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Controlling the Fear

October 17, 2021 by  
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Last week I wrote a bit about my health problems and going to the hospital over an issue with my cardiovascular system. So this past week, I went through the recommended procedures and was relieved to hear that the doctors didn’t think I needed a stent. Great. I relaxed a bit after that.

But then, a few days later, I was asked to come back to the hospital. The doctors had completed a review and had become concerned. They now wanted to perform a procedure called an angiogram because they had found that the lower chamber of my heart had too many beats for the upper chamber, which, of course, is a problem.

Well, talk about getting nervous, worried, and scared! Man, oh man, my anxiety rose to a new high. I was a wreck.

What pushed my anxiety to a new high level was that I mistakenly thought an angiogram was the same as an MRI. All I could think about was the MRI I went in for about a year earlier. When they put me in the little, tight tube of the MRI machine, I freaked. I told the doctor and assistants that I was getting out as I was claustrophobic. Even though they were very insistent that I should stay in the machine until they were finished, I crawled out anyway.

So here I was last week, facing an angiogram but thinking it was going to be an MRI. My anxiety was through the roof. My own brain was beating me up.

I really do believe that our brains have so much power. It’s amazing. But internal thinking can be a great asset or a huge liability. Our brains can raise our spirits and lift us to a higher and happier place, or it can wreak havoc on our bodies, our souls, and our lives. 

So, I did a lot of thinking about my brain and how my thoughts were hurting me with all this worry. That’s when I realized that if I redirected my brain and thoughts, I could, most likely, get rid of my super high anxiety.

We human beings really do have the power to direct our brains down positive paths, even though it may take some time and a lot of mental work and discipline to do it. But we CAN do it! I did decide to get to work on that, attempting to remove my high anxiety. Soon enough, I found that my work on it was working!

So, I went to the hospital and got my angiogram a few days ago. Wow. My positive thinking really helped me stay calm, plus the angiogram was nothing close to having an MRI. It also turned out to be a great lesson about anxiety, fear and how we can control so much with our brains.

Yes, controlling our emotions takes time and effort, but it is so well worth it. Our brains really can lift our contentment level and make our lives so full of happiness. So, let’s all keep working on getting our brains to totally work for us and not against us!

A Healthy Appreciation

October 10, 2021 by  
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Wow, this was a very ironic coincidence. Last week I talked about health, how important it is in our lives, and what we can do to be healthier and to stay healthy, increasing our lifespan. Just after that blog posted, I received a call from my doctor. The results of some tests they had done on me a few days before had come back and it wasn’t very good news.

It all started when, recently, I noticed that I was tiring more readily, that my long walks each day left me out of breath. I needed to stop and rest about every 50 or 100 steps. Well, the tests showed that my heart, quite suddenly, was not pumping near enough blood. Ouch. That was scary to hear!

So, with this latest news, I certainly got a big wake-up call. I am determined to beat this health challenge and take more time to be grateful and appreciative of any and all good health. Plus, I am determined to work on everything I can to improve and fix all aspects of my health. This made me realize that I’ve been taking my good health and conditioning totally for granted. I really haven’t stopped to think about, and to be grateful for, the good health I have. Again, I was totally taking all this for granted.

In a few days, I’m scheduled to go to the hospital to have an angiogram. That test will tell me and the docs if there is a blockage in my veins. If there is, they will most likely put in a stent. The good news, which I’ve found from talking to a few people that have had this kind of procedure, is that, most of the time, the stent got their heart and life right back to normal.

Talk about greatly appreciating the doctors, researchers, and inventors who came up with the angiogram machines, tests, and stents that can solve the problem! I am double and triple impressed by what they’ve accomplished. I’ll never take those advancements, and the many other medical miracles happening every day, for granted again.

All of us humans need to, more regularly, take time to look at our lives and be grateful for all the great people and great ideas that have helped us. When we increase our gratitude and appreciation, it lifts our lives and makes us happier and helps us to help those friends and family around us. I certainly will be spending more time looking at my life and giving more and more thanks, appreciation, and gratitude for all that good stuff!

Mindful Health

October 3, 2021 by  
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Most of us have some health-related goal or area of improvement that we are working on, or hope to work on, very soon. But how do you know you will be successful? One way is to keep yourself mentally and physically aware while exercising and eating by using a “living in the now” approach. You can get you through a strenuous workout as well as help you eat right, all while increasing your enjoyment of these activities by simply being present and more aware of what you are doing.

For most of us, getting through an exercise routine is a struggle, but if you are completely attentive to your movements instead of thinking about how you can’t keep up an exercise routine, or how much nicer it would feel to be lounging on the couch, you aren’t as likely to quit in the middle of it. Just keep focused on the feeling of your muscles moving and listen to your breath as you control your inhaling and exhaling. This is a primary concept behind yoga and its distressing effects. Soon enough, you will have completed your routine or finished that 30-minute run and are feeling great.

When it comes to food, it’s all about being mindful of what you eat, how much, and the way you eat. For instance, when you reach in the fridge for something, consciously decide what will contribute to a well-balanced intake for the day and choose your best options, not just what looks tasty. Also, stop eating directly out of the box or bag. Instead, set a small portion on a plate or a bowl that you can sit down with as you savor every bite.

Eat in a place with no TV or computer or anything else to distract you. Taste your food, becoming aware of every flavor and texture, and chew it completely. This will make eating even more enjoyable. Slowing down your intake of food will also allow your stomach time to tell the brain it’s getting full. This way, you’re more likely to eat less. Additionally, thorough chewing will help your digestion by having food well broken down before it hits your stomach.

“Living in the now” will help you by not only increasing your appreciation of the sensations of exercising and eating, but will also help you attain your goals for a better, healthier life. You’ll feel great because of your accomplishments, along with gaining the long lasting and compounding effects of the bliss that comes with being consistently happy in the moment.

Let Your Mind Take Over

September 26, 2021 by  
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This week, I want to continue with more revelations buried in the Bunker Bean story.  

If you read the previous posts about this book, you might recall that the character Bunker Bean was tricked into believing that, in his former life, he was the great Napoleon Bonaparte. Believing this really lifted his life to great new heights. But then, later on, he discovered that his friend, the spiritualist, the one that convinced him of his past life, was revealed to be a fraud, a man who lied to others to obtain their money.

Bunker Bean was crushed by this revelation. So, he hadn’t really been Napoleon in a previous life after all! He was just plain old Bunker Bean. But the news came too late—in a good way! Bunker realized that it didn’t matter who he’d been in a former life. What mattered was what he had allowed himself to become in his present life.

His spiritualist friend had helped Bunker to believe in himself enough to change some of his attitudes, habits, and behavior. Bunker had learned to form a game plan based on what others had done in the past that made them super successful. He had learned the value of studying the thoughts of great men. He’d learned how to make those thoughts of success his own thoughts. He’d also learned the need for a goal and the need for a detailed method to reach that goal. And he found out that one must follow his method religiously.

The story of Bunker Bean is told as fiction, but, actually, his story is as true as any told. The principles of his success, as outlined above, can be the principles of each of us and our success. But to make those work, we must learn the truth about ourselves and the truth is this: each of us has the potential and ability to succeed if we believe in ourselves enough to make it happen. We are what, and who, we think we are.

How much do you believe in yourself? Are you a great person? If you answer “no,” then ask yourself why not? Your answer needn’t be no. Each of us has the potential and ability to succeed if we are willing to pay the price. Start by setting goals. Set those goals high, then let your mind take over. Let it figure out how those goals can best be accomplished and be sure to write them down and put a time frame on them. In doing so, you may see yourself turn out like Bunker Bean!

For Love of Work

September 19, 2021 by  
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Last week, I said I would tell more of the story about Bunker Bean who I spoke about in the last couple of posts. However, I am going to do that next week as I have something else I want to share with you first.

Recently, I was thumbing through a great book that I read years ago entitled When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough by Harold Kushner. As I always do when I read a book, I wrote down many of the most interesting, helpful, and motivating quotes and comments that the author made. These notes are a great way to go back and easily refresh my memory since they highlight those points that hit me the hardest and helped lift my thoughts, actions, and life to a higher level.

Here are some of the points in this book that really helped me, especially the comments about work and how important it is for all of us:

l. Work can be the scaffolding that holds up our adult lives. (I need to keep remembering this as being retired makes it more difficult to find and do the best kinds of work for me.)

2. The key to one’s happiness is to find pleasure in our work and to use our abilities–no wasting them!

3. Our souls are hungry for meaning.

4. We work for meaning. We work so our days will not be empty of meaning!

5. Do not expect that life will always be fair.

6. For ultimate satisfaction, lower the level of what you want to what you already have.

7. The affliction which drains so much of the sense of meaning from our lives these days is that disease of boredom.

Kushner makes several other notable points in this book that are not easily summarized and put into a list. For example, he writes, “Asked, “’What do you do?’ we invariably respond in terms of our work, not our hobbies or organizational commitments,” implying that work is often our identity.

About himself, he notes that, “I work because I have a family to support and bills to pay. But I work also because it puts me in touch with people and helps me think of myself as a competent, contributing person.”

Kushner also writes that “there is something satisfying about being challenged to do something hard and then doing it. I think it must have been what Ecclesiastes had in mind when he said to us, in effect, ‘If you are not going to win a Nobel Prize for your work, if it is not going to make you rich and famous, it can still give meaning to your life if you take it seriously and do it with all your might.’”

I think the author makes many wonderful comments and offers some very helpful advice. It’s a great little book and I highly encourage you to get it and read it but, most importantly, LIVE by the advice that you think will make a big difference in your life, a difference for the better.

Powerful Duo: Belief + Goals

September 12, 2021 by  
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As I said many times before, “Your first step should be to set a goal.” That’s what Bunker Bean, the character I’ve been talking about in the book Bunker Bean by Harry Leon Wilson, did. He was determined first to learn all he could about Napoleon, who he had come to believe he had been in a past life. (See the last two blogs where I detail more about the Bunker Bean story.) Then he was determined to practice the principles that Napoleon followed and, as he did, he moved up the ladder in the company he worked for. 

Without a goal, you and I cannot go very far, which is exactly how far Bunker Bean was going until he met the spiritualist who made him believe he had been Napoleon. However, once you set your goal, funny things start happening in your head. Your point of view starts to change and suddenly you find yourself on a new, and much more productive, path. 

The process can be rather automatic. When you set a goal (and write it down) your mind starts working overtime, trying to figure out how to reach that goal. The mind will work on the problem even while you are asleep. It will work on it anytime it’s not otherwise engaged in important thought. 

So, the bottom line here is to set your goals high. Some things may seem impossible to achieve, but put your mind to work on the problem anyway. If you let it cook long enough in your head, a solution will be found. 

Whatever you do, don’t be like those who live well below their capacity. Set your goals high and then expand your capacity to meet them!  

Next week, I will talk about Bunker Bean finding out that his friend, the spiritualist, was revealed for what he really was — a fraud! I think you’ll be surprised to hear what happens to Bunker then!

Believing in Yourself

September 5, 2021 by  
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Scene from the movie adaptation of Bunker Bean.


Last week I wrote all about the story of Bunker Bean and how he was such a loser until he met a spiritualist who convince him that in his previous life Bunker Bean was none other than Napoleon. Bunker really bought into this and that belief change and lifted his life to new and wonderful heights. How exactly did that happen?

Well, the day after the spiritualist convinced Bunker of his past life, after he had finished his duties as an assembly line worker, Bunker went directly to the local library and checked out a book on Napoleon Bonaparte. He took it home and stayed up late into the night, reading it cover to cover.

The next day, he returned to the library for another book and stayed up reading that one as well. Then he did that again, day after day, until he had read every book about Napoleon, the emperor of France. Bunker considered and digested everything Napoleon did. He wanted to know exactly what had made Napoleon great. His spiritualist friend had told Bunker that his life was in an ascendancy, so Bunker Bean made a firm resolve to incorporate into his present life some of the qualities that made Napoleon great. His belief in his ascendancy and the power of his previous life was so great that he had no doubt that he could do it. 

He recalled reading that for Napoleon, to think was to act. He went to his supervisor at work and told him of some ideas he had for the company and of the benefits they would bring. 

His superior was skeptical. “It will never work,” he said. 

“Just try then for a few days,” Bunker begged, “and see if they work.” 

The supervisor relented and three weeks later, the cost saving improvements on the assembly line were so great the supervisor was given a raise and a promotion. When the supervisor was asked to recommend his replacement, without hesitation, he suggested Bunker Bean. Within two years, to the amazement of everyone, Bunker Bean was the president of the entire company, which was worth over $100 million. 

And all that happened because Bunker really believed that he was a brilliant and famous man in a previous life. People really believed in him. And why did they believe in him? BECAUSE HE BELIEVED IN HIMSELF!

There is a great lesson here for all of us. If we push ourselves harder to totally believe in ourselves, it really makes a difference in how other people believe in us. Think about that and push yourself to believe in yourself more and more each day, each week, and each year. It will change your life because if you do push yourself, it lifts your mind and your actions follow and that will make you a better person!

You Are What You Think You Are

August 29, 2021 by  
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Too many of us stumble through life on one consistently low plane. We see ourselves as failures in the things that really matter. When it comes to high stakes, “Count me out,” we say. “I can succeed at little things, but when the big times come along, I’m a total failure.”

And amazingly, we are right many times. We are what we think we are. We’re much like the fictional character in the novel by Harry Leon Wilson called Bunker Bean. Bunker Bean had a lot of potential locked up inside him, but because it was locked so deep, he didn’t know about it. But then something happened to make Bunker believe in himself, and despite his humble beginnings, he went on to make a fortune, overcoming his fears and weaknesses and becoming a giant of a leader.

Many, if not most people live and die with too small an estimate of their own abilities. As a result, they spend their strength on small tasks and never put their real powers to the test.

So it was with Bunker Bean, at least in the beginning. When Bunker was very young, both his parents died, leaving him alone and friendless in a cold world. As he roamed through his years in rags, living timidly through various terrors, he developed fears of all kinds. He also began to feel inferior because he couldn’t do anything right and his acquaintances made fun of him.

Bunker Bean’s life was one of misery. He was afraid of almost everything—policemen, elevators, streets, social and business situations. He was afraid to make decisions. He was afraid of the future. He was even afraid of himself.

Eventually, Bunker moved into a cheap, rundown boarding house on the unhappy side of town where he met a man who claimed to be a spiritualist medium. This new friend told Bunker that just as we cast off our old shoes and clothes, so we cast off our old bodies when we die; in fact, we are reincarnated as a new person.

The spiritualist was pretty convincing. He was so convincing, in fact, that when he said he had supernatural powers given to him from another world, Bunker believed him and paid his new friend to find out who he was in his previous life. When Bunker was told he had been Napoleon, he totally believed the fake spiritualist. Thinking he had been this great, confident leader in his previous life, he changed to match the image of his prior self which lifted him to a huge and higher life.

I think it’s absolutely incredible how our brains can work to lift us to a much, much higher level of living. Next week I will finish the story of where and how Bunker Bean lifted his life!

The Power of Book Notes

August 22, 2021 by  
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When I read books, I almost always write notes on the blank pages. I jot down a quote that strikes me or I write my own thoughts that were stimulated by what the author wrote. This week, I’d like to share some of my notes from a couple of great books. I hope they strike and motivate you the way they did me.

In Patrice Jenkins PhD’s great little book What Will I Do ALL DAY?, I wrote down a number of thoughts. Here are a few:

1. Structure can be and should be a very important part of our lives and now that I’m retired, I must push myself for more structure.

2. Set more deadlines and make more commitments and goals and always write them down with a time deadline.

3. Set my alarm and schedule time for working out and stretching.

4. Make a big deal out of small things in my life.

5. Remind myself often that, now that I am retired, I have time to turn molehills into mountains.

6. Remember that it’s very important when retired to find work for yourself.

7. Make a list of new places, cities and countries to visit — at least 6 more countries to add to my 94 already visited.

8. Write down my intentions for each and every day.

9. Take time to make a list of those things I love to do and push myself to concentrate on those items.

And here are a few gems I scribbled down when reading the book Write it Down and Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser.

1. Don’t forget that writing down my intentions works better than just speaking them.

2. Remind myself that I can’t have what I want most until I know what it is.

3. Writing is a good way to force my negative emotional reactions into words and not stomach churning.

4. I need to write down my intentions, my passions, my talents, then write down what actions I should, and can, take.

5. I need to take time to write down things that are not working for me in my life and let them go. Klauser ‘s suggested that you make that list then ceremoniously dispose of that paper, as in burn it or bury it.

Do these notes inspire you to make a few of your own now? Taking down notes as you read a book makes it a much more active and, ultimately, more productive read!

Before We Lose It

August 15, 2021 by  
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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I had no idea how important the social aspect of my life was until the pandemic hit. That made me realize just how much I valued my face-to-face conversations and hanging out with my friends. It also hurt that our annual trip to Europe and other counties was gone. We’ve met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends on those trips as well.

Most of us take way too much for granted and don’t take the time to be as grateful as we should be for what we have. But when one of those great things in our lives is suddenly taken away… wow, we certainly notice how much we appreciate those things when they are gone. 

Something that I took for granted for far too long was my daily long walk and comparing my daily steps total to my previous daily steps. As I’ve written before, I have given myself a minimum goal of 20,000 steps a day, although I usually go well over that. I use a super great gift my wife gave me years ago, a Fitbit, that counts each step I take and gives me weekly totals. That little device enhanced and lifted my life. It’s helped me stay fit, even now as the ripe age of 80 approaches, less than 3 years away.

Well, that little device that pushed me to regularly walk my 20,000 plus steps a day was a big deal and I totally took for granted what it was pushing me to do until recently. I got hit in the head several months back, which laid me up for a while. 

Then, just this last week, I had a big trip and fall at 2:30 in the morning. I hit my right knee so hard that I could hardly walk the next day and for many days to follow. The few steps I did try to take were too painful, so I would find myself in bed or sitting in a chair all day long. Ugh. Even taking a pain pill didn’t help much. Double ugh! 

That is when it hit me like a brick that I’ve taken the ability to walk without pain totally for granted. I know this happens to many of us when we get injured, but shouldn’t we start to appreciate what we have before we lose it?

I think all of us should take time to consider all the great things in our lives that we are just taking for granted. I talked about that here on my blog before. Back then, I made a list of the many things that I was taking for granted, but perhaps it’s time for an update.

I suggest now, as I did then, that all of us consider making or updating a list of that kind so we have time to enjoy and appreciate what we have while we have it. Doing so has the potential to make us more content as we begin to truly recognize all the great things we have in our lives. 

You can look at my prior list to help you start building your own. It’s in my post from 4/16/2020. You might also want to read or re-read what I posted on 11/29/2020 for an additional reminder. 

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