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Get Past the Depression

January 10, 2021 by  
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The news this week, and through much of this past year, has been terribly sad and is sometimes almost too hard to process. There is been a lot of news about depression and how much more of it there is right now. It’s understandable. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject with thoughts from past posts. Because although depression may be hard to avoid in times like these, it can be minimized and only fleeting if you are vigilant.

First of all, we need to deal with our disappointment and the restrictions this pandemic has put on our lives. Our advanced technologies have led us to habitually expect that we can access our wishes immediately. Super-fast internet, instant downloads, and multi-functional cell phones give us the ability to have some level of access to whatever or whomever we want whenever we want. But life, in general, doesn’t work that way. As a result, we are experiencing tremendous frustration and impatience with a world that is not changing quickly and fulfilling our needs and wishes immediately. This can ultimately lead to depression or anger.

In my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I touch upon some of the depressive episodes I have been through and some of the ways I have dealt with them. I also think Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, has hit upon the true source and the most effective ideas to combat depression as well as other mood disorders.

The first few ideas on his list are some of the most important, at least in my experience. They deal with becoming a watcher of one’s thoughts and redirecting the mind when we start to buy into the idea of being a depressed person:

  • Learn to recognize how your mind labels thoughts and sits in judgment so you know what ideas lie at the source of your pain.
  • Accept whatever the present moment contains as if you had chosen it.
  • The pain or depression wants you to unconsciously identify with it, allowing it to survive in your mind. If you are not a careful watcher of your thoughts then you may come to believe that you are a depressed person and then this becomes your identity.

Letting your mind create this depression identity will make it very difficult to get past the dark feelings and the pain because you will then believe this is who you are. But if you start with these first few ideas of Tolle’s, recognizing how your mind is working and seeing the present moment as something under your control, you can avoid the mindset that makes you think of yourself as a depressed person.

These ideas are true for any issues of mood. I choose to talk about them in terms of depression because that has been a difficult battle of mine. However, if you are dealing with anger, guilt, low self-esteem, fear, etc. watching your thoughts and taking control can help you with all types of painful moods and attitudes.

So, if you are depressed, don’t just live with it. Find its source, accept that it exists, and then aim to let it go. Give yourself goals and make plans you can look forward to. Eat healthy and whole foods as refined and sugary foods have been shown to feed depression. Get out and move and boost that serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

You may also want to turn off the TV, stop reading those dramatic headlines, and unsubscribe from all those pessimistic reports. Instead, read up on all the great success stories you can find on-line and in responsible and inspiring periodicals. You can, literally, change your mood by changing your view of the world as well as your mindset.

 

A Grateful Boost

November 29, 2020 by  
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Thanksgiving is over but it’s a very good idea to hang on to your attitude of gratitude. It will give you lots of benefits!

Gratitude is a great thing but I think most of us don’t fully appreciate it, taking it for granted until something bad happens to us. And that is not a good thing since gratitude can do such very good things for our lives.

Last July, I wrote in this blog about how I had a really bad fall that knocked me out for about 20 minutes. The big-time bleeding from my head and arms was not the worst of it. What was huge and lingers all these months later is the aftereffects of the concussion. I still have the dizziness and my thinking and memory is still suffering. Plus, I have tremors and shaky hands and arms. I will say that I’m getting better on all counts, although slowly.

The one good thing that did change is that my brain has begun focusing on how super grateful I should have been back when my body and brain were functioning normally. And with this COVID-19 mess, we all should look back and realize how grateful we should have been before the virus and keep reminding ourselves, running those grateful thoughts through our heads as often as possible.

Coincidentally, just a few days ago I read Lynn Johnson’s column in our local newspaper. He said, “Happiness makes our immune system function better. In children, joy is natural. For us older folks, an excellent way to recapture that joy is practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude diary. Write three to five things each day you are glad about. Describe how they helped. Write short thank you notes. Be grateful.” That is some great advice.

To me, it’s so amazing how the brain and the thoughts we run through it can help our bodies and lift us up. I am going to push myself harder to be more and more grateful for myself and my situation and for all my great friends and family!

How about you? Let’s all practice every day to become more and more grateful!

Renewing the Power of Positive Thinking

November 22, 2020 by  
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Some time ago, I picked up an old book from1987 called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. In it she talks about a physical demonstration that she does at some of her seminars that I found very impressive. It shows just how powerful our thoughts can be.

What she did was get a volunteer out of her audience and have them hold their arms straight out to the side. She would tell the volunteer to resist with all their strength as she attempted to push down on their arms. In the book she notes that she has not once been able to push down a volunteer’s arms on the initial try.

Then she would then tell the volunteer to say, ten times, “I am a weak and unworthy person,” instructing them to really feel the statement as they say it. After they did that, she would try to push down their arms again and, this time, she would be able to push both arms down.

To further drive home her point, she would ask the person to repeat, ten times, the positive statement, “I am a strong and worthy person.” This time she would not be able to budge their arms, maybe even less so than during the initial effort she made when they first stood up.

I took this to heart and, just before heading out to play in a round robin tennis tourney, I repeated to myself, many times over (even though I felt kind of childish doing it), ”I am a very strong tennis player and I am very worthy of winning.” I also repeated, “I am younger and more fit now than I was a year ago.” Wow, did that ever work! I played 4 rounds of tennis winning each round by a very wide margin!

Even though most of what Jeffers had to say was stuff I already knew, I was just not doing it anymore. It was like a rebirth doing it again and, wow, did it feel good. And here I am, many years later, needing the reminder again.

We can all use a little helpful nudge to get us back on track now and again. So, this week, I’ve been thinking about that and about the statements I could say to help increase my performance in everything I’m doing.

The power of positive thinking is pretty amazing. Especially when you remember to use it! What kind of positive statements could you use in your life? Come up with a few, use them, and see if it doesn’t make a world of difference.

Never Stop Moving!

November 8, 2020 by  
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It’s quite a strange thing that when you start preaching to another person, whether it’s “Hey, you need to read more,” or “Workout more, eat less and lose weight,” it tends to push us to do whatever it is we are trying to get the other person to do.  Maybe that’s why I like writing a weekly blog. I find myself doing more of the things I am preaching to others about.

If you read my blog you know that I’m always writing about how important it is to keep moving especially as you get older. I play a lot of tennis and I’ll never forget how surprised I was when one of the guys I played with told me his age. He was a darn good player, moved well, and hit the snot out of the ball. Well, he told me he was over 80 years old! And I thought he was younger than me at 76.

As I said in last week’s blog, I’m re-reading the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. In that book, I read about the French guy who set a new world record in 1917 by cycling 22 kilometers in one hour … at age 105! Wow!

“His VO2 max (maximum volume of oxygen consumed), heart rate, and heart and lung health were measured over two years and it was discovered that his aerobic capacity was that of a 50 year old, some 55 years younger than his actual age,” the book’s author, Chili Lee, added. “Even more amazing was the fact that his VO2 max increased 13 percent.”

Of course, that doesn’t happen without a lot of effort over the years. The key is a very important thing that will allow you to live a long and healthy life: you need to keep moving!

I’ll never forget when my good friend and gold medalist Stein Eriksen (with me in the photo here) cycled with my wife and I over 30 miles every day for almost a week. It was in Europe (Gstaad, Switzerland) many years ago and he was keeping up with me and even passing me from time to time and he was 80 years old then! He won a gold medal in 1952 Olympics, in addition to a silver and bronze medal in other years. We were with him when, sadly, he passed away at age 88.

To sum it all up, I’ll quote from NASA’s former director of Life Sciences Division and author of the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Dr. Joan Vernikos: “The key to good health is being as active as possible all day. This doesn’t mean that you have to exercise for several hours, like an athlete. It means you should move your body whenever you get the chance. The more often you move, the better.”

Okay, readers go to it and keep moving!

 

Raise Your Energy

November 1, 2020 by  
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As I said last week, I did let my social life go down the toilet, even though our social lives are a very important part of our life. Of course, COVID-19 didn’t help any but then I had a big health set back this last weekend. It jolted my brain and made me realize there was a part of my life that didn’t get flushed down. As a matter fact it took a big jump up.

So you know, my health setback was in the form of big stomach pains that were so painful I couldn’t sleep at night. It also really messed up my thinking and activities the next day and beyond.

It was during these episodes that I realized that even though my social life slipped a ton, my physical movement and life had taken a leap up. Of course, with this damn coronavirus, and not getting together with friends and family very often, it left me with plenty of time on my hands, or should I say in my “on my feet”.

My long walks around our new neighborhood and in the canyon really took off. I’ve written before about my walking goal of 20,000 steps a day (Thank heavens for my FitBit!) but with lots of time on my hands I started walking 25,000 steps every day and sometimes 30,000. My all-time high for one week was 210,000 steps and, wow, does that ever make a person feel good! Well, I am tired at night but overall, it feels good and lifts my health big time.

As recommended in one of my favorite little books, Inner Simplicity by Elain St. James, “Start a healthful exercise program such as walking and a limbering program such as yoga or stretching.”

That stretching, which I do before my long walks, has helped a lot and is especially important as we get older. St. James also says that “studies have shown that it’s the loss of elasticity in our muscles and the tightening of our joints that create the immobility of our advancing years.”

We all need more energy but as we get older, we notice the energy levels dropping quite a bit. Elaine says sleep is important to keep your energy up but she also warns you to “become aware of the situations and people that drain your energy.” So, try to avoid or limit time with those people.

Additionally, she says, “Sometimes you can find yourself completely deprived of energy for no apparent reason. It’s important at those times to examine what you’ve been doing, talking, or thinking about, or what you’ve been eating or drinking, so you can eliminate as much as possible not only the obvious energy drains but the subtle ones as well.”

In conclusion, she wrote that you should “keep your eyes and feelings open for the situations and the people and the happenings that raise your energy, lift you spirits, and make you feel terrific.”

For me, it’s kind of strange that all my thousands of steps, out in the wonderful outdoors, rather than draining me, lifts my energy as it lifts my spirits! So, just a little advice to you, which you probably already know—if you are feeling down go outside and walk around. The sky, air, and nature will almost certainly lift you spirits and life.

 

The Neglected Key to a Long Life

October 25, 2020 by  
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I started to re-read the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 YEARS: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Transformation written by Ilchi Lee. I’ve written about this book in a previous blog post but I didn’t mention an incredible statistic I learned about in these pages.

It turns out, you can do this very simple thing that, on average, can lengthen your life by 7.5 years. That conclusion was reached based on data from 143 studies with a total of 300,000 participants. In that previous post, I mostly talked about how a long and healthy life is primarily about eating nutritious foods and staying physically active but there’s a bit more you can do.

So, during my second read of the book, what really jumped out at me was something that I’ve not been doing much of since I retired. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve ignored this critical part of living a long life and I have suffered because of it.

What is it that I’ve ignored that could have possibly lengthened my life by 7.5 years? It’s this thing called a social life! Having and keeping a good strong and active social life does things to the brain including sending signals to various body parts that keep it healthy and helps you live longer.

When I retired, I let my social life slide down big time! I stopped going to the office and so I stopped seeing my coworkers, clients, partners and business associates. I also moved into a big house on the mountain side with no neighbors, so that made it even worse. And this COVID-19 has certainly not helped in the least. In addition, there’s no kids here at home anymore. It’s just me and the wife in our big, empty nest.

Lee says in his book, “The isolation of the elderly doesn’t only cause loneliness, it has been shown to have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing conditions like chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia”. In addition, he notes, “Having people around us with whom we can communicate on a heart-to-heart level may also reduce the effects of stress.”

We all want to be happy but things can quickly change when we suddenly retire–Lee goes on to say “People, especially as they get older, are experiencing deeper and more frequent forms of unhappiness in many spheres of life: chronic illnesses, alienation or disruption of personal relationships, weakening of economic power. Suddenly facing their social roles greatly reduced during retirement, people are likely to find their self-esteem withering away.”

Most of that has hit me hard so I’m here to tell you that, whether you are retired yet or not, it’s a good time to start making a list of plans and actions that you are going to take on when that day arrives and be sure an active social life is on there. Personally, I’m bound and determined to catch up and do just that!

In Lee’s book he also talks about another thing that can lengthen and make your life more pleasant and happy and it’s something that I’ve talked a lot about over the years – having a good strong purpose and hopes and dreams. I will talk more about those issues in my next week’s post.

Our Unfulfilled Ambitions

September 27, 2020 by  
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Do you have, like most of us, unfulfilled passions? If so, what are those passions? Do you love music, art, ballet, sports, outdoor adventures, traveling to new places, writing, social interactions, running a small business, or any other great possibility?

Take some time to contemplate and think about that. Once you have the answers, be sure to write down what your unfulfilled passions are. Then ask yourself this:

“Am I doing that special something that I love to do, and am I doing it for my own reasons?”

And… what are those reasons?

Then ponder this:

What kind of a breakthrough would you be ecstatic to have in your life in terms of your health, wealth, personal expression, spiritual development, etc.

Additionally, ask yourself:

In what would you like to excel?

What follows are just a few general categories I would like you to run through the gray matter of your brain before we really get focused.

Look at this list to see what overall categories might jump out at you or might be in the unfulfilled category so far in your life. Which of these categories are calling out to you and why?

  1. Artistic
  2. Sports
  3. Career
  4. Education
  5. Financial
  6. Physical
  7. Health
  8. Family
  9. Social
  10. Public Service

Of course, feel free to add more categories to this list.

It’s not at all unusual for most people to struggle with identifying their inner ambitions, especially in midlife and as they get older. It can become less clear as to what we really want out of life as we become bombarded by responsibilities, daily cares, and concerns.

And, yes, many young people have these struggles, too!

However, as kids, most of us knew what we wanted or at least thought we knew what we wanted. But the older we get, the less sure of ourselves we often become.

It is a rare individual who knows exactly what he or she wanted as a young person and follows that all through life, never faltering, never getting sidetracked, and never getting discouraged.

Most of us, as we hit midlife, start questioning what we really, really want out of life. It can be such a mystery. So, in next week’s blog post, I want to talk about the possible ways to solve your own mystery!

Appreciating Great Health

August 9, 2020 by  
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Most of us humans don’t really think a lot about good health when we are totally healthy. It’s so easy to take our good health for granted when we are feeling great. But when something bad happens and we become very sick, then we sure look back at those healthy days and want to be back there again.

This brain of mine certainly has me looking back before my fall and my big, bad concussion. It’s been about a month now and I still have dizzy spells and vertigo plus my memory has been damaged. I’ve been doing better each day although it did suddenly get worse recently. However, the trend is that I am getting better in the long run.

Man, oh, man … talk about big changes in a few seconds. My life is so different now. It’s not just that I miss playing that tennis that I love so much, but I’m also not supposed to watch movies, TV, or even look at the computer screen (which I’m doing now, of course!) but I bought some special blue light glasses that help protect me. And, until yesterday, I was not even driving my car.

I started thinking about a book I wrote in 2006 where in one chapter entitled “An Umbrella Goal for Life,” I talked about how important health was in our lives. Many people think that more exercise is the most important key to living a long life. Quoting from my own book I wrote, “If you had to choose calorie restriction versus a lot of exercise to attain a longer and healthier life, animal studies prove beyond a doubt that eating less calories, and calories that are nutrient packed, will lengthen your life and cut disease by a huge factor compared to exercise alone. So, the plan is do both but especially watch my intake of calories. When I recover from this darn concussion, I am going to watch my diet more carefully and exercise more because I want to live a very long life which is more important than so many other things to me.

Next week, I want to give you a list of items you can do that will help you stay healthy and live a very long time.

Powerful Positive Self-Talk

August 2, 2020 by  
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Covid-19 and a concussion are both terrible, but there are certainly things that can be done to survive them. With my concussion, I was thinking all the wrong, negative thoughts, then I realized how stupid that was, especially since I’ve written and preached for a long time about how powerful your mind can be. The mind can cure you and help you heal very fast. The key to this is what you are thinking and what you are saying to yourself – your self-talk. When I realized that all my self-talk was negative and changed it to positive self-talk, it made a big difference. My dizziness and vertigo have been getting better every day since.

I’m not saying that if you have the virus that you can totally cure it by positive thinking, but I do believe that if you have the right positive self-talk, your brain can help lessen the chance of you dying from it.  There’s been many studies that prove that point by the placebo effect. There are even studies and evidence that having the right mindset and self-talk can help cure cancer and heart disease.

In a great little book by Elaine St. James called, Inner Simplicity100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul, the author says “Hand in hand with affirmations go visualizations. In addition to verbalizing to yourself, both silently and out loud, the inner qualities you want to develop, creating a powerful mental image that projects how you want your life to be, focuses your attention on that outcome and helps bring it into your life.”

St. James goes on to say, “Numerous studies in recent years have shown how effective visualization can be for healing, personal growth, and empowerment. Life affirmations and visualizations are just as potent for our spiritual journey.”

I know these things work because they have worked for me in the past and are working now, helping my brain get back to normal. That’s rather incredible and funny at the same time, knowing that the brain can help heal the brain. Self-talk is so powerful and wonderful we all need to use it every day for better health, better relationships, our business, and many, many other parts of our lives that we want to improve.

So, if you want to make 10 million dollars, your self-talk should not just be, “That’s my plan.” It would be much better to say, “I’m in the process of making 10 million dollars.” And then keep saying that!

 

Better Through Thought

May 17, 2020 by  
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For many years I’ve complained about my lack of flexibility. It’s very hard for me to reach down and pick something off the floor.  I’ve said to myself and my wife “I really don’t have good flexibility.”

I’m reading a book now called The Secret. It has been very interesting and potentially very helpful. The author, Rhonda Byrne, states, “Think thoughts of perfection. Illness cannot exist in the body that has harmonious thoughts.” Then she goes on to say, “I think perfect thoughts. I see only perfection. I am perfection. I banished every bit of stiffness and lack of agility right out of my body. I focused on seeing my body as flexible and as perfect as a child’s and every stiff and aching joint vanished. I literally did that overnight.”

She quotes Dr. John Hagelin, a quantum physicist and public policy expert as saying, “Our body is really the product of our thoughts. We’re beginning to understand in medical science the degree to which the nature of thoughts and emotions actually determines the physical substance and structure and function of our bodies.”

So, we can really see that our brains and our self-talk are very powerful and can help us heal ourselves and can help our lives in so many ways.  Dr. John Demartini, a human behavior specialist, speaker, and author adds that, “We’ve known in the healing arts of a placebo effect. A placebo is something that supposedly has no impact and no effect on the body, like a sugar pill. You tell the patient that this is just as effective, and what happens is the placebo sometimes has the same effect, if not greater effect, than the medication that is supposed to be designed for that effect. The have found out that the human mind is the biggest factor in the healing arts, sometimes more so than the medication.” He goes on to say, “that love and gratitude will dissolve all negativity in our lives, no matter what form it has taken.”

Reading all this has helped me change my self-talk about my flexibility and I’ve started making a gratitude list. In my thoughts I’m saying, “I am so thankful for my slow heart rate, thankful for my great health, thankful for my great energy, both physical and mental, that has really improved my life. I am grateful that I am becoming more flexible.” 

I think back over my life and I’ve said for years that I am really quite good with numbers and with words. I realize now that the more I said that the better I became with numbers and words and those two attributes ended up being the key for me to make a fortune. So, I would encourage you to take a close look at yourself and get your brain busy strengthening your mindset about those things in your life that will enhance your life and everything you do. 

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