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Crushing Boredom

February 25, 2017 by  
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As I promised in my last post, I am bringing you my ideas and a list of different and exciting ways to overcome that nasty thing called boredom. Before I get into that list, however, I must share with you some thoughts about boredom and the effect it can have on a marriage.

As I’ve been thinking and writing about boredom I was struck by the thought that boredom may well be a common cause and a big reason why seemingly happy couples get a divorce and why a husband or a wife ends up having an affair when all seemed to be going so smoothly.

My wife and I had a very interesting discussion on this subject just the other morning. Recently we’ve realized that we need to push ourselves to make lists and plan for new and exciting things we should be doing because we have kind of settled into a very routine and ‘same-ole-thing’ pattern. I can’t speak for her but I have been getting quite bored. So, we began to talk about doing new things like going to new restaurants, trying new foods, going to new cities and countries, and trying all kinds of new and different stuff including making new friends.

As we were planning it struck me that it is so very natural for a couple that have been happily married for many years to move into a pattern of living that could easily become very boring. In that state, if a new person with a totally diverse lifestyle and background came along, a bored person could be enticed into thinking this new person was very special, not realizing that the real problem is boredom and that new person is not the answer.

So, okay, maybe a new person would take you out of your boredom for a while but eventually the same boredom will creep right back in. I can see how it can happen to a happy and compatible couple so I think that is an extra reason to spend time putting together a list and planning for new and exciting goals, projects, and fun adventures so as to push boredom away and make sure it stays away.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to work on your list now. With the internet, it’s really a breeze to come up with a list of stuff that will get you away from boredom and keep you excited and involved with life and all the great things that life can bring. To start, just do a web search for “list of ideas to overcome boredom” or anything similar to that search and you’ll come up with list after list of activities and projects that almost certainly will lift anyone out of boredom.

Here is just a small sample of items gathered from several of those lists that grabbed me. And after that list I’ve complied a short list of items that did nothing at all for me but would no doubt work for some of you. To each his own and we are all certainly different.

So here are the items that grabbed my attention:

  • Take new trips to new cities, countries and places
  • Play tennis (Or, in my case, play more tennis.)
  • Go cycling
  • Take long walks to different places
  • Volunteer
  • Write an autobiography
  • Start a blog (Oops, I already did this one!)
  • Become a tour guide
  • Become a mentor
  • Teach a class
  • Research your family genealogy

And the things that didn’t grab me but might be just the thing for you:

  • Knit
  • Create crafts
  • Take cooking class
  • Go hunting
  • Go fishing
  • Restore old furniture
  • Be a pet sitter
  • Plant a garden
  • Go bird watching

Believe me, you will find dozens and dozens more ideas on the internet plus you can always ask for suggestions from family and friends. Ask them what they think would really appeal to you and would excite and enhance your life. They may see what you need better than you do. So, go ahead and get started on your boredom crushing list right now!

 

Fighting Off Boredom Today and Tomorrow

February 20, 2017 by  
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I’ve been writing about having a personal breakthrough and how keeping a record of one’s thoughts through a journal can be very helpful. I’ve also recently found a few thoughts in those journals about how bored I had become since I retired and, again, my own, previously written down words, have motivated me to do something about it.

If you are retired you probably know what I’m talking about and if you are totally busy, working hard, long hours plus taking care of your home and family responsibilities, you might not hit that boredom thing very often. It’s funny how so many of us have thought of work as a bad thing but it really is a blessing, as many retired people would probably tell you.

So here is the question—what do you do if retirement has you bored out of your mind or, if you are not even close to retirement, you find yourself bored way too much regardless? Retired or not, what I’ve found, and continue to find, is that there are many different ways to cope with the boredom that can hit our lives.

The short answer to boredom is to get busy and stay busy! Other simple answers include pushing yourself to do more, challenging yourself, and setting goals with detailed plans. Specifically, it’s a really good idea to set goals that are well thought out and goals that fit with what you like to do, what you are good at, and what brings you joy and fulfillment. This might be a big goal, maybe something you’ve always dreamed of doing but didn’t go for out of fear. (If you haven’t already read the book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, it’s a great book and I recommend that you get a hold of a copy.)

Big projects can give you a real mental boost even if they take months or years. I remember how fulfilled and not at all bored I was when I decided to have a new house built for me in Kauai! No, I wasn’t the guy who poured the cement or swung the hammer but I decided on the floor plan that fit my personality and what things I wanted so that it fit my lifestyle–like good indoor-outdoor living spaces. Then just about every day there were decisions to be made and stuff that kept me busy and during that time I was rarely, if ever, bored.

Keeping busy is a great antidote for boredom, and it’s certainly a better way to go than something like alcohol. Yes, alcohol will entertain you but it only works for a short time and it has some pretty big negative consequences for a person’s life and health, as most people know.

So, if you’re a bit (or a lot) bored, may I suggest you look for something to keep you busy, like a big project that really turns you on? If you don’t have anything in mind and can’t think of something, well, next week I’m going to make some very specific suggestions that I think will help most readers. And if you are just totally busy and never bored then don’t change anything and be thankful. But also know that circumstances can change so you might want to take note of some of my suggestions.

Break-Through Journaling

February 10, 2017 by  
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Last week I talked about writing in a journal and I shared that I had written some of my very negative thoughts in mine. These are words and inner feelings that I had never shared with anyone. But what the journaling did for me and these thoughts was amazing.

A few days after writing these thoughts down, I re-read what I had written. Man, oh man … what a powerful reaction I have had in the days since.  It has lifted me up and has enhanced and improved my life almost like magic. I was so very surprised that just those few words that I wrote down on paper could have such a powerful effect on me and my life. Here is what I wrote:

“I didn’t have total follow through yesterday on my writing list of my intentions or goals and in fact I am finding that for a long time now I’ve not lived up to my self-promises and I see that I’ve been so very self-critical and have been berating and beating up myself cause I’m just not perfect like I want to be. I’ve been seeing that I’m very hard on myself and I really don’t forgive myself much although I forgive other people. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been feeling very good for going on two years. Maybe I ought to start forgiving myself and take more baby steps that really can turn into giant progress toward my goals like I’ve preached to my readers of my blog. Hmmm … I need to think about that.”

I was very surprised that, within a few days of re-reading those words, I began to feel so much better and noticed that I was not being so hard on myself. I kept thinking about taking baby steps and so now I am not inclined to berate and beat myself up. I think that this change of mind set must be due to my writing down my inner thoughts and that the act of writing it down changed something in my brain. What a breakthrough!

So, I would suggest you give journaling a chance if you haven’t already. Write down your inner most thoughts, especially the ones that you are struggling with or are getting you down. Then put them away and read them a little while later and see what your brain does with it. I’m sure it will get you to think about it and find a way to help yourself feel better along with being a great way just to get it out of your head and safely down on paper where you can, literally put it away for a while. At least until you are ready for your own journal break-through.10

The Super Power of Writing to Yourself

February 3, 2017 by  
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I’ve written about the huge value of keeping a journal of your life before. Writing about what you do, where you go, people you meet, and, probably most important of all, your inner most thoughts as you go through your life. I’ve kept a journal going on 55 years now. Yes, sometimes I go months without making any entries but still, I must say, I’ve made some major discoveries about myself and life in general from the entries I have made and they have helped me beyond what I ever would have expected.

Sometimes re-reading what I wrote years before brings me unexpected break-throughs. You know one of those ah-ha moments that really hit you hard and sometimes changes your life for the better. The latest breakthrough started when I began reading the “Life Story of Kathryn Baird Haroldsen” which are the writings of my mother, all gathered up and put together into a book by my father, Dr. Edwin O. Haroldsen, in 1995. Both of them have long since passed away but their writings still speak to me with great power.

Reading my parents’ words about their travels all over the world and their many great and exciting experiences was so very insightful for me. But when my mother shared on paper some of her inner most thoughts and feelings, it motivated me to get out my journal and put on paper some self-defeating and disturbing thoughts that I have had these last 2 years. These are thoughts that I haven’t shared with a single soul.

For some reason that maybe only our brains know about, when I later re-read my very negative inner thoughts it changed me and, surprisingly, did so in a very good and positive way. I now want to share that experience and the lessons I learned with others so they may have a positive breakthrough like I did that will help their lives. Next week I will share exactly what I wrote and how it began to change me and my life. In the meantime, if you don’t already, start journaling about whatever comes to mind. You never know what you might write down that will bring you your own break-through in the future.

Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!

Living Well and Healthy on the Way to 100

January 20, 2017 by  
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I would like to share with you some more thoughts about life and living and, yes, a few more things that you and I can do to increase our chances of living to be 100.

First, let me tell you about my super crazy few days this past week. The day after I wrote about how important it is to have great health I suddenly got very sick. It started with a severe case of acid reflux but then I could not eat or drink anything without huge chest pains and throwing it all up. I began to feel better after 3 days and so got some time in on beautiful Poipu beach. However, there I witnessed a guy being pulled from the ocean by a lifeguard just 20 or 30 feet from where we were relaxing and just having a good time.

Five paramedics went to work on this guy. They pounded his chest, did CPR on him, and shocked him many times–they worked on him for 20 minutes. Everyone on the beach just froze and watched as they tried to save this guy’s life. Many people were in tears, but even with all that effort and skilled professional work done by the paramedics, the guy did not make it.

The mood of all of us beach goers changed dramatically. We went from fun, games and joy to quiet and very somber. It is amazing how so many people care deeply about a person they do not even know. The young lady next to us broke down in tears. I was fighting back my own tears. The loss of life is a sad thing and, yes, we will all get to that point eventually. But this was a reminder that it is so critically important to live life to the fullest every single day, to do virtually everything we can to stay healthy and extend our lives —yes, to like 100 years old–in good health.

With that said here are a few more of the 100 Wonderful Ways to Live to Be 100:

  • Find reasons to laugh.
  • Do unto others but do not forget about yourself.
  • Do not dread getting older.
  • Get busy and stay busy.
  • (This one alone can add an average 7 years to your life.)
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Eat less.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Use your brain–engage in games and intellectual stimulation.

Let’s not wait until illness or some unexpected tragedy makes us realize how valuable our life is. We can honor this gift we have, every day, by doing everything we can to not just live, but live well and healthy. And to live, yes, to be at least 100.

The Giving and Sharing Season

December 23, 2016 by  
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Before we get to talking about financial goals and money as I promised you last week, let’s talk about giving first. We can all give more and next week’s blog will help you finance all that you give.

Christmas is upon us and it’s the very best of seasons if we all get into the giving and sharing. There is something about giving to others that makes you feel so good and warms the soul. Most of us start by giving to our loved ones–our kids, grandkids, and spouse or significant other. The gifts don’t have to be gigantic but giving big gifts and a lot of them certainly doesn’t hurt the receiver or the giver. But don’t stop giving at just the family level. Think about your friends, even ones that you haven’t seen or heard from in years. It’s also great to give to strangers that are in need.

I’ve loved giving lots and lots of small gift to kids, not just at Christmas time but all the year round. As many of you know I love to order up $2 bills from the bank and give them at random to kids (although only when they are with a parent. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a creep.) It’s quite funny that the parent many times says, “Oh, those are so rare,” and yet anyone can get them from a bank. The kid and the parent are usually very surprised and delighted and thank me up and down with huge smiles on their faces.

I order 100 of the $2 bills at a time and have given away thousands. But the amazing thing is that as happy and delighted as the parents and kids are, I am even more stoked and happy than them. I usually tell the parent, “I think I’m being kinda of selfish because I get more pleasure, satisfaction, and joy from giving than the kids get in receiving.” I usually add the comment, “Plus, look, I invest $2 and I get back a $1000 dollar smile. I think that is a fantastic return on my investment!” So, I guess that giving can be a bit selfish but then again everyone seems to benefit from this kind of giving. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, giving for the benefit of everyone?

So be more driven this year and give more and more for everyone’s benefit. And don’t forget that giving can be more than gifts and money–give love, give warmth, give complements … just give more of yourself.

 

The Simple List

December 16, 2016 by  
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Last week, I suggested you make lists of what you want to do, accomplish, become, and experience in the coming year. Those, of course, are called goals or resolutions and to begin thinking about them early on can lead to much better goals and better ways to reach them. So, what did you come up with?

For some people the list can get pretty long with many, many goals and objectives. Recently I’ve been reading Living the Simple Life, a book by Elaine St. James. At one point in her life she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and become so she starting writing and making lists of different categories. She came up with five categories: Personal, Career, Financial, Spiritual and Civic. Then she made a list within each category. Under ‘Personal’ she’d ended up with a list of 20 items. That was a lot of goals to aim for all at once.

She goes on to recommend that if you want to simplify your life, you might want to limit your resolutions and goals to just a few. She says, “If you’re an incurable list maker, be open to the possibility that you may have to cut your lists back to more realistic proportions. If you’re not a list maker by nature or by habit, you might find it helpful to come up with a brief list of four or five things you’ll want to concentrate on as you begin to simplify your life. Just don’t get carried away.”

I totally agree with keeping the number of goals or resolutions that you make to just a few. Why? If you set too many or create goals that are too big, it may not be achievable and you may become very, very discouraged and depressed when you see yourself falling way short of your objectives. This can lead you to totally throw in the towel and give up, convincing yourself that resolutions–whether they are made at the beginning of a new year or in the middle–just don’t work, at least not for you. So, I hope the lists you made this past week (or are about to make) are not too long or too huge.

That is not to say that great, big goals are not okay because they are. But if they are really huge, they probably need to be spread out over many years so that they are manageable. So, look at what you’ve formulated for the new year and break these goals down into the smaller steps it will take to reach them.

Also, break them down into regular and specific items such as what you are going to do each day and maybe even what hour of the day are you going to work on them. Then, next, determine what kind of progress you’d like to see. Ask, yourself where do you want to be by, say, the end of January and then end of February, etc. Remember, baby steps can turn into a thousand miles, given enough time.

So, concentrate on those small things but keep on doing them each day and each week. Next week I’m going to talk more about financial goals that, of course, can help you with many other goals.

 

 

Friend Compounding

December 2, 2016 by  
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This week, I would like to put forth a few more thoughts on the subject of friends, that all important part of our lives that I focused on in last week’s blog. Good friends really are golden and that hit me hard when I had such a super enthusiastic response from so many of my friends on that post. It got me to thinking about how much of our lives revolve around our friends.

We love our old friends and it is so fulfilling to share our lives with them. And new friends can enhance it even more and lead you to new and exciting avenues and experiences in your life. Sometimes, however, it’s kind of awkward and difficult to approach new people, especially if you are a bit shy.

If you want an easy way to meet and make new friends you might want to try this simple method. Let’s call it “Easy Friend Networking” or “Friend Compounding”. All you need to do is plan a simple party for your friends. Then ask those friends if they could please reach out and bring, say, 2 of their best friends with them to the party or maybe even have then bring 4 or 5 of their friends. This is somewhat like the concept that made 32-year-old Mark Zuckerberg a multi billionaire—he introduced the world to friend networking through Facebook. Both ideas are similar to compounding your money only it’s a compounding of friends. Of course, the real compounding would be if the friend of the friend was to invite his or her friends.

If you invited just 10 friends to your party and they followed through by bringing an average of 4 of their friends then you would meet 40 new people in one evening. You could then decide which ones you want to get to know better and to truly become your friend. I must say that I think Facebook is great but this face to face stuff is even better.

I have a good friend, who just so happens to be my wife, share with me a great quote from the magazine, Women’s World, about the value of friends. It said, “If it’s been awhile since you’ve spent time with friends, send out an invitation to get together now. Not only will reconnecting with pals lift your spirits, it’ll raise your odds of living a long, healthy life an astounding 50%.” That statistic comes from research at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Brigham Young University. The article goes on to say the reason it extends your life is that it reduces stress during tough times and gives more meaning to your life plus it raises your self-esteem. And I would add that having more and closer friends can add so much fun and excitement to your life as well!

Since 2017 is right around the corner, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about what we intend to accomplish and experience in the coming year, whether it is to grow our circle of good friends, increase our health, or create more wealth. In the next couple of weeks, I want to put forth some ideas of just how to set those resolutions and the different categories which would be wise to concentrate on. I’ll also talk about how to motivate yourself to follow through and get the job done. In the meantime, enjoy your friends and compound them by planning a get together or two. It is the perfect time of year to do that since saying it is for the holidays is the only explanation you need.

Enhance Your Life with Old and New Friends

November 25, 2016 by  
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basketball-teamI think you would agree with me that there are not a lot of things in this world much better than good, close friends. I can’t even imagine my world without my friends–both the old friends from my school days and my new friends. Great friends will do just about anything for you.

When we were young men, most of our get togethers were for some kind of competition–for sports, games or whatever. And many of those competitors morphed into “best friends”. Then as we aged it was more often business that brought us together.

In my November 4th blog post, I talked about the two major tragedies of my life–the death of my brother and my daughter. This got me to thinking of my friends who quickly gathered around me and gave me tons of love and support and comfort during those times.

The attached picture was taken 2 years after my brother died on a basketball court and shows our team just after we won the big American High School tournament in Rome, Italy, a tournament that included all American High schools throughout Europe and the Middle East. These great friends in the picture were some of the best friends a person could have. They not only helped me through those tough times but also shared in my dream of winning the big tournament for my deceased brother, Bruce. It’s hard to believe that was 55 years ago and still, to this day, two of those guys in the pic are among my best friends. Richard Harvey of Cleveland, Ohio (2nd row on the right) and our big Texas center, Ed Beckcom (the guy at the top with both arms spread).

My message this week, to you and myself, is to try to reach out to old friends and go out of your way to make new friends. Believe me, it’s well worth the effort. Go ahead and sit down with your old high school or college year book and make a list of those friends that you were close to back in those days. If you’ve lost touch with them, get on the internet and try to track them down and renew those great ol’ friendships. Your life will be enhanced by these reconnections and new connections and theirs will be too!

 

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