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Pleasure and Production

December 7, 2018 by  
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Last week we talked about Authentic Happiness which is both a concept and the title of the great book written by Martin Seligman. In the book, the author continuously emphasizes how much of our happiness comes from inside our heads.

Most of us humans look at rich and famous people and think that they must be very, very happy and content because of all their fame and wealth. Well, guess what… if you look closely, you will find that many of these people are not particularly happy. I think a big reason is that most people think that once they attain great wealth and/or fame then it will automatically make them happy. Only it doesn’t. Then these folks, finding that their brains are not filled with great thoughts of happiness and contentment, start to wonder why. That doubt causes an internal dialog to start up which can work against them, quickly driving them and their mindset downhill. Also, money and fame don’t hold a candle to the kind of true and deep happiness we get from things like the love we give and receive from family and friends.

Although most of us are not rich and famous, we may still find ourselves falling into similar thought patterns. It is so very easy to let our internal self-talk persuade us that things are not going well which brings us down mentally.

There are lots of methods for overcoming this negative self-talk but one very big one is also a powerful antidote for depression – productive gratification. Striving for gratification is automatic but the way to use it so that it overcomes negativity and depression is through producing something truly meaningful to us and/or to others. What we accomplish when we produce meaningful things sends a powerful, purposeful message to our brains and makes us feel so very satisfied and happy.

Martin makes the very good point that “pleasure is a very powerful source of motivation but it does not produce change.” It also does not produce lasting authentic happiness. A simple example is the difference between the pleasure that we receive from watching a very entertaining television show versus the gratification, genuine happiness, and personal satisfaction that we receive from reading a particularly inspiring or informative book. Think back on how you felt after experiencing these two different activities yourself. The difference in how your attitude and your state of mind will probably be quite apparent.

The author suggests that if we really want true, deep and authentic happiness we should all create a list of activities, goals, and deep desires that produce for us, personally, a sense of gratification. Look for goals and things that you do that seem to make time stop and even has you thinking, “I don’t want this to ever end.”

Yes, it’s true that many pleasures take little or no effort to acquire and that the best kind of gratification takes a lot of work. But so be it. It is so well worth it, and I do think and hope you would agree!

 

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.

 

The Energy Generating Brain

October 19, 2018 by  
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I am pretty sure there’s not many people that wouldn’t like a bit more energy. Okay, maybe an 8-year-old kid has plenty, but most of us, especially as we age, really want and need more energy. The amazing thing about humans is that we can actually create more energy with our minds.

The mind can be one of the strongest and most powerful force that you possess. A overly simple example of the mind creating energy is if you were dead tired at the end of a mountain hike and could hardly take another step, but suddenly you were confronted by a grizzly bear, your brain would immediately send a signal that would produce a huge amount of adrenaline and give you plenty of energy to move very quickly to save yourself. Although that is chemical physiology, even quantum physics has proven that your thoughts can be vibrations of energy.

How about this? You are lying in bed, totally worn out with seemingly no physical or mental energy, and suddenly you think of some incredible new invention. You can visualize how this idea could very possibly make you a quick few million dollars. Suddenly, your brain creates a ton of new energy and you jump out of bed, rush to your desk, and begin putting your great new idea on paper.

Your brain really can create energy. I totally believe that your brain is the key to your financial fortune and my experience backs up this belief. Some say that you can obtain wealth by training your subconscious mind to attract wealth, and I totally agree. If you put those money-making thoughts and plans deeply in your mind and then push very hard to turn those thoughts into action, you can and will be successful.

Quoting from one-mind-one-energy.com, “The most potent form of energy is thought because thought waves are cosmic waves penetrating all time and space.”  The 5 steps below, found on that website, make so much sense and are so very true. We really need to watch our brains like these 5 steps advise.

  1. “Watch your thoughts, they become words.”
  2. “Watch your words, they become actions.”
  3. Watch your actions, they become habits.”
  4. Watch your habits, they become your character.”
  5. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Good ole Mahatma Gandhi said something similar: “A man is but the product of his thoughts–what he thinks, he becomes.”

Wow, there’s a bunch of good stuff to pound into our brains that can greatly enhance and improve our lives, whether it’s to make millions of dollars or become whatever we’ve always wanted to become and maybe have fallen short. Plus, who among us doesn’t want to have a ton more energy?

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!

 

Death’s Loving Lesson

October 5, 2018 by  
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This past weekend, on September 30th, I was both celebrating and grieving. That day is my daughter Kristin’s birthday. She would have been 49 but she tragically died many years ago, at the tender age of 16. Yes, I do want to celebrate her birthday but it is a day of mourning and tears at the same time. I don’t always visit her grave because it makes me grieve more but this year I did, taking red roses that I placed on her grave.  Think how much more death would hurt all of us if some of us never had to die. Like that’s going to happen… NOT!

I do think it’s so very interesting that there are lessons that can be learned from a good friend or loved one’s death. I know when my Kristin died it made me a much, much more caring and empathetic person. I wanted to be there, to help, support, and love my friends and family more than I ever did before. From that day on I became so very caring and I really could feel and share other people’s pain and sorrows when they lost someone close to them or even had other problems and difficulties in their lives.

When I was young I had the crazy belief that I would never die since there would be a second coming of Christ and no one would suffer death. I sure remember how so many people, back in 1999, really believed that a second coming would happen as the world moved from the year 1999 to 2000! Well, that didn’t happen.

Let’s face it, death is an absolute fact of life and no one can get out of this life alive. As we age, most of us feel that time moves faster and faster although we’d love it to slow down since we have so much more living we want to do. I think we’d pay almost any price if we could buy an extension on our lives.  Years ago, when I turned 60, I used to joke and say to guys that were in their 30’s, “Hey, if it were possible for us to switch ages and you become 60 and I got to be your age, would you do it if I paid you a million dollars cash?” Believe it or not, about half the young people I asked that question to said yes. Wow… I sure would do it if it were possible, but I heard a rumor that it’s not.

However, we have options – we can take care of ourselves. We can eat good, healthy food, keep our bodies moving, and stay well connected with social groups which will extend our lives to a degree.  Plus, we can concentrate on living every day to the max – it’s a give more and live more concept.  We can love our friends, neighbors, and family as much as we are conceivably able to, including going out of our way to be there for them, helping them when they need us, and bringing more joy and happiness to them which, in return, will bring the same to us.

Yes, death of a loved one is tough but there are lessons to be learned from it and it can make you a better person which is a blessing to everyone, including yourself. Next week I want to tell you what happened that brought tears of great joy right after I posted a picture of myself putting those roses on Kristin’s grave.

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.

 

Future Thinking

July 6, 2018 by  
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Continuing from my last blog on “visualization of the future”, someone pointed out that a man becomes what he thinks about all day, or as it says in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he.” If you, for example are aiming at someday owning a hundred apartment or rental units, or a few small shopping centers, or want to achieve a certain net worth within a given time frame, you make that vision definite and well-focused, running it through your mind every day. You then work backwards from that ultimate big vision to the present time, locking in what must be done to end up in that future position and, if you do, then you will almost certainly succeed.

A great example of clear, concise visualization was portrayed in the old classic 1977 movie, Rocky, which was a story inspired by the boxer, Chuck Wepner. As you probably remember, Rocky was a boxer who, after much preparation, finished a fifteen-round fight with a world heavyweight champion. Once he had that goal locked in his mind, nothing could stop him, and nothing did. I’m sure if he’d set the goal of winning that fight he probably would have ended up doing so.

It is totally possible for anyone to meet their objective if that same mindset of determination and dedication that Rocky used was to be applied. He looked into his own future, saw what was possible then made it reality with a huge, unbendable mindset and, of course, a huge amount of hard, hard work!

Visualizing our own future can, and does, serve us well if we set our minds on things that are good for us. Looking into the future can even keep us alive. I’ll never forget the near tragic story of the plane crash in the Andes and that hero of a guy by the name Nando Parado. He not only saved himself, he also saved many others by keeping his mind focused on the future.

The book Survive details how, after the crash in the snow-covered Andes, with practically no provisions, these surviving athletes were able to stay alive for 2 months. This was accomplished largely through the efforts of Nando who had the ability to visualize the future, and even finally walked and crawled for many, many miles over the frozen ground and steep hills and mountains to finally reach civilization and save his team mates. He was able to do this almost impossible task because he didn’t stop visualizing the future, even when the future was only a few yards away such as his next rock, snowbank or hunk of ice that he had made his next goal on the way to save himself and the others.

Future thinking and visualization really can save your life as well as totally enhance every part of the life that you choose.

Forgiving Ourselves

June 8, 2018 by  
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How do you and I feel when we set our sights and goals very high only to fall short of those objectives?  If you are like me, it’s very easy to get down on yourself and beat yourself up and that can set you back a few miles mentally, making you feel terrible or pretty much worthless.  This can happen to anyone, even the very rich and very famous, as we have sadly seen with a number of super-rich and famous people that have taken their own lives.

I grew up in a culture that pounded into my head the bible scripture of Matthew 5:48 which says “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Quite frankly, I think that did me more harm than good, because as a young boy, I tried and tried but couldn’t seem to be “perfect” in anything at all. I would look around at other people and saw many that seemed to have a perfect life.  Little did I know then that pretty much no one on the planet has had a perfect life. If a person spends too much time and effort trying to become perfect, it can absolutely ruin them. Quite frankly, I think that scripture passage has been the cause of more than a few suicides.

We certainly don’t want to stop trying to reach our lofty goals and become better and better at whatever we choose to do, but we also must learn and practice forgiving ourselves.  It’s kind of strange to me that sometimes it seems easier to forgive someone else when they screw up but much harder to forgive ourselves. I totally agree with John M. Grohol Psy.D. when he wrote his “5 Ways of Letting Go of the Past”

  1. Make a decision to let it go.
  2. Express your pain and your responsibility.
  3. Stop being a victim and blaming others.
  4. Focus on the present, the here and now, and joy.
  5. Forgive them and forgive yourself.

Then there is some super wise advice from a great writer by the name of a Noah St. John. It’s from his book called The Book of AFFORMATIONS®, regarding a program he calls “Permission to Succeed”:

  1. Admit your past mistakes.
  2. Realize you did the best you could do at the time.
  3. Take actions to make sure you don’t repeat those mistakes.

Our brains also play a big a part in our success and failure, as Noah notes in another book of his, Get Rid of Your Head Trash: How to Avoid 3 Big Money Mistakes Even Smart People Make.  I love this title because it really says it all.

In Noah’s book The Secret Code of Success, he maintains that we all need to let up on ourselves and give ourselves breaks and take time to enjoy and celebrate the self. You need to let go of the past when it’s hurting you and accept the present. He states that the key to letting go of the past – and I’d say even if it’s the past of 5 minutes – is to forgive yourself and others that may have mistreated you. That’s great advice that works to make our lives so much better, more successful, and more productive. Perhaps we don’t have not perfect lives, but they can be pretty darn good ones with so much less stress!

 

The Possible

May 11, 2018 by  
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A few weeks ago, I was at a book signing party by the great basketball legend and good friend, Mark Eaton (who holds the NBA record for the most blocked shots), when I met an incredible man, Jeff Griffin. He was in a wheelchair, the result of a terrible fall he had while painting a barn many years back. But, wow, what a guy. We have since become very good friends. I told him I wanted to feature him in my next blog post and so, in turn, he wrote this:

I met Mark O. at a Mark Eaton event some time ago. His energy and excitement about life, as you all know, is contagious and palpable. Our first encounter was of mutual respect. We sized each other up and quickly knew that we were both cut from the same mold; his being a little more expensive than mine! I consider Mark to be a giant among men and am fortunate enough to call him my friend.

Mark has graciously asked me to share a few words about my journey. I hope you read this post through the lens of how you might be, or were, able to amplify the power and potential within your own life because this story is more about YOU and your life-altering experience than it is about mine!

My dream and my desire are to be a Sherpa of sorts, to move and motivate 1 million people to slay their own demons of doubt and fear, the ones that paralyze them from solving the possible!

My mother named me Jeffrey, but my friends call me Griff. I’m currently in a wheelchair, but not forever! I’ve always dreamed of playing sports on the ‘big stage’! As a kid I envisioned playing college football as a receiver. I played two downs and tasted the sweetness of success and was one-step closer to fulfilling my dream when a construction accident left me broken and paralyzed from the waist down. I was given a life-sentence and was confined to a wheelchair. I was told I would never move my legs, let alone ever walk again. I was devastated but not defeated! Although my back was broken, I could not allow this to shatter my childhood dream.

I’ve learned for myself that pain hurts in any form. Whether it is personal or business; pain still hurts. While the difficult takes time, the impossible takes a little longer. The key is to overcome the pain, which paralyzes us, and slay the demons of doubt and fear one step at a time. It will be difficult but with courage and faith, the impossible will become POSSIBLE!

During those dark days I had a decision to make: I could stay down and quit or get back up and succeed. I chose the latter. “I’m going to walk again someday!” I declared out loud. Until then I’m going to live life to the fullest. As an ordinary man living life from a wheelchair, I’ve accomplished some extraordinary things. I played in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, and am a silver medalist for the USA men’s wheelchair basketball team. I’m also a national champion and a four-time All-Star MVP who played for the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz.

“Jeff is one of my best friends and heroes. Not because of what he went through but because of what went through him that created such resolve and determination.” – Mike Schlappi, Four-time Paralympian gold medalist and motivational speaker.

I play a little tennis and, for a short period, was the number one men’s wheelchair tennis player in the state of Utah. Five years after my accident I won the St. George Marathon – on my first attempt. You will find my name in the Guinness Book of World Records with two world records. I’ve written an award-winning book, I’Mpossible: Desire. Dream. Do., which I consider one of my greatest accomplishments since I got a D- in English and was told that I would never be able to write a coherent sentence. As a part of me giving back, I’d like to offer you a coupon code ‘love’ to get $20 off my book. https://goo.gl/5qyxfD Just cover the S&H!

I believe everyone has the power and potential to accomplish the impossible if they are willing and want 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.

What a fascinating guy Jeff Griffin is and what great words of wisdom he has to offer. There will be more coming from Jeff in my next week’s blog.

The Blessing of Time

May 4, 2018 by  
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Time seems to move faster and faster as we age, but I must admit that sometimes the passage of time can be a real blessing. 32 years ago, this week, I was hit in the face and heart with the biggest, most shocking tragedy of my entire life. It took years to recover from the overwhelming pain, but those passing years became a huge healing and soothing help.

It was on May 2nd, 1986 that my 16-year-old daughter, Kristin, died. The photo here is of Kristin and her brother on the way back from her last trip to Hawaii. Losing a child must be the biggest tragedy one might have to endure in this life. But what I have discovered is that the passing of time really helps and allows a person to deal with the death of a loved one. It’s true that you really never get over it but time diminishes the pain so you can heal and eventually deal with the tragedy.

It’s so ironic that on March 30, 1986, just 33 days before my beautiful Kristin died, I wrote the following in my journal:

“Big, bright fun, changes and growth. What a difference a few years can make. Life seems so sweet now, so full. I’m so content. I don’t see how life could be any better. With my kids and friends and I guess even my age – I am almost 42 – it all makes life pleasant and full. Spent a fabulous month in Hawaii with all of my kids – super times!! Life doesn’t get any better than this. Life is all it ought to be. If this is how the decade of the 40’s is going to be, then I love it. No wonder they say life begins at 40, mine sure did. I’m beginning to look forward to the next 40 years – that’s 14,600 days. This journal now covers 22 years. Big changes in my thinking and perception of life’s meaning. I wonder what the next 22 years will bring as far as changes.”

My very next entry in my journal was quite different: “Not in my wildest imagination could I have ever dreamed that the biggest tragedy of my life would occur just 33 days after this entry.”

My heart continued to bleed for 4 and half years before I pulled myself out of the deep well of depression and self-pity. Those years helped a ton and helped me to finally realize that I needed to move on with my life. I needed to help and pay attention to my kids and loved ones and see how I could help others who have been faced with great tragedies. The bottom line is, time can be a great teacher of some of the biggest lessons of life! We just have to get up and pay attention.

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