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Big Challenges on the Brain

November 3, 2018 by  
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Have you ever met someone who has made it to the 29,020-foot summit of Mt. Everest? Yes, I know, most of us think they’re crazy, but maybe they’re not as crazy as we think because their high satisfaction level seems to last for a lifetime! Years ago, I wrote the following.

Again, the tough challenges and hard work over a period of time, equals long-lasting satisfaction and contentment.  One of the big and growing problems in today’s world is that too few people believe or know this simple principle

Or maybe they used to know it and they’ve forgotten it.

We all should never forget the great zen saying, “To know and not to do is not yet to know.” Many people, for example, think they want a ton of money—and fast—so they can sit back and relax and really live. They think they want to sit around the pool and drinking a Mai Tai or watch movies all day. They think that will bring them satisfaction and contentment.

Our very retirement system even promotes that idea. That’s one reason we have so many mid-lifers and beyond who are downright miserable, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether they have a huge net worth or not. With too much of a slowdown, there’s an inevitable letdown, and as you’ve probably noticed, good old Fred or Mary retire at age 65 and pass away at age 67 or 70.

The bottom line is, if you stop challenging yourself, you’ll start dying. It’s almost a one-to-one correlation and all of that usually starts inside your mind. But if you “take a trip inside your mind,” you’ll find there are plenty of ways to program your brain so you’ll avoid the trap that snares so many people.

Next week I want to tell you the great story of Erik Weihenmayer who push himself to climb Mt. Everest. He did it even though he was totally blind – he was the first blind man ever to accomplish that super human feat!  Talk about giving oneself a huge challenge! Wow.  How long did his satisfaction and contentment last?

So, are you and I pushing ourselves and putting big enough challenges in our minds and then going after them to enhance and make our life more exciting and fulfilling? I can’t speak for you but I know now, at age 74, I need to challenge myself much more than I’ve been doing lately. But I really do have to ask you—-do you need to challenge yourself a bit more or maybe even a lot more?  Only you can answer that question.

All the Love out There

October 12, 2018 by  
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Last week I ended my blog by writing about the great tears of joy I experienced shortly after posting a picture of me at my daughter’s grave site, a moment that itself was filled with tears of pain and sorrow! So, you may ask, what brought on the great tears of joy?

Shortly after posting the picture of my daughter Kristin’s grave site, I began to receive these wonderful messages of love with many kind words of sympathy, love and support. Wow, did those words of love, coming from several dozen friends, family and even total strangers, ever get to me, bringing on those tears of joy!

That got me thinking about how powerful love is in our lives and how much of it is out there. Even though it’s all around  us you sure don’t hear or see much of that on the news, so, I’m guessing that some people don’t really fully realize how much love there is in the world. But, the opposite of love—that thing called hate—makes the news pretty much every day. Why is that? I think the main reason is because it can be, and usually is, so very sensational, so it really stands out and grabs our attention. Like the mass shooting last year in Las Vegas or the kidnapping of a kid or the rape of a woman and, of course, lately, the terrible things we are hearing about due to the MeToo movement.

The news certainly doesn’t spend much, if any time, on how much love a parent shows his or her kids. Once in a great while the news might have a short story on the great love of a couple on their 50th or 75th wedding anniversary, but the divorce of a couple, especially if they are famous, certainly makes the front page and the top of the hour TV news.

I think we all need to pay more attention to that great thing called “love” and give more of it to those around us and, yes, even people we have just met. We need to Encourage our kids and those around us to share more and more love each day, through words and deeds. And I want to publicly send out a HUGE THANK YOU AND LOVE BACK to those wonderful people who sent words of love, great sympathy, and support to me on what have would have been my daughter’s birthday!

 

Death’s Loving Lesson

October 5, 2018 by  
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This past weekend, on September 30th, I was both celebrating and grieving. That day is my daughter Kristin’s birthday. She would have been 49 but she tragically died many years ago, at the tender age of 16. Yes, I do want to celebrate her birthday but it is a day of mourning and tears at the same time. I don’t always visit her grave because it makes me grieve more but this year I did, taking red roses that I placed on her grave.  Think how much more death would hurt all of us if some of us never had to die. Like that’s going to happen… NOT!

I do think it’s so very interesting that there are lessons that can be learned from a good friend or loved one’s death. I know when my Kristin died it made me a much, much more caring and empathetic person. I wanted to be there, to help, support, and love my friends and family more than I ever did before. From that day on I became so very caring and I really could feel and share other people’s pain and sorrows when they lost someone close to them or even had other problems and difficulties in their lives.

When I was young I had the crazy belief that I would never die since there would be a second coming of Christ and no one would suffer death. I sure remember how so many people, back in 1999, really believed that a second coming would happen as the world moved from the year 1999 to 2000! Well, that didn’t happen.

Let’s face it, death is an absolute fact of life and no one can get out of this life alive. As we age, most of us feel that time moves faster and faster although we’d love it to slow down since we have so much more living we want to do. I think we’d pay almost any price if we could buy an extension on our lives.  Years ago, when I turned 60, I used to joke and say to guys that were in their 30’s, “Hey, if it were possible for us to switch ages and you become 60 and I got to be your age, would you do it if I paid you a million dollars cash?” Believe it or not, about half the young people I asked that question to said yes. Wow… I sure would do it if it were possible, but I heard a rumor that it’s not.

However, we have options – we can take care of ourselves. We can eat good, healthy food, keep our bodies moving, and stay well connected with social groups which will extend our lives to a degree.  Plus, we can concentrate on living every day to the max – it’s a give more and live more concept.  We can love our friends, neighbors, and family as much as we are conceivably able to, including going out of our way to be there for them, helping them when they need us, and bringing more joy and happiness to them which, in return, will bring the same to us.

Yes, death of a loved one is tough but there are lessons to be learned from it and it can make you a better person which is a blessing to everyone, including yourself. Next week I want to tell you what happened that brought tears of great joy right after I posted a picture of myself putting those roses on Kristin’s grave.

Living Well and Healthy on the Way to 100

January 20, 2017 by  
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I would like to share with you some more thoughts about life and living and, yes, a few more things that you and I can do to increase our chances of living to be 100.

First, let me tell you about my super crazy few days this past week. The day after I wrote about how important it is to have great health I suddenly got very sick. It started with a severe case of acid reflux but then I could not eat or drink anything without huge chest pains and throwing it all up. I began to feel better after 3 days and so got some time in on beautiful Poipu beach. However, there I witnessed a guy being pulled from the ocean by a lifeguard just 20 or 30 feet from where we were relaxing and just having a good time.

Five paramedics went to work on this guy. They pounded his chest, did CPR on him, and shocked him many times–they worked on him for 20 minutes. Everyone on the beach just froze and watched as they tried to save this guy’s life. Many people were in tears, but even with all that effort and skilled professional work done by the paramedics, the guy did not make it.

The mood of all of us beach goers changed dramatically. We went from fun, games and joy to quiet and very somber. It is amazing how so many people care deeply about a person they do not even know. The young lady next to us broke down in tears. I was fighting back my own tears. The loss of life is a sad thing and, yes, we will all get to that point eventually. But this was a reminder that it is so critically important to live life to the fullest every single day, to do virtually everything we can to stay healthy and extend our lives —yes, to like 100 years old–in good health.

With that said here are a few more of the 100 Wonderful Ways to Live to Be 100:

  • Find reasons to laugh.
  • Do unto others but do not forget about yourself.
  • Do not dread getting older.
  • Get busy and stay busy.
  • (This one alone can add an average 7 years to your life.)
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Eat less.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Use your brain–engage in games and intellectual stimulation.

Let’s not wait until illness or some unexpected tragedy makes us realize how valuable our life is. We can honor this gift we have, every day, by doing everything we can to not just live, but live well and healthy. And to live, yes, to be at least 100.

The Tragedy is in Not Moving On

September 5, 2014 by  
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Tragedy is a word that none of us are fond of.  But you know what, virtually everyone on this planet has tragedy in their lives and if they haven’t had it yet, it’s almost certainly on the way. I don’t care how rich or how poor a person is, tragedy strikes everyone if they live long enough. We all were certainly shocked a few weeks ago when we saw that the loveable, talented and very successful Robin Williams had died by his own hand. This tragedy, as distant as he may be from most of us, touched so many of us nonetheless.

A couple of weeks ago, while talking to a large audience of really great people, I shared the sad, sad story of the biggest tragedy in my life–the death of my sweet, wonderful, 16 year old daughter, Kristin.  Even though that was many years ago, I’ve learned the hard way that you never get over it–that’s the bad news.  The good news is you can learn how to deal with it in a positive way.

After telling the audience about Kristin and how she died, I asked folks to raise their hands if they had has lost a child.  About 3 or 4% of the group slowly raised their hands.  I wasn’t trying to sadden the mood of the group but I was making a very important point.  That point was that if we as human beings are going to prosper and make the world a better place we must learn how to deal with tragedy since we all have or will have tragedy in our lives.

Too often I have heard people complaining and in essence saying, “Poor me. If you had gone through what I’ve been through you would not be able to do any good and great things for yourself or your family let alone strangers and other people out there.” These people are basically saying that because of their unique tragedy, their lives are over and they’ve given up because they have no choice.  If these people would step back a bit and take a look at the big picture and look beyond the facades that nearly everyone puts on, at least to a degree, they’d see that all of us are in the same boat.   And all of us really do have a choice.  We can learn how to deal with the tragedy and move on with our lives. Many times because of that tragedy we’ve had to work through, we can become better people and can be of greater help to those around us. Face the truth–tragedy strikes everyone and none of us will get out of here alive!

Think about that. And please share this message with others that you see that are in need and have not been able to move on quite yet.

Death is Part of Life

March 8, 2013 by  
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 I got a very shocking and sobering email from the wife of a very dear friend a few days ago, a good friend, who is a doctor and in excellent health. His urine had turned very dark and his skin was jaundiced. At the hospital he found out he had a tumor in his bile duct that leads out of the pancreas. Not good! A few days ago he had a very complicated 9 hour surgery in which they took out part of his pancreas, stomach, duodenum and the gall bladder. It was shocking to hear this since my good friend kept himself in great shape. He has, from all his friends and family, wonderful support and encouragement. We know he’s a tough guy and are hoping and praying he’ll be ok.

Quite naturally this got me thinking about my own health and that inevitable end of the road for myself and yes, every one of you who are reading this blog. “Ouch,” you may say. “I don’t want to think about that.” But we all do—and we should—only there is a good way and a bad way to think about death. One way helps you and the other hurts you.

In the book “Super Brain” Deepak Chopra and his co-author Rudolph Tanzi write “If you are afraid of death, it is bad for your body– not because death looms so darkly but because the fear of anything is toxic.” They go on to say “Some cultures, such as Tibetan Buddhism, offer extensive preparation for death and a highly detailed theology of various heavens and hells.” Which they use to help people face and accept their own death.  The authors say the path to making peace with death might look something like this:

1. “I don’t think about death. It’s pointless.”
2. “The main thing is to live your life right this minute.”
3. “Anyway, I secretly don’t believe I will grow old and die.”
4. “To be honest, I don’t think about dying because it’s too scary.”
5. “I’ve seen death of a friend, family member, or pet. I know I have to face it someday.”
6. “I am beginning to feel calmer about the whole issue. I can look at death without running away.”
7. “Dying happens to everyone. It’s better to approach it calmly with eyes open.”
8. “I’ve felt the first serious twinges of mortality. It’s time to face it.”
9. “I find I am actually interested in what death is all about.”
10. “It’s possible to embrace dying as a natural stage of life–and I have.”

As you the read through these stages of thinking about death, try to think back to when you were young (assuming that you are no longer in that category) and notice how close these 10 stages may come to your own thinking back then and now. Have your thoughts changed dramatically?

The bottom line is you don’t need to fear death. It will come so fearing it is rather pointless. Instead, focus on the now, on what you are doing every moment of your life, filling it with purposeful, gratifying thoughts and activities. Living a good life makes fearing death unnecessary.

Next week, we’ll talk a little more about what Deepak and Rudolph have to say about keeping your mind young so you can get the most out of every moment of your life.