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Money Can Buy You Novelty

August 17, 2018 by  
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If you Google “Ignite My Life Now”, you will see “Investing in Real Estate” as part of the headline, so some people might wonder if this blog is about investing in real estate or igniting your life. I certainly believe that investing in real estate and making lots of money does not necessarily  ignite a person’s life, even if real estate investing yields millions and millions of dollars for that person. I clearly remember thinking, when I was young and didn’t have much money, that once I made a million dollars, my world would be perfect and I would be totally satisfied, content, and happy. I imagined that my life would be totally ignited.

However, when I arrived at my first million-dollar net worth goal, I was surprised and disappointed that I didn’t feel much better, so I figured I had to make another million or two, then I would be totally set in the departments of contentment, happiness and fulfillment. I was certain that my world would be pretty much ignited and perfect then. But surprise, surprise … when I arrived at my new goal my life still didn’t seem to be ignited.

I looked deeper and deeper to try to discover what the real key to fulfillment, contentment, and happiness in a person’s life was and whether money could play a part. As it turns out, there is a lot that goes into having a content, fulfilled, and happy life and, yes, money can be a part of that.

We all know that love and loving relationships with other people – a spouse, friends, children and others – lifts the happiness factor as does setting goals and reaching them. It also has been proven that unique and novel experiences can revitalize a person’s mind by boosting a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel so very happy. But, what about money? What part can it play in lifting our contentment and happiness factors?

What I have found is that money by itself does not make a person much happier than when they did not have it. It can, however, buy more possibilities in a person’s world. You see, our brains want novelty and money can give you more time and resources to carefully and creatively design and go after these novel experiences. This is one of the best uses of your money.

I’ll never forget all the totally unique and novel experiences I had when my wife and I went around the world in 28 days, visiting dozens of new and different countries with so many totally different life styles, houses, huge castles, small villages and fascinating people of different cultures, religions and habits. On a smaller scale but also quite stimulating for the mind, is being in places like I am now.

As I write this blog I am sitting in a marvelous,  multi-story “cabin” in beautiful Big Sky, Montana, totally enjoying this very unique and novel place with most of my kids and grandkids. Ok, yes, I’m working, writing this blog as the some of the kids are running about, visiting Yellowstone, looking to go tubing, or taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain. But none of this would be happening if I hadn’t invested in the good ole real estate stuff and make some good money at it.

The big bonus to making money on my investments was that I really did enjoy the work and I got a ton of contentment along the way as I worked through each deal. I even broke a sweat back in the days when I did much of the hard labor to repair and fix houses and apartment buildings in order to increase their value. I’m not saying that I’ve always been perfectly happy and content, but I am saying that money has opened a much wider world for novel and unique experiences that have greatly enhanced and lifted my world.

Self-Interest That Helps the World

August 10, 2018 by  
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Last week I wrote about how giving to others can and does lift your life and brings more happiness, contentment, and even better health and a longer life. It must have motivated me to practice what I was preaching because later I found myself in my car driving to the high school that all my kids attended and going straight to the office where I made a pretty sizable donation. As I walked out of the building, I felt so good and happy in the center of my heart and brain that I headed for another school. I made a couple more donations that day and felt like I was on top of the world.

It’s very interesting that when I make donations, including all those $2 bills that I often give to kids, I always feel that I get much more out of it than the recipient. What a great feeling it gives me! As science has proved, there is a great connection between the brain and the body. This allows us humans to help and improve our entire physical being by what we run through our heads. Giving is one of those things that can set off a lot of good positive feelings in our bodies.

Most of us, when we talk about giving, tend to think primarily in terms of giving money. But there are so many other ways and things to give. With very little effort, I came up with this list of things we can give to others that can be a huge help to those people and, at the same time, can give a lift to our brains, souls, and bodies.

After you read through my list, see what other things you can think of that can be given to others. These gifts can be given to your kids, grand kids, other relatives, and friends as well as strangers. Then let’s all of us push ourselves to give more. Choose as many items on the list as you feel so inclined to give. Yes, we do need to push ourselves to do this especially on days we might be feeling a bit down. But on those down days it can be a great help to lift us up as we lift others.

Okay, let’s work on giving more of some or all of these:

  1. Money $$$
  2. Good Advice
  3. Direction/Coaching
  4. Mentoring
  5. Appreciation
  6. Encouragement
  7. Praise
  8. Complements
  9. Attention
  10. Friendship
  11. Wisdom
  12. Our time
  13. Help
  14. Service
  15. Love

I’m sure I left off many things that we can give to others but at least this is a start. This list has been motivating me to give more of these gifts to others and now my mind pops up with sayings like: “Give, Give, Give and Live, Live, Live. Give a little, live a little, give a lot, and live a lot. Give big and live big”. I know all this may sound kind of selfish, but maybe it’s a good thing that our brains are designed that way, because doesn’t that type of self-interest help the world?

 

More Production Yields a Better Life

August 4, 2018 by  
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In this post, I wanted to expand on Hyrum Smith’s great book, Purposeful Retirement (and yes you should go buy a copy!) He points out that studies show that the earlier you retire, the sooner you die. Having projects that are meaningful when you retire can not only raise your self-esteem and well-being but will also help you to live longer and stronger. So, if you are retired and, like me, have found that you don’t have enough to do and it’s driving you bonkers, or if retirement is in the not-too-distant future, it’s very wise and life enhancing to make a plan for your retirement years.

The key to this plan is to map out and write down the specifics of what you are going to do to truly make a difference in the world. From another great book, The Miracle Morning, the author Hal Elrod says, “you’re not supposed to ‘figure out’ what your purpose is.” Instead, he says, “you get to make it up.” So, it really is up to each of us to decide what we are going to do with the rest of our lives.

After reading this and giving it a lot of thought, I woke up the other morning with a very strong feeling of, “I know what I want my purpose to be.” My words to myself were, “I want to live, live, live, to give, give, give!” and I decided right then that from now on I would try to ask someone every day, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

Perhaps, in doing this, I’m being a little selfish because I read in Smith’s book that, “through MRI technology we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain–and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier, but also healthier, wealthier, and more productive and meaningful.” Plus, it helps you live longer. And, hey, I want all of those things!

So, my new resolution is to “produce” a lifestyle of giving that makes the world a better place! And I just figured out a way to make that easier and faster. I would like to volunteer to give free speeches, seminars, and mentoring to anyone who wants it–whether it’s on financial strategies and methods or other self-improvement habits. So, if I can be of service to you individually or to your group, club or organization, please let me know. I do think that “Great Giving produces Great Living.” Hmm. I like that saying even though I am just quoting myself. But who knows, maybe it will go viral and I’ll be famous … ho ho ho!

To contact me, you can leave a comment on this post (look for the “leave a comment” link at the top of the blog. If you don’t see the link click the header of the blog post to get to the blog post specific page and it should be there.) Or, if you get this by email, just respond to the email. I’m looking forward to hearing, and helping, you.

 

Personal Value Versus Work Value

July 27, 2018 by  
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You probably have heard other people say, and you may have even have said it yourself, “I’m so looking forward to my retirement.” Most people think that their life is going to be so great and so much better when they retire. When you are retired you don’t have to get up when the alarm goes off and hurry off to work to arrive at a very specific time. You probably think that life after retirement is going to be a breeze, giving a person all that free time to do whatever they choose to do.

Those were certainly my thoughts and feelings, that is, until I suddenly hit retirement and found myself sitting at home with not enough to do and absolutely no timelines or deadlines to push and motivate me to get much of anything done. Ok, I did set up goals like that 20,000 steps per day goal of mine that pushes me to get up off my butt and get moving, but once I’ve hit that goal for the day, I would find myself bored out of my mind. Yes, there’s that bit of fun traveling to exotic places that I love to do, but between trips it quickly becomes a real downer.

Even if you are not even close to retirement, I think it’s a real good idea to start planning specifically on what you are going do when you reach that status. I hadn’t given that subject enough thought and planning before I retired and, wow, was it ever a huge letdown when I found myself there.

But thankfully, I had a huge breakthrough that is changing and improving everything and every day! Thank God for great authors who write wonderful books that can make a major difference in many different parts of a person’s life. That’s what Hyrum Smith and his book Purposeful Retirement did for me.

Hyrum talks about how so many beliefs can be so wrong and hurt you. Like the belief that personal value only comes through hard work, or important people have important titles, or if you are busy then you are important. Those beliefs can be so very harmful, especially to you when you move into retirement. Your work value has nothing to do with your value as a person.

Quoting Hyrum Smith, “My value as a human being is independent of my job. If I based my value on my job and my job goes away, my value as a human goes away with it. This leads to big trouble. This leads to unhappiness, isolation, depression, and eventually death. The minute you find value from just being you, you will find inner peace. But first you must not only understand but you must know your value has nothing to do with your job title.” These are some very wise words that we all need to pound into our head.

Next week I want to dig deeper into Hyrum’s book and pass on some more great advice about how important it is to stay productive and have meaningful projects. I’ll also talk about how important it is to start giving back and helping others after retirement and how that keeps you excited about yourself and your life.

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.

Future Thinking

July 6, 2018 by  
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Continuing from my last blog on “visualization of the future”, someone pointed out that a man becomes what he thinks about all day, or as it says in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he.” If you, for example are aiming at someday owning a hundred apartment or rental units, or a few small shopping centers, or want to achieve a certain net worth within a given time frame, you make that vision definite and well-focused, running it through your mind every day. You then work backwards from that ultimate big vision to the present time, locking in what must be done to end up in that future position and, if you do, then you will almost certainly succeed.

A great example of clear, concise visualization was portrayed in the old classic 1977 movie, Rocky, which was a story inspired by the boxer, Chuck Wepner. As you probably remember, Rocky was a boxer who, after much preparation, finished a fifteen-round fight with a world heavyweight champion. Once he had that goal locked in his mind, nothing could stop him, and nothing did. I’m sure if he’d set the goal of winning that fight he probably would have ended up doing so.

It is totally possible for anyone to meet their objective if that same mindset of determination and dedication that Rocky used was to be applied. He looked into his own future, saw what was possible then made it reality with a huge, unbendable mindset and, of course, a huge amount of hard, hard work!

Visualizing our own future can, and does, serve us well if we set our minds on things that are good for us. Looking into the future can even keep us alive. I’ll never forget the near tragic story of the plane crash in the Andes and that hero of a guy by the name Nando Parado. He not only saved himself, he also saved many others by keeping his mind focused on the future.

The book Survive details how, after the crash in the snow-covered Andes, with practically no provisions, these surviving athletes were able to stay alive for 2 months. This was accomplished largely through the efforts of Nando who had the ability to visualize the future, and even finally walked and crawled for many, many miles over the frozen ground and steep hills and mountains to finally reach civilization and save his team mates. He was able to do this almost impossible task because he didn’t stop visualizing the future, even when the future was only a few yards away such as his next rock, snowbank or hunk of ice that he had made his next goal on the way to save himself and the others.

Future thinking and visualization really can save your life as well as totally enhance every part of the life that you choose.

See into Your Own Financial Future

June 29, 2018 by  
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First of all, is it really possible to see your financial future, or even into the future, in any part of your life? I do strongly think the answer is a big fat YES! “Future looking” certainly has seemed to work for me. When I was young, I visualized myself making tons of money. I wanted to make my first million by age 30 and it all worked out, even bigger and better than I visualized.  Here’s how I went about it.

First, I began visualizing the end–my final goal and objective. With a very clear precise vision there is hardly a person, organization, or circumstance that can stop you from achieving what you have clearly set in your mind’s vision.

The real trick to making this work is in your ability to clearly visualize that future outcome. This takes deep insight and discernment. Unfortunately, most of us are not encouraged to use our imagination adequately. Consequently, the art of visualizing with imagination is not as developed as it should be or could be. With effort, however, we can start the subconscious motors and keep them running for our own huge financial benefit. Also, that thing that I wrote about in my last two blogs called “brain blinks” will likely kick in more often and lead you to great things.

Many so-called sophisticated people scoff at the value of this little exercise. But if used in the proper context and with intelligent control, the result can be powerful and very rewarding. My experience is that when a person uses their imagination to visualize the final results in sufficient detail, they can actually see into their future and, so, with a step by step plan, those final results can be reached.

So, here is what you need to do. Focusing on your ultimate objective, lock it into your memory, then work backward from that future goal to your present circumstance. In other words, you mentally think through each step necessary to achieve that particular objective.

Additionally, it is imperative to write down each step and all the plans that are necessary for you to accomplish your goal. Put this down on paper, in your phone, or in a computer as a permanent document, and be sure to put down a time line for each step. Then work hard to stay on task and on time. However, if your miss some of your time deadlines, don’t beat yourself up – forgive yourself. Nobody is perfect. Just move on and move forward with your plans.

Spending time to look very hard into your future can pay huge financial dividends but remember, this brain exercise is certainly not limited to money. It can just as easily and effectively be used with sports, public speaking, acting, performing, writing etc. Just about any part of your life can be greatly enhanced by using that wonderful, powerful, and almost magical thing we call the human brain. Let’s all remember that and cement it deep into our heads and go do it.

P.S. You might want to share this with a few younger people inasmuch as they have so much life in front of them and this financial advice could make them many, many millions of dollars since they have so much time!

Blink Moments

June 22, 2018 by  
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To continue last week’s subject on what we can do in the blink of an eye, I’d like to tell you a story about what the great Getty Museum learned from the “blink” that unconsciously happens in our brains.

An art dealer approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in California years ago to sell a rare 7 foot, a statue that was claimed to be thousands of years old. They were asking for $10 million. It was certainly worth that much money, if indeed it was a genuine piece. Getty took the statue on loan and began a thorough investigation. After 14 months of study by experts, Getty was satisfied so they agreed to buy it.

But then, before they closed the deal, two people had their own “blink” moment, feeling something was very wrong. As Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book, Blink, an Italian art historian, who served on the Getty board of trustees, “found himself staring at the sculpture’s fingernails. In a way, he couldn’t immediately articulate why they seemed wrong to him.”

Next to look at it was Evelyn Harrison who was one of the world’s foremost experts on Greek sculpture. In the very first moment when the cloth was taken off the sculpture, what did Harrison see? Gladwell writes, “She didn’t know, but she had a hunch, an instinctive sense that something was amiss. Several others that saw the kouros felt an ‘intuitive repulsion’, and they were absolutely right. In the first two seconds of looking at the work –in a single glance or blink of the eye–they were able to understand more about the essence of the statue than the team at the Getty was to understand after fourteen months.” The statue was proved to be a fake and those people who paid attention to the blink of their “adaptive unconscious” were proved to be totally correct.

We all need to give more credibility and pay attention to those “blinks of our brains” because it can lead us to great success and do it much faster than we can understand. Gladwell writes, “I think we are innately suspicious of this kind of rapid cognition. We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it … We really only trust conscious decision making. But there are moments, particularly in times of stress, when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgments and first impression can offer a much better means of making sense of the worth. The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.”

This is not to say that we shouldn’t do our due diligence or research on an investment or in other parts of our lives, but if your gut reaction is telling you something different, you should pay a lot of attention to that “blink” in your brain.

In the Blink of an Eye

June 15, 2018 by  
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I’m sure that we’ve all had moments in our life when suddenly our brains provide an answer to a question we’ve been struggling with. Maybe it was as simple as a name of a person that we couldn’t remember or a great creative or business investment idea that popped into our head when we were thinking about something totally different. It can happen in the blink of an eye.

How about when you meet someone new and in that blink of an eye you know and feel in that instant that this new person is not a good person.  I will never forget being told by a friend that a guy he’s known for years had a great investment opportunity that I needed to get into. Then, wow, when I met the guy I knew, within a blink of an eye, that he couldn’t be trusted. Sure enough, my friend and several others lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as this guy, that my brain told me couldn’t be trusted, took off with their money.  The only good part of all of that was that the guy was caught later in a foreign country and is now sitting in a California prison and will be for many years to come.

In a great little book titled Blink, Malcolm Gladwell makes a very convincing case that our subconscious brains are so very good at giving us instant, and often times, very accurate feedback to all kinds of life, business and personal situations. Gladwell says, “The part of the brain that leaps to conclusions like this is called the ‘adaptive unconscious’, and the study of this kind of decision making is one of the most important new fields in psychology.  The adaptive unconscious is not to be confused with the unconscious described by Sigmund Freud.”

Next week I want to talk more about the great power of listening to the instant feedback that our adaptive unconscious gives us. I’ll give you some of the details concerning a 10-million-dollar deal that long, hard expert research said was a good and genuine opportunity but that the adaptive unconscious of several people indicated it was a phony deal, and they were right. In the meantime, don’t forget to “trust your gut” because most of the time your gut gets it right in the “blink of an eye”.

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