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I Have the Perfect Life—-Not

October 28, 2016 by  
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My last 2 blogs told of the super wonderful and exciting African Safari that my wife and I took along with our dear friend Francoise Eriksen. It was a perfect trip–all went well without any hiccups or unpleasant surprises! I’m guessing that some of my readers are thinking “Oh, what a perfect life that guy Mark has. He’s wealthy, had his 15 minutes of fame, probably lives in a mansion, and travels the world first class.”

I remember so vividly thinking exactly that as I read about the rich and famous people of the world. I really thought they must have had a perfect life—but, oh, how wrong I was.

p1020832Right after we returned from the African Safari two things happened. I watched and listened to a super famous and wealthy man on T.V. (worth hundreds of millions) talk about the tragedies in his life. He was miserable but how people all around him didn’t believe him. They really thought he had a smooth and perfect life without any bad stuff but that was so far from the truth and the reality of his life.

The second thing that happened was me coming down with the worst common cold that I’ve had in many years. Wow. Talk about major mucus and a constant hacking cough that left me breathless and with very little sleep. Ugh and super ugh! Then a thought struck me and I said to myself, “Wait a minute … why didn’t I appreciate and give great thanks for my super great health while on the Safari and, for that matter, the last 3 or 4 years that I’ve have without any sickness whatsoever?”

Isn’t it quite amazing that most of us human beings don’t appreciate or give thanks for what we have until we lose it–whether it’s our health, good relationships, money, our jobs, or–how about this one–living in a great and free country. I will say this … traveling through South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe I couldn’t help but think about how good we have it in this great country, even the poorest among us are better off than some of the people I observed as our train passed through African villages where they lived with terrible conditions.

So my message this week is, let’s all take time to pause and think about and take notice and appreciate our health, wealth (however large or small), relationships, and this great country that we live in. And let’s do that right now and not wait till we’ve lost some of it.

Next week I want to talk about some other challenges in my life. Everybody’s life, no matter how rich or famous, has its troubles and its tragedies as well as much to be grateful for.

The Brain Pump List

October 21, 2016 by  
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As I mentioned in previous posts, the African Safari I just came back from had many, many novel things that hit me and pumped up my brain. But before I get into any of that, I first want to give you a few simple and easy things you can do to pump up your brain that really don’t cost much if anything.

Below is a list of these things. I would suggest that, at first, you pick just the ‘brain pumps’ that seem to fit you best and don’t worry about the rest of them.  Then next week or tomorrow or whenever you might feel ready for it, choose a few different ones that seem to fit at the time.

I have recently taken my own advice on number 6 and does that one ever pay off!  Every trip we take and at almost all of our big family and friends get-togethers and events, we fill up a chip on our digital camera and put it in a digital frame. We have about 15 of them around the house so every day as I walk past I’ll see a picture or two that reminds of some very good times and hence I get to relive those past moments and get another brain pump. Plus, at my age those photos certainly help my memory.

africaOur African Safari pics are up and working already and I just saw and relived the 2 giant bull elephants clashing their huge tusks as they fought each other. Our guide did tell us later that they were only play fighting but it was immensely exciting to us.

So if you want to have some very simple daily auto reminders of the good times that will give your brain some pumps without you hardly even thinking about it I strongly recommend the good ol’ digital frame.  Plus, it’s a great way to share your experiences and what you see in the world with your friends and relatives without much effort on your part.

What here fits you right now?

 

The Brain Pump List

  1. Take a walk, run, or hike outside. Just get and get moving. The great outdoors seems to have magic to it.
  2. Make contact with an old friend or even a high school or college buddy.
  3. Learn something brand new for yourself.
  4. Write in a journal a goals, dreams, and gratitude list.
  5. Laugh out loud and smile even if you don’t feel like it.
  6. Look through old picture albums or, better still, take lots of pictures of trips and events and load the images into a digital frame that changes the photo every few seconds. You’ll see it every day as you pass by and that way you can relive those fun and amazing moments and that will pump up the brain again.
  7. Do a good deed for someone else, send them a gift, or send just a note of thanks or gratitude for them being who they are.
  8. Sing in the shower, even if you are not particularly good, like me.
  9. Go easy on yourself–forgive yourself. Remember, nobody is perfect.
  10. Get a massage from a spouse, friend, or a professional.
  11. Put on your favorite music and pump it up.
  12. Do some meditation, even just for 10 minutes. I simply count my breathes.
  13. Text an old friend to set up a coffee date or lunch.
  14. Set some short and long term goals and just take baby steps toward achievement.
  15. Go lift some weights and stretch and work out.
  16. Start a new hobby.
  17. Drive a different way to work or home.
  18. Eat at a new and different cafe.
  19. Sit in a hot tub and let those strong jets massage your sore back.
  20. Get out a map and plan a fun trip even you can’t go on it for a long time.

There are many more relatively simple ways to pump your brain and get you more excited and happy about life and living. Think up some on your own or ask a friend what novel ways they have to pump their brains and lift and excite their lives.

 

 

The Big 5 and Brain Stimulation

October 14, 2016 by  
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Okay, I must start out this week exclaiming … WOW, WOW, DOUBLE WOW! That’s the kind of brain reaction most humans have when they experience something totally new, unexpected, and novel. I’ve had a ton of novel experiences in my 72 years of living and certainly a big part of that has been new places I’ve visited, new things I’ve seen, the people I met, and the activities I’ve been involved with in the 84 different countries I’ve visited.

In the last two weeks, however, I saw and experienced something totally different that I’ve ever seen or done before. And yes it was in a country that I’ve never even come close to before. In fact, four new countries in total. It was an African Safari! I never had it on my bucket list but some friends did it and said it was fantastic so I thought I’d give it a try even though just the thought of it made me very nervous.

We started the adventure by flying into Johannesburg, South Africa and after a few days we headed for Kruger National park. There we met out guide and his spotter man who rode on a platform on the front of the jeep, on the lookout for one of the “Big 5” (the 5 most dangerous animals for humans to hunt or to be around) and yes, he was armed with a big powerful rifle. So off we went looking for the wild ones. Less than an hour later the jeep stopped and the lookout man got off with his rifle in hand. He had spotted lion tracks. Off he went on foot into the wild using a radio to let our guide know exactly where he was and what he was seeing.

A short time later we left the beat up dirt road and dove over trees, bushes and huge rocks that I swear were about to tip us over. About 15 minutes later, there they were–a pride of 14 lions, 7 of which were cubs. My wife and I and a dear friend from Park City, Utah who joined us on the trip, were frozen in our seats as the lions slowly approached our very wide open jeep. The jeep had stopped but let me tell you my heart rate didn’t–it doubled! All I could think of was how easy it would be for the papa lion to leap into the jeep and have me for lunch. But slowly the entire pride walked by us, looking us in the eye and coming within 6 or 8 feet of the jeep! We watch as they walked away and then drove on to look for the next on the list of the big 5.

I want to talk more about what other brain pumping stuff we saw but I do want to emphasize that to introduce yourself to novel experiences and sights that really stimulate your brain you don’t actually have to travel to foreign countries, so please don’t think you have to go far and wide to pump up your brain. However, visiting other cultures and or countries or even other religions does help. There are lots of very simple things you can do that don’t cost a ton of money or take a lot of time that will pump up your brain.

My son David, for example, gets this with 2 AM phone calls for his volunteer search and rescue work which is very challenging. It takes him into the mountains, on cliffs, and into rivers and lakes. It’s very exciting, brain pumping, and life enhancing stuff for him and it’s all in areas not far from where he lives.

Next week I will talk about and suggest some other simple things each of us can do to pump up our brains and, as a result, enhance our lives.

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Writing Down Your Fears to Defeat Them

October 7, 2016 by  
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Last week my blog was all about our great brains and what they can do for us, almost automatically, if we take time to write down our thoughts, goals, and ambitions. It’s a way to tap into our subconscious so it will release and make known to us what we really need in our lives. It can then help us set course and push us to keep plodding along to reach our objectives. And we can do all this simply by using a pad and pencil.

The author of the book Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Anne Klauser, goes deeper into this thing of writing down what you want, saying we need to write down everything including the bad stuff such as our fears and anxieties because “writing things down can make ‘feelings’ speed bumps not roadblocks.”

I’ve never read anyone suggesting that writing down the negative stuff can be a good thing but this author says exactly that.

She points out that it can be very liberating and beneficial to the human brain if in addition to writing down our dreams and goals we also write down our fears because as she says “writing is a good way to force negative emotional reactions into words and not stomach churning.” She used a friend’s apprehension about traveling to Europe which was overcome by writing her fears down, as an example. “Writing down your fears,” she explained, “takes negativity and anxiety out of the gut … she conquered her fears by writing them down.”

It reminds me of all that self-talk we do and how people who study the ‘chatter box’ in our head are always preaching and teaching us to push back and change the negative self-talk to positive chatter. Now we find that there is an additional way, and maybe a more powerful way, to do that simply by writing down our fears or basically having a place to park your worries.

She goes on to say “Writing separates the dream from the fear. Writing about your anxiety makes it an entity existing outside of your goal. Writing down your fears takes away their hold on you; writing out the reverse of your fears (and upping the ante, making the opposite statement not just the fear in reverse, but something even more attractive) empowers and energizes you to start thinking differently, to attract the kind of answers that, rather than keep you tied down, go with a worldview of solutions.”

Discovering this strategy of writing down the negative, the anxiety, the fearful thoughts really got to me and I’ve begun to put it to the test to see if it really works. My wife began planning for a trip to South Africa to do an African Safari. After setting it all up I began to worry about so many things that could go wrong–from catching a disease to getting stomped by an elephant to those small airplanes in a country that is not exactly into precision and safety checks. Plus, there were thoughts of getting mugged or robbed in some of the cities that are known for very high crime rates.

Writing down my fears and anxieties in addition to talking through my negative thinking with other people is beginning to make a difference. In fact, the very next day after I wrote down my fears and anxieties I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with worry as I had been doing ever since we set up our African trip.

Wow … that was fast and it worked! It’s like taking worries out of your brain and putting them in a box. It really is that easy. Try it yourself!