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Grateful Action

August 23, 2019 by  
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Okay here is a $64,000 dollar question: Should you and I choose to be mindful of what we have and be grateful most of the time, reaping the benefits from that attitude along the way, or should we whine and complain and be ungrateful and end up unhappy and miserable?

Ok, I know that’s not too tough a question but isn’t it funny that, regardless of how obvious the answer is, we so often fall into an ungrateful mode in our daily life? Shouldn’t we do something about that? And if so, what would that be?

Well, maybe we can just practice it more often, being mindful of our attitude so that we can stop the complaining when we realize what we are doing. If we can become more aware of our attitude, we would surely see a difference in our lives and our relationship with the people around us.

As I look out at the world, especially in the incredible times we live in right now with all the turmoil, uprising, pointless deaths, instability and chaos in so many places in the world, and then look outside my door, it’s hard not to be a little shocked by how different my life is here in an affluent, developed country. When I see these things, I am struck big time with the thought that, wow, we really do have it good, those of us living in the USA, Canada, Europe, etc. But how often, and seriously, do we consider how blessed we are?

But we just can’t think about it. Agreeing that the more grateful is a good idea is not quite enough, is it? We need to act. We need to make it important in our lives. I have to tell you, when I take time to be grateful, that very process and feeling of gratitude boosts my satisfaction, contentment, and happiness levels! It’s almost like magic.

So why not start now? You could write or call someone or post something on your favorite social network site. Just put something out there, saying that you are grateful and want never to forget it. Then keep that in your mind as you go through the day and you are sure to start reaping the benefits almost immediately.

Appreciating what we have is good for our spirits, our attitude, our family, our outlook on life, and, by extension, the world out there that is working through the chaos and pressure of broad and often, unstoppable, change. It’s the least we can do for them, and for ourselves.

 

Of Gratitude and Appreciation

August 16, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, after returning from California where I had a wonderful, belated 75th birthday celebration with all my kids and grandkids, I was walking out in front of the airport looking for an Uber driver when suddenly, a lady walked right in front of me, pulling a suitcase on wheels that tripped me and smashed me onto the concrete.

Next thing I knew, I woke up, flat on my back and was looking up at a policeman, a security guard, and about 8 or 10 other people staring down at me asking if I was alright. I finally answered and said that I thought I was okay. They asked if they should call the paramedics, but I said, “No, I think I’m okay.” However, I wasn’t.

Throughout the day, the pain in my left arm and rib cage kept getting worse. So, my wife, Kimberly, drove me to a medical clinic and the x-rays showed a broken rib and severely damaged left shoulder. And to add to my misery, a few days later I had terrible stomach problems with even more pain so that I could hardly get out of bed.

So, what’s the point of this story? Bad things like this can be, and many times are, good lessons that we need to learn from. What is learned, if anything, in cases like this?  It’s fascinating to me that it often takes bad stuff happening to us humans to pound into our brains that thing called gratitude as well as an appreciation for all the good times we have had with few problems — everything from our good health, to our family, friends, finances, and freedom that we have in this great country.

After this latest accident and minor health setback I came across a list that I wrote in my journal on June 27th, 2013. My list was entitled “What I Am Grateful For”. From time to time I read down that list, and it lifts my spirits and my appreciation of what I have, big time.

Here is my list. I hope you also have written or will decide to write your own “Gratitude and appreciation list”. I highly recommend it and be sure to review if from time to time. You will see that it can lift your mind, your spirts and your life to a higher level, especially when you need it most.

I AM SO VERY GRATEFUL FOR …

  • A wonderful, loving wife.
  • A wonderful life.
  • Great kids and grandkids.
  • My beautiful view from our house of the valley and mountains.
  • Super vacations and world travel.
  • Warm and helpful friends.
  • Financial stability.
  • Incredible health … most of the time.
  • A fairly clear-thinking brain.
  • Discovery of the power of “self affirmations”.
  • My super great mentors that helped me so much.
  • The deer and coyotes we’ve seen in our yard.
  • The moose I saw while hiking in the mountains.
  • My wonderful work staff.
  • My thoughts for writing my blog and the positive feedback I receive.
  • A very warm and comfortable bed.
  • Our beautiful Kauai home and time spent there in the winter.
  • A cuddling, warm wife.
  • The great Wimbledon tennis matches I’ve attended.
  • My ex-wife’s love of Kimberly and vice versa.

Again, I hope you go make your own list if you haven’t already. Having boundless gratitude and appreciation, even for the little things in life truly does enhance a person’s life. Do it. You won’t be sorry.

 

Money and Meditation

August 8, 2019 by  
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If you have been reading my blog for years, then you know that I started out mainly writing about money, money, money. I wrote about how to make it and how to invest it for the best returns. Over time, I have expanded my subjects to include physical and mental health because, as we all know, without good health, tons of money may not help you at all, or at least not much.

Our brains control our physical bodies much more than most people realize. Years ago, I found an explanation of why the brain can control so much of our lives in Time magazine. A professor at the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, who Time magazine had honored as one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World”, was actually asked by the Dalai Lama to study the connection between the meditative state of mind of his Buddhist monks and their emotional and mental health.

Davidson first hooked 128 electrodes to the head of a French-born monk, Mathieu Ricard, and recorded an immediate increase in the gamma activity when the monk began to meditate. Later studies with a control group of students only lightly trained in meditation showed the monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times stronger than a control group. Wow, that is HUGE!

But what does all this mean? Simply put, this and other research unveils the real possibility that the brain, like the rest of the body, can be altered intentionally. Just as we build muscle through exercise, we can also build our mental capacities that can lead to better brain function and an increase in essential cognitive functions, including memory and perception. This all creates a more positive mental state–and that’s what in turn creates more productive gamma brain waves.

This discovery tells me that as I do more meditation, I will gain a better functioning brain which could help me be a much better investor. I do believe that by pumping my brain up through meditation, I can make better real estate deals and manage my money much better. How about you? Go ahead and try some meditation and see what it does to your brain.

One last comment. Or, I should say that I’m going to do a little bragging.  I’ve always been impressed by the Dalai Lama and many years ago I had the great privilege of escorting the Dalai Lama from his hotel room to a huge ball room and then I introduced him to the audience. I will never forget the great feeling and gratitude I received from doing that introduction and getting to know him even just a little bit.

Keys to Happiness

June 21, 2019 by  
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I have one more bit from the Dalai Lama’s books for you.  This post will be a simple and short listing of thoughts and comments from him, thoughts that can be uplifting and supportive of your happiness and that you can easily and quickly review and share with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends.

  1. Empathy and altruism raises you up.
  2. Science backs up claims about the physical and emotional benefits of a compassionate state of mind.
  3. Reaching out and helping others lifts your happiness level.
  4. Freedom from suffering starts with accepting suffering as a natural fact of human existence.
  5. Studies show that reaching out to help others induces feeling of a calmer mind and less depression.
  6. For a better life, confront your problems, fears, and bad habits. Don’t avoid them…then put your brain to work to change them.
  7. Ingredients that cement relationships: Affection, compassion, and mutual respect.
  8. The cause of suffering which one should seek to remove: ignorance, craving, and hatred.
  9. Unhappiness comes to each of us when we think ourselves at the center of the world.
  10. Remember, it takes time to train your mind.
  11. Necessary ingredients to happiness:
    1. Affection
    2. Warmth
    3. Friendship
    4. Compassion
    5. State of mind
    6. Calmness of mind
    7. Peace of mind
  1. Remember this … if you have real peace of mind you can be happy even with poor health.
  2. If you believe the purpose of life is happiness, then work on discarding the things that lead to unhappiness.
  3. If you want to have a deeper connection to others then reach out and help others.
  4. Empathy is critical to build compassion.
  5. Understand people by knowing and appreciating their background.

And I will add one of my own … if you want to raise you happiness level quickly, just walk outside. There is something magical about the great outdoors and what it does to the human mind

Positivity and Compassion

June 14, 2019 by  
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A very critical part of happiness and contentment is training the mind and, yes, that does take time, but is it ever worth the time you take! The authors of the book, The Art of Happiness, which I talked about last week, have this advice: “Everyday, as soon as you get up, you can develop sincere positive motivation, thinking, ‘I will utilize this day in a more positive way. I should not waste this very day.’ And then, at night before bed, check what you’ve done, asking yourself, ‘Did I utilize this day as I planned?’ If it went wrong, then regret what you did and critique the day and decide what you are going to do to correct the negative stuff of the day. So, through methods such as this, you can gradually strengthen the positive aspects of the mind.”

I think this is why the self-talk that the great Paul J. Meyer of Waco, Texas introduced me to is so very helpful. I have about 10 different mantras that I run through my mind almost every day and many times I say them out loud. Here are a few of those

  1. I am strong and worthy.
  2. I am upbeat and positive.
  3. I am happy and healthy.
  4. I live in the present moment.
  5. I love people and I am becoming more and more social.
  6. I try to live big and give big. I make “to do” lists and carry them out.

It’s amazing how I can feel down and out and how running that self-talk through my mind many times can lift my mood and make me feel so much better. The mind has a lot of plasticity in it according to scientists. The book goes on to say something that I know is true and will work for me and you: “Neuroscientist have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, net combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, re-configuring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning, the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily.” Scientist call the brains inherent capacity to change “plasticity”.

The Dalai Lama and Mr. Cutler have so many great and powerful things to say about how to achieve happiness and they are so very effective. So here is one more quote from Mr. Cutler talking about the Dalai Lama: “He can see that if someone treats him with compassion and affection, then it makes him feel happy. So, on the basis of that experience, it would help him to realize that other people also feel good when they are shown warmth and compassion Therefore, recognizing this fact might make him more inclined to give them compassion and warmth. At the same time, he would discover that the more you give warmth, the more warmth you receive”.

And that, my friends, will almost for sure raise both the giver’s and the receiver’s level of happiness!

The Positive Path to Happiness

June 7, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, I was going through my library and came across a great book by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. written back in 1998. I hadn’t read it for a very long time but as I was thumbing through the pages my mind was captured by so many great statements, concepts, and advice that were so motivating so I kept reading.

The book’s title is The Art of Happiness. I’ve always admired this great man, the Dalai Lama, and what he has done for the world and for so many minds. He’s helped lift us to great heights. Years ago, I felt so very fortunate to meet and greet him at his hotel room and escort him to a huge gather of people and I was more than a little overwhelmed and privileged to introduce him to that audience.

I want to share with you, my readers, some of his great ideas and advice on “happiness” for us humans. I’d also like to share some of the wise words and insights that his co-author Howard Cutler added to the book from his own experiences and all the time he spent with the Dalai Lama.

Let me start with some great comments from the great book I mentioned. These are about positive thinking which is so very important to raise and keep your happiness consistently elevated.

The Dalai Lama said, “If happiness is simply a matter of cultivating a more positive mental state like kindness and so on, why are so many unhappy? … Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about transformation in your outlook and your way of thinking and this is not a simple matter. It requires the application of so many different directions. You shouldn’t have the notion, for instance, that there is just a key, a secret, and if you can get that right then everything will be okay. It is similar to taking proper care of the physical body. You need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, not just one or two.”

He went on to say, “In the same way, in order to achieve happiness, you need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states. And if you are seeking to overcome certain negative ways of thinking, it is not possible to accomplish that simply by adopting a particular thought or practicing a technique once or twice. Change takes time. There are lots of negative mental traits, so you need to address and counteract each one of these. That isn’t easy. It requires the repeated application of various techniques and taking the time to familiarize yourself with the practices. It’s a process of learning.”

Next week I will talk more about the specific practices and mindset that a person needs to work on and develop while bringing you more wisdom from the great Dalai Lama.

Worthy Destinations

May 17, 2019 by  
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Morro Castle in La Habana, Cuba. Photo by Henryk Kotowski

Cuba has been on my bucket list of countries to visit for some time now and, finally, I made it. We boarded a Norwegian Cruise ship and enjoyed a great visit to that little country and its incredible history. I’ve always loved travel and visiting Cuba makes my count of new countries visited 92. We now are heading back to Florida with one short stop on an island that I’ve never heard of called Great Stirrup Cay.

I was pleasantly surprised how friendly and safe Cuba was. It is a very poor country, but the people seem to be very happy and content. Our guide told us that the average salary in Cuba is only $70 dollars a month. In Havana, we saw some old castles with their huge encompassing walls and moats and were told of all the battles that took place and the attempts of pirates to take over the city.

Our guide was a very nice and pretty 32-year-old lady. Her English was perfect, and her knowledge of Cuba and its history was incredible. She told us how she had tried for years to go to America. She has some family living in Florida, and she had served time in the Cuban military, and yet she still could not get permission to visit the USA. It struck me how lucky we are to live in the great country of America and how good we have it. I think most of us take our great freedom and opportunities for granted.

Traveling to new places and visiting new cultures is so mind expanding. It’s too bad that everyone in the world can’t visit dozens of different countries because if they could I think the world would have fewer wars and global problems as people would see and understand that most of us are so much alike. If we were all able to see that most people are nice, friendly and don’t want to hurt others, perhaps we’d have few, if any, wars.

I challenge you, my readers, to travel to new places as much as you are able and I’m pretty darn sure you will be glad you did. You will experience a mind expansion and appreciate other cultures even though they may be very different than yours.

Well, we’ve stopped now, and they have begun shuttling people from this huge cruise ship to the cute little island in their little shuttle boats, so I had better get to the deck and jump aboard!

My Words Out Loud

January 11, 2019 by  
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I have something very special for you today. Please take a listen to this pod cast I was on recently. There are a few things I share on it that I think can be very helpful to most people. I hope you like it and, if so, please share with others. Thank you so much for taking time to listen. This kind of thing is part of what I am doing to really try to be of help to others. Maybe it’s my age but I am all about sharing and helping these days!

 

The interviewer is Michelle Brown, a fellow Salt Lake City resident who teaches Life Story writing workshops. Get a nice warm beverage and sit back for a really interesting conversation. I hope you find it helpful and motivating!

 

Reviewing and Improving on the Past Year

January 5, 2019 by  
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Wow, where did the 2018 year go?  It seemed to go faster than any other year of my life. How about you?

But what really got to me was what I wrote in my journal back on February 27, 2018:  “Now in Lihue, Kauai house … Kimbo [my nickname for my wife Kimberly] is working so hard to get the house in perfect condition as to justify the $4.5 million price we have it listed for… Now at 46 days away from age 74, I hope I’ve learned a little more about life and living.  I still need to focus on living in the great now moments of life and need to practice more of what I preach and write about … living in the present, self-talk and self-affirmations … and write them down.”

In that journal entry I made this list:

1. I am living in the now

2. I love my life now

3. I love my wife now

4. I love being semi-retired

5. I gain much of life from my writing and helping other people

In that same entry I finally came to this conclusion:

“In 6 days, we head back to Utah – in my head I keep thinking about that future event and have been counting down the days. I need to stop doing that and enjoy the great right now! I mean heavens, it’s pretty darn nice, right here and right now. Beautiful, warm, wonderful view of the great blue ocean and green mountains of Kauai … so I will now take all of that in and live in the ‘now moment’.  Ok I am doing that right now and it feels great!”

It was great to have realized what I needed then, but the realization didn’t quite turn into action. Recently, on Dec. 31, 2018, I made another, related journal entry: “I re-read some of my comments from last year and it hit me kind of hard how I said I must, and want, to live more in the present moment or the great wonderful ‘right now” and I realized I just didn’t do that very much. So, that’s now back on my new year’s resolution list for 2019. I’m going to do much better in 2019!”

I know that I’ve written and preached about keeping a journal of your life and reading my own past comments really shows me how important it is to do just that. You can coach yourself and remind yourself over and over again about what you need to work on and that, at least to me, is very important to improve and expand and make your life better and better. Yes, I know that we all have to think of the future and make plans and set goals and review our past, but after we’ve done that, we need to spend more time in the “great right now moment”.

I hope you agree and maybe what I’ve learned here will help you. I’m pretty darn sure it’s already helped me and will make me more aware of living in the now moments and how to love and enjoy 2019 more than last year, even though I fell short of my stated resolution. So, let’s all double down and make 2019 the best year EVER!

The Eve of a New Year List

December 21, 2018 by  
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As you may have noticed, especially if you followed my advice from my blog post about the subject matter a couple months ago, it can be very helpful and profitable to set your daily goals the night before. Sometimes this list making even influences your dreams in a very positive way. You see, by setting your next day’s goals the night before, you will notice that, most of the time, you wake up thinking about those goals and are so much more likely to act on them and make them happen. Of course, I’m talking primarily about your small daily goals or tasks. These are usually the kind of things you expect to, or hope to, accomplish that day. However, this can be applied to bigger goals as well.

Being that we are so very close to the end of the year, it can be, and usually is, the best time to begin to set your big yearly goals for what you are going to do, achieve, accomplish, or earn, in the new year. It is certainly a good time to set your mind on the direction of your new year, and so why not write them down? You would be writing them down at the end of the year rather than at the end of the night but it’s the same kind of list – preparing you to get going on your goals once the new day – or new year – starts.

As you know, when you set those goals and write them down, your brain can, and usually does, take over and persuade, coax, cajole, and even force you to get to work to accomplish those objectives that you have set for yourself. So, take time in the next few days to thoroughly think through what you want 2019 to be for you and what you are going to get done. Include both financial and nonfinancial objectives like helping others, spending more time with family, world travel, etc. Do it! You won’t be sorry!

So, what are my personal goals for my 2019 year? Yes, I have some financial goals, but for me I would like to do more writing and get my autobiography done. Also, on my list is the giving of time and assistance as well as money. I have already started in on this list. Just in the last few weeks I’ve given my time at an elementary school, assisting a 3rd grade teacher and, oh wow, what a great feeling that gives me!

Physically, for my 75th year on this planet, I want to get in, and stay in, super physical shape. I want to look like, act like, and have the energy of a 35-year-old. I know that is not going to be easy, but I do believe it to be possible and, besides, the rewards that I have heard about through other people are fantastic. Those who do aim for super physical fitness, and stick with it, are shown to have a much longer life. And I have to tell you, I do love beating those much younger people on the tennis court, something which happened a lot in 2018 and I plan to repeat in the coming years!

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