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Rethinking Stress

March 24, 2017 by  
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Last week I talked about the good and bad sides of stress and what you can do to reduce the bad stuff. But I also mentioned that I had just found out something that came as a big shock to me. I had just learned about an 8 year study which discovered that how you think about stress can shorten or lengthen your life. Yes, just by believing or thinking in a certain way about stress can affect your health and lifespan. The good news is that you can change your thinking and gain benefits from the stress in your life.

Kelly McGonigal gave a Ted Talk back in June of 2013 and told of the results of the 8 year study. In that study, 30,000 adults were asked if they believed that stress was very bad for their health. There were many that said “yes” to that question and many that said “no”, then 8 years later the death records were examined and it was found that those who believed that stress caused health problems had a 43% higher death rate than those that didn’t think stress caused health problems.

In other words, just by the mind believing the stress was not bad for them protected those people’s health. The mind really does have a lot more power than we usually give it credit for. The healthy group even had a longer life span than the average person.

There is even one more pretty big positive benefit of stress when you have the right mind set—under stress, the body produces a lot of oxytocin which is a neuron hormone that actually increases your energy level. The difficulty is that if you believe stress is harmful for your health, your blood vessels become constricted which increases your chance of a heart attack. However, if you don’t believe stress is harmful then your blood vessels don’t constrict and you have the extra energy caused by that stress stimulating the production of oxytocin.

So, that is the good and the bad of being stressed and now we know that this good ole brain of ours can make it be one way or the other. To stay on the good side of stress, we all need to do mental work outs and practice controlling our thoughts and directing our beliefs to see, and benefit from, the healthy, energized aspect of the stresses we live with every day.

Great Health Can Help You to Great Wealth 

March 3, 2017 by  
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Let me throw out a big challenge to all my readers for this great year of 2017:

LET’S ALL MAKE 2017 THE HEALTHIEST AND MOST FULFILLING YEAR OF OUR LIVES AND BUILD SOME MORE WEALTH ALONG THE WAY!

Ok, just how are we going to do that? Is there an easy way or at least is there a simple way? There are some simple ways but, of course, it does take work. Last week I wrote and preached about the importance of staying busy, which keeps boredom at bay. However, keeping busy can also greatly improve your health and great health can, and does, make it easier to create more wealth.

So now if you and I want much better health, what are some of these simple ways we can get that job done?

As I’ve said many times before, one simple key is to keep moving! And, of course, the other obvious key is eating a very healthy diet. Of course, that sounds simple but we all know the temptations of good tasting food that is very bad for us. I find it very interesting to look and study the numbers of calories that we burn because to burn a lot of calories naturally helps keep our weight where it should be for good health. Movement obviously is better for the body and burns more calories than sitting or lying still, but even just standing burns more calories than sitting.

My very thin wife Kimberly figured this out long ago and I swear I rarely see her sitting–she always stands to work on her computer or to write a letter. Whatever she is doing, she is always vertical and on the move. More and more business people, including my sons, use stand up desks for all their office work every day. And, of course, walking versus sitting is even better for your calorie burning and overall health. Yes, jogging and running is even better but running has been shown to be better if you do it in moderation–so don’t run a marathon every day or every other day. That’s not good.

As I’ve said before, these are the reason that I love my Fitbit. It pushes me to compete with myself and walk and move more and more every day. Last week I did 155,000 steps! Ok, sorry … I’m bragging now. Here are some of the numbers for a 175-pound man. Calories burned totals listed are for 5 days at 8 hours a day.·

  • Sitting 5250 or 131 per hour·
  • Standing 7000 or 175 per hour (So you see why at work it’s a great idea to stand while working.)·
  • Walking 507 per hour·
  • Fast Walking 630 per hour·
  • Jogging 1225 per hour

The above numbers convinced me long ago to walk 3 to 4 hours a day which gives me around 20,000 steps a day. This has given me more energy and great health which in turn has helped me build more wealth along with keeping off the weight!

Although I’ve talked mostly about burning calories by moving and how that can help your health, never forget, when it comes to weight control, activity for calorie burning is important but it is not near as powerful as controlling how many calories go in the mouth.

Now how can great health lead to great wealth?

I think it is obvious, or at least for me it has been. Bottom line is that if you are not healthy and not feeling well, you most likely will not have the mental or physical energy and drive to work on building wealth for yourself. Virtually all my wealthy friends are very healthy, gaining energy and drive from their health, and have been that way most of their lives.

So, let’s all work hard and consistently build better health for ourselves. From that, we can gain more energy and drive to build our wealth to help ourselves and those around us.

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!

 

Fighting Off Boredom Today and Tomorrow

February 20, 2017 by  
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I’ve been writing about having a personal breakthrough and how keeping a record of one’s thoughts through a journal can be very helpful. I’ve also recently found a few thoughts in those journals about how bored I had become since I retired and, again, my own, previously written down words, have motivated me to do something about it.

If you are retired you probably know what I’m talking about and if you are totally busy, working hard, long hours plus taking care of your home and family responsibilities, you might not hit that boredom thing very often. It’s funny how so many of us have thought of work as a bad thing but it really is a blessing, as many retired people would probably tell you.

So here is the question—what do you do if retirement has you bored out of your mind or, if you are not even close to retirement, you find yourself bored way too much regardless? Retired or not, what I’ve found, and continue to find, is that there are many different ways to cope with the boredom that can hit our lives.

The short answer to boredom is to get busy and stay busy! Other simple answers include pushing yourself to do more, challenging yourself, and setting goals with detailed plans. Specifically, it’s a really good idea to set goals that are well thought out and goals that fit with what you like to do, what you are good at, and what brings you joy and fulfillment. This might be a big goal, maybe something you’ve always dreamed of doing but didn’t go for out of fear. (If you haven’t already read the book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, it’s a great book and I recommend that you get a hold of a copy.)

Big projects can give you a real mental boost even if they take months or years. I remember how fulfilled and not at all bored I was when I decided to have a new house built for me in Kauai! No, I wasn’t the guy who poured the cement or swung the hammer but I decided on the floor plan that fit my personality and what things I wanted so that it fit my lifestyle–like good indoor-outdoor living spaces. Then just about every day there were decisions to be made and stuff that kept me busy and during that time I was rarely, if ever, bored.

Keeping busy is a great antidote for boredom, and it’s certainly a better way to go than something like alcohol. Yes, alcohol will entertain you but it only works for a short time and it has some pretty big negative consequences for a person’s life and health, as most people know.

So, if you’re a bit (or a lot) bored, may I suggest you look for something to keep you busy, like a big project that really turns you on? If you don’t have anything in mind and can’t think of something, well, next week I’m going to make some very specific suggestions that I think will help most readers. And if you are just totally busy and never bored then don’t change anything and be thankful. But also know that circumstances can change so you might want to take note of some of my suggestions.

Break-Through Journaling

February 10, 2017 by  
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Last week I talked about writing in a journal and I shared that I had written some of my very negative thoughts in mine. These are words and inner feelings that I had never shared with anyone. But what the journaling did for me and these thoughts was amazing.

A few days after writing these thoughts down, I re-read what I had written. Man, oh man … what a powerful reaction I have had in the days since.  It has lifted me up and has enhanced and improved my life almost like magic. I was so very surprised that just those few words that I wrote down on paper could have such a powerful effect on me and my life. Here is what I wrote:

“I didn’t have total follow through yesterday on my writing list of my intentions or goals and in fact I am finding that for a long time now I’ve not lived up to my self-promises and I see that I’ve been so very self-critical and have been berating and beating up myself cause I’m just not perfect like I want to be. I’ve been seeing that I’m very hard on myself and I really don’t forgive myself much although I forgive other people. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been feeling very good for going on two years. Maybe I ought to start forgiving myself and take more baby steps that really can turn into giant progress toward my goals like I’ve preached to my readers of my blog. Hmmm … I need to think about that.”

I was very surprised that, within a few days of re-reading those words, I began to feel so much better and noticed that I was not being so hard on myself. I kept thinking about taking baby steps and so now I am not inclined to berate and beat myself up. I think that this change of mind set must be due to my writing down my inner thoughts and that the act of writing it down changed something in my brain. What a breakthrough!

So, I would suggest you give journaling a chance if you haven’t already. Write down your inner most thoughts, especially the ones that you are struggling with or are getting you down. Then put them away and read them a little while later and see what your brain does with it. I’m sure it will get you to think about it and find a way to help yourself feel better along with being a great way just to get it out of your head and safely down on paper where you can, literally put it away for a while. At least until you are ready for your own journal break-through.10

The Staying Young Secret: Keep Body and Mind Moving

November 18, 2016 by  
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My dear wife gave me a Fitbit on my last birthday and that little tool has truly helped me get in better shape, just a little ‘bit’ at a time. Last week I broke my all-time record for steps and distance by walking and running just over 186,000 steps or 71.9 miles for the week. Wow … did that ever make me feel good and young again. And it’s now just a few months before my 73rd birthday.

Fitbit … what a great name for that little device that propels, persuades and motivates people to compete with themselves to keep moving and hit bigger and bigger numbers. It gets you fit a bit at a time.

An additional way to feel and stay young is to work on the top of our body–that would be by being kind to your mind. You have to keep the brain moving too and there are lots of ways to do this.

One way is to put a little bit more strain on the brain or, in other words, push yourself to think more, read more, and a do a bit of writing to others or in a personal journal. These kinds of activities have been proven to expand and improve the human mind.  You might even push yourself to write a book.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t get someone to publish your book–I couldn’t initially get published with my first book. You can do what I did instead–I published it myself and later Bantam books decided to publish it.  Don’t know what to write about? You can start by writing an autobiography or memoir type of book. Remember, it’s not only good for your brain but just think of what you’ll be passing on to your kids and grandkids. They’ll love it and will probably still be reading it long after you check out of this life.  It’s a win-win … you end up helping your brain and, no doubt, the brain of others.

It’s really a shame that so many people, as they age, begin to give up on physical and mental movement.  I’m not saying that it is easy but most things in life that are really worthwhile take effort and even a bit of pain.  But at the end of the day or the end of life the rewards are so very worth it!

So why not set some goals to read more books and write one yourself and at the same time? Get up off the sofa and go for a walk or a run and do it every day. And one other good brain builder is to have good, deep conversations with other people. So, let’s all go out there and create permanent good habits for the brain and the body so you can feel younger for many, many years to come.

 

Just Do It with Baby Steps

September 9, 2016 by  
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As I mentioned last week, the way to reach huge goals is through the many little baby steps you take, one at a time, to get there. Reaching any big goal will have its difficulties but I think we all need to keep reminding ourselves that a big part of hitting our big goals is keeping focused on those baby steps and not being too hard on ourselves when our progress is not as fast as we want it to be.

This concept works for anything you are after. If one of your goals is to save up many thousands of dollars so you can make investments that will put you in a great position to retire, allowing you to do whatever you like such as traveling the world as you please like I do, you just start with a few baby steps. What those baby steps are depends on what you can manage. The important thing is to get started.

Let’s say you are on a real tight budget now and you just can’t afford to save the recommended 10% of your income. That’s okay, just make those baby steps do-able. You can squeeze your expenditures a bit and save just 2 or 3 percent for the time being, then after a while try to increase that to 5% and once you are doing that comfortably, push that towards 10%. The saving of just 2% right now might seem like it will never amount to big bucks, but over time it does add up because it helps you form a habit that makes it easier to increase the percentage as time goes on.

It’s not just money that works this way. For instance, most people would not think they could drop down and do 100 pushups without stopping, but most people could do 5, 10 or 20. To be able to do 100 pushups just use the baby steps concept by doing those 5 or 10 now and add a one or two more every other day and you may surprise yourself, and everybody around you especially if you or 70 or 80 years old, how easy it was for you to reach that goal!

The same goes for just about every goal we may set. Baby steps really can lead to world breaking records or at least big time records and success in your own life. And it’s always a good idea to share the baby step concept with your kids, parents and friends. Once they see how well you’re doing, it’s sure to motivate them to do better on their own goals. So share the idea and encourage those around you. If they follow it, they will not only feel great about their accomplishments but they are sure to give you lots of thanks and credit which feels pretty good!

 

 

 

Powerful Daily Questions

July 29, 2016 by  
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In the last few posts, I’ve been talking about Marshall Goldsmith’s great advice that you can read about in his book Mojo. He reveals ways to greatly improve your odds of lifting your Mojo (your personal happiness and fulfillment in life) and increasing your chances of making greater progress toward your goals and what you want your life to be.

One of Goldsmith’s very effective methods was to ask his friend, Jim Moore, to pose a daily list of questions that Marshall had put together. These questions included want Marshall wanted to get done and how he wanted his life to be. Both men were amazed at how well that daily questioning worked. Even though they lived miles apart and Marshall does a lot of traveling, their commitment to this has them connecting on the phone and going through the process of asking those same questions about 85% of the time. The process has kept Marshall focused and moving forward.

So if you want to greatly increase your Mojo and reach your goals, write a list of what you want to get done and how you want your life to be and then find a good friend or a close relative to ask you those questions on a regular basis. Remember that it’s important to keep track of your progress as well so you can be inspired by your success and work on the areas that might need a boost.

Although you will want to come up with your own questions, I thought Marshall’s basic 6 questions might be helpful:

“Did I do my best today to …

  1. Be Happy?
  2. Find meaning?
  3. Build positive relationships?
  4. Be fully engaged?
  5. Set clear goals?
  6. Make progress toward goal achievement?

After this list, Marshall goes on to list questions he specifically needs for himself such as, “How many minutes did you spend writing?

Then there are some health questions such as,” How many sit-ups did you do?” To which he gets to answer with statements like “Today I did 200 sit-ups at once. Not bad for a 64-year-old guy.” You know that has to be encouraging!

As for work, it might be “With how many clients are you current on your follow-ups?”

Then there’s family and relationships. “Did you say or do something nice for your wife? How about your son or daughter?”

In the book he also asks himself, “Why does this process work so well?”  The answer is that it forced him and his friend Jim to “confront how we actually live our values every day. We either believe that something matters or we don’t.  If we believe it, we can put it on the list and do it! If we really don’t want to do it, we can face reality and quit kidding ourselves.”

The above is just a brief sample. Your list should be much longer but how long depends on what you want to get done in your life.

Marshall asked his wife, Lyda, a psychologist, if she thought this process would work as well with a computer-generated list of questions instead of sharing with another person.  She said, “No, it is a lot easier to blow-off a computer than another person.”

So the bottom line for you and me is to start making our list and then find a friend to help, the kind of friend that you trust and one that won’t criticize you when you fall short of your goals and ambitions. You can do likewise for your friend and together you can really build up your Mojo!

 

 

Our Indebtedness to the Past

June 17, 2016 by  
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I just watch a wonderful documentary narrated by Robert Redford called The Barnstormers which told and showed some great pictures of the history of how the game of tennis was changed from an amateur to a professional sport and how after that changed its popularity grew at an enormous rate.  I was particularly impressed at the end of this wonderful production when the great world champion Roger Federer said how much he and all the other pro tennis players of today owe a huge debt of gratitude to the players and key figures who brought about the big changes in tennis.

It got me to thinking about how all of us today owe a humongous debt of gratitude to so very may people of the past that did so many things to make the world a much better place and made our lives so much easier today.

Think about it … how would our lives be without those many people who over time collaborated with many others to bring us the automobile, the airplane, advanced medicine and medical procedures? We can cut open and fix a human brain and cure terrible diseases. And just look at the advances in technology.  From computers to cell phones, rockets to space probes, and on and on and on.  I couldn’t begin to build even a basic radio or TV, let alone figure out how to do open heart surgery.  And so much of these incredible advances have come in just the last 100 to 150 years!  Going back 150 years we didn’t have even a simple telephone or an internal combustion engine or even a simple light bulb.

We are so very indebted to so many people that have lived before us. We all could do with being a bit more grateful as well as taking a look at our own lives and seeing how and where we can put our efforts and talents to work to help others and make this wonderful world even better than we found it. Let’s not only do it for those around us now but for future generations.

There is also an extra benefit for you. I’ve seen studies that show that the more a person shows and has gratitude for others, the more it lifts that person’s level of satisfaction and happiness.

In my upcoming blog posts, I will attempt to acknowledge and give thanks to the people that have contributed to my life, both in my financial life, my personal life and in my self-development. Who do you have to thank for the wonderful advantages you have?

 

Risk is Not for Herds

June 10, 2016 by  
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Last week I talked about risk taking and how the willingness to take risk when it comes to investing is critical.  Those people who really want to attain Financial Freedom or FF need to look at themselves to determine their tolerance for risk.

As a real estate investor working towards achieving FF, it’s important to understand your own temperament, and your ability to assume that element of risk.  It’s important to know your limitations and not torment yourself with sleepless nights by taking unnecessary risks in trying to keep up with others whose capacity to assume risk might be much greater than yours.  This decision may slow you down on the road to FF, but what is FF without some enjoyment, comfort and happiness along the way?

Everyone has a level and a threshold for tolerance and excessive and unnecessary risk will only create anxiety and tension and may well shorten your life.  So take a hard look at yourself and measure how much risk are you willing to take that doesn’t make you worry you to the point of causing pain, anxiety and suffering in your life.

But keeping in mind our objective, achieving FF, it is important to remember that the greater the potential risk the greater the inherent reward will be. It is also almost impossible to avoid every risk at any one time in selecting an investment. In order to achieve and maintain high rates of return, which are critical for achieving total FF, one must be prepared both mentally and emotionally to incur a higher than average risk. So look hard at yourself and measure how much risk you can handle.

Remember that “eagles don’t fly together in flocks.”  So if you are going to make it big you can’t just go along with the flock or the herd.  If you earnestly desire to achieve FF today, you must learn to assemble all the facts, calculate the risks, be decisive, and then act accordingly.  Statistics and history prove that the majority of people fail to ever become FF because they do not have a specific plan. They are content and willing to wait patiently throughout their lifetime for Social Security or they are looking for that one super great investment or the lucky lottery number to suddenly become super rich.  Don’t follow those kinds of people. Work on your plan that will take you to total FF over a reasonable period of time and you will reach the level of Financial Freedom that you set as your goal.

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