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Time to Appreciate

August 1, 2021 by  
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As I was walking down our very long driveway to pick up the garbage cans, I looked up at the same sky I see every day, but this time I focused in on the absolutely beautiful blueness and the great billowy white clouds. It almost took my breath away. 

Probably the biggest reason that I was so moved is because for the last few days we’ve had thick, ugly, smoke-filled air caused by the huge fires in the western part of Utah and from all the way over on the west coast. Seeing the beautiful blue sky I had missed over the previous days just made me really appreciate it.

While I admired our clear skies, the thought hit me that there are so many times in our lives that we just take things for granted. The truth is, we often don’t really appreciate them until they are taken away from us.

That was certainly the case for me when the pandemic restrictions started to be pulled back. The lock downs took away my social life and, as I wrote several posts back, the pandemic restrictions made me realize how very important my social life and friends are in my life.

So, up until the day all that dirty air and smoke hit our city and state, I took all that good clean air for granted. Ugh! But now, wow, I notice and totally appreciate our beautiful sky and clear air. 

After this mental breakthrough, I started making a list of the many things I love but don’t always take time to appreciate. Here’s part of that list. The first 6 are all good “F” words:

1. Family, especially my wife

2. Friends

3. Freedom

4. Finances

5. Fun

6. Future

7. Health

8. A brain that works fairly well. (Okay, my wife may dispute that one!)

9. Home

10. Country

11. Nature

12. Kindness

I think I need to make more and more lists and review those lists and on a regular basis. I am sure that will lift my spirts and my life. I would encourage and challenge you to do the same!

The Joy in the Journey

June 27, 2021 by  
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Would you agree that most of us, at one time or another, especially when we were young, had thoughts of being rich and or famous? And maybe those thoughts were followed by, “If I was rich and famous, my life would be perfect or darn near perfect!”

If you were at all like me, you certainly had those thoughts. Most people I’ve talked with over the years had those thoughts run through their mind at some point. But I’m here to tell you that a near-perfect life does not necessarily follow fame or wealth.

Yes, wealth can make a lot of things in your life an easier, but if you think that tons of money and fame will automatically bring you happiness and contentment, you’re dead wrong. In fact, I think you will find a higher early death rate and more addiction in the rich and famous than in the middle class. That is saying something about how imperfect a life with wealth and fame can be.

Riches and fame can give you a lot more choices, but you do need to be extremely careful with the choices you make. For example, gifting your wealth to charitable causes can bring far greater and longer lasting satisfaction than feeding a cocaine or alcohol addiction with all that money.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that money and fame, or going after great and lofty financial glory, are not worthy goals. Those are energizing, lots of fun, and can be very satisfying. Just be sure you enjoy each hour and day of your pursuit and be aware that whatever the end results of your journey, it won’t make your life perfect.

The thing is, nobody’s life is perfect and when you realize that and accept that fact, your satisfaction and contentment can really begin to soar. Trust me on that. I’ve been there, done that, and learned it. I have to remind myself that life is never perfect on an almost daily basis, pushing myself to concentrate on the big multi-year goals while, at the same time, remembering to “live in the now” and have tons of joy while on the journey.

Money can do great things for you, your family, and your life, but it is simply not everything. It is not the key to a happy, fulfilled life. Look beyond the wealth to what you can do to make things better for others as well as exploring and enjoying life. You don’t want your life to just be about making money. You want it to be about what that money can do for you and others. That’s where you will find the joy.

The Power of Gratitude

May 9, 2021 by  
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It looks like we are slowly getting this COVID thing fixed, or at least we are making some progress. I must admit, I’m a pretty lucky guy. Not only did all my family make it through with no super serious problems, but there were some great rewards and big payments that lifted my brain and heart.

There is one type of big payment that comes to me constantly that I am so very grateful for. And no, I’m not talking about financial payments but something much more rewarding and pleasing, something that lifts my brain to a higher level. I’m talking about the messages of gratitude that so many of my blog and book readers send to me because the things I shared in my writing helped their lives.

There’s not a lot of things more rewarding in this life than gratitude and love from friends, family, and followers. I just received a great letter from a guy who calls himself Fixer Jay DeCima who thanked me for helping him. He writes books and training programs on profiting in real estate. You can find them at www.fixerjay.com. Also, there is the super billionaire, Dell Loy Hansen, that gives me credit for him making a fortune. His letter crediting me is in the front of the latest edition of my book, The Next Step to… Waking up the Financial Genius inside You.

These notes of thanks and words of gratitude come in randomly and, yep, they certainly lift my mind, body, and soul. There is almost nothing like that feeling in the world, and it’s so much more important than money. If you have experienced helping other people and then receiving thanks and gratitude from them, you know what I mean.

Also, this darn COVID thing has taught me a lot of lessons about the power and mind lifting benefit of being social and, especially, giving your friends and loved ones big hugs. Our social life and these experiences with gratitude and love drive, in a good way, our existence here on planet earth.

Now I’m not one to say that I know what happens to us after we die. I don’t know whether there is a next life or if we will live again with family and friends, but I do know that only a fool wouldn’t at least hope for that. So, my challenge to myself, and you, is that we take more time to express our gratitude and appreciation for other people and remember that these things are so important for a happy and fulfilling life on this planet earth.

Poetry of Life and Love

April 25, 2021 by  
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The other day I was thinking about love and how many people I love and feel loved by.

Just after having those thoughts, my wonderful wife, Kimberly, came across a poem I wrote for her about love. I wrote it back in 2006 and had totally forgotten about it. When I read it, I was really surprised. I didn’t remember writing a poem that she thought was so great.

So here it is. I hope you like it and that you love lots of people and they return the love back to you! 

 Life, Life, Life!
 It’s what we live… a day at a time.
 At times so sad, sometimes sublime.
  
 Most moments pass without much thought…
 Others stop us cold, as we challenge what we’ve sought.
 Tonight so silent and serene, by myself but not alone.
 Waiting for Her, the sound of her walk…
 Such comfort knowing we will soon talk.
 To share the details and feelings of her day and night,
 Our lives, our family and friends — the future so bright.
  
 So we finish the day and start all over tomorrow
 Grabbing each second, each minute, we steal or borrow.
 Those seconds turned hours, then two years
 Giving more time for great joys and sad tears.
  
 65, 70, 80 years we’ll soar.
 Why not 90, 100 or even more?
 Shoot for the stars and do all that you can.
 Maybe only the moon you’ll hit, for you’re just a man.
  
 Share your love along the way
 With kids, lovers and strangers each day.
 For to make a difference on this place called earth,
 Giving love and compassion will breed and give birth.
  
 Now, so many others whom you’ll never know…
 Will spread your influence for good and continue to grow.
 And whether the credit is given to you or not,
 Lives will be helped, easier battles will be fought.
  
 Lifting their sights to a higher plane…
 Giving all more courage to do the same.
 Making the world such a better place…
 Giving good reason you took up some space.
  
 — Mark O. Haroldsen, November 2006

Gratitude Pays Off

April 11, 2021 by  
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I’ve written several posts on the powerful benefits of gratitude and what good things it can do for your life. In these days of the pandemic, I would guess most of us look back and see all the things we took for granted that we have not had or been able to do this past year. I sure have!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how very, very important being social is to us humans until it was almost totally taken away from us all. But now, as we slowly pull out of this COVID thing with so many people getting vaccines (and yes, I got mine), we can really appreciate and be more grateful for all we have.

Recently, I read about scientific studies that found that we gain dozens of significant benefits from having gratitude in our lives. For instance, having gratitude…

  • Fosters very positive feelings.
  • Gives you a sense of wellbeing.
  • Eases our anxiety and depression.
  • Promotes physical health.
  • Improves our relationships.
  • Helps us sleep better.
  • Improves our psychological health and gives us more mental strength.
  • Helps us relax.
  • Makes you friendlier.
  • Helps your marriage.
  • Deepens friendships.
  • Increases your productivity.
  • Helps you make friends.
  • Can benefit your career.

There are many more benefits to having a high degree of gratitude in your life, but for me, this list is a darn good start and a great reminder for me to be more and more grateful.

We should be really super grateful for living in this great country of America. Most of us have a fairly high standard of living. Having traveled and visited 94 countries and having seen the poverty and poor people of China, South Africa, and many other places, I am very grateful for what I have and where I live.

Also, I think of all of my good friends and family, how grateful they are for us. They are close most of the time and are there for us when we need them. I think, of all my great friends and kids and grandkids and am so grateful for all of them, especially my great wife Kimberly. She is the best and I am so lucky and grateful to have her. Even my ex-wife Lois seems to be grateful for me and I certainly am grateful to her for being so accepting of me and my new family.

I encourage you all to take time to make a list of those things, people, and situations that you are grateful for. Taking even just 5 minutes to start your own “Gratitude Journal” could have some fantastic benefits. I’ve done that, and it quite surprised me to see how long the list became. Yes, go do it. You’ll be glad you did.

And yes, I’m also very grateful to you, my readers. Thank you so much for reading and for your support.

Stir Yourself Up Instead of Going Stir Crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sudden and Shocking

October 27, 2019 by  
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A few days ago, it was an absolutely shocking day for the Haroldsen and Whitcamp family.  All seemed to be going well with all my kids and grandkids. Everyone was happy and healthy but then I got a phone call from my son Marcus. “Dad, I have something very terrible I have to tell you,” he said and then he began trying to get the words out but emotion and tears were obviously getting in the way. Finally, he was able to tell me that one of his 2-year-old identical twins, Kate, was in the hospital and has been diagnosed with leukemia. I was stunned and speechless. Little Kate and her twin Ellie are very sweet, darling, and cuddly, and I couldn’t, in my wildest imagination, expect such a terrible thing happening to such a beautiful, innocent little girl. As I write this blog, she is undergoing chemotherapy, having bone marrow taken out of her little tiny bones for examination, and who knows what else is happening and the pain inside her little brain.

It’s so easy to think that your life is going to be what you planned on it being and, of course, much of it can be if you set goals, work at reaching those goals, and take care of yourself. But life can, and often does, toss us some tough curve balls and that can come on suddenly. Very quick changes and quick turns will hit most of us at some point in our lives.

Anyone who thinks that they have, or will have, a perfect life, and think it will always be that way, is totally deceiving themselves. No one on this planet has a perfect life. Oh yes, you can have a pretty darn good and comfortable life, but you never know what huge shock any one day can bring to you and your loved ones. At minimum, no one gets out of this life alive!

Not that all death is a tragedy. If you live to be 90 or 100 and then slip away, it’s sad for all those people that loved you but not a shocking tragedy like it is for a young person. I know a little bit about this having lost a 16-year-old daughter as well as having my dad pass away at 84. Everyone knows that when a person is 84, 90, or 100, life is about over, but we should also know that we can live on through our kids and grandkids and maybe even in another life.

The good news is that little darling Kate is doing well and the prognosis for curing her cancer of the blood is very good. It’s going to take years though–two years of chemotherapy, plus years more of tough stuff including procedures and tests. It’s going to be tough on her and her siblings as well as her parents and, yes, all of the extended family and many, many friends.

Let’s all send best wishes, good karma and great love to beautiful little Kate and her family.

Grateful Action

August 23, 2019 by  
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Okay here is a $64,000 dollar question: Should you and I choose to be mindful of what we have and be grateful most of the time, reaping the benefits from that attitude along the way, or should we whine and complain and be ungrateful and end up unhappy and miserable?

Ok, I know that’s not too tough a question but isn’t it funny that, regardless of how obvious the answer is, we so often fall into an ungrateful mode in our daily life? Shouldn’t we do something about that? And if so, what would that be?

Well, maybe we can just practice it more often, being mindful of our attitude so that we can stop the complaining when we realize what we are doing. If we can become more aware of our attitude, we would surely see a difference in our lives and our relationship with the people around us.

As I look out at the world, especially in the incredible times we live in right now with all the turmoil, uprising, pointless deaths, instability and chaos in so many places in the world, and then look outside my door, it’s hard not to be a little shocked by how different my life is here in an affluent, developed country. When I see these things, I am struck big time with the thought that, wow, we really do have it good, those of us living in the USA, Canada, Europe, etc. But how often, and seriously, do we consider how blessed we are?

But we just can’t think about it. Agreeing that the more grateful is a good idea is not quite enough, is it? We need to act. We need to make it important in our lives. I have to tell you, when I take time to be grateful, that very process and feeling of gratitude boosts my satisfaction, contentment, and happiness levels! It’s almost like magic.

So why not start now? You could write or call someone or post something on your favorite social network site. Just put something out there, saying that you are grateful and want never to forget it. Then keep that in your mind as you go through the day and you are sure to start reaping the benefits almost immediately.

Appreciating what we have is good for our spirits, our attitude, our family, our outlook on life, and, by extension, the world out there that is working through the chaos and pressure of broad and often, unstoppable, change. It’s the least we can do for them, and for ourselves.

 

All the Love out There

October 12, 2018 by  
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Last week I ended my blog by writing about the great tears of joy I experienced shortly after posting a picture of me at my daughter’s grave site, a moment that itself was filled with tears of pain and sorrow! So, you may ask, what brought on the great tears of joy?

Shortly after posting the picture of my daughter Kristin’s grave site, I began to receive these wonderful messages of love with many kind words of sympathy, love and support. Wow, did those words of love, coming from several dozen friends, family and even total strangers, ever get to me, bringing on those tears of joy!

That got me thinking about how powerful love is in our lives and how much of it is out there. Even though it’s all around  us you sure don’t hear or see much of that on the news, so, I’m guessing that some people don’t really fully realize how much love there is in the world. But, the opposite of love—that thing called hate—makes the news pretty much every day. Why is that? I think the main reason is because it can be, and usually is, so very sensational, so it really stands out and grabs our attention. Like the mass shooting last year in Las Vegas or the kidnapping of a kid or the rape of a woman and, of course, lately, the terrible things we are hearing about due to the MeToo movement.

The news certainly doesn’t spend much, if any time, on how much love a parent shows his or her kids. Once in a great while the news might have a short story on the great love of a couple on their 50th or 75th wedding anniversary, but the divorce of a couple, especially if they are famous, certainly makes the front page and the top of the hour TV news.

I think we all need to pay more attention to that great thing called “love” and give more of it to those around us and, yes, even people we have just met. We need to Encourage our kids and those around us to share more and more love each day, through words and deeds. And I want to publicly send out a HUGE THANK YOU AND LOVE BACK to those wonderful people who sent words of love, great sympathy, and support to me on what have would have been my daughter’s birthday!

 

The Blessing of Time

May 4, 2018 by  
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Time seems to move faster and faster as we age, but I must admit that sometimes the passage of time can be a real blessing. 32 years ago, this week, I was hit in the face and heart with the biggest, most shocking tragedy of my entire life. It took years to recover from the overwhelming pain, but those passing years became a huge healing and soothing help.

It was on May 2nd, 1986 that my 16-year-old daughter, Kristin, died. The photo here is of Kristin and her brother on the way back from her last trip to Hawaii. Losing a child must be the biggest tragedy one might have to endure in this life. But what I have discovered is that the passing of time really helps and allows a person to deal with the death of a loved one. It’s true that you really never get over it but time diminishes the pain so you can heal and eventually deal with the tragedy.

It’s so ironic that on March 30, 1986, just 33 days before my beautiful Kristin died, I wrote the following in my journal:

“Big, bright fun, changes and growth. What a difference a few years can make. Life seems so sweet now, so full. I’m so content. I don’t see how life could be any better. With my kids and friends and I guess even my age – I am almost 42 – it all makes life pleasant and full. Spent a fabulous month in Hawaii with all of my kids – super times!! Life doesn’t get any better than this. Life is all it ought to be. If this is how the decade of the 40’s is going to be, then I love it. No wonder they say life begins at 40, mine sure did. I’m beginning to look forward to the next 40 years – that’s 14,600 days. This journal now covers 22 years. Big changes in my thinking and perception of life’s meaning. I wonder what the next 22 years will bring as far as changes.”

My very next entry in my journal was quite different: “Not in my wildest imagination could I have ever dreamed that the biggest tragedy of my life would occur just 33 days after this entry.”

My heart continued to bleed for 4 and half years before I pulled myself out of the deep well of depression and self-pity. Those years helped a ton and helped me to finally realize that I needed to move on with my life. I needed to help and pay attention to my kids and loved ones and see how I could help others who have been faced with great tragedies. The bottom line is, time can be a great teacher of some of the biggest lessons of life! We just have to get up and pay attention.

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