Live in the Now: Be Free of the Past and the Future

August 16, 2013 by  
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I hope you had a chance to read last week’s blog and have been practicing keeping aware of every moment and accepting it for what it is. Now here are a few hints that can help anyone to live in the moment or in the right now more readily and constantly. At least they have helped me and I hope they can do the same thing for you.

1. Be free of unease. Make a conscious effort to monitor your thoughts and feelings by constantly asking “What is going on in my mind right now?” Halt any worrying questions about the past or the future.

2. See if in those monitored moments you can catch yourself complaining in speech or thought. If so, you are probably “playing the victim”. Calmly silence that kind of chatter.

3. Always remember that to complain is not accepting of “what is” and it’s usually something that is in the past or something you anticipate that will happen in the future. Either do something about your complaint or accept it.

4. As you move, as you play or as you work, do it totally in the great “right now” as if this one moment is all there is and all you want.

It’s interesting to note that many times, even when a person is engaged in an activity that is meant to be fun and enjoyable, it can be ruined or at least diminished by what the brain is doing or not doing. I’ve noticed for example, that many times when I am playing a tennis match–especially in a tournament–that the more I think about a bad shot that I just made or wonder if I might be able to win this particular game or set I find myself not enjoying this game that I play in order to have fun. Plus I notice that when I am having thoughts about the recent past (the bad shot) or the future (if I can win this game, set, or match) I usually don’t play near as well as I know that I can. So I am losing in two ways—first, I am no longer having fun and second, I end up losing the match. That’s pretty dumb, don’t you agree? And it doesn’t have to be that way, not if I just work on training my brain to live “in the now” and I mean that “right this moment now”!

It’s certainly ok and even fun to recall and reminisce over good and fun times of the past and it’s quite necessary to do some planning and goal setting for the future but the key is, don’t spend the majority of your time in those two places. For maximum peace of mind, pleasure, and feeling of fulfillment, spends most of your life in the great “right now”. Make “the now” the primary focus of your life.


Revisiting “Living in the Now”

August 9, 2013 by  
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If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, then you know how much I believe we need to re-read books and other information even when we think we know it well. You will be surprised how many things you pick up that you didn’t the first time. Plus, we often really need a reminder to get us refocused on the things we learned the first time we read that great book or article. Or blog post.

This week I’d like to re-visit an old but very critical and important subject I’ve written about before, one that brings so very much life to your years, and even years to your life. It’s the simple but very difficult daily habit of “living in the present moment” or more simply put “living in the now”. Let me just summarize a few key points that may help you (and me!) “Live In The Now”.

No. 1 Constantly remind yourself to direct your “inner chatter”. Focus on what you are doing and feeling at the given moment. Even when you are just walking to the mailbox or standing in line, be there in your mind with each step and each breath and keep your thoughts present and positive.

No. 2 Accept whatever the present moment contains–good or bad. Of course if it’s bad and you can change it, do so. But if you can’t change it then accept it and try to do so as if you’d chosen it. Always work with it not against it. Make your circumstances your friend.

No. 3 Remove wanting and craving and you end suffering. The Buddha taught that the root of all suffering is to be found in a state of constant wanting and craving. If you think about it you can see that “wanting and craving” is certainly opposite or, at minimum, much removed from truly living in the “NOW”.

Next week, I’ll give you a few tips on how to make this process and state of being easier to achieve. In the meantime, just work on being aware and mindful of everything you do at every moment and every thought that goes through your mind. It takes practice but it can be done and it will make you happier to be in the very moment you have right now.

Writing Down Your Goals

January 4, 2013 by  
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Since we’ve just started a new year I must say something about renewing and re-dedicating ourselves to our life goals. And there is one super strong and time proven aid I would strongly suggest you use to increase your odds of hitting your goals. It’s something I talk about in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” but I have another source to show you just how powerful it can be.

For Christmas my son David gave me a book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and WOW what a great book. Duhigg relies on scientific studies to dissect what it takes to form a new habit or dump a habit that you don’t like. In future blogs I want to talk more about “The Power of Habit” but for now I want to address one simple but profound Scottish study that is Duhigg addresses.

In this study a psychologist recruited 60 patients that just had hip or knee replacement surgery. Having personally experienced double hip replacement in the same surgery I know just how painful this kind of surgery can be. Most people don’t want to even move afterward, let alone start walking even though their rehabilitation requires it. This psychologist gave each patient a booklet after their surgeries that detailed their rehab schedule, and in the back were 13 additional pages –one for each week–with blank spaces and instructions:

“My goals for this week are ________________? Write down exactly what you are going to do. For example, if you are going to go for a walk this week, write down where and when you are going to walk.”

Patients were asked to fill in each of those pages with specific plans. After their rehabilitation period the psychologist compared the recovery results of those that filled out the pages and those that did not. Duhigg notes that “It seems absurd to think that giving people a few pieces of blank paper might make a difference in how quickly they recover from surgery.” But it did. Those patients that wrote down their goals recovered much faster than those who didn’t write down a thing.

The great lesson and a lesson that I’ve preached to myself and others for years is we greatly improve our chance of success many times over if we simply write our goals down!  Financial goals, physical goals, family and social goals … it works on all of them. I would also add that you shouldn’t forget to put down the date by which you want to accomplish those goals.

You can read more about goal setting and how written goals can help you in my book  “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” which is on sale right now on my website.

How to be Thankful: Live in the Now

November 23, 2012 by  
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It is not usually the moment we are in that worries or upsets us. Yes, a certain moment can get us riled up but if you think about it, it’s our dwelling on the past or worrying about the future that keeps us from enjoying life, from enjoying the moment we have at hand.

Dwelling on the past or possible future does you no good. What has happened is no longer in your circle of control and as for the future, do the best you know how and the future will play out the best that it can. What you have at any given moment is the only thing that matters, the only thing you have any real control over. And the control you have is choosing to enjoy and appreciate what you have right now or ignoring it for the pointlessness of the unchangeable and the unknowable.

Be thankful for the good things you know are part of your life as it exists now, for the friends, family and talents you have.  Regret and worry do nothing but cause you to conjure up dissatisfaction in what has already happened and what might happen, clouding your perception of the wonderful things you do actually have. There is a saying, “Past is History, Future is a Mystery and Today is Gift and hence it is called the Present”. Enjoy the present, as a present to yourself and all those around you. Find your joy, make your own happiness in the one certain and controllable thing you have … the moment you are living right now.

Improving your Will Power

April 6, 2012 by  
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My son David gave me a great book for my 68th birthday. It’s called “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal, PH.D. with the sub title of “How Self-Control works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It”. Wow that is an attention grabbing title!

Yes I know I have done a ton of preaching about the “key” or “secret” of reaching your goals–that being my concept of “B-RAM”. I discuss it at length on pages 71 through 81 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living“. But Kelly’s book ads a whole new dimension to our understanding of how the brain works and how you can program it for your own success.

Kelly discusses the advantages we gain from things like self-awareness, meditation and even 5 or 10 minutes of exercise and backs it all up with science. The ability to set great goals in your life and reach them more consistently can be gained through these methods. Your brain can even be physically changed by what you send though it. And it doesn’t matter what those goals are—anything from losing weight, to overcoming an addiction to being a better parent or making a ton of money.

Most of us think the only way our brains change is by deteriorating as we get older. But Kelly points out that over the last decade, neuroscientists have discovered that the brain stays remarkably responsive to experience. Ask your brain to do math every day, and it gets better at math. Ask your brain to worry, and it gets better at worrying. Ask your brain to concentrate, and it gets better at concentrating. “There is growing scientific evidence that you can train your brain to get better at self-control,” Kelly says.

Next week I will give you more hints and steps that you and I can take to build more will power and self-control so as to bolster our goal setting abilities.

If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

Feed Your Subconcious Powerful Positive Words

January 20, 2012 by  
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I’ve been thinking about my mentor and good friend Paul J Meyer (1928-2009) a bit this week. I have an entire chapter about Paul on page 173 of my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. He was just that influential to me and to many other people. Probably the most important thing I learned from him was the life changing power of “positive affirmations”. Like other great things that I thought I learned, at some point I stopped practicing and fell out of the habit of using affirmations in my everyday life. But I’m making a great effort to change that.

Paul believed that affirmations could work miracles in just about everything we do. And I believe it too. You know the adage that if you say something enough times, you’ll believe it? Well, since your inner self is always listening to what you say and what you think, repeating positive statements about something as if it already happened will have you believing it and acting on that belief. And if it’s not already true, it will be soon enough!

I find it astounding that the mere uttering of certain words and phrases can change our lives. But it can and it does. The only real hurdle to having the power of positive words work for you is committing to practicing it. It’s the same as keeping in physical shape by exercising. You have to keep doing it your whole life if you want to stay in shape and reap the benefits. This is a lesson I’m relearning now. I certainly hope I don’t forget this great lesson and keep feeding my subconscious lots of positive words for every part of my life.

The Most Important Steps are the Small Ones

July 8, 2011 by  
Filed under blog, Chapter 6

Here’s a thought that’s been coming to the top of my mind a lot recently–it’s about taking seriously all the little things we have to do to reach our goals. I’ve put off some small things I need to do as I have been rather occupied lately traveling. I’ve had all these wonderful conversations with intriguing people and my mind and spirit are overflowing! I do love talking about BIG ideas and courageous goals but those grand visions aren’t realizable without all the individual steps you take in between.

In Chapter 6 of my book, How To Ignite Your Passion for Living, I talk about how to make a big dream do-able by breaking it down into all the smaller steps. But also consider that it’s the small steps and the individual decisions you make, not the big ideas you have, that determine if you are successful. If just a few of your small steps take you off the path, or you fail to take those small steps, your big, grand, genius ideas just aren’t going to happen.

So next time you put off the small things which you may not like to do, or for which you find other activities more pleasant, remember those are the building blocks of your dreams and every time you decide to do something else other than take a small necessary step, you are stepping away from your dream, not just an unpleasant task.

Your Life’s Biggest Stars

June 10, 2011 by  
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In my home office I have a bunch of pictures of me with famous people including the Dali Lama, President Bush, Michail Gorbochev, Lech Velessa, and many more. In the middle of these photos, there is a big sign that reads “PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW ME” because I want to make it clear, I’ve meet these people and it’s kind of cool to share that moment but the fact is, they don’t know me and aren’t the important people that have really affected and changed my life.

Being famous is really no more than a characteristic of a person’s life, like having kids or knowing three languages. Famous people are just people working through the trials and tribulations of life, just like the rest of us. But there are people that we meet that truly are important and touch our lives. These are often our friends, colleagues, family and even strangers. The fact is, the only people that are truly exciting and amazing to meet are the ones that enrich your life through their friendship, knowledge, and/or inspiring actions.

So, who have been the real stars in your life? What have they done that have made them shine in your mind? These are the kind of people you want to meet. Just keep in mind, to meet more of these kinds of people you need to get out there, network, and give serendipity a chance to bring them your way.

Recognizing You Own Stardom

June 3, 2011 by  
Filed under blog, Chapter 3

Last week we went to a great concert and, using a few connections I had, we got backstage and meet some amazing people, like, well, Bono, as you can see in the picture here. Was I thrilled to meet him? Sure. But meeting that big of a star really isn’t what you might expect.

U2 009

It’s strange that we all kind of feel that if we meet a famous person it will somehow make us more important or more interesting or will somehow change our lives. It really doesn’t do that, except maybe in our own heads. In the end, they are just people, like anyone else you run into.

Knowing that they are just people tends to make you realize that these, essentially, regular human beings could be you. So what is the difference between you and famous people? Some of them were just lucky but more often they were persistent, highly motivated and had a great support system–all things that you can or do have.

So are there really any superstars? Well, yes. You. You are the superstar of your life. What you do, what you accomplish, even what you attempt, are all reasons to be proud and ‘star struck’. Your actions are what will differentiate you and your life, for yourself and the people closest to you, not meeting someone who has reached the kind of success that simply gets them noticed.

If you feel like success has been eluding you though, take a look (or another look) at my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, for some in depth ideas on setting and accomplishing your goals and get to work on your own life of stardom.

Never retire–Re-fire!

April 22, 2011 by  
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Recently I got a phone call from a friend I knew when we were 20. As it turns out my friend, Keith Karren, has written a great book, “Boomer”, about the issues facing baby boomers as they head into retirement. Throughout the book Keith keeps saying, “Never retire–just re-fire”, a sentiment not very different from what I say in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living”. However, Keith goes a little deeper when it comes to applying this to retirement.

We got to talking about this huge problem that most retired people face. They find themselves thinking “Who am I if I am no longer a business person, teacher, doctor, pilot or clerk?” Sure, at first it seems just wonderful not to have to go to work every day but after a while you miss the structure, camaraderie, goals, etc. You say “Oh, I’m retired now” when people ask what you do and you don’t even know what that means. If you think about it, retired is a terrible word. It comes across as a label that says your life is over, that it is worthless and has little or no meaning.

Well my old friend Keith writes all about this problem in his book. When I first read “Never retire–just re-fire” I was myself, fired up by this phrase. The idea of re-firing is to get you excited or re-excited about living. It means setting new goals and totally re-energizing yourself for this next phase of your life. And that’s a heck of a lot better than sitting around waiting to die. When you retire, you still have another 25-35 years of living yet to do. Just think of all you did in your last 35 years! That’s a lot of time to do a ton of exciting and productive things. Just trade in your retirement for a bit of re-fire-ment!

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