What you get out of life may be the result of the questions you ask. Every one of us has probably heard the saying, “Ask and you shall receive.” Most times that is true. People who go looking for something usually find it. It may take time, but, almost always, we get what we ask for. Go looking for a fight, you’ll find someone else who wants to throw down. Go to the doctor and ask him why you are sick, and he will tell you you have an infection. Ask and you shall receive. Therefore, it’s good practice to look at the quality of the questions we are asking. 

One we’ve all heard before is, “Why do these things always happen to me?!


We hear questions like that all too often, and we may have even said ones like it ourselves. However, we usually don’t even listen to the answer. For example, many people ask me why they are always tired or have no energy.  I answer, tired is a state of mind. If you ask yourself why you always feel tired, but you never leave the couch or your bed, then the answer is obvious: get out of bed and move! Energy is movement; without movement energy doesn’t exist. It’s true, potential energy is momentarily static, non moving. But, potential energy wouldn’t exist without kinetic energy, energy that is moving. A couch potato is a big lump of potential energy. Therefore, you need to convert that potential energy into kinetic energy and get your ass moving!

Still, people often don’t change. We ask those questions in a helpless, victimized state of mind, as if our conscious decision making has no effect on the things that happen to us. Why do those things always happen to me, why do I always feel so tired, why do things have to be that way; these are useless, wasteful questions if we don’t first listen to the answers and messages the world sends back our way.

Surely, these questions give us knowledge. And knowledge is power. For many of us, though, the seeking of knowledge has become a type of masturbation for our brain. We scroll through twitter, facebook, and all sorts of blogs, picking up random bits of information and factoids, but we never do a thing with them. We chuckle as we read, “’A healthy, loving sexual relationship with your wife or significant other will decrease stress, result in a happier home life, and make the two of you live longer,’ says a study conducted by ______ University.” Then, we look at our significant other and decide we are too tired to seduce them. Similarly, if you walk through a college campus you can see a good majority of the students in between classes scrolling through twitter feeds, reading newspaper headings but not the whole article, “liking,”  “favoriting,” or “retweeting” posts and articles about childhood abuse and the like, as if that kind of action or knowledge does anything significant. Fifty “likes” on a post from people who aren’t real friends, but acquaintances, may make a person smile; however, that is nothing compared to a phone call from a brother, sister, or best friend.


The point is that questions like, “why did this happen,” too often result in inaction. Knowledge is useless without action. You have three apples, I have two oranges – that’s good, but now what? You can name all fifty states, memorize the number pi to 2000 digits, and throw a baseball 100 mph, so what? What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do about the why, the knowledge? If you never ask a question that allows you to take action then you will remain a helpless victim. Why did this happen, how did this happen, who did this to me? None of these questions are worth a thought if you are not going to ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?” And that’s the second thing we need to do; ask a better question.

Have you ever went to your family doctor with an injury, or painful joint that just wouldn’t seem to go away. I have. I’ve played baseball all my life, and quarterback for my high school football team, so my shoulder became twisted up from overuse. Certain parts were tight, others loose, and it was practically out of the socket. I asked several doctors and a medical student about my shoulder, and all of them said the same thing, “Ice it and take some ibuprofen.” That helped – until the medicine wore off and I took off the ice. Soon enough my shoulder was causing back pain. I knew I had to try something else.

My friend in college was studying athletic training. I spoke with him one day, and asked, “Hey man, my shoulder is killing me, it  feels like I need someone to yank on it. It’s like someone jabbed a knife in my back, right into my shoulder blade. I don’t really want to take pain medicine, and ice only helps while I hold it on my shoulder. Is that all I can do to help it, or is there something else I could try?”

My friend said he would look at it and see what he could do. I cannot describe the relief I was feeling a few minutes later. Sure, pain medicine and ice alleviated the symptoms, but what my friend did actually changed something in my shoulder. The muscles and tendons were relaxed, and my shoulder was finally back in the socket where it needed to be. My friend went on to explain what he had done and what the problem was. Next, he showed me what I could do by myself to help the pain on a regular basis.

Because of the sports I played, my shoulder and back pain aren’t exactly cured, but they are both more manageable, and much less severe, than ever before. With time, practice, and continuing my research into strength and mobility training, I have come close to resolving those pains completely – without pills that can have negative side effects over time. This answer, this possibility, came about because I asked a better question.

In addition to asking a better question, I also asked a different type of person. Who you ask is just as important as what you ask. Ask a doctor, and you will get a doctor’s method of healing, a trainer will give you a different answer, and a physical therapist yet another. They all have different points of view, they all have different answers. If you ask your mom or dad how to get an A on a test, they will probably say something like, “Study hard, know the material your teacher gave you.” But, if you ask an older brother or sister who had the same teacher two years before, they might ask you “What unit is it? Which chapter? Is that the one about cells? Oh, then make sure you know this. And, she always likes to ask questions this way, so you better prepare for a page long essay.” Which answer was more helpful? If you are a college student, I highly recommend you go to the professor’s office hours; because he or she will probably tell you exactly what you need to know, or don’t need to know.

Too often we waste time asking our friends or peers pointless questions they don’t know the answers to, and we wonder why nothing significant is happening in our lives. Friends are very important to have. Friends are one of life’s greatest treasures. But, if the only answer they can give you is, “I don’t know,” or, “who cares?” or some other lame answer, then go ask someone who can give you a better one, or at least point you in the right direction.

The last measure of a good question is it’s specificity. A good question is specific, it trims the fat, avoiding vagueness. When I worked in a gym, people would always ask things like, “How do I lose weight?” To which I answer, “Move more and eat better.” How can I give a much better answer than that? A better question would be, “How do I lose 20 pounds?” An even better question would be, “How do I lose 20 pounds in a month?

Specificity gives the person you are asking more direction; they can ask you better questions back. But it also shows the person you’re asking, as well as yourself, that you are serious about what you are asking and what you want. It shows that you have truly thought about the question and spent a significant amount of time trying to formulate an idea. Something is driving you. You actually want the answer. The answer means something to you.


No matter what it is – losing weight, making money, or anything your heart desires – you can’t get something for nothing. Often times all we have to offer is time, so at least spend it sincerely. In school, when you walk up to a teacher and say, “I don’t know how to do this. Can you help me?” What is the first thing they do? Well, if they are a good teacher they start to ask you questions about what they have been teaching you. They drag you on and on, letting you answer simple questions until you eventually arrive at the answer or next step. However, if you come up them and say something like, “I understand that this is where we start, and you said that we do this next, but here I don’t remember if we do this or this.” They will be able to tell you what to do and why. You get a solid, definitive answer because, well, you earned it! In the case of the latter, you spent so much time on your own, the teacher rewards you and makes sure to clear up any confusion. You took your time, asked a better question, and you got a better answer.

Ask and you shall receive. Look at the questions you are asking on a daily basis. Are they getting you anywhere? Are you listening to the answers, asking the right people? Is the question specific enough? Once you’re ready, what you get out of life is up to you. So, ask better questions.

“What can I do? Not, “Why should I?”

“Why can’t I?”… No, ask, “How can I?”

Ask a better question.

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You are meant to flow. Your brain evolved to navigate your body through its environment. Your organism – your brain, body, and its multitude of components – is a highly sensitive instrument that responds to stimuli, reads and reacts simultaneously, and seeks to understand this world. Whether it is music, exercise, or words, you respond well to movement, but perish when stagnant.

Paradoxically, our modern society is plagued by sitting in front of screens; either watching make believe life, or consuming information that we do little with. Endless television series, internet websites containing opinions of the latest news buzz, scouring through databases of “experts”; the pattern seems to be sit-consume, sit-consume. We sit in the car, sit at work or school, sit at mealtimes, sit when we get home, and all the while wonder why forty-five minutes of exercise three times a week doesn’t seem to change our body much. To top it off, we eat too much of the wrong foods – which can be considered less than nutritious. Overall, our day to day lives have become something to dread – or, at the very least, have become extremely dull and boring – moving us further away from our potential, and closer to becoming lifeless globs of plato-like stuff.

There is a type of society, though, that sits quite often, and appears calm and rather healthy and lively. The zennists. However, these people sit purposefully, and they sit every morning and every night, quietly, with nothing but themselves, breathing fully and observing all that comes to pass. Then, after some time and at a certain point, they stand up and go about their business. They clean, shape the garden, cook and eat, have tea, walk, conversate and live. After their daily affairs are in order, they may do more artful things, like paint or play music. Then, they sit again before bedtime. If it was allowed in the dojo, I’m sure you would catch a zen monk or two laughing at a television show every once in a while. But I can’t imagine the monks would sit there for more than one show at a time. There seems to be something very different about our sitting and that of a zennist. But what is it?

Have you ever been driving somewhere, or going through some other mundane task – like washing the dishes or taking out the trash – and all of a sudden it’s over, you wonder where it has gone, how it was even accomplished? Where were you really at during that time? Your body was taking out the trash, but you didn’t seem to perform the action with it. Where were you?

We seem to have so many lapses in consciousness. Personally, the high school classroom and early on in my collegiate education were where these lapses happened most frequently. As students, most of us sit, uninterested in what is being “discussed” or “learned,” wishing we were elsewhere and thinking about what we should have said to the rude cashier, or how we are going to fix what happened last weekend. This carries on in to our adult lives. We go about our work trying to get to the weekend so we can numb our senses, or increase them beyond necessity. Then, if we do move, we move to get somewhere else – from this bar to the next, from this man or woman to the next – and when we get there we don’t know what to do with the situation. We are uncomfortable and we try to get away from that feeling, that anxiety. When you really think about it, the majority of our time is spent trying to get away from the uncomfortable, or dull, present situation, attempting to escape into the future, or figuring ways we could have done things differently in the past. And, in this way, we miss out on a lot of what life has to offer.

But, what if we got all of the mindless wandering and anxious tendencies out of the way? What if we cleared up the speedy, incomplete thoughts, half consumed sensations, and mindless experiencing, by spending a little time just sitting. So that when we watch television, we take something away from it; or we realize that there is nothing to be gained from it at this moment. What if we took time to clear our minds early on, or late in the day, so that we could give the world, the people in it, and our action, full attention and consciousness. Would our lives not be so much different? Would our anxieties not settle as we realize the futility of endless worrying, thinking about situations and outcomes we can’t control? Would we not see the joy in the simple moments of life, and enjoy living more consistently, with more energy, compassion and love?


At least not right away.

At first we would fidget, trying to escape the tension. Then we would run through our never-ending, ever-growing to-do list, thinking about how much time we are “wasting”. Next we would open and close our eyes, adjust our back and shoulders, and roll our neck, fidgeting more and more, because, times-a-tickin’. By that time we would probably be gasping for air because there just doesn’t seem to be enough even though it surrounds us in magnificent quantities. Breathing from our neck and upper chest, faster and faster, oh boy, we have got to get going! What if… What IF… WHAT IF!…

What if that was only one minute? What if that was only five minutes, or ten at the most?

Well, then we might let it all out; have a full inhale or exhale. A sigh of relief just may give us some poise in our spine and let our heart beat a little stronger. Because, face it, even the strongest, most centered and loving person can worry sometimes. It’s quite alright to wonder about what life may bring. Wonder is part of life’s beauty. Once we realize this is the only place we can be – here and now – there are no other places you could be, or choices you could have made, that life is about experiencing and learning, then we can relax into the moment. We can take a walk alone and not be afraid. Or we can walk with another person and enjoy quiet conversation. We can experience the love that we are in every situation.

That we sit, think, and consume information endlessly isn’t the problem. It’s the way we carry out these actions; mindlessly out of habit, because we are afraid to be alone, and with no expression of the inspiration that surrounds us. Sitting, thinking and consuming are human activities; but, they are only part of the flow of life.

There is an artist within each one of us. No, not necessarily the “high art” of the Renaissance; but art, nonetheless, resides in all of us. Art is our soul! And the endless consumption and inspiration that surrounds us gets stuck, spoiled, festered and infected, stagnant with a stench, if we don’t express ourselves artistically!

Marcus Aurelius said, “everything that belongs to the body is a stream.” Buddha taught, “there is only mind.” Life is movement. Life flows and changes constantly, from the largest and slowest changing things – like mountains, oceans, and the atmosphere – down to the the smallest bacteria and atoms. Life is insubstantial, and emptiness pervades through all that we see, hear and feel. Existence, then, is about “going with the flow,” dancing with people, places and things, singing with the music of the moment. When we never take the time to contemplate our position of existence – who we are – our soul lies restless.

Contemplation isn’t about defining ourselves by profession, social status, or talents. Living in the moment certainly isn’t about getting as high as you can all the time, blowing your money and screwing people over. Contemplation and presence are about inhaling all of the beauty and pleasure of life, filling yourself up with the inspiration of nature and wonder of existence, and then exhaling it all out, giving all that has past through you back, through love and compassion.

So, when you sit, sit in peace and wonder. Let your breath move freely and easily as inspiration takes over your body and mind. Thoughts will come and go as they please, but it does no good to be disturbed by any one thought in particular. When you sense that happening, when you are hung up and stagnant, frustrated or anxious, let out a sigh of relief. Clinging to sick thoughts does you no good; you are only preventing the flow of life when you hold your breath. And it is the same when you walk, talk, run, or sing.


Don’t hold your breath, and as they say, let come what may.

Hey Everyone,

Here’s my 5 favorite social media shares (that aren’t my own work) for this week:

1. “Lesson 1: Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you.” @Seantourage Stephenson http://buff.ly/1SgHewt


2. Ten Lessons From a Tiger http://buff.ly/1MiDjO7


3. I’m sippin on some sunshine! http://buff.ly/1HQMHIY


4. Morning Workout @ChiliPeppers – Rain Dance Maggie [Official Music Video] – YouTube http://buff.ly/1UJVxh7


5. “The more you focus on something, the more it takes root in the mind.”http://buff.ly/1eNtEUz


If you like any of these, have questions or comments, post in the comment section below.

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bodybuilding-146225_640It’s no joke. The morning and evening news run a story on it every couple of weeks. Time Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, along with countless other magazines, journals and websites, have all written an article or two on it. Every “health article” seems to say it one way or another: Americans need to exercise more

I want to put this frankly: physical activity is different from exercise. Physical activity can be anything – walking, riding, lifting, sex – and yes, we could use more of it versus our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. But, an exercise is done with the specific intention of making you better, more adept to handle a situation; a fire drill, for instance, is an exercise. And, although it is physical activity, if we use fire drill as the exercise for the hasty generalization I mentioned above, we get: Americans need to fire drill more!

However, having more fire drills doesn’t exactly decrease the prevalence of type II diabetes, reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia, and help children and adults with ADHD – but, hey, anything’s better than cramming kids into desks all day, and taking physical education out of the curriculum, all the while wondering why kids can’t focus for more than ten seconds at a time.

This article is meant to argue that the majority of American’s, and humans in general, should practice strength training specifically, in addition to living a more active lifestyle. Here are some simple reasons to develop a simple practice.

1. You will exist in a stronger, healthier body:

Wait, did you just say you don’t want to be strong? Well, why the hell not? You don’t want to “bulk up,” whatever the hell that means? Being strong doesn’t necessarily mean being big. Sure, often times, the bigger you are, the stronger you are. However, strength is a skillful adaptation. When done right, strength training produces neurological changes that make you stronger, not bigger.

Strength, first and foremost, is about making your nervous system more efficient. Pavel Tsatsouline is a Sports Scientist and chairman of a company called StrongFirst. If you ask him a question about how to get stronger, and he is in a good mood, he will probably give you the answer through an old Russian joke. After you scratch your head, trying to understand the joke, you can go read any one of his books on strength training. The answer is “Tension = Force.” The more tension you create, the greater the force you can produce, the stronger you are; and this is done through training the nervous system. It has nothing to do with making your muscles biggerIn fact, they will become more defined, and – one of my favorite buzz words – toned. Why? Simply put, you can squeeze them harder at any given time, therefore, residual tension, aka “tone,” stays with your muscles. Hypertrophy, or muscle building, is something totally different (Power to the People!, Pavel Tsatsouline).

Now, in addition to making you muscles contract harder, and work more efficiently through neurological adaptation, strength training also improves posture by stretching muscle and tendons, along with reorganizing bone articulations. Using proper bio-mechanical technique through strength training is the basis for Dr. Kelly Starrett’s work. Dr. Starrett is a physical therapist and Cross-fit coach, who teaches a movement-based mobility system. He argues, and illustrates through his books and website, that pain can virtually be eradicated from your body using proper strength and mobility training. However, this is only true if you have good bio-mechanical technique. Don’t fret about the word, once you get the hang of basic bio-mechanics, movement makes total sense. (You can think of it as coordination).

As a result of strength and mobility training, your body becomes stronger on the outside; therefore, it becomes stronger on the inside as well. Ultimately, a good strength training practice, with emphasis on bio-mechanical technique, will make you better able to do physical activity [i.e fire drills 😉 ] and have less aches and pains. Additionally, with a good practice you will find that your body craves certain types of foods, and, because you can do more with less as you get stronger, you will need less food to get through your day. Which brings us to our next reason:

2. You will have greater endurance and stamina.

As I just said, with a good strength and mobility program you learn to do more physical work with less effort. Therefore, day to day physical activities – playing with your kids, cleaning the house, walking the dog, taking out the trash, sitting up straight at work – require less effort, and you have more energy in your tank at all times. The same is true with more intense physical activity. If you are a runner, you will have the ability to run faster or farther, or both, depending on your goals and desires. If you dance, you will be a stronger dancer, better able to endure the stress of given movements. Once again, you will be able to do more with less effort, therefore, you will notice an increase in stamina.

3. You will have more mental clarity, and a greater ability to focus.

We are meant to exist in our bodies. The body evolved the brain to navigate itself through its environment. It is only when we are fully present, aware out our surroundings externally, feeling out and through our body from within, that we are in a centered, homeostatic balance.

You are putting your body under great stress when you strength train. This is why it is so important to ease into strength training with a coach, or an experienced and intelligent friend. But, through learning to endure this stress physically, you learn to remain present in your body; your pain is right here, you can’t run away from it. The body and mind are two sides of one coin. If you want more mental clarity, learn to stand strong and remain present, even in times of difficulty. Strength training teaches you that you can’t run away from the weight you bear on your shoulders, much like sitting in meditation teaches you that you can’t run away from yourself.

To conclude, everyone should have a strength training practice, just like everyone should have other movement practices, musical practices, visual practices, logical or mathematical practices. We are amazing, capable humans. By making us stronger physically and mentally, and by teaching us to do endure the stresses of life by remaining present rather than running away, strength training will give us the physical foundation to do the amazing feats we, as humans, are capable of.

If you have questions or comments about getting started, please leave them below. I will be releasing another post soon that is about how to get started with strength and mobility training.

Suggested readings:

Visit StrongFirst.com

Aches and Pains.

A simplified guide to eating.

Resources (also provided in the links throughout the article):




Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance, by Kelly Starret 1st Edition (2013). [link will take you to 2nd edition]

Power to the People!:Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American, by Pavel Tsatsouline.



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