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A Grateful Boost

November 29, 2020 by  
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Thanksgiving is over but it’s a very good idea to hang on to your attitude of gratitude. It will give you lots of benefits!

Gratitude is a great thing but I think most of us don’t fully appreciate it, taking it for granted until something bad happens to us. And that is not a good thing since gratitude can do such very good things for our lives.

Last July, I wrote in this blog about how I had a really bad fall that knocked me out for about 20 minutes. The big-time bleeding from my head and arms was not the worst of it. What was huge and lingers all these months later is the aftereffects of the concussion. I still have the dizziness and my thinking and memory is still suffering. Plus, I have tremors and shaky hands and arms. I will say that I’m getting better on all counts, although slowly.

The one good thing that did change is that my brain has begun focusing on how super grateful I should have been back when my body and brain were functioning normally. And with this COVID-19 mess, we all should look back and realize how grateful we should have been before the virus and keep reminding ourselves, running those grateful thoughts through our heads as often as possible.

Coincidentally, just a few days ago I read Lynn Johnson’s column in our local newspaper. He said, “Happiness makes our immune system function better. In children, joy is natural. For us older folks, an excellent way to recapture that joy is practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude diary. Write three to five things each day you are glad about. Describe how they helped. Write short thank you notes. Be grateful.” That is some great advice.

To me, it’s so amazing how the brain and the thoughts we run through it can help our bodies and lift us up. I am going to push myself harder to be more and more grateful for myself and my situation and for all my great friends and family!

How about you? Let’s all practice every day to become more and more grateful!

The People Habit

November 15, 2020 by  
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I’ve written a few times about the great power of habits and how forming the right ones can lift your mood, health, financial status, physical strength, and stamina. In past blogs, I have quoted many very smart and helpful ideas from Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. That book is a great place to start.

One of the habits that I decided on many years ago was to go out of my way to meet many super successful people as I was sure they could lift my life. I hooked up with quite a few and some became my mentors. Some I got to know by reading about them or reading books they wrote, after which I would attempt to fly to their city and pick their brains. And, wow, was that a great habit that helped me in so many ways!

These super successful people that I met were from all walks of life. I have to admit that much of my success in life—from sports to financial—was from getting to know these people. I kept picking their brains over and over asking them to be my coach or my mentor.

I certainly discovered that many of these super successful people really like to give back by coaching or being a mentor and it’s a great way to give back or pay it forward. Think about how great you feel when you’ve helped someone to become super successful. It’s such a terrific feeling.

I’ll never forget the great compliments I’ve received from the many people who give me credit for their success through reading one of my books. In at least two cases, a couple of billionaires have told me that it was my book, what they learned from it, and the action they then took that made them so rich.

It does take a lot of work, persistence, and determination to meet highly successful people, especially if they are also famous. Some of the ones I tried to hook up with took many, many phone calls, and letters to reach, but I had formed the habit so no matter how many times I got turned down or got no answer to my many attempts, I just kept trying. And, of course, with some I never did get past their secretary or vice president or wife. But because of my solid habit, I met with enough success to make it all well worth my time.

Here is a short list of those super successful people that I’ve met and that have added so much to my life, from financial to motivational, uplifting my mind and spirt: Larry Rosenberg, Bill Nickerson, Ray Kroc, George Romney (Mitt’s father), Lionel Richie, Willian King of the Commodores, Joe Karbo, Curt Carlson, Jon Huntsman and even that guy Joe Biden. (Granted, I just met Joe for a very short interchange!)

Who have you met or chased down that have added so much to your life? Maybe you can make your own list or get working on building it up by reaching out to great and successful people!

 

The Neglected Key to a Long Life

October 25, 2020 by  
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I started to re-read the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 YEARS: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Transformation written by Ilchi Lee. I’ve written about this book in a previous blog post but I didn’t mention an incredible statistic I learned about in these pages.

It turns out, you can do this very simple thing that, on average, can lengthen your life by 7.5 years. That conclusion was reached based on data from 143 studies with a total of 300,000 participants. In that previous post, I mostly talked about how a long and healthy life is primarily about eating nutritious foods and staying physically active but there’s a bit more you can do.

So, during my second read of the book, what really jumped out at me was something that I’ve not been doing much of since I retired. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve ignored this critical part of living a long life and I have suffered because of it.

What is it that I’ve ignored that could have possibly lengthened my life by 7.5 years? It’s this thing called a social life! Having and keeping a good strong and active social life does things to the brain including sending signals to various body parts that keep it healthy and helps you live longer.

When I retired, I let my social life slide down big time! I stopped going to the office and so I stopped seeing my coworkers, clients, partners and business associates. I also moved into a big house on the mountain side with no neighbors, so that made it even worse. And this COVID-19 has certainly not helped in the least. In addition, there’s no kids here at home anymore. It’s just me and the wife in our big, empty nest.

Lee says in his book, “The isolation of the elderly doesn’t only cause loneliness, it has been shown to have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing conditions like chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia”. In addition, he notes, “Having people around us with whom we can communicate on a heart-to-heart level may also reduce the effects of stress.”

We all want to be happy but things can quickly change when we suddenly retire–Lee goes on to say “People, especially as they get older, are experiencing deeper and more frequent forms of unhappiness in many spheres of life: chronic illnesses, alienation or disruption of personal relationships, weakening of economic power. Suddenly facing their social roles greatly reduced during retirement, people are likely to find their self-esteem withering away.”

Most of that has hit me hard so I’m here to tell you that, whether you are retired yet or not, it’s a good time to start making a list of plans and actions that you are going to take on when that day arrives and be sure an active social life is on there. Personally, I’m bound and determined to catch up and do just that!

In Lee’s book he also talks about another thing that can lengthen and make your life more pleasant and happy and it’s something that I’ve talked a lot about over the years – having a good strong purpose and hopes and dreams. I will talk more about those issues in my next week’s post.

Getting On With Living

October 18, 2020 by  
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As mentioned last week, retirement has challenges that aren’t always anticipated and so I gave you some ideas to overcome that. This week, I have more ideas to help you deal with the struggles that many people have when they retire, including me. Even if you are not retiring now or anytime soon these ideas and methods can still enhance your life.

When I found that I was struggling with retirement I sought answers in a few very helpful books written on that very subject and what I learned helped me a ton. By the way, the current pandemic can have us struggling in a similar way as our routines and schedules are thrown out of whack.

Elaine St. James wrote a great little book titled, Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul. ln the book, she talks about how important it is to have a routine and follow a schedule that you set up for yourself, retired or not. Of course, before we are retired, most of us have a routine and schedule due to our job and family but most of that goes away as we enter retirement.

For St. James, “inner simplicity” means creating joy in our lives and staying connected with that joy every moment of the day. When many of us retire, along with a loss of routine, we may stop or reduce how connected we are to our joy which is due in part to our reduced connection to other people, like work associates and even friends.

St. James goes on to say, “Now that I’ve simplified my life, I find it easy to get up at the crack of dawn, or even earlier. In that quiet time, I can do you yoga and stretching, write in my journal, do some deep breathing, work on affirmations and visualizations, meditate or have some quiet time to just sit and think.” That’s some very good stuff we can learn from and follow.

Another great book is What Will I Do All Day?: Wisdom to Get You Over Retirement and on with Living!, by Patrice Jenkins, PHD. She talks a lot about energy and also notes how much we get from working with other people when we are on the job.

She asks, “How do you discover your work’s energy source? Think about what parts of your work you enjoy most. Is there one part of your work that charges you with high-octane fuel? “

She continues with suggestions and probing questions. “Maybe your energy source comes from being involved in teamwork with coworkers. If you have already retired, you may have insight on what parts of your work provided you with the most energy. Was it a chance to help people, to teach, to solve problems, or be physically active? ”

Later, she makes this great point: “Once you have identified your energy source, you will know what it is that you’ll want to keep alive in retirement.”

Wow, that’s some great advice and it has helped me a ton. I hope this will help you if you are retired or planning for when that day arrives, or even through this terrible pandemic. Routines, staying in touch with people, and knowing the source of our energy can help us through unexpected struggles and back to living a full life.

 

Gratitude Amidst Tragedy

June 21, 2020 by  
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Such sad, sad days for our family, especially my younger brother Scott, his kids, and his grand kids. Scott’s wonderful wife, Pat, died a few days ago. No, it wasn’t the Covid-19 virus. She has been struggling with health issues for quite some time. Wow, I feel so bad for my brother. For me, it brought back some very sad times and memories.

When I was 15 years old, my older brother Bruce, who was 17, died right in front of me on an outdoor basketball court in Ankara, Turkey where our family lived from 1959-1961. My brother’s death was devastating for me and I felt so guilty for many years thinking I should have saved him.

Unfortunately, there was a more devastating and tragic event for me that almost did me in. Many years after the tragedy of my brother’s death, my 16-year-old daughter Kristin died. That was, and still is, the biggest and most tragic event of my life. Scott’s wife’s death brought these two terrible events in my life forcefully back to my brain.

When I think of other cultures that are in the mist of war, poverty, and starvation, I realize I really don’t have it so bad. Another thought that helps my brain a bit – something that should help all of us get through the pain of losing a family member, loved one, or a dear friend – is the absolute fact that nobody gets out of this life alive. All of us pass away eventually. It is simply part of life.

One powerful lesson we should take to heart is that life is quite short, so we need to train and push ourselves to live life to the fullest. Live more fully in the great “right now” moment.

Love more.

Live more.

Give more.

And push yourself to fully understand how important those 3 things are in our lives.

For me, it is very helpful to make a list of all the good people and things in my life, reminding myself how grateful I should be to live in today’s world. I call it my gratitude list and when I feel a little down, I re-read that list. I highly recommend that everyone make their own GRATITUDE LIST and add to it every time you think of another thing in your life that makes you feel grateful!

 

You Can Always Be Ambitious

May 3, 2020 by  
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I was going a little stir crazy with all this time on my hands and missing my social life, but then my thinking was quickly interrupted when I was contacted by an old friend who suggested we get together and play tennis. I said, “Absolutely, but we must be careful and safe.” So, we got together but didn’t touch the tennis ball until we had applied extra layers of disinfectant on our hands.

This friend, who I hadn’t talked to for a long time, is a great guy who had what most people would call a HUGE setback. Regardless of that, he’s a nationwide motivational speaker who plays tennis, golf, and basketball and has won some great national titles. But what was his huge setback, you may ask. Well, many years ago, when he was 22 years old, he told me that he fell off a 40-foot barn roof landing straight up. It paralyzed him from the waist down, but that terrible accident didn’t stop him and his athletic ambitions even though he’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

So I told Jeff Griffin I would love to play some tennis. We played on my home court and, man oh man, was he ever good. The rules are that when you play a person in a wheelchair the ball can bounce twice before your wheelchair opponent hits it. I only get one bounce. However, he didn’t even need that small advantage. He hit the ball very hard, his placement of shots was near perfect, and the way he changes direction in his wheelchair with such speed and quickness was amazing. So, I find myself, a 4 times gold medal winner at the Huntsman Senior games, getting kicked by my friend in a wheelchair.  He beat me 6-3. (We only played one set since he totally wore me out.)

Jeff is an amazing person and has won so many awards that the list is too long for me to write out, but you can look him up on Google and read with amazement what he has done in his life so far. Sadly, most people, or at least many people, would look at such a huge setback like Jeff suffered and pretty much give up. Jeff didn’t let that terrible accident stop him though and, wow, has he ever gone to work on so many parts of his life to make himself better and, sometimes, even the very best!

When I get a little frustrated or disappointed I try to push my mind to think about people like Jeff and say to myself, “Hey, I am not going to let my little setbacks or failures stop me from whatever project or goal I’ve set out to do.” And neither should you!

Compound Gratitude

October 20, 2019 by  
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Receiving thanks and appreciation from people you have helped can be such a huge reward and is such a great feeling!  Last week I wrote about super successful Scott Keller who was donating 10 million dollars to a University. Scott has thanked me over the years for sharing some of what I’ve learned about financial formulas, motivation and inspiration.

When I was writing my blog about the great feeling of helping others, it brought quickly to my mind and heart the many, many times I’ve received some huge “thank you’s” and credit from Craig D. Horton of Medford, Oregon. It started many years ago, shortly after I wrote my first book and has continued over the years. So, I sent an email to Craig after thinking about him and his generous and great appreciation for the help I gave him as he pursued his fortune. Here are some of the words he wrote back to me.

“Thanks Mark for this continuous journey of excellence as well as persistence. Your mentorship to myself and my wife Jane means a lot personally to our family.” He went on to say, “In my early investing days, I was partners with someone who subscribed to ‘The Financial Freedom Report’, which was an investor magazine for real estate people that Mark O. Haroldsen published … I read each monthly issue and devoured the content, especially the Subscriber Success Story. I subsequently read the following Mark O. Haroldsen books: How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You; Goals, Guts, and Greatness; The Best Real Estate Deal I Ever Did. All are excellent books that every real estate investor should read.”

Wow, those words of thanks to me were worth more than money!  After reading that, I realized that I needed to send him my latest book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living too!

He went on to say, “The major influence on my life of the written work and seminar experiences from Mark O. Haroldsen has been the concept of compound persistence. That principle simply says if you think long term with good goals, good support, and a good plan you will succeed as long as you always stay persistent. This has been my experience from the teachings of Mark and his team in over 40 plus years of investing. I have seen this principle also work with other investors as well.”

He and his wife Jane own a property management company, Medford Better Housing Association. Craig also told me how many rental houses he owns as well as a nice size apartment building. And then he closes the email with, “Your ‘Financial Freedom Report’, Compound Persistence Principle Guy … Craig D. Horton.”

I’ll close this blog by saying this: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, AND DOUBLE THANKS, TO YOU CRAIG D. HORTON FOR LIFTING MY SPIRITS, MY BRAIN, AND MY LIFE!

The Thank You High

October 13, 2019 by  
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It never ceases to amaze me the super, wonderful, and fulfilling feeling I get from helping others. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about and, no doubt, you have received that great brain stimulation and wonderful high when someone gives you sincere thanks and compliments for helping them. I also get lots of little kicks every time I give kids a lucky – as I call them – $2 dollar bill. When their little faces light up, you’d think I gave them a thousand-dollar bill. Most of the time the parents don’t even need to tell them to give thanks to the old guy that gave them the $2 dollar bill.

A few days ago, I was shocked to read that Utah’s Scott and Karen Keller had donated 10 million dollars to Utah Valley University for a new business building which will be named after Scott Keller. I was super impressed because I knew Scott years ago and coached him on financial matters. And here is the Big Brain Booster (let’s call it the BBB) – he has always given me tons of credit for his huge financial success.

Here’s what he wrote me in an email: “Mark, I was able to make this contribution [due to] the things you helped [me with] to launch my career. Thank you very much again, and again, and again” I immediately thanked him for giving me so much credit and he wrote right back saying, “Dear Mark, I make no apology for those that have helped or inspired me along the way. I always want to give credit where credit is due. It’s the team, the ‘we’ NOT the ‘I’.” Then that clever little guy Scott made me laugh when he added, “Now hang on cowboy, just don’t be asking for a cut. 🙂 Thank you very much.   All the Best, Scott C. Keller.

Like I said, to me there’s nothing like the great satisfaction of helping others and their great gratitude and feedback gives me a high that is so much greater than money. Hey, I’m not saying that making tons of money isn’t satisfying but the thanks and sincere appreciation are so wonderful and last forever.

Ok, I know it’s kind of selfish, giving and helping others since we get such great feelings and satisfaction from it, but hey, isn’t that kind of a good selfishness?  I have received so much positive feedback and thanks-you’s I just want to give more and more.

There is a great guy from Oregon who has sent me many, many thanks over the years as well. I must tell you a bit more about good ole Craig D. Horton in my next post.

 

Grateful Action

August 23, 2019 by  
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Okay here is a $64,000 dollar question: Should you and I choose to be mindful of what we have and be grateful most of the time, reaping the benefits from that attitude along the way, or should we whine and complain and be ungrateful and end up unhappy and miserable?

Ok, I know that’s not too tough a question but isn’t it funny that, regardless of how obvious the answer is, we so often fall into an ungrateful mode in our daily life? Shouldn’t we do something about that? And if so, what would that be?

Well, maybe we can just practice it more often, being mindful of our attitude so that we can stop the complaining when we realize what we are doing. If we can become more aware of our attitude, we would surely see a difference in our lives and our relationship with the people around us.

As I look out at the world, especially in the incredible times we live in right now with all the turmoil, uprising, pointless deaths, instability and chaos in so many places in the world, and then look outside my door, it’s hard not to be a little shocked by how different my life is here in an affluent, developed country. When I see these things, I am struck big time with the thought that, wow, we really do have it good, those of us living in the USA, Canada, Europe, etc. But how often, and seriously, do we consider how blessed we are?

But we just can’t think about it. Agreeing that the more grateful is a good idea is not quite enough, is it? We need to act. We need to make it important in our lives. I have to tell you, when I take time to be grateful, that very process and feeling of gratitude boosts my satisfaction, contentment, and happiness levels! It’s almost like magic.

So why not start now? You could write or call someone or post something on your favorite social network site. Just put something out there, saying that you are grateful and want never to forget it. Then keep that in your mind as you go through the day and you are sure to start reaping the benefits almost immediately.

Appreciating what we have is good for our spirits, our attitude, our family, our outlook on life, and, by extension, the world out there that is working through the chaos and pressure of broad and often, unstoppable, change. It’s the least we can do for them, and for ourselves.

 

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!

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