PURPOSE

IMG_0435Right now its 2:55am Eastern Standard Time. I’m wide-awake writing this blog as I listen to my son in the other room talk in his sleep. He’s said “dada” about thirty times, “car” maybe 20, and the rest is a flow of gibberish that I know will be hilarious when he starts to form sentences.

My sleeping patterns are not like most people. To put it simply I’m usually awake when you’re asleep. My mind only stops going in short four or five-hour spurts after that It’s back on. Studies show this isn’t particularly good for you. I believe the recommended hours of sleep per night are somewhere around 8, but if I followed that rule I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now.

I kind of get up when I get up. I haven’t used an alarm clock since the one I had in college broke five years ago. My new alarm clock is purpose. I discovered it about ten years ago. I know that this blog is meant to happen because someone somewhere might need to see it. Helping others is what I was put on this earth to do and that purpose is confirmed everyday. My daily routine goes as follows. Wake up, think of the quote of the day, post quote, and then help get Bryce ready. The last part “post quote” usually takes about fifteen minutes. For you guys that still follow me on twitter (thank you) you know that I send my quote out to about sixty people every day. That process takes exactly ten minutes; the other five is dedicated to finding a picture for the quote on instagram. Once that’s complete I’m off and running.

My life revolves around the people that are in it. Family first and then it spreads to the outside world. When I wake up these people are on my mind. I wonder about my mom, siblings, friends, the kids I train, and anyone else that are in my life either past or present. I’ll send random text messages to people that I haven’t talked to in months because for whatever reason they’ve popped up in my head. I love that a simple quote, blog, or text can make someone’s day. It makes my job of helping others a lot easier. I can’t physically be with everyone so I can reach out to them in other ways.

What wakes you up in the middle of the night? If you have children then I already know your answer, but think about it. When you’re excited and passionate about something you’re up before that annoying alarm with the cow mooing goes off. I believe that passion comes when you find your purpose. When you know what you’re meant to be doing you can feel it. No one else can tell you, its like your spidey senses come on and you just know. When I go and speak that’s one of the major things I talk about. Going out and discovering why you’re here, and once you do you’ll most likely never sleep the same again.

 

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IT’S THAT EASY

imageI was a really good math student. For those of you that follow my blog give me a second to explain myself. I was a very good math student until the seventh grade. That was the year that numbers became letters. When I was in elementary school I could do basic math without using a pen or paper most times. I don’t know where my special powers came from but my mom thought I was a prodigy. When I hit seventh grade any ideas my mom had of enrolling me at the Mensa institute abruptly stopped.

Now you might be asking yourself what happened between 6th and 7th grade? Well the same thing that happens to most of us when we have a problem we think is impossible, I started over thinking. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I was dealing with letters instead of numbers. So I would stare at X+6=14 and look for the booby traps. I would say to myself there’s no way X is 8. That’s too easy, there has to be another step I had to take. So I would morph a simple problem into that equation Matt Damon solved in the movie “Good Will Hunting”.

I was making the problem so complex I wasn’t seeing the solution. The solution was for me to turn my mind off. The inside voice that would tell me I could never do math would be louder than the voice yelling, “Its 8 dummy what’s wrong with you?” I believe that’s why most people inhabiting the earth haven’t figured out the equation called life. I would have called it a problem, but if you know the answer life is amazing. Let me explain.

We all are given this complex equation called life. For the first eighteen years of our existence our parents sit over our shoulder and help us correct mistakes, most times before they even happen. Then something happens. The equation gets a lot harder, and unlike before mom and dad aren’t there to help. It’s like they purposely act like they no longer know the answers. So you’re all alone trying to figure out something you feel is impossible.

What you learn when you have your own kids is, mom and dad still knew the answer but they needed you to figure it out for yourself. Life isn’t as hard as we tend to make it. The answer is always right in front of us. By in front of us I mean the answer lies within the person you see everyday in the mirror.

Every day we make a choice. We can live life positively or we can live it negatively. The power of choice is what makes being alive so awesome. You choose how you react to every situation that comes your way, both good and bad. Some of you are saying right now, “Cornell I got laid off from my job I didn’t choose that”. You’re right you didn’t but you do choose what happens next. Are you going to sit home and cry about it or dust yourself off and search for the next opportunity?

Life my friends is really that easy. It’s that easy because you determine how you feel each day. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Stop making the problem harder than it is, the answer is right there.

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WHITE BELT….

10576944_10152806461828023_3514577058860151194_nI was in disbelief. Actually, what I was in I would later find out was called a ‘triangle choke.’ At the time I was too preoccupied trying to figure out how this 16-year-old kid that weighed about 150 pounds (soaking wet) was about to choke me out unconscious.

Back then, I was around thirty-years-old and probably about 280 pounds. I was a fairly high level athlete in college and I would have considered myself moderately strong. By the time I realized that I should be “tapping”, which is a form of saying “uncle” or submitting in Jiu Jitsu, I noticed that the student who rendered me helpless was loosening the choke.

After I stopped seeing the imaginary bubbles in the air, the Rugrat gave me some instructions on how to defend against the move he just strangled me with. After that, we slapped hands to restart, and he got me in the same choke three seconds later. I drove home that night with a problem; I not only got my butt kicked by Harry Potter, I had no idea how he did it.

This scenario would happen over and over again. It wouldn’t be just Potter that would submit me, but numerous people at my new school in all different shapes and sizes. Every night I would drive home wondering if that feeling of helplessness on that mats would ever go away.

Flash forward eight years later. There are still plenty of days that I feel the exact same way I did in the beginning of my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey.

I was driving one day and saw a sign that said “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/Team Renzo Gracie.” Under it there was a logo that looked like the old Thundercats cartoon symbol (you should know the reference). I called the phone number and went down the next day to talk to the head instructor. Exactly a week after that encounter, I was handed a “white belt” which is the first belt in most martial arts systems. At that time, I had no idea what the belt signified. I was just in a hurry to make it change colors so I wasn’t at the bottom of the totem pole.

What I learned immediately was that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wasn’t about rankings, because there weren’t any. Yes there are higher belts and you show your respect to them, but unlike a lot of traditional martial arts, you didn’t feel like people were looking down at you. I sensed that everyone (even the highest belts) knew there was more to learn. Jiu Jitsu evolves everyday so there’s no way for one person to know everything. I started to realize that if Jiu Jitsu was something I was going to do, I had to embrace the role of student and not worry about what belt I wore around my waist.

Brazilan Jiu Jitsu is human chess. It’s cause and effect. If you move a certain way it causes a certain reaction. It’s not so much about strength as it is about leverage and positioning. It was designed by the Gracie family for a smaller person to be able to neutralize a bigger opponent in combat.

My biggest problem in the beginning was that I happened to be playing checkers, and I wasn’t playing it very well. Every person I was “rolling” or sparring with knew what I was going to do before I did it.  This allowed them to set me up like a mob informant.

I would go home defeated because I wasn’t seeing the lesson; all I was focused on was the loss. Jiu Jitsu isn’t about winning and losing its about problem solving. The same can be said about life. When you’re in a difficult position you have to figure a way out. Jiu Jitsu makes you start using the “other side” of the brain you hear so much about.

I felt claustrophobic when I first started training. Having someone smother you and not having the knowledge to escape can cause most people to panic, but the longer you train the more you learn, and the more comfortable you become in a chaotic situation.

When you first start and definitely when you’re rolling with someone that’s at a higher level than you, you’re working on how to defend not how to attack. In this defense mode you eventually learn how to escape dangerous positions because you’re always in them. It’s problem solving at an extreme level. I tell people that in life the same rules occur. We all go through our own adversities. Every one that you overcome should make you stronger. Then comes a point when you’re ready for whatever life throws your way.

On Saturday, October 27, after eight and a half years of training.. I received my black belt. It’s always been about the journey for me so I had no idea I was going to receive one. The only thing that I could focus on was all the hours that I spent with my Jiu Jitsu brothers and sisters in training. All the times I got absolutely destroyed by someone better than I was. Then I looked off the mat and saw my wife and son. My son will know that quitting is never an option on or off the mats. It’s not in his DNA.

They say once you get your black belt – you’re a white belt all over again. Jiu Jitsu for me is a never ending journey. I was moved to tears last Saturday not because the journey was over, but because I know it has just begun!

 

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ARE YOU CRAZY?

bg_rubberroom2And to that my answer is yes-kind sir I am crazy. I’m crazy enough to think that what I believe will actually come true. I’m crazy enough to dream. I’m crazy enough to go right despite everyone else going left.

Yeah I’m the crazy one. I’m crazy because I think the world can change, and I’m even crazier to think that I’m one of the people that will help change it.

Yes I’m that guy and I’m proud of it. What’s crazy to me is conforming to the masses. Crazy to me is living life being negative. Crazy is playing it safe. Crazy is not only listening to the negative things people say about you, but also believing it. Crazy is waking up every morning doing a job you hate for nine hours and then waking up the next day to do it all over again.

You see friends crazy in the world we live in today is going against anything that’s the norm. Crazy people in this day and age aren’t conformist. They don’t do what their told. They ask questions about the world they live in. They don’t accept whats force fed to them. Crazy people ask why things happen the way they do.

I define crazy as a state of enlightenment. When you start to realize that the world is what you make it. You have that NEO moment in the movie the Matrix when the bonehead finally realizes he’s The One!! I realized I was truly crazy about five years ago. That’s when I started reading about the “law of attraction”, and the power of positive thought. I’ve always been a positive person, but six years ago my mindset made a shift. I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything stop me from believing in me, not even for a second.

When that day happened I knew I was one of the people that would start this new movement. I write with the hope that every pair of eyes that reads my words gets inspired to think the same way. I want to motivate others so they understand how awesome they truly are. The world needs more crazy. The sheep can be sheep if they want, I’m a wolf and I’m looking to start a pack. Join Me!!

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RUSH HOUR

car-speeding-to-the-city-15013Yesterday a car cut me off. Living in New Jersey this isn’t a rare occurrence, but it wasn’t the evasive driving that bothered me. No my friends what bothered me happened about three second later when that same car slowly pulled into a shopping center.

No pregnant wife, no person on fire, no large sum of stolen bank money in the front seat while being pursued by ten cop cars. Just some dude that had to get to the mall. The mall to some people is a great place but it can’t be worth dying for.

Go to any major city and one of the first things you’ll hear are horns. Frustrated drivers in a rush to go absolutely nowhere. I get it we don’t have a lot of time. The 168 hours we’re allotted each week doesn’t quite seem like enough. So we end up running around like the world is going to end. There is no time to stop and smell the roses. How can we live in the moment when we don’t appreciate it?

Imagine being on a highway. On both sides of it are the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I forgot to add that you’re in a Ferrari, and you’re going around two hundred miles per hour. What did you see? I would imagine that everything was a blur. Well think about last week. What do you remember about it? Go ahead I’ll wait.

What did you come up with? How much time did you spend in the moment? Do you have anything in your life that blocks the outside world from consuming your thoughts? Something that just for a little while causes time to go a little slower. If you don’t search for what it is that does it for you.

Life is short but our moments are even shorter. Take the time to enjoy each one.

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DIVIDED WE FALL

3839675913_Broken_US_flag_xlargeJohn Dickinson wrote the blueprint for our country in 1768. During the American Revolution he penned the “Liberty Song”. In the fourth verse he wrote the now famous words, “United we stand and divided we fall”.

That slogan has been used throughout American history as a rallying cry; the only problem is no one’s listening.

You hear the phrase, “Divide and conquer” during old war movies. The thinking behind this is if you divide the enemy forces, it takes away their strength. It also makes it harder for them to communicate. This same strategy is being used today, but the soldiers in this war have no idea they’re in the middle of one.

Our eyes sometimes only see what they’re conditioned to see. Unfortunately they’ve been conditioned to see a false reality. We see what THEY allow us to see. We have no idea that we’re being split into different groups. THEY divide us by race, religion, politics, social status, gender, neighborhoods, and anything else you could possibly think of. A divided nation is a lot easier to manage.

Are you not convinced? During the next presidential election take a look at the red and blue states. Our country is divided in half based on whichever political party we’re backing. Somehow the election encompasses every way that we’re divided bundled up into one event. Insert social media wars and ignorant post everywhere.

Are you curious if racism still exist? The world just witnessed another riot. The third biggest one (damage wise) behind the Watts riots of the 60’s and the L.A riots in the 90’s. There was a charity for the victim who was murdered, (who was black) and surprisingly a more profitable one for the white cop that shot him. I saw ignorance and hate on both sides stream through peoples timelines. It got to the point where I stopped reading peoples updates because it was getting me that upset.

How many religions are there in the world? The number is somewhere around 4,000. Most religions believe that there is a higher power. Call it God, Jehovah, Buddha, Allah, or what have you. In these scriptures one fundamental law that most religions have in common is love thy neighbor. So why is there so much hate between churches? Why are their religious wars that have been going on for thousands of years? If you can’t figure it out join the club because I can’t either.

I recently wrote a blog called “The Hate Box”, which talks about how the media uses the most negative images possible to sway our thinking. What we have to understand is it’s on us to decipher what’s right and wrong for ourselves. Not from what we see on television or hear from some biased news anchor.

If we are going to ever win this invisible war we have to first realize we’re in it. Then we have to actually stand up and do something about it, together.

 

 

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COLD TURKEY

imageWhen I was in my early twenties I used to work at a pharmacy. My job (besides reading books) consisted of me selling cigarettes and lottery tickets. All day long I would hand out peoples vice’s in the form of pick 5 tickets and camel lights. My coworkers would call my little area the “sin counter”. The cool thing about the sin counter was all my customers for the most part were awesome. They were addicted to their vice and I provided it so they were always happy to see me. Because I tend to talk to everybody I got to know some of them really well.

One customer I’ll call Pete came in twice a week and always ordered a carton of cigarettes. It was like clockwork every Monday and Friday. I would have his cigarettes waiting for him before he even arrived. We would talk about sports, life, and anything else we could think of before another patron showed up. We went through this routine for about two years, until one day Pete disappeared.

That Monday he didn’t do his regular pick up and Friday came and went with no sign of Pete. I figured he was away on vacation, but the next week he was still missing in action. I started to worry that something happened to him and even asked the guy who worked the morning shift if he saw Pete in the store. The answer was no. About a month later I was reading behind the counter when Pete walked in.

I jumped up and went to reach for his cigarettes when he said, “No cigarettes today my friend”. He told me that he quit a month ago. I said congrats and asked him what nicotine patch he was wearing. He smiled lifted up his sleeve and informed me that he wasn’t wearing any. I knew Pete’s story well, he was in his mid forties and had been smoking since he was fourteen years old. I’m not great at math but I know that’s somewhere around thirty years of smoking. Throw in the fact that cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance that actually affects the brain, and you could understand my disbelief.

Pete must have read my face because the next sentence he said has stayed with me ever since. Pete said, “I woke up one morning and said enough is enough, so I quit”. It was one of my first examples of how powerful our minds are. It made me realize that we all possess this weapon that we can use for or against us. A focused mind could accomplish miracles. Being addicted to something for that long and just stopping in my opinion was a miracle.

We don’t realize that we can stop or start anything we want at anytime. The same way our brain gets us hooked it can unhook us. The solution is in the problem, and the problem for the most part in those types of situations is how we think. When you develop a habit good or bad it becomes routine. The routine can be broken just as easily as it was started. Pete showed me that the mind is limitless; we can do what ever we believe we can do.

 

 

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GET UP!!!

get upGet up!! That simple phrase is what moved me to action every day. I would wake up in the morning and try to hit my alarm clock before the first beep. The phrase “Get Up” meant more to me than just pulling myself out of bed.

Those words meant, “Cornell how are you going to get better if you lay in bed”? It was a challenge that I posed to myself. Over the years I used the same phrase numerous times after a workout, or a run that took everything out of me.

I don’t allow myself to lay down right after. It was my way of showing the workout that it couldn’t break me that I knew the pain was temporary, and I was going to recover and be back again tomorrow. That phrase has never left my life and never will.

Today I use the phrase in all aspects of my life. Adversity has knocked me down plenty of times, but it can’t keep me down. I wont allow it. The two words that I use when I’m tired, or sick, or lethargic still apply when life hits me with a haymaker. I absorb the hit, learn from it, and get off the canvas.

Some of us are hit a lot harder than others. Life throws punches in bunches and we feel that no matter how many times we get up we keep getting knocked back down. The problem lies in how you look at it. If you look at how many times you’ve been knocked down it becomes a negative thing in your mind. Instead look at how many times you’ve gotten up.

I’ve mentioned the movie “Rocky” a lot in my blogs because no matter how hard he was hit he always got back up. It doesn’t mean he didn’t lose fights. Getting up might not happen right away. It might take days, months, even years, but sometimes its not when you get up it’s if you get up at all. Cancer patients don’t beat the disease in the first day of chemo. They fight, get knocked down, get back up, get knocked down, and hopefully they get up and then stay up.

Fighters know that when they step into the ring there is a good chance they’re going to get hit, but they take that walk anyways. It’s the same thing with life my friends. You’re going to get hit. Life is going to knock you down. Those are two things you can count on. Just remember no matter what get up and keep fighting.

 

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INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION..

istock_000010106679xsmallThe other day I was at the park training some of my players when and old friend stopped by. I haven’t physically seen him in years but thanks to Facebook we’ve been in touch from time to time.

What happened afterwards might surprise some of you. We had an intelligent conversation. If you need to re-read that last sentence take the time to do so. There was no talk about what happened on desperate housewives, or who got traded where; we talked about the world and what’s happening in it.

Be honest with me right now, and answer these three questions. When was the last time you left a conversation feeling uplifted? When was the last time you left a conversation with more knowledge than you had before it started? When was the last time someone you talked to really made you think? I can tell you that I’ve had all three of those questions answered in that one conversation. The funny thing is two hours later I talked with a mentor of mine and the same thing happened. He made me think about where I was and where I wanted to go. We talked about changing the world for the better, and about living a balanced life.

With so much going on in the rat race we’re all running we’ve lost the ability to communicate with one another. The problem with this is that when we do have the time to communicate its dumbed down. We only talk about issues that fit into our “hectic” schedules. The weather, work, Snookies new hairdo, and anything else that takes less than a minute to discuss.

We don’t challenge each other to think anymore. We rely on our texting to do our talking. Back in the days you had to actually call someone to make plans. These days you can abbreviate a couple of words, and send four emoygis and you’re good to go.

I want to start a new movement. Lets start talking to one another more. Discuss not just what’s going on in your life, but also the world around you. This week have a meaningful conversation with someone, you have no idea how much you’ll learn!

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PRICELESS

Girl-Before-A-Mirror-By-Pablo-PicassoNever let anyone depreciate your value. That was a quote I wrote about two years ago. Like most of my morning quotes I’m not quite sure where that one came from but I instantly received a lot of positive feedback from it.

There are millions of people all over the world that don’t recognize their own self worth. It’s like going to a pawnshop with a Picasso painting and accepting the 50 bucks the guy behind the counter offers you. If you don’t know you’re own value how will you know when someone else isn’t treating you the way you should be treated? The short answer is you won’t.

People stay in relationships that are physically and mentally abusive because they don’t believe there’s something better out there for them. Their reality is that no one could possibly love them and that’s because they don’t love themselves. The same situation happens in the workplace. People have poured half their lives into jobs that don’t appreciate what they do. How many times have you heard, “My boss treats me like crap”? I’ve heard that line about a thousand times but the next day that same person walks right into work ready for another full day of abuse. Why? Well they most likely feel they don’t have the skills, intelligence, or god knows what to get a better job. So they settle. They sell their Picasso every day for peanuts.

I will tell you this right now. YOU ARE PRICELESS!! Make sure you read those last three words nice and slow. There is no value for you because you can’t put a price on who you are. If someone offered me a billion dollars for my life right now I’m pretty sure it would only take half a second to decline the offer. There is no amount that can compensate for who I am. I refuse to accept anything less than that, and you should as well. I believe we all have greatness inside of us. With that being said maybe .5 percent of the population actually believes it. Every day we’re given messages that suggest what great is supposed to look like, and like suckers we believe them.

We’re told what color greatness is, what size dress, what location its from, and we start checking ourselves off the list. What we don’t realize is that greatness is a state of mind. When you’re lucky enough to be around someone great they have a different vibe. They carry themselves in a way where you can sense there’s something different about them. It’s like going into that fancy restaurant where there’s no prices next to the entrées. Don’t look at yourself like the dollar menu at a fast food joint.

Knowing the value of you will make others know too. You’re priceless my friends never settle for anything less than what you’re worth.

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