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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!

Stir Yourself Up Instead of Going Stir Crazy

April 26, 2020 by  
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Wow. Now, after several weeks, we are still in lock down mode, but that doesn’t have to force us into a mental lock down too. Use this time to look at your world and your relationships in a new way.

The virus has undoubtedly brought my wife and I closer and has pushed my mind to see and think much more about details of so many things. For example, the other day, Kimberly said “Hey, let’s take a drive and look at all the beautiful blossoms that are out now.” Before the pandemic, I would have said, “Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sound like fun to me.”  But with what’s going on, I said, “Okay, let’s go.” Well, when I paid major attention to all the absolutely gorgeous and beautiful blossoms, I was so very impressed, and that drive lifted my mood. It was such a simple thing, but it did us so much good. Thank you, mister virus.

Talk about me noticing details now! Walking down my long driveway to pick up the newspaper I saw a little rock and noticed what looked like a face. How cool. By the way, walking to get my paper always starts my daily walking goal and I usually hit my goal of 20,000 steps a day, even in times like these.

Kimberly is spending hours and hours doing what she loves to do – making beautiful beaded necklaces and other jewelry. We have also found ourselves playing pool and shuffleboard and having a great time doing so many little simple things that we almost never do.

And, hey, remember that now is a great time to reach out to friends and family. My wife Kimberly has reached out to her family and had many long conversations on the phone with her father and friends. Even if you can’t physically hug your friends and family, you certainly can send a virtual hug on the phone.

I even found myself reaching out to friends from 60 years ago. I wanted to talk to my basketball buddy Richard Harvey. We were on the winning team that took first place in an American high school tournament in Rome, Italy back in the day.  I got a hold of his son Kyle who gave me Richard’s phone number in Ohio. I had a great conversation and did that virtual hugging thing. Then, the very next day an old friend of mine, Russ Whitney, called me. He read my first book back when he was a meat cutter in New York and now gives me a lot of credit for his huge success in life. He’s now having 1,000 apartment units built in Florida.

So, it turns out that we don’t have to put up with those feelings that we are going stir crazy.  We can turn this shutdown situation into a really good thing for us and our friends and family. It’s so amazing to me that I began noticing and paying attention to so many details, even simple things around the house, such as pictures and decorations that I have always just skipped over. And now I have that super little rock with the face to remind me to pay attention to the details too.

 

Direct Your Brain

April 12, 2020 by  
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Now, maybe more than ever, it’s so good for all of us that are home bound because of the virus, to live in the present or the “great right now”. There is a very thoughtful, but short and simple poem from John Greenleaf Whittier that makes a very good point:

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here

Our human minds can do so many great things, but the brain can also do some major damage. We do have a choice, right now, to use our heads to keep us going and in good shape physically and mentally. I’ve seen in the news what I expected and that is a rise in the number of suicides. In addition, unfortunately, the instances of spousal and domestic abuse cases have jumped as well. These people are obviously having difficulties using their brain in a good way.

I did, however, laugh out loud when I read this morning about a guy in England that ran a marathon in his back yard—a very small yard too. That was a lot of circles-especially since his yard was only 20 feet wide. His name is James Campbell and he set his mind to do the huge run to raise money to help fight the coronavirus. I’m sure that thinking about helping other people gave his brain good, positive thoughts which raised his energy level. It’s been proven that your brain really can give you energy.

So now, in these tough days, most of us, being stuck in the house, have plenty of time to plan and set goals for when this is over. Hey, how about doing some detail planning of an exotic trip to Rome or Paris or, if your budget can’t handle that, how about a camping trip and hike in the mountains or even in a nearby open space or campground?

If you have lost some of your passion for life being locked up in your house, you can focus on reviving and getting your passion for living back. First of all, don’t let your brain think about all the stuff you can’t do right now or how you can’t have face to face conversations with friends, co-workers or even some family members. We do all know our social lives are quite important, but our brains can help us out here. Our brain can be our best friend or worst foe and we really can direct our brain to be the way we want it to be.

Ernie J. Zelinski says in his book, The Joy of Not Working, “Fully alive individuals experience the here and now … the more we focus on the past and the future the more we miss the right now. Sadly, we miss most of life’s precious moments because we are so preoccupied with the past and the future.” So, in times like we have right now, we need to use that great brain to think in your present moment. Or, as the author also says, “Being in the now is crucial for living happily, because the present moment is all that you really have.”

If you missed my last week’s post, I would suggest you go back and read my list of the 9 items that are helping me through these stressful times. Plus, I would strongly suggest that you work up your own list to keep your mind and body connected. It will help you lift your spirits and your life.

Your Routine Replacement List

April 5, 2020 by  
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All I can start with on this week’s blogs is just … Wow. Double Wow.

In my 75 years of life I have never ever seen anything like this COVID-19. It’s certainly changing the world right now and undoubtedly will continue to do so into the near future. But what is a normal person going to do without going absolutely stir crazy until it leads to big time depression?

When all of a sudden you are confined to your house without your normal routine, that can mean big trouble. Routine can really be a good thing, even a simple routine like going to work every day. You really don’t think or fret about that routine because you just do it and it feels fine. But you take that routine away that you have at your office or place of business or your active social life and, ouch, that can be a game changer.

I like what author James Wallman said about time, especially leisure time. He said, “Leisure doesn’t improve the quality of life unless one knows how to use it effectively.” The first time I got hit without a routine that about drove me crazy was when I retired and found myself at home without any routine and seemingly nothing to do. I did discover how to overcome that huge dilemma and, now, with this huge virus thing going on, I thought that I could share what we can all do to survive, and even thrive.

I think I will call it the anti-stir-crazy list. “List” is the key word. If we just take time to begin working on a list and making those items on the list our new routine it can, and will, enhance your life.

Here’s some of to do thing on my list as an example:

  1. Set a specific timeline and schedule to exercise every day. I’m talking, lots of walking, hiking in the hills, lifting weights, stretching, push-ups and pull-ups, etc.
  2. Take time to get super organized. There are so many things that have just been postponed that I can easily spend time doing what should have been done before
  3. Seek out and find some good books to read, both fiction and self-help.
  4. Begin and make an outline for a new book that could be written.
  5. Call, text, and/or email old friends and new ones.
  6. Make a list and an outline of what could be accomplished with my life in the next 5 or 10 years.
  7. Be more attentive and playful with kids and grandkids.
  8. Begin making a list of people or charities that I can help.
  9. Begin to learn a foreign language–download Duolingo or Rosetta Stone that makes it easy and fast.

When making this list, keep in mind these questions: What do I enjoy doing the most? Is there anything I am not adding to the list because of negative self-talk? What gives me a great sense of purpose? And don’t neglect to write the list down. If you write your goals and to-do list down you are much more likely to follow through and do those things.

I hope these ideas are helpful and might push you to work on some things to better yourself and your life as well as add to the list of what motivates you and things you like to do.

By the way, when I wrote item no. 4, I thought through my book writing and was somewhat in awe that I’ve actually written 9 books! I would have never ever guessed, those many years ago when I was a construction worker, that I would ever write even one book!  So, my advice is to push yourself to make and live by your own list. You could even brainstorm with friends or family to come up with a bigger and better list!

 

Keep Your Brain Busy

March 22, 2020 by  
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Now may be the best time in your life to focus on your brain in a way that it won’t get trampled by the news and all that’s going on in the world. Yes, I’m talking about the coronavirus and the huge damage that it’s doing. It really is a game changer and can be so horrible for many people mostly because of how they use their brain in a time like this.

The human brain can be the most incredible part of your body, but it also can be a huge downer for your happiness and mental stability if you do nothing but worry.  Yes, the virus is a very bad thing and, wow, just look at what it is doing to our economy, not to mention that huge fear factor around whether one might get the virus. That’s bad stuff, but if you use your brain in the right way and keep it busy you can avoid some of the really bad stuff that’s happening.

Just don’t forget that you will most likely not get the virus, even though worldwide many people have, but the percentages are on your side, especially if you are careful and do all the things that reduce your odds of catching it. It’s true that you and I can’t stop the spread of the virus or the fear gripping so many people, but we can take steps to make this huge event less traumatic so that when it’s all over, we can look back at and give ourselves a pat on the back and congratulate ourselves for what we, and our brain, just did.

I can see a lot of good as well as some very bad things coming from this dangerous situation.  Since most everything is closed, I can easily see how many people can become almost bored to death and might be going crazy since they think they don’t have anything to do. They’ve lost their routine, are not going to work and being productive, and are not having their usual social interactions with others. However, with some thought and effort you can come up with projects and things to do that are helpful to yourself and others.

I mean, in the lockdown situation many of us are experiencing, you could read a bunch of books, do some writing of your own, and, hey, how about some at home exercise. No, you don’t need a gym to run when you can run around the neighborhood. Push-ups, sit-ups, and at least some weightlifting can be done at home. You could come out of this disaster looking like Rocky Balboa if you really want to. You could also have a book written and ready to sell and could even set yourself up to give your own seminars since you would have plenty of time to prepare a great presentation.

Think about the many positive things that you can do to help yourself, your friends, and your relatives, things that will also keep you and your mind busy and productive.

P.S. We here in Salt Lake City got a double dose of bad stuff. My wife and I were suddenly shaken from our sleep by a powerful earthquake that shook our house so bad I thought it might fall down on us. It was 5.7 on the Richter scale, but we did survive and mentally and physically we plan to thrive.

 

Success is Measured by Obstacles

March 15, 2020 by  
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The famous Booker T. Washington once said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”  Darcy Andries, author of The Secret of Success is Not a Secret, certainly underscores that comment in terms of the obstacles that have often proceeded the rise of so very many famous and successful people. Her book lists more than 250 super successful people who persevered through huge setbacks and failures to become big-time successes.

Take Rowland Hussey Macy, who tried and failed many times before he found success. He tried to start and operate a needle and thread store in Boston, and later a store that sold European-made dry goods. He failed both times. Then, after an unsuccessful store in Marysville, California, opened with his brother during the 1849 goldrush, he returned to the East Coast to open another dry goods store in a town north of Boston, an endeavor that eventually forced him into bankruptcy. He then moved to New York City and opened yet another store which ended disastrously when it was robbed and then burned down. Ugh.

Most people, I think, would have given up at that point but not Rowland Macy. He rebuilt, opening a little fancy dry goods store at 14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City, north of the city’s other dry goods stores, called R. H. Macy & Co. After initial encouraging sales, he expanded, eventually occupying 11 adjacent buildings, each selling different categories of merchandise and effectively launching what we now call a department store.

By the 1870’s Macy’s store was averaging more than $1 million in annual sales and it has grown ever since. Now known simply as Macy’s, would you believe that little shop has grown into more than 850 stores and has gross sales in the double-digit billions?

I don’t know about you or your significant other, but my wife certainly helps Macy’s stay in business and thrive. I don’t know whether to thank Rowland Macy or complain! Unfortunately, I can’t do either since he checked out of life in 1877 at the young age of 55. But I’ve got to hand it to him – with all those setbacks spanning a period of nearly 14 years, he kept at it anyways and, I think most people would admit, he did okay for himself in the end.

 

Never Giving Up

March 8, 2020 by  
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Last week I talked about the fact that there is really no big secret to big success. In the beginning of the great book by Darcy Andries, The Secret to Success, she quotes a very smart and very successful man, Colin Powell. He said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Then Darcy made the wise comment that “You can learn a lot from failure, but that requires you to continue moving forward despite having failed.”

As promised, I want to share with you some of the setbacks and failures of a few famous people who never would give up and who eventually were very, very successful. I want to start with the great basketball player Bob Cousy, who was my hero when I was a young man playing in a great basketball tournament in the Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy.  I wanted so badly to be like Bob Cousy and play professional basketball. We won the Rome tournament and I got a basketball scholarship to Utah State University but that’s as far as I got. No pro basketball for me.

I wish I had known back then Cousy’s story of all his setbacks, turndowns, and losses.  I really think that if I had read that story back when I was struggling as a University player, I would have doubled down and not given up. I think I would have done more and practiced more and pushed myself to the limits, maybe even seeking out a personal coach. Here is a summary of Cousy’s story.

Bob Cousy didn’t pick up a single basketball until he was 12 years old and although he tried, he was cut from the school team twice back then. He kept practicing and practicing though. Then he slipped and fell and broke his right arm but he still didn’t give up. He just switched to using his left hand to shoot ball. Wow. He was now ambidextrous and became the star player of the team. After high school, he went on to play college and earned an All-American statue 3 times, helping his team win 26 straight games. He turned pro in 1950 and went on to be voted MVP in 1957 and then received many other great honors including induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.

Think about that and what huge determination and perseverance it must have taken for him to stick with his dream. We all have setbacks and losses so the real key or secret to success for almost any goal or venture is to NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! It’s a very wise person who seeks help from others through books and seminars, or pushing super successful people to be your coach, your teacher, and your inspiration.  So, bottom line here is, if you have set big goals and dreams and you haven’t yet been successful yet, rededicate yourself to those dreams and never give up.

Writing Down the Urgent Stuff

February 16, 2020 by  
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Last week I wrote about how important it was to write down your goals, your intentions, your dreams, and your to do lists. Why do that? Because if you do, the odds that you will follow through and complete those tasks and dreams increases big time.

There are many other benefits to writing. If you commit your dreams to paper, or on a document in your computer, for some strange reason, the act of writing your fears and negative thoughts down helps you  deal with those bad thoughts and then you can more easily  overcome them.

So, getting into the habit of not only writing your good dreams and goals down but also those fears and negative feelings we all have, can become a huge asset in your life.

Here’s 17 questions from a list in Ilchi Lee’s wonderful book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers.

  1. What things have I achieved in my life?
  2. When was I most joyful?
  3. When were things most trying?
  4. How did I overcome hardship in those trying moments, and what did I learn through them?
  5. What moments in my life do I regret?
  6. When did I do things that made me feel proud and that I found rewarding?
  7. What momentary choices became opportunities that changed my life?
  8. What values did I try to remain true to throughout my life?
  9. What goals have I had so far?
  10. What motivated me to establish those goals?
  11. Which of my goals have I had so far?
  12. Which of my goals have I achieved?
  13. Which goals have I failed to achieve?
  14. Who has had the greatest impact on my life?
  15. With whom have I shared my gratitude?
  16. With whom do I have emotional issues that I need to resolve?
  17. Which of my habits do I want to keep and develop?

Lee goes on to say, “If possible, write down your thoughts about these questions. Organizing them in writing and not just thinking about them will help you unravel the tangle of thoughts rolling around in your head.”

Like Mr. Lee’s book, Henriette Klauser’s book, Write It down, Make It Happen, makes some of the same points. Klauser likewise emphasizes how absolutely critical it is to get into the habit of writing your goals and dreams down, explaining how, “putting it on paper alerts the part of the brain known as the reticular activating system to join in the play.”

She goes on to explain this mechanism. “At the base of the brain, about the size of a little finger, is a group of cells whose job it is to sort and evaluate incoming data. This control center is known as the reticular activating system (RAS}. The RAS sends the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain and sends the nonurgent to the subconscious. The RAS awakens the brain to consciousness and keeps it alert.”  So, if you write something down, then it becomes the urgent stuff and your brain will keep it accessible to the active part of your mind.

Hope I’m not getting too scientific but knowing all about the RAS and what good it does all of us should be good motivation to keep writing our goals and dreams down. So now we know, when it comes to bad feelings, ideas, or worries, paper is a good place to park those negative mind games.

Habits That Hinder

January 19, 2020 by  
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Wow, how stupid am I or, I guess I should say, what a habit driven man am I?  A few days ago, my wife and I drove our SUV to do a little shopping.  We spent maybe a half an hour at Walmart, walked back to the car, and were surprised to see, when I turned the key, that the car was already running! The SUV is the vehicle that my wife drives, while I have become totally used to driving my Tesla that doesn’t use a key and starts by putting your foot on the brake pedal. When you leave the car, you just walk away, with the electric engine stopping on its own and the car doors locking when you are a few yards away. So, my habit from driving the Tesla was so strong that when I drove our SUV, that habit took over and I didn’t even know it.

Most of the time, when we talk or read about habits, we are usually referring to bad habits.  One interesting and good thing to know, which sadly many people don’t, is that there are methods that can help you change your bad habits and develop good habits. It takes time and you need to consistently stick with the plan or method to make those changes but it can be done.

The most common bad habits make up quite a list. The following is not even close to a complete list of bad habits, but take a look and ask yourself if you suffer from any of these:

  1. Smoking
  2. Heavy alcohol drinking
  3. Watching too much TV
  4. Being on the computer or smart phone too much
  5. Spending too much time playing video games
  6. Eating unhealthy junk food
  7. Eating way too much food
  8. Consuming too much sugar
  9. Eating late night snacks
  10. Not allowing enough time for a full night sleep
  11. Complaining about almost everything
  12. Behavior that leaves you angry, worried or stressed
  13. Overspending your way into debt
  14. Being consistently late
  15. Being rude to others
  16. Road rage
  17. Driving too fast
  18. Losing your temper
  19. Lying
  20. Procrastinating
  21. Always bragging
  22. Being a know it all
  23. Letting fear stop you from doing something new
  24. Spending time with negative friends to bring you down
  25. Being pessimistic
  26. Always interrupting other people
  27. Swearing constantly
  28. Nail biting
  29. Picking your nose
  30. Slouching and poor posture

And, yes, that is just a very short list compared to some of the lists I have seen. So how many, if any, of these bad habits do you have and would like to get rid of? What causes bad habits in the first place and what can you do to drop a bad habit and take on good habits? I will address the answers to those questions in next week’s blog.

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