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Archive for the ‘Positivity’ tag

States of Mind, Resiliency, and Cognitive Performance (Sunday Reads #16)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.  As it’s been several weeks since I’ve posted, some of these links may be a few weeks “old” – but given that we’re looking at mostly timeless information, that shouldn’t matter much.

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On High Performance Work

How much does your state of mind matter during the work day?  Quite a bit.  94% of leaders reported that Calm, Happy and Energized (CHE) are the states of mind that drive the greatest levels of effectiveness and performance.

Humans are meant to move a lot during the day, and most office workers are unlikely to do so. WellnessFX has 5 mobility hacks to improve your morning routine.  Get moving.

A positive mood allows your brain to think more creatively.

Being happy at work matters.  People want a meaningful vision of the future, a sense of purpose, and great relationships.

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Written by Mike Torres

June 21st, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Your Microbiome, Bone Broth, and Fancy New Fitness Gadgets (Sunday Reads #2)


Welcome to Sunday Reads #2 on Refocuser, a collection of my favorite weekly links from around the web spanning topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, and positivity.  I’m posting this on Saturday this time to make sure email subscribers get this on Sunday.

Speaking of which, join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.

On Moving, Eating, and Sleeping

The healthy human microbiome is the new frontier.  All the more reason why I’m surprised I didn’t know about uBiome (10% off with that link!) – it’s similar in spirit to WellnessFX and 23andMe.  They send you a sample kit for only $89 (!) so you can learn more about your body’s own bacteria in an effort to improve your overall health.  Don’t need to twist my arm to do this – I’m in!  We’re super early in this citizen science movement but I love it.  You can also learn more on Fast Company.

Mark Sisson challenges some of our common misconceptions when it comes to calories (part 1part 2).

How does exercise really affect our brains and how does it really make us happier?  Fast Company set out to understand the science.  Turns out addiction to exercise isn’t a crazy concept since BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) and those ever-popular endorphins have the same characteristics as nicotine, heroin, or morphine.  Big takeaway: Daily exercise of just 20 minutes is all it takes.

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Written by Mike Torres

January 10th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

26 Things I’ve Learned Through Intense Exercise


Click for photo This October I’ll celebrate a personal milestone.  15 years ago on my 18th birthday, I started an intense strength training regimen while a freshman at Cornell University.  At that time I was training for my Black Belt test in both Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do and I figured a little extra strength and flexibility would help me when it came to that dreaded “break bricks and boards” part of the test.  I didn’t know much at the time, just that lifting weights gives you muscle and protein is important for that – but that didn’t stop me from jumping in headfirst and giving it my all.

Over the last 15 years I’ve certainly had ups and downs.  I’ve slacked off and felt completely out of shape for months at a time.  I’ve also hit my stride many times throughout the years and realized that when I’m exercising regularly, just about everything else in my life comes into serious clarity.  I’ve learned that for me, the benefits of strength training (and martial arts) are far more mental than physical.  I’d tradeoff any gains in strength, size, or flexibility for the things I list below.

In 1999 I started a list of the things I’ve felt I’ve learned “in the gym” and I’ve been expanding on this list ever since.  These are things that I learned as a kid (and as an adult) training in martial arts, and how I’ve since expanded my understanding through intense strength training in a gym environment.  Just like other posts in the Exercise category, the things I list below are certainly not limited to the activities I perform.  If you’re a dancer, a yoga practitioner, a cyclist, or a volleyball player, chances are a lot of these same lessons can be learned with your activity.

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Written by Mike Torres

June 14th, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Introduction to the Flow State (part 2 of 2)

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This post is part of the Introduction to the Flow State series.  Read the first part.

"In the groove", "in the zone", "in the bubble", and "on auto-pilot" are all ways to describe what the Japanese call "muga", and what Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced CHICK-sent-me-high-ee) dubbed "flow" in the 1980s. 

Flow can be defined as a period in time in which one becomes so completely involved in an activity that all other thoughts and emotions – what some consider the "self" – are excluded from consciousness

Raise the stakes and improve your skills

Click for photoWhatever the immediate activity we’re participating in, we need to continually find a way to 1) set clear goals, 2) find ways to measure progress and 3) raise the stakes when we become bored. In order to consistently achieve the flow state, we must continue to increase our skill set as well as the challenge, in order to avoid becoming disinterested, overwhelmed, or apathetic. This means striking a unique balance in which Dr. Csikszentmihalyi and Dr. Susan Jackson label the “C/S Balance” (challenge/skills) in their book “Flow in Sports”. The activity needs to be challenging, but not so challenging that it’s perceived as an impossibility. As your skill level increases, you’ll need to continually increase the level of personal challenge in the activity.

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Written by Mike Torres

March 21st, 2009 at 2:04 pm