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Secrets to Authentic Happiness

November 30, 2018 by  
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I think I came across the best reason for keeping a journal of your life or, as my good friend Rich Harvey used to call it, a reason for people to “Journal Their Journey”.

Just the other day I picked up one of my journals dated 10-26-2003 to 6-12-2004. My comments about what was going on in my life at that time quoted a great book that I had totally forgotten about entitled Authentic Happiness, by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D.

In his book, Dr. Seligman talks about what real authentic happiness is and how we can capture it and keep it. Finding and enjoying real happiness is not done through seeking and finding pleasure and the same goes for seeking happiness through just staying busy – it just doesn’t work. Great and authentic happiness is experienced from gratification. So how do we become gratified?

Much of gratification comes from “production”.  When we produce something of great value to others and/or ourselves, we end up with a great feeling of satisfaction. Here are Dr. Seligman’s 8 common ingredients and psychological components of gratification:

  1. The task is challenging and requires skill.
  2. We have to concentrate.
  3. There are clear goals.
  4. We get immediate feedback.
  5. We have deep effortless involvement.
  6. There is a sense of control.
  7. Sense of self vanishes.
  8. Time seem to stop.

Dr. Seligman goes on to talk about depression in today’s world and how widespread it is. It has increased by a huge amount in the last 40 years and the average age of depressed people is much younger today. That certainly gives more credence to the importance of setting big, tough goals. If your mind is firmly set on your goals, it’s more likely that your mind will not be spending time reflecting how you feel in the moment. Plus, there is the big extra benefit that setting big goals does energize us both physically and mentally because of the chemicals released by our brains, as I talked about in last week’s blog.

But why is depression so high in wealthy and healthy countries? The author’ s theory is “that an ethos that builds unwarranted self-esteem, espouses victimology, and encourages rampant individualism has contributed to that epidemic.” Another reason is our huge reliance on shortcuts to happiness. Every nation builds more and more shortcuts to pleasure … TV, drugs, shopping, spectator sports and high sugar food and drink. Gaining these and many other things take very little effort on our part these days.

A major symptom of depression is self-absorption. The depressed person thinks about how he feels a great deal of the time – excessively so. When a depressed person detects sadness, he ruminates about it, projecting it into the future, this in turn increases his sadness in his life and across all his activities. In contrast, gratification is the absence of feeling sorry for yourself.

What we all need to do more of is realize that there are no shortcuts to the kind of fulfilling gratification we all crave, and realize we need to focus more and more on our goals, big tasks, and our production as well as giving up the constant self-worry and self-absorption. You may have noticed that really happy people, for the most part, spend the least amount of time home alone – they tend to have a rich and fulfilling social life, which really is the opposite of being self-absorbed.

Next week I’m going to talk more about this great thing called “Authentic Happiness” that Martin’s book gives us such super insight into as well as talking about how understanding where it comes from can bump up our happiness factor and enhance our lives.

 

It Starts with a Dream

November 16, 2018 by  
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Almost every super successful person I’ve ever heard of or have met began as a dreamer. Without dreams, very little will happen in any of our lives. But with a dream, great and wonderful things can, and most likely will, happen but only if you add two more things – specifics to make it a goal and action to turn the goal into reality. But the dream has to come first! So, let’s talk about that.

I once heard that 75 percent of our life is lived in our minds. That may not be entirely accurate, but I think you would agree that a fair amount of our lives is lived inside our heads and since our minds do indeed have great power, there must be great potential there.

Think of yourself in Chicago or New York in the middle of a cold winter.  You’re watching TV or reading a magazine and you see an advertisement for a trip to Hawaii. You’re attracted to the idea, and suddenly you start to dream about going to Hawaii for the entire month of February. What happens? You start to live the trip in your mind. You may even start to work it out in detail, planning exactly when you will leave, where you’ll stay, what you’ll do while you are there, and so on.

You think about it so much that you eventually decide that you are absolutely going to go and, if you don’t have the money to make it happen, you begin to plan how you are going to save enough to make the trip. And, of course, all of this is part of you living the trip in your mind long before you go.

When you finally make the trip, you have the great time that you had pre-lived in your mind and on the way home, you relive what’s just happened to you. That reliving of your trip in your mind can go on for weeks, months and even years, renewing your enjoyment of it each time.

Pictures can be a huge influence in helping our brains relive the good stuff in our lives.  Years ago, I bought a bunch of digital frames (they cost all $10-$20) and placed them all around the house. This way I can just insert a memory card from my camera (I use a new card for each trip or special event) and the digital frame will rotate through all the photos, allowing me to easily relive those great moments in my life. You should try it too. It’s a small thing but it can really enhance your life.

Just don’t forget, dreaming is not enough. You must also follow through with goals and action if you want to make it more than just a dream. Next week we’ll talk more just how to do that!

 

Challenge Yourself, Challenge Your Mind

November 9, 2018 by  
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Erik Weihenmayer on Everest

Imagine a blind man who made it all the way to the summit of Mt. Everest. Let me introduce you to Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Everest. How do you think his satisfaction levels are? Wow, I’ll bet his intense satisfaction lasted a long time, maybe even a lifetime. But Erik did not only just climb Everest, as amazing as that accomplishment is just by itself, but he is one of just a handful of human beings, and the only blind man, to scale the world’s seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Talk about taking on a tough challenge! His so-called disability has completely taken a back seat to his passion to live his life well!

Erik’s award winning film, Farther Than the Eye Can See, was ranked in the top 20 adventure films of all time by Men’s Journal, and brought home first prize at 19 film festivals. It was also nominated for two Emmy’s. The film beautifully captures the emotion, humor, and drama of Erik’s historic ascent on Everest, as well as his three other remarkable “firsts” – he was one half of the first American father/son team to summit Everest, the oldest man to summit, and the most people from one team (19) to reach the top of Everest in a single day!

For Erik and his team, having met the challenge of Everest head on and having pushed past their fear, obstacles, adversity, age, and even disability, to succeed, they know that for the rest of their lives they can tackle the “hard” stuff of life really do it well because they have already proven to themselves that they can.

Did Erik Weihenmayer put his feet up after the triumphs and bask in the glow of his accomplishment? Perhaps he did for a while, but this former middle school teacher and coach never stops challenging himself.

“There are summits everywhere,” Erik often tells his audiences when he lectures. “Just because you lose your sight, doesn’t mean you have to lose your vision.”

Three years after he did it the first time, Eric went back to the Himalayas and tackled Everest again, but this time with an even greater vision. On that second trip, he took six Tibetan teenagers with him – a dangerous and challenging accomplishment made all the more remarkable by the fact that these six teenagers were blind as well. Wow!

You can challenge yourself in meaningful and lasting ways as well. The key is to continually challenge your thinking. If you work on changing that gray matter enough, I believe you can avoid the slowdown and letdown trap that snares so many people today, especially as they get older. Challenge yourself big time and you’ll be more than ready to go for your big dreams and accomplish them.

Let’s take a trip inside our minds right now.

First of all, do you believe you can change the way you think about life? Or are there new ways to think about your capacities and your potentials and what you can and can’t do?

So, I am now sending you a big challenge to really push yourself big time and, yes, I am going to challenge myself big time too!

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.

Choosing Novelty over Fear

September 21, 2018 by  
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Flying back with my wonderful wife, Kimberly, from Paris yesterday —a 10 hour non-stop to Salt Lake City—a 10 hour non-stop to Salt Lake City – I couldn’t help but reminisce over our super great trip to Sicily and France. In my mind, I relived all the things we did – the wonderful cathedrals, castles and intriguing side streets with the totally unique cafe’s and tasty 3 cheese fondue dips.

I got to thinking just how much travel to foreign counties and different places in the world expands and stimulates a person’s mind, making them more creative and appreciative as well as, sometimes, giving the entrepreneurial mind great ideas for new products and services that they can introduce back in their own country. These ideas can, sometimes, make that entrepreneur a fortune from just duplicating, or even, improving and/or changing that product or service. There are so many discoveries popping up all over the world and those can make a fortune for anyone who is paying attention and willing to work to make that product or service fit in their own country.

But business aside, I find that travel to a foreign country lifts my soul. If I was feeling a bit down or depressed before the trip, that plane ride and the visuals as we fly over a city like Paris, London, or Rome, eventually strolling through those foreign streets as well, is like taking a super drug to make me feel great. I’ve never forgotten how much the brain craves novelty and how that novelty pumps feel good chemicals into the brain. New places, new faces, and different unique cultures do exactly that for us humans.

This morning, as I was writing this, I was struck by the question of how many Americans have never traveled outside the USA and also why so many people have a great fear of flying. First of all, in regards to the fear of flying, many studies have shown that the chances of dying on a commercial jet are just .07 out of one billion miles flown!  Knowing that statistic makes my flights at 35,000 feet at 565 miles an hour across the ocean very relaxing.

Sadly, even here in the USA, which is one of richest countries in the world, as much as 63% of the population has never traveled outside the country. I would bet that most of that comes more from the fear of flying rather than the cost. And by the way, if you shop around, you can find round trip flights to Paris from the US for a mere $500 or so, depending on when you travel.  And again, if you or your friends or family members have a fear of flying, be sure to give them some statistics. So here is another one –there is only one chance in 11 million that you will die in a commercial plane.

By the way, I was thrilled to read recently that they are reintroducing the Concorde Jet and that it will be flying again in 2023. I always loved that 3 and half hour plane ride to and from Europe. Wow, what amazing speed–about 1350 miles an hour! I would urge you to sit down right now and make a list of the countries you want to visit, being sure to put some projected dates down for your trips, then go do it. Coax your friends and relatives to do the same thing—you won’t be sorry!

A List to Start the Day

September 14, 2018 by  
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A few weeks ago, I talked about how important that first hour of your day can be as the book, The Miracle Morning, talks about. I would add one critical thing that you can do to make that first 60 minutes of your day so much more productive and beneficial to your life – write down, the night before, the items and tasks that you want to address the next morning. Write what you want to concentrate on for those first 60 minutes. You can break it down to six 10 minute items or four 15 minutes tasks, but no matter how you do it, making a list can, and will, greatly increase the odds of you following through on what you want to accomplish.

There is something magic that happens in your brain when you reduce your desires to a list. When you write those items down, it’s like your brain pushes you to act on them and won’t let you go until you do it.

In my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I have a chapter entitled “Clone Yourself with the Amazing ‘L’ Factor”.  Show me any super-successful person who has accomplished big things and I’ll show you an accomplished list maker. Yes, you can clone yourself by the wise use of list making, plus some good old-fashion delegation.

Of the many specific techniques that have huge value in helping catapult a person to the top of whatever they’re going after, I have to say that list making is at, or near, the top of that list. For some reason most people tend to put a much higher value on just about anything that is on a written list. It’s just flat-out amazing how much more enhanced your life will become and how many more dreams and goals you will be able to achieve by using lists. In addition, daily task lists or to-do lists are the key to keeping track of accomplishing all the bite-size components into which you’ve broken down your big picture goals.

So, if you have gotten away from that ole list making habit, it’s probably a good time to start making lists in order to drive yourself to get lots of stuff done. And I don’t mean just for that first hour of the day, but make lists for your big, huge goals and read over your list often, checking off those items that you’ve accomplished. Then you can give yourself a nice pat on the back for getting the job done!

Prioritizing Your Lists

September 7, 2018 by  
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Last week’s blog challenged you to become the next Richard Branson. I’m still waiting for that invitation to jump in your hot air balloon and travel over the Atlantic Ocean! But, more importantly, I hope my words got you thinking about list making.

I ended my previous blog, which was all about how successful you can be when you make lists, by asking the question, “How important is it to prioritize your list?”

Of course, the answer is that prioritizing your lists are absolutely critical, that is, if you want to do much bigger and better things!  However, most of us humans after we’ve made a list, will often make the mistake of NOT prioritizing the items on them. You may be thinking, “Hey, everybody knows you should prioritize!” And that may be true, but most people simply don’t do it, even if they know it’s very important!

I’m acquainted with many bright and intelligent people who treat virtually situation – every business deal, and every contact – equally. Ok, I’ve been guilty of doing that myself from time to time. People will even let a very low priority phone call or even a walk-in salesperson interrupt a high priority project or meeting that they are involved in. They have no sense of priority. They often move from one small, easy item to another small, easy item on their “to do list”, simply because they are easy and to get them out of the way.

Once in a while, if there is still time in the day, they’ll finally get to some important items, or even a top priority item. I’m sure most of us have done this, on occasion, but we need to realize that leaving our top priority items until later will hurt our progress and productivity to a large degree.

If we give it some advance thought and plan our day, we are more likely to stop ourselves from “taking the easy way” and not be oblivious to the great power of doing the top priority items first. Probably the biggest reason all of us can, and do, too often leave the top priority items until later is that those are usually very challenging and very difficult, and people just don’t want to push themselves. They do the easier, lower priority and only moderately important items first so they can check them off the list. I guess it makes them feel good or feel like they’re getting more done that way.

Have I taken the easy road myself?  Yes, of course I have. Most of us are very human in that way and we slip up once in a while. Sometimes we slip up more often than that. But by knowing that’s the wrong way to approach my list, I can concentrate on giving the top priority items a top priority position on my list which will help me reach great heights in my life.

If you dwell on this idea and acknowledge the fact that doing the easy things on your list first can keep you from accomplishing great things, you are much more likely to prioritize properly. And when you do slip up, and am totally aware of that slip up, you need to admit that to yourself and take corrective action. I am sure you can do this because I can and I’m pretty sure, you and I are not that different.

A Billionaire and a Popstar

August 31, 2018 by  
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I’m sure you’ve taken note of certain people whose lives seem packed full of many marvelous activities, adventures, and experiences. Have you ever wondered how they do it all? Well, a big part of their success is that they are good at making, keeping, and working off of lists.

A good example is British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who credits his lists of things he wants to accomplish as the key to his getting so much done. He takes the time to go down that list often, adding to it and checking off each item as it is completed.

Here’s a guy who, at the tender age of 25, had the nerve to make a $100,000 offer to buy the Caribbean island of Necker that was listed for sale at $6 million dollars. No, the seller didn’t accept that low ball offer but, later, Branson did buy the entire island for a mere $180,000 which ended up being one of his favorite paradise getaways. And get this … his super luxury cabin rents out for $65,000 a night! Wow. That’s my kind of real estate investment – a place you can rent out, when not using it for yourself, that provides a super great cash flow.

Today, his Virgin group of businesses owns more than 200 different companies. Among these companies are businesses that specialize in air travel, finance, retail sales, music, cell phones, internet, hotels, and even a railroad. In 1999, Branson attempted, and broke, world records in hot air balloon travel and in a transatlantic small boat crossing.

Pop star, Madonna, also has a reputation as a big list maker. Although her accomplishments are in different areas than Branson’s, she attributes her list-making to keeping track of her priorities and getting so much done.

Lists are one of the secrets used by the rich and famous every day of their lives. They help them to run their businesses and to expand their ventures. List making is a common trait of millions of successful people regardless of race, sex, nationality, or occupation. Lists are used to lift their lives and propel them toward fulfillment. And lists can do the same for you and me!

Once again, as I write about this, it truly motivates me to make more lists and be more consistent in doing just that. But here’s a good question to end on: How important is it to “Prioritize” your lists?  We’ll talk about that next week.

In the meantime, how about you or your son or granddaughter become the next Branson? Hey, it could happen, and then maybe you will invite me to a hot air balloon ride across the Atlantic!

Life Changing Mornings

August 24, 2018 by  
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I just finished reading a great little book that my wife gave me titled, The Miracle Morning: The Not-so-Obvious Secret to Transform Your Life Before 8 A.M. In this very uplifting and motivating book, the author, Hal Elrod tells of how his life was dramatically lifted by setting an early morning schedule and routine. This was very difficult for him at first since he was defiantly not an early morning person, but as he says, “committing to my personal development in the morning … would give me a positive motivation to kick start my day.”

On that first morning he pulled out a list of what he considered life changing development activities that he had learned over the years but had not put into practice. “One by one, I implemented each one,” he writes. He had decided to use one hour each morning and spend 10 minutes for each item on his list.

Here are the 6 items that Hal thought were the most impactful for his life:

  • Silence – as in meditation where he would concentrate on his breathing for 10 minutes.
  • Reading – he grabbed the book Think and Grow Rich. (He had started reading it many times but never finished the book.)
  • Affirmations – he wrote down his list of self-affirmations including the things he wanted to become and what he was going to do to change his life.
  • Visualization – he created this after watching the movie The Secret (I have to watch that movie myself.)
  • Journaling – he had a journal but had not written in it for a long time, yet he found after writing a few things he was grateful for the way exercises her that motion creates emotion so drop down and did push-ups and insist for those 2 minutes of stopping by getting up one hour earlier as you normally do than you normally do and going through a routine it lifted his spirits.
  • Exercise – he had heard that “motion creates emotion” so he dropped down and did push-ups then sit-ups for those 10 minutes without stopping.

By getting up one hour earlier than you normally do and going through a routine, spending just 10 minutes on each item you set for yourself, you can change and enhance your life the way Hal Elrod has done. And Hal had some pretty huge setbacks when he was a young man. At age 20 he was hit head on by a drunk driver and was dead for 6 minutes. He suffered brain damage, 11 broken bones and was told that he would never walk again. He didn’t believe what he was being told and went on to defy the doctors, eventually running ultra-marathons, becoming a Hall of Fame Business achiever, and even recording as a hip-hop artist.

If someone like that created and is using the “Miracle Morning” technique, you know that the method is certain to create success. It did work for him and I think it can work for anyone who is willing to set up the schedule and go after what is important to them.

Ok, here’s a good way to start that will give you a little more direction and additional motivation to get out there and improve your life – go by Hal’s book! You won’t be sorry. https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Morning-Not-So-Obvious-Guaranteed-Transform/dp/0979019710

Personal Value Versus Work Value

July 27, 2018 by  
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You probably have heard other people say, and you may have even have said it yourself, “I’m so looking forward to my retirement.” Most people think that their life is going to be so great and so much better when they retire. When you are retired you don’t have to get up when the alarm goes off and hurry off to work to arrive at a very specific time. You probably think that life after retirement is going to be a breeze, giving a person all that free time to do whatever they choose to do.

Those were certainly my thoughts and feelings, that is, until I suddenly hit retirement and found myself sitting at home with not enough to do and absolutely no timelines or deadlines to push and motivate me to get much of anything done. Ok, I did set up goals like that 20,000 steps per day goal of mine that pushes me to get up off my butt and get moving, but once I’ve hit that goal for the day, I would find myself bored out of my mind. Yes, there’s that bit of fun traveling to exotic places that I love to do, but between trips it quickly becomes a real downer.

Even if you are not even close to retirement, I think it’s a real good idea to start planning specifically on what you are going do when you reach that status. I hadn’t given that subject enough thought and planning before I retired and, wow, was it ever a huge letdown when I found myself there.

But thankfully, I had a huge breakthrough that is changing and improving everything and every day! Thank God for great authors who write wonderful books that can make a major difference in many different parts of a person’s life. That’s what Hyrum Smith and his book Purposeful Retirement did for me.

Hyrum talks about how so many beliefs can be so wrong and hurt you. Like the belief that personal value only comes through hard work, or important people have important titles, or if you are busy then you are important. Those beliefs can be so very harmful, especially to you when you move into retirement. Your work value has nothing to do with your value as a person.

Quoting Hyrum Smith, “My value as a human being is independent of my job. If I based my value on my job and my job goes away, my value as a human goes away with it. This leads to big trouble. This leads to unhappiness, isolation, depression, and eventually death. The minute you find value from just being you, you will find inner peace. But first you must not only understand but you must know your value has nothing to do with your job title.” These are some very wise words that we all need to pound into our head.

Next week I want to dig deeper into Hyrum’s book and pass on some more great advice about how important it is to stay productive and have meaningful projects. I’ll also talk about how important it is to start giving back and helping others after retirement and how that keeps you excited about yourself and your life.

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