Monthly Archives: December 2013

Make Your New Year’s Resolution a Ritual

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Do people even make New Year’s resolutions anymore?  I used to teach workshops about making sustainable, positive change in our lives, and I’d always start them out asking for a show of hands of people who regularly have a New Year’s resolution.  Without fail, only about 5-10% of attendants would raise their hand.  When I’d ask how many people kept their resolutions, only a handful ever kept their hand raised.

Now here’s another question – how many people brush their teeth at least once a day?  I typically get a lot more raised hands for this question.  But why is it that we have no problem keeping up a mundane task like brushing our teeth, and yet when we try to take up life changing habits like exercising or mindfulness practice, we can’t keep it up?

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is our resolve, or lack of it.  Will power is an extremely scarce resource (source).  It doesn’t take much time after New Year’s for us to run out of it, and then we’re right back to square one.

So how can we make sustainable change in our lives?  Recall your relatively clean teeth.  Brushing your teeth for most people is a daily ritual.  Typically, no will power is needed for us to complete this chore.  It has become automatic.

The trick to making positive change in our lives is to make that change automatic by turning it into a ritual, just like brushing our teeth.  How can we do this?  Here’s some of the tips we gave in the workshops I taught:

Be highly precise - What specific actions can you take in order to to achieve the change you want?  What day and time will you take those actions?  Keep in mind that it’s not possible to do a don’t.  In other words ‘eat more spinach’ is a more viable ritual than ‘don’t eat cookies.’

Expect and plan for resistance - I’m always looking for excuses to not keep up with new rituals.  Plan for this.  If you miss your exercise routine on Tuesday, how and when will you make up for it?

Balance - You don’t want to take on too much, but you also don’t want to take on too little.  If your goal is to lose weight, eating one less candy bar a month probably won’t help much, but three less per week might.

Enlist the support of others – Tell everyone about your new ritual; this will create a sense of accountability.  Better yet, find a close friend to give regular status updates about your development; support them in their new rituals too!

Here’s an example of what I believe to be an effective ritual:

Every Tuesday and Friday I will practice my Daily Zen from 10:30 to 10:40am (Learn more about the Daily Zen in our Online Academy!).   If I can’t practice at 10:30, I’ll try again at 2:30pm, and if I can’t practice that day, I’ll practice the next instead.  I’ll tell my coworkers about my practice and see if I can get at least one to join me.  If I can’t, then I’ll tell my manager that this is something that I’m working on, and request that he/she check in with me about it every so often.

This might seem like overkill, but I’d bet that once you start your ritual you’ll be happy you made it so precise.

So this year, instead of making a New Year’s resolution, try instead to make a New Year’s ritual.  We’d love to hear about your rituals!  Post them in the comments section below and let’s all try to keep each other honest.

Introducing the Taiji Zen International Team

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(From left to right: Rasmus, Andy, Minnie, Jimmy, Eric)

In case you’re wondering where these blog posts are coming from, it’s these five beautiful people above.

Taiji Zen is a small company with big dreams.  On the China side, we’ve got Taijiquan’s top dogs working hand-in-hand with Jet Li on developing the Taiji Zen curriculum and lifestyle.  Internationally, there’s us, transforming Taiji Zen into something the whole world can enjoy.

Since we’ll be the ones writing posts most regularly, we wanted to introduce ourselves.

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I’m a 0.5 generation Chinese-American and have spent most of my life in northeastern China and northeastern US. Being a business major, I did my standard stint in the world of financial services, and now am focusing my efforts on creating a world of health and happiness alongside kindred spirits at Taiji Zen. If you ever can’t find me, try searching nearby swimming pools, mountain ranges, and piano stores. If you wish to make me smile, feed me ribs, dumplings, eggplant, or all of the above.

Minnie is in charge of Taiji Zen’s PR, and also very focused on optimizing the user experience.

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Although I am a young European guy, I am often compared to being an old traditional Chinese man from the 80′s. Hobbies include practicing Taijiquan and Qigong, reading Chinese philosophy, studying Chinese language and mountain climbing. The comparison is still a mystery to me…

Jimmy is heavily involved in the development of the Online Academy and is in charge of general customer service as well.

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I’m from Denmark and currently live in Beijing.  I’ve been a Taijiquan practitioner since 1998. I especially enjoy doing Push Hands and got 2nd place at the European Championships back in 2000 and 2002.  I have since developed a passion for digital marketing and have been lucky in getting my dream job at Taiji Zen combining two of the greatest passions in my life; Taijiquan and Digital marketing.
Rasmus is our head of digital marketing and works on developing the community of Taiji Zen practitioners globally

Eric 7

I’m a positive psychology nerd and I help develop the Daily Zen content for the Online Academy. I’m also an aspiring actor in China, and spend my free time getting beat up by the good guys in movies and TV shows.

Eric helps develop the Daily Zen content for the Online Academy, and also manages this blog.

Andy

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As a student of the art since my teenage years, I’m immensely fascinated by the effectiveness of Taijiquan’s method of movement, as well as the elegance of Taiji philosophy.

A recovering finance professional, I’m known to have obsessively high standards and be excessively detail oriented.  I hope that through Taiji Zen, I can find more balance in my own workaholic life, as well as share this beautiful approach to health and happiness with friends around the world.

 Andy is the fearless leader of our international team, and has been helping Jet Li develop Taiji Zen from day one.

The Second Duan is Live!

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We’re very excited to announce the release of the Online Academy’s second duan; it’s time to take your Taiji Zen to the next level!

The first duan was all about the soft four cardinal energies.  But this is Tai Chi – we need balance.  So in the second duan, we’re focusing on the explosive four ordinal energies – plucking, splitting, elbow striking, and shoulder striking.  This is not the Tai Chi your gramma and grampa practice – these are practical fighting methods and kinetic concepts which can be applied to many physical activities.

Interestingly, these four movements are also an evolution of the movements from the first duan.  Expanding (Péng 掤 ) becomes elbow striking (Zhǒu 肘), deflecting (Lǚ 捋) becomes plucking (Cǎi 採), pressing (Jǐ 挤) becomes shoulder striking (Kào 靠), and pushing (Àn 按) becomes splitting (Liè 挒).

For your Daily Zen, the second duan will teach you how to use auditory and tactile input as an object of meditation.  Not only will this help you relax your mind, but sharpening these senses can also significantly improve your martial prowess (the stuff you see in the movies about practicing blind folded is no joke!).

If you haven’t already, sign up now for the Online Academy to learn how you can transform soft into hard, learn to relax as well as explode!