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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.

A Passion for Your Goals

December 16, 2017 by  
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As we are quickly coming to the end of this year, and with the New Year just a couple weeks away, most of us are thinking not only about the holidays but all the shopping that we must do. I know most guys really don’t enjoy that part of the holidays but thank heaven for women! They do generally have a passion for shopping. But why are they so passionate about it while men aren’t? It really comes down to how we go about it. The people who like shopping aren’t just buying gifts, they are out to find the greatest stuff and to get the best bargains on them. It’s a challenge and an adventure. The rest of us just want to find something that will fill the bill and be done with it. So that’s the thing—when you have a passion for your particular goal and for how you reach it, it makes it much easier, and much more fun, to accomplish.

This is true for any goal, but not only do you need passion, you need the goal to be attainable or you may lose that passion. The thing is, if you set goals and objectives that are so big as to make it impossible to achieve, even by taking lots of baby steps, it can lead to a huge disappointment which can kill your passion. At that point, it can become very easy to beat yourself up and may eventually make you want to give up on goal setting itself. In other words, setting goals that are challenging but that you can achieve can help keep up your passion. Setting unattainable goals, on the other hand, can do major damage to your passion factor.

Passion is a very interesting feeling that is so very important in life and living but it can be an elusive pursuit. As people age, they have flashes of passion here and there and then they lose it and they don’t know why.  Unfortunately, there are physical reasons that passion starts to decline that make it hard to keep those fires going. From about age 25 or 30 your brain begins to produce less and less dopamine and serotonin–the hormones that make you feel good. A child’s body is awash in these hormones. There are things that stimulate and produce these hormones in young people that our aging bodies are missing.

The good news is, setting and reaching realistic goals can help the brain increase those important brain chemicals. Another helpful factor is eating the right foods and exercising, both of which will help restore those dopamine and serotonin levels. In the next week or two, I will talk more about what foods are best to eat that restore those 2 brain chemicals.

So, if you are like me, you will be thinking more and more about what next year will bring and what you want to accomplish in 2018.  Go big but with a touch of caution as you set your goals for the new year so that you’ll still have plenty of passion for each new dream you come up with.

 

Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!

Money Can Buy Novelty

November 14, 2014 by  
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It’s too bad that much of the time money, especially having a ton of it, gets a bad rap. The negative view of money probably started a very long time ago, maybe even before the Christian bible made the comment that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” I do believe that tons of money can ruin some people’s lives, especially if they come into that money overnight and not by their own hard work over many years. But let me talk about one super wonderful thing that money can do for you, especially if you are wise enough to do the right things with that money.

It seems that way too many people think that the best thing to do with lots of money is to go out and buy a lot of stuff, especially fancy and high status goods. But that stuff can quickly become worn out and/or very boring. Consider the following as an alternative and one that can, and will, jump start and excite your brain as well as lasting a very long time.

This is all about giving your brain a huge dopamine boost through experiencing new and novel things. You see, the human brain craves novelty, and money makes it so much easier to give yourself novel experiences. Gregory Berns in his book Satisfaction says, “Novel experiences are the surest route to satisfaction.”

As I write these words my wife and I are on a flight to the French Rivera. Just minutes ago we had lift off and as we did, believe me my brain got a big dose of dopamine and that’s just the beginning. We’ll be staying in Cannes at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel and then later in another 5 star hotel in Nice. Then we’ll drive to the Italian town of San Remo to meet an old Swiss friend, Reto Moro, who I met 30 years ago on a tennis court in the south of Germany. We are visiting places, some of which are totally new to me or, in other words, ‘novel’.

Castles, old churches, new restaurants and all that I will see will pump my brain with dopamine. As you probably know dopamine is the natural brain chemical that makes you feel so very satisfied. I just love it. For years I didn’t have a clue about this thing called dopamine that was making me feel so good, but I certainly knew that I got a huge charge and brain boost by my visits to new places, so much so I came up with my bucket list of trying to visit every country in the world. I currently have hit 84 countries and my wife tells me that since I am now 70 years old I better pick up the pace—there are, at present, 196 countries in the world!

I guess I could have spent my money on fancy new cars and other expensive stuff but I’m pretty sure the novelty of a new car wouldn’t last very long. Traveling to new places has given me great memories that will last for many, many years, especially since I can easily re-stimulate my brain chemicals with so many pictures and videos!

The bottom line is, it’s true that money can’t necessarily buy happiness, but it can open up so many possibilities and make it easier to obtain more novel experiences. It gives one more time to carefully and creatively design, plan and carry out a wide range of novel experiences. So now I hope I have given you another good reason to push yourself to earn, save and invest your earnings.

 

The Positive Activity List

April 13, 2012 by  
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We all have great wants and desires. Without them we’d have virtually no motivation to do anything. But there are a lot of hidden land mines that lie in our path just waiting for us to step on them and explode our dreams, desires, and goals. Our very wants and desires that are so important to our lives of passion can make us absolutely miserable if we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

As McGonigal states in her wonderful book The Willpower Instinct, “… desire is neither good nor bad–what matters is where we let it point us.”

We all know that frustrated desires can lead us to search out bad or negative ways to boost or otherwise change our mood—-by using drugs and/or alcohol, binge eating, or even going on a shopping spree. These all work well to increase dopamine and serotonin—those mood altering chemicals in our brain—giving us a high and one that can be addictive. These activities can too easily and too quickly become detrimental to our health, our finances, and our relationships. But what if you were able to increase these mood altering chemicals with something positive and productive, gaining a natural high and moving towards your goals at the same time?

I am sure anyone of us can come up with a few examples of positive activities and actions that will improve rather than harm our lives but let me give you some of my list. You can use these as a start or as examples for your own list. Use your positive experiences and what you want out of life to help create the ideas for your list.

Then when you feel yourself turning towards those old tried and true (and negative and harmful) options, chose something from this positive list instead. Do this diligently for at least a week and take note of how much better you feel about yourself and your life. I bet you’ll not only enjoy the activities you’ve used as substitutes but you will be much happier overall, looking back at all the positive and productive things you did.

Here is my list:

1. Work out: Just 6 or 12 minutes on the stair master, doing sit-ups and push-ups or using weights
2. Get a tennis game going
3. Write out my bests thoughts for the days
4. Read a good book
5. Listen to favorite music (create a custom playlist online)
6. Arrange a get together with family and friends
7. Get a massage
8. Hike or bike in mountains or just take a walk in the neighborhood
9. 5 to 10 minutes of meditation
10. 5 or 10 minutes of simple yoga

Now … what goes on your list?

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

The $2 High

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under blog, Chapter 12

Last week I went on a hike to get some exercise, looking forward to the great feeling that the increase of serotonin and dopamine bring on from the exercise. In my pocket I had a handful of $2 bills which I give out to kids because it always brings a huge smile and a sincere thank you and I get a big boast myself from seeing how happy it makes them.

So while enjoying the beautiful sights of Millcreek Canyon, I passed a couple and their daughter. The little girl was crying because she had fallen on the trail. As I passed by I told the her “Be sure to keep your eyes on the trail for paper litter and if you pick some up you will be TWO lucky.” I then dropped a $2 bill a few feet on. The girl saw it, picked it up, her scrapes forgotten, and excitedly showed her parents. I kept on hiking, a big smile on my face, but soon heard them talking to another hiker about what I’d done, which made me smile even more.

A little while later I passed a slightly older girl and told her the same thing. When I dropped the $2 bill she very sweetly let me know I had dropped it. I told her to keep it for good luck. I passed this girl and her parents on the way back down and her parents stopped me, thanking me over and over and again and said their daughter thought I was an angel. That made my broad smile into an even broader grin that just wouldn’t leave my face.

By the time I’d gotten to the end of the trail, I was incredibly high on all the joy my little gestures produced as well as from the exercise. I couldn’t stop thinking about how something as small as a $2 bill could make both the giver and receiver so happy. We all go to great lengths to find a little happiness, something that makes us feel good or let’s us know what we do is worthwhile. And yet some of the smallest gestures can do this very thing, not just for you but also for others.

Take a look at Chapter 12 “The Benefits of a “God- Eye View” in my book, “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living”. And take a moment here and there to make someone’s day and yours as well.