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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.

 

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!

Life Changing Mornings

August 24, 2018 by  
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I just finished reading a great little book that my wife gave me titled, The Miracle Morning: The Not-so-Obvious Secret to Transform Your Life Before 8 A.M. In this very uplifting and motivating book, the author, Hal Elrod tells of how his life was dramatically lifted by setting an early morning schedule and routine. This was very difficult for him at first since he was defiantly not an early morning person, but as he says, “committing to my personal development in the morning … would give me a positive motivation to kick start my day.”

On that first morning he pulled out a list of what he considered life changing development activities that he had learned over the years but had not put into practice. “One by one, I implemented each one,” he writes. He had decided to use one hour each morning and spend 10 minutes for each item on his list.

Here are the 6 items that Hal thought were the most impactful for his life:

  • Silence – as in meditation where he would concentrate on his breathing for 10 minutes.
  • Reading – he grabbed the book Think and Grow Rich. (He had started reading it many times but never finished the book.)
  • Affirmations – he wrote down his list of self-affirmations including the things he wanted to become and what he was going to do to change his life.
  • Visualization – he created this after watching the movie The Secret (I have to watch that movie myself.)
  • Journaling – he had a journal but had not written in it for a long time, yet he found after writing a few things he was grateful for the way exercises her that motion creates emotion so drop down and did push-ups and insist for those 2 minutes of stopping by getting up one hour earlier as you normally do than you normally do and going through a routine it lifted his spirits.
  • Exercise – he had heard that “motion creates emotion” so he dropped down and did push-ups then sit-ups for those 10 minutes without stopping.

By getting up one hour earlier than you normally do and going through a routine, spending just 10 minutes on each item you set for yourself, you can change and enhance your life the way Hal Elrod has done. And Hal had some pretty huge setbacks when he was a young man. At age 20 he was hit head on by a drunk driver and was dead for 6 minutes. He suffered brain damage, 11 broken bones and was told that he would never walk again. He didn’t believe what he was being told and went on to defy the doctors, eventually running ultra-marathons, becoming a Hall of Fame Business achiever, and even recording as a hip-hop artist.

If someone like that created and is using the “Miracle Morning” technique, you know that the method is certain to create success. It did work for him and I think it can work for anyone who is willing to set up the schedule and go after what is important to them.

Ok, here’s a good way to start that will give you a little more direction and additional motivation to get out there and improve your life – go by Hal’s book! You won’t be sorry. https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Morning-Not-So-Obvious-Guaranteed-Transform/dp/0979019710

The Grateful List

July 20, 2018 by  
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A few days ago, I walked down my very long driveway to get my newspaper. The walk down the drive and back is about 1500 steps which is a very good start towards my goal of 20,000 steps a day, a goal that motivates and drives me to always keep moving for better health and longevity.

But this day, as I walked, I was thinking about what I said in my last blog, about how most of us humans take so much of the good stuff in our lives for granted. That simple thought led me to begin making a list in my mind of things I am so grateful for but then I began to notice how many things on my mental list were things that I was totally taking for granted! So, I decided I should write them down and take a look at that list at least once a week and push myself to take time to appreciate the wonderful things in my life.

When I got back to the house, I began my list. Doing this simple little exercise has been a great motivator and has begun to make me more at ease with life.  I would encourage you to make your own list of 10, 15 or more things you want to better appreciate in your life and review them regularly. Constantly renew your vows to appreciate those great things in your life and not take them for granted.

Please, go ahead and do it and you’ll see how much it can enhance your life. And yes, why don’t you and I encourage our family and friends to do the same thing and spread the word. This is just another way of paying good stuff forward.

Here is the list of things that I do so much appreciate, and many times take for granted:

  1. My darling, kind, energetic and loving wife.
  2. My super wonderful kids and grandkids— there’s not a bad one in the bunch.
  3. My good and consistent health and the many people that dedicate their lives to be great doctors, surgeons and inventors of great medicines that help cure so many things.
  4. My fairly good game of tennis at age 74.
  5. My warm and supportive friends (especially the ones that let me beat them in tennis, ho ho!)
  6. Living in a great, free country that provides so many opportunities for growth and prosperity.
  7. My many great mentors that have enhanced my life–both in person and through some great books.
  8. The many very smart and hardworking inventors that have given us everything fromautomobiles to jet airplanes to heaters, air conditioners, and so many electronic products.
  9. My FitBit, a great invention that can give people great health and longer lives, that counts my steps and has motivated me to keep moving.
  10. An absolutely gorgeous sunset or star-studded sky.
  11. My great opportunities to travel the world and how easy it is with today’s jet’s, great hotels, guides, and services. Plus, the convenience of cell phones and computers to check up on the kids.
  12. The great, super safe pilots and operators of machines of all types.
  13. All that great music out there that motivates and inspires so many of us.
  14. My many wonderful financial opportunities and all the ambitious, energetic help and assistance I’ve had from employees and partners.

I’ve probably left off other things I don’t appreciate enough…but I think this is a good start for me to work on.  And I did go out of my way to begin by telling my wonderful wife how much I do sincerely appreciate her. I do hope my little list idea will push you a bit to start your own list and feel the same increased satisfaction for life and living as it has for me.

 

Future Thinking

July 6, 2018 by  
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Continuing from my last blog on “visualization of the future”, someone pointed out that a man becomes what he thinks about all day, or as it says in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he.” If you, for example are aiming at someday owning a hundred apartment or rental units, or a few small shopping centers, or want to achieve a certain net worth within a given time frame, you make that vision definite and well-focused, running it through your mind every day. You then work backwards from that ultimate big vision to the present time, locking in what must be done to end up in that future position and, if you do, then you will almost certainly succeed.

A great example of clear, concise visualization was portrayed in the old classic 1977 movie, Rocky, which was a story inspired by the boxer, Chuck Wepner. As you probably remember, Rocky was a boxer who, after much preparation, finished a fifteen-round fight with a world heavyweight champion. Once he had that goal locked in his mind, nothing could stop him, and nothing did. I’m sure if he’d set the goal of winning that fight he probably would have ended up doing so.

It is totally possible for anyone to meet their objective if that same mindset of determination and dedication that Rocky used was to be applied. He looked into his own future, saw what was possible then made it reality with a huge, unbendable mindset and, of course, a huge amount of hard, hard work!

Visualizing our own future can, and does, serve us well if we set our minds on things that are good for us. Looking into the future can even keep us alive. I’ll never forget the near tragic story of the plane crash in the Andes and that hero of a guy by the name Nando Parado. He not only saved himself, he also saved many others by keeping his mind focused on the future.

The book Survive details how, after the crash in the snow-covered Andes, with practically no provisions, these surviving athletes were able to stay alive for 2 months. This was accomplished largely through the efforts of Nando who had the ability to visualize the future, and even finally walked and crawled for many, many miles over the frozen ground and steep hills and mountains to finally reach civilization and save his team mates. He was able to do this almost impossible task because he didn’t stop visualizing the future, even when the future was only a few yards away such as his next rock, snowbank or hunk of ice that he had made his next goal on the way to save himself and the others.

Future thinking and visualization really can save your life as well as totally enhance every part of the life that you choose.

See into Your Own Financial Future

June 29, 2018 by  
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First of all, is it really possible to see your financial future, or even into the future, in any part of your life? I do strongly think the answer is a big fat YES! “Future looking” certainly has seemed to work for me. When I was young, I visualized myself making tons of money. I wanted to make my first million by age 30 and it all worked out, even bigger and better than I visualized.  Here’s how I went about it.

First, I began visualizing the end–my final goal and objective. With a very clear precise vision there is hardly a person, organization, or circumstance that can stop you from achieving what you have clearly set in your mind’s vision.

The real trick to making this work is in your ability to clearly visualize that future outcome. This takes deep insight and discernment. Unfortunately, most of us are not encouraged to use our imagination adequately. Consequently, the art of visualizing with imagination is not as developed as it should be or could be. With effort, however, we can start the subconscious motors and keep them running for our own huge financial benefit. Also, that thing that I wrote about in my last two blogs called “brain blinks” will likely kick in more often and lead you to great things.

Many so-called sophisticated people scoff at the value of this little exercise. But if used in the proper context and with intelligent control, the result can be powerful and very rewarding. My experience is that when a person uses their imagination to visualize the final results in sufficient detail, they can actually see into their future and, so, with a step by step plan, those final results can be reached.

So, here is what you need to do. Focusing on your ultimate objective, lock it into your memory, then work backward from that future goal to your present circumstance. In other words, you mentally think through each step necessary to achieve that particular objective.

Additionally, it is imperative to write down each step and all the plans that are necessary for you to accomplish your goal. Put this down on paper, in your phone, or in a computer as a permanent document, and be sure to put down a time line for each step. Then work hard to stay on task and on time. However, if your miss some of your time deadlines, don’t beat yourself up – forgive yourself. Nobody is perfect. Just move on and move forward with your plans.

Spending time to look very hard into your future can pay huge financial dividends but remember, this brain exercise is certainly not limited to money. It can just as easily and effectively be used with sports, public speaking, acting, performing, writing etc. Just about any part of your life can be greatly enhanced by using that wonderful, powerful, and almost magical thing we call the human brain. Let’s all remember that and cement it deep into our heads and go do it.

P.S. You might want to share this with a few younger people inasmuch as they have so much life in front of them and this financial advice could make them many, many millions of dollars since they have so much time!

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