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Retirement – The Best or the Worst

October 11, 2020 by  
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I’m sure you, like most people would agree that the majority of us humans look forward to the day we get to retire. You know … no alarm clock to wake us up, no worrying about pleasing our boss, and so many other things we won’t have to do. You imagine life will be so great, that you will be able to relax, do anything you want to do, have tons of fun, and be able to travel anywhere in the world (that you can afford) on a whim.

Well, you know what? Some of that may be true. But when you find yourself without a schedule or purpose, that can get very depressing. You might even go a little crazy. And nowadays we have COVID-19 on top of that so it can be even worse. In fact, most of us are getting a preview of retirement now that our routines have been so dramatically changed.

You might find yourself asking, “Just what am I going to do today?”

The smart one’s among us begin to make lots of plans long before they hit that retirement wall. When I was preparing to retire, I made a few plans, but I didn’t create enough to-do lists or new routines.

So, what did I do when I was feeling down because of my lack of a schedule? I turned to books written about retirement. In Ernie J. Zelinski’s great book The Joy of Not Working, he makes lots of great suggestions such as, “One of the chief sources of happiness is having a special purpose or a personal mission in life … Finding and pursuing your true calling can make life a totally new experience.”

He then gives some examples of personal missions:

1. Make the world a better place to live by reducing pollution.

2. Raise money to help care for others in need.

3. Help children develop a special talent or skill, such as playing piano.

4. Write entertaining children’s book that help young boys and girls discover the wonders of the world.

5. Give foreign travelers the best possible tour of the Rocky Mountains.

6. Create a committed relationship and keep it exciting and energizing.

The author goes on to say, “Although a true calling should be closely tied to your values and interests, it can also be determined by your strengths and weaknesses. Your personal mission will intimately connect you to who you are and to the world around you. Taking the time to answer the following questions may help reveal a personal mission that you would like to pursue.”

I must say that his questions really helped me:

1. What are all your passions?

2. What are your strengths?

3. Who are your heroes?

4. What do you want to discover or learn?

Answering those great questions can put you on the right track. It has for me. So, if you are not retired yet, start making specific plans. And if you are retired and struggling, answer those questions above to help you discover your great purpose and direction for this new chapter in your life.

 

Creating Your Own Novelty

September 6, 2020 by  
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I’ve written before on this great thing called “novelty” and how it can excite our brains big time. In today’s COVID world we may feel like we are totally locked down, but I’d say it’s time to use our brains and think our way out of and beyond the lock down. Now, how do we do that?

Well, there is one thing that could help you now while giving you a great experience later. How about taking lots of time to research and plan a big novel trip or vacation, so when the pandemic is over, you are ready to take that great trip! I mean, if we are smart and use our brains, we could plan lots of novel things and maybe even carry some of them out right now. Like, hey, how about writing a book? And while you’re at it, draft a plan for selling that book online or to bookstores. In other words, create your own novelty.

Have you ever noticed how children and young people are always trying something new, pushing themselves, eager for adventure while older people seem to be content to do the same things they always have done and in the same old way? That’s really just a generalization as I know many older people, myself included, that still continuously seek out new and challenging experiences. However, there is a sense of complacency that is easy to fall into as we get older or as the obligations of our life wear us down.

As physical energy wanes so does our ambition and, next thing we know, our brains turn off and we are just living on autopilot. It’s at that point that making any change in our lives gets very, very difficult. The thinking is our brains don’t wear out the same way as the rest of our body. Normally, the brain is still willing and able to do its job – learning, solving problems, and amassing knowledge even when we physically feel worn out. But when faced with a lot of stress or just dull repetitious experience the brain deteriorates.

To keep your brain in top shape, give it the novelty it craves. Educating yourself through books, television shows such as those found on PBS and the History channel, and quality information on the internet will certainly help, but remember, your brain is a multi-sensory organ. Keep that great word and concept of novelty in your mind and pursue it always. Feed it. Don’t let COVID trap you.

We all can still get out of the house and experience new sights, smells, sounds, flavors, and textures. New experiences will boost both your physical and mental energies and motivate you to do even more. In fact, if you have lots of time on your hands, go and create a bucket list of that stuff you always wanted to do before you kick the bucket. Yes, just like Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson did in that movie The Bucket List. I sure know that having my own bucket list motivates me especially in these COVID times.

Ok, you and I know what to do. Now so let’s go and do it!

Novelty and Innovation

September 15, 2019 by  
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I am always so impressed, when I travel to new places, by how it stimulates my brain, especially when those new places are a new country.  Right now, we are in Macedonia and, wow, what a great and different country this is! Tomorrow we are off to Kosovo. That will make 94 countries that I have visited. That’s quite a lot but I don’t think I will make it to all 200 plus countries on earth before I check out of this life, but I will sure enjoy seeing as many new places as I can before my body assumes room temperature.

Seeing new places can produce some very big and new ideas for things like inventions, innovations, etc. As I visit and totally enjoy these new places and people, it makes me more fully realize how virtually all people, regardless of their ethnicity, skin color, and education level, are pretty much the same as far as the majority being friendly, nice, and good! And in every country, there are really creative and innovative people as well. That got me to thinking about how many times people create something by just putting two different things together to come up with a new product or invention.

For example, it wasn’t that many years ago when people hand carried their heavy suitcases as they traveled.  I thought of this as my wife and I packed 3 huge suitcases plus two drag bags for our trip to Europe. Someone not so long ago put two simple things together to create a great and super helpful new invention – just a few wheels attached to the bottom of a suitcase. Wow, that was so simple! Why didn’t you or I come up with that simple invention that has been so great and helpful to all of us globetrotting humans.

If we set our minds to coming up with new products from two or more existing products, we could make a fortune. Take a simple product like a peddle bicycle and attach a battery and, wham, bang, you have come up with a brand-new and popular product. Then the next could have been putting that battery on a scooter and you might have come up with another form of powered transportation such as Lyme and the other brands.

I’ll never forget many years ago thinking what a waste it was to have all those cars parked for days at the airport while people were arriving and renting cars. It made me think of how maybe I could set up a program where you could rent out your car when you left for a trip and then you could rent someone’s car at the airport of your destination. I knew there would be a lot of issues as to insurance and possible damage or theft and putting it together would not be very simple. Then along came UBER and LYFT a few years later, which, although a traveler’s car isn’t in use while they are away, other people’s cars are not just sitting in their driveways but are out helping traveler’s get around and usually for quite a bit less than a Taxi.

Those car services are simple but great innovations that help so many and it just took putting together existing things to make something new and super useful. These things aren’t likely to come about unless your brain is stimulated and exposed to new things. If you keep your mind active and curious with novel things and keep searching for ideas, you could come up with the next simple and super useful innovation!

A Good Type of Scary

May 24, 2019 by  
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I just got back from an incredible trip to Cuba.  We took a beautiful Norwegian cruise ship from Miami to Havana. As I have said, and preached many times before, if you want to excite your brain and body, do something very unique. That is one reason I love to travel, especially to new countries. Cuba is the 92nd country that I have been so fortunate to visit! There are presently 196 countries in the world, so I’ve got a ways to go to visit them all, although I’m pretty sure North Korea will not be one of them.

On this trip, I added one more thing that excites the brain and body. Yes, it is a little risky but it’s not too big a thing and it is totally legal. It’s not like climbing up the side of the Eiffel tower like that guy did recently, almost making it to the very top before he was arrested. That’s taking the concept a bit too far!

But what is legal and unique is petting and feeding sting rays in Cuba. It was a little scary and I guess the “scare part” is what excites the human brain. I may have been more reluctant to hold and feed a big sting ray if I had read more of the details surrounding Australian Steve Irwin, that big time crocodile hunter who was killed by an 8 foot sting ray back in 2006. As you may recall, he was being filmed underwater when he was stabbed in the heart by a sting ray. I’m not into big risks and our time standing in waist deep ocean water, feeling about a dozen or so big sting rays circling my wife Kimberly and I, softly brushing against our legs, was quite safe. Our guides demonstrated exactly what to do and closely monitored us and assured us that it was much safer than it looked.

The short video below is me holding the sting ray. Later, the guides showed us how to feed those huge guys. Yes, my heart and brain were racing as that big creature ate food right out of my hand and didn’t bite me …yay! It was a great experience and an exciting thing to do and It certainly stimulated my brain and body, which is a very good thing as it enhances one’s life.

Visiting a very different country like Cuba is a real turn on and, wow, driving thru the city of Havana, seeing hundreds of old cars from the late 1940’s and 1950’s, was a great sight to see. I had always thought and had the impression that Cuba was quite dangerous, but Kimberly and I were very pleased to find the city to be quite safe and the people were so nice and friendly. If you have a chance to go there, I would highly recommend it. Go do it for your brain and body!

 

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!

 

Magnify Your Getaway Experiences

March 2, 2018 by  
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I just got back from a wonderful, extended getaway on the beautiful island of Kauai. As my wife and I were checking into Delta Airlines to come home, we began chatting with 3 young people with their huge surfboards. They were from Australia, New Zealand and the island of Oahu. They were talking about where they were heading now and of all their travels.

They said they had visited 49 of the states in the US as well as many foreign countries and spoke of how their travels had greatly enhanced their lives. Of course, I had to tell them of my travels to 90 different countries and what those travels had done for my life. Then I went on to tell them about the one little thing I do that greatly magnifies and extends those trips and experiences many fold.

As I am sure you know, getaways are absolutely wonderful and we all need them, but they can be expensive and all too short. The good news is that there really is a simple, easy way to keep enjoying those novel and fun getaways with minimal cost. This simple little trick will allow those trips to continue to enhance your life for a long time to come.

My single little trick, that I highly recommend to all, is to be sure you take a digital camera and take a ton of pictures and videos. But don’t stop there. The real key is to buy a few digital frames, the ones that change the picture on a regular basis. We’ve bought more than a few over the years and have them placed around the house and office. Doing just that simple little extra thing automatically helps you relive and remember all those great trips and places you visited with no additional effort after you set them up. And if you are anything like my wife and I, every time you walk by and see those images of yourself, your friends, and your family in a faraway place, at a party or family gathering, or on a simple hike or walkabout, it will bring a smile to your face and a warm feeling in your heart.

Yes, you will have just relived and experienced those great unique moments and places you’ve been to again and again and your life will be enhanced by this. It sure has worked for me and my family.  Try it and see if you experience those same feelings and thoughts that we have. Plus, for my age group, it does help with the memory in the old brain.

 

A Goal for Novel Experiences

December 2, 2017 by  
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We now are fast approaching the end of another year and I think it’s a really good idea to start right now making plans, setting goals, and writing down a list of what your New Year’s resolutions are going to be.  If you have followed my blog in the past, you know I like to push myself and others to get out and try new and various experiences.  Every time I travel to Paris, London, the Far East, or any foreign country, it amazes me how much energy and motivation it gives me. I meet and get to know so many different people as well as becoming immersed in their culture and I get so inspired by those new sights and experiences.

Now, you don’t have to travel to Europe or the Far East to find novel experiences but entrenching yourself in different cultures is an ideal way to jump-start your spirit, your mind, and your passion for life and living.  Even starting right where you live, there are probably some cultural areas, shops, events, and plenty of new people that you have had no exposure to and may even be a little fearful of, because of the lack of familiarity. But forcing yourself to walk into that strange place or spend a day at a new and unusual event expands your horizons as well as your mind. You might even find some new interest that you just fall in love with.

So, I challenge you to set some travel goals for the new year, be it a place that is very near or very far away, just find some places that you may at first be hesitant to venture into. Go in with an open mind and actively look for new experiences, talk to new people, and make an effort to understand and appreciate cultural differences. You never know what you’ll find or whom you will meet.

Then I invite you to come back home and share your new ventures with your friends and family. See if you can’t inspire them to go on their own adventures. In the meantime, if you find this little reminder just the thing to kickstart new adventures for yourself, you can also pass this on to your friends and family by sending them a link to my blog or to the sign up to get these little ideas by email.

P.S. I just saw a special airfare promotion for a round trip flight to Paris from Salt Lake City for just over $500 dollars. So even going overseas doesn’t have to be too expensive. And a bed and breakfast over there can be real cheap! Just decide you want to do it and start looking for great fares from your area.

Inspire Yourself– Write Down Your Own Thoughts

July 29, 2017 by  
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Anyone that has followed my blog over the years knows that I think very highly of the power of words, especially the words that you and I write down. I encourage everyone to “journal their journey” through this life. Your own words can be so powerful in helping you through it.

When I go back and re-read some of my thoughts from 5, 10, or even 40 years ago, I am amazed at the things I wrote. Oh yes, there were many goals that I set for myself—I made progress on some and was a failure on others—but the big stuff that often jumps out at me as I read are the words in which I am preaching to myself, pushing myself to do better and, more importantly, to enjoy my life right now.

Reading those words can be, and have been, very motivating years later. Many times, when I go back and read my inner thoughts and ideas days, weeks, or even years later, I say to myself, “Wow, I wrote that?”, or “Wow, where did that come from?” It’s like it came from some other person’s brain. Start writing in your own journal and see if you don’t experience those thoughts and feelings when you read them later on.

It’s very interesting to me that our own words can give us, and our lives, motivation and inspiration. Here are the words I came across today that I wrote in my journal back on January 29, 1998, entitled simply “Thoughts”. I should have titled it “Random Thoughts” though.

  • We involve ourselves in so many activities—games, sports, work, relationships, eating, drinking etc.—to distract ourselves from ourselves. Is making it in the world the most important thing about our being?
  • Climbing and coming back down from Mt. Everest is a perfect metaphor of life. When you get to the top you are only half way.
  • Love is what we were born with, fear is what we learn. Love is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.
  • Meaning doesn’t lie in things, because things don’t love us back; meaning lies in us.
  • We overvalue what we perceive with our physical senses, and undervalue what we know to be true in our hearts.

And my last of these random thoughts:

  • Time only exists in the moment of right now. Time is an infinite series of “nows” strung together. The way we spend each “now” creates our destiny. When you are focused, time is your partner.

I do sincerely wish and hope that these few random thoughts may enhance your life and those people, friends, family and loved ones around you.

And once again I strongly encourage you to write notes to yourself in a journal, on a note pad, or on a computer. Later on, as you re-read your own words, you will be so very glad you did and you may even be inspired by those words, ideas, and inner thoughts that you put down.

 

Crushing Boredom

February 25, 2017 by  
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As I promised in my last post, I am bringing you my ideas and a list of different and exciting ways to overcome that nasty thing called boredom. Before I get into that list, however, I must share with you some thoughts about boredom and the effect it can have on a marriage.

As I’ve been thinking and writing about boredom I was struck by the thought that boredom may well be a common cause and a big reason why seemingly happy couples get a divorce and why a husband or a wife ends up having an affair when all seemed to be going so smoothly.

My wife and I had a very interesting discussion on this subject just the other morning. Recently we’ve realized that we need to push ourselves to make lists and plan for new and exciting things we should be doing because we have kind of settled into a very routine and ‘same-ole-thing’ pattern. I can’t speak for her but I have been getting quite bored. So, we began to talk about doing new things like going to new restaurants, trying new foods, going to new cities and countries, and trying all kinds of new and different stuff including making new friends.

As we were planning it struck me that it is so very natural for a couple that have been happily married for many years to move into a pattern of living that could easily become very boring. In that state, if a new person with a totally diverse lifestyle and background came along, a bored person could be enticed into thinking this new person was very special, not realizing that the real problem is boredom and that new person is not the answer.

So, okay, maybe a new person would take you out of your boredom for a while but eventually the same boredom will creep right back in. I can see how it can happen to a happy and compatible couple so I think that is an extra reason to spend time putting together a list and planning for new and exciting goals, projects, and fun adventures so as to push boredom away and make sure it stays away.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to work on your list now. With the internet, it’s really a breeze to come up with a list of stuff that will get you away from boredom and keep you excited and involved with life and all the great things that life can bring. To start, just do a web search for “list of ideas to overcome boredom” or anything similar to that search and you’ll come up with list after list of activities and projects that almost certainly will lift anyone out of boredom.

Here is just a small sample of items gathered from several of those lists that grabbed me. And after that list I’ve complied a short list of items that did nothing at all for me but would no doubt work for some of you. To each his own and we are all certainly different.

So here are the items that grabbed my attention:

  • Take new trips to new cities, countries and places
  • Play tennis (Or, in my case, play more tennis.)
  • Go cycling
  • Take long walks to different places
  • Volunteer
  • Write an autobiography
  • Start a blog (Oops, I already did this one!)
  • Become a tour guide
  • Become a mentor
  • Teach a class
  • Research your family genealogy

And the things that didn’t grab me but might be just the thing for you:

  • Knit
  • Create crafts
  • Take cooking class
  • Go hunting
  • Go fishing
  • Restore old furniture
  • Be a pet sitter
  • Plant a garden
  • Go bird watching

Believe me, you will find dozens and dozens more ideas on the internet plus you can always ask for suggestions from family and friends. Ask them what they think would really appeal to you and would excite and enhance your life. They may see what you need better than you do. So, go ahead and get started on your boredom crushing list right now!

 

The Big 5 and Brain Stimulation

October 14, 2016 by  
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Okay, I must start out this week exclaiming … WOW, WOW, DOUBLE WOW! That’s the kind of brain reaction most humans have when they experience something totally new, unexpected, and novel. I’ve had a ton of novel experiences in my 72 years of living and certainly a big part of that has been new places I’ve visited, new things I’ve seen, the people I met, and the activities I’ve been involved with in the 84 different countries I’ve visited.

In the last two weeks, however, I saw and experienced something totally different that I’ve ever seen or done before. And yes it was in a country that I’ve never even come close to before. In fact, four new countries in total. It was an African Safari! I never had it on my bucket list but some friends did it and said it was fantastic so I thought I’d give it a try even though just the thought of it made me very nervous.

We started the adventure by flying into Johannesburg, South Africa and after a few days we headed for Kruger National park. There we met out guide and his spotter man who rode on a platform on the front of the jeep, on the lookout for one of the “Big 5” (the 5 most dangerous animals for humans to hunt or to be around) and yes, he was armed with a big powerful rifle. So off we went looking for the wild ones. Less than an hour later the jeep stopped and the lookout man got off with his rifle in hand. He had spotted lion tracks. Off he went on foot into the wild using a radio to let our guide know exactly where he was and what he was seeing.

A short time later we left the beat up dirt road and dove over trees, bushes and huge rocks that I swear were about to tip us over. About 15 minutes later, there they were–a pride of 14 lions, 7 of which were cubs. My wife and I and a dear friend from Park City, Utah who joined us on the trip, were frozen in our seats as the lions slowly approached our very wide open jeep. The jeep had stopped but let me tell you my heart rate didn’t–it doubled! All I could think of was how easy it would be for the papa lion to leap into the jeep and have me for lunch. But slowly the entire pride walked by us, looking us in the eye and coming within 6 or 8 feet of the jeep! We watch as they walked away and then drove on to look for the next on the list of the big 5.

I want to talk more about what other brain pumping stuff we saw but I do want to emphasize that to introduce yourself to novel experiences and sights that really stimulate your brain you don’t actually have to travel to foreign countries, so please don’t think you have to go far and wide to pump up your brain. However, visiting other cultures and or countries or even other religions does help. There are lots of very simple things you can do that don’t cost a ton of money or take a lot of time that will pump up your brain.

My son David, for example, gets this with 2 AM phone calls for his volunteer search and rescue work which is very challenging. It takes him into the mountains, on cliffs, and into rivers and lakes. It’s very exciting, brain pumping, and life enhancing stuff for him and it’s all in areas not far from where he lives.

Next week I will talk about and suggest some other simple things each of us can do to pump up our brains and, as a result, enhance our lives.

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