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You Don’t Have to Age

April 18, 2021 by  
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 Source: New York Times, Oct. 31, 2006 Photo Jeff Miller, U of Wisconsin

I am only 35 months away from hitting the big 80, so I have been thinking about age a lot lately. That’s why I’m pulling from an old blog post of mine, one that hits close to home and that I would like to share with you.

Have you ever wondered what you will look like when you reach age 85? More and more Americans are living that long and longer. Statistics from the Society of Actuaries and the Annuity for the year 2000, shows that a male, aged 65, has a 50% chance of living beyond age 85 and a 25% chance of living beyond age 92. A female, aged 65, has a 50% chance of living beyond age 88 and a 25% chance of living beyond age 94. But what will make the difference for any one of us?

There is some evidence to show that calorie restriction and resveratrol could make the difference between which side of those life expectancy statistics you’re on.

Above you see two rhesus monkeys. The one on the left eats a calorie-restricted diet, while the monkey on the right eats a normal diet. Both monkeys are in their late 20s. Their normal lifespan is 30-40 years. As you can see, they look to be in quite different conditions. Here is how the New York Times made note of their differences:

At 28, getting on for a rhesus monkey, Matthias is losing his hair, lugging a paunch and getting a face full of wrinkles.

Yet in the cage next to his, gleefully hooting at strangers, one of Matthias’s lab mates, Rudy, is the picture of monkey vitality, although he is slightly older. Thin and feisty, Rudy stops grooming his smooth coat just long enough to pirouette toward a proffered piece of fruit.

Tempted with the same treat, Matthias rises wearily and extends a frail hand. “You can really see the difference,” said Dr. Ricki Colman, an associate scientist at the center who cares for the animals.

The scientists believe it’s the restricted calories that made the difference between the condition of the monkeys but have found that resveratrol, a molecular mimic of calorie restriction, may deliver the same benefits without food deprivation. There is more human testing to be done, but researchers themselves became so convinced of this they begun taking resveratrol pills themselves.

How does resveratrol work? Studies have shown that Resveratrol turns old cells into young cells. Old cells typically accumulate extra copies of ribosomal DNA that clog the cell and impair cellular function. Resveratrol reverses this.

I think it may also be important to note that recent studies indicate that resveratrol works best when taken in small amounts. There are varying opinions on how much that actually is, however. From 200mg a day or less to simply drinking a glass of red wine has been suggested. The idea is that more is not better with this compound. Too much can actually block the mechanisms that allow resveratrol to help keep up young.

So, if you want to look good as you age, you can go on a nutritionally smart restricted calorie diet or try resveratrol or a little of both. Also, don’t forget to keep having novel experiences, make and reach for big goals, stay social, and exercise. We all get older every year, but there is no reason to age faster than necessary.

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.

Retirement – The Best or the Worst

October 11, 2020 by  
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I’m sure you, like most people would agree that the majority of us humans look forward to the day we get to retire. You know … no alarm clock to wake us up, no worrying about pleasing our boss, and so many other things we won’t have to do. You imagine life will be so great, that you will be able to relax, do anything you want to do, have tons of fun, and be able to travel anywhere in the world (that you can afford) on a whim.

Well, you know what? Some of that may be true. But when you find yourself without a schedule or purpose, that can get very depressing. You might even go a little crazy. And nowadays we have COVID-19 on top of that so it can be even worse. In fact, most of us are getting a preview of retirement now that our routines have been so dramatically changed.

You might find yourself asking, “Just what am I going to do today?”

The smart one’s among us begin to make lots of plans long before they hit that retirement wall. When I was preparing to retire, I made a few plans, but I didn’t create enough to-do lists or new routines.

So, what did I do when I was feeling down because of my lack of a schedule? I turned to books written about retirement. In Ernie J. Zelinski’s great book The Joy of Not Working, he makes lots of great suggestions such as, “One of the chief sources of happiness is having a special purpose or a personal mission in life … Finding and pursuing your true calling can make life a totally new experience.”

He then gives some examples of personal missions:

1. Make the world a better place to live by reducing pollution.

2. Raise money to help care for others in need.

3. Help children develop a special talent or skill, such as playing piano.

4. Write entertaining children’s book that help young boys and girls discover the wonders of the world.

5. Give foreign travelers the best possible tour of the Rocky Mountains.

6. Create a committed relationship and keep it exciting and energizing.

The author goes on to say, “Although a true calling should be closely tied to your values and interests, it can also be determined by your strengths and weaknesses. Your personal mission will intimately connect you to who you are and to the world around you. Taking the time to answer the following questions may help reveal a personal mission that you would like to pursue.”

I must say that his questions really helped me:

1. What are all your passions?

2. What are your strengths?

3. Who are your heroes?

4. What do you want to discover or learn?

Answering those great questions can put you on the right track. It has for me. So, if you are not retired yet, start making specific plans. And if you are retired and struggling, answer those questions above to help you discover your great purpose and direction for this new chapter in your life.

 

Solving the Mystery of You

October 4, 2020 by  
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As I promised in last week’s post, I’m going to discuss how we solve our own “mystery”, the mystery being what it is we really want out of life.

To help point you in the right direction and solve this mystery, I have compiled the following questions for you to ask yourself. Write or print out the questions along with your answers after contemplating them.

Then, after a bit of time, go back, and reread the questions and your answers, letting them sift through all the corners of your mind. Don’t get impatient with this. This is important “inner-self” work you are doing, laying a fertile foundation for that which is to come.

  1. What do you naturally and instinctively like to do? Forget about any financial or time constraints. Let your mind be open and flow and just write down the first things that come to your mind.
  2. What did you like to do when you were a kid? What was your passion then?
  3. What is it that you do now that really gets your juices flowing?
  4. What comes easily to you? Are these your passions?
  5. What puts you in such a mental state that you lose all sense of time to the extent that you say to yourself, “please let this moment linger” or “I wish this moment and feeling would never end”?
  6. What is it you most want to stand for?
  7. What do you want to be remembered for or leave to the world?

 

Now, take time to dig deep!

Make an appointment with yourself and sift through the questions above. Remember, it takes time – sometimes weeks or even months – to discover what’s hidden in the inner regions of your mind and heart.

Take time to seek advice from others. Especially from those you think highly of and those who have done some of the things you are considering doing with your life. Go ahead, call those gurus, those super successful people who you’ve always admired and tell them that you’d like just a few minutes of their time. Sometimes people who seem far above the masses are more available and approachable than you would believe.

I’ll never forget the desire I had when I was young to pick the brain of the founder of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, who made a billion dollars after the age of 55. I was stunned, shocked, surprised, and pleased when I was told by Mr. Kroc’s secretary that Mr. Kroc has agreed to meet with me and talk face to face! Wow!

Read and research all items and areas you can that deal with the wants on your dream list, the areas that seem to be most relevant to you and your life and how you can reach your dreams and goals.

As you read, research, and talk to the right people, be sure to write down not only what comes from those sources about what may fit your ideal life, but also record on paper or in your computer all of your own thoughts, ideas, and feelings that come up. This, as you will see, will be helpful and insightful to you later on when you re-read your own thoughts and words that passed through your mind.

Our Unfulfilled Ambitions

September 27, 2020 by  
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Do you have, like most of us, unfulfilled passions? If so, what are those passions? Do you love music, art, ballet, sports, outdoor adventures, traveling to new places, writing, social interactions, running a small business, or any other great possibility?

Take some time to contemplate and think about that. Once you have the answers, be sure to write down what your unfulfilled passions are. Then ask yourself this:

“Am I doing that special something that I love to do, and am I doing it for my own reasons?”

And… what are those reasons?

Then ponder this:

What kind of a breakthrough would you be ecstatic to have in your life in terms of your health, wealth, personal expression, spiritual development, etc.

Additionally, ask yourself:

In what would you like to excel?

What follows are just a few general categories I would like you to run through the gray matter of your brain before we really get focused.

Look at this list to see what overall categories might jump out at you or might be in the unfulfilled category so far in your life. Which of these categories are calling out to you and why?

  1. Artistic
  2. Sports
  3. Career
  4. Education
  5. Financial
  6. Physical
  7. Health
  8. Family
  9. Social
  10. Public Service

Of course, feel free to add more categories to this list.

It’s not at all unusual for most people to struggle with identifying their inner ambitions, especially in midlife and as they get older. It can become less clear as to what we really want out of life as we become bombarded by responsibilities, daily cares, and concerns.

And, yes, many young people have these struggles, too!

However, as kids, most of us knew what we wanted or at least thought we knew what we wanted. But the older we get, the less sure of ourselves we often become.

It is a rare individual who knows exactly what he or she wanted as a young person and follows that all through life, never faltering, never getting sidetracked, and never getting discouraged.

Most of us, as we hit midlife, start questioning what we really, really want out of life. It can be such a mystery. So, in next week’s blog post, I want to talk about the possible ways to solve your own mystery!

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