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Embrace the Struggle

March 20, 2022 by  
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Think about this:

How would you feel if you played a game of golf tomorrow and shot a perfect score—that is, you shot par on every single hole? How would the inside of your head handle that experience, especially if it was your very first time playing golf?

Understandably, you most likely would feel fantastic initially. How high on the satisfaction scale would that golf score put you? I’d say pretty much at the top! Contentment? Oh, yes, you’d be pretty darn content. Satisfaction? Yes, huge amounts of that!

But how long would those feelings last? I’m afraid that, for most people, it would not last very long.

The fact is a perfect score =no fun.

I bet your reaction to that statement is, at first, “No way! A perfect score is what I’d be after so, of course it’d be fun!”

But let’s fast-forward a week. Let’s say you played golf a second time and, again, got that perfect par score. How would you feel at that time? Sure, you’d still feel pretty good, right?

Now, let’s say that you continue to shoot a perfect par score every time, no matter what golf course you played. How do you think you would feel if it continued that way, where a perfect score became absolutely routine for you? Would you continue to feel content and satisfied?

Not likely. Now why is that?

The thing is, we really don’t appreciate things unless we’ve worked for them. That’s one of the reasons that almost all lottery winners end up miserable. They didn’t have to work for that money, so there’s nothing to be proud of by gaining it. We just don’t value or derive much satisfaction from things in our lives that we didn’t have to struggle with, fight for, or otherwise work hard to have and achieve.

We do much better, are happier and more content, when we are challenged and, especially when we overcome the challenges! Like with that imaginary first game of golf where you got a perfect score. It would have been super exciting then because you didn’t know you could do it, actually probably assumed you’d play terribly, but you would have tried your best, making that perfect score feel well-earned! After that though, you would know you could do it, so it would become less and less exciting.  

Now let’s say you decided to be a golf pro in 5 years. Lots of people would say you can’t do that. But if you work really hard, golf every chance you get, and take lessons from the absolute best trainers, you might just get to go pro before those 5 years were up. Now, think about how THAT would feel! It would be beyond amazing, right? Better than a surprise perfect score first game even.

You see, we just love beating the odds and achieving really hard things. It makes us feel accomplished and of value to ourselves and others. We also get to tell the stories of our struggles and how we reached our goals!

So, next time you find yourself wishes things were easy, that you could win all the time, and that things you want would just fall in your lap, remember that you won’t be all that happy if that’s how things always went for you. Embrace the challenges and look forward to your hard won accomplishments!

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.

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.

Only 380 Hours Till the New Year

December 15, 2019 by  
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So, do you think it’s too early to start on your list of New Year resolutions? I think it is very helpful and more productive to start thinking early about what you plan to do and accomplish in the new year. For me, if I write them down as I think of them, I’m so much more driven to follow through and carry out those resolutions.

So, no, I don’t believe, at all, that it’s too early to begin making your list. It’s only about 2 weeks before the new year comes in! Make you own list based on what you want out of your life in the next year and beyond but here are some ideas.

COMMON RESOLUTIONS

  • Save more money this year.
  • Work on better health, including exercise, diet, weight loss, and drinking lots of water.
  • Travel more! One of my favorites. I usually pick specific places too, places that are unique and exotic, in the USA and overseas.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Spend more time reading and writing.
  • Spend time to organize and do it regularly.
  • Work harder at living in the right now moments.
  • Donate and volunteer for a good cause.
  • Write to yourself and give self-compliments.
  • Set up new and good routines.
  • Meditate on a regular basis.
  • Look for, and make, new friends.
  • Work on having more gratitude for others and your life.
  • Do little acts of kindness on a regular basis.

I try to make resolutions that are realistic, and I usually put a time frame or limit on each goal. That way I am more likely to succeed. It’s always a good idea to take time to review last year’s resolutions and make note of the ones that you followed through on, and the ones you didn’t, and then analyze why you accomplished the successfully completed goals and why you didn’t succeed with others.

REASONS YOU MIGHT FALL SHORT ON RESOLUTIONS

  • Resolutions were way too big or unrealistic.
  • Too much thinking and not enough doing or follow through.
  • Lack of detailed planning and scheduling.
  • Not fully believing in yourself.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by how much you will have to do.
  • Failure to write down your resolutions.
  • Not ready for change.

I hope you agree with me that it’s not too early to start thinking about making note of what your new year’s resolutions are going to be. For me, just writing this blog has got me thinking quite hard about my own new year’s resolutions.

I’m going to repeat myself, but this is important and so very helpful… take time to review last year’s resolutions and try to understand why you succeeded on some and why you fell short on others. Consider what you may be able to do this year to make sure you will have a better success rate in the coming new year.

Fully Present Wakefulness

August 2, 2019 by  
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So, what can we do to make our lives happy and contented as we age, like when you are over 55, 65 or, like me, at 75? So much of our lives depend on our thinking and it can be a bit of a challenge to put and keep the positive thoughts our minds.

I came across an interview I did years ago with the world-famous skier Stein Eriksen. He had so much passion in his life even up to shortly before he died. In the interview, I asked Stein if he had as much passion in the process of becoming a world champion as he did when he won the gold medal. And he said he absolutely did, that he both enjoyed and was totally passionate about his workouts, and his many, many practice runs down the snowy slops of Norway and Utah. He built in his mind what he was going to do each day and he almost always did it, even in his mid to late 80’s.

That passion and determination most always starts with our brain and what we are thinking. I read a cute comment recently: “Don’t believe everything you think.” It is so easy, especially as you age and know that your time on this planet earth is so much shorter than when you were 25 or 30 or even 50 or 60, to let go of that passion. Our “self-talk” can really lead us down the wrong path.

So, one big thing, or big THINK, we need to do as we get closer to the end, is to be very mindful of the little negative self-talk that goes on in our brains. Then we need to work on changing that little voice in our head to do some major positive self-talk. If you meditate even for just 10 or 12 minutes a day this can help with changing your negative self-talk to positive self-talk.

Quoting from Pema Chödrön’s book Living Beautifully, “The key practice to support us in this mindfulness is being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness–fully present wakefulness. Chogyam Trungpa called it ‘paying attention to all the details of your life.’”

As we get older, it’s even more important to live in the right now moment and, of course, that takes a lot of positive self-talk. Pema also wrote that, “The specific details of our lives will, of course, differ, but for all of us, wakefulness concerns everything from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors, our forks and spoons. Just as with the other aspects of this commitment, we’re either present when putting on our sweater or tying our shoes or brushing our teeth, or we’re not. We’re either awake, asleep, conscious, or distracted. Chogyam Trangpa emphasized mindfulness and paying attention to the details of our lives as ways to develop appreciation for ourselves and our world, ways to free ourselves from suffering.”

Additionally, Pema wrote, “You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving kindness for yourself.”

This type of thinking and action certainly has made me more productive and keeps my mind busy. That along with setting a schedule and coming up with some new goals that fit my age and stage has been quite wonderful. At first it seemed quite silly for me to pay total attention to getting dress or taking a shower, but I have found it to be a good, and important, experience.

Always Living Large

June 28, 2019 by  
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So, I’ve been having a bit of a stressful but exciting week as I work on a big real estate deal. Yes, sometimes, even though I’ve been doing this for decades, making deals can be a little taxing but as Mitt Romney, former GOP candidate for President once said to the graduating students at Utah Valley University about experiencing a fulfilling and purposeful life,  “One thing you’re going to have to do is live a ‘large life’”. What great advice. That is something all of us need to pay attention to. We need to go out and do it and do it our entire lives.  I wrote about this some 4 years ago, but I think it’s worth a rerun. So, here’s basically what I wrote in May of 2015:

So many times, we hesitate to “live large”. Why? Because most of the time we fear that we will fail. “Failures don’t have to define who you are,” Romney had gone on to say in that Utah Valley University speech. “Through all my occupations, I have experienced successes and failures. I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren’t fun, but they are inevitable.”

How about you?  Have you racked up a lot of failures or just a few?  It seems to me, from my experience, that the number of failures I’ve had is in direct proportion to how large I’ve tried to live.  So, yes, I’ve had a ton of failures but some of those have led to some huge successes. And the reason for those successes was that I learned so much from my failures.

I remember one huge loss that I learned a valuable lesson from which lead me to some very, very large successes.  What happened was I decided to lend a large amount of money with a restaurant as collateral.  Big mistake on my part! Why? Because I don’t know much about that kind of business so if it failed, I certainly wouldn’t know how to run it. And guess what? It did fail and I lost almost all of what I had loaned.

What did I learn?  Well first I found out that restaurants have a very high rate of failure and second, I learned that I shouldn’t stray from what I know best.  Not that I shouldn’t ever loan money but if I do, I should loan it on assets that I understand as well as being on improved real estate which, ideally, would also be income producing.

I forged ahead and made many millions of dollars’ worth of loans that were backed up by real estate and was very successful.  Later I discovered that I could do even better by owning the right kind of income producing properties. I also, very successfully ventured into the development of condos and warehouses, where the profits were even bigger although they did come with increased risks but in that case, those were risks I was willing to take.  And much, if not most of that success, came from lessons learned from my failures and my trying to “live large”.

Romney’s words are not just for graduating students. They are wise words for us at any age!