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Keep Your Brain Busy

March 22, 2020 by  
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Now may be the best time in your life to focus on your brain in a way that it won’t get trampled by the news and all that’s going on in the world. Yes, I’m talking about the coronavirus and the huge damage that it’s doing. It really is a game changer and can be so horrible for many people mostly because of how they use their brain in a time like this.

The human brain can be the most incredible part of your body, but it also can be a huge downer for your happiness and mental stability if you do nothing but worry.  Yes, the virus is a very bad thing and, wow, just look at what it is doing to our economy, not to mention that huge fear factor around whether one might get the virus. That’s bad stuff, but if you use your brain in the right way and keep it busy you can avoid some of the really bad stuff that’s happening.

Just don’t forget that you will most likely not get the virus, even though worldwide many people have, but the percentages are on your side, especially if you are careful and do all the things that reduce your odds of catching it. It’s true that you and I can’t stop the spread of the virus or the fear gripping so many people, but we can take steps to make this huge event less traumatic so that when it’s all over, we can look back at and give ourselves a pat on the back and congratulate ourselves for what we, and our brain, just did.

I can see a lot of good as well as some very bad things coming from this dangerous situation.  Since most everything is closed, I can easily see how many people can become almost bored to death and might be going crazy since they think they don’t have anything to do. They’ve lost their routine, are not going to work and being productive, and are not having their usual social interactions with others. However, with some thought and effort you can come up with projects and things to do that are helpful to yourself and others.

I mean, in the lockdown situation many of us are experiencing, you could read a bunch of books, do some writing of your own, and, hey, how about some at home exercise. No, you don’t need a gym to run when you can run around the neighborhood. Push-ups, sit-ups, and at least some weightlifting can be done at home. You could come out of this disaster looking like Rocky Balboa if you really want to. You could also have a book written and ready to sell and could even set yourself up to give your own seminars since you would have plenty of time to prepare a great presentation.

Think about the many positive things that you can do to help yourself, your friends, and your relatives, things that will also keep you and your mind busy and productive.

P.S. We here in Salt Lake City got a double dose of bad stuff. My wife and I were suddenly shaken from our sleep by a powerful earthquake that shook our house so bad I thought it might fall down on us. It was 5.7 on the Richter scale, but we did survive and mentally and physically we plan to thrive.

 

Never Giving Up

March 8, 2020 by  
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Last week I talked about the fact that there is really no big secret to big success. In the beginning of the great book by Darcy Andries, The Secret to Success, she quotes a very smart and very successful man, Colin Powell. He said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Then Darcy made the wise comment that “You can learn a lot from failure, but that requires you to continue moving forward despite having failed.”

As promised, I want to share with you some of the setbacks and failures of a few famous people who never would give up and who eventually were very, very successful. I want to start with the great basketball player Bob Cousy, who was my hero when I was a young man playing in a great basketball tournament in the Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy.  I wanted so badly to be like Bob Cousy and play professional basketball. We won the Rome tournament and I got a basketball scholarship to Utah State University but that’s as far as I got. No pro basketball for me.

I wish I had known back then Cousy’s story of all his setbacks, turndowns, and losses.  I really think that if I had read that story back when I was struggling as a University player, I would have doubled down and not given up. I think I would have done more and practiced more and pushed myself to the limits, maybe even seeking out a personal coach. Here is a summary of Cousy’s story.

Bob Cousy didn’t pick up a single basketball until he was 12 years old and although he tried, he was cut from the school team twice back then. He kept practicing and practicing though. Then he slipped and fell and broke his right arm but he still didn’t give up. He just switched to using his left hand to shoot ball. Wow. He was now ambidextrous and became the star player of the team. After high school, he went on to play college and earned an All-American statue 3 times, helping his team win 26 straight games. He turned pro in 1950 and went on to be voted MVP in 1957 and then received many other great honors including induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.

Think about that and what huge determination and perseverance it must have taken for him to stick with his dream. We all have setbacks and losses so the real key or secret to success for almost any goal or venture is to NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! It’s a very wise person who seeks help from others through books and seminars, or pushing super successful people to be your coach, your teacher, and your inspiration.  So, bottom line here is, if you have set big goals and dreams and you haven’t yet been successful yet, rededicate yourself to those dreams and never give up.

A Little Charity and a Huge Return

February 23, 2020 by  
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A while back, at Christmas time, I was in Walmart and a single mom in line just in front of me was holding a few extra items as the clerk was will up her bill. She kept asking what the total was as she anxiously clutched the extra possible items she obviously wanted but wasn’t sure she could afford. When she got to $40, she told the clerk that would be all she could pay for and she laid the other items aside.

As she paid for her purchases, I reached over and pushed the items she was leaving behind over to my pile and told the clerk, “I want to buy these items for my new friend.” I made the purchases and handed them to the lady who thanked me over and over again. And so did the clerk!

I walked out of the store feeling on top of the world. You’d think I had given her $1000 cash although it was, in reality, only a $7.50 gift. On the other hand, it felt like a million dollars in satisfaction and warm feelings for me.

Even though I have done this type of thing many times before and for a lot more money, it never fails to feel like a unique and special experience. This last experience felt especially wonderful. Maybe it was that look in her eyes that let me know this truly made a difference for her during the holiday season. She said “Merry Christmas” to me over and over again as she took her 7 year old daughter by the hand, a child who, of course, I had just given a $2 dollar bill to for good luck, something I love to do and try to do almost every day.

I know a whole lot of people who do this same thing. There was a report on the news some time ago about a rash of anonymous people going into Walmarts and paying off layaways for complete strangers, some spending thousands of dollars so they could help multiple families. What I did was not unique, but it might be for some people, maybe even for you, my reader.  So, I’d say if you have never helped a stranger in this way, give it a try and see what a great feeling it gives you as well as the stranger that receives your gift. Try it at least once. I promise you’ll love it!

Writing Down the Urgent Stuff

February 16, 2020 by  
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Last week I wrote about how important it was to write down your goals, your intentions, your dreams, and your to do lists. Why do that? Because if you do, the odds that you will follow through and complete those tasks and dreams increases big time.

There are many other benefits to writing. If you commit your dreams to paper, or on a document in your computer, for some strange reason, the act of writing your fears and negative thoughts down helps you  deal with those bad thoughts and then you can more easily  overcome them.

So, getting into the habit of not only writing your good dreams and goals down but also those fears and negative feelings we all have, can become a huge asset in your life.

Here’s 17 questions from a list in Ilchi Lee’s wonderful book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers.

  1. What things have I achieved in my life?
  2. When was I most joyful?
  3. When were things most trying?
  4. How did I overcome hardship in those trying moments, and what did I learn through them?
  5. What moments in my life do I regret?
  6. When did I do things that made me feel proud and that I found rewarding?
  7. What momentary choices became opportunities that changed my life?
  8. What values did I try to remain true to throughout my life?
  9. What goals have I had so far?
  10. What motivated me to establish those goals?
  11. Which of my goals have I had so far?
  12. Which of my goals have I achieved?
  13. Which goals have I failed to achieve?
  14. Who has had the greatest impact on my life?
  15. With whom have I shared my gratitude?
  16. With whom do I have emotional issues that I need to resolve?
  17. Which of my habits do I want to keep and develop?

Lee goes on to say, “If possible, write down your thoughts about these questions. Organizing them in writing and not just thinking about them will help you unravel the tangle of thoughts rolling around in your head.”

Like Mr. Lee’s book, Henriette Klauser’s book, Write It down, Make It Happen, makes some of the same points. Klauser likewise emphasizes how absolutely critical it is to get into the habit of writing your goals and dreams down, explaining how, “putting it on paper alerts the part of the brain known as the reticular activating system to join in the play.”

She goes on to explain this mechanism. “At the base of the brain, about the size of a little finger, is a group of cells whose job it is to sort and evaluate incoming data. This control center is known as the reticular activating system (RAS}. The RAS sends the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain and sends the nonurgent to the subconscious. The RAS awakens the brain to consciousness and keeps it alert.”  So, if you write something down, then it becomes the urgent stuff and your brain will keep it accessible to the active part of your mind.

Hope I’m not getting too scientific but knowing all about the RAS and what good it does all of us should be good motivation to keep writing our goals and dreams down. So now we know, when it comes to bad feelings, ideas, or worries, paper is a good place to park those negative mind games.

Finding Direction in Your Retirement

February 2, 2020 by  
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I was reviewing a few of my past blogs and came across one from 9 years ago about retirement that hit me hard inasmuch as I’m feeling the same now as I did way back then. In the post, I started out by saying, “It’s so easy to get overly relaxed when you are in Hawaii as I have been the last few weeks …”,  and now, as I write this, I’ve been in Hawaii for 5 weeks and I feel the same way. I go on to say that my relaxing days do allow me to reach some major mental breakthroughs and I really think through the ideas that come to me but at the same time, I can feel so lost. That’s true today as it was then.

It got me thinking about how common this feeling can be for people in the mid and later years of their life. You’ve worked so hard for years, looking forward to retirement and then, once you get there, you start having these days where you simply have no direction. You start to realize that the carefree retirement life isn’t quite what you expected.

I am sure you have seen people around you that seem lost in retirement. When you retire or semi-retire every day can feel like Sunday. For most people in America, Sunday is a lazy day, the day when you don’t have any specific plans, a day to unwind and not answer to the clock or to any business or work demands. But when you do this every day, it actually can get very depressing.

As it turns out, Sunday morning has been found to be the most depressing time of the week for most people. Seems very odd that this can be true, but the reason is pretty simple. It’s because we don’t usually have any particular goals, plans, routine, or structure for that day of the week. Okay, maybe you go to church for a little while but otherwise, it is unlike the days in your work week or even the often busy, errand running and playing day that Saturdays often become. When a person retires, the constant structure of their life is gone so, without goals, routines, and deadlines, most people begin to feel lost.

Even if you are not close to retirement age, it is very smart and, in the long run, rewarding to start making plans and developing goals for retirement now. Retirement is not a bad thing. I can certainly attest to its advantages. But even in retirement you should set goals, establish a routine, and make plans with a timetable.

It’s just that during retirement, you don’t have an employer to please or to tell you what is expected from you, and you probably no longer have a family that you have to provide for, so you are left to make up your own schedule and decide what you want to accomplish. The key is to make up your own challenges, structure, and hopes that make you want to get up, excited and purposeful, every morning.

To put it simply, the real key is to not stop having dreams when you get older and/or retire. There is no reason to stop making plans and there are huge benefits for making plans for the remaining years of your life. There is also another big bonus for having plans in those later years–studies have shown that you are likely to live longer and with much better health. That should be reason enough to have plans and set goals through your entire life!

The 120 Year Goal

December 29, 2019 by  
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It’s not too late to make some New Year’s resolutions, a.k.a. goals for 2020!  What are your New Year’s resolutions? Hopefully you have a detailed, clear, and measurable set of goals with timelines attached and, of course, written down.

With those in hand, my first suggestion is that you make your start date TODAY. That’s right – start right now. There is no good reason you can’t take those first, maybe very small but necessary steps, toward your goals for the new year. I think that the goal of great health is, or should be, on the top of most people’s list. It’s been proven that if you set a reasonable goal for great health, the odds are very high that you will achieve those health goals.

My son gave me a book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years by Ilchi Lee. The author makes a big point of how a decision or goal to live a very long life can push you toward looking and finding what you want to live for. The problem for most people, when they get to around the age of 75 or 80, is that they don’t have a specific purpose.

Mr. Lee says his choice to live to be 120 was not based on his family history or his current health. “My choice stemmed from my desire to be of service to the world and to take responsibility for the great dream that I’ve set for my life.” Lee has a big project in New Zealand called “Earth Village,” which is a “residential school and community where hundreds of people can experience a self-reliant, earth-friendly lifestyle in a place where humans and nature live in harmony”.

It’s so important, especially as we age, to have a project and an agenda that we can totally throw ourselves into. Without a goal, a plan, and a timeline agenda you really won’t be driven to do much at all, especially if you are 70 or 80 years old and retired. Before retirement you would likely have a work routine that pushes you out the door and off to work. But after you retire, you really don’t have much pushing you, so you have to set that up yourself if you want a life full of joy, happiness, and a great feeling of accomplishment.

So, what do you want to accomplish and how you can help others lift their dreams and goals for a better and longer life?

At this time of year, I certainly ask myself that as well as taking a hard look at what I had set out to do in the year that is just wrapping up. I take note of where I fell short and where I exceeded my dreams and goals.

One of the items at the top of my list last year that I’m, again, putting on this year’s list to is the goal of “Top Notch Health”.  If you decide to live to be 120, which is not common but certainly physically possible, you will most likely take a hard look at what the key to good health might be. You, no doubt, will discover that what you eat as well as keeping active and moving are at the top of the list to increase your chances of reaching your big goal.

In all my years of reading about health and longevity I have found and am convinced that the diet called “The CRON Diet”, is a huge key to success and has studies to show that it can extend your life and your health.  I will talk more about next week though!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

 

Be A Big Time List Maker and Lift Your Life

December 22, 2019 by  
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At this time of year, it’s good to make lists, not only shopping lists for Christmas, but to-do lists for items you will get done in the new year.

I’m pretty sure that you, like me, wonder and marvel at how very famous and successful people seem to get so much done in their lives and never seem to stop making more and bigger progress. In just 3 words, they are simply “super productive people”.  How in the world can they accomplish so much? After all, we have just 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week.

Well, I’ll tell you. One of the biggest factors to getting so much done is in the magic power of making, keeping and working off lists.

Take Richard Branson, the British billionaire, for example. He credits his lists of the things he wants to accomplish as the key to his getting so much done. He takes time to go down his list, checking each item as it completed. And, wow, today, his virgin Group of businesses owns about 200 plus different companies. Among these companies are business that specialize in air travel, retail, music, finance, cell phones, internet, hotels, and even a railroad. As you may remember, back in 1999, Branson attempted, and broke, world records in hot air balloon travel and in a transatlantic crossing in a small boat. There are many other celebs that give huge credit to list making – everybody from pop singer Madonna to Barack Obama to Bill Gates!

Why are lists so very powerful? There are many reasons. They allow you to prioritize what you really want to get done, keep you organized, and help you stay focused. For many people, and especially for me, actually writing my lists on paper helps me more clearly remember what are on my lists and pushes me to get stuff done. There is also great mental satisfaction in crossing off those items that I have accomplished. It’s an additional motivator.

There was a study done at the Dominica University in California which found that writing a list down increases the chances of completion of items on that list by 33%. I sure think that extra percentage is worth paying attention and making less a part of your life.

So, if you are not a list maker, I would encourage you to become one. It is a good idea to have big, overall, long-term lists and it’s also very important to break those lists into smaller daily and weekly lists. It is especially helpful for most people to write a daily list out the night before you hit the hay, because as soon as you wake up, you know what that to-do list is telling you to get done and you’ll stay focused and accomplish so much!

Our Changes in Fortune

November 3, 2019 by  
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Wow and double wow! I never expected the huge and heartfelt response I received after my closing comment on my last week’s blog, asking people to send their best wishes and love to little 2-year-old Kate who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. So, at minimum I want to take time right now to give a HUGE THANKS to all you beautiful, wonderful people who cared enough to take time to send your heartfelt wishes to little Kate and her family. That means so much to me, her parents, the rest of the family, and to little Kate and her twin sister Ellie. I’m thinking that Kate and her twin sister could feel the love and the caring that was sent to them. I sure could!

We all know that life has its big bumps, surprises, and setbacks. And, yes, it also has many wonderful, fun, exciting, and pleasurable moments as well. It behooves all of us to constantly remember to live in the great “right now” moment. I’ve written a lot about this previously and most people know they should try to live more in the “now moments” and not spend too much time worrying about the future or beating themselves up for the past mistakes and or bad decisions. But, if you are like me, you have to keep reminding yourself to think more in the “now”. That kind of thinking can be very critical for our mental and emotional health and our great enjoyment of life. Meditation can help with this. Meditation works because, if you do it right, you truly are living in the moment!

Knowing all this and preaching it to others, I still wake up worrying about what I need to get done in the immediate or not too distant future as well as fretting a bit over what I missed out on doing yesterday. I have noticed, however, if I take time to write down my next day’s plans and actions the night before I go to sleep, I usually wake up much more likely to just get out of bed and get going on my to do list. My mind seems to be so much clearer and my thoughts are much more positive in the “now moment”.  Of course, we all need to think about the future and make plans, much of which is very fun and exciting like when planning a trip to Disneyland with the kids, or a vacation to Europe, etc. It’s the same with the past – we enjoy taking time (but not too often) to relive our great experiences and the really memorable moments in our life.

Talking about great moments in time… did you read about the older lady in Paris that recently discovered that one of the paintings she had hanging on her walls — one that she wasn’t even particularly wild about — was very, very rare? She sold it for a shocking $26 million dollars. I sure hope she’s not like so many jackpot and lottery winners that have never had a ton of money. So many of them have lost everything years later, making the news again because, not knowing how to handle tons of money, they spent it all and/or were scammed out of it. Whether fortune smiles on us or we have a ton of bad luck thrown at us, we need to learn how to handle our changes in fortune. I want to talk a bit next week about the smarter ways to handle money when good fortune comes your way.

 

Feeling the Great Right Now

September 8, 2019 by  
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I do totally agree with Ernie J. Zelinski’s, author of the book, The Joy of Not Working, when he says, “Being in the now is crucial for living happily, because the present moment is all that you really have.”

Zelinski goes on to say, “The more we are focused on the past or the future the more we miss the now. Sadly, we miss most of the precious moments because we are so preoccupied with the past and the future.” I totally agree!

Yes, of course, it’s necessary for us to spend some time thinking about the future. We do that when we start setting goals for our life, the week, the next day or even the next hour. But once we have taken time to set goals, we need to focus on the ”Great Right Now Moment”. That’s why it’s important to write down our goals. That way we will find it much easier to focus on the now moment and enhance our lives.

Zelinski also poses this question: “Have you ever been possessed by a huge rush of energy that it carried you away from your normal concerns into a state of indescribable bliss? If you have, you were mastering the moment, and undoubtedly you experienced many feelings that you don’t normally experience in everyday life.”  He quotes Howard and Diane Tinsley, professors of psychology, who concluded that individuals’ experience leisure activities to the fullest and feel the following:

  • A feeling of freedom
  • Total absorption in the activity at hand
  • Lack of focus on self
  • Enhanced perception of objects and events
  • Little awareness of the passage of time
  • Increased sensitivity to body sensations
  • Increased sensitivity to emotions

To me, that’s a ton of reward and so very life enhancing. We should all think about and do that more often.  How about you? Will you give that a shot? I’m sure going to work on that more myself!

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.

 

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