similar to my thoughts. WOW.

But in our rush to live our life we forget that the emotions we are noticing are not necessarily the feelings that we’ve chosen as labels. Or are they?

For example the German language has a lot of feeling words that do not correspond to emotions in the english language.

  • Weltschmerz describes the feeling of having the weight of the world on your shoulders. And we have to admit - we might not have the language to describe what we are experiencing.

  • Schadenfreude, a German word that is somewhat commonly used in English, which means taking joy in others’ pain.This incredibly simple nuance can change your relationship with your emotional experience and how you think you feel. Let’s break this down.

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Emotions are not feelings. Feelings are our verbal representation of an emotional state we are aware we are experiencing.

Then we have thoughts. Our feelings and thoughts and *4 part energy level affect our mood. And then we make judgments about the emotions, feelings, thoughts and combine it with our mood to create a story to understand the world and ourselves in it.

*The four energies are mental, physical (includes sleep, calorie level and biomechanics like hormones), emotional, spiritual.

Repeat this cycle a million times and add in some intention, action, feedback and reflection (or lack of) we start to generate an attitude and expectation about life and our reality.

Imagine a single emotional episide:

Max snapped at his partner. He was angry. He then escalated the situation by saying something derogatory and being critical of his partner. Then max noticed he was feeling angry. An hour later he realized he was tired. He wasn't angry, he was frustrated because he had expectations and was surprised and while being tired he felt angry and snapped. And now he felt guilty for how he acted. He imagined his partner being angry for how he treated them. Imagining the near future he was nervous to see his partner - because of how they might treat him for treating them. Now he couldn't let this story in his mind go. This created an anxious feeling.

There is a lot happening here and things can get confusing fast. It is easy to tie ourselves in a knot and even lie to ourselves by seeing things from a confused and judgmental perspective.

As we begin to better understand our emotions it's important to upgrade our mental concept of the language we use to describe what is happening in our mind so we can unpack and examine our experiences from more nuanced perspectives.

Emotions are not feelings.

Did you know that scientists don’t agree on a specific definition of what an emotion is?

That amazing fact aside - I prefer Dr. Eve Ekman’s definition of emotion: Emotions are processes, in which we sense that something important to our welfare is occurring, and a set of physiological changes and behaviors begin to deal with the situation.

In personal terms I like to imagine emotions as physical body reactions or mind reactions that need to be labeled by me. Next comes language and feelings.

Feelings are our current labels of emotion.

Feelings are our best description or label for an emotion. It is entirely possible to feel an emotion and to mislabel what we are feeling. This could happen because of learned display rules or because we simply don't have the feeling vocabulary to describe what we are experiencing or because our society or culture has told us we are not allowed to feel this way. *** This does not mean the emotion is not present.

*** Although this is an area of disagreement between researchers.

Thinking is cognition

Thinking is not feeling. Thinking is planning, strategizing and understanding. Metacognition is thinking about thinking. Imagining this concept helps me imagine the difference between thinking and feeling. Daniel Goleman says “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.” Our thinking about our feelings leads to our moods. You can think in positive and negative ways. But emotions and feelings are never positive or negative. Emotions and feelings can only be responded to in constructive or destructive ways.

Emotions + Feelings + Thoughts + Energy / Chemistry = Moods (How We Are Being Now)

Moods are how we are feeling, thinking and what energy level we are in now. And a lot of our energy level correlated to our calorie intake and body chemistry (hormones). The mood we are in is a combination of our emotional state, our feelings, our thoughts and the amount of energy we have. This is why it's important to recognize automatic negative thinking or rumination because it can lead to moods that become a script and are unrelated to the current situation and cloud your judgment.

Judgements are conscious and unconscious.

Our brain is making judgments all of the time and we don’t even know it. Our brain does this because it’s a battery and it needs to save energy. We are consciously and unconsciously making judgments about our experience of life and thoughts all of the time. For example: if you were on psychedelics this rotating mask illusion would not switch as it rotates in a full circle. In reality the mask / face does not flip. Your brain is doing this automatically because it assumes you are looking at a human face and makes a “correction” to save your brain power. How often is this happening in your life without you knowing it? Likely a lot!

These judgments become the building blocks of the stories that we create to understand our experience of our life. We must be careful about making and holding strong to our judgments and remind ourselves that the judgments we choose become the base of the stories we tell.

Stories help us understand

Judgments lead to stories that then affect our feelings, thoughts and moods. Stories can be powerful tools or prisons depending on if they serve you and your life or trap you. Narrative and context can be edited into constructive or destructive forces. It's important to be curious about stories and to question them any time they become dogmatic, repetitive or scripted and no longer server the story teller.

And finally we have: attitudes.

Attitude is all of this over time.

As we go about life feeling, thinking, being, judging, and telling stories and gathering feedback through another process of intention, action, feedback and reflection (or lack of) we begin to create an attitude about our life and reality. I like to imagine an attitude being shaped after hundreds or millions of early life emotional states. This becomes how we approach life and new emotional states and experiences.

I often wonder if attitude is the common thread that we are weaving through lifes emotions, feelings, thoughts, moods, judgments and stories. It’s as if your attitude about a subject or your life in general is your identity speaking. This attitude / identity / ego combination can be a destructive and repetitive energy trap filled with negativity and suffering or a calm and present way of approaching the world with love and curiosity.

I prefer to imagine this being up to you.

In closing or beginning.

Simply recognizing emotions, feelings, thoughts, moods, judgements, stories and attitudes can be a powerful force-multiplier in your mesearch journey.

The next time you inspect an emotional episode or your emotional state try to approach with curiosity from one of these perspectives.

Emotional Awareness and Men (2019 Data)

Emotional Awareness and Men (2019 Statistics and Data)

You know that guy in the office who on some days looks totally approachable and other days looks angry and frustrated? There are mornings that feel ok to talk to him and mornings where you stay clear of him. He shows it in his body language, his tone, and his facial expressions. 

@joshuaearle

@joshuaearle

Many of us know a guy like this.

So, let’s name him Max.

Max is sometimes really great to work with and other times is very hard to work with. And when asked how he’s doing, his response is always, “I’m fine” or “I’m good.” But there’s a disconnect between his interactions with people, what his body language says, and the verbal response he has.

Max is normal. Just like you and I, he has great days and shitty days. But what he lacks is emotional awareness.

You probably already know what emotional awareness -- which is probably why you’re reading this. (If not, read - what is emotional awareness)

And you probably want to dive deeper…

Here are some stats and data:

  • Both men and women have that ability to cultivate EQ, only 35% of men practice EQ

  • 30-50% of our marital/partnered happiness relies on EQ

  • People who experience negative or destructive emotions regularly are 19% more likely to develop heart disease and are at 70% risk of cancer

  • Men are responsible for increasing negativity in an argument 65% of the time

  • People who practice emotional awareness have healthier relationships

  • Emotionally intelligent people are more satisfied and happier in their life

  • Emotional awareness is associated with lower levels of stress, healthier lifestyles, and longer lives.

  • Emotional awareness is correlated to lower levels of depression and anxiety

  • People who practice emotional awareness are more trusted by their peers

  • Higher EQ is a stronger predictor of success in life than IQ

Max might be unhappy. He might have unhealthy relationships. And he might be feeling stressed.

Do you feel like Max, sometimes?

I do.

I’m kind of like Max somedays. I walk around with weight on my shoulders. I divert my eyes. And I can be short and impatient. 

And that’s ok.

I’m always working on it. Our emotions come and go, just like the seasons.

But only Max knows if he is not experiencing his life the way that he would like to.

And that's why I a practice of emotional awareness into my life and work.

Heck - That's why Chris and I choose to do this work. It aligns with living a well lived life!

The beauty of emotional intelligence is that you can increase it by practicing emotional awareness as a skill.

Emotional awareness takes a whole lot of practice. The more we practice, the better we get. The better we get, the more satisfied and happy we will become in our lives. Because emotional awareness is literally how we experience our life.

And guess what? 

There will be moments where we mess up. But just like you, me, Chris, and Max--we’re all human. And messing up is part of being human.

Chris and I are here to practice emotional awareness with you.

We’re also here to help you build a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Resources

What is emotional awareness?

Emotional awareness is your experience of your life.

Read that again. Emotional - awareness - is - your - experience - of - your - life.

Right now - IN THIS MOMENT - pause and take a deep breath.

How are you feeling physically? How are you feeling emotionally?

You just checked in on your emotional awareness. If you actually did it.

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Most of our time and life are spent running a script. We are not aware.

But when we relax, open, and connect to the present moment and our body we can check in.

This is the beginning of practicing emotional awareness. Checking in.

How much of your energy is spent on challenges in your mind?

Are you feeling the way you feel right now because your mind is drifting to the past or the future?

Have you ever noticed that when you are present you tend to feel more calm?

How much of your emotional state is caused by struggling with where your mind is?

Are you - your emotions? We say “I am angry!” or “I am sad”.

How often do you forget that you are not your emotional state?

For starter’s let us imagine that you are you and your emotions are your emotions.

For this to be true there must be a space between you and your emotions.

Now, I want you to visualize yourself standing behind a waterfall.

You are standing in the cool calm dark space behind the water. The water is falling fast in front of your face.

When you close your eyes this is the passing of thought and ideas in your mind that come with emotions.

This is inquiry into your current state.

Most of our life is spent swimming in the water or getting crushed by the waves.

Most of us are living in a state of constant fight or flight bouncing from one emotional reaction to another.

Most of the time you are not behind the water. You stand underneath it and get inundated and drenched.

In this state you can’t tell one emotion from the next.

But when you step back and relax you can examine this rush of thoughts, ideas and emotions.

You can let some go or choose to sit with others. You can find an edge to some emotions.

Maybe you can’t let others go and you or your body can’t handle them.

Maybe you are tired or rushed and you can’t sit behind the waterfall.

Your experience of this is you being aware of your emotional state.

Now… Imagine how much of your life is spent in emotional unawareness?

What does all of this mean to you? Here is what emotional awareness means to me.

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This is mind bending and blowing to me at the same time.

Knowing a definition of emotional awareness (comprehension) is different than understanding what emotional awareness is through experience. Understanding requires empathy, identification and application. 

This means we only gain an understanding of our emotional awareness by practicing and playing with these concepts in real life and then reflecting on the experience and doing it again.

Before moving on you should know that scientists and researchers do not agree on a definition of what an emotion is. Here is the best definition of emotion we found.

Emotion research is a relatively new study. Here is Our definition of "emotional awareness".

Emotional awareness is a combination of self awareness and the development and of the 8 components of emotional awareness. (Definitions below) Each of these emotional awareness skills combine to promote a more nuanced understanding of emotions. I like to say - Emotional awareness is literally how we experience our life. 

  1. emotional embodiment (feeling or attunement)

  2. emotional granularity

  3. emotional differentiation

  4. emotional vocabulary

  5. emotional balance

  6. emotional agility

  7. emotional contagion

  8. The present state of a calm mind

As Daniel Goleman says “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.” Emotional awareness is the act of bridging the gap from feeling to thinking and back again. 

Hence knowing a definition of emotional awareness (comprehension) is different than understanding what emotional awareness is through experience. Here is what I had to learn first.

Also Read: The Top 7 Things Emotion Scientists Agree About

What to learn first. I am not my emotions.

To begin “understanding” what emotional awareness is I had to first make a mental step to bridge the gap of knowledge to understanding. 

In oder to understand what emotional awareness is I had to conceptualize "my self" separate from "my emotions". This can be tricky if you haven't worked your metacognition muscle and thought about your thinking and feeling before.

This means I separated the concept of me and my emotions in my mind. This in "mesearch" terms is the beginning of building a state of attunement.  

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This accelerated my understanding of emotions because I realized as Allen Watts says “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth” yet for many of us “I” and my emotions are the same thing.

We forget that emotions are "a process, in which we sense that something important to our welfare is occurring, and a set of physiological changes and behaviors begin to deal with the situation" - Dr. Eve Ekman.

Although - as stated earlier - it is important to note that emotion scientists do not currently agree on how to define an emotion. That is the best definition we found.

Many of us get stuck in a never ending loop of me / my emotions. We routinely confuse who we are with our emotional state. Our language forms this trap when we say "I feel sad" or 'I feel angry". This reduces the mental space between our mind and our experience of our emotions - making it more difficult to practice emotional awareness and making our experience of life stressful.

Creating space between you and your emotions is called emotional agility.

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In principal - I no longer put energy into answering "who am I?". Instead I direct my attention toward how I experience my life at any given moment.

There is a strength created in directing attention, energy and awareness to my experience. This is mindfulness, attunement and feeling. Not thinking.

Questioning who I am creates a fractured and segmented sense of self that is continually weakened as it is questioned.

Choosing how I want to experience my life creates a net of experiences that grow stronger as experience is gained. There is no bad or good experience in this model - only constructive or destructive experiences.

This is a virtuous cycle that only grows stronger. Here is a doodle of how I visualize the difference between asking "Who am I?" and answering "How do I want to experience my life?".

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There is a calm in knowing that my identity is an ongoing process. This spurs curiosity and compassion allowing me to step back and view my emotions at any given moment and simply experience my life. Every experience is a chance to grow and learn.

This choice saves a lot of energy, energy that can be used to be emotionally aware. As I became aware of my emotions three new skills came into play: emotional granularity, emotional differentiation and emotional vocabulary.

Then I realized that emotions, feelings, thoughts, moods, judgments and stories are not the same thing. This visualization came into view after about 6 months of meeting with my mens group every week and practicing meditation regularly.

When I would check-in with my mens group (R.O.C.) I would notice my emotional state. I began to recognize that the "emotion" and "feeling" and "thought" that I was experiencing where all respective of one another. These were all choices I was making. This is an important distinction to make - The difference between emotions vs feelings vs thoughts vs moods vs judgments vs stories.

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I needed to increase my emotional vocabulary in order to differentiate and describe what I was feeling. This is where I am today. Constantly practicing.

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Before creating this space when things would happen in my life - they would happen-to-me. When I R.O.C. I can create a tiny gap between the emotion and my experience of it. Creating mental space between me and my emotions cultivates emotional balance.

Creating space between me, my emotions, feelings and thoughts lead to the ability to perceive my own level of emotional balance.

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It makes sense to seek a deeper sense of self. To become intimately aware of my feelings, thoughts, moods, judgments and stories. This awareness has opened the door to a new way to experience my life.

My perspective on love and connect has changed. This awareness opened the door to notice love, attraction, needs and desires respectfully. For example, I can now see that love and desire are different. Desire, from the Buddhist perspective is the choice to be unhappy until you have what you want. I now choose what I desire wisely. I notice that desire is not necessarily love. I'm able to notice desire.

The emotions produced by my goals and aspirations have new importance. I've become aware of how my goals and dreams make me feel. The gap between what you think and say and what you do is a measure of your dissatisfaction. This integrity gap often leads to anxiety. When this happens you can become trapped in a vicious cycle where your goals and dreams hold you down and zap your energy.

The way out of this trap is to build your integrity and do more of what you say you will do. This creates a virtuous cycle and positive emotions. Success momentum.

This is the trap of our modern age. To be given lots of ideas of what could be by instagram and facebook. So much so that what you think and say in your mind and to your friends is far different than what you really do - you feel worthless. This is how you get trapped in dreamer depression.

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If I didn't start to notice my emotions I would likely still be trapped in this state.

Regularly noticing my emotions helped me recognize the difference between my emotions and the emotions of others. How often have we been around friends who are down and noticed we too start to feel drained? Are these your emotions or your friends emotions?

This is how you start to notice social and emotional contagion.

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And finally my emotional vocabulary had to develop to allow me to progress. I learned the difference between shame and guilt.

Shame is saying 'I am a bad person" where guilt is "I did something bad". When I notice shame in my life I can flip the shame into guilt so that I can process it constructively.

The key is to engage my sense of self as malleable. To be like water or a flexible willow tree that bends in the wind. Rather than a stiff board that snaps in the wind. This is further reason to put your awareness into how you want to experience your life and let go of trying to answer "who am I?".

This is how you become a researcher of your emotions.

  1. My emotions are not “me” and I am not my emotions.

  2. Emotions, feelings, thoughts, moods, judgments and stories are different.

  3. And finally, attempting to pin down “who am” is often a destructive and confusing question for many people to ask. The constructive question to ask is: how do I want to experience my life?

  4. Slow down - R.O.C. - Relax, Open, Connect - Calm you mind and check in.

This seed of understanding grew into an expanded view of emotions. I view my emotional awareness as 8 core skills that I can practice. This has a kinetic energy that propels my learning forward.  

The best part is - The more I learn about emotional awareness - the more I experience my life.

Discover the 8 core skills of emotional awareness 

Once I made the leap above the skills below started to fall into place.

Here are the 8 emotional awareness skills that you can work on to bring new perspectives to your understanding of emotional awareness. 

Try to Imagine an example of each of these in action in your life:

  1. Emotional contagion: The phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people.

  2. Emotional agility: The skill of being flexible with your thoughts and feelings so that you can respond optimally to everyday situations.

  3. Emotional balance: The ability of the mind and body to maintain equilibrium and flexibility in the face of challenge and change. A prerequisite for personal wellbeing and growth.

  4. Emotional vocabulary: The availability of “feeling and emotion words” to describe specific experience states.

  5. Emotional differentiation: The ability to discriminate between emotions that all fall within the same level of valence and arousal, labeling experiences with discrete emotion words.

  6. Emotional granularity: Emotional granularity is an individual's ability to differentiate between the specificity of their emotions.

  7. Emotional embodiment: Activation of emotion relevant sensory-motor and somatic states in the individual. Embodiment occurs both when an emotion-eliciting object is physically present to the perceiver, and also when the emotion object is referred to by internal symbols (thoughts) or external symbols (e.g., words).

  8. The present state of a calm mind: In order to do this work and recognize an emotional episode in the present moment or past through memory we must learn to relax, open and connect or R.O.C. In this state we can begin to understanding and experience the 5 phases of an emotional episode outlined by Eve Ekman, emotion researcher and trainer in her work creating The Atlas of Emotions with renowned emotion scientist Dr. Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama. The five phases are: Pre Episode, Trigger, Experience, Behavior, Post Episode.

In closing or beginning

I leave you with one of my favorite sayings: Energy flows where attention goes. 

When you let go of the constant pull to understand who you are and bring your attention to your experience of life you can make significant and lasting change. Relax, open and connect to practice the skills above. Your emotional awareness journey is not a linear process - it's a practice. It is life.

In closing I hope that this article inspires you to learn more about emotional awareness as a skill and to open to your experience of your life.

5 step plan to get over a professional setback.

This is a strategy to effectively manage a setback without trading your personal health for professional performance. I recently got thrown off by a professional setback that took me by surprise.

This is my 5 step system I used to recover and manage myself through a difficult time.

A major personal or professional setback can throw anyone off mentally and emotionally. Imagine losing the largest deal of the year in sales or having to fire an employee, or a catastrophic hardware failure occurs.

Major setbacks like this will happen in your life and work. When they happen - What do you do to stay on track personally and professionally without trading your health or your performance at work?

I didn’t have a plan for this and many professionals don’t have a specific strategy. We resort to blowing off steam via a vice like drinking or an outlet like running or yoga.

But, there’s a better way. I call this “Performance Processing”.

See Emotional Awareness ---> What is performance processing?

Performance processing is an emotional management strategy for peak performance in a professional of high stakes environment.

The goal is to sail through the rough seas of a major setback without taking a major hit to your performance or mental health.

Here’s what happened to me.

I recently experienced a major professional setback while building our men’s coaching practice with my partner Mike Sagun.

An opportunity to partner with a professional training company in San Francisco unexpectedly fell through at the last minute. What might have been a year making opportunity went upside down and turned to nothing overnight and I was left feeling lost, surprised, confused and angry at myself for allowing such a situation to ruin my motivation.

***As I write this article I am 1 week since this setback occurred. I’m writing this as much for you as I am for myself. This is what I did and what allowed me to recover and get back on track quickly.

  • Step / Day 1: Step into your personal container of emotional safety (1 Hour).

  • Step / Day 2: Step into your performance processing container (1 Hour).

  • Step / Day 3-5: Ship one important thing + plan empty self care space for later.

  • Step / Day 4: Schedule a self care Sunday (Check in and reflect)

  • Step / Day 5-7: Let go and integration (acknowledge what is still there).

5 steps performance processing strategy

Step 1 / Day 1: Step into your personal container of emotional safety (1 Hour).

Many people don’t have this in their life. If you are creating this from scratch, it’s likely the easiest to create with a good friend or partner. In order to create this container you need at least a single session of checking in on how you feel physically and mentally along with the context of what happened.

The goal is to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling without trying to fix, solve, plan or strategize. A basic script is to do a 10 min meditation, then share the context of what happened (with as little story as possible) then have your friend ask you 1) What are you feeling? 2) Where do you feel it in your body? And 3) What do you need? Try not to plan, strategize or fix this situation. Simply sit in the situation together.

When creating this container of safety it’s important to point out that this is useful for you as a human in all walks of life. This container isn’t just for this situation and each time you do this type of check in your container will get stronger. This is something you are creating for you, your personal relationships and your professional life. It is not simply for this strategy but it is where we must start so we can move onto the next step.

Now we are entering the realm of performance processing.

Step / Day 2: Step into your performance processing container (1 Hour).

Checking in with yourself and your situation in step 1 is a reminder of the strong base of emotional safety that we have in our lives. In this zone we are completely accepting and not trying to fix, plan, strategize, or understand. We are being. If you don’t have this strong base in your personal life - it becomes hard to create an adjacent performance processing container for your professional life. This is a form of compartmentalization.

To make the boundary between these two containers more noticeable - I like to first “request a focus session or performance session” with my coach or mentor that I’m working with. Mike and I do this for each other in our business. I use my environment, people, the agreements we have when in session, and time of day to help me draw a psychic boundary between my primary container of safety and my performance environment.

You are doing this when:

  • You ask to not go into a subject that will take you off focus.

  • You use a meeting space outside of the office as an opportunity to be more open.

  • You make an agreement to focus on work until a specific time / creating space later in the day

  • You schedule a 1/1 to acknowledge something that happened and refocus on priorities

If you’ve ever had a one on one with a manager who created a safe space for you to be open about how you felt and was then able to help you focus on the next step - you had this.

How to run a performance processing session:

  1. Set some agreements: You are at choice. The purpose of this container is not to solve what happened but to clear the context of what occurred with a trusted advisor, take responsibility for what occurred, and to focus on a clear next step that you can take to get back on track.

  2. Check in: 1-5 min, how are you feeling (physically, mentally, emotionally)

  3. Context: 5-10 min, give the context of the setback with a focus on brevity and as little story as possible. Get to the feeling and emotion that resulted. What happened? Boom, and then Boom, and then Boom this left me feeling Boom.

  4. Responsibility: 20 min, what are you taking responsibility for?

  5. Next step: 20 min, find one constructive thing to do next and do it. Pick something that is specific, deliverable in a day and important to your original mission prior to the setback.

  6. Check out: 1 min, how are you feeling (physically, mentally, emotionally)

  7. If you still need to dig into the setback. Schedule an opportunity to come back to the subject now so that you can focus on priorities at hand. This is usually 3-5 days later.

Step / Day 3-5: One important thing + plan empty self care space for later.

Now that you’ve created a boundary between your primary container and your performance container build momentum over the next few days by picking one important thing related to your previous mission and doing it. Then leave empty space for tasks and to check in on your state of mind.

This is a time to build success montum and get back on track. We are not hiding from our emotions we are choosing to process with a mindset toward performance because doing well with your work will in turn support your own personal recovery.

Step / Day 4: Self care Sunday. This doesn’t need to be Sunday but the transition takes time and iteration to overcome. I’m planning for a day of processing and self care 4-5 days after the setback in order to give myself permission to focus on delivering my one thing during the day when I want to build my performance back to where it was.

Step / Day 5-7: Let go and integration. If you created a primary container of emotional safety (Step 1) and created a performance processing container and delivered a next step (Step 2) and finally maintained this ritual for 3-5 days delivering small important project (Step 3) and given yourself an outlet in the near future to take care of yourself - you will be in a different world a week after a setback.

Now, you’ll be ready to integrate into the way life was prior to your setback. And if you aren’t, you’ll be in a good place to continue working on whatever is holding you back. A good question to ask at this stage might be: What do I need to let go of in order to move on?

Remember - as mens coaches and good humans we are here to take care of you the person before taking care of anyone else. In other words - Put your mask on first so you can help others. Do not use a performance processing strategy if you don't have an equal and opposite personal processing container in your life at home. You come first.

What is performance processing?

Emotional processing is the ability to experience stress, feelings or emotions from an event and move past them. As men's coaches we often work with men's coaching clients who hold roles where they must perform while also taking care of themselves.

When we are unable to process emotions in a constructive way, they develop stories, phobias or even other mental issues. Processing emotions allows our experience of those emotions to dissipate over time reducing stress and anxiety and increasing mental clarity.

Photo by  DJ Johnson  on  Unsplash

Photo by DJ Johnson on Unsplash

Performance processing is a type of emotional processing strategy used in situations where ones ability to carry out, accomplish or fulfill an important task is at stake. It is an emotional management strategy often used when peak performance is necessary in a competitive, professional or entrepreneurial environment.

In order to take care of the whole person performance processing must be used in combination with personal processing. This creates a combinatory affect or boundary where the person is both able to focus and maintain performance in one environment and process the entirety of the experience in another environment.

The three stages of performance processing are to:

  1. Acknowledge what occurred and how it made you feel in the moment so as to not hide from it or forget what happened. We refer to this as creating a personal processing container or a container of personal safety. Then.

  2. Responsibility - Make a choice to transition to a performance processing mindset where you bring your awareness to the context of what occurred with less story and you look for your responsibility in it. I am responsible for x and y.

  3. Action - And finally you set a time and place to come back to what occurred for personal processing allowing you to take clear and deliberate action focusing on a next step.

Using a combination of "personal processing" and "performance processing" together can have an additional positive affect on a persons ability to roll through challenges and setbacks.

The focus on deliberate action + the creation of a psychic boundary between the field of play and home base (ex: separation between work & home) allow the individual to see positive physical progress in their life or work while also having a container of complete personal safety outside of the arena where they need to perform.

If you want to put this into action here is our primary takeaway.

Create a two part process system in your life and work by creating a boundary between your personal space and the space where you must perform. Then create opportunities to process difficult emotions and achknowledge your full emotional spectrum outside of the environment where you must maintain performance environment. notice when youin order to perform better in your life, work or relationships. This is a great example of using boundaries and intentionally creating space to take care of yourself, your relationships and to achieve your goals.

Best Articles About Being A Man in 2019
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What does it mean to be a man? How should I raise my son? How do I feel about the term toxic masculinity? What resources do you recommend I read, watch or listen to if I want to form my own opinion on what manhood means to me? What conditions are causing all of this pressure and change to masculinity and manhood?

After receiving this question in various forms we started compiling a list of articles, documentaries, and podcast episodes with various perspectives on what it means to be a man in 2019.

*** The opinions and perspectives of the resources here are not necessarily our own but we have formatted and reformatted this list with the goal to show various perspectives of the social pressures on modern manhood in American in 2019.

*** If you would like to suggest another resource please post a link to it in the comments and we will add it to our review each quarter.

1 ) Article: Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden

Perspective: “Toxic masculinity—and the persistent idea that feelings are a "female thing"—has left a generation of straight men stranded on emotionally-stunted island, unable to forge intimate relationships with other men. It's women who are paying the price.”

2) Article: Boys to Men: Teaching and Learning About Masculinity in an Age of Change

Perspective: What do boys in America think about being boys today? What do they imagine is expected of them? Whom do they look up to, and how are they navigating the transition from being boys to becoming men?

3) Documentary Report: Special Report: The Future of Work

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YApuGU65csY

Perspective: “The next Industrial Revolution is upon us, and scientists, entrepreneurs and policymakers are warning of an imminent paradigm shift in the future of work.”

4) Article: What We Should Have Learned in School But Never Did

Perspective: Our current model of education is not only outdated; it’s not particularly effective. In a world where access to knowledge and information is ubiquitous, the value of memorizing information to regurgitate it, pass tests and get good grades quickly becomes far less valuable. According to Chase Jarvis, we’re moving towards a portfolio model of careers, a world in which kids growing up today will probably have five jobs at the same time. But the current model of education is preparing them for a future that doesn’t exist. If the purpose of education is to turn us into fully functional, happy and healthy adults, it is failing on numerous levels.

5) Article: The ‘Men’s Liberation’ Movement Time Forgot

Perspective: Emotional inertia will never be as bad as the threat of rape, domestic violence, disappearing reproductive rights, or the lingering pay gap. But it’s become clear that men need a space to express their feelings, one that doesn’t tolerate violence or blame women for all their woes.

6) Documentary Report: One Nation Under Stress

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2hDEz1bW9k

Perspective: Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, America is experiencing decreased life expectancy. In One Nation Under Stress, neurosurgeon and investigative journalist Dr. Sanjay Gupta sets out to discover why. Driven primarily by an epidemic of self-inflicted deaths of despair — from drug overdose, chronic liver disease and suicide – this rise in the U.S. mortality rate can be seen as a symptom of the toxic, pervasive stress in America today.

7) Episode: The Lonely American Man

Perspective: We look at what happens when half the population gets the message that needing others is a sign of weakness and that being vulnerable is unmanly.

8) Article: Why Can’t Men Say ‘I Love You’ to Each Other?

Perspective: Submitted to the Modern Love College Essay Contest -MODERN LOVE - Why Can’t Men Say ‘I Love You’ to Each Other? It doesn’t count if you add “bro” or “man” to the end.

9) Article: The Legion Lonely

Perspective: Over the past few decades, loneliness has reached almost epidemic levels, with men uniquely suffering its effects. How and why has isolation become such a threat?

10) Article: Inside the Retreat Where Men Purge Toxic Emotions

Perspective: God, I’m so uncomfortable. My palms are sweating and my heart is pounding. Why did I think this was a good idea? I could be home right now with my girlfriend and my dog, having a beer and watching Netflix. But no. Evryman arranges getaways aimed at teaching men how to access and express their emotions. Would it work on me?

11) Article: Raising boys: Eliot’s father wants him to be the 8-year-old he is, not what society expects

Perspective: Brian Campbell grew up stifled by his father’s expectations about masculinity. Can he change things for his own son?

12) Article: These Men Are Waiting to Share Some Feelings With You

Perspective: On a Monday night in a sparsely decorated room in Midtown Manhattan, a group of approximately 20 men including an endocrinologist, a sportscaster, a policeman and an employee of the United Nations were baring their souls. “I’ve been digging deep with my girlfriend and we are having those talks about moving forward in our relationship, and I’m having nights where I can’t sleep,” said Andrew Cummings, 44, an opera singer in New York who has performed at Carnegie Hall.

13) Article: I Am Proud Of My Masculinity

Perspective:  There is a challenge for men to take up. It is to re-align their masculinity so it becomes relevant today. It is not about becoming feminine, it is not about developing a feminine side.

14) Article: The Problem With Masculinity

Perspective: Even though the boy was causing no major disturbance (much less a minor one), the father was visibly flustered. He gave his son a cold, hard look: “Hey, no crying,” he muttered. “What did I tell you about that? You’re not supposed to cry.”

15) Episode: Radically Normal: How Gay Rights Activists Changed The Minds Of Their Opponents

Perspective: "This is actually one of the most surprising things in the whole history of public opinion," says Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. "There's more and more rapid change in attitudes towards gay rights in the past thirty years in the United States than there ever has been in recorded attitudes in the United States on any issue." Public opinion rarely shifts on contested issues.

What do you think?

Please share your opinion as well as any links to books, articles, episodes or videos on modern masculinity and being a man today in America.

Form Festival 2019 Notes - This is about Emotional Safety.

I had the honor of speaking at FORM Festival this past weekend.
(Gallery of photos I took at the bottom of this page)

“A creative retreat in the visionary eco-city of Arcosanti. 3 days of music, art, ideas, architecture, nature, wellness & community."

“A creative retreat in the visionary eco-city of Arcosanti. 3 days of music, art, ideas, architecture, nature, wellness & community."

Ebenezer Bond and Mike Sagun (EVRYMAN)

The title of our panel was “Men Transforming the Gender Norm”. I got to speak about the work we do at The Unshakable Man and EVRYMAN. It was a powerful conversation with an engaged audience. I definitely felt the impact we made.

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An excerpt from a journal entry I wrote while taking a break from Day 2 of FORM Festival:

“Whoah. I did not expect to feel so connected to people, art, and wellness like this. I’m feeling amped, excited, loved, and seen. Everyone from the staff to the security to the participants are so fucking kind.

I’ve already had several yummy, filling, deep, and powerful conversations with strangers. This is the festival of my dreams...”

Who else do you know describes conversations as “yummy” and “filling”? Lol

There are quotes like these all over the buildings.

That morning, I woke up with the bright, warm Arizona sun heating my tent up to suana-like temperatures and the songs of morning groans, stretches, and laughter. I did yoga with Equinox, got a breakfast pizza, filled my thermos with Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee, and filled the first half of my day listening to talks and feeding my heart with good conversation.

I used the words  “yummy” and “filling” because deep conversations nourish me. Connecting with people feeds my soul, it makes me feel love, empathy, and compassion. And I’m good at it.

I continued in my journal and reflected on why I think I connect well with people. And I came up with this: I take vulnerable risks and I practicing emotional safety.

I’m able to have these conversations because I practice taking vulnerable risks. And that comes in the form of a question or sharing a piece of my story.

I ask questions like, “How did that make you feel?”, “What’s important about that?”, or “Did you feel hurt?”

Maceo Paisley (Citizens of Culture)

I also practice emotional safety.

“Don’t connect with me! Don’t come near me.”

Emotional safety is the ability to be open and vulnerable with people without feeling threatened or unsafe and without people feeling threatened and unsafe with you. When we have emotional safety, we feel more connected and loved.

I tend to find myself having these conversations with people often. It’s a strength of mine. And I attribute part of that to how I carry myself in the world.

A man meditates on a cliff while the sun sets.

When I physically walk in my environment, I share my love with people through my body language.

My chest is open and my shoulders are relaxed.
My chin is on the same plane as the horizon.
My eyes meet others’ eyes.
My hands are to my sides and open.
My walk is calm and flowing.
And my face is relaxed--eyes open, eyebrows and the corners of my lips slightly raised, and there isn’t any tension in my forehead.

I am approachable and warm.

People would probably feel unsafe with me if I did the opposite.
My chest closed and shoulders tense.
My chin to my chest.
My eyes down to the ground.
My hands in my pockets or clinched.
My walk aggressive.
And my face tense--eyes partly open, eyebrows and the corners of my lips slightly down, and tension in my forehead.

This body language says to me, “Don’t connect with me! Don’t come near me.”

When I spoke in front of 150+ people at our talk, I made sure that my body language didn’t scream DANGER!

I know that people crave connection and deep, healthy relationships. I know that this is a human need.

The sun sets on Day 3 of FORM.

I'm a men's coach because I see so many men struggling.

And I see so many men struggle with how they carry themselves in the world.

I see men puff their chest and exude bravado and overconfidence.
I see men hunk their shoulders down and bleed cowardice.
I see men walk with anger and aggression.
I see men take up too much space. And men who let their space be taken up.
I see men completely unaware of what their bodies are telling the world.

This unawareness could be the wall between men and connection.

The mirror is a powerful feedback tool.

Imagine a mirror following you as you walk about your day.

See yourself in that reflection.

What do you see? What words do you use to describe your body language? What are your shoulders and chest doing? What is the pace of your walk like? Have you noticed your hands? What about eye contact? Are you looking people in the face? And your smile, is it there?

If you want to go deeper with this, take a risk and ask a few friends what their first impressions of you were. And ask them why?

First impressions are important for successful, new relationships. These judgements of you are others’ perspectives and they may not be yours. You have the choice to take it or leave it. I will say that their perspective is their reality and their truth. And if you find that that’s the reality and truth for another person, it’s probably time to look at that mirror, take an honest assessment, and make some changes.

We all want connection. We need it to survive.

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If you’re having trouble developing healthy relationships, try practicing emotional safety:

  • Listen and let people share.

  • Ask deep, honest questions.

  • Share your story.

  • Present safe body language.

A coach of mine always told me, “if you want to be the most interesting person in the room, be the most interested.”

I left FORM feeling loved and connected. If you are curious about surrounding yourself with music, artists, creatives, and loving people--go to FORM next year. They have a huge emphasis on art and wellness. And it is spectacular.

And if you’re curious about developing healthier relationships, book a free 1-on-1 call with me. I’d love to chat and see if we could help you out.

28 Morning Ritual Tips

Even if I'm not aware of it - I already have a morning routine. But, that does not mean that I have a ritual.

That statement helped me form the strategy I use to take ownership of my morning routine and now - my life. Rather than trying to do new things and wasting a lot of time and energy planning, wishing and dreaming about what I wish I could do, my strategy is to notice what I already do and grow from what I currently do. In order for this to work I must be aware of what I already do. This does two awesome things:

  1. It brings my attention to my actions rather than my aspirations. Reducing anxiety and the potential for dreamer depression.

  2. This forces me to be open and honest about what I do and then to tweak and change what I do into more of what I want to do.

Rituals are routines done with meaning, purpose and ceremony. While routines are just a sequence of actions or behaviors that are regularly followed - rituals have meaning and feel more like a dance than a dry series of steps.

This is why a major part of The Unshakable Man Program is focused on teaching a man to create and take ownership of his morning routine. By turning your morning into a series of rituals that serve you and feel good - you are more likely to maintain them, turn them into integrated habits and to build on them to reach your goals.

Here's our regularly updated list of our best morning ritual tips that we've organized from men in the program as they've gone through our morning ritual challenge.

#1 Allow waking up to FEEL good.

This might seem basic but it's not. A lot a men who want to take ownership of their morning routine - want to change their life in some way. They might want to fix their relationship, do better at work or be more successful. They all seem to be coming from a good place. They want to better themselves, their relationships and their lives. But in the process of making this change they bring an intensity and nervous energy that seems to stem from generating the motivation required to wake up early.

For most people it's hard to wake up earlier. When they make the effort to wake up earlier they have to force themselves to get out of bed and this changes the attitude they have in the morning. It doesn't feel good. This is a problem.

The entire morning experience doesn't feel good. This process puts them in a bad mood or at least clouds what could be a positive experience with a bad attitude. This sucks because it's ruining the experience of the very thing they are trying to do to better themselves.

This is why this is the #1 morning ritual tip. This is super important and core to our philosophy because we know that our brains create habits out of things we WANT TO DO. If something doesn't feel good we won't do it. We will eventually give up when we lose motivation to do it.

Don't ruin your experience and all of your good intentions by allowing the motivation and drive needed to leave your warm bed to overshadow the feeling of joy from experiencing your morning and doing something that is 100% good for you and your loved ones.

When your feet touch the floor, take a deep breath, smile to yourself and celebrate the single positive thing you have done today. You woke up and chose to be ______________ .

#2 When your feet touch the floor, take a deep breath and smile.

Why? Because waking up can be hard and you have a lot to smile and be happy about. You are alive and breathing. This is how you put our #1 tip into action as daily practice. When your feet touch the floor (that is a habit anchor) take a deep mindful breath (micro mediation / tiny habit) and smile (internal celebration).

#3 Say a "to-be" statement to yourself every morning when your feet touch the floor.

Building on tip #2 you can attach a tiny habit of saying a "to-be" statement to yourself to the anchor of getting out of bed.

The tiny habit recipe for this is: After my feet touch the floor (anchor)... I will say a to-be statement (tiny habit)... and celebrate with a smile to myself (celebration/reward).

Language has a major affect on how we experience our setting. The way we speak to ourselves matters. Generative language is language we use to describe our future intentions, aspirations and perspectives of the future.

The act of simply stating to yourself - "Today, I am going to be calm." Is a practice in being intentional rather than reactive to life. You don't need to follow through with being calm for this to be meaningful.

#4 Look forward to something small that you enjoy doing in the morning and allow yourself to enjoy doing it. 

To build on this feeling of joy that we are generating and brining awareness to - plan something you love in your morning ritual and get out of bed for it. This can be as simple as a podcast that you love, reading a beautiful poem or eating an orange. My thing is: the slow calm process of making and taking my first sip of coffee and then usually carrying a cup of coffee to Anna (my girlfriend).

If fit this into my ritual by starting the coffee after I finish my to-be statement and before I drink my tall glass of water. Then by the time my micro morning ritual is finished it is ready to enjoy.

#5 Drink a tall glass of water and finish with a genuine smile to yourself every morning.

Now, that you've woken up and chosen to bring joy to your morning experience (no matter your situation you can find peace for a moment) and be mindful for just a moment, let us continue with a tall glass of hydrating water to replenish the fluid lost from respiration during sleeping.

You are literally celebrating your good deed with a giant smile to yourself.

*** Notice how we are out of bed and all the way to the kitchen sink and we have not mentioned work, responsibilities, worries, fears, priorities, phones, facebook or instagram. This might be only 30 seconds but this is meaningful.

#6 After you finish your glass of water and smile - Do one air squat and smile again.

*This is also a tiny habit recipe.

After you drink that glass of water, do one air squat and celebrate with a smile. This is a great way to trigger some movement in your morning and to begin waking up your body with a single slow full body stretch. If you've read about our micro morning ritual or downloaded our morning ritual guide you'll know the background here.

If you do one squat you can easily stop there or simply allow yourself to finish a flow of air-squats, push-ups, sit-ups, and deep breaths. We recommend a general flow of:

  • 1 x 10 Air Squats

  • 1 x 10 Push-ups

  • 1 x 10 Sit-ups

  • 1 x 10 Deep meditative breaths

  • And up to 10 full sets of this flow if you wish to push yourself.

#7 After you move your body - Write down the to-be statement you said in your 5 minute journal or notebook. 

Write down one sentence to yourself. I prefer to write my to be statement as a sentence on a stick pad note and put it on the wall in my kitchen and then I open my daily planner.

If you've read miracle morning or the artists way you'll know the S.A.V.E.R.S method and the power of free writing. Writing or scribing in a journal have a tone of positive benefits in your life. We suggest creating a tiny habit of writing down one sentence every morning to put yourself in the position to write more.

By writing even one sentence a day you will design your environment. This tiny habit forces you to have a pen and paper around. In time you'll be able to replace that pen and paper with a journal or daily planner the way that I've done. This is how we create a full habit of doing more significant writing tasks. As the automatic nature of writing one sentence a day increases or you begin to wake up earlier (because you actually enjoy your morning and you go to bed earlier see tip # below) you will be in a position to write and capable of doing more complicated writing tasks with little effort.

#8 Make your bed and start learning how to design your environment to align with your habits and goals.

This is both an awareness and action tip. As Admiral William H. McRaven said in his UT Austin 2014 Commencement Address...

"If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

Making your bed is also the final action that marks the end of your micro morning ritual. The base stage of your 3 part high performance morning ritual is focused on wellness and feeling good. Now you transition the second stage called "build" where you focus on prioritization / plan review. See tip #20 for an overview of the 3 stages of a high performance morning ritual.

Tips 1 - 6 built on the concept of designing your environment. The following series of tips will do this even more intentionally. As you bring awareness to your morning routine and attempt to create a ritual around your morning practices notice how your environment can be designed to make your morning more enjoyable and make whatever is a priority easier to do in tiny ways. We call this "zooming in" on your behavior.

#9 Use a travel alarm clock to wake up.

This is the alarm clock that I use. It's simple and straightforward and best of all it is not my phone. This means I can wake up and finish my ritual and usually start my entire first part of my work day before ever needing to check my phone. That's up to 7 hours of no phone or 5:00 AM and noonish. Plus, because it is a travel clock I can bring it with me camping and on the road.

#10 Carry a Nalgene - Drink 1 liter of water

Building on tip #3... Start using a 1 Liter Nalgene water bottle . Using a Nalgene increased my water intake by 2-3x without any additional effort. Her's a quick analysis: I didn't have my water bottle for a week after leaving it at a friends house. Looking back at my work week I really only drank 3-5 glasses of water a day. But with my Nalgene I would regularly refill it three to five times a day. That is:

  • 3-5 Pint Glasses = 48 - 80 fluid Oz

  • 3-5 Nalgene refills = 96-160 fluid oz

#11 Put a journal or daily planner in your kitchen (Design your environment) 

Building on tip #3, tip #5 and #6 ... design your environment by keeping a daily planner or journal near where you do your morning movement and hydration. This doesn't have to be your kitchen but this is where I do most of my morning ritual. This will allow you to seamlessly transition to scribing and any prioritization activities you want to include in your morning ritual.

Here's a list of my favorite daily journals.

#12 Put your yoga mat and gym clothing in a special spot. (Design your environment) 

I put my yoga mat in the kitchen so I have a semi private space to do movement in the morning. This is also near where I drink my morning water and coffee. The point is to have your stuff in a spot that reduces the need to think or find your things early in the morning. You can waste an amazing amount of energy trying to organize yourself in the morning. The goal is to be able to shuffle over like a zombie and just flow through whatever you do each morning.

#13 Introduce essential oils

Scents and smells can have a major affect on our embodied experience of a situation and even bring back memories. They are especially powerful when we introduce them as part of a ritual or set of movements and practices with additional significance.

Imagine waking up to the smell of coffee. This is the same thing. It's a nice smell that helps generate nice thoughts. This can literally be a sign to you body and mind to wake up and prepare for whatever you regularly do next. My favorite essential oil scent for waking up is Energy from sage wellness.

And finally, our last tip in designing your environment and building on the S.A.V.E.R.S method from Miracle Morning. Attach affirmation to the part of your ritual that you enjoy most. I like the idea of attaching them to something I enjoy doing because then I get used to saying them while I am feeling good. This literally means I say them while I drink a glass of water, smell my essential oil and drink my coffee.

#14 Attach affirmations or meaning to what you enjoy most... Example: making coffee

Building off of tip #3 we start the first few seconds of our morning by stating an affirmation in the form of a to-be statement. Example: Today, I am going to be happy.

I've played with affirmations on and off throughout my life but after learning about Tiny Habits in 2015 I started to integrate them into activities that I enjoyed rather than reading them out loud as a single activity. This helped me integrate them in my life and get more out of the them.

First - I come up with an affirmation based on whatever I am going through or preparing for in my life at that moment.

My affirmation I'm using now is "I am a great public speaking instructor because I believe teaching people how to express themselves is an amazing gift."

After I create an affirmation I link it to activities that I enjoy so I am saying while I am doing something that makes me feel good. Again - I love making and drinking coffee. So, every morning while I prepare the coffee I say my affirmation of the moment.

#15 Create a micro morning ritual flow

If you read through tips #1-15 you'll noticed a theme. Lot's of zoomed in micro stuff behaviors. When you put these together you get what I call a micro morning ritual. I developed this because I went through a hard time in my life and later learned a lot about behavior modification when I got my training in Tiny Habits from BJ Fogg at Stanford University.

This is The Unshakable Man Micro Morning Ritual:

  1. Say a "To-be" Statement - After your feet touch the floor... say a "To-be" Statement and then celebrate with a smile or by doing a self high-5.

  2. Drink a tall glass of water - After step 1 finishes. Drink your glass of water and celebrate with a smile or by doing a self high-5 again.

  3. Do a single deep slow air-squat - After finishing step 2. Do a deep slow air-squat to wake up and stretch out your body. And again, celebrate with a smile or by doing a self high-5 again.

  4. Take one-three deep mindful breaths - After finishing step 3. I do take a deep breath and then flow into at least 2 more allowing myself to pause and celebrate with a smile or by doing a self high-5 again.

  5. Write down one sentence - And finally after I take my deep breath (step 5) I write down one sentence on a sticky pad note. Usually the sentence is simply my to-be statement. And I celebrate one final time with a smile or high-5 again.

This is my micro morning ritual that sticks with me every day. No matter what happens in my life I at least do step 1 100% of the time. I then flow into the rest allowing each stage to happen.

As I've grown this ritual grows with me. See the next series of tips for more advanced morning ritual concepts and ideas that we've worked on with men in the program.

The next series of tips are based on more advanced planning and structuring of your morning ritual.

#16 Strategy tip: Zoom in & grow your micro morning ritual first and focus on making it automatic rather than complicated or hard.

Do not rely on motivation yet. Focus on automaticity first. Be good to yourself. Don't try to wake up earlier yet. Just make these positive behavior automatic and build a strong base of healthy habits that you can fall back on later.

If you remember my strategy about hacking my life:

My strategy is to become deeply aware of what I already do. Then I use proven behavior modification techniques, science and playful learning to tweak and change what I already do into more of what I want to do.

 

My basic strategy for changing my life from the ground up.

Well, rather than plan for my best days: when I feel great and lots of small things in my life are working out allowing me to wake up at 4:59 AM vibrantly flowing from one stage to the next in my morning ritual and into my prioritized project for the day. This is my goal by the way. Right now my target is for this to be 35% of my days this year. That is a target of 127 days a year like this.

I plan for the reality of life by creating a series of micro morning rituals that stack together, take less than 5 minutes and that integrate into a strong base of my ritual. This allows me to build success momentum and in turn develop the life scaffolding needed to support a more advanced morning ritual when I am on fire in life!

This also means when something goes wrong I don't fall down completely anymore. Please don't move on until you play with creating a micro morning ritual for at least 5 days straight.

#17 Find your compelling reason to get the fuck up

You've done it! You focused on creating a strong base of a micro morning ritual. Now you will be supported through good days and bad and always have a healthy ritual to fall back on. Worst comes to worst fall back to this. But now we want to do more and build on this healthy base of positive attitude and positive behaviors we are developing.

The first thing I want you to find is your compelling reason for getting up earlier.

Answer this question: Why the hell are you going to get up at 4:59AM?

If you can't answer that question - why try?

Once you have an answer - write it down and when you open your eyes in the morning remind yourself why and what you want to achieve. If this is meaningful to you - use that depth of meaning to nicely get yourself up.

#18 Reminder: Waking up earlier is not related to your morning ritual.

In order to move past a micro morning ritual and to achieve higher levels of output we must have more time in our zone of optimum output. There's no way around that. You need to wake up earlier (or at least have have more time in your zone of optimum output) to get more done.

But waking up earlier is not related to your morning ritual. In order to wake up earlier we need to focus on our evening shut down ritual. We simply have to get into bed earlier.

The great thing is the same strategies work to design your environment to help you calm down and get into bed earlier. We will review those later this year.

The point is: If you want to wake up earlier you need to get to bed earlier.

#19 If you don't have 1 hour before starting the day - focus on a micro morning ritual and just feeling good.

This has been a point of argument with a few people I've worked with but here's my reasoning.

At the end of the day feeling good and taking care of your health is the most important thing anyone can do. The fact is achieving more and performing at your best is a PERFORMANCE GOAL.

The first step is being healthy so you can take on higher intensity training. Once you lock in your first 5 min of your day, grow this to 10, 20 or 30 min. We call this the base of your advanced morning ritual.

Now you are ready to add in some prioritization before starting a traditional work day.

#20 Transition your focus to your evening shut down ritual and getting in bed earlier.

Later we will review the three stages of a high performance morning ritual. But for now let's focus on what you need to do to develop the beginning of a two stage morning ritual.

Three stages of a high performance morning ritual

Stage Name - Focus - Time Needed Description 1 - Base - Feeling - 5 min to 1 hour total Mirco Morning Ritual & other wellness 2 - Build - Prioritization - 1 hour total Prioritization, planing or light work 3 - Peak - Creation - 2 to 3 hours total Deep work and zone of optimum performance

In order to have the time to create a 2 stage morning ritual you simply need at least one hour before starting the traditional work day. But, for most people you need to begin waking up earlier. To do this you need to transition your focus to getting to bed earlier. Here are some tips to do that using the same techniques we used to create our mirco morning ritual:

*** We will go much deeper on these in the near future.

  • Use tiny habits to prepare your sleeping area

  • Turn down the lights

  • No screens 1 hour before needing to sleep

  • Plan partner time and get

#21 Develop a 2 stage high performance morning ritual (Base & Build)

You can download our morning ritual guide to learn more about this.

In general what you need to know is there is a three stage process to creating high performance morning ritual. The first stage is the base stage. The focus here is on wellness and feeling good. If you can't do this properly without rushing their is no point moving onto stage 2.

If you have at least 1 hour to work with you can fit in a 2 stage ritual. The second stage is your build stage. The second stage focuses on reviewing your plan and prioritization of your day. There might be an opportunity to do light work but don't force it. Proper prioritization and reviewing your plan will allow you to focus and not get distracted during your normal work day.

#22 Develop a 3 stage high performance morning ritual (Base, Build, Peak)

And finally your third stage of your high performance morning ritual. You can download our morning ritual guide to learn more about this.

Now that you know there is a three stage process to creating high performance morning ritual. The third stage is 100% focused on getting into your deep work mode.

Because you've prepared your body and mind in Stage 1 and reminded yourself of your priorities and plan in stage 2 you are able to focus and go deep in stage 3.

My personal goal is to be capable of spending 35% of my days/mornings in 2019 in a peak performance state where I am capable of performing at my best and running on all cylinders. That is looking like it's going to be:

  • January (Base 1)

  • February (Base 2)

  • March (Base 3)

  • April (Building into peak)

  • May (Building into peak)

  • June (Peak month 1)

  • --- JULY (lots of travel)

  • August (Peak month 2)

  • --- September (burning man)

  • October (Peak month 3)

  • November (Peak month 4)

  • ---- December (Holiday season)

  • January (Peak month 5)

Notice:

  • I use a similar 3 stage build throughout the year.

  • I am building 1, 1, 2, 1 in terms of one month ON, one month OFF

  • I have planned down time for vacation/holiday periods.

  • This is periodization in action

What I love about this level of periodization is I know when to say yes to fun and exciting things and when I can easily say NO to those things so that I can get the peaks and valleys of performance that I need to reach my goals in business and life.

The stage changes also dictate the types of activities I am focusing on in my personal life and professional life as I build The Unshakable Man with Mike.

The next series of tips are general tips that have come up along the way and fun things you can try.

#23 Try the S.A.V.E.R.S method from Miracle Morning

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is a great book about creating an effective morning routine. The method aligns well with the micro morning framework.

Keeping things short and simple works because most people don't have the invisible social and emotional scaffolding in place to support a complete 3 part high performance morning ritual without using a giant amount of motivation and willpower to maintain it. They need to grow into it - just like we are.

This is why I highly suggest focusing on creating a 5 minute micro morning ritual and then growing from the ground up as your life and ability align to support a more intense ritual.

The savers method stands for:

  • Silence (1 min)

  • Affirmations (1 min)

  • Visualization (1 min)

  • Exercise (1 min)

  • Reading (1 min)

  • Scribing (1 min)

#24 Try the free writing method from The Artists Way

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is an amazing book about harnessing and flowing through the creative process. I see scribing, writing, meditation and journaling as similar processes. They are all ways to gain perspective and peel the layers of our mind onion.

Free writing comes in many forms. But my favorite is the most basic and it's described in the the book as "morning pages".

All you do is open a blank sheet of paper and begin writing our your thoughts without editing, judgement, rehearsal or pausing. My favorite way to start doing this is to start by writing... I don't know what I am going to write about today but... (and keep going)

#25 Try the Ivy-Lee Method for Peak Performance

As of April, 2019 and the writing of this article the Ivy-Lee method is the key behavior I am playing with creating in my work day with my business partner Mike.

James clear does a great job of summarizing the Ivy-Lee process here.

  1. First you write down your 6 most important tasks or projects that you want to finish.

  2. Then you prioritize them #1 to #6 (most important first)

  3. The next day you work on the first task until completion

  4. You do this every work day

I'm changing the process a bit by using the 4 hours a day to work on the #1 task until it is completed.

At the end of each work day I send Mike a text message with my list of 6 things. So far I've forgotten completely or sent the list late in the evening. Now, I am adding a little stretch dance to the end of my work day to help me notice the end of my day and make it more meaningful. I'll let you know how it goes in May.

But this brings me to tip #26...

#26 Create a work shut-down ritual

Are we going a little ritual crazy? maybe... I have three core rituals I'm currently focusing on:

  1. Morning ritual

  2. Work shut down ritual

  3. Evening shut down ritual

  4. Quarterly review ritual (I lied... that's 4)

One of the hardest parts of being self employed is being forced to manage myself. It's easy for me to do work at home, work at a cafe, work on the road, work at my friends office or clients space or Mike's office. At first this was a good thing but then it started to be a problem because I wasn't resting, taking breaks or reaching periods of high productive activity - my performance started to become bland and general and frankly decreased in general.

So in 2019 the #1 thing I am working on is creating a noticeable separation between work time and me/relationship/friend time. In order to do this I needed to create as Cal-Newport calls it a shut down ritual.

In the near future I'll share more about shut down ritual and how it's developing in my life and work as a habit.

#27 Create an evening shut-down ritual

And finally we have our evening shut down ritual. This was the second ritual I started focusing on when Mike and I started working together on The Unshakable Man and I started analyzing my morning ritual to teach other men how to take ownership of their life the way that I had.

One significant thing that surprised me: Creating and maintaining my evening shut- ritual helped me strengthen my morning ritual and together the two rituals strengthen each other. The best part is, this strengthening seems to come without the need for additional willpower or motivation.

My basic evening shut-down ritual co-insides with my habit to shut off the lights in the house as Anna and I prepare for bed around 9:00 / an hour or two before we will fall asleep.

After I shut off all the lights I will sit on the floor in the kitchen and meditate using headspace for 5 to 15 minutes. Then I usually open my five min journal and either fill it out or prompt myself for the next morning just as a reminder of what's on my schedule. Then I leave my phone plugged into the charger in the kitchen and I head to bed. This means I leave my phone alone and I don't bring it to bed.

#28 Have sex or be intimate with yourself or your partner

And finally we have #28... HAVE SEX. Or be intimate with yourself or your partner. I've been really surprised how little I read about this in the personal development and productivity space.

How can we talk about morning rituals and evening rituals without talking about intimacy and sex? When I say that I mean cuddling, self-car, masturbation, eye contact, taking a nice bath or shower or straight up sex. Sex and intimacy are very important to a healthy lifestyle and should be included in your list of healthy habits and rituals that you want to intentionally design your life around.

For me and my relationship this has become a major light in our life. My idea of what it means to be intimate has expanded far beyond sexual intercourse. For example:

  • Bringing Anna coffee in the morning and sitting with her and our cat Chesterfield.

  • Saying nice things to her and asking her about her day.

  • Turning off netflix and sitting on the ground together stretching or reading

  • lightly touching her back or giving her a foot or hand massage

  • Meditating together (more of that please)

These are all forms of intimacy that are super important and should not be overlooking in our daily life.

Thank you so much for reading this far. We hope you got value from this list of 28 morning ritual tips. We update this list on an ongoing basis. Please comment or contact us with ideas or edits.

Interested in creating a morning ritual of your own? You can also download our morning ritual guide here.

What would the world look like if we slowed down, opened up, and listened?

“What would the world look like if we just slowed down, opened up, and listened?”

This is the question I had leading into last night’s powerful and impactful workshop led by co-founder of EVRYMAN, Dan Doty, and founder of The Luminaries, Cherie Healey.

Cherie Healey, founder of The Luminaries, and Dan Doty, co-founder of EVRYMAN.

Cherie Healey, founder of The Luminaries, and Dan Doty, co-founder of EVRYMAN.

Cherie Healey, founder of The Luminaries, and Dan Doty, co-founder of EVRYMAN.

The Reunion: “we're all craving deeper connection and trust.  Men have been afraid of women, women are angry at men and deep down we miss each other.  Come for an experiential night to listen to each other. Learn how to have the conversations we're all dying to have.  We've been tiptoe'ing long enough and Dan is here to give us the skills to become each other's safe place and build more compassionate relationships at home and at work.”

The room was packed with 50 people. And surprisingly more than half of the participants were men!

This was an opportunity for both women and men to teach and learn from each other.

Dan taught the same tools we use in our EVRYMAN groups and retreats, slow down, open up, and connect. And Cherie taught the group how to create a safe space to build more compassionate relationships at home and work.

There is a palpable feeling when the room is completely still. I could almost feel the heart beat of the person next to me. There was laughter that shook the streets of San Francisco. And moments that made me weep.

There were also a few moments of discomfort for me, like when a woman called out a man for speaking another person’s personal story without that person’s consent.

These are the hard and uncomfortable conversations we need to have with one another. I know in my heart that when we start to dive into these conversations and increase communication between ALL people, we will all flourish and heal. And when we can slow down, open up, and listen, we are building the leader within us.

So, what would the world look like if we all just slowed down, opened up, and listened?

I see a world where everyone feels safe. I see people leading with curiosity instead of accusations and blame. And see more compassion and self-compassion.

My takeaways from the workshop:

  • Everyone deserves to be listened to.

  • Both men and women are more courageous when they are vulnerable and open.

  • What women want for men is what men want for women.

  • There are men who feel intimidated by women.

  • There are women who feel intimidated by men.

  • More and more men are feeling the benefits of being vulnerable. They feel it in their personal growth, relationships, and work.

  • There were women who thought vulnerability was sexy.

We are unshakable when we can have hard conversations in our relationships.

The Unshakable Man is a proud supporter of EVRYMAN. Both Chris and I are members of an EVRYMAN group here in San Francisco and Oakland. And we’ve both had seen major shifts in our lives because of this work.

Head to EVRYMAN’s website to learn more about groups and retreats.

What is a morning ritual?

A ritual is ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed with with intention, deliberation, and meaning. A ritual is more than a set of habits or behaviors. Rituals combine meaning, feeling and order - like flowing dance. Each behavior transitions from one to the next all working together to get you ready for your day.

Imagine starting your day with a ceremony that you specifically designed to support you in having a great day.

Mike Meditating.jpg

When Jerry and I started dating, he immediately found out that I was not a morning person.

Do not talk to me. Do not touch me. Do not ask me any questions.

Just bring me coffee.

As a kid, I remember begging my mom for an extra 5 minutes of sleep every morning. In college and into my first career I would hit the snooze button at least 2 times. Sometimes 3. Sometimes accidentally hitting the off button. And I knew I would do this, so I started to set my alarm earlier--somehow convincing myself that this was smart and helpful.

For most of my adult life, my mornings looked like this: alarm goes off, wake up, hit the snooze button, wake up again, feel more tired, get out of bed, make coffee, hop in the shower, get dressed, pour my coffee, pack my bag, and rush out the door.

For most of my adult life I felt rushed and stressed leaving my home. Inevitably, when I showed up at work, I felt rushed and stressed. And, duh, I felt rushed and stressed throughout my day.

I needed to change. My habits were affecting my performance and relationships. I was always irritable and annoyed. And I displayed little patience.

On top of all that, I felt unhealthy. I was always tired by noon. My thoughts were constantly distracting me. And I was unproductive and unfocused. I needed help.

My hypno-therpist suggested I start my mornings off with a meditation. In his words, “It’s a great way to introduce peace in your life before heading out into the chaos of the world.”

Save the world. Start with a morning ritual.

The internet is saturated with information about morning routines and rituals. Just google “morning ritual” and a library full of articles will show you the different types of morning rituals, all the successful people that have morning rituals, and why morning rituals are so beneficial.

Some of you are night owls. That’s totally fine (I’m one). If being a night owl serves you, continue to fly in the night you nocturnal animal. Some of us are more creative at night and get a ton of work in. But if you, like most of the world, head to work in the morning--staying up late probably isn’t serving you. And it might actually be making a negative impact on your life. It did for me.

If you stay up late - you can still have a morning ritual. Having a morning ritual has nothing to do with waking up early. Unless you want that to be part of your ritual.

Listen, I know very well how hard it is to get up in the morning. I love sleep. But the benefits from waking up early significantly outweighs staying up late.

When we make time for ourselves in the morning, we have a greater capacity to take care of other people’s needs.

How often do you feel rushed and stressed in the morning? Often? Keep reading.

To have a successful, productive, and energized day, it is imperative that we wake up with ease and not stress. For those of us who use an alarm clock, we might experience sleep inertia--in short, we wake up during a period in our sleep cycle where our brains are dumping melatonin into our body. This makes us feel groggy, non-reactive, and so damn tired. It can take up to 2 hours for our brains to be in optimal problem solving mode.

So if you do what I used to do: wake up, rush to get ready, and head to work, your brain is likely still trying to wake up.

Also, if you’re a snoozer--STOP SNOOZING! NOW!

Snoozing confuses your brain and drops you back into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is why most people feel so much more tired 9 minutes after they first heard their alarm go off.

This is a practice. It takes wanting to do it and committing to doing it. Get curious and experiment. Start by waking up 15 minutes earlier than you usually do, and feel how less stressed you will feel. Do this for a few days and increase the time the following week.

This isn’t going to work if you don’t have the right mindset or perspective. If you don’t think a morning ritual is going to help you, then don’t do it. But if you go into it knowing that this practice will benefit you, then start tomorrow morning.

(We created a guide to help you. Head to www.unshakableman.me/morning-guide to download your free guide.)

My Morning Ritual is Sacred… But sometimes, I fall off.

Let’s be real. I fall off my morning ritual now and then. And I feel it!

I’ve had a morning ritual for about 4 years and I’ve gathered enough information to know when I’m not feeling like my best. And I know when I’m not feeling my best, I can’t be fully present for my family or clients.

I know what my baseline is. When I’m consistent with my morning ritual, I feel like I’m fucking unshakable. I feel like that right now (#humblebrag I’m currently on a 245 day meditation streak!).

I commit to waking up 2 hours before I have to answer to anyone or anything: calls, clients, emails, text messages, and social media. This is enough time for me to do everything I need to start my day stress-free and feeling calm.

These are the 4 practices I always include in my morning:

  1. Drink a liter of water (1 full sized Nalgene bottle)

  2. Meditate

  3. Journal

  4. Stretch + Move

  5. (Bonus) Read or listen to a podcast

The very first thing I do when I get out of bed is drink a liter of water. We lose water when we sleep through respiration, transpiration (sweating), and peeing. So it’s important to replenish the water our bodies need to feel energized. Going for that cup of coffee first thing in the morning dehydrates you more. Ever feel super tired, heavy, and lethargic at noon? Your body needs more water!

Then I go straight into a 20-30 minute meditation. Our brains are active 24/7 and they need a break! Meditation helps us observe our thoughts and it gives our brain some time to wake up in a calm state.

From my meditation, I open up my journal and free-write for about 20 minutes or until I fill up 1 page. I usually write whatever comes to my mind without any pauses or breaks. Writing helps me put all my thoughts and feelings on paper. This is a way for me to use my other senses to observe what I’m thinking and feeling. I get to see, hear, and literally feel the words on the page. This practice makes my thoughts and feelings tangible.

After I’ve done some work to wake up my mind, I do 15 minutes of moving and stretching. I want my blood to flow through my body. And I want to feel energized. Moving and stretching does that.

(Bonus) I read or listen to a podcast. Lately, I’ve been reading articles I’ve bookmarked in Medium or I listen to the newest episode of The New York Time’s The Daily podcast. This is entertainment for me. And it fills my cup.

There isn’t one way to create a morning ritual. We all have different needs and schedules. But if you feel like you need a shift in your life, start by shifting your morning with a ritual.


Head to www.unshakableman.me to download your free morning ritual guide.

How I love myself first.
Mike+Sitting.jpg

Hi. I’m Mike.

I’m a recovering people pleaser.

Yup. I still find myself putting others before me. It’s in my nature. It was what I was taught. And I’m getting better at it.

To me, being a “people pleaser” means taking care of other people’s needs before my own.

This isn’t uncommon. I work with so many men who neglect themselves. We have so many other responsibilities; we often say, “I don’t have time.”

What we’re really saying is, “I don’t make time.”

I get it. We were raised to do things for other people. My parents made me do things I didn’t want to do--wash the dishes, clean my room, take out the trash. And this wasn’t limited to chores--bless the food, give your auntie a hug and kiss, babysit your cousin, do your homework.

Yeah, I totally understand. They gave me responsibility, and they pushed me out of my comfort zone. But, they also taught me to meet others' needs before my own. They never taught me to take care of myself first.

Can anyone relate?

I graduated from high school, landed my dream job, went back to school, graduated with a degree, went back to work, and found myself going through the motions and people-pleasing.

And I was unhappy.

It was 2015. I was 28 years old. I had been at my corporate job for about 6 years, and I was tired of doing the same damn thing every single day. I wasn’t being challenged, and I wasn’t growing.

How appropriate. As Saturn was lining up to return, I was feeling a huge shift in my body and the way I looked at the world. I found myself on this journey learning how to heal myself, a journey of personal development.

A mentor once told me, “In order to love other people, you have to love yourself first.”

What is this “woo-woo” nonsense?

“I do love myself. I do take care of myself,” I thought.

I was wrong.

I got my first taste of personal development work after reading Deepok Chopra’s 7 Spiritual Laws of Success and Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.

After blazing through those books, I realized I wasn’t putting myself first, and I was certainly taking care of others' needs before my own. This was a huge turning point for me.

I started wondering what it would look like for me to take care of myself first. I needed some help, so I hired a hypnotherapist.

I know. I went deep.

I went deep because I wanted answers fast (maybe the millenial in me).

After guiding me through several visualizations, he recommended I meditate and do it first thing in the morning. In his words, “It’s a great way to introduce peace in your life before heading out into the chaos of the world.”

I was resistant. It meant waking up earlier than I already had to, being alone, and sitting in silence. Yikes!

Talk about discomfort.

But my usual routine wasn’t working: alarm goes off, wake up, hit the snooze button, wake up again, feel more tired, get out of bed, make coffee, hop in the shower, get dressed, pour my coffee, pack my bag, and rush out the door. I needed a radical change. I needed a ritual.

I needed a set of practices that gave me deep meaning.

The next day, I woke up at 5am, and I did what the therapist prescribed. I found myself excited about it. I was hopeful that this little morning ritual would change my life. I was hopeful that I would understand what it meant to take care of myself before I took care of others.

I immediately noticed the difference. INSTANT GRATIFICATION--the millenial in me was so satisfied. I was hooked.

I had a morning ritual!

Mornings started to feel calm. I showed up to work feeling grounded. I had more energy throughout the day. My interactions with my co-workers and community members were less irritable. And I felt fucking good!

Is this what my mentor meant? Is this what my therapist suggested?

I seriously felt unshakable.

I was so juiced by this new way of taking care of myself--I started to go deeper and wake up earlier. After a few months, I finally landed on a sweet spot. This was (and still is) my statement: “I will wake up 2 hours before I have to answer to people, to nourish my mind, body, soul, and be by myself.”

I have to be present for my clients.

I have to do things for other people. We have to do things for other people.
I get paid to please people. We might get paid to please people.
We please other people for a living. There aren’t many ways around it.

When I didn’t have a morning ritual, I wasn’t taking enough time to love myself. And I was only meeting the needs of others.

  • I take care of myself first, because I am important.

  • I take care of myself first, because my clients are important.

  • I take care of myself first, because my family is important.

  • I will always have a greater impact on people when I choose to love myself first.

I’ve had a morning ritual for almost 4 years, and it has always served me.

I fall off here and there. When I’m inconsistent, I start to feel drained, insecure, irritable, and my thoughts start to swirl. When I am steady in my practice, I immediately feel the energy. And I immediately start to feel fulfilled.

This is how I love myself first.

Are you interested in learning how to create a morning ritual? Download our FREE Morning Ritual Planner + Guide at www.unshakableman.me

The #1 thing I do when I wake up every morning.

Do you know how to celebrate and cheer yourself on? Every morning, after my feet touch the floor, I do something incredibly small that you might not notice.

Even if you were watching me, you might blink and miss it. I discovered this thing and trained myself to do it when I was going through the hardest year of my adult life . 5 years later I still perform this behavior almost every morning without trying - and it still makes my life better.

You want to know what it is? It's small. It’s called a “To-be statement celebration”. I'll share a few reasons why it's so amazing in the rest of this post, but you have to read on. Here's what it is:

Here is an example of a "To-be statement"

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Here is what I do: After MY FEET TOUCH THE FLOOR, I SAY A "TO-BE" STATEMENT, TAKE ONE GIANT DEEP BREATH, then celebrate by SILENTLY CLAPPING MY HANDS OVER MY HEAD WITH A BIG SMILE TO MYSELF.

An example "to be" statement is - "today, I am going to be calm" or "today, I am going to be excited". Whatever comes to mind in that moment.

The deep breath - is my form of a tiny act of meditation.

This is the tiny habit recipe that got me through depression and is still the first thing I do every morning.

If I look back over the last four years, this is likely the root of my meditation habit and all the positive shit that's happening in my life right now. The best part is, four years later I'm still doing it and it still helps me.

Let's break down why this is amazing...

First - it taught me to find behavior anchors in my normal life.

This changed the way I see my behaviors. I can now spot clear beginnings and endings to larger behaviors and I know how to use those anchors to create new habits.

What is an anchor? As long as I get out of bed, my feet are going to touch the floor. This is an anchor. The great thing about this action is it's 100% automatic. I don't have to think about it or try to make it happen. It just happens. In behavior modification terms, this is called an "anchor".

The easiest way to create a habit is to link a small action to the end of an already automatic behavior (an anchor) and feed the shit out of it with celebration (dopamine). #science

Second - I learned how to create success momentum and eventually full stack (larger) behaviors by making things tiny first.

I get motivated by seeing what other people are doing. When I see someone running up a hill with power and finesse - I want to be able to do that.

Or maybe a better example for you is YouTube. When you watch someone on YouTube doing something you want to do, you want to be able to do that too. But then something goes wrong.

You aren't whatever you want to be, yet. Or, like me, you aren't an ultra runner, yet.

The reality sets in and you get down about your current situation. Or if this doesn't happen we do something else. We get super motivated, we use a bunch of willpower and we make our best effort. This is awesome at first! But then we eventually lose momentum, energy, and give up.

We can't sprint forever. Think: diets, fitness regimes, writing challenges, really anything where we try hard to push outside of our normal zone of comfort. This is called massive action in training speak.

I'm not saying that massive action is bad. Massive action has it's place as a training concept and it works when used properly as part of system. But if we repeatedly rely on massive action we will by proxy train ourselves to be mediocre. Even worse we will injure our minds and bodies and give up completely.

But making things tiny meant that I had to learn to make a larger behavior tiny while still maintaining the idea of the large behavior in my mind. This is super important. Learning to maintain the essence of the behavior in my mind while making something small allowed my identity to change before I was doing the larger thing.

For example: the "to be" statement and one deep breath was like meditating for an hour to me.

*** This has been written about extensively by James Clear in Atomic Habits and researched by Dr. BJ Fogg.

Third - I taught myself to celebrate stupid-small things the build up.

And finally to root the tiny habit in my brain I had to learn to feed it with dopamine. This means I had to celebrate doing this stupid-small action. This was completely backward of what my mind wanted to do.

My mind would say: Why would I want to celebrate doing something small? Isn't this like giving everyone a trophy? Don't be weak... celebrate only big things!"

 

This is wrong. Just wrong.

I wanted to be like a meditator with a clear mind who was in control of how he felt. In my mind a meditator was the kind of person I wanted to be. That was someone who had a consistent meditation habit and was mentally healthy. But I wasn't there yet. How could I cheer myself on for doing this 4 second activity every morning?

But my tiny habit training changed this for me. Dr. BJ Fogg taught me that we needed to celebrate these tiny actions to nurture them into full stack behaviors and that relying on motivation and willpower was something completely different in the brain and body. This allowed me to create a new concept in my mind that I could honestly celebrate for what it was - A TINY HABIT.

And soon I learned my favorite way to celebrate. I love to clap both my hands over my head silently (or loud if I want) and smile to myself.

So every morning I would do my tiny habit. After my feet touched the floor... I would say a "to-be" statement, take a deep breath and celebrate by clapping both hands over my head.

And guess what!?!?!

I'm still doing it and it's still working!

The key is... this tiny habit allowed my identity to catch up into me being a meditator. And now there's a bunch of larger things that I do because of this one small thing that I do every morning.

What larger thing do you want to do? I'd love to help you make it a tiny habit.

My story of depression, shame and thoughts of suicide.

This is my story of depression and the shame I didn’t know I had.

I realized I was ashamed of my depression while watching a documentary on HBO about stress in America called, "One Nation Under Stress" with my girlfriend (now fiance). I realized I had something I needed to tell her that I'd never told anyone before.

This was the second time I had this realization. This time, for a bunch of reasons, I had the courage to open my mouth and share with her.

I realized I was ashamed of my depression and this held me back from getting through it.

I realized I was ashamed of my depression and this held me back from getting through it.

The secret I didn't know I had.

The first time I realized I had this secret Anna and I were at All Day I dream, a daytime concert outside of SF. We were standing on a crowded art car enjoying the view while waiting to climb down a ladder to get onto the grass below.

All of the sudden a man who was crowded up against us waiting to get down asked me "what's something you have never told anyone?" <dead pause>

He asked me out of nowhere, "what's something you have never told anyone?"

I immediately surprised myself with an answer in my head. But I awkwardly didn't say anything and the man quickly introduced himself and his friend to keep the conversation flowing and close the silence between us.

The secret I didn't know I had was that I once had the hardest year of my adult life and I'd had thoughts of suicide that scared me so much I began living one day at a time.

I had never shared this with anyone. Even today. This is my first time writing about this even to myself. These thoughts were not a plan or anything specific but more a deep feeling of being disconnected, not needed, lost as if I could go unnoticed leaving the mind open to wonder what if I _____?

And now even today, this is the first time in my life that I've ever written that statement to myself or anyone. Even now it brings tears to my eyes to imagine myself, feeling so alone. Feeling the way that I was feeling then and that until now I've never shared that fact or been able to truly identify with how I was feeling back then.

That man was trapped in a box of tricks feeling like he had to be tougher to get out and I am only able to say that today - 4 years, 3 months, and 15 days later.

Why didn't I tell anyone?

At some point I'll write about the specifics of what was happening in my life that caused me to have these ________ thoughts (I still don't like writing that statement).

But much of the reason is likely because of that feeling of shame. That same feeling of shame and fear that make me not want to write the term. I was so ashamed that I don't think I was able to be honest with myself until recently. I've only recently realized how down I was then in comparison to how well I am today. How my thoughts and beliefs about who I should have been were trapping me inside.

See, my friends would say things like "Chris Wilson... he always lands on his feet!". I still enjoy when they say this to me today. It comes with a feeling of pride that I feel I've earned. But I'm different now. I am also able to be vulnerable and open in a way that makes me stronger.

Prior to this time in my life I'd made a habit of setting goals that followed a path less traveled, starting with not going to college, then leading to working in sales and finally to a few decisions that would lead into - the hardest year of my adult life - where a bunch of negative things happened one after another:

  • I became disenfranchised with what I was doing for work

  • This was my purpose at this point in my life and it gave me a sense of pride

  • Quite my job to start a business and then broke up with that business partner

  • Put a tone of pressure on myself to figure out what I wanted to do

  • I tricked myself into thinking that pressure was hustle and hard work

  • Began driving lyft 50-60 hours a week to support myself

  • Could no longer keep up with my friends financially from my old line of work

  • Moved in with new roommates and wanted to be a good housemate

  • Lost connection to any meaningful purpose that used to be important to me

  • Started having trouble sleeping and waking up

  • feelings of being alone yet looking fine

  • fear of never getting back to were I was before

  • Social anxiety crept in that I never had before (that was my super power)

  • Trying harder and hard to make things work but kept slipping and trying

And finally one month I had car trouble and couldn't drive and I kind of lost it. At first I was thinking I was resting and then that turned into too much time to think. Then no there was no one that needed me to show up. And things got bad. The scary thing now is that I don't think anyone noticed. Finally, after turning down doing something social, to save money, I remember going to google and searching for "how to tell if you are depressed". Then having a deep scary feeling of realizing I might be out of control and I was dangerously down. It had been close to month. In that moment I began an intense project to feel better one day at a time.

I walked out the door and ran to the top of twin peaks near my apartment . I took a happy selfie and posted in on Facebook (photos lie) the date was December 14, 2014.

That was 4 years, 3 months, and 15 days ago. That's how long it took for me to personally recognize the depth of the feelings and shame I felt. This is surprising to me.

From that day and for the next 90 days I ran to the top of that hill every day exactly one mile from my front door. I gave up on goals and did one day at a time. Only now do I see that this was my way of working out of being dangerously down. (if you've noticed I don't say depressed because I was not diagnosed. I only use the word depressed when a trained professional has diagnosed it)

But, I think, in a way I never really processed or acknowledged what was happening with me back then and instead turned outward to my athlete background forcing myself into a physical regime to change my mindset and get back on track. Did this work? Yes. Did I process the emotions? No. I literally ran from them.

But over the past few years I've felt pulled to this world of emotional work often wondering why I was so intrinsically motivated to spend time in this place but feeling like I was on the right path - so I would carry on.

Perspective lead to realization

A bunch of things in my life coincided to give me perspective and help me realize I needed to acknowledge this time in my life happened. Now I can honestly say - I had these thoughts and feelings and that is ok. It happened and there's nothing to be ashamed of. If anything I am proud of my ability to write about this today and the past 24 hours has been surprisingly emotional as I touch on the memory of how I was feeling during this time.

I know it might seem weird but I am connecting the dots looking backwards and able to make connections I've never been able to connect before. After realizing I was dangerously down I changed my focus to one day at a time.

This point in my life changed me and I began building myself back up, actively making shifts in my life, letting go of past expectations of what success was to me (that took at least 3 years) and began to cultivate opportunities that would lead to more emotional work at places like UnCollege and getting to work with Mike Sagun who would later become my friend and business partner. But I still never truly touched on this point in my life the way I am today.

I think the big realization came from going back to work and joining a mens group at the bequest of my friend Mike. Sitting in a group of MEN (They deserve to be capitalized) helped me realize how well I am doing emotionally today and in that same moment it made me feel safe enough to realize how close I'd come in the past to losing control.

Like a child who doesn't know what a "healthy family" is until they are older and find that they were neglected and abused. I feel like I was a tough young man who had no idea how much he was hurting himself or being hard on himself.

It took time and perspective of listening to other men (sharing, with no advice giving, only listening and recognizing through confirming silence) to be able to listen to myself and realize I was hurting once and I never listened to me. Until now. ♥

If you are hurting like this please call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Just call.

Where to do your morning routine (Location Matters)

When you are trying to create a new behavior - the location of where the behavior is triggered matters!

There are only three ways to create a habit.

  1. Change the behavior - Make the behavior easier

  2. Change the environment - Design your environment to make the behavior happen

  3. Change the reward - Celebrate more or change/increase the reward

This is why I trigger my morning ritual when I walk through the kitchen door and turn on the water to fill a glass of water. This is already an automatic behavior. I don’t have to think about being thirsty in the morning. Therefore it is much easier to create a new habit by linking a small action right after I get a glass of water.

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The small action that I anchor to the end of drinking a glass of water is - doing 1 air squat.

Once I do 1 air squat it is much easier for me to continue doing 9 more and then flowing through my movement routine and into my breathwork and finally my journalling. This is how I created a micro morning ritual that turned into a lasting habit.

Your environment effects your behavior

The specific location of where a behavior or habit is triggered matters. One of the first things you'll discover when you try to take control of your day and do you own morning ritual challenge is that your bedroom is likely not the best place to perform your morning ritual.

This is important to recognize because your environment has a huge impact on your ability to create a new habit without using up your daily allowance of motivation and willpower.

Get out of your bedroom

We've all been there. Our alarm goes off and we don't get out of bed. This is the primary reason why I suggest you choose a different space than your bedroom. This will give you a destination to move toward that is away from your sleep space. But if you need more convincing:

  1. If you have a partner you might not want to wake them up

  2. It's likely your automatic next step is to use the bathroom or get water

  3. We usually change in the bedroom (leaving the bedroom for your ritual allows you to come back to change for the day)

So now that we're all on the - LEAVE YOUR BEDROOM PAGE - let's discuss some reasons why your kitchen is likely the best place to perform your ritual.

The kitchen is open & empty

It's 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 AM. What space in my house is likely the most open with the least amount of clutter (ignore the dishes)? The 6x6 foot space between the refrigerator, sink and stove. This is my secrete self-care space.

Early in the morning and late at night this is the space that is likely empty and not being used. This allows me to have a regular space to do my shut down ritual at night while my girlfriend watches TV or reads and it allows me to do my movement in the morning without the possibility of waking her up.

The kitchen is close to what you need

The second thing I do after I wake up in the morning is drink a glass of water. Click here to learn the very first thing I do every morning when I wake up. It makes sense that I'd get my glass of water in the kitchen. I like to use this as an anchor to get myself to leave my bed and automatically start my ritual.

Then I usually turn on the hot water for coffee and start my movement, mediation and journaling all while sitting on the kitchen floor.

Timing! The kitchen is great place to start and end the day

Timing. It's highly likely the kitchen is the place to be alone early in the morning and late at night. Using the kitchen floor to meditate in the evening and to wake up in the morning makes this space into my self-care ritual space durring the two most important times of my day - the beginning and the end.

I like to think of my evening shutdown ritual as a supporting behavior of my morning ritual. The use of the single space supports the natural development of my morning ritual making it a stronger habit.

My #1 Morning Ritual Pro Tip

If you plan to make your kitchen into your personal self-care space here are my behavior/environment design tips that will help reduce willpower and increase the automatic nature of your morning ritual.

Make your kitchen into your self care space. Store these materials in your kitchen:

  1. Journal, planner and pen

  2. Yoga mat

  3. Hoodie (it's nice to be warm when waking up)

  4. Tea or coffee (likely already there)

  5. Plug your phone in the kitchen (This forces me not to look at it in bed)

Next Step, Comments? Feedback?

So, that's it. Please send Mike and me a message in the comments. Let us know where you do your ritual and if you have any feedback or comments we would love to hear them!

4 Morning Ritual Movements You Can Do Anywhere

This post could be titled - why 3 hour morning routines are stupid.

Last week, I was in a public speaking workshop in San Francisco. The attendees had to come up with a 3 min speech to practice in front of the group. One of the impromptu speeches made me realize why I am so big on having a micro morning ritual.

An example of tiny habits in action, progressive overload and small imperfect action in the real world.

An example of tiny habits in action, progressive overload and small imperfect action in the real world.

An example of tiny habits, progressive overload and small imperfect action in the real world.

One of the attendees was a CEO. He had just come from his 3rd flight to Japan in 3 months. He choose to give a 3 min presentation about his intense 3 part morning routine that helped him perform his best - even while traveling like crazy. His routine consisted of 1 hour of meditation, 1 hour of working out and then 1 hour split into reading and then prioritizing his day. While I'm envious of his motivation and drive and the invisible life/work scaffolding that allows him to maintain such an awesome routine.

I call bullshit - and here is why.

For a lot of us, life is unpredictable, we don't have the invisible scaffolding of your average CEO to hold things together for us (yet). This means the best morning ritual is the ritual/routine you do on your bad days. The design constraints for this ritual are:

  • Real world morning ritual design constraint #1 - simple

  • Real world morning ritual design constraint #2 - able to be done anywhere

  • Real world morning ritual design constraint #3 - willpower is not required

In the design world limitations are called design constraints. These are the requirements and conditions that need to happen in order for a project to be successful.

Success in this project = you really do this ritual and it helps you feel good and perform better.

While we aspire to be like the celebrity entrepreneurs of instagram who do 3 hour long morning ritual on the regular (don't lie you wanna be like them). The thought of doing one might motivate you to do it a few times over an awesome week - but the likelihood that you'll maintain this level of performance is extremely low. This is why we design for real life and build from there.

Hence why Mike and I created this 4 part movement flow that you can do anywhere. I do this four part flow as the beginning of my base morning ritual every morning after I drink a glass of water. The simplicity this 4 morning movements flow allow it to become a stronger habit that supports the more advanced build and peak stages of my morning ritual when I'm at the top of my game.

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THE Micro

Morning Ritual Movement Flow

10 x Air Squats

10 x Pushups

10 x Situps

10 x Deep Breaths

Start by doing only one air squat. Then allow each exercise to flow from one to the next.

You may increase the number of sets or reps after doing 1 round.

By focusing on making the first round automatic you increase the likelihood of creating a habit.

When in doubt focus on maintaining the air squats to create a lasting habit.

The 4 part morning movement flow

  1. Air squat

  2. Push-up

  3. Sit-up

  4. Deep breath

It's that simple: 1 Air-squat, 1 push-up, 1 sit-up, 1 deep meditative breath.

The habit anchor that triggers this flow in my morning routine is "after I put down the glass of water". This is because one of the strongest habits I have is drinking a big glass of water every morning. This is strong anchor for me because my body craves water when I wake up and therefore I usually don't have to think about it. I just do it. Then after I put the glass down I've trained myself to do 1 rep of each movement. This means I literally do 1 air-squat, 1 push-up, 1 sit-up, and 1 deep breath.

I love how stupid small this is and I love how I often think of it as insignificant. In a world of instagram motivation junkies, ultra fitness pros and ultra marathon runners (I love running so it's what I see on instagram a lot) this is laughably small in comparison. But it's so powerful I brag to myself and write entire blog entries like this about it.

There's a lot of science around why this works for me.

First - My body is tight and stiff in the morning. Doing one rep of each movement allows my back, arms and thighs to warm up and stretch out a bit before doing a more substantial round of 10 reps or even 10 sets of 10 reps of each exercise.

Second - The single round takes less than 30 seconds. This means I don't have a mental excuse not to do it and my brain doesn't need to be working. In fact, sometimes I even tell myself I only have to do the first round but this usually has the opposite effect of creating momentum - and I end up doing more than I set out to do.

Third - Momentum. It's proven it takes more mental and physical energy to start something than it does to maintain doing it. The great part about doing one round is it's a win, win, win. I am highly likely to do it (even when rushed) so I keep the habit alive (making it stronger). I usually end up doing more reps and set creating what I like to think of as a bonus points mindset. And finally even if I don't do more I am ending on a high note with the single mindful breath at the end sending me off into writing one sentence and (the next step in my micro morning ritual) and then my day with a smile.

Next Steps - Go & Grow

Go do it. Seriously that's the next step. Go do one round of this. You have zero excuse not to and that's the best part. Even if it's 3:00 in the afternoon and you are at work I implore you to stand up and do this now. That's how we practice.

After you practice it once I want you to name a specific moment in your morning where you will do it, right after. This is called your anchor. Here's a list of 15 morning anchors most of us have and never notice.

And finally once you start doing it I want you to allow it to grow organically by either doing more sets, more reps or transitioning to another movement.

But don't allow your inability to do more to stop you from doing this micro morning ritual. This will keep the habit alive.

Message me on instagram or send me a check-in video with how it goes! @chrisleewilson or @theunshakableman

What Emotional Awareness Means To Me.

If emotional awareness is how I experience my life. Then my level of emotional awareness decides how much of my life I get to experience and what my experience of my life is.

This means emotional awareness is everything to me. I want to learn as much about emotional awareness as I can in order to experience as much of my life as possible and to have an affect on the life that I am experiencing. Then I want to support all of my tribe in being as emotionally aware as is possible for themselves and me too. Because this only helps the group.

Imagine you lived a 90 year life.

Here’s an image from waitbutwhy.com to help you do this.

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Another way of thinking about this is - emotions are the sauce of life.

Now, imagine eating bland cardboard tasteless crap for all 90 years.

Wouldn't you want to eat amazing pizza and delectable fruits and veggies with a wide array of tastes and smells and textures?

This is your emotional spectrum.

My emotional awareness is how I experience my life. This is mind bending and blowing to me at the same time.

This means I am not my emotions.

This means there is a CAPTIOL - I in the middle of my universe and MY EMOTIONS are separate running around all around me.

If I train myself to be aware of this concept I can pick and choose how I experience these emotions.

This means in one world I can have a horrible life. A bland life. A painful life. A destructive life.

This mean in another world I can have a wonderful experience of my life. A multifaceted. A broad spectrum. A full featured life. A constructive life.

Like a black & white TV or 4K or Virtual Reality Life!

I don't mean to get poetic here but emotions are the sauce of life.

I want to be able to choose the sauces I like, reduce the ones I don't and to create the one's I love and want to use again and again.

This is emotional awareness to me.