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A Beautiful Life Now

July 12, 2019 by  
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If someone is really rude and totally offends you but then later offers a very sincere apology, most of us would probably forgive that person and move on with our lives. However, when most of us human beings make a mistake or screw something up, in many cases we will not forgive ourselves and so we carry that guilt around for days or years and that can hurt us in so many ways.

Quoting from Pema Chodron’s Living Beautifully, a great book that I’ve quoted before, “Over time, as thinking minds begin to settle, we’ll start to see our patterns and habits far more clearly. This can be an experience. I can’t overestimate the importance of accepting ourselves exactly as we are right now, not as we wish we were or think we ought to be. By cultivating nonjudgmental openness to ourselves and to whatever arises, to our surprise and delight we will find ourselves genuinely welcoming the never-pin-downable quality of life, experiencing it as a friend, a teacher and a support and no longer as an enemy.”

Pema talks a lot about acceptance of ourselves and the world as it is and how we should appreciate it as it is now. She talks about what she calls the “third commitment”, which is key to this kind of acceptance and appreciation. (You need to read her book to find out what the first and second commitment are and how they can greatly improve a person’s life.) To quote her again, “The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” She goes on to add that, “The attitude of the third commitment is that we live in a world that is intrinsically good, intrinsically awake, and our path is to realize this. Simply put, the practice at this stage is to turn toward your experience, all of it, and never turn away.

Pema talks a lot about being kind to others especially to ourselves. She talks about the process of growing-up and working toward feeling totally relaxed and free. She says, “that process, that transition, is one of becoming comfortable with exactly what we’re feeling as we feel it. The key practice to support us in this is mindfulness–being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few.”

Pema Chodron further explains that we need to pay attention to all the details of our life. “The specific details of our lives will, of course, differ, but for all of us, wakefulness concerns everything from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors, our forks and spoons”.

I think the bottom line is, if we pay more attention to the details of our lives it will give us more ways to free ourselves and that can help us free ourselves from suffering. So, we need to accept ourselves, appreciate our life as it is now, and pay attention. And we need to do all that, right now.

Keys to Happiness

June 21, 2019 by  
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I have one more bit from the Dalai Lama’s books for you.  This post will be a simple and short listing of thoughts and comments from him, thoughts that can be uplifting and supportive of your happiness and that you can easily and quickly review and share with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends.

  1. Empathy and altruism raises you up.
  2. Science backs up claims about the physical and emotional benefits of a compassionate state of mind.
  3. Reaching out and helping others lifts your happiness level.
  4. Freedom from suffering starts with accepting suffering as a natural fact of human existence.
  5. Studies show that reaching out to help others induces feeling of a calmer mind and less depression.
  6. For a better life, confront your problems, fears, and bad habits. Don’t avoid them…then put your brain to work to change them.
  7. Ingredients that cement relationships: Affection, compassion, and mutual respect.
  8. The cause of suffering which one should seek to remove: ignorance, craving, and hatred.
  9. Unhappiness comes to each of us when we think ourselves at the center of the world.
  10. Remember, it takes time to train your mind.
  11. Necessary ingredients to happiness:
    1. Affection
    2. Warmth
    3. Friendship
    4. Compassion
    5. State of mind
    6. Calmness of mind
    7. Peace of mind
  1. Remember this … if you have real peace of mind you can be happy even with poor health.
  2. If you believe the purpose of life is happiness, then work on discarding the things that lead to unhappiness.
  3. If you want to have a deeper connection to others then reach out and help others.
  4. Empathy is critical to build compassion.
  5. Understand people by knowing and appreciating their background.

And I will add one of my own … if you want to raise you happiness level quickly, just walk outside. There is something magical about the great outdoors and what it does to the human mind

Positivity and Compassion

June 14, 2019 by  
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A very critical part of happiness and contentment is training the mind and, yes, that does take time, but is it ever worth the time you take! The authors of the book, The Art of Happiness, which I talked about last week, have this advice: “Everyday, as soon as you get up, you can develop sincere positive motivation, thinking, ‘I will utilize this day in a more positive way. I should not waste this very day.’ And then, at night before bed, check what you’ve done, asking yourself, ‘Did I utilize this day as I planned?’ If it went wrong, then regret what you did and critique the day and decide what you are going to do to correct the negative stuff of the day. So, through methods such as this, you can gradually strengthen the positive aspects of the mind.”

I think this is why the self-talk that the great Paul J. Meyer of Waco, Texas introduced me to is so very helpful. I have about 10 different mantras that I run through my mind almost every day and many times I say them out loud. Here are a few of those

  1. I am strong and worthy.
  2. I am upbeat and positive.
  3. I am happy and healthy.
  4. I live in the present moment.
  5. I love people and I am becoming more and more social.
  6. I try to live big and give big. I make “to do” lists and carry them out.

It’s amazing how I can feel down and out and how running that self-talk through my mind many times can lift my mood and make me feel so much better. The mind has a lot of plasticity in it according to scientists. The book goes on to say something that I know is true and will work for me and you: “Neuroscientist have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, net combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, re-configuring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning, the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily.” Scientist call the brains inherent capacity to change “plasticity”.

The Dalai Lama and Mr. Cutler have so many great and powerful things to say about how to achieve happiness and they are so very effective. So here is one more quote from Mr. Cutler talking about the Dalai Lama: “He can see that if someone treats him with compassion and affection, then it makes him feel happy. So, on the basis of that experience, it would help him to realize that other people also feel good when they are shown warmth and compassion Therefore, recognizing this fact might make him more inclined to give them compassion and warmth. At the same time, he would discover that the more you give warmth, the more warmth you receive”.

And that, my friends, will almost for sure raise both the giver’s and the receiver’s level of happiness!

The Positive Path to Happiness

June 7, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, I was going through my library and came across a great book by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. written back in 1998. I hadn’t read it for a very long time but as I was thumbing through the pages my mind was captured by so many great statements, concepts, and advice that were so motivating so I kept reading.

The book’s title is The Art of Happiness. I’ve always admired this great man, the Dalai Lama, and what he has done for the world and for so many minds. He’s helped lift us to great heights. Years ago, I felt so very fortunate to meet and greet him at his hotel room and escort him to a huge gather of people and I was more than a little overwhelmed and privileged to introduce him to that audience.

I want to share with you, my readers, some of his great ideas and advice on “happiness” for us humans. I’d also like to share some of the wise words and insights that his co-author Howard Cutler added to the book from his own experiences and all the time he spent with the Dalai Lama.

Let me start with some great comments from the great book I mentioned. These are about positive thinking which is so very important to raise and keep your happiness consistently elevated.

The Dalai Lama said, “If happiness is simply a matter of cultivating a more positive mental state like kindness and so on, why are so many unhappy? … Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about transformation in your outlook and your way of thinking and this is not a simple matter. It requires the application of so many different directions. You shouldn’t have the notion, for instance, that there is just a key, a secret, and if you can get that right then everything will be okay. It is similar to taking proper care of the physical body. You need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, not just one or two.”

He went on to say, “In the same way, in order to achieve happiness, you need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states. And if you are seeking to overcome certain negative ways of thinking, it is not possible to accomplish that simply by adopting a particular thought or practicing a technique once or twice. Change takes time. There are lots of negative mental traits, so you need to address and counteract each one of these. That isn’t easy. It requires the repeated application of various techniques and taking the time to familiarize yourself with the practices. It’s a process of learning.”

Next week I will talk more about the specific practices and mindset that a person needs to work on and develop while bringing you more wisdom from the great Dalai Lama.

Little Notes for Big Changes

April 26, 2019 by  
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I was looking through old books I’ve read that have made a big difference in my life and I came across Susan Jeffers‘ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I have quoted Susan before, since she has so many great ideas, helpful hints, and “techniques for turning fear, indecision, and anger into power, action, and love.” And, yes, that is a direct quote from the cover of her great little book.

As I glanced through the pages and re-read my little notes I took back then, the of advice from the book really struck me again and lifted my thoughts and view of life to a higher level. Below are some of my notes from the margins in the book. When I quickly went over the list, I found it very inspiring and I thought that I really should look at this list often. I also thought that sharing the list here might lift your life too, even if it’s just a little lift.

–Do self-talk and make notes at night to program my mind for the next day.

–In the morning, I’m going to wake up happy, upbeat, positive, and energetic.

–Call friends and others and set up lunch meetings. Start with my circle of close friends.

–Whatever the challenge is, say to myself, “I can do it.”

–Surround myself with strong and positive people.

–Use this great tool: act as if you really count.

–Challenge myself to stay on the path of the higher self.

–What’s the rush? Don’t rush – it’s all happening perfectly.

–Don’t punish myself. Be patient with others and especially myself.

–Turn some of my big challenges over to my subconscious.

–Never forget that it takes a lot of practice and vigilance to direct and control my negative chatterbox.

–Instruct my higher self to work to solve problems and challenges as I sleep.

–Never forget the real key to success is ACTION.

–Keep working on being more proactive. Call friends for lunch, dinner, to play cards, play tennis, play pool, travel, and to interview for one of my future blogs.

–Keep pounding into my brain Susan’s great message: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

And here are 6 more of my notes from the margins of Henriette Anne Klauser’s book Write it Down and Make It Happen.

–Write down a list of my intentions, every day.

–Life is a decision; when you believe in a dream you need to take the risk and just do it.

–Writing things down can make feelings become just speed bumps, not roadblocks.

–Write down you biggest fears and then take action to counteract the fear.

–In addition to writing down your intentions and affirmations, speak them out loud to yourself.

–And lastly, never forget that writing things down activates that reticular activating system in your brain, then your brain works overtime for you.

 

Retirement Can Create a Better World

February 1, 2019 by  
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I want to write a bit more about last week’s theme of retirement – how it can be good, bad or sometimes very ugly. Even if you are many years away from retirement, you can make your retirement much better and have an easier transition if you are aware of some of the pitfalls that many people stumble into when they retire. I want to share a few secrets to making your retirement transition quite comfortable and pleasant.

Part of the reason I want to share these points is that, for me, retirement came close to driving me seriously crazy. It made me feel worthless and caused me to have big mood swings. Last week I wrote about some of the great and promising ideas from Patrice Jenkin’s book, What Will I Do All Day. She points out that many people go into retirement without realizing how critically important it is for them to still have routine and structure in their lives. Most people’s work lives automatically give them those two critical things. Plus, their work usually results in a lot of measurable production which lifts the human mind and spirit and gives us great personal satisfaction. The huge problem comes when a person retires and most, if not all, of those satisfying items quickly disappear. One other thing that also goes away or is often greatly diminished is one’s social life!

So, what is an excellent antidote to the retirement blues and the great letdown? In one word it’s WORK. But it has to be much more than just busy work. It has to be meaningful and productive.  Ideally, it’s doing something that you love and something that helps other people. It should be something that helps make the world a better place because, although you don’t really need to make a dime out of doing that work, it needs to be purposeful.

For me, the answer was going for the great feelings I get from donating my time and money to charity work. What is especially appealing to me is helping kids. Even doing a little thing like reading to them or telling simple, fun stories on a regular basis is fulfilling and purposeful. Even more fulfilling for me is teaching, because of my background and my passion.

I’ve done a little of this already, but I’ve just begun this particular new mission in life. The time I spend with the kids involves simple things but it is now part of my routine and structure and is a huge mood lifter for both me and the kids. A similar mission could do the same for you no matter what charity you choose. In a small but growing way, we can make the world a better place all while staying fulfilled and purposeful in our retirement.

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!

 

Money Can Buy You Novelty

August 17, 2018 by  
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If you Google “Ignite My Life Now”, you will see “Investing in Real Estate” as part of the headline, so some people might wonder if this blog is about investing in real estate or igniting your life. I certainly believe that investing in real estate and making lots of money does not necessarily  ignite a person’s life, even if real estate investing yields millions and millions of dollars for that person. I clearly remember thinking, when I was young and didn’t have much money, that once I made a million dollars, my world would be perfect and I would be totally satisfied, content, and happy. I imagined that my life would be totally ignited.

However, when I arrived at my first million-dollar net worth goal, I was surprised and disappointed that I didn’t feel much better, so I figured I had to make another million or two, then I would be totally set in the departments of contentment, happiness and fulfillment. I was certain that my world would be pretty much ignited and perfect then. But surprise, surprise … when I arrived at my new goal my life still didn’t seem to be ignited.

I looked deeper and deeper to try to discover what the real key to fulfillment, contentment, and happiness in a person’s life was and whether money could play a part. As it turns out, there is a lot that goes into having a content, fulfilled, and happy life and, yes, money can be a part of that.

We all know that love and loving relationships with other people – a spouse, friends, children and others – lifts the happiness factor as does setting goals and reaching them. It also has been proven that unique and novel experiences can revitalize a person’s mind by boosting a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel so very happy. But, what about money? What part can it play in lifting our contentment and happiness factors?

What I have found is that money by itself does not make a person much happier than when they did not have it. It can, however, buy more possibilities in a person’s world. You see, our brains want novelty and money can give you more time and resources to carefully and creatively design and go after these novel experiences. This is one of the best uses of your money.

I’ll never forget all the totally unique and novel experiences I had when my wife and I went around the world in 28 days, visiting dozens of new and different countries with so many totally different life styles, houses, huge castles, small villages and fascinating people of different cultures, religions and habits. On a smaller scale but also quite stimulating for the mind, is being in places like I am now.

As I write this blog I am sitting in a marvelous,  multi-story “cabin” in beautiful Big Sky, Montana, totally enjoying this very unique and novel place with most of my kids and grandkids. Ok, yes, I’m working, writing this blog as the some of the kids are running about, visiting Yellowstone, looking to go tubing, or taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain. But none of this would be happening if I hadn’t invested in the good ole real estate stuff and make some good money at it.

The big bonus to making money on my investments was that I really did enjoy the work and I got a ton of contentment along the way as I worked through each deal. I even broke a sweat back in the days when I did much of the hard labor to repair and fix houses and apartment buildings in order to increase their value. I’m not saying that I’ve always been perfectly happy and content, but I am saying that money has opened a much wider world for novel and unique experiences that have greatly enhanced and lifted my world.

Make Your Birthdays Count

April 14, 2018 by  
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Wow!   I just turned 888!  Okay, that’s in months not years but one can only imagine how different the world would be if you really could live 800 plus years.  Just think of all we could accomplish!

Why do we make a big deal out of a birthday?  For the most part I think it’s a good thing since it usually pushes us to not only review the past year or years but also it can motivate us to think about how short life really is. It makes us question what we’ve accomplished and what we have fallen short on. That thought should push us to live life big! It should push fear out of your mind so that you just go do what you really what to do.

As I plod along, working on writing my auto-biography and making a time line of my life, two big things have struck me. First, life is really, really short. Second, I’m totally blown away by how much I have done over the past years. It’s absolutely amazing to me how much a single human being can do in their lifetime, even though on a day to day basis it doesn’t seem like all that much.

When I look back at my life, I’m truly amazed that I’ve written 9 books, especially when I stop and think that those books were written a single word at a time. But then, I think of my good friend Richard Paul Evans, who has written more than 2 dozen books!  Where does he get the time? But again, it’s all done with baby steps.

We can all do so much with our life. Just always remember that the big things, even monumental accomplishments, are done one step at a time.  So, go after your huge goals and ambitions with at least a few minutes here and a few minutes later. Whether it’s writing books, making millions of dollars or running a marathon, it’s all step by tiny step.

Yes, I’m 888 months old or 27,010 days old, plus I spend probably 222 months just sleeping but when I look back I’m amazed that I’ve gotten so much stuff done.  Looking back, it seems like there is no way that little ol’ me could have earned tens of millions of dollars in income and investments as well as having written all those books all the while raising a bunch of kids and grandkids.

The big lesson in life, I think, is realizing that there are big things we can do if we put our minds to it. We do need to fully realize and understand two simple things—that life is short, so we need to push ourselves to use that short amount of time wisely, and that it can, and will, all add up to some very big accomplishments for your life. You just put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

 

 

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.

 

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