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A Beautiful Life Now

July 12, 2019 by  
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If someone is really rude and totally offends you but then later offers a very sincere apology, most of us would probably forgive that person and move on with our lives. However, when most of us human beings make a mistake or screw something up, in many cases we will not forgive ourselves and so we carry that guilt around for days or years and that can hurt us in so many ways.

Quoting from Pema Chodron’s Living Beautifully, a great book that I’ve quoted before, “Over time, as thinking minds begin to settle, we’ll start to see our patterns and habits far more clearly. This can be an experience. I can’t overestimate the importance of accepting ourselves exactly as we are right now, not as we wish we were or think we ought to be. By cultivating nonjudgmental openness to ourselves and to whatever arises, to our surprise and delight we will find ourselves genuinely welcoming the never-pin-downable quality of life, experiencing it as a friend, a teacher and a support and no longer as an enemy.”

Pema talks a lot about acceptance of ourselves and the world as it is and how we should appreciate it as it is now. She talks about what she calls the “third commitment”, which is key to this kind of acceptance and appreciation. (You need to read her book to find out what the first and second commitment are and how they can greatly improve a person’s life.) To quote her again, “The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” She goes on to add that, “The attitude of the third commitment is that we live in a world that is intrinsically good, intrinsically awake, and our path is to realize this. Simply put, the practice at this stage is to turn toward your experience, all of it, and never turn away.

Pema talks a lot about being kind to others especially to ourselves. She talks about the process of growing-up and working toward feeling totally relaxed and free. She says, “that process, that transition, is one of becoming comfortable with exactly what we’re feeling as we feel it. The key practice to support us in this is mindfulness–being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few.”

Pema Chodron further explains that we need to pay attention to all the details of our life. “The specific details of our lives will, of course, differ, but for all of us, wakefulness concerns everything from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors, our forks and spoons”.

I think the bottom line is, if we pay more attention to the details of our lives it will give us more ways to free ourselves and that can help us free ourselves from suffering. So, we need to accept ourselves, appreciate our life as it is now, and pay attention. And we need to do all that, right now.

Always Living Large

June 28, 2019 by  
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So, I’ve been having a bit of a stressful but exciting week as I work on a big real estate deal. Yes, sometimes, even though I’ve been doing this for decades, making deals can be a little taxing but as Mitt Romney, former GOP candidate for President once said to the graduating students at Utah Valley University about experiencing a fulfilling and purposeful life,  “One thing you’re going to have to do is live a ‘large life’”. What great advice. That is something all of us need to pay attention to. We need to go out and do it and do it our entire lives.  I wrote about this some 4 years ago, but I think it’s worth a rerun. So, here’s basically what I wrote in May of 2015:

So many times, we hesitate to “live large”. Why? Because most of the time we fear that we will fail. “Failures don’t have to define who you are,” Romney had gone on to say in that Utah Valley University speech. “Through all my occupations, I have experienced successes and failures. I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren’t fun, but they are inevitable.”

How about you?  Have you racked up a lot of failures or just a few?  It seems to me, from my experience, that the number of failures I’ve had is in direct proportion to how large I’ve tried to live.  So, yes, I’ve had a ton of failures but some of those have led to some huge successes. And the reason for those successes was that I learned so much from my failures.

I remember one huge loss that I learned a valuable lesson from which lead me to some very, very large successes.  What happened was I decided to lend a large amount of money with a restaurant as collateral.  Big mistake on my part! Why? Because I don’t know much about that kind of business so if it failed, I certainly wouldn’t know how to run it. And guess what? It did fail and I lost almost all of what I had loaned.

What did I learn?  Well first I found out that restaurants have a very high rate of failure and second, I learned that I shouldn’t stray from what I know best.  Not that I shouldn’t ever loan money but if I do, I should loan it on assets that I understand as well as being on improved real estate which, ideally, would also be income producing.

I forged ahead and made many millions of dollars’ worth of loans that were backed up by real estate and was very successful.  Later I discovered that I could do even better by owning the right kind of income producing properties. I also, very successfully ventured into the development of condos and warehouses, where the profits were even bigger although they did come with increased risks but in that case, those were risks I was willing to take.  And much, if not most of that success, came from lessons learned from my failures and my trying to “live large”.

Romney’s words are not just for graduating students. They are wise words for us at any age!

Positivity and Compassion

June 14, 2019 by  
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A very critical part of happiness and contentment is training the mind and, yes, that does take time, but is it ever worth the time you take! The authors of the book, The Art of Happiness, which I talked about last week, have this advice: “Everyday, as soon as you get up, you can develop sincere positive motivation, thinking, ‘I will utilize this day in a more positive way. I should not waste this very day.’ And then, at night before bed, check what you’ve done, asking yourself, ‘Did I utilize this day as I planned?’ If it went wrong, then regret what you did and critique the day and decide what you are going to do to correct the negative stuff of the day. So, through methods such as this, you can gradually strengthen the positive aspects of the mind.”

I think this is why the self-talk that the great Paul J. Meyer of Waco, Texas introduced me to is so very helpful. I have about 10 different mantras that I run through my mind almost every day and many times I say them out loud. Here are a few of those

  1. I am strong and worthy.
  2. I am upbeat and positive.
  3. I am happy and healthy.
  4. I live in the present moment.
  5. I love people and I am becoming more and more social.
  6. I try to live big and give big. I make “to do” lists and carry them out.

It’s amazing how I can feel down and out and how running that self-talk through my mind many times can lift my mood and make me feel so much better. The mind has a lot of plasticity in it according to scientists. The book goes on to say something that I know is true and will work for me and you: “Neuroscientist have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, net combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, re-configuring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning, the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily.” Scientist call the brains inherent capacity to change “plasticity”.

The Dalai Lama and Mr. Cutler have so many great and powerful things to say about how to achieve happiness and they are so very effective. So here is one more quote from Mr. Cutler talking about the Dalai Lama: “He can see that if someone treats him with compassion and affection, then it makes him feel happy. So, on the basis of that experience, it would help him to realize that other people also feel good when they are shown warmth and compassion Therefore, recognizing this fact might make him more inclined to give them compassion and warmth. At the same time, he would discover that the more you give warmth, the more warmth you receive”.

And that, my friends, will almost for sure raise both the giver’s and the receiver’s level of happiness!

The Positive Path to Happiness

June 7, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, I was going through my library and came across a great book by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. written back in 1998. I hadn’t read it for a very long time but as I was thumbing through the pages my mind was captured by so many great statements, concepts, and advice that were so motivating so I kept reading.

The book’s title is The Art of Happiness. I’ve always admired this great man, the Dalai Lama, and what he has done for the world and for so many minds. He’s helped lift us to great heights. Years ago, I felt so very fortunate to meet and greet him at his hotel room and escort him to a huge gather of people and I was more than a little overwhelmed and privileged to introduce him to that audience.

I want to share with you, my readers, some of his great ideas and advice on “happiness” for us humans. I’d also like to share some of the wise words and insights that his co-author Howard Cutler added to the book from his own experiences and all the time he spent with the Dalai Lama.

Let me start with some great comments from the great book I mentioned. These are about positive thinking which is so very important to raise and keep your happiness consistently elevated.

The Dalai Lama said, “If happiness is simply a matter of cultivating a more positive mental state like kindness and so on, why are so many unhappy? … Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about transformation in your outlook and your way of thinking and this is not a simple matter. It requires the application of so many different directions. You shouldn’t have the notion, for instance, that there is just a key, a secret, and if you can get that right then everything will be okay. It is similar to taking proper care of the physical body. You need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, not just one or two.”

He went on to say, “In the same way, in order to achieve happiness, you need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states. And if you are seeking to overcome certain negative ways of thinking, it is not possible to accomplish that simply by adopting a particular thought or practicing a technique once or twice. Change takes time. There are lots of negative mental traits, so you need to address and counteract each one of these. That isn’t easy. It requires the repeated application of various techniques and taking the time to familiarize yourself with the practices. It’s a process of learning.”

Next week I will talk more about the specific practices and mindset that a person needs to work on and develop while bringing you more wisdom from the great Dalai Lama.

A Good Type of Scary

May 24, 2019 by  
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I just got back from an incredible trip to Cuba.  We took a beautiful Norwegian cruise ship from Miami to Havana. As I have said, and preached many times before, if you want to excite your brain and body, do something very unique. That is one reason I love to travel, especially to new countries. Cuba is the 92nd country that I have been so fortunate to visit! There are presently 196 countries in the world, so I’ve got a ways to go to visit them all, although I’m pretty sure North Korea will not be one of them.

On this trip, I added one more thing that excites the brain and body. Yes, it is a little risky but it’s not too big a thing and it is totally legal. It’s not like climbing up the side of the Eiffel tower like that guy did recently, almost making it to the very top before he was arrested. That’s taking the concept a bit too far!

But what is legal and unique is petting and feeding sting rays in Cuba. It was a little scary and I guess the “scare part” is what excites the human brain. I may have been more reluctant to hold and feed a big sting ray if I had read more of the details surrounding Australian Steve Irwin, that big time crocodile hunter who was killed by an 8 foot sting ray back in 2006. As you may recall, he was being filmed underwater when he was stabbed in the heart by a sting ray. I’m not into big risks and our time standing in waist deep ocean water, feeling about a dozen or so big sting rays circling my wife Kimberly and I, softly brushing against our legs, was quite safe. Our guides demonstrated exactly what to do and closely monitored us and assured us that it was much safer than it looked.

The short video below is me holding the sting ray. Later, the guides showed us how to feed those huge guys. Yes, my heart and brain were racing as that big creature ate food right out of my hand and didn’t bite me …yay! It was a great experience and an exciting thing to do and It certainly stimulated my brain and body, which is a very good thing as it enhances one’s life.

Visiting a very different country like Cuba is a real turn on and, wow, driving thru the city of Havana, seeing hundreds of old cars from the late 1940’s and 1950’s, was a great sight to see. I had always thought and had the impression that Cuba was quite dangerous, but Kimberly and I were very pleased to find the city to be quite safe and the people were so nice and friendly. If you have a chance to go there, I would highly recommend it. Go do it for your brain and body!

 

Worthy Destinations

May 17, 2019 by  
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Morro Castle in La Habana, Cuba. Photo by Henryk Kotowski

Cuba has been on my bucket list of countries to visit for some time now and, finally, I made it. We boarded a Norwegian Cruise ship and enjoyed a great visit to that little country and its incredible history. I’ve always loved travel and visiting Cuba makes my count of new countries visited 92. We now are heading back to Florida with one short stop on an island that I’ve never heard of called Great Stirrup Cay.

I was pleasantly surprised how friendly and safe Cuba was. It is a very poor country, but the people seem to be very happy and content. Our guide told us that the average salary in Cuba is only $70 dollars a month. In Havana, we saw some old castles with their huge encompassing walls and moats and were told of all the battles that took place and the attempts of pirates to take over the city.

Our guide was a very nice and pretty 32-year-old lady. Her English was perfect, and her knowledge of Cuba and its history was incredible. She told us how she had tried for years to go to America. She has some family living in Florida, and she had served time in the Cuban military, and yet she still could not get permission to visit the USA. It struck me how lucky we are to live in the great country of America and how good we have it. I think most of us take our great freedom and opportunities for granted.

Traveling to new places and visiting new cultures is so mind expanding. It’s too bad that everyone in the world can’t visit dozens of different countries because if they could I think the world would have fewer wars and global problems as people would see and understand that most of us are so much alike. If we were all able to see that most people are nice, friendly and don’t want to hurt others, perhaps we’d have few, if any, wars.

I challenge you, my readers, to travel to new places as much as you are able and I’m pretty darn sure you will be glad you did. You will experience a mind expansion and appreciate other cultures even though they may be very different than yours.

Well, we’ve stopped now, and they have begun shuttling people from this huge cruise ship to the cute little island in their little shuttle boats, so I had better get to the deck and jump aboard!

Increase Your Energy with Passion

May 3, 2019 by  
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I don’t think there is one of us that wouldn’t like to have more energy. Okay, maybe one exception is little kids. Wow, do they have so much energy!

The older I get the more I long for an increase in energy as there are so many things I want to do. And, yes, I want more than to play tennis better and more often. We all know that we get energy from food that we put in our bodies, but there are other things that can create a lot of energy as well. I’m always amazed when I receive a surge of energy from my mind and the thoughts running through it. I think you might agree with me that average thoughts create average energy, but big and remarkable thoughts can stimulate the creation of a great amount of energy.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times that I‘ve laid down at night absolutely wiped out and ready to go to sleep but I think of some great project or maybe an big event or trip coming up and, suddenly, my body and mind get a jump start from a whole new round of energy that came just from those though. Maybe the key to why goals and new ideas work so well in creating actual physical and mental energy in humans lies in the Buddhist philosophy that says, “Mind is the creator of our world, in every moment.” So, if that’s true, putting an exciting goal in our mind and then putting it on paper is really a mental process and that does something chemically to our brain that transfers energy to the muscles of our bodies.

As you may have noticed, energy, even very high energy, can come from being around others, who are excited, engaged, and forward thinking. My good and super successful friend, Joe Land, who passed away a number of years ago, said to me, “the key to a successful life is to have real passion for the process.” Almost all people “envy the person who is totally immersed in their chosen work or play or their love and relationships” and seem to have tons and tons of energy.

My advice, if you are seeking more happiness and fulfillment, is to go get passionately involved in some process, project, cause, or relationship. And when I say get involved, I mean go get totally immersed in it. I think you will find happiness and fulfillment an automatic by-product of the process. I would also add that, from my experience and observations, you will create and generate lots and lots of mental and physical energy!

Next week, I want to write about a great human being and the energy he created for himself and those around him, an energy which no doubt saved his and his companions lives. That energy he created helped these people overcome freezing temperatures, lack of sleep, and very little food. It’s a great story of how the mind can create great and even lifesaving energy.

Motivation in Words

April 19, 2019 by  
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It happened at the airport. I was in big hurry-I had to get a 13-year-old German boy on his plane back to Berlin. As I ran down the concourse, a handsome, 40ish stranger said as I hurried by, “Hey Mark, good to see you.”  I had no clue who he was, but I waved and kept running. Five minutes later, after they boy was on the plane, the stranger approached me again. This time he put out his hand and introduced himself.

He told me how he bought my first book How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You and gave me credit for making him tons of money and dramatically improving his life. The chance meeting was a catalyst and a huge motivator for me to keep writing so that I might help more people with their financial lives. There are not many things that make me feel more content and satisfied as being told that I helped a person make a fortune which lifted their lives to a new level.

I’ve had so many people thank me for writing my books, my blogs, for sharing my methods, formulas, and experience, that I am sometimes overwhelmed. But it also motivates me to write more. I’m a total believer in the power of setting goals, but there is a critical part of goal setting that many people don’t use and that critical part is a pretty simple process that almost guarantees that you will reach the goals that you set: it’s the simple act of writing your objectives and goals down on paper or on your iPad or computer. By doing that, you more permanently plant the goal in your mind and the likelihood of reaching that goal increases exponentially.

Anne Klauser, in her great little book, Right It Down… Make It Happen, talks about the huge power of writing your goals down and what it does that pushes you to follow through and reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Quoting her, she said, “Writing it down feeds the inner mind… the other than conscious mind.”  There is something in that inner mind that drives a person to go after and reach the goal that was set.

She goes on to say, “Create your own list of what is meaningful to you. List your intentions and begin your day by writing them down.” Do that enough and it will become a habit that you don’t even have to think about.

Personally, I’ve noticed that when I write down my goals—long term or even just a to do list for today—it’s like my brain won’t leave me alone and it coaxes me to follow through and do what my list tells me to do.  It’s almost like magic, the way it works in my head. It doesn’t seem to matter whether my goals are putting aside time to work out, taking my 20,000 steps a day, a list of people I need to talk to, or even taking time to write this blog, my brain works overtime to make sure I get it done.

If you haven’t been writing down your goals and to do lists, try it and I think you will be impressed and pleasantly surprised how much more you’ll get done and how much progress you’ll make towards your big goals not to mention finishing your daily list of goals, which always feels great.

 

Daring to Dream Big

April 12, 2019 by  
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Years ago, I dreamed of being wealthy. I studied the lives of the rich, especially the ones who started from scratch. I mean, I really studied them and analyzed everything they did and how they did it. I discovered that millionaires are not a hundred times, or even ten times, smarter than you and me. And they aren’t working ten times longer or harder. How could they? There are only 168 hours in a week — no one gets any more than that. The difference was an honest to goodness and simple wealth formula that, if followed, works.

Before I discovered this wealthy formula, I lived in Denver, Colorado in a cramped and tumbled down house at 2545 S. High Street, near the University of Denver. I felt desperate and forced into a corner. I had to borrow a $150 from my father and another $150 from my father in law just to buy groceries and help pay the rent. If that wasn’t enough, I was several thousand dollars in debt, but I still kept studying the lives of the rich and dreaming of being a millionaire.

Then it happened. I met Larry Rosenberg, a man who became my mentor and showed me the simple formula that had made millions for him. He convinced me that I could do the same thing.

I began to apply the formula I had been shown. The results were amazing! I couldn’t believe how simple it was. In fact, it seemed too simple. (Please note, I said simple, not easy!) It did take work but oh, how that work was so very worth it!

For the next 3 ½ years, I worked very hard to refine and improve the formula that I’d been shown so it would be easier to get quicker results. As I did this, my assets and income multiplied very rapidly to the point that I didn’t have to work at my regular job. I quit!

The simple formula that I had been shown was to leverage income producing real estate —-as in small houses and apartment buildings. The key to building my fortune was to find run down properties that I loved to call “dirt bag properties”. These were properties that I could fix up and improve the value by 10 or 20 percent and then I could turn that 10% or 20% increase in value to 100% return on my investment, because of that great thing called “leverage”.

And as I’m sure you know a 100% return on your money can and will increase your net worth quite quickly! In my experience leverage income producing properties is the most reliable, fastest, and safest method of making big time money. Most people have a little bit of that “leveraged real estate” in the home they bought. But if you have to go a step further and but some dirt-bag or rental properties and fix them up and make those huge 100% percent returns. If you buy right, it will work wonders for you.

 

The Umbrella Goal of Health

March 30, 2019 by  
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I know I said I was going to give you the other half of that 20 life list but there’s been a lot going on this week so we’re going to revisit a post, revised and updated, from 10 years ago, basically about the same subject.

I do regularly talk about health and the benefits of a good diet and hopefully it’s often inspired you to eat better and take care of yourself. The question is, are you, or will you be committed to it, not just for the near future but for life?

Getting down to an ideal weight and getting off junk food are great goals, but your hard efforts will be wasted if you don’t make it a modification to your lifestyle rather not just a temporary change.

These healthier eating habits can lengthen your life as they are and actual fountain of youth! But if you can’t keep it up, it probably won’t get you very far.

Because, here’s the thing … if you lose 30 pounds then gain back 20 a few months later, lose another 10, gain another 15, and keep this yo-yo dieting going, you aren’t helping your health at all. In fact, you’re stressing your system. Same goes for the ‘occasional’ junk food meal. Can a coke addict get high just once in a while?

The bottom line is, you have to decide that you want to live healthy–determine the specific weight you want to reach and stay at it while committing to eating healthy, minimally processed, whole foods, and keeping active. Look at this commitment as a commitment for life, an umbrella goal that will support every other goal you make by giving you the health and energy to pursue all your dreams.

So, be good to yourself these next few weeks and aim to eat and live healthy for the rest of your life. You can start by reading Chapter 10: An Umbrella Goal for Life in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. As I explain, 42 days is all it takes to form a new eating habit. After that it’s just a little bit of vigilance.

Use the goal planning tips in my book and you’ll certainly get there. Do this for yourself, your family, and, of course, for the success of all your dreams.

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