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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  
Filed under blog, Chapter 9

 

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.

The Social Happiness Factor

February 2, 2018 by  
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I will get back to a more strictly financial theme in a week or two, but today I want to talk a bit more about health and longevity. Without those two things in your life, making a ton of money does not end up being very important. Making money, growing it, and keeping it are very important in anyone’s life but it is not the most important thing we work towards.

Years ago, someone asked, after the death of the richest man in the world at that time, Howard Hughes, “How much money did Howard Hughes leave when he died?” And that question was answered in three simple words: “All of it.” You can’t take it with you and it’s doesn’t help you much if you aren’t here to enjoy it.

Although I’ve talked a lot about how important it is to eat right and exercise for good health and longevity, there is one more critical element that has been proven to boost your health and add years to your life, something that I think we all need to pay more attention to. It is the “social” aspect of your life. Having an active social life also lifts your “happiness factor”, as Seth Godin points out in his book, Tribes.

There are some very good studies that shows how having a strong and active social life helps extend your longevity. I read an article by Holly Richardson last year where she told of a study on 3,000 women who had breast cancer. The article says, they “found that those who went through cancer alone were four times more likely to die from their disease than those with 10 or more supportive people.” The article goes on to note that a “six-year study in Sweden found that men with heart disease were much less likely to have heart attacks if they had good friends around them than those without that social support.”

From my casual observation, I’ve notice that the older many people get, especially men, the less social they are, whereas women tend to stay more social. Maybe that is one reason that women tend to outlive men.

I’ve noticed in my own life that the older I get the less I tend to expand my social life. I used to have a number of “tribes” that I belonged to but now basically I have only my “tennis tribe” and the other is a social club my wife and I belong to. But like I’ve said in many past blogs, “When I start preaching for my readers to challenge themselves in different parts of their life, I am also preaching to myself.”  And now by writing this blog I find I am pushing myself to create or join another tribe or two, knowing that I will most likely expand my social life and lift my happiness and contentment levels in the process.

Norway is said to have the happiest people in the world and it’s because they have broader and better social relationships. Norway was ranked the happiest nation by the 2017 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It has been found that in addition to a good social life, happiness also comes from helping others such as taking part in volunteer work.

So now we know two more thing that will help us live fuller and longer lives, and it’s something besides making money. It’s getting out and being social and helping others. Now those are some great goals you can look forward to creating and fulfilling!

Commitment to Movement

January 19, 2018 by  
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Let me begin this week’s blog by quoting Harvard Medical School’s conclusion as to the 5 ways that exercise helps people live longer and better.

1. Exercise helps the heart raise up the good HDL cholesterol and lower the bad LDL.

2. It keeps your brain sharp. There are even studies that suggest exercise my help ward off Alzheimer and other forms of dementia.

3. Exercise lowers blood sugar levels.

4. It possibly lowers the risk of getting cancer.

5. As a person ages, bones begin thinning, but walking, running, and lifting weights stimulates the growth of new bone. It may even reverse knee problems!

Since, as you see here, movement is so important to our mental and physical health, we all should keep moving as much as we are able for as long as we can. One thing that totally encourages me is knowing that we don’t have to go running for great exercise. Just slow jogging or even just walking a lot is very beneficial.  And of course, getting outdoors to do those walks is great for the mind and mood.

I’ve recently began jumping on a mini trampoline and that has really helped my physical conditioning as well as helping my bone growth. I bought this mini trampoline on Amazon for just a little over $30. Things like this are a great investment and fun as well.

I think it is very important, not just to start doing these easy physical activities, but to set goals for them and break those goals down into bit size chunks. For example, with my walking and counting steps, after I set my goals for the week, I not only break it down by the day but I set my walking goal by the hour. Usually I set the goal to walk 2,000 steps by 9 am which only takes about 20 minutes and then I aim for another 2,000 steps each hour until I reach my daily goal of 20,000 steps. By breaking it down this way it is much easier to reach the goal. It’s the old “baby steps to reach giant achievements” deal.

So, if you want to live longer, stronger and feel better as you age I strongly suggest that you set goals for daily or weekly walking, jogging, lifting weights, stretching, push-ups, sit-ups, and maybe even bouncing on a mini trampoline.

Uh-oh … I just looked at my Fitbit and I’m only at 18,714 steps today and it’s almost 6pm. So I will say aloha for now.  On next week’s post I’ll be coming back around to that good ol’ money making and fortune keeping theme so keep up the exercise and we’ll work on financial health next week.

The Key for a Longer, Healthy Life

January 12, 2018 by  
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I thought I was in great shape and looked pretty darn good now at almost 74 years old. Then I went to my favorite Kauai tennis club last week and played tennis with this old friend, Ken, who looks like he is 55 or 60 years old and plays a great game of tennis. But would you believe this guy, who is in super great shape, out on the court with me, is 87 years old? You’d be shocked if you saw him and he is not slowing down at all.

Ken inspires me to keep moving and, yes, I set some more new year’s exercise resolutions including playing more tennis with Ken and many other friends. I think most people know that exercise–even moderate exercise–is good for your health. According to a one large study, 75 minutes of vigorous, or 150 minutes of moderate, exercise per week extends life by 3.4 years. That might not seem like a lot of extra years, but that’s just the average and you and I might be able to push that to 10 or 15 years like Ken has. Plus remember that most likely those extra years are going to be so much more enjoyable because your physical and mental health will be much better.

And hey, 150 minutes a week is only about 22 minutes a day and if you are anything like me, you can easily push yourself to do a little more than that each day if you have the proper motivation. As I mentioned in another post a while back, one of the best gifts my wife ever gave to me was a little simple “Fitbit” that counts all my steps among other things. The recommended goal is 10,000 steps a day. However, that little device has had me competing with myself to continuously increase my daily steps to the point that I now shoot for 20,000 steps a day. That is more than 3 hours of walking, but it is not hard to spread it out over my day and, I have to say, I love it.

By the way, if you want to increase the chances of reaching your exercise goals, it’s a very wise move to tell your spouse or a good friend about your goal and then encourage them to remind you and ask you how you are doing with those goals. They can basically act as your coach and prod you along but mostly, you know they know and so you will feel accountable to them.

There is another big health related benefit that comes with working out when you do it via a game such as tennis or golf. That benefit is the social interaction you get during and after the game. Keeping up an active social life is another proven life extending way to keep you healthy.

So, I do sincerely hope you will be motivated to set exercise goals and never forget the many benefits you’ll be receiving. Write those goals down and get someone to remind you and push you. Next week I’ll want to expand on this subject because we could all use a little extra push, even me!

 

 

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