What are your non-negotiables?
The self-development buzzword for the past couple of years has been “mindfulness.”
I think the meaning of this word is open to interpretation by the individual. It’s the modern fanciful way of saying, “stop and smell the roses.” I used to cycle with a group which included Johnny who would now be in his late 60’s. The younger, fitter and stronger amongst us would always race up the hills and then wait for the others. At the back of the pack we would hear Johnny yelling out to us… “Smell the roses Boys. Smell the roses.” (Referring to the view from the top of the hill).
If you speak to the Yogi’s and meditation practitioners they’ll tell you that mindfulness means “being present.” – Clearing your mind of all the noise of past misfortunes, letting go of the uncontrollables in life, rationalise fears and stresses of the future, be grateful and give, give, give because Karma is the universal law.
Whatever your take is, mindfulness should be intentional habits included into your daily regimen, just like personal hygiene. For nothing else but to hold onto your sanity in this crazy world that we live in and created for ourselves.
I call these my daily non-negotiables. It’s the stuff that I do each day (no ifs, no buts, no excuses… rain, hail or shine) that helps me to maintain inner peace, reflect on the day ahead, be consciously grateful, develop and reinforce resilience, and become a better human.
Sounds complicated and timely. Not really. You probably do a lot of this without being aware of it. Here is a list of my daily non-negotiables and how they relate to “mindfulness.”
  1. Wake up and smell the coffee… I love the quote, “… but first, coffee.” It’s not the caffeine kick that I’m after. It’s not a physiological addiction. For me, that 5am coffee is an opportunity to give myself a few minutes to enjoy the simple pleasure of silence. How’s that for mindfulness Mr Namaste?
  2. Train insane or remain the same… working out in the morning is the best way to set you up for an excellent day. And I don’t mean taking the dog for a walk, or doing an active meditation Yoga class. I’m talking about muscle burning, lung busting, heart pounding exercise that makes you fitter, stronger and more resilient to physical stress. It’s simple really… that exercise induced pain that you feel is a sign that you’re pushing your body harder than you would normally do during your normal daily activities. You need to do this – it’s called a stress-adaptation response. That’s how humans evolved to be the fine physical specimens that we are today (well, some of us at least – you know who you are). You’re creating a body that is bulletproof to whatever unexpected shit life shoots at you. You’re evolving to not only survive but to THRIVE. For me, I get this endorphin rush from swimming, cycling and body weight resisted training… Every day. Until I die. Because there are no rest days.
  3. Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise… Benji, an Osteopath that I studied with used to say that all the time. Never underestimate the value of a hard days work. This is an excellent quality that the Baby Boomer generation passed onto Generation X. That seems to have been somewhat dissolved now to the point where the current generation are collaborators at best (read… share the work load), and lazy, entitled brats at worst. I have a great mate (actually he’s more like a brother) who works his butt off. I’ve always marvelled at his level of motivation and dedication to this craft (and graft). And surprise surprise, he’s done bloody well for himself (and his family). Building up a very successful business from scratch with no handouts or shoutouts. I used to joke with him that when everyone else goes to sleep, he’s up working a plan to take over the world.
  4. Listen, listen, listen; and then ask strategic questions… there’s a lot more talkers out there than doers. I’m fortunate that I work in an industry in which people pay me to listen to their stories and then I get to ask them specific questions to help come up with a solution. As a physical trainer and manual therapist I see that as my primary role. All day long I listen to people’s excuses and fears for not fulfilling their potential. I use this as a learning tool for myself to figure out who are the people that are doing amazing things and what are their character traits and values. And then work out a way that I can emulate that in my life (and in a way that makes sense to me). An example here is Meredith, a very high value client (and friend). She always has a great big smile on her face. I know that his year has been challenging for her and her family. Yet, whenever I see her she looks like this is the best day she’s ever had in her life. I asked her one day how she does that, and her reply was so simple and so sensible. Meredith said, “because the alternative sucks.”
  5. Walk the walk… I walk a lot every day. Probably in excess of 20 000 steps. To work. To home. With the dogs. After dinner with my bride. To the shops. You get the point. This gives me a lot time to think, reflect and be grateful. Simple really.
  6. Give a shit… call me cynical but the more people I meet the more I fear for the humanity of our race. Compassion seems to be a rare quality. We’re meant to help each other – as individuals, as a family, as a community, as a country, as a world. Too many are in it for themselves. I’m no philanthropist, although I have done (and doing) my fair share of charitable fund raising. I like to think that I’m always considering the needs and feelings of others. Sometimes I stuff that up and try to please everyone (Vicky, my wife, says I’m too much of a “yes” man) which may end up affecting me, my family or the other person involved. But for the most part I like who I am and proud to say that I aim to please.
So… what are your daily non-negotiables? What do you do every day (no ifs, no buts, no excuses… rain, hail or shine) to make yourself to a better human?
If you’re pulling out blanks right now, I suggest you go for a long walk a figure it out.

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