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Feed the Good Dog

August 8, 2021 by  
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No doubt we’ve all heard that we can’t love and appreciate others until we truly love and appreciate ourselves. But most of us have some deep dark doubts about ourselves. In fact, if we are brutally honest, we probably feel guilty (at least some of the time) because we’ve done things we are not proud of. We think, “If the world really knew everything about me, it wouldn’t think I was a very good person.”

If you’re like most people, you’ve had those thoughts before. Rabbi Harold F. Kushner, in his book, Living a Life That Matters, makes that point very strongly by simply stating that, “Good people do bad things.”

However, he goes on to say, “If they weren’t mightily tempted by their ‘yetzer hara’ (evil inclination) they might not be capable of the mightily good things they do.”

Kushner gives us yet another way to look at it:

“Good people will do good things—lots of them—because they are good people. They will do bad things because they are human.”

He also quotes a Native American tribal leader who described his own inner struggles with a canine metaphor:

“There are two dogs inside me. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.”

When someone asked the tribal leader which dog usually wins, he answered after a moment’s reflection, “The one I feed the most.”

I think if you can focus on all the good you’ve done and recognize all the good that you’ll do on whatever journey you are on or are about to embark on, it will help feed that good dog inside of you.

So, the bottom line is that even if you know you are not perfect, it’s important to take time to be grateful for the good things you’ve accomplished and those tough goals you’ve reached.

No one’s perfect—not you and not me — and it can be hard to forgive yourself, but ditch the humility for a while and do that now. Choose gratitude for what you’ve done and toast yourself, putting all that guilt behind you.

Remember this from the Dalai Lama’s book, The Compassionate Life, where he wrote, “Everyone’s real enemy is within themselves—enemies are not on the outside.”

So, why not celebrate, appreciate, and love yourself now and every day?

Unconditional Self-Acceptance

June 20, 2021 by  
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I do a lot of self-talk, as I’ve said before, saying all kinds of positive things to myself. I use things like, “I’m happy and healthy,” “I am very upbeat and positive,” and many more.

You probably know that self-talk can lift the brain to greater heights, so you can imagine how happy I was when, just last week, I came across another great thing to say to myself every day, several times a day.

It was something that a wise coach and counselor from years back said to me. He had asked if I had ever heard of USA.

Of course, I said, “Yes, we all live here, right?”

“No, not that USA,“ he said.

As it turned out, he was talking about it being the abbreviation for “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”. Remembering this, I thought, wow, I like that saying and thought.

So, last week, I started reminding myself of the concept of unconditional self-acceptance. I repeated the phrase many times each day and, yes, it lifted my spirits and confidence in myself. It’s so simple but so effective.

The thing is, when you totally accept who you are and accept what you have done so far in your life, your life feels better and, yes, it builds up your confidence. And while you’re accepting yourself and your life in a more positive way, you can start accepting your friends and even people you don’t like for who they are and the good that they’ve done in their lives. This acceptance of others, as well as yourself, will lift your spirits and happiness factor.

Looking back at the famous and super successful people that I’ve met, like the Dalai Lama, Joe Biden, other past presidents, and other accomplished people, it almost always strikes me that they seem to believe in themselves immensely, even when they failed at different things or at different stages in their lives. Yes, they all seemed to believe in “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”.

I will certainly stick with that saying. It’s already making a difference. Maybe you should consider saying that to yourself and see if it makes a difference in how you think about yourself and your world too.

Meditation and the Quiet Mind

April 4, 2021 by  
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Myself and the Dalai Lama

Meditation. Hmm. That’s something that I haven’t done a ton of, but recently I read a great book about the mind and how you can calm it down and make it quiet. It’s making me think about it more seriously.

When I do meditate, it raises my mood and helps my brain, which helps my life a ton. I’m writing this week’s post, in part, because I know I should meditate more. I’ve found, over the years, that almost anytime I write about something we humans should be doing, my own writings on the subject motivate me to just go and do it. So, I guess I’m being somewhat selfish. But if my experience and words are helpful to others, then that’s great!

I’ve sure noticed that the older I get, the more I want to help others. Okay, part of that is because when I help others, I get such a good feeling from it that I want to do it more. Oops. I guess that’s being a bit selfish too. But maybe that is a good kind of selfishness. And that means everybody can be a winner!

I just read a great book called Quiet Mind, compiled and edited by Susan Piver. In this section written by Tulku Thondup, it says, “Through meditation we can realize the awareness of the peaceful and joyful nature of our mind. From there we can interact with mental objects with greater peace and ease on our own terms, from a position of mental strength.” He goes on to say that “in order to find and employ the healing power of our mind and the healing qualities of mental objects, we must consistently and repeatedly meditate on the four healing powers: positive images, positive words, positive feeling, and positive belief.”

Thondup goes on to say, “Like food, exercise, rest, and medicine, meditation is a very important component of healing and keeping healthy.” His advice is to start easy and slow, but be consistent. Even just 5 minutes a day at first is a good start. Then later, he advises, “Early morning is generally the best time to meditate, as your mind could still be in peace and your energy still calm. The best place is a solitary place. Whatever you pick, you should choose the best time and place that you can afford and feel good about.” Then, after enough 5 minutes sessions, he says you should try to meditate for about an hour.

Earlier in the book, another contributor, Sakyong Mipham said, “Decide on a regular time to practice each day and try to stick with it. A ten-minute period in the morning is a good place to begin.” Mipham also suggests that consistency is key.

I really like some of the other simple advice Mipham gives: “If you’re agitated, a slow walk might be in order. If you’re drowsy, a cool shower before beginning the session might help.” He also notes that “It can be inspiring to read a little about meditation first as a reminder of why you’re practicing.”

So, I have a lot of great thoughts about meditating now. As I said, I may not have done it very regularly, but it’s not new to me. As a matter of fact, I had the great privilege to meet, greet, and introduce the Dalai Lama at an event years ago. Through our conversations that day, I got to know him a bit, and he certainly knows and practices meditation. I’m sure he knows quite well how much it can help anyone’s life. We just need little reminders to do it sometimes.

Money and Meditation

August 8, 2019 by  
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If you have been reading my blog for years, then you know that I started out mainly writing about money, money, money. I wrote about how to make it and how to invest it for the best returns. Over time, I have expanded my subjects to include physical and mental health because, as we all know, without good health, tons of money may not help you at all, or at least not much.

Our brains control our physical bodies much more than most people realize. Years ago, I found an explanation of why the brain can control so much of our lives in Time magazine. A professor at the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, who Time magazine had honored as one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World”, was actually asked by the Dalai Lama to study the connection between the meditative state of mind of his Buddhist monks and their emotional and mental health.

Davidson first hooked 128 electrodes to the head of a French-born monk, Mathieu Ricard, and recorded an immediate increase in the gamma activity when the monk began to meditate. Later studies with a control group of students only lightly trained in meditation showed the monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times stronger than a control group. Wow, that is HUGE!

But what does all this mean? Simply put, this and other research unveils the real possibility that the brain, like the rest of the body, can be altered intentionally. Just as we build muscle through exercise, we can also build our mental capacities that can lead to better brain function and an increase in essential cognitive functions, including memory and perception. This all creates a more positive mental state–and that’s what in turn creates more productive gamma brain waves.

This discovery tells me that as I do more meditation, I will gain a better functioning brain which could help me be a much better investor. I do believe that by pumping my brain up through meditation, I can make better real estate deals and manage my money much better. How about you? Go ahead and try some meditation and see what it does to your brain.

One last comment. Or, I should say that I’m going to do a little bragging.  I’ve always been impressed by the Dalai Lama and many years ago I had the great privilege of escorting the Dalai Lama from his hotel room to a huge ball room and then I introduced him to the audience. I will never forget the great feeling and gratitude I received from doing that introduction and getting to know him even just a little bit.

Keys to Happiness

June 21, 2019 by  
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I have one more bit from the Dalai Lama’s books for you.  This post will be a simple and short listing of thoughts and comments from him, thoughts that can be uplifting and supportive of your happiness and that you can easily and quickly review and share with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends.

  1. Empathy and altruism raises you up.
  2. Science backs up claims about the physical and emotional benefits of a compassionate state of mind.
  3. Reaching out and helping others lifts your happiness level.
  4. Freedom from suffering starts with accepting suffering as a natural fact of human existence.
  5. Studies show that reaching out to help others induces feeling of a calmer mind and less depression.
  6. For a better life, confront your problems, fears, and bad habits. Don’t avoid them…then put your brain to work to change them.
  7. Ingredients that cement relationships: Affection, compassion, and mutual respect.
  8. The cause of suffering which one should seek to remove: ignorance, craving, and hatred.
  9. Unhappiness comes to each of us when we think ourselves at the center of the world.
  10. Remember, it takes time to train your mind.
  11. Necessary ingredients to happiness:
    1. Affection
    2. Warmth
    3. Friendship
    4. Compassion
    5. State of mind
    6. Calmness of mind
    7. Peace of mind
  1. Remember this … if you have real peace of mind you can be happy even with poor health.
  2. If you believe the purpose of life is happiness, then work on discarding the things that lead to unhappiness.
  3. If you want to have a deeper connection to others then reach out and help others.
  4. Empathy is critical to build compassion.
  5. Understand people by knowing and appreciating their background.

And I will add one of my own … if you want to raise you happiness level quickly, just walk outside. There is something magical about the great outdoors and what it does to the human mind

Positivity and Compassion

June 14, 2019 by  
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A very critical part of happiness and contentment is training the mind and, yes, that does take time, but is it ever worth the time you take! The authors of the book, The Art of Happiness, which I talked about last week, have this advice: “Everyday, as soon as you get up, you can develop sincere positive motivation, thinking, ‘I will utilize this day in a more positive way. I should not waste this very day.’ And then, at night before bed, check what you’ve done, asking yourself, ‘Did I utilize this day as I planned?’ If it went wrong, then regret what you did and critique the day and decide what you are going to do to correct the negative stuff of the day. So, through methods such as this, you can gradually strengthen the positive aspects of the mind.”

I think this is why the self-talk that the great Paul J. Meyer of Waco, Texas introduced me to is so very helpful. I have about 10 different mantras that I run through my mind almost every day and many times I say them out loud. Here are a few of those

  1. I am strong and worthy.
  2. I am upbeat and positive.
  3. I am happy and healthy.
  4. I live in the present moment.
  5. I love people and I am becoming more and more social.
  6. I try to live big and give big. I make “to do” lists and carry them out.

It’s amazing how I can feel down and out and how running that self-talk through my mind many times can lift my mood and make me feel so much better. The mind has a lot of plasticity in it according to scientists. The book goes on to say something that I know is true and will work for me and you: “Neuroscientist have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, net combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, re-configuring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning, the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily.” Scientist call the brains inherent capacity to change “plasticity”.

The Dalai Lama and Mr. Cutler have so many great and powerful things to say about how to achieve happiness and they are so very effective. So here is one more quote from Mr. Cutler talking about the Dalai Lama: “He can see that if someone treats him with compassion and affection, then it makes him feel happy. So, on the basis of that experience, it would help him to realize that other people also feel good when they are shown warmth and compassion Therefore, recognizing this fact might make him more inclined to give them compassion and warmth. At the same time, he would discover that the more you give warmth, the more warmth you receive”.

And that, my friends, will almost for sure raise both the giver’s and the receiver’s level of happiness!

The Positive Path to Happiness

June 7, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, I was going through my library and came across a great book by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. written back in 1998. I hadn’t read it for a very long time but as I was thumbing through the pages my mind was captured by so many great statements, concepts, and advice that were so motivating so I kept reading.

The book’s title is The Art of Happiness. I’ve always admired this great man, the Dalai Lama, and what he has done for the world and for so many minds. He’s helped lift us to great heights. Years ago, I felt so very fortunate to meet and greet him at his hotel room and escort him to a huge gather of people and I was more than a little overwhelmed and privileged to introduce him to that audience.

I want to share with you, my readers, some of his great ideas and advice on “happiness” for us humans. I’d also like to share some of the wise words and insights that his co-author Howard Cutler added to the book from his own experiences and all the time he spent with the Dalai Lama.

Let me start with some great comments from the great book I mentioned. These are about positive thinking which is so very important to raise and keep your happiness consistently elevated.

The Dalai Lama said, “If happiness is simply a matter of cultivating a more positive mental state like kindness and so on, why are so many unhappy? … Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about transformation in your outlook and your way of thinking and this is not a simple matter. It requires the application of so many different directions. You shouldn’t have the notion, for instance, that there is just a key, a secret, and if you can get that right then everything will be okay. It is similar to taking proper care of the physical body. You need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, not just one or two.”

He went on to say, “In the same way, in order to achieve happiness, you need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states. And if you are seeking to overcome certain negative ways of thinking, it is not possible to accomplish that simply by adopting a particular thought or practicing a technique once or twice. Change takes time. There are lots of negative mental traits, so you need to address and counteract each one of these. That isn’t easy. It requires the repeated application of various techniques and taking the time to familiarize yourself with the practices. It’s a process of learning.”

Next week I will talk more about the specific practices and mindset that a person needs to work on and develop while bringing you more wisdom from the great Dalai Lama.