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Accepting the Moment

October 25, 2013 by  
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I noticed that myself, my wife and a number of other people are having a hard time with life events this past week. We will all have difficult times to deal with but how events affect us now and impact us in the long run depends on how we deal with them. If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you’ve probably read my thoughts on living in the now and how it affects your health, stress level, and just enjoyment of life. Well, the same kind of thing is key for dealing with hard times—awareness and acceptance of the present experience.

When we find ourselves in an emotional or difficult moment—whether it’s a deadline you’ve missed at work, a bad injury or the loss of a loved one—one of the first things that comes to mind is wanting or wishing we could change what has happened. There’s no point in doing this but we all do it just the same. If you hold onto those thoughts, you’ll just be torturing yourself which does you and those around you no good at all and can be harmful in the long run.

Now some situations can be changed for the better but not always and sometimes changing it is going to be a losing battle or just make something else worse. The first thing you need to do with any situation is to accept what has already happened. The past cannot be changed. If you missed that deadline, well, you can’t go back and get the work done on time any more but you can move forward and get the job done as soon as possible or put it aside and pick up the next most important task. If someone has passed away, celebrate who they have been and how they have enriched your life while accepting that everyone will pass on and that it’s okay, that it is just part of this wonderful miracle that is living.

Accepting and living in the moment won’t make the stress or pain of what has happened go away completely and that’s okay too. Disappointment, pain, and sorrow are normal when things get rough but they should only be momentary, a reaction to the circumstance. Feel your emotions and accept those as well. But let go of any attempts to control what has already happened. This will make it so much easier to accept difficult circumstances which will reduce the emotional and physical problems you’ll have when dealing with the situation.

So live in the now, accept the moment. Don’t spend time wishing things had been different and don’t try to change the present in an attempt to change the past and its effect on you and your loved ones. The only thing that can change how a difficult situation will affect you, is in how you deal with it.

Improvement by Measuring

October 21, 2013 by  
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Some studies have shown that just about anything that you take time to measure or count on a regular basis tends to improve or get better.  If you keep track of and start measuring your financial net worth or you physical health for example, they will almost magically start to improve. Perhaps you’ve noticed this in your own life.  If you decide to lose a bit of weight and you write that goal down and start to track your progress on a daily or even just weekly basis you will probably see that you are making progress.

When I was just 27 years old I started calculating and measuring my financial net worth after setting a goal to hit a net worth of one million dollars by the time I was 30.  I began measuring my net worth every few months.  What happened?  Well, I must admit, that even though my measuring seemed to help lift my net worth I didn’t make the million by age 30.  I did, however, hit that magic million dollar mark by my 31st birthday. I didn’t think that was all too bad.

To test this theory of improving things by measuring, I recently bought a pedometer.  It’s a little inexpensive device that you can clip on your belt or pocket that counts every step you take. Then without even setting a goal for walking or running I starting observing how many steps I would take each day. I would then write down the total steps taken at the end of the day.  I was a little surprised that even without a goal, the total number of steps I took each day was generally greater than the previous day.  Wow.  That made me feel so good.  As most of us know, it’s critically important to stay active, even more so as you age. Movement is a kind of magic for the human body and essential if you care about staying young or at least feeling young.

The first few days I logged between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day. But then, without consciously thinking about it, those steps per day increased to between 10,000 and 12,000 per day.  Wow. A couple weeks later I was stunned to see that I was consistently walking between 16,000 and 19,000 steps with some days hitting well over 20,000! And remember, most of that improvement, or maybe all of it, came from simply deciding to keep track. Perhaps it’s just being more aware of the activity—we already know awareness is a critical key to a successful life– or perhaps there’s some unconscious self-competitiveness going on or maybe a little of both, but whatever it is, it does work.

Why don’t you give it a try and see if it works for you?  Measure anything that’s important to you and those around you.  In fact for starters and as a way to prove the point to yourself, why don’t you go online right now and buy a pedometer and if you see that the simple measuring of steps, works then start measuring other things in your life. This whole concept brings to mind an old management saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. How true that turns out to be!

Money, Money, Money–How To Get It, Keep It, and Grow It

October 11, 2013 by  
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You know it’s all well and good to talk about living in the now (which we did last week), relaxing, taking mountain or beach walks, and playing tennis and other games to keep your mind and body in good shape, but without a good financial situation or with little or big money worries, life can feel quite miserable.

Lately, a number of people have asked me what I’m doing about investing and income now that I’m nearing the big 70 year old mark. Well, here is my answer:

First, things are a lot different now than when I was young, as many of you know, I made a ton of money back then, though the simple process of buying so called “dirt bag properties”, fixing them up and renting them out or selling them. Yes, it was a lot of work but it had huge payoffs.  Then I bought bigger and bigger properties including duplexes and larger apartment buildings and, again, made a lot of money fixing them up then renting them out or selling them.

But those days are over. Now it’s all about “passive income” and it needs to be safe and steady.  I mean face it, I just don’t have the same drive or need or energy to do all the work that is necessary in finding, fixing and flipping properties.  If you are near my age and situation, you will want to know where to get a good, safe and steady passive income in today’s markets with savings accounts paying but a fraction of one percent and even 10 year US government bonds paying only about 3.6%.

I will tell you how I am getting a safe, steady passive return of around 7% to 8.5% with little management or worries—I’ve been buying retail stores that have good, solid, long-term leases with national companies–and often public companies–as tenants. Companies like Family Dollar and Dollar General or Office Depot.  You see these companies usually do not choose to own their stores as they would rather lease their space and put all their efforts into running the business because their business is what they know best.  These leases are usually done on what is called a “triple net” basis, which means that most of the increases of costs, like taxes and insurance and many of the repairs are reimbursed by the retail tenant, which makes the 7% plus return on investment pretty steady and safe.

If you can you might think about doing the same thing.  If you don’t have enough money for the down payment, you might consider bringing in your family or friends as partners. One note about partners though–thoroughly check out the security laws in your state to make sure you are in compliance or ask a lawyer. You don’t want a great investment opportunity to turn into a legal and financial nightmare. And the same basic rule goes for any investment. Be informed, don’t make assumptions, and ask a lot of questions before you dive in!

 

Staying in the Now

October 4, 2013 by  
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I had a great walk in the mountains yesterday. Wow, was it refreshing! I sure hope all my readers are taking their daily walks on the beach, in the mountains or just around the block, even if for just 5 minutes, to recharge your mental and physical battery!

Having said that (and, yes, I wrote about that not too long ago) you may wonder, as I have, why does even a 5 minute walk outside make such an impact on our minds and bodies? Well, I think I may have found the answer to that question. Let me go back a few days to explain how I came to what I think is the answer to that question.

On September 29th my daughter Cammy called and asked me to join her and her brother David for a so-called “restorative yoga” class on the night of September 30th (she also jokingly called it “advanced napping”.) You see, Cammy and all her brothers and sisters along with my wife see me every year on the 30th struggle through the day and sometimes have major melt downs. That’s because the 30th of September is the birthdate of my dear sweet daughter Kristin, who died at the tender age of 16. Cammy and David thought this yoga session might help me on this particular day. And man oh man, did it ever! But the reason it was so very helpful was basically the same reason my walks in the woods are helpful and, for that matter, even playing a good competitive game of tennis.

What is it? Well, let me explain what happened. When we arrived at the yoga center, my wife Kimberly, Cammy, David and I were led in to a darkened room where we sat down on our yoga mats and listened to the yoga instructor quietly and calmly give us direction to slowly position ourselves into some basic but relaxing yoga poses, adding in very gentle, alluring and peaceful far eastern type music.

I found myself going deep inside myself in both thoughts and emotions but the constant calm voice and direction of the instructor kept our minds, thoughts, and emotions in the present moment–in the great “right now”. She told us to not let our minds and thoughts get distracted by what we had done that day or what we were planning on doing later that night or the next day, but to focus only on the present moment.

She repeated these instructions many, many times to help us stay in the “now” and she did so in a very soft and gentle way. Yes, I followed every word and when I found my mind straying away from the present moment, I gently brought it back to “the now moment”. An hour and half later when we left the center I felt so high, so refreshed and content, and so lightened and lifted.

As I waked to the car it suddenly dawned on me why my mountain walks were so wonderful and mind boosting as were my real competitive games of tennis that get me so deeply involved on a mental level. I realized that it was these type of activities that tend to take us and keep us in the present moment, that great “in the now” moment. And that, my friends, gives our body, mind and soul that super boost that we feel during the experience and for minutes, hours and maybe even longer than that afterwards. And that is something that, in our super busy world, most of us just don’t get enough of! So how about putting that on your daily to-do list, each and every day, and see the difference it can make in your life.