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Lessons from Ukraine

October 2, 2022 by  
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Like many of you, this war in Ukraine has been weighing very heavily on my mind. It just seems so stupid and pointless. It has gotten me thinking about my visit to that beautiful country in 2011. Back then, we spent a very pleasurable couple of days in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital and one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. The city has been on a crazy roller coaster throughout its history. It’s gone from great prosperity and prominence to near obscurity and everything in between. And although the Russians aren’t at the capital, and hopefully will never get there in this crazy war, the spirit of that city represents the whole country, a place that we can all learn from as we hope and pray for an end to this awful fighting.

It was thought that Kiev was a commercial center of Eastern Europe as early as the 5th century, being on the route between Scandinavia and Constantinople. In the 9th century, the city was seized by Vikings, then it was demolished by Mongols in the mid-13th century. The city made a comeback during the Russian Empire’s Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, going on to eventually be chosen as the capital of the newly formed Ukrainian National Republic in 1917. It weathered the sweeping communist reforms of the early 20th century only to be greatly damaged in World War II. Even so, it recovered to become the 3rd largest city of the Soviet Union. Half a century later, Ukraine claimed its independence and Kiev, again, became the capital of a richly fertile, if still financially struggling, land.

For all its hardships, including the one it’s dealing with right now, the country is historically resilient and strong. It has had huge challenges and, sometimes, great defeats. But being knocked down has only been a temporary state for this country and its capital city. It keeps getting back up and keeps moving forward.

If this place, which has been invaded, demolished, controlled by its neighbors, and beaten-up multiple times can recover to claim and reclaim its prominent position after all it’s been through, we can hold on to tremendous hope for the Ukrainian people, and for ourselves, because they represent the possibilities for us all.

So, next time you are facing a huge challenge or defeat, consider how much the country of Ukraine has been through and how the people there are persevering and even pushing back the much bigger country of Russia. If Ukraine and its beautiful capital can do that with all they have been up against, there is no reason why we as individuals can’t weather our challenges and fully recover from our own losses and defeats as well, if not come back better than ever.  

Accepting Our Differences

September 25, 2022 by  
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Have you ever noticed how life can be so very different for males versus females? When I observe the two sexes, I really am surprised by those differences. This is not about saying men are better than women or that women are better than men. Some people truly believe that one sex is better than the other, and sadly some religions and different cultures not only believe that but preach it as well.

Personally, I am very enamored with the differences. Here are a few examples that stand out to me when I see the men and women around me interact.

The first obvious one is what men wear versus women. For example, most men don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what they are going to wear. Women tend to take more time looking through their closet and picking just the right outfit for the day. Another difference, which I think is kind of cute, is that women, many times, will comment on another woman’s attire, saying things like, “I just love your outfit”. I don’t think I have ever heard a man say that to another man. Oh, yes, occasionally I’ll hear a woman compliment a man on his attire and we men do usually like that.

Then there is the big difference in talking. Women will talk to each other so much longer compared to men. Women seem to get more into the details and in a way that men usually don’t. I can always tell whether my wife is talking to a man on the phone or a woman, just by the length of the conversation.

In my experience, when two men meet it’s “Hey, bud, good to see you. How are you doing?” And their answer will be something like “I’m fine. Good to see you too.” Then maybe they’ll talk for a minute about work, sports, or some place they might be going, but that’s about it. Women, on the other hand, will ask dozens of questions and tell each other complete stories.

Men’s and women’s common habits are also very different. I don’t need to point out or talk about women painting their nails, putting on makeup, and so many other things that men, in general, don’t do. And men have just as many things they do that most women don’t.

Why am I pointing out all these obvious differences? Well, I just want to get across the idea that if men and women want to get along and love each other more, we need to fully accept our differences. We can learn so much from the other sex as well as from other people that are dramatically different from us. Those differences are what make us unique and give us opportunities to learn and see the world in a new way. Because of this, we should all pay more attention to those we may see as opposites and respect these other people not just regardless of those differences, but because of them.

The Time For Healthy Habits is Now

September 18, 2022 by  
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I had a bit of a fit while I was in Paris last week. That fit was a big trip next to a busy street. I went down and my right eye got hammered. The good news is that I didn’t get hit or run over by a car. Yay! Always try to find the bright side, right?

I recently read Stephen Perrine’s book, The Whole Body Reset, and recall the section where he talks about what we can do to live longer and healthier lives. He discusses two different ways that we can dramatically change our lives and our well-being. It’s all about what we eat and how active we stay. It’s the part about staying active they came to mind after my little incident.

The fall was my fault and, I believe, a big part of it was the simple fact that I have not been working out very much. I’ve had a lot going on and became lax with my exercise routines. As a result, I’ve lost a lot of muscle strength and flexibility, so when I lost my balance, my muscle reaction time was slow, and I went down very hard.

I’m sure I could’ve avoided such a bad fall if I’d only followed some of the advice I found in that book. Stephen Perrine says you should try to do exercise that “fits your lifestyle and your body — walking, running, biking, hiking, dancing in the kitchen — along with some strength and resistance training. Shoot for about 30 minutes a day, about five days per week.”

Not only could this kind of easy exercise routine help someone avoid serious injuries, Perrine says this will help you live longer. But it takes more than just exercise to increase your longevity. Most of his advice and research has shown that what you eat each day has even more to do with health and longevity than exercising.

The most surprising and advice he gives is not so much about calories as it is about what foods you are eating. His research and experiences with people who have followed his plan is that if a person eats 3 meals a day, eating mainly foods that are high in protein and fiber, that will help keep the weight off.

So, between trying to avoid injuries and aiming to live longer, healthier lives, it’s obvious that we all would benefit from keeping up with an exercise routine and healthy eating habits. And now is a good time to recommit to living your best possible life. You don’t want to wait until you get hurt or have a health scare to work on those things. Commit to living a better, healthier life today and every day.

Travel: A Needed Boost

September 11, 2022 by  
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I’ve said this before, mostly because it is so very true — traveling lifts the mind and spirit! Right now, we are in Vienna after traveling a couple of nights ago from the Slovak Republic. Before that we had been in Budapest. Just wow, wow, wow! Talk about lifting one’s spirit. Our trip is doing that for me big time!

Even after all that flying around, we still have two more countries to visit — Austria and Germany. I’ve been to these countries before and just love the culture and the variety of people, buildings, and landscape we encounter along the way. I’ve now been to 94 countries and loved all of them.

You may wonder why I travel so much and why I’ve been to so many countries. Well, for one, I really love it. The reason for that, and another reason that I keep doing it, is because our minds really crave new and different things. There are a lot of ways to introduce novelty in your life, but going to new places and meeting new people is one of the best.

All this travel makes me want to do more and more things with my life and it is so mind expanding. Sometimes I take my kids and grandkids. They love all the new experiences and I get even more out of it because I get to share it with them.

Now, we have been to Europe many times, so maybe it doesn’t sound like such a new experience. However, this time was quite different for us, and I think I like it even better. Why? Because this time we took a cruise ship called the Viking. They do so much for their passengers. They arrange all the land tours at the various stops, and they serve a great food and drinks. They are also always there to answer any questions that passengers may have.

Having the cruise staff take care of all the details really took the pressure off our minds and reduced the stress on our bodies. If you haven’t taken a cruise, you might want to look into the cruise lines available and all the places they travel. Yes, we will sure do this cruise thing again and again.

Whether you choose to take a cruise ship, a plane ride, or a road trip, I highly recommend that you do more traveling, especially now that we can travel so much more than we had been in the past couple of years. It’ll be good for your mind and your spirit.

Train Your Brain

September 4, 2022 by  
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I’ve been talking about the power of the brain a lot recently because it’s been a super helpful thing for me to review and to share with others. Your brain is a very powerful organ, operating beyond your conscious thoughts. You can use its vast abilities to feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally, as well as live better in so many ways, but it takes some work and some practice.

In the book, Super Brain, authors Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi write that you need to train your brain to do what you want it to do. “The minute you say, ‘My memory isn’t what it used to be’ or ‘I can’t remember a thing today,’ you are programing your brain to live up to your diminished expectations.”

The authors go on to explain how this works and hint at what you can do about it. “The first rule of super brain is that your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts. As it listens, it learns. If you teach it about limitation, your brain will become limited. But what if you do the opposite? What if you teach your brain to be unlimited?”

In other words, we all need to be very aware of our thoughts. We need to monitor them and then move them to the where we want them to go so our brains operate on healthy and positive ideas.

When I read this years ago, I tried saying to myself “I’m starting to feel younger and healthier by the day—frickin’ A!” and, wouldn’t you know, I actually began to believe it and feel it! My brain was listening in on these thoughts and operating based on them.

Our wise authors also make note that, “You are not your brain.” When you are acting as the leader of your brain, you can actively reprogram your own neurochemistry and even genetic activity, no longer having to be a slave to mood swings, pain, and negative thoughts.

So, the takeaway here is, be aware of your thoughts and direct them the way you want. Set aside the negative thoughts and defeatist self-talk. Think positively and encourage yourself and your brain will listen.

By the way, when I wrote about what Chopra and Tanzi said in this book about the placebo effect two weeks ago, a reader, Cora , wrote that “the same topic is very well described in a book by Randy Baker —net-boss.org/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect-by-randy-baker”. I haven’t read it yet, but it just goes to show how powerful and well-accepted these great concepts on the power of the brain really are.  

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