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Get Past the Depression

January 10, 2021 by  
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The news this week, and through much of this past year, has been terribly sad and is sometimes almost too hard to process. There is been a lot of news about depression and how much more of it there is right now. It’s understandable. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject with thoughts from past posts. Because although depression may be hard to avoid in times like these, it can be minimized and only fleeting if you are vigilant.

First of all, we need to deal with our disappointment and the restrictions this pandemic has put on our lives. Our advanced technologies have led us to habitually expect that we can access our wishes immediately. Super-fast internet, instant downloads, and multi-functional cell phones give us the ability to have some level of access to whatever or whomever we want whenever we want. But life, in general, doesn’t work that way. As a result, we are experiencing tremendous frustration and impatience with a world that is not changing quickly and fulfilling our needs and wishes immediately. This can ultimately lead to depression or anger.

In my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I touch upon some of the depressive episodes I have been through and some of the ways I have dealt with them. I also think Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, has hit upon the true source and the most effective ideas to combat depression as well as other mood disorders.

The first few ideas on his list are some of the most important, at least in my experience. They deal with becoming a watcher of one’s thoughts and redirecting the mind when we start to buy into the idea of being a depressed person:

  • Learn to recognize how your mind labels thoughts and sits in judgment so you know what ideas lie at the source of your pain.
  • Accept whatever the present moment contains as if you had chosen it.
  • The pain or depression wants you to unconsciously identify with it, allowing it to survive in your mind. If you are not a careful watcher of your thoughts then you may come to believe that you are a depressed person and then this becomes your identity.

Letting your mind create this depression identity will make it very difficult to get past the dark feelings and the pain because you will then believe this is who you are. But if you start with these first few ideas of Tolle’s, recognizing how your mind is working and seeing the present moment as something under your control, you can avoid the mindset that makes you think of yourself as a depressed person.

These ideas are true for any issues of mood. I choose to talk about them in terms of depression because that has been a difficult battle of mine. However, if you are dealing with anger, guilt, low self-esteem, fear, etc. watching your thoughts and taking control can help you with all types of painful moods and attitudes.

So, if you are depressed, don’t just live with it. Find its source, accept that it exists, and then aim to let it go. Give yourself goals and make plans you can look forward to. Eat healthy and whole foods as refined and sugary foods have been shown to feed depression. Get out and move and boost that serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

You may also want to turn off the TV, stop reading those dramatic headlines, and unsubscribe from all those pessimistic reports. Instead, read up on all the great success stories you can find on-line and in responsible and inspiring periodicals. You can, literally, change your mood by changing your view of the world as well as your mindset.

 

A New Goal, a New Habit, a New Year

January 3, 2021 by  
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Since we’ve just started a new year, I must say something about renewing and re-dedicating ourselves to our life goals. And there is one super powerful and time proven aid I would strongly suggest you use to increase your odds of hitting your goals. It’s something I talk about in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, but I have another source to show you how powerful it can be.

Years ago, my son David gave me a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and, wow, what a great book I found it to be. I have re-read it many times. Duhigg relies on scientific studies to dissect what it takes to form a new habit or dump a habit that you don’t like but he also discusses this aid to reaching your goals that I want to share with you.

In the book, he talks about a Scottish study by a psychologist who recruited 60 patients that just had hip or knee replacement surgery. Having personally experienced a double hip replacement, I know just how painful this kind of surgery can be. Most people don’t even want to move afterward, let alone start walking as their rehabilitation requires.

After their surgeries, this psychologist gave each patient a booklet that detailed their rehab schedule and, in the back, there were 13 additional pages, one for each week, with blank spaces and these instructions:

“My goals for this week are _________________________. Write down exactly what you are going to do. For example, if you are going to go for a long walk or hike this week, write down where and when you are going to do it.”

Patients were asked to fill in each of those pages with specific plans. After their rehabilitation period, the psychologist compared the recovery results of those that filled out the pages and those that did not. Duhigg notes that, “It seems absurd to think that giving people a few pieces of blank paper might make a difference in how quickly they recover from surgery.”

But it did! Those patients that wrote down their goals recovered much faster than those who didn’t write down a thing.

The great lesson here, a lesson that I’ve preached to myself and others for years, is that we greatly improve our chance of success many times over if we simply write our goals down! And I mean all our goals: financial, physical, family, social etc. I also suggest that you put down the dates and/or times by which you want to accomplish your goals.

This isn’t only for long-term goals. I’ve found it extremely useful to write down my next day’s goals the night before as well. It’s far more likely that I will get those tasks done if they are written out and ready for me when I awake.

So, if you don’t already have the habit of writing down what you are going to do, this would be a great time to start. As a matter fact, write down this one now – that you are going to always write down your plans and goals! That’s a perfect start towards accomplishing your goals in this new year.

 

Never Stop Moving!

November 8, 2020 by  
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It’s quite a strange thing that when you start preaching to another person, whether it’s “Hey, you need to read more,” or “Workout more, eat less and lose weight,” it tends to push us to do whatever it is we are trying to get the other person to do.  Maybe that’s why I like writing a weekly blog. I find myself doing more of the things I am preaching to others about.

If you read my blog you know that I’m always writing about how important it is to keep moving especially as you get older. I play a lot of tennis and I’ll never forget how surprised I was when one of the guys I played with told me his age. He was a darn good player, moved well, and hit the snot out of the ball. Well, he told me he was over 80 years old! And I thought he was younger than me at 76.

As I said in last week’s blog, I’m re-reading the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. In that book, I read about the French guy who set a new world record in 1917 by cycling 22 kilometers in one hour … at age 105! Wow!

“His VO2 max (maximum volume of oxygen consumed), heart rate, and heart and lung health were measured over two years and it was discovered that his aerobic capacity was that of a 50 year old, some 55 years younger than his actual age,” the book’s author, Chili Lee, added. “Even more amazing was the fact that his VO2 max increased 13 percent.”

Of course, that doesn’t happen without a lot of effort over the years. The key is a very important thing that will allow you to live a long and healthy life: you need to keep moving!

I’ll never forget when my good friend and gold medalist Stein Eriksen (with me in the photo here) cycled with my wife and I over 30 miles every day for almost a week. It was in Europe (Gstaad, Switzerland) many years ago and he was keeping up with me and even passing me from time to time and he was 80 years old then! He won a gold medal in 1952 Olympics, in addition to a silver and bronze medal in other years. We were with him when, sadly, he passed away at age 88.

To sum it all up, I’ll quote from NASA’s former director of Life Sciences Division and author of the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Dr. Joan Vernikos: “The key to good health is being as active as possible all day. This doesn’t mean that you have to exercise for several hours, like an athlete. It means you should move your body whenever you get the chance. The more often you move, the better.”

Okay, readers go to it and keep moving!

 

The Neglected Key to a Long Life

October 25, 2020 by  
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I started to re-read the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 YEARS: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Transformation written by Ilchi Lee. I’ve written about this book in a previous blog post but I didn’t mention an incredible statistic I learned about in these pages.

It turns out, you can do this very simple thing that, on average, can lengthen your life by 7.5 years. That conclusion was reached based on data from 143 studies with a total of 300,000 participants. In that previous post, I mostly talked about how a long and healthy life is primarily about eating nutritious foods and staying physically active but there’s a bit more you can do.

So, during my second read of the book, what really jumped out at me was something that I’ve not been doing much of since I retired. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve ignored this critical part of living a long life and I have suffered because of it.

What is it that I’ve ignored that could have possibly lengthened my life by 7.5 years? It’s this thing called a social life! Having and keeping a good strong and active social life does things to the brain including sending signals to various body parts that keep it healthy and helps you live longer.

When I retired, I let my social life slide down big time! I stopped going to the office and so I stopped seeing my coworkers, clients, partners and business associates. I also moved into a big house on the mountain side with no neighbors, so that made it even worse. And this COVID-19 has certainly not helped in the least. In addition, there’s no kids here at home anymore. It’s just me and the wife in our big, empty nest.

Lee says in his book, “The isolation of the elderly doesn’t only cause loneliness, it has been shown to have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing conditions like chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia”. In addition, he notes, “Having people around us with whom we can communicate on a heart-to-heart level may also reduce the effects of stress.”

We all want to be happy but things can quickly change when we suddenly retire–Lee goes on to say “People, especially as they get older, are experiencing deeper and more frequent forms of unhappiness in many spheres of life: chronic illnesses, alienation or disruption of personal relationships, weakening of economic power. Suddenly facing their social roles greatly reduced during retirement, people are likely to find their self-esteem withering away.”

Most of that has hit me hard so I’m here to tell you that, whether you are retired yet or not, it’s a good time to start making a list of plans and actions that you are going to take on when that day arrives and be sure an active social life is on there. Personally, I’m bound and determined to catch up and do just that!

In Lee’s book he also talks about another thing that can lengthen and make your life more pleasant and happy and it’s something that I’ve talked a lot about over the years – having a good strong purpose and hopes and dreams. I will talk more about those issues in my next week’s post.

Retirement – The Best or the Worst

October 11, 2020 by  
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I’m sure you, like most people would agree that the majority of us humans look forward to the day we get to retire. You know … no alarm clock to wake us up, no worrying about pleasing our boss, and so many other things we won’t have to do. You imagine life will be so great, that you will be able to relax, do anything you want to do, have tons of fun, and be able to travel anywhere in the world (that you can afford) on a whim.

Well, you know what? Some of that may be true. But when you find yourself without a schedule or purpose, that can get very depressing. You might even go a little crazy. And nowadays we have COVID-19 on top of that so it can be even worse. In fact, most of us are getting a preview of retirement now that our routines have been so dramatically changed.

You might find yourself asking, “Just what am I going to do today?”

The smart one’s among us begin to make lots of plans long before they hit that retirement wall. When I was preparing to retire, I made a few plans, but I didn’t create enough to-do lists or new routines.

So, what did I do when I was feeling down because of my lack of a schedule? I turned to books written about retirement. In Ernie J. Zelinski’s great book The Joy of Not Working, he makes lots of great suggestions such as, “One of the chief sources of happiness is having a special purpose or a personal mission in life … Finding and pursuing your true calling can make life a totally new experience.”

He then gives some examples of personal missions:

1. Make the world a better place to live by reducing pollution.

2. Raise money to help care for others in need.

3. Help children develop a special talent or skill, such as playing piano.

4. Write entertaining children’s book that help young boys and girls discover the wonders of the world.

5. Give foreign travelers the best possible tour of the Rocky Mountains.

6. Create a committed relationship and keep it exciting and energizing.

The author goes on to say, “Although a true calling should be closely tied to your values and interests, it can also be determined by your strengths and weaknesses. Your personal mission will intimately connect you to who you are and to the world around you. Taking the time to answer the following questions may help reveal a personal mission that you would like to pursue.”

I must say that his questions really helped me:

1. What are all your passions?

2. What are your strengths?

3. Who are your heroes?

4. What do you want to discover or learn?

Answering those great questions can put you on the right track. It has for me. So, if you are not retired yet, start making specific plans. And if you are retired and struggling, answer those questions above to help you discover your great purpose and direction for this new chapter in your life.

 

Solving the Mystery of You

October 4, 2020 by  
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As I promised in last week’s post, I’m going to discuss how we solve our own “mystery”, the mystery being what it is we really want out of life.

To help point you in the right direction and solve this mystery, I have compiled the following questions for you to ask yourself. Write or print out the questions along with your answers after contemplating them.

Then, after a bit of time, go back, and reread the questions and your answers, letting them sift through all the corners of your mind. Don’t get impatient with this. This is important “inner-self” work you are doing, laying a fertile foundation for that which is to come.

  1. What do you naturally and instinctively like to do? Forget about any financial or time constraints. Let your mind be open and flow and just write down the first things that come to your mind.
  2. What did you like to do when you were a kid? What was your passion then?
  3. What is it that you do now that really gets your juices flowing?
  4. What comes easily to you? Are these your passions?
  5. What puts you in such a mental state that you lose all sense of time to the extent that you say to yourself, “please let this moment linger” or “I wish this moment and feeling would never end”?
  6. What is it you most want to stand for?
  7. What do you want to be remembered for or leave to the world?

 

Now, take time to dig deep!

Make an appointment with yourself and sift through the questions above. Remember, it takes time – sometimes weeks or even months – to discover what’s hidden in the inner regions of your mind and heart.

Take time to seek advice from others. Especially from those you think highly of and those who have done some of the things you are considering doing with your life. Go ahead, call those gurus, those super successful people who you’ve always admired and tell them that you’d like just a few minutes of their time. Sometimes people who seem far above the masses are more available and approachable than you would believe.

I’ll never forget the desire I had when I was young to pick the brain of the founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, who made a billion dollars after the age of 55. I was stunned, shocked, surprised, and pleased when I was told by Mr. Kroc’s secretary that Mr. Kroc has agreed to meet with me and talk face to face! Wow!

Read and research all items and areas you can that deal with the wants on your dream list, the areas that seem to be most relevant to you and your life and how you can reach your dreams and goals.

As you read, research, and talk to the right people, be sure to write down not only what comes from those sources about what may fit your ideal life, but also record on paper or in your computer all of your own thoughts, ideas, and feelings that come up. This, as you will see, will be helpful and insightful to you later on when you re-read your own thoughts and words that passed through your mind.

Our Unfulfilled Ambitions

September 27, 2020 by  
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Do you have, like most of us, unfulfilled passions? If so, what are those passions? Do you love music, art, ballet, sports, outdoor adventures, traveling to new places, writing, social interactions, running a small business, or any other great possibility?

Take some time to contemplate and think about that. Once you have the answers, be sure to write down what your unfulfilled passions are. Then ask yourself this:

“Am I doing that special something that I love to do, and am I doing it for my own reasons?”

And… what are those reasons?

Then ponder this:

What kind of a breakthrough would you be ecstatic to have in your life in terms of your health, wealth, personal expression, spiritual development, etc.

Additionally, ask yourself:

In what would you like to excel?

What follows are just a few general categories I would like you to run through the gray matter of your brain before we really get focused.

Look at this list to see what overall categories might jump out at you or might be in the unfulfilled category so far in your life. Which of these categories are calling out to you and why?

  1. Artistic
  2. Sports
  3. Career
  4. Education
  5. Financial
  6. Physical
  7. Health
  8. Family
  9. Social
  10. Public Service

Of course, feel free to add more categories to this list.

It’s not at all unusual for most people to struggle with identifying their inner ambitions, especially in midlife and as they get older. It can become less clear as to what we really want out of life as we become bombarded by responsibilities, daily cares, and concerns.

And, yes, many young people have these struggles, too!

However, as kids, most of us knew what we wanted or at least thought we knew what we wanted. But the older we get, the less sure of ourselves we often become.

It is a rare individual who knows exactly what he or she wanted as a young person and follows that all through life, never faltering, never getting sidetracked, and never getting discouraged.

Most of us, as we hit midlife, start questioning what we really, really want out of life. It can be such a mystery. So, in next week’s blog post, I want to talk about the possible ways to solve your own mystery!

Rediscovering Passion

September 20, 2020 by  
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Passion for life is a very important thing and as we get older, unfortunately, many of us lose our passion for life. I’m sure you have noticed that little kids seem to have the most passion for life. For a kid, most things are new to them and, as we all know, novelty is what they thrive on.

In our later years, we’ve seen so much and done so much that most things are not new to us. That makes it easy to lose our passion. You may feel that you have lost some of your passion and you ask yourself, “Why don’t I have passion for my life now?” or “Why don’t I know what I want in life?” Those two questions are particularly bothersome if you once had great passion for the things you did and then, as you got older, you lost some of that passion.

If that has not happened to you, maybe someone you know and care about has hit that wall. Far too many people give up on life. They fear striking out in aggressive, new directions. They fear risk. They fear the possibility of failure and losing what they have.

With some new insight and some very directed work, that passion for living can come screaming back for you or someone you love that you want to help. It’s all about continuing to turn what you really want, what you dream of, into specific goals and then transforming them step-by-step into reality – your reality!

A good way to start is to write it all down. First, ask yourself specific questions, like the ones I list below. Write down the thoughts that each of these questions stimulate. Don’t just think about them.

  1. Do I want to substantially raise my level of contentment and fulfillment?
  2. Do I want to become a better person?
  3. Do I want to be known as a person of accomplishment?
  4. Do I want to be in great physical and mental shape with ideal health my entire life?
  5. Do I want to live a very long, active life?
  6. Do I want to make a fortune – a million dollars, or $10 million, or even $100 million? (Think of all the good you could do with that much money!)
  7. Do I want the choices and possibilities in my life that making my own fortune could give me?
  8. Do I want to leave the world a better place than I found it?
  9. Do I want to help others as I help myself?
  10. Do I want to travel and experience the entire world and its cultures?

Again, be sure to write down your honest responses to the self-searching questions above. It’s a good idea for you to develop some of your own life questions and answer those too!

In fact, add two last questions for yourself:

  1. What do you have a true passion for in your life?
  2. What part of your life or past life, including your childhood, got you so excited that you totally lost track of time?

Our Short Lives Needs Big Passion

September 13, 2020 by  
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I just asked a printer to print a couple thousand copies of my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, since I ran out of copies to sell or give away. I was reading a bit of what I wrote many years ago and I was surprised to realize that the words in that book were reigniting my passion, so I wanted to share some of those words with you.

Let me start with Chapter 2 which is entitled, “Short Life needs BIG Passion”.

  • Life really is too darn short to live without passion.
  • Time squandered is wasted–gone forever!
  • Don’t be like those who, later in life, realize that they missed out on so many opportunities. I believe most people, when looking back at their lives, are in more pain over the things they didn’t do than over things they failed at while trying to do them.
  • We receive long-lasting benefit, and yes, even deep satisfaction from working hard and giving something worthwhile our all.
  • There are many who think the way to achieve satisfaction in life is by going after pleasure. They think that more and more pleasure will put more contentment in their lives. So sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
  • There’s a huge difference between deep, enduring satisfaction and fleeting pleasure; between passion and a good time. At a gut level you already know this. The pursuit of pleasure for its own sake leads to misery.
  • It’s also not easy to always remain at a high level of satisfaction and contentment with an effervescent passion for life. There are plenty of setbacks. Even, at times, huge fists of adversity may pound us in the face.
  • Setbacks and adversity often reveal to us the great lessons of life if we would just learn from them.
  • I’ve certainly had my share of setbacks, even tragedies. I wouldn’t choose to be faced with these tragedies but I must say that, since they did happen, they served as huge life lessons and wake-up calls that I don’t think I could have learned any other way.

Give these words some thought, set big goals, and go after them with all your energy and heart. You won’t be sorry!

 

And if you would like a copy of How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, you can get it here on my website.

 

 

Duplicating Success

August 30, 2020 by  
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As I mentioned last week, I love a good success story and have often tried to get to know these big successful people. In a few cases, they even offered to be my mentor. I really believe that the mentoring was one of the most important contributors to my financial success.

I’m also a huge believer in seeing what other super successful people do and then going out and doing the same thing. I did it with my first book after seeing what Joe Karbo, author of The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches, did to sell his books. I got to know him and then did the same things he did, selling 2 million copies of my first book.

And a long time ago, I read of a guy that converted his apartment units into condos, selling them to existing tenants or new buyers. I took that idea and converted 70 plus apartment units I had in Pennsylvania to condos, quickly selling out to most of the renters who were already in them and, wow, did I make a quick profit of over $7 million! Did that surprise me and please me? Oh yeah… big time!

I also looked to other people when I started fixing up houses. Realizing that the decorating part wasn’t really my thing, I picked other people’s brains to get the ideas I needed. Picking people’s brains is pretty easy since people like to talk about themselves and what they do for a living. I would simply take designers, architects and other professionals to lunch and get ideas for the cost of a meal. I would also look at other nicely fixed up houses. I have gone so far as to exactly copy the look of a neighboring house I was fixing up because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. That little bit of copying got that house sold super-fast!

It’s amazing when I travel to new and different countries too. I see a lot of ways people in other countries are being successful and not just when it comes to making money. For instance, in Europe, people eat much smaller portions, have tiny refrigerators because they buy food fresh so often, and they take time to relax when they eat. We could learn a lot from the way they eat over there that would be healthier for us all.

All of these things are something that anyone can copy and, yes, that means you! Keep your eyes and mind open and you might just see things you can duplicate to make a better life for yourself and maybe even make a fortune.

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