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Focusing on the Kids

July 25, 2021 by  
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Kids, kids, kids! Don’t you love them? Maybe not all of them, all the time, but for the most part. When I watch kids play, I can’t help but smile and chuckle a bit, especially watching the toddlers or a newborn.

Last week I was overwhelmed and thrilled that my daughter Cammy gave birth to her 2nd child — an absolutely darling and beautiful baby girl weighing 5 pounds 13 ounces. That brings my grandchildren count to 20! As I held the little girl in my arms and looked into her face, I shed a few tears. Tears of joy.

When I look at kids and how fun, playful, and darling they are, I am stunned and sickened by the thought of those adults that physically or sexually abuse these wonderful, innocent kids. I’m always appalled when I see or read about this kind of thing. It motivates me to go out of my way to do more kind and good things for kids.

I really need to spend more time with my own children and grandkids as well as go out of my way to help kids that have suffered abuse or neglect. Those are some of my new goals. I also would challenge my readers to go out of their way to protect kids and be on the lookout for adults who may be hurting kids either physically or mentally. Let’s all be more aware of this kind of thing and take action when we see or hear of such questionable activity.

I’ve set a few more goals for myself as it relates to my children and grandkids and even their friends:

1. Take them hiking

2. For those who can ride, take them biking.

3. Give those that are old enough tennis lessons.

4. Read to them.

And that’s just the beginning of my list. Assisting kids and giving them a bit of direction on what to do with their lives is something else I’d like to help them with. I think helping kids can help change the world for the better, not just for them, but for all of us.

Lift Your Life — Focus on the Present

July 4, 2021 by  
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One of the best ways to increase happiness in your life, and therefore maintain and lift your passion, is to stay in the present.

This can be challenging for most of us, if not all of us, when things are stressful. Most of the time we are worried about the past or the future and not really paying attention to what is happening right now, so we miss life as it is happening. That can make it tough to live passionately in that “right now” time and place.

Living this way takes practice. You have to train your brain to live in the moment. It’s something I’ve worked to achieve all my life. It is easier now than when I started, but it still takes a concerted effort. It is, however, more than worth it.

As you learn how to redirect your thoughts and focus on the present, it’s important not to be hard on yourself. (Take a look at my previous blog where I talk about good ole USA—not the country but “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”!) Just keep working at it and when you get cut off, when your mind wanders, take the time to steer your thoughts and yourself back to the present.

Yoga and/or meditation are ways that we all can practice keeping our focus on the present moment, making us happier and more content. Yoga and meditation are way underrated in this country. They can be such great tools and you don’t need to go to a gym or studio to do either.

For instance, you can do yoga at home with tools such as the Yoga for Beginners with Patricia Walden DVD or through videos found on websites such as Yoga with Adriene. There are also many websites designed to help coach you and I on the best ways to meditate, such as Mindful.org. Even just 10 minutes a day on either of these can make an enormous difference in your life.

Keep practicing and you will lift your life and get better at it the more you do it. You’ll be amazed at how much spending even just 10 minutes a day focusing on the present can increase your life and happiness factor. It’s the real deal!

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.

Keys to Wealth Building

May 30, 2021 by  
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Most of us want to build our wealth and I have been very fortunate and quite successful in that regard. Friends as well as strangers have asked me many times about the secrets to my success. I wouldn’t call all my methods secrets but I guess if you don’t know them, then they are secrets to you.

So, here’s a few of those so-called secrets that have helped me a ton:

1. Read good books about finance, then think about what you’ve learned, and find someone who has been successfully building wealth to discuss your ideas with.

2. Record your thoughts in a journal as you read. This will help you retain knowledge.

3. Write down your goals along with the time frames for reaching them. As you probably know, writing goals with time frames drives your brain and body to follow through and do it.

I love this quote: “Always have two books—one to read from and one to write in.”

Let me explain a bit more about the first point—the part about finding people that are good at what you want to learn. All my life I’ve looked for mentors—those people that are good at what I wanted to learn and do.

The famous billionaire Warren Buffett said, “I was lucky to have the right heroes. Tell me who your heroes are and I’ll tell you how you’ll turn out to be. The qualities of the one you admire are the traits that you, with a little practice, can make your own, and that, if practiced, will become habit forming.”

I was very fortunate to meet Larry Rosenberg, a very, very rich man, and he was kind enough to mentor me. He not only referred me to the best books to read to lead a person to huge wealth, he also spent lots of time with me over lunches. He gave me great advice, hints, and direction concerning where to look for the best properties and what to do to fix them up to greatly increase value and then sell them. Wow. His advice sure worked wonders for me.

If you want great wealth, or more wealth, start digging. Read the right books and research who you should get to know. Find the right super successful, wealthy people and asked them to mentor you! Yep, if you want it, go do it.

Investing, Writing, and Being Grateful

May 23, 2021 by  
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Like I said in my previous blog, money has not been the best reward that I’ve received over the years. The best reward has come from helping people and it’s fantastic when they take time to give thanks and tell me how very grateful they are for helping them. That makes me feel great.

A few days ago, I received a wonderful letter from Jay P. DeCima, also known as “Fixer Jay”. I want to share some of his words with you. He begins with, “Hi Mark; I hope you are well.” I was well and his letter made me feel even better!

He went on to say, “You may or may not remember me. I’m a real estate guy. I participated at several of your real estate seminars and conventions during the mid-1980’s. I was a speaker at your week-long seminar at your Salt Lake City home. William Nickerson was my long-time friend and mentor.

“What triggered this letter was a re-listening to the tapes you and Bill Nickerson recorded with Dick Hamilton as the moderator. The tapes were recorded in 1987 sometime before CD’s replaced cassettes. Recordings were made at Bill Nickerson’s beachfront home in Aptos, Monterey Bay, near Santa Cruz, California. Mark, I’m not exactly sure about your age, but your web page shows you graduated from Ames High School in 1962. I graduated from Shasta Union High School, Redding, California in 1952 and I’m one month shy of 87 years old.

“After listening to the tapes, something you said stuck in my mind (what’s left). At 87 years old I’m lucky to remember even playing the tapes! You said, without any fanfare or hesitation, that you planned on living 101 more years until you reached the age of 144. I must say, that’s quite a plan! Nickerson guessed 100 years. If you wish, we could call that a mulligan or I’m totally agreeable with giving you a ‘do over’. But given the water that’s passed under the bridge, are you still sticking by the same estimate? Forgive me, Mark, I just had to ask.

“Your website shows you’ve written a new book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. Congratulations. I have oodles of passion, I just can’t tell for how long! I’ll order a copy. Perhaps it will shed some light on this longevity issue.”

 (By the way, I sent him a copy before he could order it.)

“I too have taken up the pen in my twilight years. I write real estate how-to-books. I’ve written six books. Three are self-published. My titles can be viewed on Amazon under the author’s name Jay P. DeCima (aka) known as Fixer Jay.”

(Note to readers: I too started by self-publishing since it can be so hard to get a publisher. After you have self-published a book or two, however, that gets their attention and then they are more agreeable to publish your books for you.)

“Both investing and writing have worked well for me. I had 300 screaming tenants at my high-water mark. I stayed so long I even miss the tenants. Senile perhaps might offer a better explanation. Mark, I’d love to hear from you sometime. We can talk about real estate, book publishing or even aging. Your choice—I’m open.”

So, I called Jay today and had a wonderful, long conversation with him. What a terrific guy! Managing Tenants & Toilets is one of his book. What a great title! You can order it by calling toll-free 1-800-722-2550 or send a fax to 1-530-223-2834.

Aging and the Brain

May 2, 2021 by  
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Ernestine Shepherd, named the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in 2010, is still very active today, although not competitive, at 84 years old.

Having just turned age 77, I’ve caught myself thinking way too much about my age which has not helped me at all. It has got me worrying more about aging. But then my son sent me a book on aging that talks about how much our thinking can affect how we age. I started the book and have been amazed.

The human mind is a very complex and interesting part of our bodies. It can be a huge help to us but it also has the potential to harm us. I’m halfway through the book and am learning so much about how the brain can help our aging selves. If we use our brain correctly, it can actually be a big factor in keeping us younger than our actual number of years.

The book, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, was written by Jo Ann Jenkins who, at very young age, became the CEO of AARP. Jo Ann said she wrote the book, “because I believe there is a bigger conversation to be had — focused not on just the historic burdens but also on the potential historic benefits of living longer.”

She goes on to say we need to change our thinking and change the conversation about what it means to get older. Our minds and actions should be not about aging. Our lives can be lived feeling much younger and doing so much more than people several generations ago could or would do.

She makes the point that, “Science is making longer lives possible, and we’re just now beginning to realize the opportunities those longer lives offer. People are reinventing work, searching for purpose, embracing technology, and opening themselves up to new experiences like never before.”

As we age, we really need to focus on our health, our wealth, and really work hard to develop a very good sense of our purpose at a middle age or older. That can extend your life in a big way.

Jo Ann preaches how life enhancing it is to think like a younger person, emphasizing that we should try new things, take chances, and not fear aging. She also tells the wonderful story of a 79-year-old lady, Ernestine Shepherd. “With her flat stomach, toned arms, and excellent health, you’d never guess this female bodybuilder is seventy- nine years old… following the death of her sister and many health problems and depression, Shepherd set a goal to get in shape. She was declared the World’s Oldest Performing Female Bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010.”

Wow, what a great story. That should motivate all of us to go after our big goals no matter how tough they may seem and put our fears aside. Yep, it can all be done in your mind, in our great brains.

I do want to talk more about this subject of aging and some of the other things our brain can do to help us stay young, active, and productive. So, next week’s blog I will continue down this road.

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.

 

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