Saturday, December 28, 2013

Peace, Love and Contentment

Everyone desires to be at peace, to be able to deal with disturbing situations and people. Below, Dr. Kim provides some valuable insights on how to live and deal with others who we perceive as 'difficult'. It's excellent advice but there is one thing about his advice, you,we, have to work at making it Ultimately though, we will find the effort is more than worth it.

"All behavior is motivated by love or by a need for love.
Whenever someone gave me reason to feel angry, sad, anxious, or fearful, I was able to slow my thoughts and emotions down, remind myself that my antagonist was likely deprived of love, and choose to respond with kindness and understanding.
Okay, maybe I wasn't able to do this every time I felt I was wronged, but I was definitely on a plane of thinking and being that Jesus Himself would likely have appreciated. I was in the zone that Gandhi must have been in while he was allowing himself to get physically smacked around.
Here's the thing: Over the past decade, whenever I have been able to purposefully respond with a generous heart in situations where most sane people would have given me full license to respond with righteous anger, I have always been able to walk away with peace in my heart. Always.
I think that this is the magic of taking the high road. Sometimes, it's human to want to call out mean-spirited and rude behavior. You feel like you need to preserve some self respect. But interestingly, I have yet to feel like I lost anything by diverting or even absorbing bad energy and being compassionate.
Put another way, I have found that peace of mind is a natural consequence of choosing to be kind in every circumstance (And sometimes, being kind entails walking away in silence).
Without exception, in situations where I haven't been able to pause and control the urge to let someone know that he or she just generated some bad karma, I've walked away feeling worse for having "stood up for myself." In such situations, I guess I, too, was motivated by a need for love.
Also interesting is that I've found that the more good energy I put out there, the deeper my well of good energy seems to become. Consciously choosing to walk with a forgiving and compassionate spirit really seems to fortify the intention to lift others up.
This reminds me of the "what do you get when you squeeze an orange" idea. You get orange juice, of course, because that's what's inside an orange.
If we have love and compassion within, love and compassion is what will come out of us when we're squeezed.
Clearly, choosing to give out love doesn't happen naturally all the time. It takes work. It takes daily effort to stay in this zone. I find that I have to fill myself up with uplifting thoughts on a regular basis. I think this is why I tend to have my best days when I begin by reading from anything that inspires me to inspire others.
And when I don't do this work, when I don't take time to consciously choose to give out love rather than demonstrate a need for it, I find that it becomes super easy to slide back into being a reactive person who is easily offended by anything that threatens my ego.
So I guess the main thought that I want to share is this: if you're ever feeling crummy and you're looking for a way to feel at peace, try going back to the well, the well that fuels you to be gentle, understanding, generous, and humble.
Even when you are clearly wronged by someone, I can almost guarantee that if you put your hurt feelings away for just a moment and respond with a gentle, understanding, generous, and humble spirit, you will be better for it. And you can spend the rest of your day knowing that you did your part to create healthy energy for someone else.
I've long believed that consistently feeling peace within is the most important requirement for optimal health. Never mind the toll that emotional stress takes on our physical health; without inner peace, how can any of us consistently make healthy choices?
Here's a short list of books that, over the years, have become steadfast sources of inspiration for me to get back or stay on track in living with a giving spirit:
The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr. Stephen Covey
A Course In Miracles
You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay
And we can never go wrong in meditating on the following passage on love from the first book of Corinthians, chapter thirteen:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
One funny thing about love that I've observed over the years is this: the more we give it to others, the more it comes back to us from all over. And the more we demonstrate a need for love by getting easily offended, the less it seems to flow our way.
To the magic of finding inner peace by giving love."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Yes You Can

"No matter what your limitations, no matter how your body looks or feels -- even if you've been in a slump for a year -- if you're willing to undergo the initiation necessary to develop your talent, you will become a body mind master. All the qualities are within you. You may have to direct more energy and time then someone else does in order to bring out the right qualities, but you absolutely have the capacity to do it."

The ability to achieve what you desire exists within you, the big question is,do you really want it?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Truth

"No door remains forever locked against the man of indomitable will and courage. What we most lack is the power to continue: continuity and perseverance--the never quit spirit allied to intelligence is the secret key to success: not great natural endowments,powerful friends and favourable environments." By Percy Cerutty.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Few Thoughts On.....Vanity

"Vanity, all is vanity." These words are attributed to Solomon, reputed by many to be one of the wisest men who ever lived. It only takes a look around to see that there is a lot of preoccupation with self these days. I mean, we've been told for years by so-called mental health experts that we have to look out for #1(me) first.

This world is loaded with evidence that vanity abounds, for instance:
Some might call the way one dresses or the fact that a person has a multitude of visible tattoos as being examples of vanity. Others would say that an obsessive preoccupation with how and what you eat would be another. I recently spoke at length with someone who was very concerned with what they ate, and what they didn't eat. It seemed as if their vegan diet was a focal point of their life and represented who they were as a person.

Here's my take on all this: it's okay to be concerned with your health and appearance, you should be, but, there are things that are equally as important,  like being civil, patient, polite and caring with other people, people you are not related to. Also,how 'bout working on cultivating greater honesty, integrity and compassion with the same zeal that you study the ingredients on a  box of food at your local high end grocery store?

Many of us need to think of others more, and ourselves less.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

7 Important Requirements For Healing

Learning what it takes to get healthy and stay healthy is an ongoing learning process, consider the following by Dr. Kim:

After badly dislocating my left shoulder while playing basketball during my first year of university, I began experimenting with a variety of strength-training techniques for my shoulders. Over the course of several years, I tried numerous routines that called for dozens of exercises with free weights and machines.
While I benefited from each program that I tried, I eventually realized that some exercises were more powerful than others in their overall effect on my physical strength. For example, I found that doing just a few sets of full body weight pull-ups was far more effective at strengthening my shoulder rotator cuff muscles than doing a dozen or more sets of dumbbell exercises that aimed to work just one rotator cuff at a time.
This was an important lesson for me - the idea that with any objective in life, when a willingness to experiment is combined with mindful observation of one's progress, it's possible to discover ways to most efficiently experience desired results.
When it comes to recovering from any chronic health challenge, there are a number of steps that you can take to align your daily choices with healing. But some steps can produce a greater positive effect on your health than others. What follows are seven action steps that I believe can most efficiently help you heal from any chronic health challenge and keep you healthy over the long term:
1. Reduce or eliminate intake of harmful foods.
In my experience, foods that must be avoided when looking to recover from a health challenge are:
  • Pasteurized dairy products - includes milk, cream, all types of cheese, ice cream, and baked goods that contain pasteurized dairy.
  • Deep fried foods - includes French fries, potato chips, fried chicken, tempura, donuts, and frozen foods that were originally made by deep-frying.
  • All products that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Highly processed luncheon meats and sausage.
  • Artificial food additives, especially MSG and aspartame.
  • Products that contain protein isolates - found mainly in protein powder products and soy-based vegan products.
Foods that should be eaten sparingly, if at all, include:
  • Sugar - includes baked goods, packaged foods, and drinks that are rich in sugar, like most commercially available breakfast cereals, fruit drinks, and pop.
  • Large portions (more than 3 ounces per day) of factory farmed beef, chicken, and pork.
  • Non-fish seafood - includes crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, and oysters.
How to mark your progress: At the end of each day, take note of how many times you ate one of the foods listed above. The goal is to start by avoiding all of these foods for one day during the week, and then to increase this to two days the following week, and to continue with this gradual progression of "clean" days of eating until you consistently reach six days of clean eating per week.
2. Strive to eat nutrient-rich foods that agree with your body.
For every morsel of food that you ingest, you want to maximize the number of health-promoting nutrients that you provide to your cells; your body's self-healing and self-preserving mechanisms are best supported by a regular supply of undamaged amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other plant-based compounds.
Here is a sample one-day menu of a nutrient-rich and health-promoting diet:
Smoothie made by blending 1-2 bananas, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries, 1-2 cups of unsweetened nut or organic soy milk, and any food-based powder supplements that are available to you. (We add 1 tablespoon of greens and 2 teaspoons of acerola cherry powder to our morning smoothies.)
Salad consisting of any type of leafy green lettuce, avocado, and a healthy salad dressing.
Hummus sandwich made by spreading a generous dollop of creamy hummus on gluten-free bread, and adding some slices of sweet red onion and ripe tomatoes.
Plate of assorted steamed vegetables like broccoli, sweet potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, and green beans with a tahini dressing.
Omelette made with organic eggs and chives, cooked over low to medium heat with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Raw pecans, goji berries, ripe fruits like mangoes and melons.
Clearly, there are endless varieties of nutrient-rich foods that you can mix and match to create health-supporting meals. The guiding principle to follow is to eat mainly fresh, plant-based foods, and to consider eating small portions of one or more high quality animal foods that your body is able to digest without difficulty.
How to mark your progress: As described in the previous section, aim to eat only nutrient-rich meals at least one day a week to begin with. At a pace that you are comfortable with, aim to get to a point where you are eating only nutrient-rich meals six days a week. When you get to six days of healthy eating per week on a consistent basis, if you don't have any health challenges, feel free to enjoy a meal or two that may not be super healthy one day per week. Allowing one "cheat" day per week if your health can handle it may be good for your overall health for a variety of reasons, such as enjoying relationships with people who are important to you but who aren't as mindful of healthy eating.
3. Chew well.
Over the years, I've worked with a number of people who followed a nutrient-rich diet but had significant issues with their digestive tracts. A good percentage of these people experienced dramatic improvement by adopting the habit of chewing their foods to near liquid.
Simply put, chewing well is essential for healing because it increases the availability of nutrients in the foods that you eat to your cells. If you don't chew well, it's quite possible that many of the nutrients in the foods that you eat are going through your digestive tract without getting into your bloodstream to nourish your cells.
In cases where thorough chewing is not possible due to dental issues, I encourage regular use of a blender or food processor to ensure optimal access to the nutrients in the foods that you eat.
How to mark your progress: Take note of how comfortable your body - particularly your abdomen - feels after your meals. Thorough chewing tends to promote comfortable digestion with minimal or no gas production. Also take note of how long it takes you to eat your meals. If you're able to eat an entire hummus sandwich and a green salad in five minutes, you can safely assume that you're not chewing well.
4. Get as much physical rest as your life circumstances allow.
The single most important experience in my personal health journey thus far was a 2-week water fast that I experienced in the late 90's, which was directly followed up by a 3-week period of eating nothing but fresh fruits, vegetables, their juices, and a few grain dishes like quinoa and brown rice.
Spending a total of five weeks focusing on giving my body as much physical rest as possible allowed my damaged and exhausted organs to recover and learn how to function optimally again.
Regular physical rest promotes healthy endocrine function, including the release of optimal amounts of health-promoting hormones like growth hormone, testosterone, and erythropoietin - these hormones are essential requirements for your body to heal damaged organs.
Your body is always doing its best to restore your health with whatever energy and resources are available to it. The more rest you get, the more your body is able to heal damaged areas - it really is this simple.
While doing a water fast in a peaceful environment is an ideal way to experience rejuvenating physical rest, just arranging your lifestyle to allow for restful sleep each night can make an enormous difference to your healing potential.
How to mark your progress: You can know that you are getting adequate physical rest if don't consistently feel tired. If you get more sleep but still feel tired, continue prioritizing physical rest, as your body may need to catch up on many hours of sleep debt that you have accrued over time.
5. Don't forget about getting sufficient emotional rest.
If you're getting plenty of physical rest but experiencing significant emotional distress on a regular basis, you are still using up precious energy and resources that could otherwise be used to support healing.
Emotional distress equals greater activity within your sympathetic nervous system, as well as greater output of stress-related hormones like cortisol. And higher-than-necessary sympathetic ouput along with a high level of cortisol in your blood can make it near impossible to recover from chronic health challenges. In fact, these conditions are likely to worsen existing health challenges, and even create new ones.
Getting adequate emotional rest can be more difficult than getting sufficient physical rest because it can sometimes require that you find ways to transcend deeply-rooted emotional scars and issues. Getting over an abusive relationship or any other emotionally traumatic experience may be one of the most difficult challenges that you face during your lifetime.
If you need help with this area of your life, here are some articles worth reviewing:
How to Protect Your Health Against Toxic Behavior
How Chronic Emotional Stress Can Ruin Your Health
How to mark your progress: Take some time each evening before you go to bed to sit or lie quietly while you take note of how peaceful or anxious you feel. It's fine to feel anxious about new and exciting experiences; what you don't want is to experience chronic anxiety. The goal is to get to a point where you feel peaceful and balanced more often than not.
6. Discover and pursue personally meaningful purposes.
I have long believed that it's difficult for most people to stay motivated to make healthy dietary and lifestyle choices without something to look forward to each day.
If you don't currently have interests or responsibilities that drive you to take good care of your health, I encourage you to spend time thinking about moments when you felt deeply appreciated by another person. Whatever you did to have someone appreciate you can be a good starting point when looking to discover and pursue a meaningful life purpose.
For more guidance on finding your unique life purpose, please feel free to read:
Finding Your Unique Life Purpose
How to mark your progress: Take note of how you feel when you wake up each morning. Do you feel excited about the day ahead? If not, spend more time thinking about personally meaningful pursuits, particularly those that involve helping others help themselves.
7. Support your bones, muscles, and ligaments with regular physical activity, acupressure, stretching, and foam rolling.
If your daily responsibilities don't require regular physical activity, I encourage you to find a form of physical activity that you truly enjoy and that causes you to perspire to some degree. Strive to make time for this activity at least a couple of times per week. Doing so will provide essential stimulation to your entire body to stay healthy, but particularly to your bones, muscles, ligaments, heart, blood vessels, and lungs.
For guidance on how to use self-applied acupressure to support the health of your nervous system, view:
Three Acupressure Points that can Significantly Improve Your Health
For tips on preventing injury while stretching all of your major muscle groups, view:
Active Isolated Stretching
For our full archive of foam rolling and stretching tips, have a look here:
Stretching and Foam Rolling Archive
How to mark your progress: In striving to be physically active and using tools like acupressure, stretching, and foam rolling, the goal is to feel light, strong, and flexible, like you can work all day hauling bricks, or jog or run several miles if an emergency called for it. Take note of how physically free and capable you feel on a daily basis and modify or maintain your efforts accordingly.
Beyond the seven action steps described above, avoiding recreational drugs and getting regular exposure to sunlight (without getting burned) and fresh air are additional measures that can facilitate optimal healing.
The main idea that I hope has come across is that by being mindful of your daily choices, you can facilitate efficient healing. The action steps listed above are ones that I strive to take every day to maintain my health. They're also the recommendations that I think anyone with a chronic health challenge should consider following before resorting to conventional medical treatments that involve drugs or surgery.
If you're relatively new to the idea that there's no better way to support health recovery than to consistently make healthy food and lifestyle choices, please feel free to spend some time reading the articles that are referenced throughout this one. And if you're currently working to overcome a chronic health challenge, I hope that this article helps to inspire and fuel your recovery.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Count Your Blessings

We've got it good in this country. We have it so good that it is easy to take things for granted. I catch myself each day taking things for granted.
Being at the top of your game mentally and physically involves focus, determination, accountability, and hopefully, being thankful and not taking things for granted.
Consider the following:

There's 1 death every 14 seconds in this country.

1 out of 5 people in this country struggle to put food on their table.

1.4 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year.

Hate to be the good humor man here but you get the picture. So---the boss or spouse or someone else is giving you a hard time---maybe you hate your job or your kids are making your life less than pleasant--remember this--it could be a whole lot worse.
Be thankful that you have within you the ways and means to deal with the situation and change your life---IF--you really want to. That's the key word--If.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Fascinating insights are offered below as to the causes of depression. I particularly like #5.
Fortunately, people today are becoming more aware of the fact that to treat depression you must have an idea of what may be causing it. The answer doesn't lie in just taking an anti-depressant. We must always seek to deal with the cause of the problem first, not the symptom.

Depression is increasing at a rate of 20% annually.

Why has depression become such an issue? Here are eight reasons that are backed by scientific evidence.

1. Toxic food: Poisoning your brain so it cannot function properly

Processed junk food is scientifically connected to depression. A University College London team researched the relationship between depression and diet.

They discovered that people who regularly eat foods such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products are 58% more likely to be clinically depressed.

Conversely, those who eat a diet rich in whole foods - fruit, vegetables and lean protein - are 26% less likely to be depressed.

A diet high in processed food is sorely lacking in key nutrition that allows your mind and body to function. Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, trace don't find these in a pop tart.

2. Heavy metal toxicity: The silent saboteur

Conventional medicine does not consider the risk of heavy metal exposure. The truth is, there is no safe level of heavy metal exposure. If it is in your system, it is doing damage.

Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium are known to interfere with cognitive function, causing depression and other neuropsychiatric symptoms. These metals accumulate in the body over time, so it doesn't take a major exposure to do long-term damage.

This is an area that demands more research by the scientific community, although the evidence is mounting. See sources at the bottom of this article.

Search for heavy metal detox protocols if you think this applies to you. Common sources of heavy metals: mercury fillings, vaccines, lead-based paint (in homes built prior to 1978, cigarettes, contaminated fish, living near a landfill, working in a dentist's office.

3. Lack of nature: Avoiding what grounds your body

The UK based mental health charity Mind has discovered the 90% of people report significant emotional benefits from eco-therapy. Eco-therapy involves simple outdoor activities such as walking in nature and gardening.

A separate report released from UK charity Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support found that as little as two and half hours of walking or gardening per week can save lives by lowering stress levels and keep you healthier and happier.

Another study done by the University of Colorado at Boulder suggests that camping in nature for a week resets your biological clock, brings out positive hormonal change and makes you more mentally alert.

We are disconnected from nature. Our bare skin rarely touches the earth, rarely soaks up sunshine. We live indoors attached to electronic devices and it is affecting our mind and moods.

4. Psychological attachments: Unwittingly seeking old, familiar misery again and again

Psychological attachments occur when feeling miserable is more familiar (and therefore more pleasurable) than feeling good.

If you were raised in an emotionally dysfunctional family, then you were forced to internalize the negative messages you received. These were painful messages, to be sure.

As a child, what did you do with the constant onslaught of emotional pain? You did the only thing you could: you learned to tolerate it. In other words, you developed a tolerance for emotional angst, even though you hated it. This was your only choice at the time.

Now, emotional angst is the norm in your life. Your tolerance for it, coupled with a lack of familiarity for feeling wonderful, encourages you to make choices that keep in the realm of familiar misery.

In fact, because of attachments, many people simply cannot tolerate happiness. It makes them feel strange and scared.

Psychological attachments are the most overlooked mental health phenomenon of our day. Because of them, we unwittingly set ourselves up for misery, even though we are unhappy doing it! Learn about the self-sabotage that comes from these attachments by watching this free video.

5. Consumerism: Desiring stuff that makes you feel empty

Mass consumerism is a modern phenomenon created on purpose by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations. Bernays and his corporate clients had one goal in mind - to program people to desire things that they didn't need.

Bernays and crew called the quest, "the creation of happiness machines." If they associated consumer goods with happiness, status, wealth and power, then people would automatically begin to seek these products like little robots.

It worked. Welcome to America.

Of course, it has made us miserable. Science has proven that consumerism - seeking happiness in stuff that cannot provide happiness, then seeking more stuff to fill the ever-widening void - leads to chronic depression.

Research conducted at Northwestern University shows that people who place a high value on wealth, status, and material goods are more depressed, anxious and less sociable than those who do not.

Materialism is not just a personal problem. It's also environmental. "We found that irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer mindset, people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in well being, including negative affect and social disengagement," says Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen.

6. Lack of exercise: Willingness to feel lethargic

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise reduces and prevents anxiety and depression. Moving your body releases feel good endorphins, helps with detoxification, and increases body temperature, which has calming effects.

Harvard University has done a study that reviews scientific literature back to 1981. They have concluded that regular exercise is beneficial for mild to moderate depression. It is easy to see how not exercising at all could lead you straight into its jaws.

Sadly 80% of Americans do not exercise regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

7. Ignorance about feelings: Trapping negative emotions in your body

Feelings like sadness, hurt and grief are meant to be expressed. Unless you block them, they will originate in your torso, then begin to flow upward through your chest, throat, face and out of your mouth and eyes. The natural flow of emotions cleanses the feelings from your body and allows you to recover.

If for some reason you were taught that this natural process was bad, then you learned to block the emotional energy by tightening your stomach, chest, throat, shoulders and face. This effectively prevents the feelings from surfacing.

In other words, clenching and tightening traps the emotions in your body.

As more painful experiences occur, the damming of emotions continues. This requires and tremendous amount of energy. It creates chronic muscle tension. It's exhausting.

Of course, you end up feeling trapped, hopeless, isolated, and ungrounded.

8. It's a diagnosis: Promoting depression

Companies who sell drugs for depression are motivated. They want people to recognize symptoms of depression. They give it a name and package a remedy, then sell that remedy.

Labeling depression is a two-edged sword. For many, it is a relief to understand this the symptoms are something common and real. Others fall prey to the diagnosis. After offering their doctor a few examples of poor mood, the doc slaps on a label and prescribes, drugs. He is surely overlooking other options!

As more and more people are diagnosed, more and more people can fit their experiences into the depression box. Promoting the diagnosis may account for the rise in awareness of depression.

Knowing what you can do to feel better, but not doing it

The real crux of the matter with depression may be how clingy it can be. Many depressed folks can make a list of things they know they can do to feel a little better, yet they don't do those things.

This speaks to psychological attachments, the reasons why we cling to pain as if it were our friend. We've learned to be comfortable inside depression as if it were an old, familiar shoe. So, we avoid doing what it takes to recover.

Severe cases of depression are dangerous, even life threatening. It's not something that is necessarily easy to overcome, yet the causes seem clear. And there is much you can do to feel better.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cheaters and Role Models

It's funny, I used to really love certain pro sports, now I never watch them. Maybe that just happens to many of us as we age. Actually, I find the major U.S. sports like basketball, baseball and football obscene. You can throw in professional track and field as well as world class marathoning and distance running as well. With the former, I find the millions of dollars paid a year to the athletes really tough to accept, and with the latter, the extensive drug use in T and F and big-time distance running is disheartening. Oh yeah--drug use is all over football and baseball too.
I've heard the argument that the owners of the pro teams make zillions of dollars so the  athletes should get their 'fair' share. No---they shouldn't. Tickets for games are so high that taking your family to an event costs much more than it should. Decent tickets to pro sporting events are not for the average Joe anymore. I could go on--like $60. for a pay per view sports event on TV--but why bother--the majority of sports fans don't even know they are getting gouged because they are too young to recall when sports events were reasonable and affordable. Today is all they have ever known. It sucks but I'm glad I've left it behind, besides, it's better to be a doer than a watcher.
On a related note, I came across the following and thought it was well worth reading. The author nails it. As far as the Ryan Braun reference in this article? He's a drug cheat with no shame that baseball teams are already angling for despite the fact the he got a lengthy suspension from MLB.
What a surprise!

Why sports stars should not be role models

By Martin J. Greenberg

It was difficult to explain to my 7-year-old grandson, an avid baseball and Milwaukee Brewers fan, why MVP Ryan Braun was no longer in left field. Violating the rules, trying to circumvent a level playing field by taking a competitive advantage and deceiving the public, his employer, teammates and friends was a difficult explanation for a 7-year-old to comprehend.

His response, however, was interesting: "I don't think Ryan Braun is my favorite player anymore." How disappointing it was to see the player possessed of Hank Aaron wrists take a shocking fall from grace.

It brings to light the ever-nagging problem as to how we view professional athletes. We should celebrate and emulate their on-field heroics. Dedication, physical prowess, work ethic, perseverance, sacrifice and teamwork are characteristics that set them apart. Professional athletes' on- and off-the-field flamboyance, larger-than-life persona and constant limelight presence make them unforgettable figures in our lives.

We are a nation in search of everyday heroes. We are a nation of sports wannabes. Professional sports give us the time and permit us to spend the money to escape the realities of our ordinary existence.

So prevalent and important is sports and the professional athlete that our youths make an attempt to mimic the behavior, lifestyles and dress of those athletically possessed. It's all about "Be like Mike."

But that's exactly where it should stop. It is most difficult to sustain a squeaky clean image for a professional athlete with today's non-stop media coverage and exposure, and it is even ever more difficult for athletes to escape the consequences of their errors. (Major League Baseball suspended 13 more players Monday as part of its Biogenesis investigation.)

Once the athletes leave the playing field, their lives may take on a different dimension. Professional athletes are just like you and me. They have all the foibles, human deficiencies, character flaws and closet shadows as do all other human beings.

Sometimes, the sports pages read like a criminal rap sheet with reports of anti-social behavior ranging from alcoholism, DUIs, sexual abuse, substance abuse, deceit, paternity, gambling and now even murder. Certainly some of our most idolized sports heroes have been great disappointments, such as Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, O.J. Simpson and Pete Rose, to name a few.

By casting athletes as role models, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We need to readjust our expectations for athletes once the game is over. We require athletes to be more than what they are, and we scorn athletes for what they are not. Even worse, if they win, we forgive and forget.

Athletes get paid to beat opponents; athletes don't get paid to be paradigms of morality. In our sports-crazed society, too much emphasis is put on the athletic enterprise, Professional sports is a big business — one of the largest business enterprises in American society — and has become an industry of multimillion-dollar contracts and an invasion of corporate America. Let's not forget, we're talking about games and a form of entertainment.

Yes, maybe professional athletes should be role models, but they aren't. Former NBA player Charles Barkley said it so well, "I'm not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."

We must put our perspectives in balance. Emulate doctors who save lives, lawyers who protect the constitutional rights of citizens, professors who light up bright minds, scientists who make life-changing discoveries, an artist who creates a work of art and the wealthy who share their fortune for a worthy cause.

The heroes in our life — those who we should place on an emulated pedestal — are those people who teach us right from wrong. Hopefully that is a parent's obligation to mold their children in their formative years and teach them responsibility and accountability. Responsible parents should be our real role models — not rock stars, Hollywood, celebrities or professional athletes.

We are a nation that forgives and forgets. We are a nation that grants second chances. We don't care if pro athletes screw up unless they screw up with the football in their hands. Don't confuse game statistics with character.

Braun will be given another chance to excel on the field, and we may forgive, but we will never forget.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why Athletics Are Important

Leave it to Yiannis Kouros to remind us of the fact that sport can be more than it appears on the surface.The following is an excerpt from a recent news article:

'Yiannis Kouros, a brave and uncompromising soul, teaches us to endure the struggle with human nature as well, as he says "sport is a parallel of each feat of life." '