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Secrets to Authentic Happiness

November 30, 2018 by  
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I think I came across the best reason for keeping a journal of your life or, as my good friend Rich Harvey used to call it, a reason for people to “Journal Their Journey”.

Just the other day I picked up one of my journals dated 10-26-2003 to 6-12-2004. My comments about what was going on in my life at that time quoted a great book that I had totally forgotten about entitled Authentic Happiness, by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.

In his book, Dr. Seligman talks about what real authentic happiness is and how we can capture it and keep it. Finding and enjoying real happiness is not done through seeking and finding pleasure and the same goes for seeking happiness through just staying busy – it just doesn’t work. Great and authentic happiness is experienced from gratification. So how do we become gratified?

Much of gratification comes from “production”.  When we produce something of great value to others and/or ourselves, we end up with a great feeling of satisfaction. Here are Dr. Seligman’s 8 common ingredients and psychological components of gratification:

  1. The task is challenging and requires skill.
  2. We have to concentrate.
  3. There are clear goals.
  4. We get immediate feedback.
  5. We have deep effortless involvement.
  6. There is a sense of control.
  7. Sense of self vanishes.
  8. Time seem to stop.

Dr. Seligman goes on to talk about depression in today’s world and how widespread it is. It has increased by a huge amount in the last 40 years and the average age of depressed people is much younger today. That certainly gives more credence to the importance of setting big, tough goals. If your mind is firmly set on your goals, it’s more likely that your mind will not be spending time reflecting how you feel in the moment. Plus, there is the big extra benefit that setting big goals does energize us both physically and mentally because of the chemicals released by our brains, as I talked about in last week’s blog.

But why is depression so high in wealthy and healthy countries? The author’ s theory is “that an ethos that builds unwarranted self-esteem, espouses victimology, and encourages rampant individualism has contributed to that epidemic.” Another reason is our huge reliance on shortcuts to happiness. Every nation builds more and more shortcuts to pleasure … TV, drugs, shopping, spectator sports and high sugar food and drink. Gaining these and many other things take very little effort on our part these days.

A major symptom of depression is self-absorption. The depressed person thinks about how he feels a great deal of the time – excessively so. When a depressed person detects sadness, he ruminates about it, projecting it into the future, this in turn increases his sadness in his life and across all his activities. In contrast, gratification is the absence of feeling sorry for yourself.

What we all need to do more of is realize that there are no shortcuts to the kind of fulfilling gratification we all crave, and realize we need to focus more and more on our goals, big tasks, and our production as well as giving up the constant self-worry and self-absorption. You may have noticed that really happy people, for the most part, spend the least amount of time home alone – they tend to have a rich and fulfilling social life, which really is the opposite of being self-absorbed.

Next week I’m going to talk more about this great thing called “Authentic Happiness” that Martin’s book gives us such super insight into as well as talking about how understanding where it comes from can bump up our happiness factor and enhance our lives.

 

It Starts with a Dream

November 16, 2018 by  
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Almost every super successful person I’ve ever heard of or have met began as a dreamer. Without dreams, very little will happen in any of our lives. But with a dream, great and wonderful things can, and most likely will, happen but only if you add two more things – specifics to make it a goal and action to turn the goal into reality. But the dream has to come first! So, let’s talk about that.

I once heard that 75 percent of our life is lived in our minds. That may not be entirely accurate, but I think you would agree that a fair amount of our lives is lived inside our heads and since our minds do indeed have great power, there must be great potential there.

Think of yourself in Chicago or New York in the middle of a cold winter.  You’re watching TV or reading a magazine and you see an advertisement for a trip to Hawaii. You’re attracted to the idea, and suddenly you start to dream about going to Hawaii for the entire month of February. What happens? You start to live the trip in your mind. You may even start to work it out in detail, planning exactly when you will leave, where you’ll stay, what you’ll do while you are there, and so on.

You think about it so much that you eventually decide that you are absolutely going to go and, if you don’t have the money to make it happen, you begin to plan how you are going to save enough to make the trip. And, of course, all of this is part of you living the trip in your mind long before you go.

When you finally make the trip, you have the great time that you had pre-lived in your mind and on the way home, you relive what’s just happened to you. That reliving of your trip in your mind can go on for weeks, months and even years, renewing your enjoyment of it each time.

Pictures can be a huge influence in helping our brains relive the good stuff in our lives.  Years ago, I bought a bunch of digital frames (they cost all $10-$20) and placed them all around the house. This way I can just insert a memory card from my camera (I use a new card for each trip or special event) and the digital frame will rotate through all the photos, allowing me to easily relive those great moments in my life. You should try it too. It’s a small thing but it can really enhance your life.

Just don’t forget, dreaming is not enough. You must also follow through with goals and action if you want to make it more than just a dream. Next week we’ll talk more just how to do that!

 

Challenge Yourself, Challenge Your Mind

November 9, 2018 by  
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Erik Weihenmayer on Everest

Imagine a blind man who made it all the way to the summit of Mt. Everest. Let me introduce you to Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Everest. How do you think his satisfaction levels are? Wow, I’ll bet his intense satisfaction lasted a long time, maybe even a lifetime. But Erik did not only just climb Everest, as amazing as that accomplishment is just by itself, but he is one of just a handful of human beings, and the only blind man, to scale the world’s seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Talk about taking on a tough challenge! His so-called disability has completely taken a back seat to his passion to live his life well!

Erik’s award winning film, Farther Than the Eye Can See, was ranked in the top 20 adventure films of all time by Men’s Journal, and brought home first prize at 19 film festivals. It was also nominated for two Emmy’s. The film beautifully captures the emotion, humor, and drama of Erik’s historic ascent on Everest, as well as his three other remarkable “firsts” – he was one half of the first American father/son team to summit Everest, the oldest man to summit, and the most people from one team (19) to reach the top of Everest in a single day!

For Erik and his team, having met the challenge of Everest head on and having pushed past their fear, obstacles, adversity, age, and even disability, to succeed, they know that for the rest of their lives they can tackle the “hard” stuff of life really do it well because they have already proven to themselves that they can.

Did Erik Weihenmayer put his feet up after the triumphs and bask in the glow of his accomplishment? Perhaps he did for a while, but this former middle school teacher and coach never stops challenging himself.

“There are summits everywhere,” Erik often tells his audiences when he lectures. “Just because you lose your sight, doesn’t mean you have to lose your vision.”

Three years after he did it the first time, Eric went back to the Himalayas and tackled Everest again, but this time with an even greater vision. On that second trip, he took six Tibetan teenagers with him – a dangerous and challenging accomplishment made all the more remarkable by the fact that these six teenagers were blind as well. Wow!

You can challenge yourself in meaningful and lasting ways as well. The key is to continually challenge your thinking. If you work on changing that gray matter enough, I believe you can avoid the slowdown and letdown trap that snares so many people today, especially as they get older. Challenge yourself big time and you’ll be more than ready to go for your big dreams and accomplish them.

Let’s take a trip inside our minds right now.

First of all, do you believe you can change the way you think about life? Or are there new ways to think about your capacities and your potentials and what you can and can’t do?

So, I am now sending you a big challenge to really push yourself big time and, yes, I am going to challenge myself big time too!

Invest in a Basic Need

October 26, 2018 by  
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Just yesterday, I was on a conference call discussing options for doing a 1031 exchange as a big property that I’m a part owner of was recently sold for many, many millions of dollars. We did make a huge profit on this property and it had a great cash flow during the time we owned it, just like most of the income properties I’ve invested in, but it was time to sell. So, we were looking at our options to buy into other properties which would allow us to avoid paying a huge capital gains tax. We discussed several properties that looked quite promising when one of the partners—a guy much smarter than me—talked about the possible softening of the real estate market due to rising interest rates. Whereas he and others agreed that we are probably due for a pull-back of property values, the new acquisitions looked so promising that a pull-back in prices in the area would not likely have much effect on our possible purchase but it was still a risk.

I was faced with a similar dilemma many years ago and just recently happened to come across something I wrote back then when everyone was worried about a down turn in the economy and a pull-back of real estate prices. My headline was “A Basic Need”. In this piece I wrote, “Why is real estate such a good investment? Why do experts predict that the real estate market may slow down but will probably never fail?”

My answer to those questions is the reason why real estate is such a super great investment – real estate is an answer to a basic need. People always need a place to live, a place to work, a place to shop, a place to stay when on a vacation, and even a place to farm. Improved real estate is especially in demand and it is in demand most of the time. These include apartment units, single family houses, duplexes, etc. And, of course, one of the huge benefits of this kind of real estate is that even if the market softens and price come down, you still have someone else increasing your net worth since their rent payments are paying down your mortgage. Is that a great deal or what?

Even when the market softens a bit, eventually, these properties regain their value as the supply of units shrink and rents begin to climb again. I’ve seen this happen many, many times but investing in small rental houses, duplexes and apartment buildings, through all kinds of market conditions, was how I made my first million. I would keep buying as the market softened and prices and rents began to drop, but I was pretty darn sure the drop would eventually be over and, sure enough, the slump would end and put more millions in my pocket.

Bottom line here is yes, the economy will probably pull back a bit in the next year or so, but this can open up many opportunities for you and can bring you big profits in the long run. So, keep an eye out for good income properties and make offers to buy, whether the economy softens or it keeps on growing.

 

The Power of Repeated Thoughts

September 28, 2018 by  
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People commonly remark to themselves, or to other people, things like “I’m a real good people person,” or “You know, I’m not good with people. I guess I’m kind of anti-social.” Others say, “Hey, I’m really good at fixing things,” or “I sure am a poor public speaker, but I’m a very good writer.” How about you? What do you tell yourself and others that you are good at and things that you are not so good at?

This self-talk is a very powerful thing and it tends to make you much better at some things, but it also can reinforce negative ideas about your life and habits which can hurt you.

I’ve said for many years that I’m very good with numbers and that I am a good wordsmith but, when it comes to repairing or fixing things, ugh… I’m terrible. And for many years now I’ve said to myself and to others, “I’m really, really not physically flexible.” In fact, I can’t even touch the floor without bending my knees big time. But, a few weeks ago, I started thinking about the huge connection between the brain and the body and how my comments about my lack of flexibility was totally reinforcing that weakness. You see, by telling myself over and over again that I was not at all flexible, my body believed it, which wasn’t hard because I wasn’t doing anything to change it either. So, my body was just following the brain’s instructions.

It does surprise me that I didn’t have this wakeup call years ago. I just accepted having a stiff body as an unchangeable fact and by always saying that I was not flexible, I reinforced what my brain was telling my body.

So, having had my little epiphany, I decided to do something about it. I started a simple daily stretching routine and within just a few days I was delighted to see a slow but consistent improvement in my flexibility. Before my stretching program, if I had dropped something on the floor, I would ask my wonderful wife, Kimberly, it she’d pick it up and she always would. But now she doesn’t have to. Even though I’ve got a long way to go to be super flexible, I can see that it is going to happen, just a little bit at a time.

I’m not saying that we don’t each have some very natural talents and abilities but there is also a very strong connection between the brain and the body that can also affect our abilities. We need to remember that we can direct our thoughts to make changes and improvements in our body and in our life, changes that we may have thought were not possible. The bottom line is that our thoughts can reinforce good stuff in our lives as well as some bad stuff so we should pay attention to which kind of thoughts we keep repeating to ourselves and others.

Think about this and maybe experiment with ways to direct you and your body to change or improve. You might surprise yourself.

 

Choosing Novelty over Fear

September 21, 2018 by  
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Flying back with my wonderful wife, Kimberly, from Paris yesterday —a 10 hour non-stop to Salt Lake City—a 10 hour non-stop to Salt Lake City – I couldn’t help but reminisce over our super great trip to Sicily and France. In my mind, I relived all the things we did – the wonderful cathedrals, castles and intriguing side streets with the totally unique cafe’s and tasty 3 cheese fondue dips.

I got to thinking just how much travel to foreign counties and different places in the world expands and stimulates a person’s mind, making them more creative and appreciative as well as, sometimes, giving the entrepreneurial mind great ideas for new products and services that they can introduce back in their own country. These ideas can, sometimes, make that entrepreneur a fortune from just duplicating, or even, improving and/or changing that product or service. There are so many discoveries popping up all over the world and those can make a fortune for anyone who is paying attention and willing to work to make that product or service fit in their own country.

But business aside, I find that travel to a foreign country lifts my soul. If I was feeling a bit down or depressed before the trip, that plane ride and the visuals as we fly over a city like Paris, London, or Rome, eventually strolling through those foreign streets as well, is like taking a super drug to make me feel great. I’ve never forgotten how much the brain craves novelty and how that novelty pumps feel good chemicals into the brain. New places, new faces, and different unique cultures do exactly that for us humans.

This morning, as I was writing this, I was struck by the question of how many Americans have never traveled outside the USA and also why so many people have a great fear of flying. First of all, in regards to the fear of flying, many studies have shown that the chances of dying on a commercial jet are just .07 out of one billion miles flown!  Knowing that statistic makes my flights at 35,000 feet at 565 miles an hour across the ocean very relaxing.

Sadly, even here in the USA, which is one of richest countries in the world, as much as 63% of the population has never traveled outside the country. I would bet that most of that comes more from the fear of flying rather than the cost. And by the way, if you shop around, you can find round trip flights to Paris from the US for a mere $500 or so, depending on when you travel.  And again, if you or your friends or family members have a fear of flying, be sure to give them some statistics. So here is another one –there is only one chance in 11 million that you will die in a commercial plane.

By the way, I was thrilled to read recently that they are reintroducing the Concorde Jet and that it will be flying again in 2023. I always loved that 3 and half hour plane ride to and from Europe. Wow, what amazing speed–about 1350 miles an hour! I would urge you to sit down right now and make a list of the countries you want to visit, being sure to put some projected dates down for your trips, then go do it. Coax your friends and relatives to do the same thing—you won’t be sorry!

A List to Start the Day

September 14, 2018 by  
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A few weeks ago, I talked about how important that first hour of your day can be as the book, The Miracle Morning, talks about. I would add one critical thing that you can do to make that first 60 minutes of your day so much more productive and beneficial to your life – write down, the night before, the items and tasks that you want to address the next morning. Write what you want to concentrate on for those first 60 minutes. You can break it down to six 10 minute items or four 15 minutes tasks, but no matter how you do it, making a list can, and will, greatly increase the odds of you following through on what you want to accomplish.

There is something magic that happens in your brain when you reduce your desires to a list. When you write those items down, it’s like your brain pushes you to act on them and won’t let you go until you do it.

In my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I have a chapter entitled “Clone Yourself with the Amazing ‘L’ Factor”.  Show me any super-successful person who has accomplished big things and I’ll show you an accomplished list maker. Yes, you can clone yourself by the wise use of list making, plus some good old-fashion delegation.

Of the many specific techniques that have huge value in helping catapult a person to the top of whatever they’re going after, I have to say that list making is at, or near, the top of that list. For some reason most people tend to put a much higher value on just about anything that is on a written list. It’s just flat-out amazing how much more enhanced your life will become and how many more dreams and goals you will be able to achieve by using lists. In addition, daily task lists or to-do lists are the key to keeping track of accomplishing all the bite-size components into which you’ve broken down your big picture goals.

So, if you have gotten away from that ole list making habit, it’s probably a good time to start making lists in order to drive yourself to get lots of stuff done. And I don’t mean just for that first hour of the day, but make lists for your big, huge goals and read over your list often, checking off those items that you’ve accomplished. Then you can give yourself a nice pat on the back for getting the job done!

A Billionaire and a Popstar

August 31, 2018 by  
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I’m sure you’ve taken note of certain people whose lives seem packed full of many marvelous activities, adventures, and experiences. Have you ever wondered how they do it all? Well, a big part of their success is that they are good at making, keeping, and working off of lists.

A good example is British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who credits his lists of things he wants to accomplish as the key to his getting so much done. He takes the time to go down that list often, adding to it and checking off each item as it is completed.

Here’s a guy who, at the tender age of 25, had the nerve to make a $100,000 offer to buy the Caribbean island of Necker that was listed for sale at $6 million dollars. No, the seller didn’t accept that low ball offer but, later, Branson did buy the entire island for a mere $180,000 which ended up being one of his favorite paradise getaways. And get this … his super luxury cabin rents out for $65,000 a night! Wow. That’s my kind of real estate investment – a place you can rent out, when not using it for yourself, that provides a super great cash flow.

Today, his Virgin group of businesses owns more than 200 different companies. Among these companies are businesses that specialize in air travel, finance, retail sales, music, cell phones, internet, hotels, and even a railroad. In 1999, Branson attempted, and broke, world records in hot air balloon travel and in a transatlantic small boat crossing.

Pop star, Madonna, also has a reputation as a big list maker. Although her accomplishments are in different areas than Branson’s, she attributes her list-making to keeping track of her priorities and getting so much done.

Lists are one of the secrets used by the rich and famous every day of their lives. They help them to run their businesses and to expand their ventures. List making is a common trait of millions of successful people regardless of race, sex, nationality, or occupation. Lists are used to lift their lives and propel them toward fulfillment. And lists can do the same for you and me!

Once again, as I write about this, it truly motivates me to make more lists and be more consistent in doing just that. But here’s a good question to end on: How important is it to “Prioritize” your lists?  We’ll talk about that next week.

In the meantime, how about you or your son or granddaughter become the next Branson? Hey, it could happen, and then maybe you will invite me to a hot air balloon ride across the Atlantic!

More Production Yields a Better Life

August 4, 2018 by  
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In this post, I wanted to expand on Hyrum Smith’s great book, Purposeful Retirement (and yes you should go buy a copy!) He points out that studies show that the earlier you retire, the sooner you die. Having projects that are meaningful when you retire can not only raise your self-esteem and well-being but will also help you to live longer and stronger. So, if you are retired and, like me, have found that you don’t have enough to do and it’s driving you bonkers, or if retirement is in the not-too-distant future, it’s very wise and life enhancing to make a plan for your retirement years.

The key to this plan is to map out and write down the specifics of what you are going to do to truly make a difference in the world. From another great book, The Miracle Morning, the author Hal Elrod says, “you’re not supposed to ‘figure out’ what your purpose is.” Instead, he says, “you get to make it up.” So, it really is up to each of us to decide what we are going to do with the rest of our lives.

After reading this and giving it a lot of thought, I woke up the other morning with a very strong feeling of, “I know what I want my purpose to be.” My words to myself were, “I want to live, live, live, to give, give, give!” and I decided right then that from now on I would try to ask someone every day, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

Perhaps, in doing this, I’m being a little selfish because I read in Smith’s book that, “through MRI technology we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain–and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier, but also healthier, wealthier, and more productive and meaningful.” Plus, it helps you live longer. And, hey, I want all of those things!

So, my new resolution is to “produce” a lifestyle of giving that makes the world a better place! And I just figured out a way to make that easier and faster. I would like to volunteer to give free speeches, seminars, and mentoring to anyone who wants it–whether it’s on financial strategies and methods or other self-improvement habits. So, if I can be of service to you individually or to your group, club or organization, please let me know. I do think that “Great Giving produces Great Living.” Hmm. I like that saying even though I am just quoting myself. But who knows, maybe it will go viral and I’ll be famous … ho ho ho!

To contact me, you can leave a comment on this post (look for the “leave a comment” link at the top of the blog. If you don’t see the link click the header of the blog post to get to the blog post specific page and it should be there.) Or, if you get this by email, just respond to the email. I’m looking forward to hearing, and helping, you.

 

Personal Value Versus Work Value

July 27, 2018 by  
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You probably have heard other people say, and you may have even have said it yourself, “I’m so looking forward to my retirement.” Most people think that their life is going to be so great and so much better when they retire. When you are retired you don’t have to get up when the alarm goes off and hurry off to work to arrive at a very specific time. You probably think that life after retirement is going to be a breeze, giving a person all that free time to do whatever they choose to do.

Those were certainly my thoughts and feelings, that is, until I suddenly hit retirement and found myself sitting at home with not enough to do and absolutely no timelines or deadlines to push and motivate me to get much of anything done. Ok, I did set up goals like that 20,000 steps per day goal of mine that pushes me to get up off my butt and get moving, but once I’ve hit that goal for the day, I would find myself bored out of my mind. Yes, there’s that bit of fun traveling to exotic places that I love to do, but between trips it quickly becomes a real downer.

Even if you are not even close to retirement, I think it’s a real good idea to start planning specifically on what you are going do when you reach that status. I hadn’t given that subject enough thought and planning before I retired and, wow, was it ever a huge letdown when I found myself there.

But thankfully, I had a huge breakthrough that is changing and improving everything and every day! Thank God for great authors who write wonderful books that can make a major difference in many different parts of a person’s life. That’s what Hyrum Smith and his book Purposeful Retirement did for me.

Hyrum talks about how so many beliefs can be so wrong and hurt you. Like the belief that personal value only comes through hard work, or important people have important titles, or if you are busy then you are important. Those beliefs can be so very harmful, especially to you when you move into retirement. Your work value has nothing to do with your value as a person.

Quoting Hyrum Smith, “My value as a human being is independent of my job. If I based my value on my job and my job goes away, my value as a human goes away with it. This leads to big trouble. This leads to unhappiness, isolation, depression, and eventually death. The minute you find value from just being you, you will find inner peace. But first you must not only understand but you must know your value has nothing to do with your job title.” These are some very wise words that we all need to pound into our head.

Next week I want to dig deeper into Hyrum’s book and pass on some more great advice about how important it is to stay productive and have meaningful projects. I’ll also talk about how important it is to start giving back and helping others after retirement and how that keeps you excited about yourself and your life.

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