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Novelty and Innovation

September 15, 2019 by  
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I am always so impressed, when I travel to new places, by how it stimulates my brain, especially when those new places are a new country.  Right now, we are in Macedonia and, wow, what a great and different country this is! Tomorrow we are off to Kosovo. That will make 94 countries that I have visited. That’s quite a lot but I don’t think I will make it to all 200 plus countries on earth before I check out of this life, but I will sure enjoy seeing as many new places as I can before my body assumes room temperature.

Seeing new places can produce some very big and new ideas for things like inventions, innovations, etc. As I visit and totally enjoy these new places and people, it makes me more fully realize how virtually all people, regardless of their ethnicity, skin color, and education level, are pretty much the same as far as the majority being friendly, nice, and good! And in every country, there are really creative and innovative people as well. That got me to thinking about how many times people create something by just putting two different things together to come up with a new product or invention.

For example, it wasn’t that many years ago when people hand carried their heavy suitcases as they traveled.  I thought of this as my wife and I packed 3 huge suitcases plus two drag bags for our trip to Europe. Someone not so long ago put two simple things together to create a great and super helpful new invention – just a few wheels attached to the bottom of a suitcase. Wow, that was so simple! Why didn’t you or I come up with that simple invention that has been so great and helpful to all of us globetrotting humans.

If we set our minds to coming up with new products from two or more existing products, we could make a fortune. Take a simple product like a peddle bicycle and attach a battery and, wham, bang, you have come up with a brand-new and popular product. Then the next could have been putting that battery on a scooter and you might have come up with another form of powered transportation such as Lyme and the other brands.

I’ll never forget many years ago thinking what a waste it was to have all those cars parked for days at the airport while people were arriving and renting cars. It made me think of how maybe I could set up a program where you could rent out your car when you left for a trip and then you could rent someone’s car at the airport of your destination. I knew there would be a lot of issues as to insurance and possible damage or theft and putting it together would not be very simple. Then along came UBER and LYFT a few years later, which, although a traveler’s car isn’t in use while they are away, other people’s cars are not just sitting in their driveways but are out helping traveler’s get around and usually for quite a bit less than a Taxi.

Those car services are simple but great innovations that help so many and it just took putting together existing things to make something new and super useful. These things aren’t likely to come about unless your brain is stimulated and exposed to new things. If you keep your mind active and curious with novel things and keep searching for ideas, you could come up with the next simple and super useful innovation!

Money and Meditation

August 8, 2019 by  
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If you have been reading my blog for years, then you know that I started out mainly writing about money, money, money. I wrote about how to make it and how to invest it for the best returns. Over time, I have expanded my subjects to include physical and mental health because, as we all know, without good health, tons of money may not help you at all, or at least not much.

Our brains control our physical bodies much more than most people realize. Years ago, I found an explanation of why the brain can control so much of our lives in Time magazine. A professor at the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, who Time magazine had honored as one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World”, was actually asked by the Dalai Lama to study the connection between the meditative state of mind of his Buddhist monks and their emotional and mental health.

Davidson first hooked 128 electrodes to the head of a French-born monk, Mathieu Ricard, and recorded an immediate increase in the gamma activity when the monk began to meditate. Later studies with a control group of students only lightly trained in meditation showed the monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times stronger than a control group. Wow, that is HUGE!

But what does all this mean? Simply put, this and other research unveils the real possibility that the brain, like the rest of the body, can be altered intentionally. Just as we build muscle through exercise, we can also build our mental capacities that can lead to better brain function and an increase in essential cognitive functions, including memory and perception. This all creates a more positive mental state–and that’s what in turn creates more productive gamma brain waves.

This discovery tells me that as I do more meditation, I will gain a better functioning brain which could help me be a much better investor. I do believe that by pumping my brain up through meditation, I can make better real estate deals and manage my money much better. How about you? Go ahead and try some meditation and see what it does to your brain.

One last comment. Or, I should say that I’m going to do a little bragging.  I’ve always been impressed by the Dalai Lama and many years ago I had the great privilege of escorting the Dalai Lama from his hotel room to a huge ball room and then I introduced him to the audience. I will never forget the great feeling and gratitude I received from doing that introduction and getting to know him even just a little bit.

Fully Present Wakefulness

August 2, 2019 by  
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So, what can we do to make our lives happy and contented as we age, like when you are over 55, 65 or, like me, at 75? So much of our lives depend on our thinking and it can be a bit of a challenge to put and keep the positive thoughts our minds.

I came across an interview I did years ago with the world-famous skier Stein Eriksen. He had so much passion in his life even up to shortly before he died. In the interview, I asked Stein if he had as much passion in the process of becoming a world champion as he did when he won the gold medal. And he said he absolutely did, that he both enjoyed and was totally passionate about his workouts, and his many, many practice runs down the snowy slops of Norway and Utah. He built in his mind what he was going to do each day and he almost always did it, even in his mid to late 80’s.

That passion and determination most always starts with our brain and what we are thinking. I read a cute comment recently: “Don’t believe everything you think.” It is so easy, especially as you age and know that your time on this planet earth is so much shorter than when you were 25 or 30 or even 50 or 60, to let go of that passion. Our “self-talk” can really lead us down the wrong path.

So, one big thing, or big THINK, we need to do as we get closer to the end, is to be very mindful of the little negative self-talk that goes on in our brains. Then we need to work on changing that little voice in our head to do some major positive self-talk. If you meditate even for just 10 or 12 minutes a day this can help with changing your negative self-talk to positive self-talk.

Quoting from Pema Chödrön’s book Living Beautifully, “The key practice to support us in this mindfulness is 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. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness–fully present wakefulness. Chogyam Trungpa called it ‘paying attention to all the details of your life.’”

As we get older, it’s even more important to live in the right now moment and, of course, that takes a lot of positive self-talk. Pema also wrote that, “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. Just as with the other aspects of this commitment, we’re either present when putting on our sweater or tying our shoes or brushing our teeth, or we’re not. We’re either awake, asleep, conscious, or distracted. Chogyam Trangpa emphasized mindfulness and paying attention to the details of our lives as ways to develop appreciation for ourselves and our world, ways to free ourselves from suffering.”

Additionally, Pema wrote, “You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving kindness for yourself.”

This type of thinking and action certainly has made me more productive and keeps my mind busy. That along with setting a schedule and coming up with some new goals that fit my age and stage has been quite wonderful. At first it seemed quite silly for me to pay total attention to getting dress or taking a shower, but I have found it to be a good, and important, experience.

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!

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!

 

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.

Reviewing and Improving on the Past Year

January 5, 2019 by  
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Wow, where did the 2018 year go?  It seemed to go faster than any other year of my life. How about you?

But what really got to me was what I wrote in my journal back on February 27, 2018:  “Now in Lihue, Kauai house … Kimbo [my nickname for my wife Kimberly] is working so hard to get the house in perfect condition as to justify the $4.5 million price we have it listed for… Now at 46 days away from age 74, I hope I’ve learned a little more about life and living.  I still need to focus on living in the great now moments of life and need to practice more of what I preach and write about … living in the present, self-talk and self-affirmations … and write them down.”

In that journal entry I made this list:

1. I am living in the now

2. I love my life now

3. I love my wife now

4. I love being semi-retired

5. I gain much of life from my writing and helping other people

In that same entry I finally came to this conclusion:

“In 6 days, we head back to Utah – in my head I keep thinking about that future event and have been counting down the days. I need to stop doing that and enjoy the great right now! I mean heavens, it’s pretty darn nice, right here and right now. Beautiful, warm, wonderful view of the great blue ocean and green mountains of Kauai … so I will now take all of that in and live in the ‘now moment’.  Ok I am doing that right now and it feels great!”

It was great to have realized what I needed then, but the realization didn’t quite turn into action. Recently, on Dec. 31, 2018, I made another, related journal entry: “I re-read some of my comments from last year and it hit me kind of hard how I said I must, and want, to live more in the present moment or the great wonderful ‘right now” and I realized I just didn’t do that very much. So, that’s now back on my new year’s resolution list for 2019. I’m going to do much better in 2019!”

I know that I’ve written and preached about keeping a journal of your life and reading my own past comments really shows me how important it is to do just that. You can coach yourself and remind yourself over and over again about what you need to work on and that, at least to me, is very important to improve and expand and make your life better and better. Yes, I know that we all have to think of the future and make plans and set goals and review our past, but after we’ve done that, we need to spend more time in the “great right now moment”.

I hope you agree and maybe what I’ve learned here will help you. I’m pretty darn sure it’s already helped me and will make me more aware of living in the now moments and how to love and enjoy 2019 more than last year, even though I fell short of my stated resolution. So, let’s all double down and make 2019 the best year EVER!

Challenge Yourself, Challenge Your Mind

November 9, 2018 by  
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Erik Weihenmayer on Everest

Imagine a blind man who made it all the way to the summit of Mt. Everest. Let me introduce you to Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Everest. How do you think his satisfaction levels are? Wow, I’ll bet his intense satisfaction lasted a long time, maybe even a lifetime. But Erik did not only just climb Everest, as amazing as that accomplishment is just by itself, but he is one of just a handful of human beings, and the only blind man, to scale the world’s seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Talk about taking on a tough challenge! His so-called disability has completely taken a back seat to his passion to live his life well!

Erik’s award winning film, Farther Than the Eye Can See, was ranked in the top 20 adventure films of all time by Men’s Journal, and brought home first prize at 19 film festivals. It was also nominated for two Emmy’s. The film beautifully captures the emotion, humor, and drama of Erik’s historic ascent on Everest, as well as his three other remarkable “firsts” – he was one half of the first American father/son team to summit Everest, the oldest man to summit, and the most people from one team (19) to reach the top of Everest in a single day!

For Erik and his team, having met the challenge of Everest head on and having pushed past their fear, obstacles, adversity, age, and even disability, to succeed, they know that for the rest of their lives they can tackle the “hard” stuff of life really do it well because they have already proven to themselves that they can.

Did Erik Weihenmayer put his feet up after the triumphs and bask in the glow of his accomplishment? Perhaps he did for a while, but this former middle school teacher and coach never stops challenging himself.

“There are summits everywhere,” Erik often tells his audiences when he lectures. “Just because you lose your sight, doesn’t mean you have to lose your vision.”

Three years after he did it the first time, Eric went back to the Himalayas and tackled Everest again, but this time with an even greater vision. On that second trip, he took six Tibetan teenagers with him – a dangerous and challenging accomplishment made all the more remarkable by the fact that these six teenagers were blind as well. Wow!

You can challenge yourself in meaningful and lasting ways as well. The key is to continually challenge your thinking. If you work on changing that gray matter enough, I believe you can avoid the slowdown and letdown trap that snares so many people today, especially as they get older. Challenge yourself big time and you’ll be more than ready to go for your big dreams and accomplish them.

Let’s take a trip inside our minds right now.

First of all, do you believe you can change the way you think about life? Or are there new ways to think about your capacities and your potentials and what you can and can’t do?

So, I am now sending you a big challenge to really push yourself big time and, yes, I am going to challenge myself big time too!

All the Love out There

October 12, 2018 by  
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Last week I ended my blog by writing about the great tears of joy I experienced shortly after posting a picture of me at my daughter’s grave site, a moment that itself was filled with tears of pain and sorrow! So, you may ask, what brought on the great tears of joy?

Shortly after posting the picture of my daughter Kristin’s grave site, I began to receive these wonderful messages of love with many kind words of sympathy, love and support. Wow, did those words of love, coming from several dozen friends, family and even total strangers, ever get to me, bringing on those tears of joy!

That got me thinking about how powerful love is in our lives and how much of it is out there. Even though it’s all around  us you sure don’t hear or see much of that on the news, so, I’m guessing that some people don’t really fully realize how much love there is in the world. But, the opposite of love—that thing called hate—makes the news pretty much every day. Why is that? I think the main reason is because it can be, and usually is, so very sensational, so it really stands out and grabs our attention. Like the mass shooting last year in Las Vegas or the kidnapping of a kid or the rape of a woman and, of course, lately, the terrible things we are hearing about due to the MeToo movement.

The news certainly doesn’t spend much, if any time, on how much love a parent shows his or her kids. Once in a great while the news might have a short story on the great love of a couple on their 50th or 75th wedding anniversary, but the divorce of a couple, especially if they are famous, certainly makes the front page and the top of the hour TV news.

I think we all need to pay more attention to that great thing called “love” and give more of it to those around us and, yes, even people we have just met. We need to Encourage our kids and those around us to share more and more love each day, through words and deeds. And I want to publicly send out a HUGE THANK YOU AND LOVE BACK to those wonderful people who sent words of love, great sympathy, and support to me on what have would have been my daughter’s birthday!

 

Failures at First Are Triumphs at Last

May 18, 2018 by  
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I believe everyone has the power and potential to accomplish the impossible if they are willing and wanting to take the proper steps forward. One of those steps, which Mark mentions all the time in his books, is to have a clear and concise plan with written goals.

Once you plan your work; then work your plan.

Those were closing words from Jeff Griffin on last week’s post. This amazing man has accomplished so much since a 40 foot fall parlayed him from the waist down and put him in a wheelchair. That accident certainly didn’t paralyze his brain or his motivation to help himself and to help other people. Read below some more of his story and some of his words of wisdom.

My teaching style, humor, and personality have made me one of the most liked and sought-after teachers during my 16-year career. I would consistently teach my students to give themselves permission to fail so they can succeed. I’ve left a consistent and comfortable paycheck and career to pursue my new dream of public speaking. I may fail but I also know I may succeed.

Because failures at first are triumphs at last, as long as we just don’t quit!

I earned my master’s degree in education and curriculum and created a worldwide peer-to-peer leadership program for third-world countries that was recognized at the United Nations in New York City. I’ve started two successful businesses, one before my teaching career and this one! I’ve created a nonprofit organization called the “Road to Recovery”, which impacts thousands of injured vets and physically disabled persons in my community and around the world. I enjoy mentoring people, distributing wheelchairs to those in need, and giving hope through my humanitarian efforts.

Every great man and woman of history is a person of service.

My greatest accomplishment so far is being married to my best friend for over 20 years. Together, Emily and I have four beautiful children; even after the doctors told me it would be impossible to have one with my condition. I am passionate about progress. I enjoy eating pizza and peanut butter M&Ms. I love playing games and exercising. I understand the frustrations of living a full life while trying to bridge the gap between what is real and what is ideal. Not only do I tell people how to cross this impossible bridge I show them how it’s possible by getting up and out of my wheelchair and take a few steps forward. “I’m going to run again someday!”

I hope this message will spark the eternal tinder inside your minds and give you the resilience to accelerate your own results. I hope it will ignite the seeds of success you’ve already sown. Combined with your vision and help from another, your desires will cultivate into something other people only dream about!

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