Clicky

Search:

Missing the Small Things

January 17, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

So, this past week, I got a little bit of a taste of what it might be like to be in prison. Now, this is only a 10 day sentence and I got to share my “cell” with my wife Kimberly, so it wasn’t all that bad. It did, however, give me a very small taste of what it would feel like to be locked up.

Okay, I know that sounds dramatic. It really wasn’t all that terrible. But what was this all about? Well, there’s some new (for me) rules in place if you travel to Hawaii right now thanks to COVID. When you arrive from outside the islands, you have to spend 10 days in quarantine. Luckily, you can at least spend those 10 days in your house or condo.

The hard part is, for those 10 days you cannot leave your property. The penalty, if you do leave your place and get caught, is a $5,000 dollar fine plus one year in jail. Ouch! That seems severe but, then again, so is COVID-19.

We humans really don’t totally appreciate all that we have and how we live our lives but can’t do until it’s taken away. On the other hand, this time locked up has given my wife and I lots of time to think, read, and even doing a little bit of writing. Plus, we now have tons of time to talk to each other. Still, after 8 days of this, I am going a bit stir crazy.

You would think, with tons of time on my hands, that I could do lots of planning. I do keep thinking about that and yet, to be quite honest, I have not done much planning at all. We humans get so used to our schedules and habits that when they get disrupted, it can make your mind go in all kinds of different directions. It sure has done that for me.

It’s one more thing that you don’t realize you depend on until it’s not there. It’s crazy that now, with all this time on my hands, time I might have really wished for when I was super busy, I just really want my old schedule and routine back.

It is the small things or the everyday things that you start to really miss when you can’t have them anymore. I guess I’ll be ok but I do really look forward to next week. At least, I imagine, I will really appreciate my routine and the many other small things I took for granted every day. A new appreciation for the old and ordinary things may be one of the real silver linings of this time in lock down.

Get Past the Depression

January 10, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

The news this week, and through much of this past year, has been terribly sad and is sometimes almost too hard to process. There is been a lot of news about depression and how much more of it there is right now. It’s understandable. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject with thoughts from past posts. Because although depression may be hard to avoid in times like these, it can be minimized and only fleeting if you are vigilant.

First of all, we need to deal with our disappointment and the restrictions this pandemic has put on our lives. Our advanced technologies have led us to habitually expect that we can access our wishes immediately. Super-fast internet, instant downloads, and multi-functional cell phones give us the ability to have some level of access to whatever or whomever we want whenever we want. But life, in general, doesn’t work that way. As a result, we are experiencing tremendous frustration and impatience with a world that is not changing quickly and fulfilling our needs and wishes immediately. This can ultimately lead to depression or anger.

In my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I touch upon some of the depressive episodes I have been through and some of the ways I have dealt with them. I also think Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, has hit upon the true source and the most effective ideas to combat depression as well as other mood disorders.

The first few ideas on his list are some of the most important, at least in my experience. They deal with becoming a watcher of one’s thoughts and redirecting the mind when we start to buy into the idea of being a depressed person:

  • Learn to recognize how your mind labels thoughts and sits in judgment so you know what ideas lie at the source of your pain.
  • Accept whatever the present moment contains as if you had chosen it.
  • The pain or depression wants you to unconsciously identify with it, allowing it to survive in your mind. If you are not a careful watcher of your thoughts then you may come to believe that you are a depressed person and then this becomes your identity.

Letting your mind create this depression identity will make it very difficult to get past the dark feelings and the pain because you will then believe this is who you are. But if you start with these first few ideas of Tolle’s, recognizing how your mind is working and seeing the present moment as something under your control, you can avoid the mindset that makes you think of yourself as a depressed person.

These ideas are true for any issues of mood. I choose to talk about them in terms of depression because that has been a difficult battle of mine. However, if you are dealing with anger, guilt, low self-esteem, fear, etc. watching your thoughts and taking control can help you with all types of painful moods and attitudes.

So, if you are depressed, don’t just live with it. Find its source, accept that it exists, and then aim to let it go. Give yourself goals and make plans you can look forward to. Eat healthy and whole foods as refined and sugary foods have been shown to feed depression. Get out and move and boost that serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

You may also want to turn off the TV, stop reading those dramatic headlines, and unsubscribe from all those pessimistic reports. Instead, read up on all the great success stories you can find on-line and in responsible and inspiring periodicals. You can, literally, change your mood by changing your view of the world as well as your mindset.

 

A New Goal, a New Habit, a New Year

January 3, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

Since we’ve just started a new year, I must say something about renewing and re-dedicating ourselves to our life goals. And there is one super powerful and time proven aid I would strongly suggest you use to increase your odds of hitting your goals. It’s something I talk about in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, but I have another source to show you how powerful it can be.

Years ago, my son David gave me a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and, wow, what a great book I found it to be. I have re-read it many times. Duhigg relies on scientific studies to dissect what it takes to form a new habit or dump a habit that you don’t like but he also discusses this aid to reaching your goals that I want to share with you.

In the book, he talks about a Scottish study by a psychologist who recruited 60 patients that just had hip or knee replacement surgery. Having personally experienced a double hip replacement, I know just how painful this kind of surgery can be. Most people don’t even want to move afterward, let alone start walking as their rehabilitation requires.

After their surgeries, this psychologist gave each patient a booklet that detailed their rehab schedule and, in the back, there were 13 additional pages, one for each week, with blank spaces and these instructions:

“My goals for this week are _________________________. Write down exactly what you are going to do. For example, if you are going to go for a long walk or hike this week, write down where and when you are going to do it.”

Patients were asked to fill in each of those pages with specific plans. After their rehabilitation period, the psychologist compared the recovery results of those that filled out the pages and those that did not. Duhigg notes that, “It seems absurd to think that giving people a few pieces of blank paper might make a difference in how quickly they recover from surgery.”

But it did! Those patients that wrote down their goals recovered much faster than those who didn’t write down a thing.

The great lesson here, a lesson that I’ve preached to myself and others for years, is that we greatly improve our chance of success many times over if we simply write our goals down! And I mean all our goals: financial, physical, family, social etc. I also suggest that you put down the dates and/or times by which you want to accomplish your goals.

This isn’t only for long-term goals. I’ve found it extremely useful to write down my next day’s goals the night before as well. It’s far more likely that I will get those tasks done if they are written out and ready for me when I awake.

So, if you don’t already have the habit of writing down what you are going to do, this would be a great time to start. As a matter fact, write down this one now – that you are going to always write down your plans and goals! That’s a perfect start towards accomplishing your goals in this new year.

 

Something New, Near or Far

December 27, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

The human mind is an incredible machine. Our brain can remember tons of facts, experiences, feelings, and more. I find it so very interesting and exciting that, after struggling to remember some situation, name, or fact and giving up, later that day or even the next day, like magic, while I’m not even trying, the answer will suddenly pop into my head. I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced the same phenomena.

Yes, our brains are amazing but they do need to be fed. There is this super great thing we can do for our brains when we are feeling down in the dumps. It’s a simple little thing called “novelty”. Our brains crave novelty! Being exposed to something new and totally different than we’ve ever seen or experienced before does amazing things for our brains.

Today I was very bored and a bit down (Thanks COVID for picking on me and, well, pretty much everybody!) That bad ole virus has kicked our social life in the face and it wiped out the wife’s and my travel plans this year. Nearly every year we fly to Paris and from there go on to visit new countries, seeing so many new sights and faces. We are missing the novelty that we get when we travel to new places and meet new and different people.

With my brain being a bit down, I have certainly had the urge to see something novel lately and a few days ago, I knew that I was going to need that very, very soon. So, I did a very simple thing that didn’t take an airplane or a lot of time. We just jumped in my car and started driving.

I drove to places, neighborhoods, and business districts that I had never seen and it worked! Yes, we found novelty in places nearby. Seeing pretty much anything that is new to your eyes and brain can lift your feelings and attitude. It was only a one-hour drive but, wow, it was a great lift for my brain and mood and it was such a simple thing to do.

In today’s COVID world, and especially around Christmas and New Year times, we need to push ourselves to seek out and find those new sights, sounds, people, and experiences that stimulate our brains. Yes, it may take some thinking and planning but that’s not hard to do.

So, I am going to challenge myself, my family, friends, and, yes, you the reader to look for and find things to see, do, and experience, especially now as we start a new year. Let’s all go do it and make 2021 and great new and exciting year!

A Season for Appreciation

December 20, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

 

The holidays are upon us. What a great time of the year this is! It’s a season of celebration that usually brings back many special memories of family and friends. To me, though, it’s mostly about giving. Okay, yes, as a kid it was mostly about receiving but that was a very long time ago!

The act of giving returns so many super wonderful feelings in such a big way to the giver, sometimes to the point that the giver can feel guilty for getting so much out of it. I remember one particular experience a while back that gave me a twinge of guilt after I had done a rather small thing.

I was coming out of a mall when I saw two young ladies, probably in their early to mid-20’s, sitting on a little wall taking a break from one of the shops they obviously worked at. As I walked by, I handed each of them a 2-dollar bill saying, “This is for luck. Don’t spend it. Just keep it for luck.” 

I usually give these to kids between 6 and 8 years old and watch their excited reaction and joy. It is one of my favorite giving things to do. But I guess, in this case, since I was struck by the season of giving we are in, I handed these to the young ladies without thinking. Both girls said “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t accept this.”

I replied, “Give it to a kid and watch the big smile on their face.”

Reluctantly they accepted. Then they began to thank me as if I’d given them $100 dollar bills.

As I started to walk away, they asked, “Hey, where are you from?”

I replied, “Oh, I’m from here but I grew up in the Middle East, in the country of Turkey.” And then, of course, I had to lay a little Turkish on them, what little I remembered.

One of the girls surprised me by answering back in Arabic (the two languages have a lot of common words) and then they explained they were from Israel where they’d learned a little Arabic. So, we had something in common.

As I walked toward my car, I began thinking about how their great appreciation for my very small gift made me feel so good. I realized that appreciation is really a gift too and, often, a big and glorious one.

Feeling a little connected to these young ladies and warmed by their great appreciation and friendliness, I got in my car and drove back to where they sat, giving both of them a copy of my latest book.

Wow, talk about receiving a huge gift back! Their appreciative words and genuine feelings absolutely overwhelmed me. You would have thought I’d given them a million dollars. They called me an angel from heaven and thanked me to the point that their appreciation was almost embarrassing.

What did I really take away from this experience though? I realized that the biggest gifts any of us can give are not objects or anything you can put a price tag on, but gifts of love and appreciation. These things, without a doubt, last longer than any gift wrapped present.

At this special time of year let’s all try to give more and return more with our sincere appreciation!!

Friends: A Vital Part of Our Lives

December 13, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

A few weeks ago, I got a terrible phone call from my best high school friend’s two adult kids. What they told me cut me to the core. They were calling from the hospital where their dad had just died.

Richard Harvey was my dear brother and the first black guy that I really got to know. He was my high school buddy and my basketball teammate. We met in Ankara, Turkey when our fathers were working overseas to help other countries. I knew he had been in the hospital because I had talked to him on the phone a few weeks earlier. He sounded find and we all thought he was recovering. The phone call from his kids was like a giant punch in the face and gut.

Richard Harvey and I, along with other American kids, attended a small high school in Ankara, Turkey. He truly was my soulmate and we bonded very quickly when we both made it on the high school basketball team. We got better every week and worked so hard at it. A big part of that great improvement came from my older brother Bruce’s death on the first day of tryouts for the team. Bruce died right in front of me.

Because of that, Richard and I, along with our great big Texas center Ed Beckcom, made a commitment to win in my brother’s honor. We practiced many, many hours each day. There were many small American High Schools in Europe, the middle East, and even northern Africa, and we were bound and determined to win the championship for that entire area.

The big championship tournament is held each year in a huge stadium in Rome, Italy. Thinking back after Rich’s death I had some vivid memories. We did in fact make it to the finals of the Rome tournament and even to this day I marvel at what happened in that game.

Notre Dame high school was the number one favorite and we were to play them in the finals. It was a very close game and with only 20 seconds left, Notre Dame was 1 point ahead and had the ball. They took one last long shot and it missed. Big Ed Beckcom went high in the air and came down with the rebound. The outlet pass went to me and Richard and I were speeding down the court with two on one. The clock was ticking down very fast.

When we got close to our basket, I faked a shot and threw a bounce pass to Richard and, as I did, Richard slipped and fell. Oh my gosh, I was petrified! But as he hit the floor, he tossed the ball up toward the basket and, miracle of all miracles, the ball went in the basket as the buzzer sounded.

WE WON, WE WON! Wow, were we ever excited and in 7th heaven. We did it for Bruce, and for us too! That day certainly cemented our friendship and we’ve kept in touch all these years. Hmm … that’s about 60 years!

I know that you, the reader, know the huge importance and gift of having good friends and we especially see how important that is since COVID-19 has made it hard to be close to them or make new friends. So, let’s all double down and reach out to friends, old and new, on phone calls, through texts, and on the internet and stay connected with these dear and important parts of our lives.

In photo above: Ed Beckcom (top row, left), Richard Harvey (middle row, right) and me (bottom row, left.) 

A Sterling Mentorship

December 6, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

A couple of days ago I was re-reading one of my old journals and came across a truly inspiring and motivating letter I had tucked in there from 1978 from one of my mentors. He was so helpful to me, both personally and through some of the 22 books that he wrote. This mentor was Sterling W. Sill, a great thinker and motivator.

Here are a few of the things he said in the letter he sent me back in 1978 which I just loved.

“I appreciate very much your thoughtful letter of October 1. I think you have the attitude of a winner.” He went on to write, “I think you are a great person, Mark, and I think you are about a dozen times greater now than before.” I was so amazed that he appreciated one of my letters as he was my idol.

Sterling also quoted something that Shakespeare once said that I thought was very enlightening: “The best men are sometimes molded out of faults.”

He went on to say, “Someone who never made a mistake isn’t likely to be going any place very important. And sometimes, I think, somebody needs somebody to help lift him up outside of himself. He needs some assurances from someone who can take a position of precedence over the arguments of his own self-accusation.”

It was so strange and wonderful that one of my idols had given me so much credit and so many complements. In re-reading his letter, it struck me that any of us can not only learn great lessons from great people but we can also pay it forward and help other people. Believe me, they will thank you for the rest of their lives just like I thank Sterling and so many other mentors. I owe him so much and will remember him for the rest of my life.

 

A Grateful Boost

November 29, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

Thanksgiving is over but it’s a very good idea to hang on to your attitude of gratitude. It will give you lots of benefits!

Gratitude is a great thing but I think most of us don’t fully appreciate it, taking it for granted until something bad happens to us. And that is not a good thing since gratitude can do such very good things for our lives.

Last July, I wrote in this blog about how I had a really bad fall that knocked me out for about 20 minutes. The big-time bleeding from my head and arms was not the worst of it. What was huge and lingers all these months later is the aftereffects of the concussion. I still have the dizziness and my thinking and memory is still suffering. Plus, I have tremors and shaky hands and arms. I will say that I’m getting better on all counts, although slowly.

The one good thing that did change is that my brain has begun focusing on how super grateful I should have been back when my body and brain were functioning normally. And with this COVID-19 mess, we all should look back and realize how grateful we should have been before the virus and keep reminding ourselves, running those grateful thoughts through our heads as often as possible.

Coincidentally, just a few days ago I read Lynn Johnson’s column in our local newspaper. He said, “Happiness makes our immune system function better. In children, joy is natural. For us older folks, an excellent way to recapture that joy is practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude diary. Write three to five things each day you are glad about. Describe how they helped. Write short thank you notes. Be grateful.” That is some great advice.

To me, it’s so amazing how the brain and the thoughts we run through it can help our bodies and lift us up. I am going to push myself harder to be more and more grateful for myself and my situation and for all my great friends and family!

How about you? Let’s all practice every day to become more and more grateful!

Renewing the Power of Positive Thinking

November 22, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

 

Some time ago, I picked up an old book from1987 called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. In it she talks about a physical demonstration that she does at some of her seminars that I found very impressive. It shows just how powerful our thoughts can be.

What she did was get a volunteer out of her audience and have them hold their arms straight out to the side. She would tell the volunteer to resist with all their strength as she attempted to push down on their arms. In the book she notes that she has not once been able to push down a volunteer’s arms on the initial try.

Then she would then tell the volunteer to say, ten times, “I am a weak and unworthy person,” instructing them to really feel the statement as they say it. After they did that, she would try to push down their arms again and, this time, she would be able to push both arms down.

To further drive home her point, she would ask the person to repeat, ten times, the positive statement, “I am a strong and worthy person.” This time she would not be able to budge their arms, maybe even less so than during the initial effort she made when they first stood up.

I took this to heart and, just before heading out to play in a round robin tennis tourney, I repeated to myself, many times over (even though I felt kind of childish doing it), ”I am a very strong tennis player and I am very worthy of winning.” I also repeated, “I am younger and more fit now than I was a year ago.” Wow, did that ever work! I played 4 rounds of tennis winning each round by a very wide margin!

Even though most of what Jeffers had to say was stuff I already knew, I was just not doing it anymore. It was like a rebirth doing it again and, wow, did it feel good. And here I am, many years later, needing the reminder again.

We can all use a little helpful nudge to get us back on track now and again. So, this week, I’ve been thinking about that and about the statements I could say to help increase my performance in everything I’m doing.

The power of positive thinking is pretty amazing. Especially when you remember to use it! What kind of positive statements could you use in your life? Come up with a few, use them, and see if it doesn’t make a world of difference.

The People Habit

November 15, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

I’ve written a few times about the great power of habits and how forming the right ones can lift your mood, health, financial status, physical strength, and stamina. In past blogs, I have quoted many very smart and helpful ideas from Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. That book is a great place to start.

One of the habits that I decided on many years ago was to go out of my way to meet many super successful people as I was sure they could lift my life. I hooked up with quite a few and some became my mentors. Some I got to know by reading about them or reading books they wrote, after which I would attempt to fly to their city and pick their brains. And, wow, was that a great habit that helped me in so many ways!

These super successful people that I met were from all walks of life. I have to admit that much of my success in life—from sports to financial—was from getting to know these people. I kept picking their brains over and over asking them to be my coach or my mentor.

I certainly discovered that many of these super successful people really like to give back by coaching or being a mentor and it’s a great way to give back or pay it forward. Think about how great you feel when you’ve helped someone to become super successful. It’s such a terrific feeling.

I’ll never forget the great compliments I’ve received from the many people who give me credit for their success through reading one of my books. In at least two cases, a couple of billionaires have told me that it was my book, what they learned from it, and the action they then took that made them so rich.

It does take a lot of work, persistence, and determination to meet highly successful people, especially if they are also famous. Some of the ones I tried to hook up with took many, many phone calls, and letters to reach, but I had formed the habit so no matter how many times I got turned down or got no answer to my many attempts, I just kept trying. And, of course, with some I never did get past their secretary or vice president or wife. But because of my solid habit, I met with enough success to make it all well worth my time.

Here is a short list of those super successful people that I’ve met and that have added so much to my life, from financial to motivational, uplifting my mind and spirt: Larry Rosenberg, Bill Nickerson, Ray Kroc, George Romney (Mitt’s father), Lionel Richie, Willian King of the Commodores, Joe Karbo, Curt Carlson, Jon Huntsman and even that guy Joe Biden. (Granted, I just met Joe for a very short interchange!)

Who have you met or chased down that have added so much to your life? Maybe you can make your own list or get working on building it up by reaching out to great and successful people!

 

Next Page »