From the monthly archives: "August 2012"

conflict (Copy)The biggest conflict lies in the desire to not have conflict. More than a part of life, conflict is a way of life. Everything from cells to stars must endure it, as conflict is necessary for all growth. Trying to avoid conflict is futile. Instead, by understanding its benefits, you can use conflict to your great advantage, by stepping beyond your comfort zones, and growing in wisdom and influence.

Conflict is important to biological systems as the driver of evolution. But it works much the same in our daily lives, helping us step into the next stage of experience and understanding. As conflict moves through its arc of tension and resolution, it ultimately opens us up to a new perspective. This leap in consciousness happens repeatedly throughout our lifetime, demonstrating a continued spiritual expansion, which often appears independent of the mind, but in reality, can be controlled by the way we use our mind, and much more than by merely thinking alone.

Internal Conflict

It’s easy to forget sometimes that conflict isn’t just between people and the outside world, it happens most often internally. Conflict is a part of our everyday decision making process, so something as simple as what to have for dinner can render some people batty. This is the mind at work. Most of us can’t stop the process—it’s a necessary component of the psyche meant to keep us authentic.

Although inner struggle can at times be painful, some have learned to become Zen with it; some have even come to like it. A good fight every now and again is good for the soul, and why not? Conflict has its advantages: It leads to resolution, self-awareness, discovery of new boundaries, and the removal of fear. At the very least, it takes us to the next stage of development, whether personal or professional—we need conflict to create and expand.

In the end, you can’t get away from it even if you tried—and why would you want to? It would be impossible to survive, let alone thrive without the internal function of conflict to guide you. By knowing and understanding your highest values—the drivers of your decision making process—you can turn those moments of inner conflict into a guiding mechanism to move you toward your higher purpose.

Many people do not tune-in to their values on a conscious level, so they often find making decisions difficult, and then they are prone to living their lives according to the values of others. By being in-tune with your values, you’ll make decisions easier and overcome conflict because you’ll be driven by your purpose. Just follow one simple rule: Stay true to your values and base your decisions on what brings you closest to fulfilling them.

External Conflict

So what about conflicts we have with people? Well we need those, too. Every aspect of life is governed by conflict—it’s called having “problems.” We are problem-solvers, in essence. Show me a life with no problems, and I’ll show you a cadaver. Without problems, we would have nothing to work out and life would have no meaning. Think about how families, organizations and cities operate—governments and political systems as well—isn’t conflict what takes center stage every four years in America? Conflict builds civilizations, and the Wall Street Occupiers are simply one incarnation of this evolutionary principle in action.

Just as with internal conflict, growth would be virtually impossible without external problems for us to solve. These can prove tricky, however, because dealing with others can turn things into a game of wills, which can slow progress and increase stress. But as clichéd as it may sound, the best approach to external conflict is to look for win-win situations. This can only be accomplished by understanding both your and your adversary’s highest values, and then attempting to reach a center point. This is the most effective path to resolution, when both parties feel comfortable that their values are being met. At the very least, if a resolution is not reached, you can both walk away knowing why you failed to compromise—you are being true to your individual values, and you simply haven’t found a way to make them intersect—for now.

Remember that conflict is inevitable—whatever problem you don’t solve today you’ll get to readdress later in the same form or a different one entirely, internally or externally. Either way, it’s best to understand the true nature and purpose of conflict than to try to avoid it. Nature will not allow that anyway. So experiencing conflict may be unavoidable, but you can ease the discomfort by tuning-into your highest values, and then using them to guide you down your evolutionary path.

I read and write about health every day. It’s my love. And I never stop thinking about the marvels of the human body. My research takes me into every conceivable subject revolving around health, which basically means everything. I see health all around me at all times, and I see the entire universe in the world of health. But my basic message regarding health is always the same: Health is a natural state inherent in all of us; it is directly related to the choices we make, and to our lifestyles. Our relationship to our health is as much a state of mind as a state of being; and how we think about health shapes our very expression of it.

What is Health?

What does health mean to you? Is it something grand, like a feeling of omnipotence? Does it look like, feel like or allow you to do something in particular? How do you define it? I think defining what health means to you is an important first-step in mastering your health and well being. It’s knowing the what’s and the why’s of attaining and maintaining great health that will take you the farthest.

I’ve posed the question to hundreds of people—what is health? I love the variety of responses that comes pouring out, but the answer is much simpler than most people realize: Health is the body doing what it was meant to. That’s it—nothing grander. It’s not super-humanness, or godliness or even better-than-averageness—it’s simply a properly-functioning body. That means the kidneys do what they are supposed to (eliminate wastes), the liver does what it’s supposed to (detoxify and aid digestion), and the nervous system functions the way it’s supposed to—in perfection. Now that’s health!

It’s not so much different from that of a car, even though we are not machines. We are instead moving, breathing, organic life-forms, yet the exact same principles apply to both: if you take care of your car, it will function beautifully—it will run well, burn fuel efficiently and look good in the process. But neglect it, and…well, you know what happens when you don’t change the oil…

How should you measure health, then?

I guess that comes down to what you want. Very few strive for health simply for health’s sake—many, instead, use their health as a means to an end. Whatever you decide is the why that drives you toward great health, it can be used as inspiration to push you toward the what—your health goals. Why’s can encompass anything from improved performance at a sport, to the desire to play with, or simply keep up with, your children. The why’s will be important only to the individual—no right or wrong exists.

I will say that ‘the why’ I seem to observe the most is the desire to look “hot.” Nothing wrong with that—I just find that very few people remain driven by this motivator alone. The reason is two-fold: First, not everyone really values their looks as much as they say they do. What I mean is that people who value their physical appearance more than anything else will usually make sacrifices and endure hardships—like giving up foods, bypassing snacking or even restricting partying—to maintain a certain look. Generally, nobody has to motivate these people to exercise. They don’t have to think too hard about it, because their sights are set on the prize—they value their looks above all else.

The second reason is that everybody values something, and people will always gravitate (over time) toward the things they value the most. So if they value business, they’ll eventually focus their efforts on business. If they value family, then they’ll focus there. Be it art, music, sports, cars or anything else, people are driven by what they love and value. For most people, their dominant values end up overriding their drive to look hot.

A better strategy then, when determining the why’s to achieving great health, is to see how caring for your health will allow you to partake in, achieve or excel at your most dominant values—the things that you love. If you love business, then see how being in your best physical health will support you in your work. If you love entertaining, then how can your health make you a better performer, hostess or socialite? How can your health help you earn more money or care for your family? By making these connections to your values, I am certain that you will seek and choose health to help you fulfill whatever tops your list.

Understand…the why’s have to be big enough. As things change, and this includes your health, you will need big why’s to keep you going. If you say you want to be “hot,” but just can’t give up that Saturday night six-pack…or those late-night cookies…or that gym laziness, you probably don’t want it as badly as you think. That’s okay—just see how your health can help you achieve the things that you would sacrifice for, and make sure that attending to your health is a part of that sacrifice. Great health will get you where you want to go most effectively, and you’ll also look good in the process.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few years ago I was interviewed for a documentary project on life and its winding road of intricacies, when a question came around to choosing one’s life path. The interviewer asked if I had always known my chosen path. My answer came quickly and emphatically: No! My life’s path has been one of evolution; in fact, I am certain that I had no way to define it, or even to label it, as I do not believe it has ever been experienced before. Let me explain:

Some people are just born knowing their life’s mission. Have you ever heard someone say, “I just knew I would be a doctor—it’s what I’ve wanted my whole life.”? Or maybe you have seen the video footage of a two-year-old Tiger Woods on the Mike Douglas show hitting a golf ball (check YouTube)? Without a doubt, some people feel the fire burning inside them from day one, while still others simply figure it out quicker than most. But the majority of us have to search for our life’s calling, like a treasure to be found in a quest of the soul; the search as much a part of the path as the calling itself.

And then some of us must create a path where once there was none, innovators of the most magnificent kind, because that which has been paved before doesn’t really lead to where we wish to go. So it may be several years before you fully comprehend your direction, as I was well into my thirties before I saw the big picture. It is thus important to not get discouraged during those hazy days, when you can’t quite see beyond the fog of youth, but instead simply follow your heart, because this is where the light of your soul shines, to guide you down your inspired path even when your conscious mind is still in the dark.

For those of us pioneering our own pathway, then, it might pay to consider a few things along the way. First, as I’ve already said, your heart is the beacon of your soul—it knows exactly where you are going, so just focus on the things that you love the most. Yes, we all have activities and obligations that we do not necessarily care to do, but must do anyway. However, I am talking about what you wish to prioritize, whether that be music, or sports, or dancing, or watching birds…do it every chance you get. If you find yourself developing an interest in another area, then investigate it—that is your heart speaking to you. In my own life, I find that my interests have progressed every few years, such that the work I do today is an integrated synthesis of all my life’s loves, and I never cease to be amazed at the order of it all.

Next, do not get discouraged because you haven’t figured it out yet. Pressures of these sorts tend to lead people to seek guidance outside themselves, to follow paths not truly of their own hearts, and to give up when the going gets tough, because nobody sticks it out for something they are not really driven by.

Finally, don’t be afraid to innovate. Who says that a love of computers and salsa dancing don’t go together? You never know what you might create. Consider all the great innovations throughout history, and understand how it takes a different kind of thinking to change the world. It certainly wasn’t lost on Hooters to figure out the value of amalgamating interests.

The interviewer wrapped things up by asking what advice I would give kids who are uncertain about what they would love to do in their lives. My answer was simple: Just do what you love. Nurture every one of your interests—give them time, and do them well—believe me, it’ll all come together before you know it. Trust in the process, because the heart never lies. We are all born with an inner inspiration and calling, our life’s path just waiting to express itself uniquely through its carrier. Let your heart shine and it will show you the way. Uncovering your path is a process of evolution for the most part, so enjoy every step along the way. It is your path after all, and nobody is going to love it unless you do.

 

 What’s your life’s purpose? Have you ever really thought about it? Have you defined it? One very distinct advantage people have when they actually define their life’s purpose is that they become remarkably adaptable to change. Stress is the failure of an organism to adequately respond to changes; and in the case of humans, it could hamper the health and the quality of one’s life.

Being in touch with your life’s purpose gives you a foundation from which to base your decisions, and it allows you to keep things in perspective when the inevitable happens…like when life changes. Changes in work, changes in income, and changes in lifestyle can all cause enormous stress if you are not prepared for them. But by knowing a few principles, you can turn those stressful moments into transition points that simply lead you into the next phase of your divine life.

Some people mistakenly believe that only purposes of a grand nature are valuable. If it isn’t feeding the homeless, or adopting babies from war-torn countries, or advocating world peace, then somehow it mustn’t be good enough to focus on. It’s as if one’s life purpose needs to be lofty, with the more mundane missions left unspoken or under wraps.

But any purpose is valid. Whether talking of providing a service to the world, or being the loving matriarch of stable and nurturing family, no person’s inspired mission lacks value or deserves to be discounted.

By writing your purpose down, you can invest the time and energy into thinking about it, and periodically refining it, until you shape it to fit your unique life. And for people who think they don’t know their life’s purpose, just understand that you are living it every day. Everything that drives you, that interests you, and which you love are all a part of your life’s purpose. By writing these things down, you will attune more closely to the mission that you are meant to fulfill.

The secret, then, is to connect all your decisions and any of your life’s changes to your purpose. If your purpose is to teach others, then see how your new job, or new residence, or new life’s circumstance allows you to do so. If your purpose is to be a loving, nurturing parent, then see how the current changes in your life will allow you to be, and do, just that. Do this no matter what your life’s mission might be. Don’t get caught in the trap of comparisons, where you weigh your previous circumstances against the current or new ones to be—this is a game in futility; it will get you nowhere and can quickly lead to depression.

Instead focus on your purpose. For example, “My work transition will allow me provide food and shelter for my children, which permits me to continue fulfilling my purpose as a provider, and nurturer, for my family.” By focusing on the things that you actually have, the things which allow you to fulfill your purpose, opens the doors for even more blessing to come, as our ability to attract is directly related to our state of gratitude.

Changes in life are inevitable. How we adapt to those changes determines the amount of stress we experience, and the degree to which it affects our health. So you can make any life transition a smooth one by connecting all you do, and all your decisions, to your life’s purpose. Defining your purpose means looking within, as you are living it every day. And by writing it down, and refining it periodically, you will surely have a guide that helps you adapt to any and all life transitions. Success and fulfillment come from living on purpose. Knowing what that is, and directing your life by it, is more than half the battle.

rec-center-work-out-031 (Copy)Ah…time, the great humbler of egos and shatterer of illusions of human immortality. As we age, we often come to certain realizations about our beliefs, ideals, and expectations that perhaps don’t fall in line with the reality of the ticking clock. Not a bad thing, just a reminder that the activities we might have been putting off for so long are not going to just happen on their own, without our taking purposeful action to make those dreams a reality.

Responsibilities also change with time. We go from self-serving, newly independent young women and men, to contributing members of a workforce and community, to matriarchs and patriarchs of families, to grandparents and leaders of community organizations and institutions—our various responsibilities changing repeatedly along the way. It has been said that nothing in life is permanent except change, and this is never more true than in our evolving responsibilities throughout our lifetime.

The Power of Practicing Good Habits while Healthy

I am a sports chiropractor. Part of my job is to help people recover from chronic pain and injury. I also work very closely with people on an educational level. It is my inspired mission to help people understand the magnificence of their bodies, and how, by nurturing the greatest gift that nature has bestowed upon them, they can do the most to ensure that they will have the time and energy to complete the dreams and goals they have set as their legacy.

My observation is that many people neglect health-nurturing until they actually start to experience physical symptoms. Although it is never too late to begin loving and caring for one’s body, waiting to do so has some distinct disadvantages.

To begin with, waiting for physical symptoms to arise before attending to your health makes it much more difficult to maintain wellbeing than by practicing good habits while healthy. This is just a fact I wish to point out here. Next, some symptoms are late in their expression, which means that damage to your body can already be done by the time symptoms arise (think heart attack, as one extreme example), and sometimes that damage is irreversible. Finally, habits can be tough to break, so the earlier you begin, the easier they are to maintain. My point here is that it is fairly common for people to drift from one health challenge to the next, attending to each malady as it comes along, by treating symptoms and not the cause, in a cyclical pattern, until the overall health and function of the body collapses. Not a good strategy in my opinion.

The Impact of Changing Responsibilities

That brings me to changing responsibilities. When we are young, in that age when the probability of developing disease is quite low (usually between our 20s-40s), it is easy to ignore our health with very little consequence. You know what I mean—frequent pizza dinners, regular and (sometimes) heavy drinking, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and so on—we often treat our bodies as if we can handle any insult, and that we might just live forever; which is not so grave to our minds, since, for the most part, we only have ourselves to think about.

That is, until our bodies tell us otherwise. This usually happens as people reach their forties. The bad foods we eat start to catch up to us then, digestive discomforts telling us of our indiscretions. Having even one drink (at least for me) can lead to a day of mental sluggishness and fatigue not conducive to carrying out one’s responsibilities. And getting inadequate rest?…ugh, forget about it…It can lead to poor performance at work, unnecessary accidents and poor relations with family members, friends and co-workers. Many of us (not all unfortunately) eventually come to the awareness that our health and wellbeing actually affect everybody we come into contact with; which becomes an especially weighty realization if we have children.

When it hits us that we have more to think about than just ourselves, many people make the commitment to change their relationship to their bodies. They decide to finally start that exercise program they have been putting off; they visit the doctor more often; they might even take up meditation, and watch what they eat; and this is a good thing. It is never too late to start adopting healthy habits. In fact, studies show that people who pick up healthy habits in middle age, and do it consistently, can reach the same levels of health as people who have done so their entire lives. Pretty inspiring, isn’t it?

My question to you, however, is…why wait?

It is much more difficult, although not impossible, to create new health habits the older we get. Let’s face it—we get set in our ways! So by starting now, no matter what your age, it will be much easier to make healthy behaviors a part of your lifestyle than if you begin a decade from now. Hate to say it, but you might not even have another decade if you neglect your health for long enough. Sorry to be the grim voice of reality here.

So how about initiating a change in responsibility today? Your responsibility to your health, your loved ones, and those who rely on you, all depend on your conscious decision to change things now! Most importantly, your responsibility to accomplishing your dreams, what you’ve set out to do, can only be realized if you have the health to do so. So take responsibility for your health today, and you’ll have the greatest chance of making your dreams come true.

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