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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 Great Life List

April 27, 2018 by  
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Wow, what a week I had. I had the hell scared out of me when the doctor told me I had liver cancer! Not a fun beginning of the week, to say the least. But, after a super intense week of blood tests, several scans, and having a camera look around at my insides, the doctors concluded that, in fact, I didn’t have a diseased liver! Yay team! But yeah, wow, what a huge mental change and difference that made in my brain.

Yes, I know, I am 74 years old now and I won’t live forever, but this big-time scare has motivated me to use what time I do have to its best use. Not just for me, but for my family, friends, and even strangers. I think I’ve been giving back but I know there is so much more that can be done.

All of us humans get the same 168 hours a week, but the key to success in helping yourself and others is in how we choose to spend those hours. I know I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: To make sure you get more done each day, set goals and be sure to write them down. I hope you are doing this. It is not enough just to set goals. If you are like me – and I think most people are – when you write an objective, task, or goal down, your brain pushes you harder to make sure you complete that task!

My recent big-time scare has motivated me to make a list of what I learned from it. What is really important in this very short life is to raise our spirits, happiness levels, and contentment with life and living.

Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Mental and physical pain can be a great life teacher.
  2. Place the highest value on LOVE.
  3. “There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  4. The biggest most challenging things can be the more rewarding.
  5. Slow yourself down and bask more in the pleasure of living.
  6. Pause and take time to appreciate the right now moment.
  7. Meditate, even for just 10 minutes a day.
  8. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  9. Go ahead and fake confidence even when you are not confident.
  10. Lift your happiness and relaxation levels by getting organized.
  11. Get outside daily and study and observe the sky, the clouds, and your surroundings.
  12. Exercise daily even by just walking or strolling; maybe hike or jog in new places.
  13. Surround yourself with diverse people and spend more time with family and friends.
  14. Take time to document a special trip or occasion with photos and even write a short story about it.

I do hope that this list will help you as much as it has helped me. I find that by thinking about these kinds

of things and then writing it all down cements it more deeply in my mind. I am going to push myself to

revisit the list from time to time. I hope you will revisit this, or your own similar list, on a regular basis as well.

 

 

 

Stress as Good And Bad

March 18, 2017 by  
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This week I want to talk about stress. I am even a bit stressed about getting this written in time to post it! There is a lot to stress about. Because of that people have come up with all sorts of ways and methods to reduce stress. However, stress can be good because it can push you to get more done and try harder to reach your goals. And, get this, you can actually learn how to make it so that even a ton of stress doesn’t hurt or ruin your health! I think you will be surprised and delighted to learn how to do this, as I was. But let’s examine how we think about stress for a minute.

As most people know, stress seems to be caused, for the most part, by our thinking and worrying about some future event–near or far. There is, however, two bits of really good news about stress. We all know that if we wanted to be a better or even a great tennis player, golfer, singer, writer, public speaker, etcetera, there are ways to become just that. One of the best methods is the “10,000-hour rule” as explained in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. (If you haven’t read the book, I think it’s a must.) It says you need to put in 10,000 hours at something to become world-class in that field.

From my experience and from what I read, we as humans can do “work outs” and do lots of “practice sessions” with and for our brains, just like we can invest those 10,000 hours to become the best at something. Part of the good news is that, when it’s needed, it doesn’t take 10,000 practice hours to reduce stress.

So, before I get to the good news about how stress isn’t always bad for you and your health, let me just list a few simple techniques that are easy to do to reduce or eliminate stress when you know it isn’t doing you any good:

  1. Take a walk outside.
  2. Take a run in a new neighborhood.
  3. Take a Hike.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Go to a yoga class.
  6. Share your problems or stress with others.
  7. Get a massage.
  8. Take a hot bath or jump in a hot tub.
  9. Do a good deed for someone else.
  10. Give or get hugs and kisses from friends and relatives.

These simple things are easy to do and are well known to work.

Okay, that is all well and good but what about the big shocker I’ve been hinting at? This is something that hit me hard. It has to do with changing a person’s thinking and how what they believe changes their health and life span. It is pretty amazing and I will cover it next week. But in the meantime, de-stress as needed and start getting used to the idea that it’s not always bad to be stressed. Then tune in next week to see what I mean!