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The Staying Young Secret: Keep Body and Mind Moving

November 18, 2016 by  
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My dear wife gave me a Fitbit on my last birthday and that little tool has truly helped me get in better shape, just a little ‘bit’ at a time. Last week I broke my all-time record for steps and distance by walking and running just over 186,000 steps or 71.9 miles for the week. Wow … did that ever make me feel good and young again. And it’s now just a few months before my 73rd birthday.

Fitbit … what a great name for that little device that propels, persuades and motivates people to compete with themselves to keep moving and hit bigger and bigger numbers. It gets you fit a bit at a time.

An additional way to feel and stay young is to work on the top of our body–that would be by being kind to your mind. You have to keep the brain moving too and there are lots of ways to do this.

One way is to put a little bit more strain on the brain or, in other words, push yourself to think more, read more, and a do a bit of writing to others or in a personal journal. These kinds of activities have been proven to expand and improve the human mind.  You might even push yourself to write a book.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t get someone to publish your book–I couldn’t initially get published with my first book. You can do what I did instead–I published it myself and later Bantam books decided to publish it.  Don’t know what to write about? You can start by writing an autobiography or memoir type of book. Remember, it’s not only good for your brain but just think of what you’ll be passing on to your kids and grandkids. They’ll love it and will probably still be reading it long after you check out of this life.  It’s a win-win … you end up helping your brain and, no doubt, the brain of others.

It’s really a shame that so many people, as they age, begin to give up on physical and mental movement.  I’m not saying that it is easy but most things in life that are really worthwhile take effort and even a bit of pain.  But at the end of the day or the end of life the rewards are so very worth it!

So why not set some goals to read more books and write one yourself and at the same time? Get up off the sofa and go for a walk or a run and do it every day. And one other good brain builder is to have good, deep conversations with other people. So, let’s all go out there and create permanent good habits for the brain and the body so you can feel younger for many, many years to come.

 

The 66 Day Habit

November 6, 2015 by  
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I thought that changing the habit of driving on the right side of the road to the left side as I did recently in Ireland was a tough habit to change. Well, believe it or not driving my new car here in America is proving to be just about as hard. Ok, I can hear you asking, how can driving a new car on the right side of the road in the country you grew up in require a person to form a new habit?  Well, the car is different from every car I’ve ever had. It’s a Tesla and it can operate almost completely on its own. So why would that require a change of habit? Because all of us are in the habit of controlling our car and it’s counter-intuitive to turn that power over to the car and its computer.

Especially if you are traveling at 80 miles an hour on the freeway in traffic and going around curves.

I’ve had the Tesla for a little over a month and I am still working on shifting my usual driving habits. I remember reading many years ago that changing or developing a new habit takes 21 days. I think I read that in an old classic book by Maxwell Maltz, Psycho Cybernetics. So here it’s been over a month and I’m still trying to relax and let the car take over.

I began to question the 21-day thing and found out that was a bit of a myth started by Maltz all those years ago. A more recent study done by Phillippa Lally, a health psychologist at University college London, studied 96 people as they tried to change a habit. Her research showed that a change in habit or developing a totally new habit takes a little over 2 months–66 days to be more accurate. This is a very good thing to know because our habits, good and bad, really make or break our entire lives and if we held on to the 21-day myth we could easily become disappointed when we failed to change or develop a habit after 3 weeks. This could cause us to give up.

When I look at my own life with its big ups and downs I can’t help but see where some bad habits have held me back, causing me pain and failure. But then again, when I look at the good habits I have, I can see why it was such a good thing that I worked hard to form them. My dad for example, pushed and pushed me to form the habit of reading good books, which I finally did. I also pushed myself to develop the habit of working out, running, walking a ton and playing tennis virtually every single day and now at almost age 72 I am seeing the huge benefit of this habit and it’s not even hard to do anymore.

I also have to attribute my wealth to forming some very powerful and productive financial habits that have served me so well. Some are very simple, like saving at least 10% of every bit of income, which I did even when I was poor and making only $600 a month. Early on I also formed the habit of reading every financial book I could get my hands on as well as investing every penny I could into wise investments.

So I would plead with you to look at yourself and your habits and make a list of both your good and bad habits noting how the good ones serve and the bad ones aggravate your life and your family. Determine to keep up with the good ones but also add new habits and to change the bad ones. Stick with each new or changed habit for at least 66 days and watch the results! Try also to get your kids, significant other, parents and friends to do the same thing. I pretty sure you won’t be sorry.

A well ingrained habit is second nature and we will do it automatically, even those things we don’t enjoy doing all that much. The thing is, we love the results and if you keep your eye on what good habits can do for you, you can do it 66 times and beyond.