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A DIFFERENT TYPE OF NEWS YEAR RESOLUTION

January 2, 2016 by  
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In most years past I, and probably you too, have set new year’s resolutions to make more money, get in better physical shape, or to scratch off another item on your bucket list but I had a major brain change a couple of days ago because of a very sad event. A man I consider my older brother passed away on December 27th. I had wanted an older brother ever since my actual older blood brother died right in front of me when I was all of 15. Stein Eriksen was Norwegian and maybe because of me being part Norwegian we hit it off big time many, many years ago. He was no doubt the most famous skier on the planet and was considered the founder of modern skiing. He won a silver and a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics and 3 gold medals in world championships in 1954. But all that fame and the money that followed was not the best part of this man. He the nicest, gentlest and kindest guy you would ever want to meet and you couldn’t ask for a better friend.

Stein was 88 years old and still full of life until the very end. In fact, 16 days before he passed we spent the evening with him celebrating his birthday along with his wonderful and beautiful French wife, Francoise, their son Bjorn and 2 other friends. He was the life of the party. My wife Kimberly and I had also had the great privilege of traveling the world with Stein and his wife. We skied together in Park City, Utah, and played tennis everywhere from his cabin in Montana to Gstaad, Switzerland. We often played with the famous tennis champion Roy Emerson, the very man who introduced Stein to Francoise many, many years before. We even cycled around the islands of Croatia when Stein was in his early 80’s. And I will never forget the long barge trip we took on the scenic Seine river in France. Francoise, being French, made it even more special and, yes, we did tip back a few glasses of good ol’ French red wine.

This past Saturday we got a call from Francoise telling us that Stein had been in the hospital. She said they were sending him home to live his last days and we had better come to the house as soon as possible. By the time we got to the house he was semi-conscious. We tried to communicate with him but the most he could do was wiggle his toes trying to answer some yes and no questions. The next day he was totally unconscious and with his family and a few of his friends at his bedside, this great and wonderful man slipped into what lies next. My incredible friend and big brother was gone.

Stein’s death really didn’t hit me until the next day. Those last two days in his bedroom I found myself being the comforter to his wife and family to the best of my abilities, but the day after he died I fell apart and a piece of me died. I had lost another big brother.

Now as I face a new year when I usually set new year’s resolutions that revolve around money, health and travel, I have a totally new perspective. I want to follow in Stein’s footsteps and gather more friends and, most importantly, be a better friend to others. Money, success, and fame are little tiny things when compared to good friends. Yes, these resolutions are hard to quantify but that’s ok. I’m going after them with all my heart and all my energy.

Next week, I am going to talk about why so many people set resolutions but fall short virtually every year. You might be surprised at what science has found when it comes to this subject.

Reflections in Lieu of a Christmas Card

December 18, 2015 by  
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Now, a week before Christmas I received this email from a very dear friend of 40 years.  He’s a great guy, now a retired doctor, whose life was turned upside down 2 years ago when he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live.  After going through a 9-hour surgery and painful recovery he’s still hanging in there and has embraced life with incredible energy and enthusiasm, fully living life every single day.  He is a positive, lovable human being who is setting a wonderful example for all of us, a man I am proud to call a great friend.

Here is his “Reflections in lieu of a Christmas Card”

I stayed out of the hospital this year.

I played golf or pickle ball almost every day.

I enjoyed friendships, new and old.

I’m learning to say goodbye reluctantly to some
friendships that didn’t work.

I made a few new friends.

I love my kids and grand kids who each seem to be
on their own unique journey.

I continue to know less about more.

I own my own faults and will probably keep
most of them.

I travel less and enjoy my home and Robyn more.

I value things less and ideas more.

I totally reject trying to change anyone else.

I seek forgiveness for hurting anyone.

I reject exclusion, pettiness, manipulation, passive
aggressiveness, and revenge.

I love knowledge, insight, information.

I love competition and discussion.

I reject polarization, cliques, political and
group collectivism.

I advocate for things I believe and not for groups,
causes, or labels.

I advocate for health, fitness, and science.

I love animals more than people.

I reject political correctness and distribution of
wealth.  I advocate for self-determinism.

My identity is not in my possessions.

I resolve next year to reduce drama in my
life by avoiding those who need it.

I want to live as long as possible if there is good quality.

After pancreatic cancer, I’m not afraid of much so
I will speak to my beliefs.  You can have yours
so don’t be offended.  I can disagree with you
and love you.  Don’t react with anger.  Just
listen or not.

I can’t be offended unless I choose to be.

Life is short, don’t withhold love.

Don’t take yourself seriously.  Laugh at your
mistakes and embrace them.  Don’t worry
about what others think.  Worry more about
what you think of yourself.  I want you happy.

If this all sounds pontifical, it probably is.  It’s me at my best and worst.

Love to all.

–Craig Davis

Side Notes on Uncertainty

December 6, 2015 by  
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Years ago I picked up a habit that has served me well for many years and I still do it to this day. It’s simply this: When I’m reading a book–especially a book with good advice, concepts and life lifting ideas—I write notes of those statements that I find profound and powerful,  those things that I don’t want to ever forget.  I write those gems on the blank pages in the front or back of the book with the page number of the quote.  That helps me tremendously weeks, months or years later when I want to quickly review the high points in that particular book, and I can do so in a matter of a few minutes.  Those quick reviews re-motivate me, remind of many things that I’d forgotten, and help me find and follow good pathways.

Let me show you what I mean. Here are my notes from Pema Chodron’s book Living Beautifully with Uncertainly and Change.

Page 3.  “Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process.”

Page 6.  “Change….when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment….”

Page 7.  “What a fundamental ambiguity of being human points to is that as much as we want to, we can never say, ‘This is the only true way. This is how it is. End of discussion.’  In an interview Chris Hedges also talked about the pain that ensures when a group or religion insists that its view is the one true view.”

Page 10. Our habitual response to feeling ensues…when we’re hooked, we turn to anything to relieve the discomfort–food, alcohol, sex, shopping, being critical or unkind.”

Page 12. “…emotions like anger that are an automatic response last just ninety seconds from the moment it’s triggered until it runs its course.”

Page 16.   My thought from reading this page is I try to notice when I am trying to escape from the fundamental uncertainly of life!

Page 26.  “We all have our familiar exits: zoning out in front of the TV, compulsively checking e-mail, coming home at night and having three or four or six drinks, overeating, overworking.”  Note to self: I need to become more aware of these escape methods and not do them myself.

Page 29. “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Page 30.  My thoughts from this page are that I need to think about what I’m thinking but then I shouldn’t try to totally repress thoughts I don’t like but I need to work on refraining from doing it again.

Page 50. “Accept yourself as you are right now.”

Page 53.  “Loving kindness for self means making time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate, self-honesty.”

Since we all have limited time in our lives (even if you live to be 80, that’s still only 960 months and you know how fast a month flies by!), we all need to be as efficient and productive as we possibly can and that’s why I encourage you to use your time wisely. I really think my habit of capturing the best items of the best books as you read is a great habit to develop for life enhancement and productivity.

I hope you glean as much wisdom as I did from these high points of Pema’s great book. I will post the rest of the notes that I made in the front of her book next week. Right now I need to go to my club and play some more tennis. Yep … we all need to balance our lives to get the most out of the limited time we have here on the planet earth.

Don’t Miss Your Bliss

November 20, 2015 by  
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Yesterday I stumbled across a poem written about this thing we call “Bliss”.  It’s something we all like and we all want in our lives. We try to pursue it as best we can even though it does elude us much of the time.  I read it with great interest because I’ve gone after bliss many times and experienced bliss at times in my life but haven’t had near as much of it as I’ve wanted.  Here’s the poem. I hope you like it as much as I did and that you find it’s helpful to you too in your pursuit of bliss.

BLISS

How many years do we waste as we search for this?
Contentment, peace of mind, a state of bliss.

Young men work to build their bodies strong.
Attach themselves to vanity and stay too long.

Finally, they move on–but now it’s assets, goals and stuff.
They’re so competitive, work so hard and play so rough.

But the end is justified by the means.
Yet when they arrive, the prize is not what it seems.

What have I missed? My wife, my kids, my life is amiss.
Is it now too late to follow my bliss?

What’s it all worth if ‘in the getting’ I lose my soul?
Please let me get it back, the price is too great a toll.

But sometimes life will let you do just that,
change roles, reverse direction, and switch your hat.

For we all must learn in the proper time and season,
for wisdom comes with patience, suffering, and for a reason.

Bliss rarely comes when one is young,
but neither is it guaranteed from an old man’s tongue.

Its secret is buried and is man’s greatest foe.
Simply put, it’s the taming of the ego.

Ego locks you out of your bliss.
God’s one test you best not miss.

But it takes almost a lifetime to get that peace of mind.
Here’s the secret–you don’t have to be right, just be kind.

By the way, the author of this poem, and I had totally forgotten this, is little ol’ me.  I wrote this back in 1998 and as I read all these years later I was quite surprised that it struck me as pretty good. Well, it must have been more what they call ‘inspiration’ because it was too good to come just from my brain.

 

The Difference a World View Makes

September 25, 2015 by  
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As I write this, I am flying at 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that might be a pretty incredible thing for some but the incredible things on my mind are the wonderful people that we met in Ireland and the great beauty of the country side. We just spent 8 days there (my wife is part Irish but had never visited Ireland). What a wonderful country, with the greenest of  green lands  you’ll ever see and such friendly, kind people.  We flew into Dublin and rented a car then had the scary experience of driving on the wrong side of the road-at least it’s the wrong side as far as us Americans are concerned. I only screwed up twice but quickly corrected and we survived!

We drove from Dublin up to what is called the Carton House, a huge estate with a castle that is now fixed up as a hotel complete with two 18 hole golf courses and all kinds of other amenities. You see, my wife is a Carton and her family history was traced way back hundreds of years ago to the Cartons and the Fitzgeralds, both famous and very well to do families of Ireland. So we just had to visit and stay in the Carton house. We had a great time there and later drove (very carefully) to Kilkenny, the town made fun of on South Park.

Just before we left, we watched the big Gaelic Football finals. I’d never heard of the game before. It’s a combination between soccer, American football and basketball. They run with the ball, dribble it, pass it forward and backward, and kick it for a score. It’s a hugely exciting game; I loved it.

So there we were in an Irish Pub just a few blocks from the stadium packed with over 80,000 screaming fans and next to us was a beautiful couple. In short order we struck up a conversation and discovered they were from Hungary. They were such fun people. I liked them so much I insisted that I buy their lunch. It was like we were almost best friends by the time we finished lunch. That was such a great feeling and left me with such great memories. I sure hope to see them again some time, some place.

That chance meeting brought back memories of all the great people I’ve met in my life from so many different countries and cultures. I’ve had the great privilege of experiencing so much of this great world we live in and have learned so many great lessons from other cultures and peoples from my travels. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned from all these travels, at least for me is simply this:

To visit other countries and cultures and other people with different beliefs, habits and different views of the world can give us all a better and bigger mind and help you and I to be more open minded and accepting of others.

And that, my friends, is what this world needs more of. In my own personal opinion that would lead to a much more peaceful and war free world and would be a big blessing to each and every one of us. Do you see my point? I can only hope that you too will agree.

 

 

The Magic of Nature and the Human Connection

July 10, 2015 by  
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I’ve been hiking up Millcreek Canyon ever since it turned so very hot here in Salt Lake City. It’s been 100 plus degrees on many days.  And let me tell you, the Millcreek Canyon hike is something to behold and as a big plus the trail I take has a wonderful canopy of trees blocking the sun for probably 80% of the hike. There is something magical about the great outdoors and for me it’s even more magical in the mountains or on the beach.  I don’t know what it is but I’m sure scientist have an explanation for what nature does to our brains that lifts and jump starts our spirits to a much higher level.  If you don’t believe me, the next time you are a bit down in the dumps, just take a walk outside, preferably in the mountains, on the beach, or at least out in the country side, and see if you don’t find your mood changed.

For me there is an extra boost to my mind, mood and spirit when I hike trails where others are hiking.  As I’ve talked about before, I love to drop $2 dollar bills on the trail when I see a father or mother hiking with small children–ideally in that 6 to 10 age range.  If you give a 3 year old a $2 dollar bill they don’t know what it is and usually drop it in a short time. They need to be old enough to understand what they’ve found.

My normal routine is to say to the parents as they are approaching, “Hey, have you taught your kids to pick up paper or litter when they see it on the ground?” and then I drop the money and keep walking and I hear the kids shouting out in delight and almost always the kids also scream out a big “Thank you!” Wow. Does that ever warm my heart! The kids love it but I think I love it more and get more out of it than they do.

I also love to meet people when I am out on my usual 2 or 3 hour hikes and that also lifts my spirits.  I have some standard lines that I use over and over because they usually work to start a short conversation or a quick exchange of pleasantries.  For instance, as I am approaching couples, whether young or old, with the guy in front and the gal behind, I say to the guy as I pass, “Hey, don’t look now but there is a beautiful lady following you.” That always brings big smiles and an exchange of upbeat comments.  They love it and so do I.

With these few words and small gestures, spirits are lifted. Plus it sometimes leads both parties to stop and have a short upbeat chat.  Yesterday I used one of my other standard lines when I’m on a particularly steep part of the hike and passing people.  I simply ask “Hey, how much further to the 7-11?” It usually brings a big laugh but yesterday it also lead to a conversation and a big coincidence.

After saying this to two ladies who laughed at my comment, I noted the younger woman had a French accent so I asked her where she was from. After telling me she lived a couple hundred kilometers north of Paris, I told her we love Paris and France and have a very, very good friend from Normandy by the name of Franchoise and she is married to the skiing legend Stein Eriksen. When I mentioned this, the older lady said “Hey, I know who you are, Mark Haroldsen, the author. And I know Franchoise. Her son plays tennis with my son.” So again that brief encounter lifted our spirits with a nice conversation and a fun coincidence and we all walked away with smiles on our faces.

The bottom line here is that I think all of us should get out in nature more and go out of our way to meet other human beings.  It’s a win-win and as I preach this to you, believe me, I am preaching it to myself to do more of that!

 

 

 

What We Can Discover in Other People’s Worlds

June 19, 2015 by  
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I don’t know about you but I absolutely love to travel, especially to foreign countries and places I’ve never ventured into before. It excites my mind and does good things for me physically as well. Psychologists have told us for years that the human brain craves and thrives on novelty and also that a brain that gets excited can many times coax or persuade the body to maintain or even create better health. It sure seems to do that for me!

My wife and I just got back yesterday from Europe. Even though I have visited the Netherlands a few times before this last trip, this visit still stimulated my mind and body quite a bit. I am sure part of that was that I’d never taken the high speed train from Paris to Amsterdam and viewed that marvelous scenery. We also stayed in an old and quaint yet very different hotel right on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals.

A few days later my wife and I again took the train but to a city I’d never visited before. Just outside the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (commonly known as Den Bosch) we were privileged to watch from our nice fourth row seats a great tennis tournament played on grass as a warm up tournament for the renowned Wimbledon tournament. Interacting and getting to know a few of the wonderfully friendly Dutch people was tremendously fun as well as interesting and mind expanding. I even learned that the Dutch are, on average, the tallest people on the planet.

I’ve thought many times how different the world would probably be if virtually everyone could travel and visit dozens of different countries and cultures. I can’t help but believe that if this were to happen and we all took the time to really study and get to know and understand other people, we would grow to be so much more accepting and sympathetic. It would, no doubt, greatly diminish and maybe even halt the huge conflicts and wars of the world.

Just think about how you try to help one of your kids or friends that are having problems. Most of us try to understand the causes of those problems and the more we discover, the sympathetic we are and the more we can help out. Getting to know and understand other cultures makes it more likely that we will be able to accept, and when needed, help these others people that previously we may have thought were rather strange. Next time you travel to a new place you might want to keep that in mind and see what you might discover.

 

A Profound and Particular Connection

June 12, 2015 by  
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My wife and I recently visited the home of the famous painter Rembrandt, here in Amsterdam. Rembrandt was quite an astute businessman as well as a gifted artist. Unfortunately he wasn’t home when we stopped by—ha ha–but his beautiful artwork was everywhere and it was pretty darn impressive, I must say.

I also had a very short but interesting conversation with a friendly guard at the Rembrandt home.  It all started with a favorite comment of mine that I made as we parted ways. It really seemed to get to him but in a good way.  I said “Have a nice life!” And he enthusiastically said “Wow. Thanks a lot. I think I will plan on doing just that”.  That started the short conversation. But my next comment seemed to really hit a nerve, again, in a good way as he went on to say he’d never thought of the life of human beings in the way I said it.

What I said was simply that I think that all of us humans, even though we are from different countries, cultures, religions and speak different languages, we are all so very much the same. We all share at least one thing in common that should bring us even closer together as humans, especially in today’s world with the killing of so many innocent people in the name of “belief” or different world views.  He wanted to know what that ‘one thing’ was that we all share no matter who we are, what we believe or where we live.

What I said was, “No matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, as powerful as king or a president or as helpless as a new born child, we all are going to die.”  I know that is obvious but it’s something we should think about more often when we are feeling high and mighty or are judging other people and what they are doing with their lives.  The fact is that not one person out of the 7 billion people on the earth right now will be here in another 120 years or so. We all are in the same boat so why not make that the best possible boat in the universe and treat others as our brothers and sisters with great love and respect?

As we walked away from this very kind and interesting Dutch man, I think both he and I thought, “I think I have a new friend”.

 

Great Lessons in Good Times and Bad

June 5, 2015 by  
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This week I was privileged to award 3 scholarships to graduating seniors from Cottonwood High School in Utah. I do it every year in the name of my daughter Kristin, who suddenly died of an eating disorder called bulimia when she was a sophomore at that school. It happened many years ago and anyone who has ever lost a child knows that you never get over it but, given enough time and thought, you learn to deal with it. And with more thought and the passage of time you may even learn a lesson or two.

So in my presentation to the 3 scholarship winners and to 100 plus other graduation seniors that were being honored for various achievements I gave what I think is crucial advice for a teenager and quite frankly I think good advice for all of us including myself. I said, first of all, “Let me tell you that if anyone ever tells you that they have a “perfect life”, I’m here to tell you that they are big fat lairs, or they just haven’t lived long enough yet”. Yes, I got a good laugh out of that line but it’s more than a funny line–it’s pretty darn true.

My second bit of advice that followed my first comment, was that the key to a successful and productive life is not what happens to you , especially if it’s bad stuff, but how you react to the things that happen to you and what you learn from it and then what you do from that point on.

Some people would say to me, “So what the hell did you learn from the tragedy of losing your 16 year old daughter?” Well, first I learned to accept what had happened, even though it took me a couple of years, by telling myself that although I can give up on life and give up on being a father to my other children, that I could just sit around and feel sorry for my daughter and myself for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t bring my Kristin back. I realized how stupid and selfish that would be and I wouldn’t be helping anyone. In fact, I’d be hurting a lot of people, especially my kids.

The second lesson I learned was about caring. I became so much more considerate of other people, even strangers, when I learned of their losses. Prior to my loss I was pretty callous and mainly only thought about myself. For too many of us it takes tragedy to bring us around to understanding the pain other people go through.

From the many comments I got from those graduating seniors, I think at least some of my advice sunk in and I sincerely hope they will still remember that advice when life kicks them in the face and they want to give up and feel sorry for themselves. We all need to burn into our brains that life is not easy, not for anyone (except maybe it seems that way for the big fat liars!) We need to keep getting up when life kicks us in the face and forge on. We also need to look for the lessons that are there for us, from both the good times and the bad times too!

 

A Kindness in Flight

March 6, 2015 by  
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A few weeks ago I clicked on my dear friend Richard Paul Evan’s blog and read the story of a flight he was on where he observed a random act of kindness. His story brought tears to my eyes and I wanted to share it with my readers as well. So please click here to read the story. You will be so very glad that you did.

Richard Evans blog header 030315

 

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