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A Sure Way to Happiness

October 9, 2022 by  
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Recently, I was thinking about a hike I went on some time ago. I had headed out to get some exercise, looking forward to the great feeling that the increase of serotonin and dopamine bring on from the physical activity. In my pocket, I had a handful of $2 bills. I give these out to kids because it always brings a huge smile and a sincere thank you, which, in turn, gives me a big boost from seeing how happy it makes them.

So, while enjoying the beautiful sights of Millcreek Canyon, I passed a couple and their daughter. The little girl was crying because she had fallen on the trail. As I passed by, I told her to be sure to keep her eyes on the trail for litter and if she saw some and picked it up, she would be TWO lucky.

A few feet on, I dropped a $2 bill. The girl saw it and immediately plucked it up. She excitedly showed her parents, her scrapes forgotten. I kept on hiking, a big smile plastered on my face, but soon I heard them talking to another hiker about what I’d done. That made me smile even more.

A little while later, I passed a slightly older girl and told her the same thing. When I dropped the $2 bill, she very sweetly let me know I had dropped it. I told her to take it for good luck. I passed this girl and her parents on the way back down and her parents stopped me, thanking me over and over again. They said their daughter thought I was an angel. That made my broad smile into an even broader grin that just wouldn’t leave my face.

By the time I’d gotten to the end of the trail, I was incredibly high on all the joy my little gestures produced as well as from the exercise. I remember that I couldn’t stop thinking about how something as small as a $2 bill could make both the giver and receiver so happy.

We all go to great lengths to find a little happiness, hoping for something that will make us feel good or will let us know what we do is worthwhile. And yet some of the smallest gestures can do this very thing, not just for you, but also for others.

I talk about this very thing in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. You can read about the benefit of taking a moment here and there to make someone’s day, as well as yours, in Chapter 12, “The Benefits of a ‘God’s- Eye View’”. But do you know what’s even better than reading about it? Getting out and doing it! Start with a small gesture today and see for yourself.

Give Yourself a Boost

February 27, 2022 by  
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What do you do when you don’t seem to have the energy to do the things you need to do, much less the things you want to do?

Whether it’s for work or play, family or friends, there are times when we all could use a little more energy, especially as we age. So, here is a list of 12 proven ways to boost your energy:

1. Set exciting goals that will put your BIG dreams into action. Be sure to add a timeframe and an exciting game plan to those goals.

2. A daily “to do” list, looked over in the morning, adds extra energy to your day because you can jump from task to task, knowing what you need to do.

3. Eat more nutritious whole foods. Junk food that is high in sugar and fats can leave you feeling sluggish.

4. Drink green tea (rather than fully caffeinated coffee) to overcome a mid-morning slump. It’s a gentler energy boost, plus it has all those great antioxidants.

5. Get plenty of exposure to natural light.

6. Ease your stress by simplifying your life, putting your energy and focus into your life’s priorities. Delegate the rest as much as possible.

7. Heal yourself by being grateful and loving and letting go of anger.

8. Think positive thoughts to stimulate those good neurotransmitters called endorphins.

9. Play and exercise hard to release more endorphins and dopamine.

10. Get plenty of sleep.

11. A few minutes of yoga stretching is great for a morning or midday boost.

12. Listen to your favorite music. It might be music with a heart pounding beat or inspirational symphonic music. It doesn’t matter as long as it lifts your energy and mood.

Did you find any new ideas on that list? Try them out this week! Even if they’re all familiar, commit to trying one or two that you don’t do already and see how well it helps your energy.

Stimulating Passion

December 5, 2021 by  
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Most every human being loves their passion. There are so many ways to go after and build such passions. Some of these come easily and automatically, such as when we were young and everything was new. Those new things made our passions rise. That first day of school, seeing old friends and new, could be a quick and huge hit on the passion button.

In my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I make the point that, from my experience, passion can start to fade a bit as we age. But, thankfully, passion can be manufactured. All you need to do is put something together in an unusual, better, or at least new-to-you way.

One of the keys to manufacturing passion is to set difficult objectives and work towards them. I clearly remember when I was 27 years old, and I set a goal to make a net worth for myself of $1 MILLION by the time I hit age 30. What a huge turn on that was for me. It raised my passion level big time. I was one year late in hitting that goal, but having that huge and exciting goal really kept me and my passion going.

From about age 25, your brain produces less and less dopamine and serotonin, the hormones that help you feel good and fan the flames of passion. Although a child’s body is awash in these hormones, we need to work on stimulating our system to produce more of these hormones as we age. We can do this by eating the right foods, exercising, and, most importantly, setting the right goals that keep us going after them.

Renewing your passions can really show you what you and your brain can do. It can give you a ton of energy as well as raising the quality of your personal and business life.

One of my biggest passions is travelling. I’m talking about everything from huge international travel, like going around the world on my honeymoon, to just driving through a neighborhood that I’ve never visited. I’ve been to 94 countries and still feel my passion rising just planning a trip to a new place, even if it’s a small country or an old neighborhood.

Passion for living comes and goes. Our big challenge then is to figure out what our passion is, what turns our lights on and gets us excited. When we figure that out, we can do it more and more. And it’s always a good idea to write down our passions and the goals that keep them going so it will stick in your brain, pushing you to do it and to keep doing it.

A Better Health List

August 16, 2020 by  
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To continue with the ideas from last week’s post, I want to share with you a list of great health and longevity methods from Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat To Live, and from Lisa Walford’s book The Longevity Diet, as well as from my own experience.

1. Try to keep your daily calories intake to 30-40% less than average (for me, that’s 1500 to 1750 calories per day)

2 Know that your body, over time, will adjust to fewer calories.

3. Raw vegetables are the biggest anti-cancer foods that exist.

4. Make a written contract with yourself as to your health and eating habits and review it monthly.

5. No more than 10% of your diet should come from animal products. Meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs are all linked to arthritis, depression, and other diseases.

7. Studies show that as fruit and veggie consumption increases, chronic diseases, and pre-mature death decreases.

8. A poor diet can be connected to depression. Many times, a highly nutritious diet can help overcome depression.

9. Make a point to eat foods that help boost dopamine such as fish, turkey, eggs, beans and legumes, soy, coffee, green tea, seeds and nuts as well as those that boost serotonin such as whole wheat, brown rice, fresh vegetables (especially root crops and squash, apples, bananas, and other fresh fruit), chocolate (in moderation), ginseng, and peppermint. Turkey and eggs are linked to some nasty stuff though so keep your consumption of these two limited.

10. Regular cheese is one of the most dangerous foods in the world–only eat low-fat cheese, and very small portions.

11. High fiber foods prevent cancer (but it must come from foods not fiber supplements).

12. There are many huge benefits to eating broccoli.

13. People with cholesterol levels lower than 150 almost never have heart attacks.

14. Leafy greens are the most nutrient rich foods that exists.

15. The best advice for life is to use no oil because of its high calorie content per tablespoon.

16. There are great benefits to fasting (fast for 1 or 2 days twice a month–drink water only).

17. Ground flax seeds are much better than flax seed oil.

18. Try to eat one pound of greens per day.

19. Try to eat 100 grams of natural fiber per day.

20. Eat lots of strawberries, blueberries, and melons–these are great anti-cancer food.

21. There are virtually no heart attacks for vegetarians or people who get 10% or fewer calories from animal products.

22. Drink lots of water–1 1/2 to 2 liters per day.

23. Challenge yourself to try a six-week diet without any animal or dairy products except fish and Egg Beaters.

24. Don’t buy or bring foods into your house that are not healthy. Why tempt yourself?

25. Leave trays or bowls of fresh fruit and vegetable out on your desk or kitchen counter.

26. Last, but not least, your life will be greatly empowered in everything you do if you firmly set goals for great health.

I am so very happy that I came across these words of wisdom from these two great books because I had been out of the great health habit. As soon as I finished with this list I went to the kitchen and placed a cup of fruit and some veggies on a platter and starting eating. We all need big reminders of what is good for us since it’s so easy to change good habit into a bad one. I hope it hits you the same way and you take some good healthy actions for a long healthy life!

17 Proven Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels

December 1, 2019 by  
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If you have high energy levels, life is so much more enjoyable and, of course, you can get a ton of stuff done. I’m not just talking about work stuff either. With high energy levels there’s tons of fun things and experiences that you can enjoy. As we age, our energy levels begin to drop, but there are many ways that you can lift or boost your energy and that makes life so much more fun and interesting.

Whether it’s for work or play, family or friends, whether you’re young or old, we could all use a little bit more energy. So here is a list of proven ways to boost your energy levels.

  1. Set big and exciting goals to put your BIG dreams into action. Be sure to make a list of those big dreams and to put a time frame on those goals.
  2. Take a good look at your list of goals, either the night before or the morning of, so you wake ready and focused which will give you with lots of energy that day.
  3. Eat more nutritious foods — lots of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Drink green tea to help overcome that mid-morning slump.
  5. Get plenty of exposure to natural light.
  6. Ease your stress by simplifying your life and mainly, or exclusively, pursue your life’s priority items.
  7. Heal yourself by being more grateful as well as loving more and letting go of all anger.
  8. Thinking good thoughts and increasing your positive self-talk can stimulate good neurotransmitters called endorphins.
  9. Play and exercise daily as that releases more endorphins and dopamine, which will boost your mental and physical energy.
  10. Keep moving, even if it’s just walking. My fit bit was a fantastic gift. It got me walking at least 5.000 steps a day at first then I began getting 10,000 steps a day and now I consistently get 20,000 steps in a day. That is about 10 miles, but I break up those steps during the day and it doesn’t seem like 10 miles. it always surprises me that doing all that walking gives me even more energy.) My all-time best steps in one day was 40,111. Not bad for 75-year-old dude!
  11. Get lots of sleep, but not too much, and take a nap when needed.
  12. Take time for a few minutes of yoga stretching and a bit of meditation for a morning boost.
  13. Listen to your favorite music. For some people it may be music with a heart pounding beat. To others it may be inspirational symphonic music.
  14. Socialize with energetic friends and family.
  15. Go visit new and different places such as new states, cities, or countries, but it also works to just drive or walk through a different neighborhood.
  16. Drink lots of water. Dehydration drains energy.
  17. Talk to yourself using positive affirmations. Some of my favorites are:
    • I am strong and worthy.
    • I’m upbeat and positive
    • I have lots of stamina and energy. (I use that one a lot before and during my tennis matches.)

Okay, and here is one last one that may seem strange, but it works. Take huge breaths, exhaling slowly and do a it many times. I do it 100 times without stopping, which takes only about 10 minutes and the reward is a very calm and energy filled mind and body. It also works to help you go to sleep at night which helps with item number 11.

This and all the above will give you lots of energy throughout your day!

 

 

The Power Source That is Our Minds

May 10, 2019 by  
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It’s totally amazing to me that the human brain can create so much energy of its own. Just a change of thought can quickly give you a huge burst of energy, and it’s not just when the brain stimulates the production of adrenaline because you have been suddenly surprised by a bear in the woods or get cornered by a stranger in an alley. We know that the brain also gives more energy to the body when it releases serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones. And, of course, we are familiar with how setting a big, exciting goal can stimulate us too, getting us to jump out of bed in the morning and spring into action.

A man named Nando Parrado was able to save his life and 16 others when he set a huge goal, one that was literally a matter of life or death, in his mind, giving him an incredible amount of energy. That energy gave him enough strength and endurance to climb over the top of the highest peak in the Andes after he and 16 others survived a plane crash in those snow-covered mountains. He walked, climbed, and crawled in freezing temperatures for 11 days with virtually no food and lost 80 pounds in the process. His brain kept telling him that he could make it and save many others, which gave him the energy and strength to keep going. He had no equipment or experience in doing such a thing, and yet, he and a companion made it to safety.

You may remember the story. It was the subject of a TV documentary, a movie, and a book, all entitled Alive. The plane that crashed on that glacier high in the Andes was carrying members of the Uruguayan Rugby team to a match in Chile. Along for the ride to see the match were friends and family. On impact many of the 45 passengers on board were killed and others died within days. Still others died later from exposure and starvation and more died when an avalanche came racing down the mountain during one of those tragic nights. Only 16 survived and did so by eating the flesh of their dead teammates. They somehow miraculously stayed alive for 72 days with temperatures dropping below zero at night.

Without the energy created by the determination in Parado’s mind, everyone would have died. That certainly shows us the huge power buried in the human mind. We should never forget this story as it should motivate us to set goals and think about exciting things that stimulate our brain to create energy. These thoughts will, of course, make our lives more productive and exciting and help make the world a better place.

 

Boosting the Brain with Thanks

November 23, 2018 by  
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Here’s a good question for you: Did you find yourself giving a lot of thanks yesterday? Or were you distracted by all the turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie? I hope you were taking time to give a ton of thanks! Isn’t that what we all should do on that day? After all it is called “Thanksgiving”! But that isn’t the only reason to give thanks this holiday season and throughout the year.

I recently heard on a broadcast that there is one big benefit we all can receive from saying “thanks” or “thank you”. Research into the human brain has shown that saying thank you, or otherwise giving verbal appreciation or gratitude, signals the brain to release the feel good, feel happy brain chemical dopamine.

Sometime ago, I wrote about how when a person smiles, even if it is a forced smile, the brain releases three of the four feel good brain chemicals – dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins (the forth brain chemical is oxytocin). These four chemicals, produced by the brain, not only make you feel more relaxed, they also could lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. Some studies even suggest that if they are released often enough, they can even help you live longer.

Another big benefit from giving thanks to others is that, if accompanied by a big sincere smile, your gesture will cause the other person to smile right back at you and then they are more likely to smile at the next person they encounter. So, you see, you are spreading some good stuff and helping others just by being thankful and letting other people know it.

And here’s another thing that has been shown to lift people’s spirits and that is simply to keep a journal in which you make note of the things you are thankful for. By writing down what, and who, you are grateful for, you are giving your brain more determination. This helps improve and lift your attention, enthusiasm and even lifts your energy.

So, during this holiday season, and beyond, we all need to focus on giving thanks, showing and expressing our gratitude, and, yes, even thinking about our positive qualities and of happy memories in order to boost our serotonin levels.

One last thought… don’t forget that laughing and social interaction both cause the brain to release those great feel good chemicals as well! So, this holiday season, be sure you have plenty of opportunities to boost those feel good chemicals and show your thanks and appreciation.

 

Money Can Buy You Novelty

August 17, 2018 by  
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If you Google “Ignite My Life Now”, you will see “Investing in Real Estate” as part of the headline, so some people might wonder if this blog is about investing in real estate or igniting your life. I certainly believe that investing in real estate and making lots of money does not necessarily  ignite a person’s life, even if real estate investing yields millions and millions of dollars for that person. I clearly remember thinking, when I was young and didn’t have much money, that once I made a million dollars, my world would be perfect and I would be totally satisfied, content, and happy. I imagined that my life would be totally ignited.

However, when I arrived at my first million-dollar net worth goal, I was surprised and disappointed that I didn’t feel much better, so I figured I had to make another million or two, then I would be totally set in the departments of contentment, happiness and fulfillment. I was certain that my world would be pretty much ignited and perfect then. But surprise, surprise … when I arrived at my new goal my life still didn’t seem to be ignited.

I looked deeper and deeper to try to discover what the real key to fulfillment, contentment, and happiness in a person’s life was and whether money could play a part. As it turns out, there is a lot that goes into having a content, fulfilled, and happy life and, yes, money can be a part of that.

We all know that love and loving relationships with other people – a spouse, friends, children and others – lifts the happiness factor as does setting goals and reaching them. It also has been proven that unique and novel experiences can revitalize a person’s mind by boosting a brain chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel so very happy. But, what about money? What part can it play in lifting our contentment and happiness factors?

What I have found is that money by itself does not make a person much happier than when they did not have it. It can, however, buy more possibilities in a person’s world. You see, our brains want novelty and money can give you more time and resources to carefully and creatively design and go after these novel experiences. This is one of the best uses of your money.

I’ll never forget all the totally unique and novel experiences I had when my wife and I went around the world in 28 days, visiting dozens of new and different countries with so many totally different life styles, houses, huge castles, small villages and fascinating people of different cultures, religions and habits. On a smaller scale but also quite stimulating for the mind, is being in places like I am now.

As I write this blog I am sitting in a marvelous,  multi-story “cabin” in beautiful Big Sky, Montana, totally enjoying this very unique and novel place with most of my kids and grandkids. Ok, yes, I’m working, writing this blog as the some of the kids are running about, visiting Yellowstone, looking to go tubing, or taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain. But none of this would be happening if I hadn’t invested in the good ole real estate stuff and make some good money at it.

The big bonus to making money on my investments was that I really did enjoy the work and I got a ton of contentment along the way as I worked through each deal. I even broke a sweat back in the days when I did much of the hard labor to repair and fix houses and apartment buildings in order to increase their value. I’m not saying that I’ve always been perfectly happy and content, but I am saying that money has opened a much wider world for novel and unique experiences that have greatly enhanced and lifted my world.

A Passion for Your Goals

December 16, 2017 by  
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As we are quickly coming to the end of this year, and with the New Year just a couple weeks away, most of us are thinking not only about the holidays but all the shopping that we must do. I know most guys really don’t enjoy that part of the holidays but thank heaven for women! They do generally have a passion for shopping. But why are they so passionate about it while men aren’t? It really comes down to how we go about it. The people who like shopping aren’t just buying gifts, they are out to find the greatest stuff and to get the best bargains on them. It’s a challenge and an adventure. The rest of us just want to find something that will fill the bill and be done with it. So that’s the thing—when you have a passion for your particular goal and for how you reach it, it makes it much easier, and much more fun, to accomplish.

This is true for any goal, but not only do you need passion, you need the goal to be attainable or you may lose that passion. The thing is, if you set goals and objectives that are so big as to make it impossible to achieve, even by taking lots of baby steps, it can lead to a huge disappointment which can kill your passion. At that point, it can become very easy to beat yourself up and may eventually make you want to give up on goal setting itself. In other words, setting goals that are challenging but that you can achieve can help keep up your passion. Setting unattainable goals, on the other hand, can do major damage to your passion factor.

Passion is a very interesting feeling that is so very important in life and living but it can be an elusive pursuit. As people age, they have flashes of passion here and there and then they lose it and they don’t know why.  Unfortunately, there are physical reasons that passion starts to decline that make it hard to keep those fires going. From about age 25 or 30 your brain begins to produce less and less dopamine and serotonin–the hormones that make you feel good. A child’s body is awash in these hormones. There are things that stimulate and produce these hormones in young people that our aging bodies are missing.

The good news is, setting and reaching realistic goals can help the brain increase those important brain chemicals. Another helpful factor is eating the right foods and exercising, both of which will help restore those dopamine and serotonin levels. In the next week or two, I will talk more about what foods are best to eat that restore those 2 brain chemicals.

So, if you are like me, you will be thinking more and more about what next year will bring and what you want to accomplish in 2018.  Go big but with a touch of caution as you set your goals for the new year so that you’ll still have plenty of passion for each new dream you come up with.

 

Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!

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