A pragmatic tool to deal with negative emotions and set backs.

What is this pragmatic tool I alluded to in the title?  It is a very ancient and simple practice but do not allow its simplicity to belie its remarkable effectiveness. It is one of the most powerful tools to not only deal with the suffering that is an essential component of being human, but to transmute it to grow and produce positive things that would have never been possible otherwise. So what is it already?

Before I divulge that information (if you are in a real hurry skip this paragraph) I would like to flesh out how important suffering is not only for our development but as a vehicle for producing something that positively changes the world by sharing a story about Adele. The talent and skill Adele has honed over thousands of hours of deliberate practice is unquestionable. However, we all know that talent and skill is NOT enough to ensure success in a field. It requires something more that we have not yet grasped and conceptualized yet. However, during the making of her widely acclaimed album 21 she was struggling to produce any songs that connected with her audience. It was NOT until she went through a tough break-up with the first man she had seriously dated that broke her heart was she able to produce the songs that made her album such a success and allowed her to stock up Grammy awards. It was the pain that allowed her to produce something that would change the world. Without the bad break-up she would have been just another uber-talented musican without a muse or a deeper message in her songs.

However, just going through negative experiences does not automatically mean that great success will follow. We see people all the time who suffer set backs and it destroys them. It is only those people who can handle the negative emotions and embrace them and use it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. So I have been keeping you waiting so long, and the pragmatic tool I have alluded to in the title that can help is journaling.

You may think wow what a waste of my time reading this article. I am not a 13-year old girl. However, before you let your ego jump in please take a second to pause and firstly ask have you ever tried it? They are so many benefits about journaling, which is extolled in the scientific literature but I will NOT make that the subject of this blog post. This world does not need more people regurgitating what is already out there, but does need people sharing their experiences to help people grow and become the strongest version of themselves.

So why did I begin journaling, and how did it help me? I begin journaling because one of my early great coaches, Glen Chu essentially demanded that all players journal what they learn in BOTH practice and games, so that the invaluable lessons they learn truly become internalized. This is something that immediately resonated with me; however the wisdom of his recommendation did not initially transfer over to other areas of my life and got lost as I moved to college.

It was not until I read The Obstacle is the Way that the importance of journaling really hit me. Marcus Aurelius the 16th empire of the Roman Empire, who was the most powerful man in the world at that time religiously kept a journal. During his living years he was the only one who ever saw this journal. So it was NOT a publicity gimmick or a way to build up his ego. It was a practical tool he used to allow him to develop and be the best that he could be. For those history buffs out there you would know how tumultuous times were for the Roman Empire during his reign and how gracefully he dealt with all the challenges. For me personally I completely understand why he kept up his journal. I find writing my thoughts in a venue free of judgement is so therapeutic. The pouring of ideas from your mind is surprisingly relaxing and helps alleviate the static noise of thoughts that are always running in the background of your awareness. Also, through the act of writing, new ideas and insights are able to be made once your ideas are on the page.

But what do I write about? I know this was a huge barrier when I first began journaling. The key is to just get started and write about whatever you want. It does NOT need to be insightful or deep, just need to get the process of writing started and whatever needs to come out at the time will come out. I have included a sample of a journal entry I made this morning, in hopes that it may serve as inspiration for you to begin your journaling journey. This entry is NOT edited and is myself in its raw and unedited version. As you can see from the passage below I like to write my entries as if I am having a discussion with myself.


 

02/08/2015 –I am truly so happy and grateful for the amazing learning experience I had recently experience. It really reinforced the lesson that the primary cause of my suffering is that I believe I am above that suffering. That is the absolutely worst attitude to have.

 

I need to love and embrace the suffering I am allowed to experience by God/Universe or w.e else you would like to call it. Remember that no mental concept fully encapsulate the infinite. But why should I do this?

 

Pain is the primary vehicle, if transmuted correctly, to achieving higher states of consciousness and presence. This is a very important lesson to hammer in, NOTHING external matters! What does is my internal purpose, which is to practice and learn to live in the NOW as best as I can! Why? Everything external is fleeting, ephemeraland will die. So it is impossible to attach your true purpose to something that is only temporary.

 

My primary problem is that I am seeking completion/salvation through my outer purpose, which will NEVER happen. I need to drastically restructure my life to reflect this new truth. Why? I am constantly trying to keep myself busy/build my ego to avoid this journey. The low information diet purported by Tim Ferris is NOT only very practical to achieving your full potential but is also very spiritual.

 

I do NOT need anymore knowledge from books. I need to go out and live life and get in touch with my body. My body has the infinite universal intelligence at its disposal for which I am barely using any of it. Once I am able to get in touch with my inner purpose I will have access to the universal intelligence and my external reality will take care of itself.

 

One important caveat is that you can NOT fight unconsciousness. You can only bring the light of consciousness to it. Whatever you resist persists. Do NOT worry about what I am doing wrong or make myself into a problem. The ego loves that. Just focus on being as present as possible and the rest will take care of itself.

 

So yesterday my pain body did take-over but that is completely fine because I could definitely tell that I was much more aware of the negative energy field and was able to keep it at bay for longer than expected before it took over me.

 

So what is my plan of action? So firstly I need to realize that I need to take care of my body and go inwards before it can be transcended.

 

Plan of Action

  1. Complete fast for rest of day + Sauna to clear my body of toxins
  2. Attend TM group meditation
  3. Clear out extraneous material possession that are cluttering my life and give them away to people that could use them
  4. Remember all the modalities that I have that can be used when feeling pain and can transmute it into presence
    1. Tai Chi/Qi Gong
    2. TM
    3. Heart Math
    4. Bio-Energetics
    5. Walking/Running
    6. Basketball
    7. Yoga
    8. Mindfulness
  5. No books/media (especially NBA.com and espn.com) except what I need for school/MCAT/ Ekart Tolle’s audiobooks
  6. Completely get rid of any distractions keep phone on loud but turn off when I do not want to be disturbed so I am not incessantly checking my phone
  7. No Youtube/Music as the vast majority of the stuff out there is crap that is turning my brain into mush

 

So that’s it for now, the plan in it of itself is NOT that important but what is important is that I am actively pursuing my inner purpose in EVER aspect of my life. I need to practice everything that I do!


As I am sure you can guess I am currently listening to Ekart Tolle’s amazing audiobook A New Earth. I highly recommend anyone read it! It presents so many key and important ideas in such a thoughtful manner that doing a book review on it would be doing it a disservice.

 

How I am fighting back against time and life sucking social media: Part 1

My title in this article may seem a complete over dramatization of the negative effects of social media, but I am going to vehemently disagree, and explain why throughout the rest of this post. Do NOT misconstrue this as me thinking that social media is the root of all evils in this world.Remember, nothing is inherently good or bad but it is our error-filled perceptions that make them seem so. However, if you are trying to become the strongest version of yourself and live on the narrow path of happiness and fulfillment it is essential that you eliminate or drastically curtail your use of social media.

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In this day and age it is almost impossible to live without electronic communication, unless you want to become a hermit and live on a mountain. Social Media is an integral component of electronic communication so if you want to be involved in today’s world it is almost a necessity. Therefore if you do end up using social media it is essential that you batch your use of social media so that you are NOT incessantly checking your Facebook or twitter every five minutes. (there are real dangers of excessive social media and electronic information consumption). However, I will  discuss in part 2 some alternatives I have used instead of social media that have dramatically sky-rocketed my production.

So why am I so adamant that you need to get rid of social media or drastically curtail you use? Well I could almost write a novel about the slew of negative effects social media has, but I will limit myself to the primary ones on here. However, as mentioned in a previous post use your own experience to guide you about how social media is truly effecting your health, happiness, and cognition. However currently you are most likely too desensitized to the deleterious effects to really understand the whole host of negative effects social media has on you. Therefore I implore you to take at least a 3 day break from using any form of social media. Then go back to using it, and be aware of how much your ability to focus decreases, anxiety levels increases, and how this insidious feeling of unsatisfaction arises.

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The three primary reasons that social media should be entirely eliminated or use should be drastically curtailed are:

  1. Opportunity Cost – For all the finance and business majors out there this will make complete sense. Imagine all the amazing and kick ass things you could have been doing instead of sitting by yourself in front of a screen “communicating” with others. Do NOT kid yourself and think that your barely spending a lot of time on social media. If that is you, I implore that you track how much time you are spending on Facebook. One resource I found extremely helpful was Rescue Time.
  2. Gives you a Distorted Sense of Reality – One of my favorite professors at BU and one of the most accomplished scientist and people in the world Jim Collins once said in class most young people walk around now a days depressed because of social media. The utter truth of that statement did NOT register till months later because of the quip he made after that he was so lively and happy because he had a dumb flip phoneBut he was absolutely correct because social media distorts reality and makes one think that all of life should be instagram post worthy. It is the small things in life, the everyday miracles, that will bring you the greatest joys in life. Why you may ask? It is the small things where you can most easily appreciate the universal essence in them without your mind or ego becoming attached to them.
  3. Destroys your attention span and ability to complete great work – Social media is absolutely terrible for your attention. The reason Social Media is so unbelievably addicting is because people resort to it to fulfill a need that it never does. When people have a food addiction, they get addicted to bad food when they get hunger pangs. But sooner or later they will get physically full. People go to social media because of a sense of loneliness but social media does NOTHING to counteract that feeling. You need to go spend time with ACTUAL people to do that, not with screens. But as I mentioned in a previous post one should NOT run away from those feelings. Becoming reliant on the surge of dopamine your brain releases every time you get a new message or like will absolutely cripple your ability to focus or complete great work because you will be incessantly searching for the next great thing.

I hope this post helped elucidate the dangers of social media, and if you decide to continue to use social media (it is definitely not the most pragmatic choice, but if you plan well enough it can be done!) at least now you have a clear understanding of some of the dangers and how to avoid them. Stay tuned for part 2 in which I will go into a detailed description of how I plan to phase out social media from my life. 

Chase your Dreams without Killing Yourself,

Pavan Mehat

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PS Here are a few ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address. 

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Facebook

Pavan Mehat’s Twitter

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

How to follow the narrow path to fulfillment, success and happiness

This concept of the narrow path is NOT something that is my creation, but it is so important to one’s success that I knew I had to write a post elaborating on this very important topic. As mentioned in a previous post we live in an interdependent world so no idea is truly original and has come from just one individual. However, for convenience I will give credit solely to RSD Tyler for introducing this concept into the “mainstream.”

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So what is this narrow path? It is built upon principles from yogi’s, zen, and other spiritual leaders. According to Buddhism an enlightened individual is referred to as the awakened one. Enlightenment is the pinnacle of any spiritual practice because it means you are NOT controlled by subconscious thought/action patterns ingrained by the past nor do you act impulsively. You maintain rapt attention to the present, and are only making conscious decision about how the unfolding of your life will occur. Living this narrow path is how to live your life to ensure that you are progressing towards achieving enlightenment. Throughout the rest of this post I will refer to the narrow path and enlightenment interchangeably.

Okay so you now have an abstract definition for what enlightenment is, which may be helpful for some of you, but I know for myself I needed this idea to be fleshed out more to truly understand it. I found defining what enlightenment is NOT helps clear up a significant amount of the confusion associated with this elusive concept.

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One can deviate from the narrow path in two primary ways:

  1. Unconsciousness – This is primarily fueled by excessive consumption of highly stimulating and rich foods such as pizza, and ice cream or excessive alcohol consumption. The rest of this post will not be concerned about how to help steer you from this area back to the narrow path as it is relatively easier to identify the problem and fix it. However, if you struggle with delving into unconsciousness to mask unpleasant feelings I implore you to read this post on Understanding your Negative Emotions and this post on making positive change. These two posts will really help support you in moving back to the narrow path.
  1. Getting lost in frenetic and ungrounded energy – This is what the rest of the blog will be dealing in great detail how to combat and get back on the narrow path because in my experience this problem is much more pervasive and insidious because in today’s day and age it is deemed completely normal. What are examples of things that contain this frenetic and ungrounded energy that pull you away from the narrow path. Things such as facebook, twitter, or gossip. Essentially anything that is spewed out to excesses or compulsively checked by you “smart” phone is going to pull you away from the narrow path.

 So how does one shift from being lost in frenetic and ungrounded energy to getting back to the narrow path?

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The most important step towards combating the unconscious and frenetic energy all around us, that we can so easily get lost in is to understand the primary source of it. So for the vast majority of people the primary source of this unhealthy energy is their “smart phone.”

Okay so now that we have highlighted that your “smart phone” is the primary culprit of introducing this negative energy into your life and pulling you from the narrow path, how can you combat this?

This is going to be very similar to concepts mentioned in a couple of previous posts about the importance of batching your tasks and to never multi-task, but the discussion is going to be limited to how to wrest control back from your phone so it does not drag you off the narrow path. The following action steps will allow you to do so:

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  1. Do NOT bring your phone in your bedroom: There should be NO electronics in your bedroom as introducing the frenetic and ungrounded energy right before bed or as soon as you wake up can drastically decrease your sleep quality or put you off the wrong foot to start the day. Your bedroom should be used for only two things and two things only: sleep and sex (maybe reading a book if you are a nerd like me). It’s as simple as that.
  1. Eliminate and Batch: This is something that I definitely had to do recently as I was becoming overwhelmed with the volume and variety of incoming stimuli I was receiving from itouch,cell phone, and email. Therefore I aggressively eliminated the avenues through which people could reach me. Then to further simplify I batched how I responded to these incoming messages. Instead of indiscriminately replying to messages as soon as they come in (which gives the power to the sender) you should rely when it is convenient for you. This tiny difference has helped drastically reduce my stress levels and drastically increase the quality of my communications

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  1. Keep phone on airplane mode or turn off service when you should not be checking your messages: As a mentioned in a previous post increasing the activation energy slightly for an activity you do NOT want to take partake in can be surprisingly effective. This little trick works wonders in preventing me from getting pulled from the narrow path into the area of frenetic and ungrounded energy.

I hope this post helped elucidate what the narrow path to success and happiness consists of and what are the potential pitfalls to falling off of it and how you can safeguard against them. If you happen to have any other suggestions or tricks you use to help stay on the narrow path to success please feel free to comment below!

How the people that you surround yourself shape your life and how to prevent negative people from dragging you down.

It is a commonly purported in self development books that you can very accurately gauge one’s life by looking at their five closest friends, and that is absolutely true. You may say duh that is obvious. But if we all truly understand the power others have to shape our lives do we then deliberately and actively choose and foster the correct relationships? If you are anyhow similar to myself then you most likely automatically just followed the path of least resistance to choose who you surround yourselves.

However, if you want to achieve your full potential you can’t do this. Why is it so important that you are judicious in how you spend your time with others? It’s because the more time you spend with people, the more your mannerisms, habits and even brain waves become entrained. This can either be a good or bad thing. However, if you are not actively choosing to surround yourselves with people that support you and foster your development they are most likely dragging you down. 

You may deem, wow this guy is an absolutely snob. That is not the point I am trying to make. This post was motivated by a recent experience dealing with some negative feelings associated with someone close to me hurting me. However, this time I was able to take a big step forward and not let the negative feelings drag me down. I learned to embrace these negative feelings as I described here and counteracted my body’s physical reaction to the emotional pain by walking and opening up my heart. Depression is called depression for a reason, it is an actual depression of both your emotions and your body. The easiest way to combat your negative feelings is to change your body language. There is no way you can be depressed when you are walking tall with chin up high and shoulders back. 

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So do NOT get me wrong, if someone is consistently hurting you, displaying low character traits and overall spewing negative energy towards you and making no effort to change you absolutely should NOT passively accept this. You need to cut these people out from your life. But there is no reason to be malicious or wish ill will to these people. Just kindly stop interacting with them, and if the continue to persist let them know that you need some time apart and explain as diplomatically as possible that you are on a journey in which there is no space for them.

It is a simple concept but much harder to apply in real world for two primary reasons.

1) People like to avoid uncomfortable and confrontational situations at all this costs: This is something we can all (myself included) actively work on improving. If we want the power to live the life of our dreams we need to do the thing that frightens us the most even if we deem we are not ready to approach the challenge. Fear is the number one thing that prevents people from fully giving their true gift to the world. That is why the graveyard is the most rich land in the entire world. It houses untold fortunes, ideas, and innovations that never saw the light of day because they were obscured by fear. I make it a daily practice to try and always do at least one thing a day that sends a shiver down my spine and gets my heart beat racing.

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2) People want to change the world by changing external situations: Gandhi said it best, you need to become the best version of yourself  so that you are able to best help improve this world and help others. However, it is too common in today’s age when you view a negative trait in someone else to try and “fix” them. That is the worst thing you could do.Usually when you view a negative trait in someone else it is usually the world telling you that you need to improve in that area. The world acts as you mirror and returns to you what you emit in terms of your thoughts, emotions and feelings.

It is undoubtedly hard to take the first step forward in becoming the best that you can be, by cutting people out who bring you down, but it is absolutely essential. You may say it is easier said than done, and it’s too hard. But its supposed to be hard! If it were not hard then no growth would occur. Every situation in your life is exactly what you need to experience to become the best version of yourself. Enjoy the struggle as it is allowing you to transform and evolve to your highest level.

But before I end this article I need to discuss one caveat about this concept. Just because someone is family, or you have extended/long-term relationship does not preclude them from this rule. Just because you have shared blood, genes or a bed with someone does NOT mean that they should be able to act without consequences. The exact opposite is true with strangers. Just because you are NOT familiar with them does not mean you should not afford them the same respects you would a family member. Everyone is fundamentally the same. A saying I enjoy is, “strangers are just friends you do not know yet.” So the key is to NOT place any value judgements or wish ill will to others but to surround yourselves with people that fill your heart up with joy. Just like I mentioned in a previous post about how you should focus on what healthy and nutritious foods you can include in your diet, the exact same is true for the people you let into your life.

I hope this post helped elucidate the absolute importance about deliberating choosing who and how you spend your time with others to ensure that you are able to reach your full potential so that you can give your full gift to this world. In addition, the importance of analyzing how everyone is effecting your life, and taking the appropriate action to ensure that you are surrounding yourselves with people who fill your life with joy and happiness so that you do not leave space for people who bring you down may be one of the most important things you do in your life. Life is to short to be in the company of unhappy and negative people. 

How to Travel Like a Pro

This morning I am heading to Houston to visit some Family. It has been a while since I took a direct flight to an American City (usually when travelling back and forth from Boston it was all indirect flights) and I began to recall all the amazing opportunities to travel all around the world to play basketball. However, it was a bittersweet moment as I recalled moments when travelling really far in which I did not even perform close to my best because my body was reeling from the negative effects of travelling or even worse I became ill. So how can you counteract the negative effects of travelling to help prevent illness or just subpar functioning that would impeded you from being at your best on competition day? Below are four key factors to keep in mind while travelling.

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1. Water – The importance of hydration is something that gets stressed at nauseam throughout the athletic community. However, remember common knowledge does NOT mean common action. It’s not good enough to know better, one must do better. So what are some practical tips you can implement while travelling to ensure you are properly hydrated?

a). Be extra wary of sugary drinks (orange juice for example. There will be a future post on the myths of how “healthy” OJ really is), coffee, and alcohol as they sap you body’s water stores. Always ask for water when the stewardess asks you for a drink. (preferably hot for reasons I discussed in a previous post.)

b). Bring an empty water bottle with you and as soon as it is safe and your allowed to do so (please do NOT get up when the seat belt sign is on and make us both look bad) and ask the stewardess to top up your water bottle with refreshing pure water.

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2. Ear Plugs and Eye Mask – This is a really underrated hack one can make that will drastically decrease the negative impact of travelling. So why would an eye mask and ear plugs help you?

Well have any of you slept for hours on a plan and felt not rested at all? I know I have. The primary reason is that there is too much ambient light. Remember all the photoreceptors all over your body. If while your trying to sleep your photoreceptors are detecting light, your body will decrease the release of melatonin (to simplify you can think of it as the sleep hormone) and therefore drastically decrease your sleep quality.

So what about the ear plugs? Airplanes are very noisy, especially if you are seated towards the rear of the plane as I usually am as usually purchase my flights using air miles. You may not consciously notice how exhausting the excessive ambient noise in the airplane is. But once I began using ear plugs I noticed a drastic difference in my energy levels after flights, and if I forgot my ear plugs I felt just wiped out after even a relatively short flight.

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 3. Leverage the Power of Light to regulate your circadian rhythm – Have you ever had an experience in which you were physically tired, its bed-time and your laying in bed, and you just can’t sleep? You can blame your circadian rhythm for being out of whack. Jet Lag and all the host of negative side effects that accompany travelling are almost all due to de-regulation of your body’s intricate circadian rhythm. It is impossible to avoid any disruption to your circadian rhythm during travelling but leveraging the power of light can mitigate the negative effects one may experience during travelling. So how can you use light to do this?

a) Ensure that before, during, and after the fight you get as much sunlight exposure as possible as this will help re-set and regulate your circadian rhythm. Geek Alert: Even though your eyes have the highest density of photoreceptors (sensory receptors that are sensitive to light) in your body and light reaching your eye will have the strongest impact on your circadian rhythm. However, light reaching any part of your body will help to regulate your circadian rhythm. This may seem counterintuitive, but remember skin anywhere on your body can produce Vitamin D from the Sun Rays. How can it do that? It has to have photoreceptors!

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b) Use of the Phillips Blue Light – This is a tool that I have used for the last year and a half and it has been absolutely essentially for allowing me to reach my full potential in all areas of my life. It is especially helpful for me during the winter months in Vancouver, in which you can go days without seeing the Sun. This is also especially helpful for travellers who have a really early flight and have to get up when it is pitch black. The lack of light really confuses your body’s circadian rhythm and it gets really confused. The Phillips blue light will help to drastically reduce the damage. To catch my flight to Houston today I needed to get up at 5am and it was pitch black. I did not feel too great when I woke up but after the use of the Phillips Blue Light I felt like a million bucks.

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4. Move- This is one of the simplest recommendations and is free and requires absolutely nothing but yourself. Walking is a form of exercise that I love and I have detailed the positive effects on your body composition here. There are a whole host of other reasons why movement is so important, such as improved blood circulation, movement of lymphatic material, and stimulation of brain. I could go on for days extolling the benefits of movement, but that is for another post. I implore you to just try every 30-60 min get up and stand up, walk up and down the aisles and see if you have some space to get some stretches in. I know when I am disciplined and make a concerted effort to move around during the flight both my body and my mind feel 100% better than if I do not.

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So there you have it, some actionable items one can take to drastically improve how they travel. Allowing you to mitigate the negative effects of travel, therefore allowing you to perform at your peak wherever in the world you are competing.

Why you MUST make your bed every morning so you can make your Dreams a reality

May is an absolutely amazing time of year  because of the plethora of convocation ceremonies taking place all over the country. My favorite part about the convocation ceremonies are the keynote speeches. While I appreciate all of the speeches a lot of them are just idealistic platitudes such as “follow your dreams” or “be happy” which make you feel good but are not helpful in guiding a newly minted college graduate in taking his/her first steps in the “real” world.

That is why I LOVED the speech given above by Admiral McRaven above. It gives you a very concrete action item one can take to become the best they can be. You may think that making your bed is a trivial task and why does it matter? It is NOT the specific task that matters but it is a tangible and relatively simple task that YOU HAVE control over to complete each and every day. I mentioned this in a previous post about the power of habits and this posts builds upon that.

I may sound like your mother but making your bed is important business.

I may sound like your mother but making your bed is important business.

It is absolutely essential to make sure that you complete a small task NO MATTER what on a daily basis because it helps corrects an inappropriate locus of control. Broadly speaking yon can categorize an individual’s locus of control  as either:

1. External – They attribute both their success and failures (the events of their life) to external circumstances.

2. Internal – They attribute their successes and failures (the events of their life) to their OWN actions.

When these two loci of control are spelled out so clearly it is readily apparent that an internal locus of control is needed to maximize ones potential. But why would one have an external locus of control? It is something that primarily results from a phenomenon called “learned helplessness”. There is a multitude of sophisticated research studies that delve into this topic that I highly recommend you check out if you are intrigued by this topic. However, the basic crux is that as an individual becomes to feel overburdened by the stresses and pressures of life, to help them cope they then default towards adopting an external locus vs. an internal locus of control. It requires constant work and vigilance to maintain an internal locus of control.

What can you do today to ensure that you are maintaining an internal locus of control? You need to commit to completing small tasks on a daily basis that will cause you to push your limits and comfort zone just a little bit (but not too much). Making your bed is a great first step in reprogramming the internal locus of control so that you take responsibility for BOTH your successes and failures.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a few ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

How to get out of your rut and past your plateau: The importance of mentors

This is a super powerful blog post that can exponentially improve your results. In Zen Buddhism there is this concept of “empty” existence. Nothing exists in of itself. In other words nothing “inherently” exists. For example if you look at a rose, it has red petals, a green steam, roots etc. However, there is nothing that you can point to or find when you open up the rose which encapsulates what a rose is. A rose is the combination of the interdependent interactions of its various components. A rose is not the petals, or its stem, or roots. This may seem obvious, but the implications of it are NOT and it is something that has been lost in modern society. We live in an Interdependent world but increasingly believe that we have complete autonomy over this world.

Misunderstanding of the true essence of the universe may be the one thing (it is still something I struggle with today) that is holding you back from being as happy as you can be and living the life of your dreams. You need to realize that you are never doing something 100% autonomously, even if it feels like it. You need to come to grips with the fact that perception is extremely faulty. A simple example to illuminate this is the myriad of visual illusions we fall prey to. Even if you consciously know of and understand the visual illusion you can NOT prevent yourself from misperceiving the object.

The internalization of this concept will make you realize the importance of finding mentors to help guide you along your way. When making a major life decision, for example when deciding which of the many schools who are recruiting you to attend the MOST important factor that should influence your decision should be how well your future coach/teammates can help foster your development, NOT the reputation of the program, the location, or the facilities.

However, you may say I do NOT have access to highly successful people that want to mentor you. That is NOT a good enough excuse in this day and age because of the rapid advances in technology. We can easily connect and interact with people on different continents on a daily basis. In addition, you always have books, which store and capture the information of some of the greatest minds and allow their wisdom to permeate throughout the world long after they are gone.

I have been blessed in my life so far with amazing mentors, but I was the one actively seeking out mentors and always willing to provide something of value back to my mentors. However, for those of you who can not fathom how to build a meaningful relationship with a mentor I would like to discuss someone who has had a monumental impact on my life and who I consider a mentor but is someone I have not met yet. Elliott Hulse. My cousin sent me a video of Elliott Hulse about 6 months ago (I can not even remember what the video was about), and instantly his energy and openness resonated with me. Even since I have religiously followed his YouTube channels and have learnt so much valuable things about myself. There is no excuse for not having amazing mentors in your life. It is on you to actively seek them out and realize that nothing you accomplish is solely because of yourself.

I hope this article expanded your view the world. Blogs such as these are much more fun and helpful if there is interaction. So please always feel free to reach out to me on facebook or linkedIn (Pavan Mehat) or shoot me an email at pavanmehat12@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further.

How to achieve more than you can imagine: The power of understanding what is in your scope of control and what is NOT.

This post is motivated by the The 7 habits of highly effective people. This is an absolutely amazing book that I am sure to read over and over again. I have not finished reading the book yet, but there is a principle that I have just read that really resonated with me, and it was something I was struggling to apply earlier today. It is understanding what is and is NOT in your scope of control, and ONLY focusing on what is in your control that is aligned with your values. This may seem overly simplistic but do not make mistake simplicity for ineffectiveness. Knowledge is NOT sufficient to make sure you act on it. Realize that common knowledge is NOT common action.

As the picture above depicts, they are only two things in your life: things you control and those that you cannot control. The vast majority of athletes are worried about winning the next game, play-off series, league championship etc. These things are all things we do NOT control. However, we do not focus enough of our attention, on our training, diet, sleeping, and mental preparation which reflect our deeper values. This is not some platitude love the process, and the results will come. Sayings like this indicate one has not realized the true essence of this simple but profound statement.

You complete the task, prepare, sacrifice purely for the opportunity to complete the task with absolutely NO expectation about the result. You do NOT stay in the gym and put up extra shots up, so that you can score more points on game day. You do it because it is who you are, and what you represent You could end up shooting worse the next game because your legs are tired. But that does NOT matter, because it is something you do NOT control.

This is an extremely liberating view, that instantly helps eases your anxiety. It helps you really become grounded with who you are, and realize that there is nothing life can throw at you that you can not handle because you know who you are and what you stand for and will act accordingly.

This is all great, but it is still a very abstract concept. How can YOU take this powerful concept and apply it to your life. I will give you an example that hopefully helps clarify about how you can apply this to your life. Upon introspection I have realized that recently I am not being the best son and brother I can be. Family is something that is super important to me, but I have not been devoting enough time to because I have been “busy”. So I decided I need to focus on what I CAN control to turn this situation around. I have decided that I will:

1. Greet ever family member with a huge smile whenever they come home (or I come home) and take at least 20-30 seconds to ask them how there day went AND to Listen.

2. Actively go out of my way to do 1-2 random unexpected acts of kindness to brighten up their days.

3. Ensure that I do NOT look at my phone and I am entirely present while talking to them.

I hope this article gave you some inspiration to make changes now to support you in becoming the best you can be. Blogs such as these are much more fun and helpful if there is interaction. So please always feel free to reach out to me on facebook or linkedIn (Pavan Mehat) or shoot me an email at pavanmehat12@gmail.com.

How to always wake up on time without fail!

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The picture above is definitely an accurate representation of my prior relationship with my alarm clock, especially on Fridays when I need to get up at 5:45 am to attend rheumatology rounds. I am sure that you may have a similar relationship with your alarm clock. You are always dreading when it will go off and begin “yelling” at you to wake up. You may always be in a constant battle with the alarm clock. With you always trying to use the snooze button to please it but it never seems to work! The alarm clock always seems to win! How can you take re-take control of your mornings? Why should you care?

The best way to strip the power your alarm clock has over you is to improve you sleep hygiene and quality to the point where you do not even need an alarm clock. However, this will take some time to develop and fix (I will post a future blog post on this topic). In this post I will introduce something you can implement right now that will drastically improve your mornings. But why is this important? A common theme in all successful people is that they wake up earlier than most people and get some high quality work done. If you are an aspiring athlete the morning is a prime time to get some high quality training in while your mind and body is still fresh and before you get bogged down with your obligations for the rest of the day. If Kobe Bryant is getting up at 5 or 6am every day you should as well! (Although I DO NOT recommend you trying to sleep 3-4 hours as he is an absolute freak (in a good way) in terms of his work ethic and resiliency)

So what can you do right now to take control of your mornings? It all has to do with your placement of your alarm clock. Make sure to place your alarm clock as far away as possible from your bed, while still being able to hear it. It is preferable to have it outside your room and in a location where it can wake up others if you do not get to it fast enough. This may seem like a trivial difference but it has a significant positive effect on my mornings!

For example, I use an iPad for my Alarm clock, and I place it outside my room. So when it goes off in the morning I need to get out of my bed and walk out of my room to the hallway to turn off the alarm. Also, the iPad is in a location where if I don’t get to it fast enough it will awake my younger brother, and my parents. So there is an extra incentive to get my behind out of my bed ASAP so I do not incur the wrath of my family! It is amazing the positive benefit this has had on my mornings. Now instead of pressing snooze multiple time and always ending up being pseudo late and rushing. I get up as soon as my alarm goes off and smoothly transition into my day with very minimal stress.

This highlights an overarching theme I would like to quickly discuss before wrapping this article up. When trying to make a positive change, or trying to instill a new discipline making yourself socially accountable drastically increases the chances of you following through. For example, in the morning for me if I do not get my butt out of bed right away, not only will I know I did not live up to my standards today but so will the rest of my family.

If you are chasing greatness you should always be looking for that extra edge that will put you over the top! I hope this article gave you an actionable item that you can use to drastically improve your mornings and beat your alarm clock! If you have any questions please make a comment below, and if there is any specific topic you would like me to discuss let me know.

Lastly, always feel free to reach out to me on facebook or linkedIn (Pavan Mehat) or shoot me an email at pavanmehat12@gmail.com.

How to end Procrastination once and for all! Why is this relevant for athletes?

As usual there is a summary of this article at the bottom, if you don’t have time to read this article in it’s entirety. 

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This post was inspired by me procrastinating on a blog post about a concept Tim Ferris re-iterates in 4 hour body and after to listening to one of his podcasts episodes ( I highly recommend you go listen to his podcasts!). I have been meaning to put up a post about the concept of the minimum effective dosage (MED). It is a concept that I have really internalized in my life, and is hammered into your head throughout 4 hour body. It is building off the 80/20 principle in which 20% of your actions produce 80% of your results. Tim Ferris wanted to push the envelop and see if he could find the 5% of actions (MED) that could produce 95% of your results. This is a very powerful concept, which I will definitely elaborate on in a future post.

However, back to the topic of this post, why was I unable to finish the post when I wanted to? I have been telling myself everyday for the last two weeks, tomorrow I will write the post. But that still has not transpired yet! Whenever procrastination occurs there are plenty of excuses.For example, I could say:  I am a graduate student, with a second job teaching the MCAT for Kaplan and I spend on average 1.5 hours a day driving. However, that is NOT an adequate explanation of this phenomenon. So then what is driving my bouts of procrastination?

Procrastination is a problem that plagues us all, and prevents us all from achieving our dreams and becoming the best version of ourselves. There are many scientific theories behind procrastination, such as not believing that your actions will produce good results. Therefore you don’t bother to complete the action right now and you put it off.   While these are very interesting and seem to be very reasonable theories, in my experience the primary cause of procrastination can be singled down to one factor: having too much on your plate!

Have you ever had the experience when you are super motivated and get all your work done? We all have and it’s a great feeling. But what happens when your running around all day like a chicken with its head cut off? The last thing you want to do when you get home is to do that extra bit of work that will lead to your success. How do you prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed?

What I do when I am feeling overwhelmed is just write down my top 3-5 (NO more than 5!) priorities at that current moment. Here is a recent example of a list I made to re-focus my efforts:

  1. School – get A+ in all my classes!  
  2. Do analysis of transcript and create a rough draft of CRA abstract
  3. Do literature search for SPPH 502 project -> get ready to publish
  4. Becoming the best athlete I can be and using that experience to help create a kick ass blog
  5. Becoming the best MCAT teacher I can be.

Why is this relevant for athletes, especially high school athletes who aspire to compete at the division one level?  Competing at the division one level in a a major sport: Basketball, Soccer Track, Football, or Baseball is ungodly competitive because of the high prevalence of deliberate practice (a future post on this) throughout athletics at all levels.

If being an NCAA division 1 athlete is something you really aspire too, it is absolutely essential that you cut through all the noise and B.S and distill what is most important to you, and only focus on those things and ignore everything else (Caveat: When your in high school there are somethings you must do and we will talk about how to deal with that later).

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But what about the insidious tasks that are not that important to us, but are mandatory? That’s where I use this tool coined by Cal Newport, from Study Hacks (check out his blog!). It’s called automatic pilot scheduling. I block off chunks of time each week in my google calendar to complete these essential but non-important tasks. There are two key points about this, you want to compress them in as little time as possible because of parkinson’s law. Which states that activities fill up the time given to them. Secondly, you want to batch as many of these tasks together. The reason is because every time you switch between tasks you need to pay a “start-up price” because your brain needs time to switch between activities.  It is just like if you were working at a factory, you need to pay a fee to turn all the machines on. Once you have them on you want to be able to use them as much as possible (within reason), and not be turning them on and off all the time.  You wouldn’t do laundry every time you had a dirty pair of socks end up in your hamper. You wait until you have enough dirty clothes piled up to do a load big enough to make it worth your time.

So I have offered some simple and actionable items to get rid of procrastination, which really boils done to eliminating things in your life. But why should you care? Procrastination will prevent you from reaching your full potential because it adds undue stress into your life, destroys any continuity with your sleep schedule (which is very important and we will be presenting a post on that) and prevents you from being consistent with habits and disciplines that will enable you to be successful.

Summary 

Procrastination is primarily caused by taking on too much

-Be able to identify your priorities and focus the majority of your time on them

-Use automatic pilot scheduling to complete mandatory but non-important tasks