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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!

Give Big, Live Big

December 14, 2018 by  
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Have you ever noticed that with my blog I am never really trying to sell you a product? Well, I guess I’m selling something, or more accurately I’m trying to give you something and hoping that you’ll snap it up. What I’m “selling” is information and ideas and, hopefully, inspiration and motivation. It’s not that I’m against selling stuff such as books, seminars and, oh yes, an old beat up piece of real estate that I’ve fixed up and increased the price – and value! – substantially. But at this point in my life, I feel so much more like giving rather than selling.  As I’ve said before, “If you want to live big, give big.” And, of course, we are now in that wonderful giving time of year and I think you will agree with me that it feels so very good to give.

What’s amazing about giving is that it can be somewhat selfish. That may sound odd but when I give a lot it makes me feel so very good inside so wanting to feel that good is kind of selfish but in a very positive way. I love to share with others what I’ve learned about making tons of money and expanding the possibilities and experiences of one’s life and most of us need help and assistance to lift up our lives to higher levels. I mean who among us has a perfect life and doesn’t need some motivation and help in at least in at least a couple parts of our lives? Every single person that I’ve ever met that have been super successful, whether it was with money matters, business, sports, family, or love, have been helped by someone. Sometimes it is in person through work, networking, friends, people met at clubs, etc. Sometimes it is more indirect such as the things we learn from someone through books, seminars, or even blogs. We all have others to thank and appreciate.

I certainly have lots of great books, friends, coaches, and leaders who have lifted so many parts of my life. At this juncture of my life, I feel stronger than ever and so it’s time for me to give back – it’s time to pay it forward. I want to be of great help to others and not just through my books and lectures. I love to give my time and money to charities. And no, I am not talking about those huge charities that pay their CEOs or presidents one or $2 million a year. Ugh. I’m pretty sure they could find an equally qualified person that is retired or semi-retired that would do the same job for free or a small salary. It’s just not going to be me.

So, in the spirit of the season, I’d like to challenge you, my readers, to give, give, give! And, yes, even though it feels a bit selfish, you will see, as I’m sure you have in the past, that when you give BIG, you really do begin to live BIG!

Boosting the Brain with Thanks

November 23, 2018 by  
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Here’s a good question for you: Did you find yourself giving a lot of thanks yesterday? Or were you distracted by all the turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie? I hope you were taking time to give a ton of thanks! Isn’t that what we all should do on that day? After all it is called “Thanksgiving”! But that isn’t the only reason to give thanks this holiday season and throughout the year.

I recently heard on a broadcast that there is one big benefit we all can receive from saying “thanks” or “thank you”. Research into the human brain has shown that saying thank you, or otherwise giving verbal appreciation or gratitude, signals the brain to release the feel good, feel happy brain chemical dopamine.

Sometime ago, I wrote about how when a person smiles, even if it is a forced smile, the brain releases three of the four feel good brain chemicals – dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins (the forth brain chemical is oxytocin). These four chemicals, produced by the brain, not only make you feel more relaxed, they also could lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. Some studies even suggest that if they are released often enough, they can even help you live longer.

Another big benefit from giving thanks to others is that, if accompanied by a big sincere smile, your gesture will cause the other person to smile right back at you and then they are more likely to smile at the next person they encounter. So, you see, you are spreading some good stuff and helping others just by being thankful and letting other people know it.

And here’s another thing that has been shown to lift people’s spirits and that is simply to keep a journal in which you make note of the things you are thankful for. By writing down what, and who, you are grateful for, you are giving your brain more determination. This helps improve and lift your attention, enthusiasm and even lifts your energy.

So, during this holiday season, and beyond, we all need to focus on giving thanks, showing and expressing our gratitude, and, yes, even thinking about our positive qualities and of happy memories in order to boost our serotonin levels.

One last thought… don’t forget that laughing and social interaction both cause the brain to release those great feel good chemicals as well! So, this holiday season, be sure you have plenty of opportunities to boost those feel good chemicals and show your thanks and appreciation.

 

More Production Yields a Better Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Making the Most of Every Minute

March 23, 2018 by  
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Wow, does time ever move fast and, as we all know, it moves faster every year.  And now, it seems that I can no longer lie about my age since my oldest son, Mark E., just turned 50 years old. I’m guessing you are like me in that you can easily remember when you turned 21 and 30 and all those other birthday milestones that seem like they happened not long ago at all. My 50th birthday is so fresh in my mind and easy to remember in great detail. I’ll never forget the huge billboard on I-15 with my picture on it wishing me a happy 50th birthday.

I think it’s so helpful to constantly remind ourselves that, because time moves so very quickly, we should all pay very close attention to what we want to make of our lives. What do we want to accomplish? Who do we want to help? Who do we want to love? And, as I’ve preached for many years, we absolutely must take the time to write down what we want to do and accomplish as well as put a timeline on those goals.

Yes, life is very short, but it can be very productive, helpful to others, and extremely fun and fulfilling even though it passes tremendously fast.  So, what we all may want to do is repeat that in our minds every day. We’ll call it our “Fun & Fulfilling Philosophy. “

So, yes, we do all need to make our time count since life really is very short. Writing those life goals down helps you become much more efficient but also, all us humans never want to forget that, as we go after our goals, we must push ourselves to live life in the great right now, as in “living in the moment”.  I certainly have to regularly remind myself of both those very important habits as I can easily get carried away with worry and fretting over the future and what I haven’t accomplished.  Those reminders really do help me as I’m sure they would for you too. So, give it try and make the most out of every minute of your life.

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