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Stir Yourself Up Instead of Going Stir Crazy

April 26, 2020 by  
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Wow. Now, after several weeks, we are still in lock down mode, but that doesn’t have to force us into a mental lock down too. Use this time to look at your world and your relationships in a new way.

The virus has undoubtedly brought my wife and I closer and has pushed my mind to see and think much more about details of so many things. For example, the other day, Kimberly said “Hey, let’s take a drive and look at all the beautiful blossoms that are out now.” Before the pandemic, I would have said, “Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sound like fun to me.”  But with what’s going on, I said, “Okay, let’s go.” Well, when I paid major attention to all the absolutely gorgeous and beautiful blossoms, I was so very impressed, and that drive lifted my mood. It was such a simple thing, but it did us so much good. Thank you, mister virus.

Talk about me noticing details now! Walking down my long driveway to pick up the newspaper I saw a little rock and noticed what looked like a face. How cool. By the way, walking to get my paper always starts my daily walking goal and I usually hit my goal of 20,000 steps a day, even in times like these.

Kimberly is spending hours and hours doing what she loves to do – making beautiful beaded necklaces and other jewelry. We have also found ourselves playing pool and shuffleboard and having a great time doing so many little simple things that we almost never do.

And, hey, remember that now is a great time to reach out to friends and family. My wife Kimberly has reached out to her family and had many long conversations on the phone with her father and friends. Even if you can’t physically hug your friends and family, you certainly can send a virtual hug on the phone.

I even found myself reaching out to friends from 60 years ago. I wanted to talk to my basketball buddy Richard Harvey. We were on the winning team that took first place in an American high school tournament in Rome, Italy back in the day.  I got a hold of his son Kyle who gave me Richard’s phone number in Ohio. I had a great conversation and did that virtual hugging thing. Then, the very next day an old friend of mine, Russ Whitney, called me. He read my first book back when he was a meat cutter in New York and now gives me a lot of credit for his huge success in life. He’s now having 1,000 apartment units built in Florida.

So, it turns out that we don’t have to put up with those feelings that we are going stir crazy.  We can turn this shutdown situation into a really good thing for us and our friends and family. It’s so amazing to me that I began noticing and paying attention to so many details, even simple things around the house, such as pictures and decorations that I have always just skipped over. And now I have that super little rock with the face to remind me to pay attention to the details too.

 

The Friend Factor

April 19, 2020 by  
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I don’t know about you, but this world stopping virus has pounded into my head how very important and uplifting friends, and socializing in general, is to our lives. I’m sure you are like me, feeling the loss of this huge reduction of face to face socializing with friends, business partners, and even some family, especially right now. I’m sure that it’s not only me that believes keeping up friendships is important to your health and quality of life. I came across an article on the Mayo Clinic website about just how important it is to maintain your friends and social circle.

According to this article friendships can:

  1. Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
  2. Boost your happiness.
  3. Reduce stress.
  4. Improve your self-worth.
  5. Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or death of a loved one.
  6. Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.

Now, that’s a lot of benefits for something most of us would like to do anyways. Of course, with the COVID19 virus we are suddenly hit with a huge shortage of social encounters that we have probably been taking for granted. So why don’t we, even under normal times, keep up with our friends better? It’s likely because life just gets in the way.

We are constantly drawn away from time with our friends by other priorities such as work, caring for children or elderly parents, or trying to make a dent in that long to do list that is always hanging over our heads. Also, many of us do a lot traveling and even move around the country so sometimes even our well-established friendships start to fade with the distance between us all. And then, sometimes, it’s hard to find the time and even the motivation to go out and make new friends. But that is something that we really cannot afford to not do.  Hey, maybe this virus scare will stimulate us to greatly improve our drive to be closer to our friends and make more of them.  Personally, I am certainly going to pay more attention to my face to face social life and my friends when this thing is over.

When I think of my own life and all my friends, I realize and appreciate, even more, my business of investing in real estate and all the friends I made along the way. Most are still great friends to this day. I also got a huge increase in good new friends from that thing called TENNIS-I love it!!

So, hey… let us all stay positive during this virus thing and make plans to spend more time with our friends when this is over as well as having plans to make new ones!

Direct Your Brain

April 12, 2020 by  
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Now, maybe more than ever, it’s so good for all of us that are home bound because of the virus, to live in the present or the “great right now”. There is a very thoughtful, but short and simple poem from John Greenleaf Whittier that makes a very good point:

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here

Our human minds can do so many great things, but the brain can also do some major damage. We do have a choice, right now, to use our heads to keep us going and in good shape physically and mentally. I’ve seen in the news what I expected and that is a rise in the number of suicides. In addition, unfortunately, the instances of spousal and domestic abuse cases have jumped as well. These people are obviously having difficulties using their brain in a good way.

I did, however, laugh out loud when I read this morning about a guy in England that ran a marathon in his back yard—a very small yard too. That was a lot of circles-especially since his yard was only 20 feet wide. His name is James Campbell and he set his mind to do the huge run to raise money to help fight the coronavirus. I’m sure that thinking about helping other people gave his brain good, positive thoughts which raised his energy level. It’s been proven that your brain really can give you energy.

So now, in these tough days, most of us, being stuck in the house, have plenty of time to plan and set goals for when this is over. Hey, how about doing some detail planning of an exotic trip to Rome or Paris or, if your budget can’t handle that, how about a camping trip and hike in the mountains or even in a nearby open space or campground?

If you have lost some of your passion for life being locked up in your house, you can focus on reviving and getting your passion for living back. First of all, don’t let your brain think about all the stuff you can’t do right now or how you can’t have face to face conversations with friends, co-workers or even some family members. We do all know our social lives are quite important, but our brains can help us out here. Our brain can be our best friend or worst foe and we really can direct our brain to be the way we want it to be.

Ernie J. Zelinski says in his book, The Joy of Not Working, “Fully alive individuals experience the here and now … the more we focus on the past and the future the more we miss the right now. Sadly, we miss most of life’s precious moments because we are so preoccupied with the past and the future.” So, in times like we have right now, we need to use that great brain to think in your present moment. Or, as the author also says, “Being in the now is crucial for living happily, because the present moment is all that you really have.”

If you missed my last week’s post, I would suggest you go back and read my list of the 9 items that are helping me through these stressful times. Plus, I would strongly suggest that you work up your own list to keep your mind and body connected. It will help you lift your spirits and your life.

Your Routine Replacement List

April 5, 2020 by  
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All I can start with on this week’s blogs is just … Wow. Double Wow.

In my 75 years of life I have never ever seen anything like this COVID-19. It’s certainly changing the world right now and undoubtedly will continue to do so into the near future. But what is a normal person going to do without going absolutely stir crazy until it leads to big time depression?

When all of a sudden you are confined to your house without your normal routine, that can mean big trouble. Routine can really be a good thing, even a simple routine like going to work every day. You really don’t think or fret about that routine because you just do it and it feels fine. But you take that routine away that you have at your office or place of business or your active social life and, ouch, that can be a game changer.

I like what author James Wallman said about time, especially leisure time. He said, “Leisure doesn’t improve the quality of life unless one knows how to use it effectively.” The first time I got hit without a routine that about drove me crazy was when I retired and found myself at home without any routine and seemingly nothing to do. I did discover how to overcome that huge dilemma and, now, with this huge virus thing going on, I thought that I could share what we can all do to survive, and even thrive.

I think I will call it the anti-stir-crazy list. “List” is the key word. If we just take time to begin working on a list and making those items on the list our new routine it can, and will, enhance your life.

Here’s some of to do thing on my list as an example:

  1. Set a specific timeline and schedule to exercise every day. I’m talking, lots of walking, hiking in the hills, lifting weights, stretching, push-ups and pull-ups, etc.
  2. Take time to get super organized. There are so many things that have just been postponed that I can easily spend time doing what should have been done before
  3. Seek out and find some good books to read, both fiction and self-help.
  4. Begin and make an outline for a new book that could be written.
  5. Call, text, and/or email old friends and new ones.
  6. Make a list and an outline of what could be accomplished with my life in the next 5 or 10 years.
  7. Be more attentive and playful with kids and grandkids.
  8. Begin making a list of people or charities that I can help.
  9. Begin to learn a foreign language–download Duolingo or Rosetta Stone that makes it easy and fast.

When making this list, keep in mind these questions: What do I enjoy doing the most? Is there anything I am not adding to the list because of negative self-talk? What gives me a great sense of purpose? And don’t neglect to write the list down. If you write your goals and to-do list down you are much more likely to follow through and do those things.

I hope these ideas are helpful and might push you to work on some things to better yourself and your life as well as add to the list of what motivates you and things you like to do.

By the way, when I wrote item no. 4, I thought through my book writing and was somewhat in awe that I’ve actually written 9 books! I would have never ever guessed, those many years ago when I was a construction worker, that I would ever write even one book!  So, my advice is to push yourself to make and live by your own list. You could even brainstorm with friends or family to come up with a bigger and better list!