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A Good Type of Scary

May 24, 2019 by  
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I just got back from an incredible trip to Cuba.  We took a beautiful Norwegian cruise ship from Miami to Havana. As I have said, and preached many times before, if you want to excite your brain and body, do something very unique. That is one reason I love to travel, especially to new countries. Cuba is the 92nd country that I have been so fortunate to visit! There are presently 196 countries in the world, so I’ve got a ways to go to visit them all, although I’m pretty sure North Korea will not be one of them.

On this trip, I added one more thing that excites the brain and body. Yes, it is a little risky but it’s not too big a thing and it is totally legal. It’s not like climbing up the side of the Eiffel tower like that guy did recently, almost making it to the very top before he was arrested. That’s taking the concept a bit too far!

But what is legal and unique is petting and feeding sting rays in Cuba. It was a little scary and I guess the “scare part” is what excites the human brain. I may have been more reluctant to hold and feed a big sting ray if I had read more of the details surrounding Australian Steve Irwin, that big time crocodile hunter who was killed by an 8 foot sting ray back in 2006. As you may recall, he was being filmed underwater when he was stabbed in the heart by a sting ray. I’m not into big risks and our time standing in waist deep ocean water, feeling about a dozen or so big sting rays circling my wife Kimberly and I, softly brushing against our legs, was quite safe. Our guides demonstrated exactly what to do and closely monitored us and assured us that it was much safer than it looked.

The short video below is me holding the sting ray. Later, the guides showed us how to feed those huge guys. Yes, my heart and brain were racing as that big creature ate food right out of my hand and didn’t bite me …yay! It was a great experience and an exciting thing to do and It certainly stimulated my brain and body, which is a very good thing as it enhances one’s life.

Visiting a very different country like Cuba is a real turn on and, wow, driving thru the city of Havana, seeing hundreds of old cars from the late 1940’s and 1950’s, was a great sight to see. I had always thought and had the impression that Cuba was quite dangerous, but Kimberly and I were very pleased to find the city to be quite safe and the people were so nice and friendly. If you have a chance to go there, I would highly recommend it. Go do it for your brain and body!

 

The Umbrella Goal of Health

March 30, 2019 by  
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I know I said I was going to give you the other half of that 20 life list but there’s been a lot going on this week so we’re going to revisit a post, revised and updated, from 10 years ago, basically about the same subject.

I do regularly talk about health and the benefits of a good diet and hopefully it’s often inspired you to eat better and take care of yourself. The question is, are you, or will you be committed to it, not just for the near future but for life?

Getting down to an ideal weight and getting off junk food are great goals, but your hard efforts will be wasted if you don’t make it a modification to your lifestyle rather not just a temporary change.

These healthier eating habits can lengthen your life as they are and actual fountain of youth! But if you can’t keep it up, it probably won’t get you very far.

Because, here’s the thing … if you lose 30 pounds then gain back 20 a few months later, lose another 10, gain another 15, and keep this yo-yo dieting going, you aren’t helping your health at all. In fact, you’re stressing your system. Same goes for the ‘occasional’ junk food meal. Can a coke addict get high just once in a while?

The bottom line is, you have to decide that you want to live healthy–determine the specific weight you want to reach and stay at it while committing to eating healthy, minimally processed, whole foods, and keeping active. Look at this commitment as a commitment for life, an umbrella goal that will support every other goal you make by giving you the health and energy to pursue all your dreams.

So, be good to yourself these next few weeks and aim to eat and live healthy for the rest of your life. You can start by reading Chapter 10: An Umbrella Goal for Life in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. As I explain, 42 days is all it takes to form a new eating habit. After that it’s just a little bit of vigilance.

Use the goal planning tips in my book and you’ll certainly get there. Do this for yourself, your family, and, of course, for the success of all your dreams.

Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

The Power of Repeated Thoughts

September 28, 2018 by  
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People commonly remark to themselves, or to other people, things like “I’m a real good people person,” or “You know, I’m not good with people. I guess I’m kind of anti-social.” Others say, “Hey, I’m really good at fixing things,” or “I sure am a poor public speaker, but I’m a very good writer.” How about you? What do you tell yourself and others that you are good at and things that you are not so good at?

This self-talk is a very powerful thing and it tends to make you much better at some things, but it also can reinforce negative ideas about your life and habits which can hurt you.

I’ve said for many years that I’m very good with numbers and that I am a good wordsmith but, when it comes to repairing or fixing things, ugh… I’m terrible. And for many years now I’ve said to myself and to others, “I’m really, really not physically flexible.” In fact, I can’t even touch the floor without bending my knees big time. But, a few weeks ago, I started thinking about the huge connection between the brain and the body and how my comments about my lack of flexibility was totally reinforcing that weakness. You see, by telling myself over and over again that I was not at all flexible, my body believed it, which wasn’t hard because I wasn’t doing anything to change it either. So, my body was just following the brain’s instructions.

It does surprise me that I didn’t have this wakeup call years ago. I just accepted having a stiff body as an unchangeable fact and by always saying that I was not flexible, I reinforced what my brain was telling my body.

So, having had my little epiphany, I decided to do something about it. I started a simple daily stretching routine and within just a few days I was delighted to see a slow but consistent improvement in my flexibility. Before my stretching program, if I had dropped something on the floor, I would ask my wonderful wife, Kimberly, it she’d pick it up and she always would. But now she doesn’t have to. Even though I’ve got a long way to go to be super flexible, I can see that it is going to happen, just a little bit at a time.

I’m not saying that we don’t each have some very natural talents and abilities but there is also a very strong connection between the brain and the body that can also affect our abilities. We need to remember that we can direct our thoughts to make changes and improvements in our body and in our life, changes that we may have thought were not possible. The bottom line is that our thoughts can reinforce good stuff in our lives as well as some bad stuff so we should pay attention to which kind of thoughts we keep repeating to ourselves and others.

Think about this and maybe experiment with ways to direct you and your body to change or improve. You might surprise yourself.

 

The Grateful List

July 20, 2018 by  
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A few days ago, I walked down my very long driveway to get my newspaper. The walk down the drive and back is about 1500 steps which is a very good start towards my goal of 20,000 steps a day, a goal that motivates and drives me to always keep moving for better health and longevity.

But this day, as I walked, I was thinking about what I said in my last blog, about how most of us humans take so much of the good stuff in our lives for granted. That simple thought led me to begin making a list in my mind of things I am so grateful for but then I began to notice how many things on my mental list were things that I was totally taking for granted! So, I decided I should write them down and take a look at that list at least once a week and push myself to take time to appreciate the wonderful things in my life.

When I got back to the house, I began my list. Doing this simple little exercise has been a great motivator and has begun to make me more at ease with life.  I would encourage you to make your own list of 10, 15 or more things you want to better appreciate in your life and review them regularly. Constantly renew your vows to appreciate those great things in your life and not take them for granted.

Please, go ahead and do it and you’ll see how much it can enhance your life. And yes, why don’t you and I encourage our family and friends to do the same thing and spread the word. This is just another way of paying good stuff forward.

Here is the list of things that I do so much appreciate, and many times take for granted:

  1. My darling, kind, energetic and loving wife.
  2. My super wonderful kids and grandkids— there’s not a bad one in the bunch.
  3. My good and consistent health and the many people that dedicate their lives to be great doctors, surgeons and inventors of great medicines that help cure so many things.
  4. My fairly good game of tennis at age 74.
  5. My warm and supportive friends (especially the ones that let me beat them in tennis, ho ho!)
  6. Living in a great, free country that provides so many opportunities for growth and prosperity.
  7. My many great mentors that have enhanced my life–both in person and through some great books.
  8. The many very smart and hardworking inventors that have given us everything fromautomobiles to jet airplanes to heaters, air conditioners, and so many electronic products.
  9. My FitBit, a great invention that can give people great health and longer lives, that counts my steps and has motivated me to keep moving.
  10. An absolutely gorgeous sunset or star-studded sky.
  11. My great opportunities to travel the world and how easy it is with today’s jet’s, great hotels, guides, and services. Plus, the convenience of cell phones and computers to check up on the kids.
  12. The great, super safe pilots and operators of machines of all types.
  13. All that great music out there that motivates and inspires so many of us.
  14. My many wonderful financial opportunities and all the ambitious, energetic help and assistance I’ve had from employees and partners.

I’ve probably left off other things I don’t appreciate enough…but I think this is a good start for me to work on.  And I did go out of my way to begin by telling my wonderful wife how much I do sincerely appreciate her. I do hope my little list idea will push you a bit to start your own list and feel the same increased satisfaction for life and living as it has for me.

 

Appreciate What Life Has Given You

July 13, 2018 by  
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I think it’s so very amazing that all of us humans have a brain that takes so many things for granted–that is until we lose the very things we took for granted. One of the biggest for most of us is that thing we call “good health”. That sure hit me hard when I began having major pains in my stomach. They got worse by the week and then by the day and then, towards the end, the pain was increasing by the hour. I had scans done, an MRI, and 2 blood tests, but none of those tests found what was causing the pain.

Wow, did I ever start thinking about how I miss all those days, weeks, and years of good, or even great, health and, yes, most of those times I really didn’t even appreciate how good it all was. I just took my good health all for granted!

Finally, the doctors figured it out. My gallbladder was cram packed with cement hard stones. It was so full of stones that I couldn’t eat a single bite of food without great pain. The only thing I could handle was water. Because of that pain, I went more than a week without hardly eating a thing. The only good news was that I had no hunger pains or desire to eat and, yes, I lost 15 pounds. I guess you could call that the new “gallbladder diet”. Fortunately, my doctor was able to arrange his schedule for immediate surgery when the pain quickly got unbearable.

Since the surgery, I’ve felt better and better each day, and now I am so very grateful for not having a huge pain in my gut. Not a single day goes by that I don’t greatly appreciate my good and improving health. I’m bound and determined to NOT take good health for granted!  It is so easy to take so many things for granted. It certainly crossed my mind how we all seem to take for granted the huge progress that us humans have made in the field of medicine. I’m pretty sure that 100 or 150 years ago I would be dead by now.

The bottom line is that all of us need to be constantly aware of all that good things in our life and we should try to take time to appreciate all those good things. There is one simple thing that can help us not to take things for granted and that is to take time to “journal your journey” by writing down what you are doing and experiencing as well as your thoughts and then, from time to time, go back and read and appreciate what life has given you.

The Hardest Challenges

April 20, 2018 by  
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Life sure has its challenges. This past week there has been a lot of doctors’ visits and tests as we try to figure out what is going on with me. It would be easy to let this get me down, and I can’t say that it hasn’t gotten to me at moments, but it is important to stay positive and focus on meeting – and beating – this challenge.

So, while I’m focused on finding answers to my health questions, I thought I’d share with you another story of how I was able to overcome a challenge with the power of positive and what that means for you and for me. This post was written in October 2010:

The Biggest Rush Comes from the Hardest Challenges

Alright, first, I need to warn you that I am on a super unbelievable mental high right now and have been all week. It’s all because I won the Gold at the Huntsman Tennis Tournament. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s because I played the hardest match I’d played in years against a really tough player and even though I’d trained so very hard this year, I got to a point in the last game when I just wasn’t sure I could go on, but I pushed myself just a little harder and finally eked out that last point I needed and won the gold! Yes, I won the gold last year too but the competition was nothing like it was this year. It was because I had to work so hard and it was such a difficult game this year, that the win was many, many times more exhilarating and satisfying.

This whole experience reminds me of what I was trying to get across in Chapter 9 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” where I talk about the guy who goes out and shoots a perfect golf score the very first time he played. And then he does it again and again and realizes that there is very little, if any, satisfaction from doing so well at something he didn’t have to work at. Well that story is very much the opposite of what I did and how I felt.

This year I trained so much more than I had last year, taking lessons from a couple of great pros, Clark Barton and Jason Newell, as well as putting in more time on the ball machine and playing more matches. And yet my opponent, Michael Murphy, still hit back every ball and he could run as well as I could. I even began thinking that I couldn’t beat this guy but I pushed those negative thoughts out of my mind and tried to take the match one point at a time even as my body was screaming out for some rest and relief. And it worked. Positive thinking, taking it one small step at a time, and all that hard, even painful work, paid off leaving me with an immense feeling of true accomplishment.

Of course, while I was in the game, it was hard to feel that what I was going through was worth it, but I’ve done this enough to know that it usually is. And it so was. I know, too, that I wouldn’t still be riding this high if it hadn’t been so tough to win and if I hadn’t worked so hard at it. That’s the lesson here–The hardest work reaps the most satisfying rewards.

Just remember that next time you feel like giving up, bowing out, or taking the easy road. Just keep going, doing the best you possibly can. You’ll accomplish what you’re after and not only will it feel more than worth it when you do, it will make give you the energy and optimism to reach for that next great thing and get it.

 

Make Your Birthdays Count

April 14, 2018 by  
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Wow!   I just turned 888!  Okay, that’s in months not years but one can only imagine how different the world would be if you really could live 800 plus years.  Just think of all we could accomplish!

Why do we make a big deal out of a birthday?  For the most part I think it’s a good thing since it usually pushes us to not only review the past year or years but also it can motivate us to think about how short life really is. It makes us question what we’ve accomplished and what we have fallen short on. That thought should push us to live life big! It should push fear out of your mind so that you just go do what you really what to do.

As I plod along, working on writing my auto-biography and making a time line of my life, two big things have struck me. First, life is really, really short. Second, I’m totally blown away by how much I have done over the past years. It’s absolutely amazing to me how much a single human being can do in their lifetime, even though on a day to day basis it doesn’t seem like all that much.

When I look back at my life, I’m truly amazed that I’ve written 9 books, especially when I stop and think that those books were written a single word at a time. But then, I think of my good friend Richard Paul Evans, who has written more than 2 dozen books!  Where does he get the time? But again, it’s all done with baby steps.

We can all do so much with our life. Just always remember that the big things, even monumental accomplishments, are done one step at a time.  So, go after your huge goals and ambitions with at least a few minutes here and a few minutes later. Whether it’s writing books, making millions of dollars or running a marathon, it’s all step by tiny step.

Yes, I’m 888 months old or 27,010 days old, plus I spend probably 222 months just sleeping but when I look back I’m amazed that I’ve gotten so much stuff done.  Looking back, it seems like there is no way that little ol’ me could have earned tens of millions of dollars in income and investments as well as having written all those books all the while raising a bunch of kids and grandkids.

The big lesson in life, I think, is realizing that there are big things we can do if we put our minds to it. We do need to fully realize and understand two simple things—that life is short, so we need to push ourselves to use that short amount of time wisely, and that it can, and will, all add up to some very big accomplishments for your life. You just put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

 

 

Stomach Cancer and the Negative Brain

March 30, 2018 by  
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I’ve had a great and healthy life but just last week I got thrown big time when I thought I had stomach cancer. Did that ever hit my brain hard! I’ve always thought my brain was a huge asset and was a big help to me in my life and that’s why I’ve been so big on those “positive affirmations” that Paul J. Meyer taught me. One of my favorites that I repeat almost daily 20 times is, “I am very happy and very healthy.” Well, I must admit that the possibility of possible stomach cancer certainly challenged my “positive thinking”.

This all happens when I quite suddenly had a very bloated stomach. I called my doctor for an appointment as soon as I could. I had to wait a few days to get in and as I waited, the bloating got worse, keeping me awake virtually all night with huge stomach pains. So, I sought out answers on the internet, hoping that my stomach symptoms were from something else. What I found online only made things worse. I found I had 4 out of 6 of the symptoms for stomach cancer.

Did that ever bring on some very bad brain messages and thoughts. And the more I thought about it, the worse the pain became and the less sleep I got. Ugh! My positive self-talk had turn very negative.

I got to the doctor and told her my symptoms, asking her if she thought I might have stomach cancer. She answered by asking if I had changed any of my eating habits or began taking any new medications, supplements, or vitamins. At first I told her no, but then thinking about it for a few minutes, I recalled that I had started taking a couple new supplements. Her advice was to stop taking those and to come back in two weeks if the bloating hadn’t stopped.

So, I stopped taking those supplements and 2 days later it seemed that the bloating had gone down a bit. Even though I’m not yet completely sure that it’s isn’t cancer, I am totally in awe of how much that little bit of progress has changed my brain and my self-talk. In fact, it changed so much that yesterday, being so thrilled and hopeful and having such a positive brain again, I broke my all-time record for steps taken in a day. I walked just over 40,000 steps which is equivalent to playing 13 sets of tennis– something I have never even come close to doing.

So now I’m waiting and carefully watching my stomach and hoping to cancel that next doctor’s appointment. Isn’t it absolutely amazing how much our self-talk can make our lives better or worse. I’m not out of the woods yet but my brain is certainly pushing me in the right direction now. It just needed a little encouragement and some positive thoughts to keep me in a positive mood. That is something to keep in mind the next time negative thoughts are bringing you down. Find something positive to hold onto and pull yourself out of a cycle of negativity to have happier and more productive days.

A Busy and Purposeful Life

February 9, 2018 by  
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I am so very impressed by people that keep themselves involved and busy with work, social connections, play time, and, yes, no matter what their age is, investment goals.  Look at Warren Buffett—he’s 87 and worth billions but is still out their investing.

Speaking of age 87 and of someone who keeps on moving and staying involved, take a look at my January 10th post. After I wrote about my very talented tennis buddy, I asked him if I could post his full name and a photo of him in my blog. So here he is, standing to my left in the photo. Ken Greenbaum, a super, great, inspiring example for me and many others, looks a lot less than 87 years old. And you ought to see how he runs! He plays a great game of tennis.

Right after writing that January 10th blog post entitled “The Key for a Longer and Healthy Life”, I read a great article by Claudia Dreifus in Kauai’s Garden Isle newspaper, entitled “When Work Brings Joy, Why Quit?”  The author highlights 3 great examples of people that have not let aging slow them down.

“On most mornings,” Claudia writes, “Jack B. Weinstein rises at 5:30 to exercise. At 7, a car takes him from his home on Long Island to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, where he is a senior Federal District Court judge for the Eastern District of New York.” That morning routine might sound pretty ordinary until you find out that the man is 96 years old. That is very impressive and it no doubt helps keep him alive and healthy.

For Adolfo Calovini, a 82-year-old New York City high school teacher Dreifus writes about, ” the need to earn income is part of his motivation. The approximately $110,000 annual salary he earns … is a necessity.”  When asked if he’s ready to retire, Calovini shook his head, saying, “to me, teaching is about life. This is what I do. I can’t see a time when I wouldn’t.”

Then there’s the 88-year-old Dr. Kandel.  He works in a research laboratory at Columbia University. “I like what I do. Keeping engaged keeps you intellectually alive.” He goes on to say, “If you are healthy and enjoy your work, continue. At the very least, it gives you additional income. Even if you don’t need it, the money can be for your kids and grandchildren.”

I don’t know how old you are but I’m getting up there in age myself. The more I think about it, however, and the more of these stories I hear, the more it motivates me to do everything I can to prolong my life and health and create my own great story of keeping busy and purposeful far into my later years.

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