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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.

Revisiting a Journey

May 24, 2020 by  
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Man oh man! Do we all have so much extra time with this crazy Covid19. I have spent a ton of time going over all my past blogs and reliving some of the stuff I talked about. In fact, I am sending you this one from Oct 14, 2008. I had such a good time back then with good ole Stein Eriksen and even though he has passed on I can still relive all those memories. Of course, that’s the great advantage to writing a blog or writing in your journal on a regular basis.

I hope you enjoy reading about our time in Paris, Switzerland, and Croatia and maybe when this virus thing is over, you will be motivated to take your own trip to Europe or some other exotic place in our beautiful world.

Passion, like life, is about journeys not arriving. Kimberly and I have been planning a trip to Europe for a year. This was a goal of ours. You see, the brain craves the new, the unfamiliar. Living in the moment also stimulates the mind. Of course, it’s easy to live in the moment when you’re in Paris.

Another way is to experience something familiar through someone else’s eyes. We took our good friends Frantoise and Stein Eriksen (who has a Wikipedia page) with us. We’d been to some of the places before, but they came alive again when we showed them. Our brain loves new experiences.

Everywhere we went I asked people what their passion level was. We visited the farm of a cheese maker in Switzerland. We stayed at the Palace Hotel in Gstaad Switzerland which had unbelievable scenery and impeccable service. I got to introduce the Eriksen’s to an Australian tennis champ and we were in Germany for Oktoberfest.

The most exhilarating part of the journey though started with a train ride that had some curve balls. Getting on the train and going from Zurich to Croatia there was no one was there to greet us. We had a tough time finding a cab to make it to the ship. We finally found a cab and arrived an hour late. Luckily, they waited for us.

Once we got onto the ship, we realized it was not like the spacious hotel with great service. It was tight quarters. The bathroom was so small you could hardly change your mind, let alone change a shirt in it. The shower was a spout hooked up to the bathroom sink. You turned it on and sprayed yourself, along with the rest of the room.

The week long ship ride was full of adventure. There were people from all different nationalities speaking different languages. We stopped on islands of all sizes. We bicycled 30-40 kilometers. One island was so small that license plates weren’t necessary – everyone knew everyone else. With only a few hundred people, there were maybe 25 cars.

Then there were high winds – so high that the buses couldn’t run because they might blow over. So, we rented an expensive taxi and headed back to make our flight home – which we barely made.

While we loved the more predictable parts of the trip, our real passion was in the unexpected – the missed rides, the cramped ship, the collage of cultures, and even the storm.

Do your fears prevent you from traveling (literally or figuratively) because you’re afraid to try something new? Sometimes people are so comfortable it scares them to do something different. Yet after they go ahead, they look back and that is what stands out – that’s what they talk about.

Mixing things up, trying the new, seeing something through another’s eyes, being open to adventure …. this is how you create passion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only 380 Hours Till the New Year

December 15, 2019 by  
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So, do you think it’s too early to start on your list of New Year resolutions? I think it is very helpful and more productive to start thinking early about what you plan to do and accomplish in the new year. For me, if I write them down as I think of them, I’m so much more driven to follow through and carry out those resolutions.

So, no, I don’t believe, at all, that it’s too early to begin making your list. It’s only about 2 weeks before the new year comes in! Make you own list based on what you want out of your life in the next year and beyond but here are some ideas.

COMMON RESOLUTIONS

  • Save more money this year.
  • Work on better health, including exercise, diet, weight loss, and drinking lots of water.
  • Travel more! One of my favorites. I usually pick specific places too, places that are unique and exotic, in the USA and overseas.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Spend more time reading and writing.
  • Spend time to organize and do it regularly.
  • Work harder at living in the right now moments.
  • Donate and volunteer for a good cause.
  • Write to yourself and give self-compliments.
  • Set up new and good routines.
  • Meditate on a regular basis.
  • Look for, and make, new friends.
  • Work on having more gratitude for others and your life.
  • Do little acts of kindness on a regular basis.

I try to make resolutions that are realistic, and I usually put a time frame or limit on each goal. That way I am more likely to succeed. It’s always a good idea to take time to review last year’s resolutions and make note of the ones that you followed through on, and the ones you didn’t, and then analyze why you accomplished the successfully completed goals and why you didn’t succeed with others.

REASONS YOU MIGHT FALL SHORT ON RESOLUTIONS

  • Resolutions were way too big or unrealistic.
  • Too much thinking and not enough doing or follow through.
  • Lack of detailed planning and scheduling.
  • Not fully believing in yourself.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by how much you will have to do.
  • Failure to write down your resolutions.
  • Not ready for change.

I hope you agree with me that it’s not too early to start thinking about making note of what your new year’s resolutions are going to be. For me, just writing this blog has got me thinking quite hard about my own new year’s resolutions.

I’m going to repeat myself, but this is important and so very helpful… take time to review last year’s resolutions and try to understand why you succeeded on some and why you fell short on others. Consider what you may be able to do this year to make sure you will have a better success rate in the coming new year.

Novelty and Innovation

September 15, 2019 by  
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I am always so impressed, when I travel to new places, by how it stimulates my brain, especially when those new places are a new country.  Right now, we are in Macedonia and, wow, what a great and different country this is! Tomorrow we are off to Kosovo. That will make 94 countries that I have visited. That’s quite a lot but I don’t think I will make it to all 200 plus countries on earth before I check out of this life, but I will sure enjoy seeing as many new places as I can before my body assumes room temperature.

Seeing new places can produce some very big and new ideas for things like inventions, innovations, etc. As I visit and totally enjoy these new places and people, it makes me more fully realize how virtually all people, regardless of their ethnicity, skin color, and education level, are pretty much the same as far as the majority being friendly, nice, and good! And in every country, there are really creative and innovative people as well. That got me to thinking about how many times people create something by just putting two different things together to come up with a new product or invention.

For example, it wasn’t that many years ago when people hand carried their heavy suitcases as they traveled.  I thought of this as my wife and I packed 3 huge suitcases plus two drag bags for our trip to Europe. Someone not so long ago put two simple things together to create a great and super helpful new invention – just a few wheels attached to the bottom of a suitcase. Wow, that was so simple! Why didn’t you or I come up with that simple invention that has been so great and helpful to all of us globetrotting humans.

If we set our minds to coming up with new products from two or more existing products, we could make a fortune. Take a simple product like a peddle bicycle and attach a battery and, wham, bang, you have come up with a brand-new and popular product. Then the next could have been putting that battery on a scooter and you might have come up with another form of powered transportation such as Lyme and the other brands.

I’ll never forget many years ago thinking what a waste it was to have all those cars parked for days at the airport while people were arriving and renting cars. It made me think of how maybe I could set up a program where you could rent out your car when you left for a trip and then you could rent someone’s car at the airport of your destination. I knew there would be a lot of issues as to insurance and possible damage or theft and putting it together would not be very simple. Then along came UBER and LYFT a few years later, which, although a traveler’s car isn’t in use while they are away, other people’s cars are not just sitting in their driveways but are out helping traveler’s get around and usually for quite a bit less than a Taxi.

Those car services are simple but great innovations that help so many and it just took putting together existing things to make something new and super useful. These things aren’t likely to come about unless your brain is stimulated and exposed to new things. If you keep your mind active and curious with novel things and keep searching for ideas, you could come up with the next simple and super useful innovation!

A Good Type of Scary

May 24, 2019 by  
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I just got back from an incredible trip to Cuba.  We took a beautiful Norwegian cruise ship from Miami to Havana. As I have said, and preached many times before, if you want to excite your brain and body, do something very unique. That is one reason I love to travel, especially to new countries. Cuba is the 92nd country that I have been so fortunate to visit! There are presently 196 countries in the world, so I’ve got a ways to go to visit them all, although I’m pretty sure North Korea will not be one of them.

On this trip, I added one more thing that excites the brain and body. Yes, it is a little risky but it’s not too big a thing and it is totally legal. It’s not like climbing up the side of the Eiffel tower like that guy did recently, almost making it to the very top before he was arrested. That’s taking the concept a bit too far!

But what is legal and unique is petting and feeding sting rays in Cuba. It was a little scary and I guess the “scare part” is what excites the human brain. I may have been more reluctant to hold and feed a big sting ray if I had read more of the details surrounding Australian Steve Irwin, that big time crocodile hunter who was killed by an 8 foot sting ray back in 2006. As you may recall, he was being filmed underwater when he was stabbed in the heart by a sting ray. I’m not into big risks and our time standing in waist deep ocean water, feeling about a dozen or so big sting rays circling my wife Kimberly and I, softly brushing against our legs, was quite safe. Our guides demonstrated exactly what to do and closely monitored us and assured us that it was much safer than it looked.

The short video below is me holding the sting ray. Later, the guides showed us how to feed those huge guys. Yes, my heart and brain were racing as that big creature ate food right out of my hand and didn’t bite me …yay! It was a great experience and an exciting thing to do and It certainly stimulated my brain and body, which is a very good thing as it enhances one’s life.

Visiting a very different country like Cuba is a real turn on and, wow, driving thru the city of Havana, seeing hundreds of old cars from the late 1940’s and 1950’s, was a great sight to see. I had always thought and had the impression that Cuba was quite dangerous, but Kimberly and I were very pleased to find the city to be quite safe and the people were so nice and friendly. If you have a chance to go there, I would highly recommend it. Go do it for your brain and body!

 

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!

Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

The Eve of a New Year List

December 21, 2018 by  
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As you may have noticed, especially if you followed my advice from my blog post about the subject matter a couple months ago, it can be very helpful and profitable to set your daily goals the night before. Sometimes this list making even influences your dreams in a very positive way. You see, by setting your next day’s goals the night before, you will notice that, most of the time, you wake up thinking about those goals and are so much more likely to act on them and make them happen. Of course, I’m talking primarily about your small daily goals or tasks. These are usually the kind of things you expect to, or hope to, accomplish that day. However, this can be applied to bigger goals as well.

Being that we are so very close to the end of the year, it can be, and usually is, the best time to begin to set your big yearly goals for what you are going to do, achieve, accomplish, or earn, in the new year. It is certainly a good time to set your mind on the direction of your new year, and so why not write them down? You would be writing them down at the end of the year rather than at the end of the night but it’s the same kind of list – preparing you to get going on your goals once the new day – or new year – starts.

As you know, when you set those goals and write them down, your brain can, and usually does, take over and persuade, coax, cajole, and even force you to get to work to accomplish those objectives that you have set for yourself. So, take time in the next few days to thoroughly think through what you want 2019 to be for you and what you are going to get done. Include both financial and nonfinancial objectives like helping others, spending more time with family, world travel, etc. Do it! You won’t be sorry!

So, what are my personal goals for my 2019 year? Yes, I have some financial goals, but for me I would like to do more writing and get my autobiography done. Also, on my list is the giving of time and assistance as well as money. I have already started in on this list. Just in the last few weeks I’ve given my time at an elementary school, assisting a 3rd grade teacher and, oh wow, what a great feeling that gives me!

Physically, for my 75th year on this planet, I want to get in, and stay in, super physical shape. I want to look like, act like, and have the energy of a 35-year-old. I know that is not going to be easy, but I do believe it to be possible and, besides, the rewards that I have heard about through other people are fantastic. Those who do aim for super physical fitness, and stick with it, are shown to have a much longer life. And I have to tell you, I do love beating those much younger people on the tennis court, something which happened a lot in 2018 and I plan to repeat in the coming years!

It Starts with a Dream

November 16, 2018 by  
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Almost every super successful person I’ve ever heard of or have met began as a dreamer. Without dreams, very little will happen in any of our lives. But with a dream, great and wonderful things can, and most likely will, happen but only if you add two more things – specifics to make it a goal and action to turn the goal into reality. But the dream has to come first! So, let’s talk about that.

I once heard that 75 percent of our life is lived in our minds. That may not be entirely accurate, but I think you would agree that a fair amount of our lives is lived inside our heads and since our minds do indeed have great power, there must be great potential there.

Think of yourself in Chicago or New York in the middle of a cold winter.  You’re watching TV or reading a magazine and you see an advertisement for a trip to Hawaii. You’re attracted to the idea, and suddenly you start to dream about going to Hawaii for the entire month of February. What happens? You start to live the trip in your mind. You may even start to work it out in detail, planning exactly when you will leave, where you’ll stay, what you’ll do while you are there, and so on.

You think about it so much that you eventually decide that you are absolutely going to go and, if you don’t have the money to make it happen, you begin to plan how you are going to save enough to make the trip. And, of course, all of this is part of you living the trip in your mind long before you go.

When you finally make the trip, you have the great time that you had pre-lived in your mind and on the way home, you relive what’s just happened to you. That reliving of your trip in your mind can go on for weeks, months and even years, renewing your enjoyment of it each time.

Pictures can be a huge influence in helping our brains relive the good stuff in our lives.  Years ago, I bought a bunch of digital frames (they cost all $10-$20) and placed them all around the house. This way I can just insert a memory card from my camera (I use a new card for each trip or special event) and the digital frame will rotate through all the photos, allowing me to easily relive those great moments in my life. You should try it too. It’s a small thing but it can really enhance your life.

Just don’t forget, dreaming is not enough. You must also follow through with goals and action if you want to make it more than just a dream. Next week we’ll talk more just how to do that!

 

Choosing Novelty over Fear

September 21, 2018 by  
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Flying back with my wonderful wife, Kimberly, from Paris yesterday —a 10 hour non-stop to Salt Lake City—a 10 hour non-stop to Salt Lake City – I couldn’t help but reminisce over our super great trip to Sicily and France. In my mind, I relived all the things we did – the wonderful cathedrals, castles and intriguing side streets with the totally unique cafe’s and tasty 3 cheese fondue dips.

I got to thinking just how much travel to foreign counties and different places in the world expands and stimulates a person’s mind, making them more creative and appreciative as well as, sometimes, giving the entrepreneurial mind great ideas for new products and services that they can introduce back in their own country. These ideas can, sometimes, make that entrepreneur a fortune from just duplicating, or even, improving and/or changing that product or service. There are so many discoveries popping up all over the world and those can make a fortune for anyone who is paying attention and willing to work to make that product or service fit in their own country.

But business aside, I find that travel to a foreign country lifts my soul. If I was feeling a bit down or depressed before the trip, that plane ride and the visuals as we fly over a city like Paris, London, or Rome, eventually strolling through those foreign streets as well, is like taking a super drug to make me feel great. I’ve never forgotten how much the brain craves novelty and how that novelty pumps feel good chemicals into the brain. New places, new faces, and different unique cultures do exactly that for us humans.

This morning, as I was writing this, I was struck by the question of how many Americans have never traveled outside the USA and also why so many people have a great fear of flying. First of all, in regards to the fear of flying, many studies have shown that the chances of dying on a commercial jet are just .07 out of one billion miles flown!  Knowing that statistic makes my flights at 35,000 feet at 565 miles an hour across the ocean very relaxing.

Sadly, even here in the USA, which is one of richest countries in the world, as much as 63% of the population has never traveled outside the country. I would bet that most of that comes more from the fear of flying rather than the cost. And by the way, if you shop around, you can find round trip flights to Paris from the US for a mere $500 or so, depending on when you travel.  And again, if you or your friends or family members have a fear of flying, be sure to give them some statistics. So here is another one –there is only one chance in 11 million that you will die in a commercial plane.

By the way, I was thrilled to read recently that they are reintroducing the Concorde Jet and that it will be flying again in 2023. I always loved that 3 and half hour plane ride to and from Europe. Wow, what amazing speed–about 1350 miles an hour! I would urge you to sit down right now and make a list of the countries you want to visit, being sure to put some projected dates down for your trips, then go do it. Coax your friends and relatives to do the same thing—you won’t be sorry!

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