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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.

Little Notes for Big Changes

April 26, 2019 by  
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I was looking through old books I’ve read that have made a big difference in my life and I came across Susan Jeffers‘ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I have quoted Susan before, since she has so many great ideas, helpful hints, and “techniques for turning fear, indecision, and anger into power, action, and love.” And, yes, that is a direct quote from the cover of her great little book.

As I glanced through the pages and re-read my little notes I took back then, the of advice from the book really struck me again and lifted my thoughts and view of life to a higher level. Below are some of my notes from the margins in the book. When I quickly went over the list, I found it very inspiring and I thought that I really should look at this list often. I also thought that sharing the list here might lift your life too, even if it’s just a little lift.

–Do self-talk and make notes at night to program my mind for the next day.

–In the morning, I’m going to wake up happy, upbeat, positive, and energetic.

–Call friends and others and set up lunch meetings. Start with my circle of close friends.

–Whatever the challenge is, say to myself, “I can do it.”

–Surround myself with strong and positive people.

–Use this great tool: act as if you really count.

–Challenge myself to stay on the path of the higher self.

–What’s the rush? Don’t rush – it’s all happening perfectly.

–Don’t punish myself. Be patient with others and especially myself.

–Turn some of my big challenges over to my subconscious.

–Never forget that it takes a lot of practice and vigilance to direct and control my negative chatterbox.

–Instruct my higher self to work to solve problems and challenges as I sleep.

–Never forget the real key to success is ACTION.

–Keep working on being more proactive. Call friends for lunch, dinner, to play cards, play tennis, play pool, travel, and to interview for one of my future blogs.

–Keep pounding into my brain Susan’s great message: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

And here are 6 more of my notes from the margins of Henriette Anne Klauser’s book Write it Down and Make It Happen.

–Write down a list of my intentions, every day.

–Life is a decision; when you believe in a dream you need to take the risk and just do it.

–Writing things down can make feelings become just speed bumps, not roadblocks.

–Write down you biggest fears and then take action to counteract the fear.

–In addition to writing down your intentions and affirmations, speak them out loud to yourself.

–And lastly, never forget that writing things down activates that reticular activating system in your brain, then your brain works overtime for you.

 

The Fear Factor

February 22, 2019 by  
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Sometimes I re-read my own words from my journals and books that I have written, and it inevitably surprises me how my own words can reinvigorate, inspire and motivate me. And now that I’m almost 75, I suddenly realized how much this thing called “the fear factor” was holding me back on some of my projects, big dreams, and desires.

Quoting a few highlights from my own book, The Courage to Be Rich (I hope that’s not plagiarizing–ho ho):

ACTION GETS THINGS DONE. When we are fearful of something, if we push ourselves to take action, many times that will totally overcome our fear and a big plus is that we get stuff done and isn’t that pretty much the whole ball game or at least a lot of the game. Without action you could be the greatest financial thinker, have the highest IQ, and end up with very little money or even broke. When we are fearful, we really need to give ourselves a big push, even if we stumble and blunder a bit.

FEAR OF STARTING. Getting started is really the most frightening and the hardest part of virtually any task. But even if you do something wrong, at least “do something”. I am not saying take risks larger than you can afford. We all should take risks gradually, whether they are financial risks, social risks, or any other kind of risk.

Some time ago, I was on a flight and as we began our final approach (I wish they wouldn’t call it “final approach”) and as the plane was descending, I noticed the lady next to me was very nervous and somewhat freaking out. Thinking that if I diverted her attention by talking to her, that might calm her down and it did until the pilot let the flaps down and the plane lurched and bounced a bit. I quickly explained to her what the pilot had just done and that gave her a bit of relief. I then suddenly realized that I was in the same plane, in the exact same situation, but my heart rate and blood pressure were normal, unlike my seat mate.

CHRONIC FEAR IS YOUR REAL ENEMY. I knew the damage fear could do because it had done damage to me in the past. I finally realized that I was letting fear dominate my thoughts. I decided to do something about it. Since I travel a great deal, giving seminars or negotiating real estate deals and since being relaxed and rested at the end of a flight is important to my performance, it was very important not to waste so much energy wrestling with fear.

It didn’t take much thinking after that to figure out that the fear factor entered into many of my decisions that had far greater implications than did flying. Why should I let myself be fearful of flying or anything else? After all, does that fear change the outcome of the flight or my financial conditions? People who are the real doers and the super successful people in life face frightening situations almost every day, but they don’t let those confrontations with fear scare them to death or slow down their progress or stop their actions.

I want to write more about the “fear factor” in my next blog, but for now I will end this blog by listing some very common fears.

  1. Giving a speech to a large audience.
  2. Fear of making a fool of yourself.
  3. Fear of losing all your money–or at least a big part of what you have.
  4. Fear of losing your friends.
  5. Fear of losing the love and respect of someone you love.
  6. Fear of criticism.

There are certainly a lot more fears than this short list. Take a look at yourself and analyze your own fears and ask yourself the question as to whether those fears help your situation in the long run or even in the short run.

P.S.  I read that if you take a commercial flight, at random, every day for the rest of your life it would be about 20,000 years before you got on a plane that crashed–so obviously the fear of flying on a commercial plane in totally not rational!

 

The Power of Repeated Thoughts

September 28, 2018 by  
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People commonly remark to themselves, or to other people, things like “I’m a real good people person,” or “You know, I’m not good with people. I guess I’m kind of anti-social.” Others say, “Hey, I’m really good at fixing things,” or “I sure am a poor public speaker, but I’m a very good writer.” How about you? What do you tell yourself and others that you are good at and things that you are not so good at?

This self-talk is a very powerful thing and it tends to make you much better at some things, but it also can reinforce negative ideas about your life and habits which can hurt you.

I’ve said for many years that I’m very good with numbers and that I am a good wordsmith but, when it comes to repairing or fixing things, ugh… I’m terrible. And for many years now I’ve said to myself and to others, “I’m really, really not physically flexible.” In fact, I can’t even touch the floor without bending my knees big time. But, a few weeks ago, I started thinking about the huge connection between the brain and the body and how my comments about my lack of flexibility was totally reinforcing that weakness. You see, by telling myself over and over again that I was not at all flexible, my body believed it, which wasn’t hard because I wasn’t doing anything to change it either. So, my body was just following the brain’s instructions.

It does surprise me that I didn’t have this wakeup call years ago. I just accepted having a stiff body as an unchangeable fact and by always saying that I was not flexible, I reinforced what my brain was telling my body.

So, having had my little epiphany, I decided to do something about it. I started a simple daily stretching routine and within just a few days I was delighted to see a slow but consistent improvement in my flexibility. Before my stretching program, if I had dropped something on the floor, I would ask my wonderful wife, Kimberly, it she’d pick it up and she always would. But now she doesn’t have to. Even though I’ve got a long way to go to be super flexible, I can see that it is going to happen, just a little bit at a time.

I’m not saying that we don’t each have some very natural talents and abilities but there is also a very strong connection between the brain and the body that can also affect our abilities. We need to remember that we can direct our thoughts to make changes and improvements in our body and in our life, changes that we may have thought were not possible. The bottom line is that our thoughts can reinforce good stuff in our lives as well as some bad stuff so we should pay attention to which kind of thoughts we keep repeating to ourselves and others.

Think about this and maybe experiment with ways to direct you and your body to change or improve. You might surprise yourself.

 

The Hardest Challenges

April 20, 2018 by  
Filed under blog, Chapter 9

 

Life sure has its challenges. This past week there has been a lot of doctors’ visits and tests as we try to figure out what is going on with me. It would be easy to let this get me down, and I can’t say that it hasn’t gotten to me at moments, but it is important to stay positive and focus on meeting – and beating – this challenge.

So, while I’m focused on finding answers to my health questions, I thought I’d share with you another story of how I was able to overcome a challenge with the power of positive and what that means for you and for me. This post was written in October 2010:

The Biggest Rush Comes from the Hardest Challenges

Alright, first, I need to warn you that I am on a super unbelievable mental high right now and have been all week. It’s all because I won the Gold at the Huntsman Tennis Tournament. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s because I played the hardest match I’d played in years against a really tough player and even though I’d trained so very hard this year, I got to a point in the last game when I just wasn’t sure I could go on, but I pushed myself just a little harder and finally eked out that last point I needed and won the gold! Yes, I won the gold last year too but the competition was nothing like it was this year. It was because I had to work so hard and it was such a difficult game this year, that the win was many, many times more exhilarating and satisfying.

This whole experience reminds me of what I was trying to get across in Chapter 9 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” where I talk about the guy who goes out and shoots a perfect golf score the very first time he played. And then he does it again and again and realizes that there is very little, if any, satisfaction from doing so well at something he didn’t have to work at. Well that story is very much the opposite of what I did and how I felt.

This year I trained so much more than I had last year, taking lessons from a couple of great pros, Clark Barton and Jason Newell, as well as putting in more time on the ball machine and playing more matches. And yet my opponent, Michael Murphy, still hit back every ball and he could run as well as I could. I even began thinking that I couldn’t beat this guy but I pushed those negative thoughts out of my mind and tried to take the match one point at a time even as my body was screaming out for some rest and relief. And it worked. Positive thinking, taking it one small step at a time, and all that hard, even painful work, paid off leaving me with an immense feeling of true accomplishment.

Of course, while I was in the game, it was hard to feel that what I was going through was worth it, but I’ve done this enough to know that it usually is. And it so was. I know, too, that I wouldn’t still be riding this high if it hadn’t been so tough to win and if I hadn’t worked so hard at it. That’s the lesson here–The hardest work reaps the most satisfying rewards.

Just remember that next time you feel like giving up, bowing out, or taking the easy road. Just keep going, doing the best you possibly can. You’ll accomplish what you’re after and not only will it feel more than worth it when you do, it will make give you the energy and optimism to reach for that next great thing and get it.

 

Stomach Cancer and the Negative Brain

March 30, 2018 by  
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I’ve had a great and healthy life but just last week I got thrown big time when I thought I had stomach cancer. Did that ever hit my brain hard! I’ve always thought my brain was a huge asset and was a big help to me in my life and that’s why I’ve been so big on those “positive affirmations” that Paul J. Meyer taught me. One of my favorites that I repeat almost daily 20 times is, “I am very happy and very healthy.” Well, I must admit that the possibility of possible stomach cancer certainly challenged my “positive thinking”.

This all happens when I quite suddenly had a very bloated stomach. I called my doctor for an appointment as soon as I could. I had to wait a few days to get in and as I waited, the bloating got worse, keeping me awake virtually all night with huge stomach pains. So, I sought out answers on the internet, hoping that my stomach symptoms were from something else. What I found online only made things worse. I found I had 4 out of 6 of the symptoms for stomach cancer.

Did that ever bring on some very bad brain messages and thoughts. And the more I thought about it, the worse the pain became and the less sleep I got. Ugh! My positive self-talk had turn very negative.

I got to the doctor and told her my symptoms, asking her if she thought I might have stomach cancer. She answered by asking if I had changed any of my eating habits or began taking any new medications, supplements, or vitamins. At first I told her no, but then thinking about it for a few minutes, I recalled that I had started taking a couple new supplements. Her advice was to stop taking those and to come back in two weeks if the bloating hadn’t stopped.

So, I stopped taking those supplements and 2 days later it seemed that the bloating had gone down a bit. Even though I’m not yet completely sure that it’s isn’t cancer, I am totally in awe of how much that little bit of progress has changed my brain and my self-talk. In fact, it changed so much that yesterday, being so thrilled and hopeful and having such a positive brain again, I broke my all-time record for steps taken in a day. I walked just over 40,000 steps which is equivalent to playing 13 sets of tennis– something I have never even come close to doing.

So now I’m waiting and carefully watching my stomach and hoping to cancel that next doctor’s appointment. Isn’t it absolutely amazing how much our self-talk can make our lives better or worse. I’m not out of the woods yet but my brain is certainly pushing me in the right direction now. It just needed a little encouragement and some positive thoughts to keep me in a positive mood. That is something to keep in mind the next time negative thoughts are bringing you down. Find something positive to hold onto and pull yourself out of a cycle of negativity to have happier and more productive days.

A List of Positives Actions

November 4, 2017 by  
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I know I have been going on about lists the last few posts and I hope you are up for one more. I just find that lists really help me focus on the qualities I want to see in myself, helping me to move closer to achieving super success.

We all have great wants and desires. Without them we’d have virtually no motivation to do anything. But there are a lot of hidden land mines that lie in our path just waiting for us to step on them and explode our dreams, desires, and goals. We all know that frustrated desires can lead us to search out bad or negative ways to boost or otherwise change our mood—-by using drugs and/or alcohol, binge eating, or even going on a shopping spree. These all work well to increase dopamine and serotonin—those mood-altering chemicals in our brain—giving us a high and one that can be addictive.

The problem is these activities can too easily and too quickly become detrimental to our health, our finances, and our relationships. But what if you could increase these mood-altering chemicals with something positive and productive, gaining a natural high and moving towards your goals at the same time?

Listing positive activities can really help you do this. Here are mine. You can use these as a start or as examples for your own list. Then when you feel yourself turning towards those old negative and harmful options, chose something from your positive list instead. Do this diligently for at least a week and take note of how much better you feel about yourself and your life. I bet you’ll not only enjoy the activities you’ve used as positive substitutes for the old harmful ways, but you will be much happier.

Mark’s List of Positive Actions

  1. Work out: Just 6 or 12 minutes on the stair master, doing sit-ups and push-ups or using weights.
  2. Get a tennis game going.
  3. Write out my bests thoughts for the days.
  4. Read a good book.
  5. Listen to favorite music (create a custom playlist online).
  6. Arrange a get together with family and friends.
  7. Get a massage.
  8. Hike or bike in the mountains or just take a walk in the neighborhood.
  9. Take 5 to 10 minutes to meditation
  10. Do 5 to 10 minutes of simple yoga

Now … what goes on your list?

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Your Own Affirmation List

October 21, 2017 by  
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In last week’s post, I challenged you to come up with some affirmations and positive self-talk. What did you come up with?

Never forget that the human brain can be programmed and you can teach it just about anything you want to–repeat those affirmations to yourself over and over again and your brain will believe it. It can and will improve your life and move you toward any goal you have set for yourself. It’s just like what science has discovered about forcing a smile on your face to make you feel better—the brain doesn’t realize it’s a fake smile and so releases the same feel good chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, as if it were a genuine smile.

If you are still working on coming up with more affirmations and positive self-talk, here are a few of mine that I try to repeat each one ten times every day, many times when I’m taking a shower, bath or sitting in my hot tub.

  1. I am feeling more upbeat and positive.
  2. I am happy and healthy.
  3. I live in the great right now moment.
  4. I set big goals but am satisfied with baby steps.
  5. I forgive myself for mistakes I make.
  6. I love my wife, I love my life.
  7. I feel calm and collected even in stressful situations.
  8. I am making a difference in the world for the better.
  9. I love people and I listen to others.
  10. I am strong and worthy.
  11. I eat a healthy diet.
  12. I love to exercise.
  13. I appreciate other people.

By the way, before I play a tennis game I do some self-talk as well. For example, I repeat over and over in my head, “I have a very power forehand. I have a very accurate backhand. I am fast and flexible. I have a very accurate and fast serve.” It always seems to help my game. I am convinced this self-talk was a key to helping me win 4 gold medals in singles tennis at the Huntsman World Senior games.

So, go ahead and give it a try in whatever aspect of your life you’d like to improve. I am convinced that if you take time to make up your own list of daily self-talk comments that you will be so glad and satisfied that you did and it will improve your life and those around you.

Do you find this information inspiring? You can get these every week in your email so you don’t miss one, by going to the top of my website page here: http://ignitemylifenow.com Search through the recent posts and archives sections on the blog page to find more super helpful thoughts and ideas.

 

Transform Your Energy

May 28, 2017 by  
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Few people would argue against the proposition that Thomas Alva Edison, even though he only had three months of formal schooling, changed the lives of literally millions of people by bringing inventions such as the phonograph, electric light, typewriter, motions pictures, and the electric generator into the lives of people everywhere. Although Edison didn’t invent anything significant himself, he improved and promoted many things we still used today, patenting 1,093 inventions in his lifetime.

Edison worked from sun up to sun down, and beyond–in fact, sometimes from twenty-one to twenty-three hours a day! How did he generate so much energy to do such fantastic things? And how can you and I generate more energy so we can do much more than we are doing right now?

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but it can be transformed into something else. That transformation is itself a kind of creation. How do people like Thomas Edison transform energy so they can keep going so long and hard? Perhaps the following illustration will help to answer that.

It’s early morning and you have to get up for work. You were up late the night before; you don’t want to get up. But you struggle into a sitting position and think about what’s ahead of you. It promises to be typically humdrum. You sigh and lie back down. “I can’t stand to go into that office one more day,” you think, and close your eyes. Ugh, you don’t seem to have any energy.

Contrast that feeling with this: It’s early morning and you have to get up to catch a plane to Paris or Hawaii. You were up late the night before but even though you’re tired you’re filled with excitement and feel a rush of energy. So, you jump out of bed and quickly get dressed and pack since you know that in just a few minutes a chauffeur driven limousine is going to pull up in front of your house. This will take you and a few of your closest friends on a trip to your favorite vacation spot where you will do exactly what pleases you and turns you and your friends on! So now you are all ready and up pulls the big beautiful limo. You feel great and have a ton of energy.

Why are these two situations so different? The answer is obvious. In the second example, your thoughts are transformed into energy! Isn’t it amazing that the simple act of thinking certain things can generate great physical and mental energy? I certainly think it’s amazing!

We all need to remember that so we can control and direct out thoughts to generate more and more energy. Great thoughts transform into great energy, while mediocre thoughts transform into only mediocre energy and may even be a big drain on our energy.

P.S. I must admit I copied the above from a great 1983 book, Goals, Guts and Greatness, but it’s just as true now as it was back then. And yes, I did get permission from the author … since it was my book.

 

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