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Counting Blessings Amidst Our Tragedies

November 4, 2016 by  
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In last week’s blog, I talked about how all people have difficulties and tragedies. I’m fully aware that my problems mentioned didn’t sound that huge. Some readers might have even been saying to themselves, “Oh the unfortunate rich guy has major problems, huh? What a tragedy he’s had with that terrible common cold. I feel so sorry for him … not!”

My main point of the blog really wasn’t about my very small and temporary health issue but rather was about how we all need to rejoice more often and count our blessings. We need to do it every day and do it before we face a truly huge loss such as a severe health decline or the loss of family or friends.

There is an old Mormon hymn called “Count Your Many Blessings”. One of the lines goes “name them one by one.” I find this to be very profound in that it defines a great way to live each day. If we stop to recognize each of our blessings, it actually can improve our lives and make us feel better, just like what I learned some time ago about how smiling releases good chemicals into your brain, even doing  the same thing when we force a smile.

Like many people if not most, I’ve had some major tragedies in my life that I will never forget—there was my 17-year-old brother who died right in front of me on the basketball court when I was 15 and, the biggest and most terrible shock of my life, when my 16-year-old daughter died. Even though I’ll never really get over those tragedies, I’ve learned to live with the reality of what happened and it has made me more aware of living in the great ‘right now’. It has made me take notice and count the blessings in my life every day.

I remember vividly after my daughter died being totally depressed and laying around doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself for many, many months. Then suddenly I realized that I was completely neglecting my other children. I saw how important they were and how blessed I was to have such good productive, active, loving and lovable kids. I lifted myself out of the dumps and started to notice and pay attention to them and appreciate all the goodness around me.

As I mentioned last week, traveling through parts of Africa was a real eye opener. Our train traveled though many villages filled with garbage, spotted with homes that were just ten by ten foot shacks topped with flimsy roofs held down with rocks. As all too skinny kids ran along the side of the tracks waving at the train, I couldn’t help but see how good we have it. If we are paying attention, we’ll know we need to appreciate all our blessings every day.

So, let’s all take time to notice, take time to appreciate, and take time to love what we have and not just family and friends but even strangers. We need to start giving more back to those who need help. None of us know how long our loved ones and friends will be with us; tragedy can strike any of our lives at any time. So even if you have disagreements and arguments or find yourself angry at those around you, try to step back and look at the bigger picture and be grateful and appreciative of those people. Remember just how important they are to you and just how small the differences are that get in the way.

 

 

Appreciating Human Beings

August 5, 2016 by  
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My weekly blog started out showing people how to make tons of money–I do know how to do it having made millions of dollars myself. I have also shown thousands of others how to do it and many have gone right out and used that knowledge to make their own fortunes. However, life is about so much more than making money. Having lots of money certainly does give a person a lot more choices and can enhance one’s life and those around them greatly. But the older I get the more clearly I can see the huge and lasting value we get from other human beings.

Imagine for a few minutes what it would be like if you found yourself all alone in your city wondering if you were the only human on the planet earth. How would you function? I mean other than gathering food and finding shelter, what would you do day to day? I think, like most people, I would spend all the rest of my time trying to find other human beings.

I don’t know about you but I think I would go absolutely crazy after a while if I didn’t find anyone else! Yet, I think it’s so very easy for most of us to take other human beings for granted and not fully realize how very important other people are to our lives. Other people give our lives so much meaning and happiness and push us to do great things. And let’s not forget about the love that we receive and have the chance to give to so many others. Can you imagine doing something utterly fantastic with an invention or an accomplishment and wanting to tell or show someone what you’ve done but there is nobody around for you to share it with?

I couldn’t help but think of Tom Hanks in the wonderful movie Castaway where he ended up on a deserted island and his only so-called friend is a Wilson ball that floats ashore that he constantly has conversations with just like it was another person. It just shows how desperately we need other people.

I think we all need to take time and observe and appreciate the fact that we need other people. And I’m, not talking about just people we know and love but also total strangers and even people we don’t like. If you thought you were the only person left on the earth and you came across another person, I think you would be absolutely thrilled even if that person wasn’t very likeable. Being all alone really can be miserable. The prison system knows that and uses solitary confinement as a huge punishment.

Ever since I began thinking about being the only person on earth and all the implications of living that way, I’ve really started appreciating other people–even people I really don’t care for. When I’m around those people I sometimes find miserable and ornery I quickly choose to think that if I had their upbringing and past life I’d probably be an ol’ grouch just like they are, but they still are human beings and they are important to all of us and the world.

So yes, I will continue to blog and try to share what I know about making millions but I want you to know that I greatly appreciate other human beings and I am going to work harder to go out of my way to show and demonstrate that appreciation.

 

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?

 

Truly Smart Money

April 15, 2016 by  
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One of the smartest people in the entire world said this about money: “The most powerful principle I ever discovered was compound interest”.  Who said that? Can you believe it was none other than Albert Einstein?

I had forgotten that wonderful quote until the other day when I came across a booklet titled “Being Smart with your Money” written by my very dear friend and my money mentor of years ago, Paul J. Meyer.  Paul was a man who truly went from rags to riches.  As a young man, he was making a few bucks by picking fruit in California, but by using his brain and wisely using his little bit of money with leverage and compounding, he eventually amassed close to a half a billion-dollar fortune.  He was considered the pioneer of the self-improvement industry and also made tens of millions in real estate. I must give him credit for much of my own fortune.

My other mentor was Larry Rosenberg from Denver, Colorado. Both Paul and Larry basically gave me the same advice when it came to making millions with Einstein’s powerful discovery figuring into the equation as well, big time!  I was taught that, to begin with, a person who wants great wealth needs to pay himself first.  That is, no matter how much or how little money you make, set 5%, 10% or more aside and then (and this is critically important!) never, never, never spend it!  This money is not for buying nice things, it is for investing!

When you’ve built up enough from those savings, go out and invest it wisely.  Most of the time that wise investment is going to be in good ol’ real estate.  The big-time, huge key to this investment, however, is to keep at it, reinvesting the money you make on the first deal in another deal and then another deal after that and so on and so on. That is what compounding is all about.

Paul says this about what a $1,000 investment can grow into: “If that $1,000 were in an investment that brought 10% interest per year, in 73 years, I would have over a million dollars from my original $1,000 investment!  If you put another $1,000 dollars into the pot each year, it would take only 47 years to hit the million-dollar mark.” Keep in mind, that’s compounding at only 10%. As my previous blogs have demonstrated, you can do much better than that. I, and many others, have compounded money at 25%, 50%, and even 100% which turns $1,000 into many multi-millions.

Paul Meyer also gives this excellent advice in his “Being Smart with your Money” booklet: “Only when you develop confidence in a principle will you exert the effort required to change your behavior and put this principle into practice.” That means, you won’t be able to put these ideas to work for you until you take the time to look carefully at them and come to understand just how well you can do with this plan. That understanding should motivate you into acting on these principles. Paul has these great bits of super money advice to get you going as well:  “Set goals, live within your means, get on a budget and stay there, pay yourself first, put your money to work …” and, I would add, use lots of leverage and reinvest for that wonderful compounding effect.

Although Paul’s booklet is no longer in print, I do have a number of copies that I would be so happy to share. Simply write me here with your mailing address and I will send it to you. Paul’s wise words are too good to keep to myself! (Free offer for booklet is limited and will be given to those that respond first while supplies last)

A DIFFERENT TYPE OF NEWS YEAR RESOLUTION

January 2, 2016 by  
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In most years past I, and probably you too, have set new year’s resolutions to make more money, get in better physical shape, or to scratch off another item on your bucket list but I had a major brain change a couple of days ago because of a very sad event. A man I consider my older brother passed away on December 27th. I had wanted an older brother ever since my actual older blood brother died right in front of me when I was all of 15. Stein Eriksen was Norwegian and maybe because of me being part Norwegian we hit it off big time many, many years ago. He was no doubt the most famous skier on the planet and was considered the founder of modern skiing. He won a silver and a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics and 3 gold medals in world championships in 1954. But all that fame and the money that followed was not the best part of this man. He the nicest, gentlest and kindest guy you would ever want to meet and you couldn’t ask for a better friend.

Stein was 88 years old and still full of life until the very end. In fact, 16 days before he passed we spent the evening with him celebrating his birthday along with his wonderful and beautiful French wife, Francoise, their son Bjorn and 2 other friends. He was the life of the party. My wife Kimberly and I had also had the great privilege of traveling the world with Stein and his wife. We skied together in Park City, Utah, and played tennis everywhere from his cabin in Montana to Gstaad, Switzerland. We often played with the famous tennis champion Roy Emerson, the very man who introduced Stein to Francoise many, many years before. We even cycled around the islands of Croatia when Stein was in his early 80’s. And I will never forget the long barge trip we took on the scenic Seine river in France. Francoise, being French, made it even more special and, yes, we did tip back a few glasses of good ol’ French red wine.

This past Saturday we got a call from Francoise telling us that Stein had been in the hospital. She said they were sending him home to live his last days and we had better come to the house as soon as possible. By the time we got to the house he was semi-conscious. We tried to communicate with him but the most he could do was wiggle his toes trying to answer some yes and no questions. The next day he was totally unconscious and with his family and a few of his friends at his bedside, this great and wonderful man slipped into what lies next. My incredible friend and big brother was gone.

Stein’s death really didn’t hit me until the next day. Those last two days in his bedroom I found myself being the comforter to his wife and family to the best of my abilities, but the day after he died I fell apart and a piece of me died. I had lost another big brother.

Now as I face a new year when I usually set new year’s resolutions that revolve around money, health and travel, I have a totally new perspective. I want to follow in Stein’s footsteps and gather more friends and, most importantly, be a better friend to others. Money, success, and fame are little tiny things when compared to good friends. Yes, these resolutions are hard to quantify but that’s ok. I’m going after them with all my heart and all my energy.

Next week, I am going to talk about why so many people set resolutions but fall short virtually every year. You might be surprised at what science has found when it comes to this subject.

Reflections in Lieu of a Christmas Card

December 18, 2015 by  
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Now, a week before Christmas I received this email from a very dear friend of 40 years.  He’s a great guy, now a retired doctor, whose life was turned upside down 2 years ago when he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live.  After going through a 9-hour surgery and painful recovery he’s still hanging in there and has embraced life with incredible energy and enthusiasm, fully living life every single day.  He is a positive, lovable human being who is setting a wonderful example for all of us, a man I am proud to call a great friend.

Here is his “Reflections in lieu of a Christmas Card”

I stayed out of the hospital this year.

I played golf or pickle ball almost every day.

I enjoyed friendships, new and old.

I’m learning to say goodbye reluctantly to some
friendships that didn’t work.

I made a few new friends.

I love my kids and grand kids who each seem to be
on their own unique journey.

I continue to know less about more.

I own my own faults and will probably keep
most of them.

I travel less and enjoy my home and Robyn more.

I value things less and ideas more.

I totally reject trying to change anyone else.

I seek forgiveness for hurting anyone.

I reject exclusion, pettiness, manipulation, passive
aggressiveness, and revenge.

I love knowledge, insight, information.

I love competition and discussion.

I reject polarization, cliques, political and
group collectivism.

I advocate for things I believe and not for groups,
causes, or labels.

I advocate for health, fitness, and science.

I love animals more than people.

I reject political correctness and distribution of
wealth.  I advocate for self-determinism.

My identity is not in my possessions.

I resolve next year to reduce drama in my
life by avoiding those who need it.

I want to live as long as possible if there is good quality.

After pancreatic cancer, I’m not afraid of much so
I will speak to my beliefs.  You can have yours
so don’t be offended.  I can disagree with you
and love you.  Don’t react with anger.  Just
listen or not.

I can’t be offended unless I choose to be.

Life is short, don’t withhold love.

Don’t take yourself seriously.  Laugh at your
mistakes and embrace them.  Don’t worry
about what others think.  Worry more about
what you think of yourself.  I want you happy.

If this all sounds pontifical, it probably is.  It’s me at my best and worst.

Love to all.

–Craig Davis

Money Can’t Buy Happiness—or Can it?

November 28, 2015 by  
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We’ve all heard the old saying “money can’t buy happiness”, but like many enduring myths, this one is proving not to be true.  Harvard business professor Michael Norton says that money can and does, in fact, buy happiness in many cases.  And quite frankly my personal experience has proved his point over and over again. But really, it’s what you spend the money on that determines if that money actually brings you happiness.

As we’ve just finished the giving of ‘thanks’ on Thanksgiving Day and as we approach Christmas time and the possible gifts we can pass on to others, it’s a good idea to really think through what possible gifts would bring the most lasting happiness and satisfaction. I don’t think giving just ‘stuff’ is the answer as I think professor Norton proves.

Many years ago, I figured this ‘money myth’ really was just that—a myth. I learned it during those years when my family traveled the world. We went everywhere in Europe and had some very interesting and thrilling drives in the family station wagon through the middle eastern countries of Turkey, Syria, Jordon, Lebanon and Egypt. Later in life I even did a ’round the world’ trip. I have often found myself thinking over the grand memories of these wonderful excursions and when I compared the money spent on travel with money spent on a big screen TV or a new fancy car, the experience of the travel won every time.

Discovering that money really can buy happiness was a huge wake up call for me and motivated me in my younger years to figure out the secrets of making millions so I could really lift my happiness level and keep it up there at a high level most of the time.

When it comes to bringing lasting happiness, Professor Norton’s studies show that experience trumps the acquisition of ‘stuff’ almost all the time. That includes all kinds travel and vacations as well as a trip to the beach, mountains or an amusement park with a ride on the roller coaster.

Think about your own life and experiences.  If you are like me, you get tons of pleasure for several days even before you go on your exotic trip simply by thinking about the great things you may encounter and experience. Then you get more happiness and fulfillment during the trip or vacation.  As an extra bonus after you return home, you often live and relive that trip over and over again, sometimes for many, many years after. Compare that with how you think about the ‘stuff’ you have.  The newness of things quickly wears out and doesn’t thrill you much after a short while.

So again, think about the gifts that you may give this Christmas and maybe throw in a plane ticket or two for you kids or grandkids to some place they’ve never been. And yes, keep on earning and investing wisely to build your estate, without guilt, and give others experience rather than just stuff.

The Difference a World View Makes

September 25, 2015 by  
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As I write this, I am flying at 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that might be a pretty incredible thing for some but the incredible things on my mind are the wonderful people that we met in Ireland and the great beauty of the country side. We just spent 8 days there (my wife is part Irish but had never visited Ireland). What a wonderful country, with the greenest of  green lands  you’ll ever see and such friendly, kind people.  We flew into Dublin and rented a car then had the scary experience of driving on the wrong side of the road-at least it’s the wrong side as far as us Americans are concerned. I only screwed up twice but quickly corrected and we survived!

We drove from Dublin up to what is called the Carton House, a huge estate with a castle that is now fixed up as a hotel complete with two 18 hole golf courses and all kinds of other amenities. You see, my wife is a Carton and her family history was traced way back hundreds of years ago to the Cartons and the Fitzgeralds, both famous and very well to do families of Ireland. So we just had to visit and stay in the Carton house. We had a great time there and later drove (very carefully) to Kilkenny, the town made fun of on South Park.

Just before we left, we watched the big Gaelic Football finals. I’d never heard of the game before. It’s a combination between soccer, American football and basketball. They run with the ball, dribble it, pass it forward and backward, and kick it for a score. It’s a hugely exciting game; I loved it.

So there we were in an Irish Pub just a few blocks from the stadium packed with over 80,000 screaming fans and next to us was a beautiful couple. In short order we struck up a conversation and discovered they were from Hungary. They were such fun people. I liked them so much I insisted that I buy their lunch. It was like we were almost best friends by the time we finished lunch. That was such a great feeling and left me with such great memories. I sure hope to see them again some time, some place.

That chance meeting brought back memories of all the great people I’ve met in my life from so many different countries and cultures. I’ve had the great privilege of experiencing so much of this great world we live in and have learned so many great lessons from other cultures and peoples from my travels. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned from all these travels, at least for me is simply this:

To visit other countries and cultures and other people with different beliefs, habits and different views of the world can give us all a better and bigger mind and help you and I to be more open minded and accepting of others.

And that, my friends, is what this world needs more of. In my own personal opinion that would lead to a much more peaceful and war free world and would be a big blessing to each and every one of us. Do you see my point? I can only hope that you too will agree.

 

 

What We Can Discover in Other People’s Worlds

June 19, 2015 by  
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I don’t know about you but I absolutely love to travel, especially to foreign countries and places I’ve never ventured into before. It excites my mind and does good things for me physically as well. Psychologists have told us for years that the human brain craves and thrives on novelty and also that a brain that gets excited can many times coax or persuade the body to maintain or even create better health. It sure seems to do that for me!

My wife and I just got back yesterday from Europe. Even though I have visited the Netherlands a few times before this last trip, this visit still stimulated my mind and body quite a bit. I am sure part of that was that I’d never taken the high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam and viewed that marvelous scenery. We also stayed in an old and quaint yet very different hotel right on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals.

A few days later my wife and I again took the train but to a city I’d never visited before. Just outside the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (commonly known as Den Bosch) we were privileged to watch from our nice fourth row seats a great tennis tournament played on grass as a warm up tournament for the renowned Wimbledon tournament. Interacting and getting to know a few of the wonderfully friendly Dutch people was tremendously fun as well as interesting and mind expanding. I even learned that the Dutch are, on average, the tallest people on the planet.

I’ve thought many times how different the world would probably be if virtually everyone could travel and visit dozens of different countries and cultures. I can’t help but believe that if this were to happen and we all took the time to really study and get to know and understand other people, we would grow to be so much more accepting and sympathetic. It would, no doubt, greatly diminish and maybe even halt the huge conflicts and wars of the world.

Just think about how you try to help one of your kids or friends that are having problems. Most of us try to understand the causes of those problems and the more we discover, the sympathetic we are and the more we can help out. Getting to know and understand other cultures makes it more likely that we will be able to accept, and when needed, help these others people that previously we may have thought were rather strange. Next time you travel to a new place you might want to keep that in mind and see what you might discover.

 

A Profound and Particular Connection

June 12, 2015 by  
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My wife and I recently visited the home of the famous painter Rembrandt, here in Amsterdam. Rembrandt was quite an astute businessman as well as a gifted artist. Unfortunately he wasn’t home when we stopped by—ha ha–but his beautiful artwork was everywhere and it was pretty darn impressive, I must say.

I also had a very short but interesting conversation with a friendly guard at the Rembrandt home.  It all started with a favorite comment of mine that I made as we parted ways. It really seemed to get to him but in a good way.  I said “Have a nice life!” And he enthusiastically said “Wow. Thanks a lot. I think I will plan on doing just that”.  That started the short conversation. But my next comment seemed to really hit a nerve, again, in a good way as he went on to say he’d never thought of the life of human beings in the way I said it.

What I said was simply that I think that all of us humans, even though we are from different countries, cultures, religions and speak different languages, we are all so very much the same. We all share at least one thing in common that should bring us even closer together as humans, especially in today’s world with the killing of so many innocent people in the name of “belief” or different world views.  He wanted to know what that ‘one thing’ was that we all share no matter who we are, what we believe or where we live.

What I said was, “No matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, as powerful as king or a president or as helpless as a new born child, we all are going to die.”  I know that is obvious but it’s something we should think about more often when we are feeling high and mighty or are judging other people and what they are doing with their lives.  The fact is that not one person out of the 7 billion people on the earth right now will be here in another 120 years or so. We all are in the same boat so why not make that the best possible boat in the universe and treat others as our brothers and sisters with great love and respect?

As we walked away from this very kind and interesting Dutch man, I think both he and I thought, “I think I have a new friend”.

 

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