Friday, September 9, 2011

It's Just Like Weight Lifting But With Your Brain!

In the gym I have learned many life lessons. Working out is a lot more than a male bonding time where we talk about girls and bask in our own testosterone. Lets just set aside the "good game" man booty taps and be adults about this.  Working out is about breaking your own limits. It is about going on when everything inside of you is screaming at you to stop. You have to learn to use your mind to conquer your body and you learn when things get hard you don't quit, you push harder!

In life we hit many road blocks and, just like running on a treadmill, we start to hear a voice in our head telling us to quit now before this gets to hard. For me I know there is always going to be that voice inside my head telling me I can't do it. The great thing about working out is you learn to tell that voice to shut the heck up! Now if you apply this to real life it can be very handy.

Let's say you are looking for a job. You are trying really hard. You get out there every day and you are not seeing results. That voice is going to speak up. It might tell you something like, "You are wasting your time. Clearly no one wants to hire you." Right when that voice speaks up you are given a choice.

To give up or not to give up?

That is the question. Our minds are powerful tools. If we can learn to use them, we can bend how we act and think anyway we like. When that voice speaks up you are more than able to tell it to get back in its place. Go Mob boss on it. Take that negative voice and bust its knee caps! I believe golf clubs are on sale this time of year. Nothing is stopping you from getting rid of the negative in your life but you. It is a matter of perspective and you can change yours.

The great thing about change is once you adjust it is like things had always been that way. Then you can take a step back and see how you can get to the next level. Always pushing your limits. Just like working out if we want to better ourselves we have to carry on. We have to do things everyday to push towards our goal.

At Golds Gym they have a poster I really like. It says "Know that commitment is a muscle." That is so true. Just like a muscle, commitment is something you have to work daily for it to get any better. You have to train yourself to commit. When you get to where you want to be, you can't just stop, you have to maintain it. Your learned commitment is what drives you.

Alright class lets review! We all hit that point where we want to quit. This not only happens in they gym, but in all areas of life. I ask all of you to recognize that we all make a choice when we quit. It is hard to keep going but the more you chose to take the hard road of never giving up, the more it will come naturally. Another good thing to remember is you can't start out lifting hundreds of pounds so lets win those small battles first!  Last but not least, although they are present, gyms are not all about gay undertones! (Was that to defensive?)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Seize the Day Then Seize the Nap

Lately I have been searching my soul. I have been searching to find the lines. The limits. The edges of ones desires without going to far. Then It hit me. Everything in life is about one thing alone. This thing is so simple but so hard to implement. I'm sure it takes years to perfect it's role in ones life.

This simple idea may not be new to anyone, but underestimated, undersold, or overlooked by everyone, including me. The biggest thing in anyone's life is balance. Lets take for example laziness Vs. Activeness. If you are super lazy all the time you feel like a bum, or that your not doing anything and wish you were. This causes unhappiness and even low self esteem. On the other hand being active to an extreme has some negative effects as well. Always doing something takes its toll. You start to feel overwhelmed and your stress level shoots up. The middle ground is where it is at. If you can find balance between the two you should find happiness.

There is no cookie-cutter, this is the only way to be happy, one size fits all method. Some people are more active than others. They may be able to handle being more active than others and still finding balance. Take knifes for instance. They all have a point where you can balance them on your finger. Some knifes are well balanced and others don't balance right in the middle. It is all about finding your balance point. If we live our lives balancing like another, we will never find our personal balance and happiness. 

This post is called "Seize the Day Then Seize the Nap" because a discovery of my own balance today. This morning I woke up very early to go to the gym with my friends. We got back from the gym and then I decided to take a nap. My friend stopped by unexpectedly. She was wondering why I was still in bed and told me to seize the day. I proceeded to say my profound statement of the day, "Seize the day, then seize the nap." I worked hard this morning and I was honestly satisfied. I knew that the next days held more early morning exercise so I decided to do my body a favor and take a nap.

This was a small example of how I found balance today, but there are many things that need to be looked into. Work and play. Social life and personal life. Intimacy and privacy. Planning and doing. All things need balance. I challenge you to find something you can balance better today and do it. Even balancing the small things has given me much happiness.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Relationships: A Plane Crash Can Be A Life Saver!

Sometimes you see beauty in a run down old building and sometimes you are livid that the laminate is peeling off your shopping card. Some times the little things are a light mist. Other times they are an impassable asteroid field. Sometimes you love everyone. Sometimes you hate yourself.

We are in an ever changing world. It moves so quickly sometimes it's hard to keep up with. One day you have it all figured out. Right when you are comfortable, one change puts you into a nose dive straight down to earth and you scramble for the eject button. Scrambling around the cockpit, all you can think of is how did this happen?

We don't always find the eject button. Just like we don't always have a second chance with the people whose paths we cross in this life. Maybe you just burned a bridge that can never be rebuilt. You severed the last tie. Goodbyes are hard but I never want to see or talk to you again is much worse.

We can not always control the outcome of our relationships, intimate or not, but we can try to get out with the least amount of damage. Going down with the ship takes its tolls on you. Pain turns into agony. A lost friend turns into a lost group of friends. Heart break turns into death wishes.

On the bright side you don't always have to burn up in a big ball of glorious fire and explosions and you don't always have to watch it happening while you parachute to the ground. Sometimes you recover. That nose dive may give you just the momentum you need to pull right back into the swing of things. Only wisdom can tell you what the outcome will be. You have to crash a few planes before you know a lost cause from a gleam of hope.

This post is to every one who has burned a bridge with a friend, family member, or a lover. When you are at the scene of the crash everything looks grim, but what you learned on the way down is priceless. Next time the knowledge you gained will help you more than you know. Maybe you needed to fail now to turn around a lost cause later.

The Lovers Crash

In the case of an intimate relationship, "Plane Crashes" are a natural occurrence. The more you fall the more you see why things don't work out. You also start to see the qualities you don't mesh with. I know that every one of my relationships gets better every time and it is because every time I learn how I can be better and I learn about what type of person I don't really get along with. It is all about seeing things clearly and objectively. Relationships are a big, sucky process of elimination that we are all hooked on like a bunch of  needle shooting junkies. We are all chasing that next "high".

The romantic in me wants to relate relationships to a phoenix, we die in a ball of fire just to rise, anew, from the ashes. Still shaking off the ashes, we are back in the game. I love the game of finding a new love, but it is a hard game. You gotta expect to lose some battles and you have to know when to attract rather than pursue. Some times you need to be happy being you before you can be happy with some one else. That is the lesson I'm learning from my last crash. Relationships are not about being happy with someone. They are about being happy enough with yourself that you have plenty to share. Being a guy all I need is someone to ride shotgun with me. Someone to be along for the ride.

I have found that girls really want relationships to be structured like that. If the woman in your life doesn't feel like your taking her anywhere, the sparks you had are gonna die fast. Am I right ladies? So guys, do something with yourself. If you live for the next girl your going to be looking for the next girl more often than you would like.

I'm sorry that this seems one sided but here is my attempt at helping the single ladies out there. All of that playing hard to get stuff can be fun, but you have to give us something! If we are not getting the hint it's not shameful to help us out a little! Trust me! When a guy likes a girl, hints are over processed and all meaning is sucked out and/or disputed to the point of irrelevance. Make note of this!

All of this relationship talk has made me want to find a date. I must be on my way!

P.S.  All of you ladies out there, feel free to add some comments for a more feminine perspective on all of this!

Thanks :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Most people have filters they put on life. They look around and see what they want to see. Expectations are put on everything.If they don't live up to what we want them to be, those things might as well not exist. They are ignored and even shunned. We do this to everything. Movies, music, products, and even people are all subjected to our "filters". I think one of the worst forms of these expectations, is when we change our filters and then deny things or people we once loved.

Thinking about this has made me really look inside myself. I started to think about what I had unreasonable expectations on and I understood that in some cases expectations are good. We have to hold some things to a higher standard. The tricky thing is doing this with out getting on a high horse and hurting the people we love.

So As I thought about this, I realized that I had a lot of expectations on the people and things around me but not a whole lot on myself. How hypocritical is that? I considered the effects of holding myself to a higher standard. You have to be careful with this one too. For example is you decided you were going to run 20 miles a day after not running in months, you would end up disappointed.

Putting expectations on yourself works differently. It's a lot more goal oriented. You have to see what you want to become and start doing what it takes to get there. If you want to be a nicer person you have to go out and start being nice, but do you think your going to forget all of your negative thoughts over night? NO! You have to fake it till you make it! You have to retrain your mind.

Now that we are considering the standards we hold to ourselves, does it make you think about how you see the world? Maybe we can ease up a bit on somethings. We can all be more accepting, supportive, and understanding. All we are doing is cutting down on our personal pride. That means we have to see that we are people just like everyone else.

A healthier view on this topic can do a lot for a person. Taking a step back and looking inside myself has helped me make new friends and start to be more of a helpful and understanding person. It has done nothing but good for me and I know it will do the same for anyone who gives it a try. Just remember if your not going forward, you are going backwards. So what are you waiting for? No one can change you but you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living What You Love

What do you love to do? Every one has something that inspires them and invigorates their creativity. Really! What is "that thing" that you love? Look inside yourself and find it. Really look! It is there! I have finally found what drives me. What I love to do. Simply put, it enriches my life. On the flip side neglecting it made me feel empty.

We all know how it feels to wake up and wonder "what will I do today?", then we think "wow. My life is drab. I literally have nothing to do." You feel as if something is missing from your life. There is a hunger somewhere inside of you but you can't quite place it. Sometimes it is so starved we forget about it.

We have good reason to feel starved. That is the feeling of you neglecting yourself. We think for whatever reason that we can't do what we love. We tell ourselves things like, "people wont think I'm any good." or " I don't have time." That is not true at all.

People look up to someone who does what they love. It's inspiring. When you have that kind of passion behind what you are doing it does not go unnoticed! Sure you might not be the best. Maybe some people say your no good, but really what does it matter? I am someone who has let myself be affected by words. People would say well your OK...but it's not like you could be a professional or something. To me this hurt more than people who said I just plain sucked!
Recently I have found that I was listening to the people around me too much when it came to my dreams. They are MY dreams. They should come from me! I had become what people wanted me to be and it was killing me. I was a boring robot. I had little to no traces of life, but I didn't just have to overcome the people around me. I had to overcome myself!

We all have fears. We have things we tell ourselves about the things we do. I had let this self defeatist in me win out many times. Recently I have found the best way that I can beat it. It is so simple that it was overlooked. Focus on what you want to do, not the fear, then just do it. Take it on faith.

Personally I'm tired of ignoring what I love. Everyone else can live for other people, but not me! I'm going to live for my dreams. I'm going to do what I love to do and I'm not going to care what people think. What is the point of life if we don't do what makes us come alive! I invite every one to take some time and think about what they love to do. Then take the steps to start doing it today! It will change your life.

I'm Ben Duncan and I'm a writer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Inspiration: With All Its Horror

There is a guy sitting in his house at the kitchen table, blasting techno music, hunched in front of a laptop and he is trying to become a writer. Maybe he will write a nice scary story. The atmosphere seems fit for a writer. He has a few empty soda bottles and popcorn bags on the table. Facing the window he sees the "great view "of duplexes. Some old folks live directly across from him and he doesn't need to look good because he's not going anywhere.

Some kids run by every once and awhile wielding bicycles like awkward swords, and chancing their diaper-wearing little sister like an escaped convict.  He thinks to himself "where is my inspiration?". Why can't I write a thing? Is my techno not loud enough? hmmm I could pop another bag of popcorn. Then it hits him! "WHAT IF I WAS NAKED?!". His logic tells him that being naked is being free. It also throws in a little bit of good advice. Close the curtains so you don't scar some kids for life and its always good to avoid giving old ladies heart attacks. I think her grand kids are cops anyway.

So the drapes and pants are pulled and there is some soup in the microwave for good measure. Now instead of being inspired by his newly found freedom, the only thing he can think of is "when is my roommate going to get home?" Then before the thought completes, the soup is done. The mixture of nudity, soup, and.... that dang AC just kicked on I'll be...I mean he will be right back.

OK now he has got something! The night was cold. It was like the air passed right into your core. All I could hear was the screams of....What should that Diaper kid be?... kids in that just doesn't seam scary enough... scratch that! The towns people stood in shock at the pale sight before them. Frozen with fear they tried to manage a scream. The curtains in the window of the house that stood in the midst of their tomfoolery had fallen revealing...reviling?...yes revealing a ghostly, pale sight. A man who was completely.... 

Guys I can't do this anymore. These kids are gonna see me naked. I can't be a sex offender! Robe on and soup gone! This post is done!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Music: The Rhythm of Life

I used to be horrible at sports. So bad it was embarrassing. I was the kid that got picked last. I sucked more then a vacuum. After games I wondered if I would ever be good at sports. Inevitably I gave up and decided to take a different route. Music. Now with seven, going on eight, years of drumming under my belt I have a new view on how important music is.

Soon after getting my first drum set I started to notice some changes. It wasn't like I woke up one day and I was mega awesome, but more gradual. My first noticeable change happened at a church baseball game. There was all types of people there. The dads who take things to seriously, kids staring off into space, and me the kid who would rather it rained so I didn't have to blow it in front of girls!

 Before I knew it I was up to bat. I walked up to the plate anticipating the strike out to come. Next thing I know the ball is coming right down the middle. Mostly for show, I took my swing. To my surprise I nailed the thing. BLASTED IT! All the way past the pitchers mound! I was so shocked I almost forgot to run to first. After that game I realized it was because I had been playing drums that I was better at baseball.

Sure playing the drums gives you better coordination which is a big help, but there was something else. I could feel the flow of things. The unnoticed rhythm of everything around me. I could find the music in making a sandwich! It was like gaining a sixth sense, but with less dead Bruce Willis. Suddenly I was better at everything. I'm not the best still to this day but I had huge gains.

It wasn't only baseball. I could dance better. I could sing better. I could even talk to girls better. I could ride my bike with no handle bars! It's all because I could feel the flow of things. Like playing drums in a band I could see what was coming next and adjust accordingly. 

Because of this I have a new view on music. Its not just hitting drums and strumming guitars. It is an audible version of the natural flow that can be found in every day life. In my opinion  music is part of understanding the world around us. It is as important as writing and arithmetic if not more important! 

Music is bigger than we think. It is the heart beat of all life and it is in everything we do. So make like a river and flow.

This is something I believe in but I also know that there are many ways to view life. Feel free to comment and share things in your life that have influenced the way you view things. 

Choices: The Good Ones Don't Come Easy!

What do you do every day? Wake up. Go through the motions. See your friends. Go to work. Exercise. Eat. Relax. Then one day something happens. Your world is flipped upside down. You find yourself in your room with the lights off sulking or maybe hiding from life by having way to much over compensating fun. We have all been there. Heart Break. Change. Suddenly we see the world in a different view.

What I have come to find is this is what makes life beautiful. Change. Sadness. Sorrow. Heartbreak. Disappointment. Sometimes we take it and say "This is how things must be, I can't change them". That is where the beauty comes in. We can change how things are! We are all the rulers of our own destiny!

Everyone has a comfort zone. Nothing really changes. You know what to expect. Then one day something happens. That little glass box you have been loafing in is shattered. Then a fork in the road forms right in front of you. A choice and it is an important one! You can choose to take the easy road or the hard road. The easy road means sulking time! Lets get down with the sadness. Boggy with it! (That is much to happy wording for sadness) This road is basically saying you win world. I'm just giving up on being happy right now. To be honest I have taken this road many times. It is never fun. Then there is the hard road. This road looks like its straight up a mountain, but this road means your taking control of your life rather than letting it happen to you. You have to do things you hate to do. You have to look on the bright side while it seems dark. You have to realize that unhappiness is a temporary gig and you don't have to take it.

I recently had this choice placed before me. So I know how it feels and may have some insight on the subject. What makes or breaks the hard road is vision. You have to be able to see what is at the end of that hard road to make it work. It is easy to feel defeated, but you have to push through it. You have to make that right choice. What making the right choice does for you is simple. It puts you in a place where you can grow and change. A place where you can expand your comfort zone, and a place where you become who you are.

So you can take the hard road or the easy road. The thing is if you take the easy road now you will end up on the hard road later. I'd rather take the hard road. Don't for get that the hard road is, well.... HARD! Some days you will want to quit and punch a wall or scream at the top of your lungs or clean your entire house at 4 in the morning! It's OK! Just remember why your doing it. Also cleaning your house might be a good thing!

So let's conquer this life! I know it has kicked me around for awhile! So I'm going to stop putting things off and stop letting things get me down. It's time to turn a new leaf. Who is with me!?

Holding On to An Idea

What does could be even mean? I have gone through my life thinking of what I could be. In many ways it has been dangerous. I would look inside myself and see my potential. I would see what I could be. It "could be" very real. I "could be" successful and well known. I "could be" someones best friend. I "could be" the love of someones life.

The thing is that I would project this image of my own potential, or the potential of a particular relationship or opportunity, and it would become so real to me. I would focus on it, but not in a healthy way. It's like I wanted to wake up one day and be "that guy".  I saw this future that was so unrealistic for one major reason.  I didn't want to work on myself to get there.

I have realized that I have this sense of entitlement, like I should be able to have this stuff or be with this girl. I'm a good guy right? Sure I am, but am I a fighter? No. I'm a coward. I don't fight for what I believe in. I sit back and let life happen. Then I wonder why it didn't happen the way I wanted. I'm huddled in the dark, not knowing how to get out. The only "thing" I have is this idea of what I think my life should be. I have no goals. I have no standards. I have no  idea how to get where I need to go. Not because I don't know what I need to do, but because something in my head is telling me "I'm already here".

I share this thought because it has opened my eyes to something important. I'm not unhappy with my life because I just got dumped or I don't make enough money. I'm not unhappy with my life because I've given up on so many things. I'm unhappy with my life because I'm living on an idea. I'm unhappy with my life because I'm not grounded in real things. I need real goals. I need real purpose. I need to stop thinking things will just happen.

Well everyone this world can be harsh and unforgiving, but we can make it beautiful. It's ok to have your head in the clouds as long as your feet are firmly planted on the ground. So don't stop dreaming. Stop thinking you should be there already. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't forget why you are doing something, but never forget you have to do something to get there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Skeleton in the Closet

My, my life! It has been a bumpy road lately. Lots of ups and downs. Recently more downs. Hmm where to begin. Well I had let myself go. I wasn't living up to my own  standards. I was living a life and becoming a person I did not want to be. In turn it was hurting the people around me and hurting me a lot! So I moved away from Utah and back home to Illinois, getting away from all of it.

 I was trying to make things better. Things did get better for the people back in Utah, but not for me. I was suddenly starved for the good things about Utah that I missed. All of the dark times nearly forgotten. The problem was I wasn't better at all. I was still not living up to my own standards. In Illinois, I had no friends at all. None. That's no exaggeration. I missed everyone in Utah so much! I sank into a depression. It was all pity parties and feeling sorry for myself. Not a good time at all. I spent most nights crying. I worked sun up to sundown. Then at night I worked more. All I could think of was Utah.

Then one day I snapped. All that working had been on my own business. I was almost ready to launch it. So much money and support was put behind me. That day I got in my car and left behind the biggest opportunity ever presented to me. I burned bridges with my family. The crazy thing is I thought it was the right thing to do. I told myself it was just going to be a few days. Then I would come back!

That is not what happened at all. I got to Utah. My parents were already pretty mad. They, in their anger, had disowned me. The friend who I came back for, Who is a girl if you haven't guessed, welcomed me with opened arms, but something wasn't right.

We had made a deal. I went home for a reason. Even though she missed me, our relationship couldn't last on that alone. Things started to die. "I love you" turned into "I can't do this anymore". I braced for the end, but in my desperation, I felt like she was all I had. I held on.

So here we are. After all this living out a normal day is hard. Every so often I call my friend only to find that she doesn't want to talk to me anymore. I'm blocked from her life. I'm a memory. A skeleton in the closet. Now that I look back on what I did, I see that I made the wrong choice. I should have continued to work on my business. At this point I would have had much success. I'd be debt free and on my way to a better life.

Now I face the trial of putting this behind me. Everything I see reminds me of her. How can I beat this? Some words of wisdom come to mind. A good friend told me she always tells herself "ok, you can do this. You have done hard things before". Also I'm trying to depend more on God. I have to let him heal me. Some things are hard to let go, but I have to walk this hard road now. I have to overcome against all odds.

I have no other choice. I wont go down as a skeleton in her closet.