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Missing the Small Things

January 17, 2021 by  
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So, this past week, I got a little bit of a taste of what it might be like to be in prison. Now, this is only a 10 day sentence and I got to share my “cell” with my wife Kimberly, so it wasn’t all that bad. It did, however, give me a very small taste of what it would feel like to be locked up.

Okay, I know that sounds dramatic. It really wasn’t all that terrible. But what was this all about? Well, there’s some new (for me) rules in place if you travel to Hawaii right now thanks to COVID. When you arrive from outside the islands, you have to spend 10 days in quarantine. Luckily, you can at least spend those 10 days in your house or condo.

The hard part is, for those 10 days you cannot leave your property. The penalty, if you do leave your place and get caught, is a $5,000 dollar fine plus one year in jail. Ouch! That seems severe but, then again, so is COVID-19.

We humans really don’t totally appreciate all that we have and how we live our lives but can’t do until it’s taken away. On the other hand, this time locked up has given my wife and I lots of time to think, read, and even doing a little bit of writing. Plus, we now have tons of time to talk to each other. Still, after 8 days of this, I am going a bit stir crazy.

You would think, with tons of time on my hands, that I could do lots of planning. I do keep thinking about that and yet, to be quite honest, I have not done much planning at all. We humans get so used to our schedules and habits that when they get disrupted, it can make your mind go in all kinds of different directions. It sure has done that for me.

It’s one more thing that you don’t realize you depend on until it’s not there. It’s crazy that now, with all this time on my hands, time I might have really wished for when I was super busy, I just really want my old schedule and routine back.

It is the small things or the everyday things that you start to really miss when you can’t have them anymore. I guess I’ll be ok but I do really look forward to next week. At least, I imagine, I will really appreciate my routine and the many other small things I took for granted every day. A new appreciation for the old and ordinary things may be one of the real silver linings of this time in lock down.

Get Past the Depression

January 10, 2021 by  
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The news this week, and through much of this past year, has been terribly sad and is sometimes almost too hard to process. There is been a lot of news about depression and how much more of it there is right now. It’s understandable. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject with thoughts from past posts. Because although depression may be hard to avoid in times like these, it can be minimized and only fleeting if you are vigilant.

First of all, we need to deal with our disappointment and the restrictions this pandemic has put on our lives. Our advanced technologies have led us to habitually expect that we can access our wishes immediately. Super-fast internet, instant downloads, and multi-functional cell phones give us the ability to have some level of access to whatever or whomever we want whenever we want. But life, in general, doesn’t work that way. As a result, we are experiencing tremendous frustration and impatience with a world that is not changing quickly and fulfilling our needs and wishes immediately. This can ultimately lead to depression or anger.

In my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I touch upon some of the depressive episodes I have been through and some of the ways I have dealt with them. I also think Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, has hit upon the true source and the most effective ideas to combat depression as well as other mood disorders.

The first few ideas on his list are some of the most important, at least in my experience. They deal with becoming a watcher of one’s thoughts and redirecting the mind when we start to buy into the idea of being a depressed person:

  • Learn to recognize how your mind labels thoughts and sits in judgment so you know what ideas lie at the source of your pain.
  • Accept whatever the present moment contains as if you had chosen it.
  • The pain or depression wants you to unconsciously identify with it, allowing it to survive in your mind. If you are not a careful watcher of your thoughts then you may come to believe that you are a depressed person and then this becomes your identity.

Letting your mind create this depression identity will make it very difficult to get past the dark feelings and the pain because you will then believe this is who you are. But if you start with these first few ideas of Tolle’s, recognizing how your mind is working and seeing the present moment as something under your control, you can avoid the mindset that makes you think of yourself as a depressed person.

These ideas are true for any issues of mood. I choose to talk about them in terms of depression because that has been a difficult battle of mine. However, if you are dealing with anger, guilt, low self-esteem, fear, etc. watching your thoughts and taking control can help you with all types of painful moods and attitudes.

So, if you are depressed, don’t just live with it. Find its source, accept that it exists, and then aim to let it go. Give yourself goals and make plans you can look forward to. Eat healthy and whole foods as refined and sugary foods have been shown to feed depression. Get out and move and boost that serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

You may also want to turn off the TV, stop reading those dramatic headlines, and unsubscribe from all those pessimistic reports. Instead, read up on all the great success stories you can find on-line and in responsible and inspiring periodicals. You can, literally, change your mood by changing your view of the world as well as your mindset.

 

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!

Renewing the Power of Positive Thinking

November 22, 2020 by  
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Some time ago, I picked up an old book from1987 called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. In it she talks about a physical demonstration that she does at some of her seminars that I found very impressive. It shows just how powerful our thoughts can be.

What she did was get a volunteer out of her audience and have them hold their arms straight out to the side. She would tell the volunteer to resist with all their strength as she attempted to push down on their arms. In the book she notes that she has not once been able to push down a volunteer’s arms on the initial try.

Then she would then tell the volunteer to say, ten times, “I am a weak and unworthy person,” instructing them to really feel the statement as they say it. After they did that, she would try to push down their arms again and, this time, she would be able to push both arms down.

To further drive home her point, she would ask the person to repeat, ten times, the positive statement, “I am a strong and worthy person.” This time she would not be able to budge their arms, maybe even less so than during the initial effort she made when they first stood up.

I took this to heart and, just before heading out to play in a round robin tennis tourney, I repeated to myself, many times over (even though I felt kind of childish doing it), ”I am a very strong tennis player and I am very worthy of winning.” I also repeated, “I am younger and more fit now than I was a year ago.” Wow, did that ever work! I played 4 rounds of tennis winning each round by a very wide margin!

Even though most of what Jeffers had to say was stuff I already knew, I was just not doing it anymore. It was like a rebirth doing it again and, wow, did it feel good. And here I am, many years later, needing the reminder again.

We can all use a little helpful nudge to get us back on track now and again. So, this week, I’ve been thinking about that and about the statements I could say to help increase my performance in everything I’m doing.

The power of positive thinking is pretty amazing. Especially when you remember to use it! What kind of positive statements could you use in your life? Come up with a few, use them, and see if it doesn’t make a world of difference.

Powerful Positive Self-Talk

August 2, 2020 by  
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Covid-19 and a concussion are both terrible, but there are certainly things that can be done to survive them. With my concussion, I was thinking all the wrong, negative thoughts, then I realized how stupid that was, especially since I’ve written and preached for a long time about how powerful your mind can be. The mind can cure you and help you heal very fast. The key to this is what you are thinking and what you are saying to yourself – your self-talk. When I realized that all my self-talk was negative and changed it to positive self-talk, it made a big difference. My dizziness and vertigo have been getting better every day since.

I’m not saying that if you have the virus that you can totally cure it by positive thinking, but I do believe that if you have the right positive self-talk, your brain can help lessen the chance of you dying from it.  There’s been many studies that prove that point by the placebo effect. There are even studies and evidence that having the right mindset and self-talk can help cure cancer and heart disease.

In a great little book by Elaine St. James called, Inner Simplicity100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul, the author says “Hand in hand with affirmations go visualizations. In addition to verbalizing to yourself, both silently and out loud, the inner qualities you want to develop, creating a powerful mental image that projects how you want your life to be, focuses your attention on that outcome and helps bring it into your life.”

St. James goes on to say, “Numerous studies in recent years have shown how effective visualization can be for healing, personal growth, and empowerment. Life affirmations and visualizations are just as potent for our spiritual journey.”

I know these things work because they have worked for me in the past and are working now, helping my brain get back to normal. That’s rather incredible and funny at the same time, knowing that the brain can help heal the brain. Self-talk is so powerful and wonderful we all need to use it every day for better health, better relationships, our business, and many, many other parts of our lives that we want to improve.

So, if you want to make 10 million dollars, your self-talk should not just be, “That’s my plan.” It would be much better to say, “I’m in the process of making 10 million dollars.” And then keep saying that!

 

The Influence of Self-Talk

July 12, 2020 by  
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We all do it – some of it is very good and some is very negative. I’m talking about all of our self-talk. The good news, as you already know, is that you can somewhat control whether your self-talk is helping or hurting you. And that, my dear followers, is all about your brain and what you choose to let dominate and rule. Sadly, most often, self-talk is negative. It’s hurting you and keeping you from reaching your full potential.

Self -talk should say:

  1. This is something I can do.
  2. I’m so looking forward to this.
  3. I can do this very well.
  4. This is going to make me what I want to be and get me where I want to be.

But self-talk can say:

  1. I can’t do this.
  2. I’m not good enough.
  3. I’m not going to be able to pull this off.
  4. Why do things always happen like this?
  5. I’m afraid I will fail.

As Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right!”

Think about this when playing golf. If you think you will hit the ball into the water, you probably will. The body follows the mind. It listens to the self-talk. It believes you. The body says, “Your wish is my command.”

I’ll never forget my self-talk as I was playing in this one tennis tournament. I got to a crucial point where I knew that I could not afford to double-fault. As I hit the net on my first serve, my self-chatter was very negative and said, “Wow, I just can’t double fault here.” Ouch!

What a negative thought and message I sent to my muscles. My mind probably only heard the word “double fault” and that’s exactly what I did. My second serve went long—I pretty much did exactly what I programmed my mind to do. My wish was the body’s command.

The point I’m trying to make is that life is lived mainly inside your head, so you’ve got to know what’s in your mind and how your mind works and the great influence of self-talk!

We all need to understand how the mind works and that you can control the self-talk and the self-chatter. You need to know how to direct the self-talk that’s hurting you and your life and keeping you from your full potential.

I learned a great lesson from that tennis double fault. From the terrible loss that day, I went on to win 4 gold medals at the Huntsman Senior games held each year in southern Utah. Before every match I would have some very positive self-talk with myself, saying things like, “Mark, you have a great serve and a super topspin forehand and a great underspin backhand and you will win this match today!” And yes, I did.

The bottom line is, we all need to practice controlling our self-talk and make it very positive. It’s pretty much all between your ears and mind. Sure, sometimes we will lose but if you are using a ton of positive self-talk, you will find yourself a winner in many, many situations – in sports, business, and relationships. Try it and you will see.

Pushing Out the Negative

June 28, 2020 by  
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This darn pandemic is certainly creating a lot of problems, challenges, and tons of stress. For me, it’s not just the boredom, although I do miss my social life, but rather it’s the stress that has been getting to me. It has done some strange things to my sleep.

Of course, some of it is due to my age, as most of us have more trouble sleeping as we get older. On some nights, I am only able to sleep for 2 or 3 hours. Ugh! But other nights are normal. So, a couple days ago I spotted a book by Sasha Stephens titled The Effortless Sleep Method. The book is beginning to be of great help, mostly because of my change in thinking.

One section of the book jumped out at me – “The Two Negative Principles of the Mind”. Stephens said, “It is strange but true that most human beings tend to focus chronically on what they do not want. It can be difficult to spot this tendency in yourself, especially if you do not consider yourself to be a particularly negative person. But just try observing yourself for a few days. See how much of your thinking time is spent focused on what is wrong with your life. Then notice how little time you spend even noticing the good things, let alone celebrating them.” Sasha goes on to say, “If, for example, they had one bad night’s sleep along with three or four good ones, most insomniacs would focus on the one bad night. Not only does this give an inaccurate and exaggerated picture of the problem, it can actually worsen it.”

As I write this, I have just realized that by my talking to my wife about my terrible sleep and now writing about it, what I am doing could make my sleep problems worse because I am emphasizing the negative. So, I guess I will take that risk and maybe what I am writing can help others, not just with sleep problems but addressing other challenges and changing your thinking so you spend more time on the positive stuff.

I find that to spend more time on the positive things of my life and to ignore the negative, it helps to write down specific goals that I want to reach. It makes is much easier to keep my brain thinking on the positive side.  Let me give you a list of questions that I have asked myself over the years. They help me come up with specifics which helps me be more positive.

  • Do I want to substantially raise my level of contentment and fulfillment?
  • Do I want to become a better person?
  • Do I want to be known as a person of great accomplishment?
  • Do I want to be in great physical and mental shape with ideal health my entire life?
  • Do I want to live a very long, active life?
  • Do I want to make a fortune – a million dollars, $10 million, or even 100 million dollars? (Just think of the great good you could do with that money.)
  • Do I want the greater choices and possibilities in my life that making my own fortune would give me?
  • Do I want to leave the world a better place than I found it?
  • Do I want to be a big help to others as I help myself?
  • Do I want to travel and experience the entire world and its cultures? (I will continue this one when the pandemic has let up–I’ve already visited 92 different countries!)

May I strongly suggest that you make up your own list. I think if you do you will be pleased with how it helps your life.

A Titanic Lesson

June 14, 2020 by  
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My wonderful wife, Kimberly, talked me into watching the classic movie Titanic recently. Even though I saw the movie several times years ago, it really to me this time. Watching it was a real upper! Now when I experience problems, challenges, or a mood drop, I think about the people on board the Titanic.

How, and why, did the movie affect my brain in that way? When I think of the panic, pain, fear, and death that those aboard that ship faced, I really feel so fortunate and blessed to live in this time and in our super great country. I’ve been in many very, very poor counties that have huge poverty, pain, and suffering. Years ago, I visited India and later did an African safari. I saw so many very skinny kids begging for food in those two countries. It is so sad but, again, those trips made me feel so lucky. These things really do put my life in perspective.

Even though the $7.5 million Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable, on that April day in 1912, as most everyone knows, it hit a huge iceberg at about 27 miles an hour and, in just 2 hours and 40 minutes, it sank. It was designed to have life boats enough to carry 3547 people and there were only 2220 passengers aboard on that maiden voyage but, sadly, for reasons of aesthetics, the owners only put in enough life boats to carry 1178 and virtually each boat was loaded quickly and far below its total capacity. The pandemonium brought out the worst cowardice in many people and extraordinary bravery in others. There were only 705 survivors. More than 1500 people died.

Even with all the panic and fear, the crew tried hard to let the women and children get in the lifeboats first, but many times that didn’t happen as people pushed and shoved to get on the boats. Some guys used their bigger bodies to force their way through so they could jump on the boats. They also boarded more first-class passengers than any other class. The very first lifeboat had a capacity of 65 but it pulled away from the big, beautiful ship with only 28 people aboard. I have to wonder how brave and calm I might have been if I was there.

So much of our lives are lived in our brains. That makes it so very important for all of us to realize how and what we are thinking. When we are thinking negative thoughts, we really do have the power to redirect our brains to think about what is better for us in our lives. So, remember to appreciate what we have which, for the most part, is probably very good, and direct our brains to think positive and motivating  good thoughts to make the most out of all this good stuff we have.

Better Through Thought

May 17, 2020 by  
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For many years I’ve complained about my lack of flexibility. It’s very hard for me to reach down and pick something off the floor.  I’ve said to myself and my wife “I really don’t have good flexibility.”

I’m reading a book now called The Secret. It has been very interesting and potentially very helpful. The author, Rhonda Byrne, states, “Think thoughts of perfection. Illness cannot exist in the body that has harmonious thoughts.” Then she goes on to say, “I think perfect thoughts. I see only perfection. I am perfection. I banished every bit of stiffness and lack of agility right out of my body. I focused on seeing my body as flexible and as perfect as a child’s and every stiff and aching joint vanished. I literally did that overnight.”

She quotes Dr. John Hagelin, a quantum physicist and public policy expert as saying, “Our body is really the product of our thoughts. We’re beginning to understand in medical science the degree to which the nature of thoughts and emotions actually determines the physical substance and structure and function of our bodies.”

So, we can really see that our brains and our self-talk are very powerful and can help us heal ourselves and can help our lives in so many ways.  Dr. John Demartini, a human behavior specialist, speaker, and author adds that, “We’ve known in the healing arts of a placebo effect. A placebo is something that supposedly has no impact and no effect on the body, like a sugar pill. You tell the patient that this is just as effective, and what happens is the placebo sometimes has the same effect, if not greater effect, than the medication that is supposed to be designed for that effect. The have found out that the human mind is the biggest factor in the healing arts, sometimes more so than the medication.” He goes on to say, “that love and gratitude will dissolve all negativity in our lives, no matter what form it has taken.”

Reading all this has helped me change my self-talk about my flexibility and I’ve started making a gratitude list. In my thoughts I’m saying, “I am so thankful for my slow heart rate, thankful for my great health, thankful for my great energy, both physical and mental, that has really improved my life. I am grateful that I am becoming more flexible.” 

I think back over my life and I’ve said for years that I am really quite good with numbers and with words. I realize now that the more I said that the better I became with numbers and words and those two attributes ended up being the key for me to make a fortune. So, I would encourage you to take a close look at yourself and get your brain busy strengthening your mindset about those things in your life that will enhance your life and everything you do. 

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!

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