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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!

Hard Working Spies

February 21, 2021 by  
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My dear wife Kimberly read a very fascinating book which she then talked me into reading. The book’s title is The Spy and the Traitor written by Ben Macintyre. It’s a true story about spies and counter spies in Russia, England, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands. I was not too interested, at least not at first, but with her request and gentle prodding, I picked it up while on vacation in Kauai and began to read.

Wow, what a book it is! Now, I’m only 100 pages in out of 335, but it’s really got me hooked. It’s a very fascinating read about some very dangerous spy and counter spy activity that I’m pretty sure is still going on. But the thing that really impressed me was the lengths these spies would go to accomplish their objectives.

The main character is a guy by the name of Oleg Gordievsky who is working for the Russian KGB, but the more he sees the western world of Denmark and England with its free market, freedom of speech, and all those things that go with Western and free enterprise countries, the more he realizes that communism is not the best way to go for human beings. So, Oleg is drawn towards the free enterprise cultures but as a top Russian spy he has to hide his thoughts and beliefs so as not to be sent back to Moscow where he could be imprisoned or even put to death.

Reading this great book about the true story of Oleg and so many of his friends and enemies certainly made me stop and think of how good we have it living in a great free country that allows us to think our own thoughts, write about them, and publish them without fear of being arrested or put to death. Plus, we have this amazing freedom to make a terrific living, maybe even making millions of dollars without bribing anyone or dodging the law.

The spies on both sides in this book were pushed to lengths that were almost unbelievable. They worked, studied, and spent unbelievable amounts of time planning what they were told to do and accomplish. It made me think that if we, as free men and women in America, were pushed half as hard by others or by ourselves, it would almost be a certainty that our success would be astronomical. So many of us could be making millions, or even billions, as well as helping others to do the same thing or to chase other great and noble causes that don’t involve money.

Our problem is that so many times we have it way too easy and we just move along at a normal, or even slow pace, depending on where we live and what our friends and relatives around us are doing. For the most part, it seems like we follow our family, friends, and neighbors rather than push ourselves to great new heights. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all up to you and me. Think about how hard you push yourself and whether you can push yourself further to gain even more in your life.

 

 

The Benefits List

January 31, 2021 by  
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In these tough times of COVID it’s easy to become very negative about so many things. In the book Letting Go, David R. Hawkins talks about choosing the positive thoughts to push out negative thoughts. He says, “There is an inner reality that we can term our ‘inner greatness’ or ‘higher self’. It has much more power than the inner negativity. In return for letting go of the payoffs that we were getting from the negative position, we are now surprised by the positive payoff. We are subject only to what we hold in mind…The body will respond to what we believe.”

Years ago, I came up with a simple trick that keeps my mind on a positive track. I know how easy it is to let goals slip away from me so I take time to write down, not only the goal, but all of the benefits that sticking with and achieving my objective will bring me. And then when I think of more benefits, I add those to my benefit list. I called this B-RAM, which is short for Benefits, Rewards and Motivation. I also call it my “Big Brain Booster”.

I would strongly suggest that you try it out. Take time to write down all the benefits that sticking with your goals will give you. We certainly have enough time in these COVID days to think these through and come up with lots of benefits we’ll get from reaching our goals.

Now, we may not be able to get out and about to pursue all our goals, at least right now. But given time, this pandemic will be over and we can be so very ready to go after our preset goals and find ourselves glued to them because we can see all of the benefits as we review our list.

Here’s how I came up with this B-RAM concept. Years ago, I had been reading a great book called Beyond the 120-Year Diet by Dr. Roy Walford, a leading expert on longevity. As I read the book and saw how difficult some of the calorie restrictions were on the diet he recommended, I began writing down the benefits that would help me stick with this tough calorie restricted diet. I needed extra motivation so my list made it much easier to stick with the diet. After that, any time I got discouraged, got weak, or got diverted on this diet, I looked at my list and it remotivated me and reminded me of why I set the goal in the first place.

It can be easy to forget why you set certain goals but when you go back to your list of benefits, it’s easy to remember why and it keeps you on track to achieve your goals. And believe me, it’s not easy to stay on a very restricted calorie diet as you probably can understand, especially if you’ve ever been down that road.

As I’m sure you know, if you have followed my posts or read my books, writing down your goals and objectives, putting a timeline on those goals, and revisiting what you wrote increases the chance of you reaching them. It doesn’t matter whether your goals are health or wealth. It works for those goals and many more.

So, now, in these COVID times, let’s all spend more time making benefit lists for our goals. And don’t forget to put your list of goals and benefits in a very convenient place so you can visit them often and easily!

Get Past the Depression

January 10, 2021 by  
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The news this week, and through much of this past year, has been terribly sad and is sometimes almost too hard to process. There is been a lot of news about depression and how much more of it there is right now. It’s understandable. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject with thoughts from past posts. Because although depression may be hard to avoid in times like these, it can be minimized and only fleeting if you are vigilant.

First of all, we need to deal with our disappointment and the restrictions this pandemic has put on our lives. Our advanced technologies have led us to habitually expect that we can access our wishes immediately. Super-fast internet, instant downloads, and multi-functional cell phones give us the ability to have some level of access to whatever or whomever we want whenever we want. But life, in general, doesn’t work that way. As a result, we are experiencing tremendous frustration and impatience with a world that is not changing quickly and fulfilling our needs and wishes immediately. This can ultimately lead to depression or anger.

In my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, I touch upon some of the depressive episodes I have been through and some of the ways I have dealt with them. I also think Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, has hit upon the true source and the most effective ideas to combat depression as well as other mood disorders.

The first few ideas on his list are some of the most important, at least in my experience. They deal with becoming a watcher of one’s thoughts and redirecting the mind when we start to buy into the idea of being a depressed person:

  • Learn to recognize how your mind labels thoughts and sits in judgment so you know what ideas lie at the source of your pain.
  • Accept whatever the present moment contains as if you had chosen it.
  • The pain or depression wants you to unconsciously identify with it, allowing it to survive in your mind. If you are not a careful watcher of your thoughts then you may come to believe that you are a depressed person and then this becomes your identity.

Letting your mind create this depression identity will make it very difficult to get past the dark feelings and the pain because you will then believe this is who you are. But if you start with these first few ideas of Tolle’s, recognizing how your mind is working and seeing the present moment as something under your control, you can avoid the mindset that makes you think of yourself as a depressed person.

These ideas are true for any issues of mood. I choose to talk about them in terms of depression because that has been a difficult battle of mine. However, if you are dealing with anger, guilt, low self-esteem, fear, etc. watching your thoughts and taking control can help you with all types of painful moods and attitudes.

So, if you are depressed, don’t just live with it. Find its source, accept that it exists, and then aim to let it go. Give yourself goals and make plans you can look forward to. Eat healthy and whole foods as refined and sugary foods have been shown to feed depression. Get out and move and boost that serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

You may also want to turn off the TV, stop reading those dramatic headlines, and unsubscribe from all those pessimistic reports. Instead, read up on all the great success stories you can find on-line and in responsible and inspiring periodicals. You can, literally, change your mood by changing your view of the world as well as your mindset.

 

A New Goal, a New Habit, a New Year

January 3, 2021 by  
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Since we’ve just started a new year, I must say something about renewing and re-dedicating ourselves to our life goals. And there is one super powerful and time proven aid I would strongly suggest you use to increase your odds of hitting your goals. It’s something I talk about in my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, but I have another source to show you how powerful it can be.

Years ago, my son David gave me a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and, wow, what a great book I found it to be. I have re-read it many times. Duhigg relies on scientific studies to dissect what it takes to form a new habit or dump a habit that you don’t like but he also discusses this aid to reaching your goals that I want to share with you.

In the book, he talks about a Scottish study by a psychologist who recruited 60 patients that just had hip or knee replacement surgery. Having personally experienced a double hip replacement, I know just how painful this kind of surgery can be. Most people don’t even want to move afterward, let alone start walking as their rehabilitation requires.

After their surgeries, this psychologist gave each patient a booklet that detailed their rehab schedule and, in the back, there were 13 additional pages, one for each week, with blank spaces and these instructions:

“My goals for this week are _________________________. Write down exactly what you are going to do. For example, if you are going to go for a long walk or hike this week, write down where and when you are going to do it.”

Patients were asked to fill in each of those pages with specific plans. After their rehabilitation period, the psychologist compared the recovery results of those that filled out the pages and those that did not. Duhigg notes that, “It seems absurd to think that giving people a few pieces of blank paper might make a difference in how quickly they recover from surgery.”

But it did! Those patients that wrote down their goals recovered much faster than those who didn’t write down a thing.

The great lesson here, a lesson that I’ve preached to myself and others for years, is that we greatly improve our chance of success many times over if we simply write our goals down! And I mean all our goals: financial, physical, family, social etc. I also suggest that you put down the dates and/or times by which you want to accomplish your goals.

This isn’t only for long-term goals. I’ve found it extremely useful to write down my next day’s goals the night before as well. It’s far more likely that I will get those tasks done if they are written out and ready for me when I awake.

So, if you don’t already have the habit of writing down what you are going to do, this would be a great time to start. As a matter fact, write down this one now – that you are going to always write down your plans and goals! That’s a perfect start towards accomplishing your goals in this new year.

 

Never Stop Moving!

November 8, 2020 by  
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It’s quite a strange thing that when you start preaching to another person, whether it’s “Hey, you need to read more,” or “Workout more, eat less and lose weight,” it tends to push us to do whatever it is we are trying to get the other person to do.  Maybe that’s why I like writing a weekly blog. I find myself doing more of the things I am preaching to others about.

If you read my blog you know that I’m always writing about how important it is to keep moving especially as you get older. I play a lot of tennis and I’ll never forget how surprised I was when one of the guys I played with told me his age. He was a darn good player, moved well, and hit the snot out of the ball. Well, he told me he was over 80 years old! And I thought he was younger than me at 76.

As I said in last week’s blog, I’m re-reading the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. In that book, I read about the French guy who set a new world record in 1917 by cycling 22 kilometers in one hour … at age 105! Wow!

“His VO2 max (maximum volume of oxygen consumed), heart rate, and heart and lung health were measured over two years and it was discovered that his aerobic capacity was that of a 50 year old, some 55 years younger than his actual age,” the book’s author, Chili Lee, added. “Even more amazing was the fact that his VO2 max increased 13 percent.”

Of course, that doesn’t happen without a lot of effort over the years. The key is a very important thing that will allow you to live a long and healthy life: you need to keep moving!

I’ll never forget when my good friend and gold medalist Stein Eriksen (with me in the photo here) cycled with my wife and I over 30 miles every day for almost a week. It was in Europe (Gstaad, Switzerland) many years ago and he was keeping up with me and even passing me from time to time and he was 80 years old then! He won a gold medal in 1952 Olympics, in addition to a silver and bronze medal in other years. We were with him when, sadly, he passed away at age 88.

To sum it all up, I’ll quote from NASA’s former director of Life Sciences Division and author of the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Dr. Joan Vernikos: “The key to good health is being as active as possible all day. This doesn’t mean that you have to exercise for several hours, like an athlete. It means you should move your body whenever you get the chance. The more often you move, the better.”

Okay, readers go to it and keep moving!

 

The Neglected Key to a Long Life

October 25, 2020 by  
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I started to re-read the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 YEARS: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Transformation written by Ilchi Lee. I’ve written about this book in a previous blog post but I didn’t mention an incredible statistic I learned about in these pages.

It turns out, you can do this very simple thing that, on average, can lengthen your life by 7.5 years. That conclusion was reached based on data from 143 studies with a total of 300,000 participants. In that previous post, I mostly talked about how a long and healthy life is primarily about eating nutritious foods and staying physically active but there’s a bit more you can do.

So, during my second read of the book, what really jumped out at me was something that I’ve not been doing much of since I retired. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve ignored this critical part of living a long life and I have suffered because of it.

What is it that I’ve ignored that could have possibly lengthened my life by 7.5 years? It’s this thing called a social life! Having and keeping a good strong and active social life does things to the brain including sending signals to various body parts that keep it healthy and helps you live longer.

When I retired, I let my social life slide down big time! I stopped going to the office and so I stopped seeing my coworkers, clients, partners and business associates. I also moved into a big house on the mountain side with no neighbors, so that made it even worse. And this COVID-19 has certainly not helped in the least. In addition, there’s no kids here at home anymore. It’s just me and the wife in our big, empty nest.

Lee says in his book, “The isolation of the elderly doesn’t only cause loneliness, it has been shown to have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing conditions like chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia”. In addition, he notes, “Having people around us with whom we can communicate on a heart-to-heart level may also reduce the effects of stress.”

We all want to be happy but things can quickly change when we suddenly retire–Lee goes on to say “People, especially as they get older, are experiencing deeper and more frequent forms of unhappiness in many spheres of life: chronic illnesses, alienation or disruption of personal relationships, weakening of economic power. Suddenly facing their social roles greatly reduced during retirement, people are likely to find their self-esteem withering away.”

Most of that has hit me hard so I’m here to tell you that, whether you are retired yet or not, it’s a good time to start making a list of plans and actions that you are going to take on when that day arrives and be sure an active social life is on there. Personally, I’m bound and determined to catch up and do just that!

In Lee’s book he also talks about another thing that can lengthen and make your life more pleasant and happy and it’s something that I’ve talked a lot about over the years – having a good strong purpose and hopes and dreams. I will talk more about those issues in my next week’s post.

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