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A Little Charity and a Huge Return

February 23, 2020 by  
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A while back, at Christmas time, I was in Walmart and a single mom in line just in front of me was holding a few extra items as the clerk was will up her bill. She kept asking what the total was as she anxiously clutched the extra possible items she obviously wanted but wasn’t sure she could afford. When she got to $40, she told the clerk that would be all she could pay for and she laid the other items aside.

As she paid for her purchases, I reached over and pushed the items she was leaving behind over to my pile and told the clerk, “I want to buy these items for my new friend.” I made the purchases and handed them to the lady who thanked me over and over again. And so did the clerk!

I walked out of the store feeling on top of the world. You’d think I had given her $1000 cash although it was, in reality, only a $7.50 gift. On the other hand, it felt like a million dollars in satisfaction and warm feelings for me.

Even though I have done this type of thing many times before and for a lot more money, it never fails to feel like a unique and special experience. This last experience felt especially wonderful. Maybe it was that look in her eyes that let me know this truly made a difference for her during the holiday season. She said “Merry Christmas” to me over and over again as she took her 7 year old daughter by the hand, a child who, of course, I had just given a $2 dollar bill to for good luck, something I love to do and try to do almost every day.

I know a whole lot of people who do this same thing. There was a report on the news some time ago about a rash of anonymous people going into Walmarts and paying off layaways for complete strangers, some spending thousands of dollars so they could help multiple families. What I did was not unique, but it might be for some people, maybe even for you, my reader.  So, I’d say if you have never helped a stranger in this way, give it a try and see what a great feeling it gives you as well as the stranger that receives your gift. Try it at least once. I promise you’ll love it!

Writing Down the Urgent Stuff

February 16, 2020 by  
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Last week I wrote about how important it was to write down your goals, your intentions, your dreams, and your to do lists. Why do that? Because if you do, the odds that you will follow through and complete those tasks and dreams increases big time.

There are many other benefits to writing. If you commit your dreams to paper, or on a document in your computer, for some strange reason, the act of writing your fears and negative thoughts down helps you  deal with those bad thoughts and then you can more easily  overcome them.

So, getting into the habit of not only writing your good dreams and goals down but also those fears and negative feelings we all have, can become a huge asset in your life.

Here’s 17 questions from a list in Ilchi Lee’s wonderful book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers.

  1. What things have I achieved in my life?
  2. When was I most joyful?
  3. When were things most trying?
  4. How did I overcome hardship in those trying moments, and what did I learn through them?
  5. What moments in my life do I regret?
  6. When did I do things that made me feel proud and that I found rewarding?
  7. What momentary choices became opportunities that changed my life?
  8. What values did I try to remain true to throughout my life?
  9. What goals have I had so far?
  10. What motivated me to establish those goals?
  11. Which of my goals have I had so far?
  12. Which of my goals have I achieved?
  13. Which goals have I failed to achieve?
  14. Who has had the greatest impact on my life?
  15. With whom have I shared my gratitude?
  16. With whom do I have emotional issues that I need to resolve?
  17. Which of my habits do I want to keep and develop?

Lee goes on to say, “If possible, write down your thoughts about these questions. Organizing them in writing and not just thinking about them will help you unravel the tangle of thoughts rolling around in your head.”

Like Mr. Lee’s book, Henriette Klauser’s book, Write It down, Make It Happen, makes some of the same points. Klauser likewise emphasizes how absolutely critical it is to get into the habit of writing your goals and dreams down, explaining how, “putting it on paper alerts the part of the brain known as the reticular activating system to join in the play.”

She goes on to explain this mechanism. “At the base of the brain, about the size of a little finger, is a group of cells whose job it is to sort and evaluate incoming data. This control center is known as the reticular activating system (RAS}. The RAS sends the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain and sends the nonurgent to the subconscious. The RAS awakens the brain to consciousness and keeps it alert.”  So, if you write something down, then it becomes the urgent stuff and your brain will keep it accessible to the active part of your mind.

Hope I’m not getting too scientific but knowing all about the RAS and what good it does all of us should be good motivation to keep writing our goals and dreams down. So now we know, when it comes to bad feelings, ideas, or worries, paper is a good place to park those negative mind games.

The Power of Your Written Word

February 9, 2020 by  
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I talk quite a bit about success, but as they say, talk is cheap. Writing, however, can be gold. If you want to be successful, you need to have your intentions in writing, even if you are the only one to see it or read it. Writing down what you are going to do and when you’re going to accomplish it can be, and usually is, a major motivator. It’s as if all the thoughts in your head have become real and concrete. That makes it very hard for you to ignore.

When I write down my goals, plans, and to-do lists, it’s like they take over my brain automatically. Putting your goals in writing forces you to really consider what it is you want because now you have put it in black and white, where it is more concise and easily grasped.

When you do write out your goals, answer all the basics: Who, What, Where, Why, How, and most importantly, WHEN. Include the following details:

-Who’s involved in this project?

-What is the end goal?

-When will you work on this goal?

-Where do you need to go to move it a long?

-Why do you want this?

-What are the details and steps you need to take?

-How will you achieve it?

-When will you achieve it?

The actual questions you need might be a little different but put the answers to those questions down on paper or your computer or cell phone and visit that list often. It’s an even better idea to post it where you will see it every day. When you read those words over and over, they become like a contract, and that’s exactly how you should treat it! Write it all down and then sign it.

Be sure to put your deadline, or deadlines if it’s going to be done in stages, on your written goals. These written goals will really be key to your success. It will be the starting point for your actions, determining the direction you will take.

So, remember this. Never forget the power of the written word and how it can push you to succeed in whatever you are trying to get done. Take one step at a time and keep writing it down. Those written words can, and will, take over.

Finding Direction in Your Retirement

February 2, 2020 by  
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I was reviewing a few of my past blogs and came across one from 9 years ago about retirement that hit me hard inasmuch as I’m feeling the same now as I did way back then. In the post, I started out by saying, “It’s so easy to get overly relaxed when you are in Hawaii as I have been the last few weeks …”,  and now, as I write this, I’ve been in Hawaii for 5 weeks and I feel the same way. I go on to say that my relaxing days do allow me to reach some major mental breakthroughs and I really think through the ideas that come to me but at the same time, I can feel so lost. That’s true today as it was then.

It got me thinking about how common this feeling can be for people in the mid and later years of their life. You’ve worked so hard for years, looking forward to retirement and then, once you get there, you start having these days where you simply have no direction. You start to realize that the carefree retirement life isn’t quite what you expected.

I am sure you have seen people around you that seem lost in retirement. When you retire or semi-retire every day can feel like Sunday. For most people in America, Sunday is a lazy day, the day when you don’t have any specific plans, a day to unwind and not answer to the clock or to any business or work demands. But when you do this every day, it actually can get very depressing.

As it turns out, Sunday morning has been found to be the most depressing time of the week for most people. Seems very odd that this can be true, but the reason is pretty simple. It’s because we don’t usually have any particular goals, plans, routine, or structure for that day of the week. Okay, maybe you go to church for a little while but otherwise, it is unlike the days in your work week or even the often busy, errand running and playing day that Saturdays often become. When a person retires, the constant structure of their life is gone so, without goals, routines, and deadlines, most people begin to feel lost.

Even if you are not close to retirement age, it is very smart and, in the long run, rewarding to start making plans and developing goals for retirement now. Retirement is not a bad thing. I can certainly attest to its advantages. But even in retirement you should set goals, establish a routine, and make plans with a timetable.

It’s just that during retirement, you don’t have an employer to please or to tell you what is expected from you, and you probably no longer have a family that you have to provide for, so you are left to make up your own schedule and decide what you want to accomplish. The key is to make up your own challenges, structure, and hopes that make you want to get up, excited and purposeful, every morning.

To put it simply, the real key is to not stop having dreams when you get older and/or retire. There is no reason to stop making plans and there are huge benefits for making plans for the remaining years of your life. There is also another big bonus for having plans in those later years–studies have shown that you are likely to live longer and with much better health. That should be reason enough to have plans and set goals through your entire life!