Clicky

Search:

Before We Lose It

August 15, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I had no idea how important the social aspect of my life was until the pandemic hit. That made me realize just how much I valued my face-to-face conversations and hanging out with my friends. It also hurt that our annual trip to Europe and other counties was gone. We’ve met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends on those trips as well.

Most of us take way too much for granted and don’t take the time to be as grateful as we should be for what we have. But when one of those great things in our lives is suddenly taken away… wow, we certainly notice how much we appreciate those things when they are gone. 

Something that I took for granted for far too long was my daily long walk and comparing my daily steps total to my previous daily steps. As I’ve written before, I have given myself a minimum goal of 20,000 steps a day, although I usually go well over that. I use a super great gift my wife gave me years ago, a Fitbit, that counts each step I take and gives me weekly totals. That little device enhanced and lifted my life. It’s helped me stay fit, even now as the ripe age of 80 approaches, less than 3 years away.

Well, that little device that pushed me to regularly walk my 20,000 plus steps a day was a big deal and I totally took for granted what it was pushing me to do until recently. I got hit in the head several months back, which laid me up for a while. 

Then, just this last week, I had a big trip and fall at 2:30 in the morning. I hit my right knee so hard that I could hardly walk the next day and for many days to follow. The few steps I did try to take were too painful, so I would find myself in bed or sitting in a chair all day long. Ugh. Even taking a pain pill didn’t help much. Double ugh! 

That is when it hit me like a brick that I’ve taken the ability to walk without pain totally for granted. I know this happens to many of us when we get injured, but shouldn’t we start to appreciate what we have before we lose it?

I think all of us should take time to consider all the great things in our lives that we are just taking for granted. I talked about that here on my blog before. Back then, I made a list of the many things that I was taking for granted, but perhaps it’s time for an update.

I suggest now, as I did then, that all of us consider making or updating a list of that kind so we have time to enjoy and appreciate what we have while we have it. Doing so has the potential to make us more content as we begin to truly recognize all the great things we have in our lives. 

You can look at my prior list to help you start building your own. It’s in my post from 4/16/2020. You might also want to read or re-read what I posted on 11/29/2020 for an additional reminder. 

Feed the Good Dog

August 8, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

No doubt we’ve all heard that we can’t love and appreciate others until we truly love and appreciate ourselves. But most of us have some deep dark doubts about ourselves. In fact, if we are brutally honest, we probably feel guilty (at least some of the time) because we’ve done things we are not proud of. We think, “If the world really knew everything about me, it wouldn’t think I was a very good person.”

If you’re like most people, you’ve had those thoughts before. Rabbi Harold F. Kushner, in his book, Living a Life That Matters, makes that point very strongly by simply stating that, “Good people do bad things.”

However, he goes on to say, “If they weren’t mightily tempted by their ‘yetzer hara’ (evil inclination) they might not be capable of the mightily good things they do.”

Kushner gives us yet another way to look at it:

“Good people will do good things—lots of them—because they are good people. They will do bad things because they are human.”

He also quotes a Native American tribal leader who described his own inner struggles with a canine metaphor:

“There are two dogs inside me. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.”

When someone asked the tribal leader which dog usually wins, he answered after a moment’s reflection, “The one I feed the most.”

I think if you can focus on all the good you’ve done and recognize all the good that you’ll do on whatever journey you are on or are about to embark on, it will help feed that good dog inside of you.

So, the bottom line is that even if you know you are not perfect, it’s important to take time to be grateful for the good things you’ve accomplished and those tough goals you’ve reached.

No one’s perfect—not you and not me — and it can be hard to forgive yourself, but ditch the humility for a while and do that now. Choose gratitude for what you’ve done and toast yourself, putting all that guilt behind you.

Remember this from the Dalai Lama’s book, The Compassionate Life, where he wrote, “Everyone’s real enemy is within themselves—enemies are not on the outside.”

So, why not celebrate, appreciate, and love yourself now and every day?

The Power of Gratitude

May 9, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude Pays Off

April 11, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing the Small Things

January 17, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

So, this past week, I got a little bit of a taste of what it might be like to be in prison. Now, this is only a 10 day sentence and I got to share my “cell” with my wife Kimberly, so it wasn’t all that bad. It did, however, give me a very small taste of what it would feel like to be locked up.

Okay, I know that sounds dramatic. It really wasn’t all that terrible. But what was this all about? Well, there’s some new (for me) rules in place if you travel to Hawaii right now thanks to COVID. When you arrive from outside the islands, you have to spend 10 days in quarantine. Luckily, you can at least spend those 10 days in your house or condo.

The hard part is, for those 10 days you cannot leave your property. The penalty, if you do leave your place and get caught, is a $5,000 dollar fine plus one year in jail. Ouch! That seems severe but, then again, so is COVID-19.

We humans really don’t totally appreciate all that we have and how we live our lives but can’t do until it’s taken away. On the other hand, this time locked up has given my wife and I lots of time to think, read, and even doing a little bit of writing. Plus, we now have tons of time to talk to each other. Still, after 8 days of this, I am going a bit stir crazy.

You would think, with tons of time on my hands, that I could do lots of planning. I do keep thinking about that and yet, to be quite honest, I have not done much planning at all. We humans get so used to our schedules and habits that when they get disrupted, it can make your mind go in all kinds of different directions. It sure has done that for me.

It’s one more thing that you don’t realize you depend on until it’s not there. It’s crazy that now, with all this time on my hands, time I might have really wished for when I was super busy, I just really want my old schedule and routine back.

It is the small things or the everyday things that you start to really miss when you can’t have them anymore. I guess I’ll be ok but I do really look forward to next week. At least, I imagine, I will really appreciate my routine and the many other small things I took for granted every day. A new appreciation for the old and ordinary things may be one of the real silver linings of this time in lock down.

A Season for Appreciation

December 20, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

 

The holidays are upon us. What a great time of the year this is! It’s a season of celebration that usually brings back many special memories of family and friends. To me, though, it’s mostly about giving. Okay, yes, as a kid it was mostly about receiving but that was a very long time ago!

The act of giving returns so many super wonderful feelings in such a big way to the giver, sometimes to the point that the giver can feel guilty for getting so much out of it. I remember one particular experience a while back that gave me a twinge of guilt after I had done a rather small thing.

I was coming out of a mall when I saw two young ladies, probably in their early to mid-20’s, sitting on a little wall taking a break from one of the shops they obviously worked at. As I walked by, I handed each of them a 2-dollar bill saying, “This is for luck. Don’t spend it. Just keep it for luck.” 

I usually give these to kids between 6 and 8 years old and watch their excited reaction and joy. It is one of my favorite giving things to do. But I guess, in this case, since I was struck by the season of giving we are in, I handed these to the young ladies without thinking. Both girls said “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t accept this.”

I replied, “Give it to a kid and watch the big smile on their face.”

Reluctantly they accepted. Then they began to thank me as if I’d given them $100 dollar bills.

As I started to walk away, they asked, “Hey, where are you from?”

I replied, “Oh, I’m from here but I grew up in the Middle East, in the country of Turkey.” And then, of course, I had to lay a little Turkish on them, what little I remembered.

One of the girls surprised me by answering back in Arabic (the two languages have a lot of common words) and then they explained they were from Israel where they’d learned a little Arabic. So, we had something in common.

As I walked toward my car, I began thinking about how their great appreciation for my very small gift made me feel so good. I realized that appreciation is really a gift too and, often, a big and glorious one.

Feeling a little connected to these young ladies and warmed by their great appreciation and friendliness, I got in my car and drove back to where they sat, giving both of them a copy of my latest book.

Wow, talk about receiving a huge gift back! Their appreciative words and genuine feelings absolutely overwhelmed me. You would have thought I’d given them a million dollars. They called me an angel from heaven and thanked me to the point that their appreciation was almost embarrassing.

What did I really take away from this experience though? I realized that the biggest gifts any of us can give are not objects or anything you can put a price tag on, but gifts of love and appreciation. These things, without a doubt, last longer than any gift wrapped present.

At this special time of year let’s all try to give more and return more with our sincere appreciation!!

Friends: A Vital Part of Our Lives

December 13, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

A few weeks ago, I got a terrible phone call from my best high school friend’s two adult kids. What they told me cut me to the core. They were calling from the hospital where their dad had just died.

Richard Harvey was my dear brother and the first black guy that I really got to know. He was my high school buddy and my basketball teammate. We met in Ankara, Turkey when our fathers were working overseas to help other countries. I knew he had been in the hospital because I had talked to him on the phone a few weeks earlier. He sounded find and we all thought he was recovering. The phone call from his kids was like a giant punch in the face and gut.

Richard Harvey and I, along with other American kids, attended a small high school in Ankara, Turkey. He truly was my soulmate and we bonded very quickly when we both made it on the high school basketball team. We got better every week and worked so hard at it. A big part of that great improvement came from my older brother Bruce’s death on the first day of tryouts for the team. Bruce died right in front of me.

Because of that, Richard and I, along with our great big Texas center Ed Beckcom, made a commitment to win in my brother’s honor. We practiced many, many hours each day. There were many small American High Schools in Europe, the middle East, and even northern Africa, and we were bound and determined to win the championship for that entire area.

The big championship tournament is held each year in a huge stadium in Rome, Italy. Thinking back after Rich’s death I had some vivid memories. We did in fact make it to the finals of the Rome tournament and even to this day I marvel at what happened in that game.

Notre Dame high school was the number one favorite and we were to play them in the finals. It was a very close game and with only 20 seconds left, Notre Dame was 1 point ahead and had the ball. They took one last long shot and it missed. Big Ed Beckcom went high in the air and came down with the rebound. The outlet pass went to me and Richard and I were speeding down the court with two on one. The clock was ticking down very fast.

When we got close to our basket, I faked a shot and threw a bounce pass to Richard and, as I did, Richard slipped and fell. Oh my gosh, I was petrified! But as he hit the floor, he tossed the ball up toward the basket and, miracle of all miracles, the ball went in the basket as the buzzer sounded.

WE WON, WE WON! Wow, were we ever excited and in 7th heaven. We did it for Bruce, and for us too! That day certainly cemented our friendship and we’ve kept in touch all these years. Hmm … that’s about 60 years!

I know that you, the reader, know the huge importance and gift of having good friends and we especially see how important that is since COVID-19 has made it hard to be close to them or make new friends. So, let’s all double down and reach out to friends, old and new, on phone calls, through texts, and on the internet and stay connected with these dear and important parts of our lives.

In photo above: Ed Beckcom (top row, left), Richard Harvey (middle row, right) and me (bottom row, left.) 

A Sterling Mentorship

December 6, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

A couple of days ago I was re-reading one of my old journals and came across a truly inspiring and motivating letter I had tucked in there from 1978 from one of my mentors. He was so helpful to me, both personally and through some of the 22 books that he wrote. This mentor was Sterling W. Sill, a great thinker and motivator.

Here are a few of the things he said in the letter he sent me back in 1978 which I just loved.

“I appreciate very much your thoughtful letter of October 1. I think you have the attitude of a winner.” He went on to write, “I think you are a great person, Mark, and I think you are about a dozen times greater now than before.” I was so amazed that he appreciated one of my letters as he was my idol.

Sterling also quoted something that Shakespeare once said that I thought was very enlightening: “The best men are sometimes molded out of faults.”

He went on to say, “Someone who never made a mistake isn’t likely to be going any place very important. And sometimes, I think, somebody needs somebody to help lift him up outside of himself. He needs some assurances from someone who can take a position of precedence over the arguments of his own self-accusation.”

It was so strange and wonderful that one of my idols had given me so much credit and so many complements. In re-reading his letter, it struck me that any of us can not only learn great lessons from great people but we can also pay it forward and help other people. Believe me, they will thank you for the rest of their lives just like I thank Sterling and so many other mentors. I owe him so much and will remember him for the rest of my life.

 

A Grateful Boost

November 29, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

Thanksgiving is over but it’s a very good idea to hang on to your attitude of gratitude. It will give you lots of benefits!

Gratitude is a great thing but I think most of us don’t fully appreciate it, taking it for granted until something bad happens to us. And that is not a good thing since gratitude can do such very good things for our lives.

Last July, I wrote in this blog about how I had a really bad fall that knocked me out for about 20 minutes. The big-time bleeding from my head and arms was not the worst of it. What was huge and lingers all these months later is the aftereffects of the concussion. I still have the dizziness and my thinking and memory is still suffering. Plus, I have tremors and shaky hands and arms. I will say that I’m getting better on all counts, although slowly.

The one good thing that did change is that my brain has begun focusing on how super grateful I should have been back when my body and brain were functioning normally. And with this COVID-19 mess, we all should look back and realize how grateful we should have been before the virus and keep reminding ourselves, running those grateful thoughts through our heads as often as possible.

Coincidentally, just a few days ago I read Lynn Johnson’s column in our local newspaper. He said, “Happiness makes our immune system function better. In children, joy is natural. For us older folks, an excellent way to recapture that joy is practice gratitude. Keep a gratitude diary. Write three to five things each day you are glad about. Describe how they helped. Write short thank you notes. Be grateful.” That is some great advice.

To me, it’s so amazing how the brain and the thoughts we run through it can help our bodies and lift us up. I am going to push myself harder to be more and more grateful for myself and my situation and for all my great friends and family!

How about you? Let’s all practice every day to become more and more grateful!

Our Short Lives Needs Big Passion

September 13, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

 

 

I just asked a printer to print a couple thousand copies of my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, since I ran out of copies to sell or give away. I was reading a bit of what I wrote many years ago and I was surprised to realize that the words in that book were reigniting my passion, so I wanted to share some of those words with you.

Let me start with Chapter 2 which is entitled, “Short Life needs BIG Passion”.

  • Life really is too darn short to live without passion.
  • Time squandered is wasted–gone forever!
  • Don’t be like those who, later in life, realize that they missed out on so many opportunities. I believe most people, when looking back at their lives, are in more pain over the things they didn’t do than over things they failed at while trying to do them.
  • We receive long-lasting benefit, and yes, even deep satisfaction from working hard and giving something worthwhile our all.
  • There are many who think the way to achieve satisfaction in life is by going after pleasure. They think that more and more pleasure will put more contentment in their lives. So sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
  • There’s a huge difference between deep, enduring satisfaction and fleeting pleasure; between passion and a good time. At a gut level you already know this. The pursuit of pleasure for its own sake leads to misery.
  • It’s also not easy to always remain at a high level of satisfaction and contentment with an effervescent passion for life. There are plenty of setbacks. Even, at times, huge fists of adversity may pound us in the face.
  • Setbacks and adversity often reveal to us the great lessons of life if we would just learn from them.
  • I’ve certainly had my share of setbacks, even tragedies. I wouldn’t choose to be faced with these tragedies but I must say that, since they did happen, they served as huge life lessons and wake-up calls that I don’t think I could have learned any other way.

Give these words some thought, set big goals, and go after them with all your energy and heart. You won’t be sorry!

 

And if you would like a copy of How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, you can get it here on my website.

 

 

Next Page »