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Controlling the Fear

October 17, 2021 by  
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Last week I wrote a bit about my health problems and going to the hospital over an issue with my cardiovascular system. So this past week, I went through the recommended procedures and was relieved to hear that the doctors didn’t think I needed a stent. Great. I relaxed a bit after that.

But then, a few days later, I was asked to come back to the hospital. The doctors had completed a review and had become concerned. They now wanted to perform a procedure called an angiogram because they had found that the lower chamber of my heart had too many beats for the upper chamber, which, of course, is a problem.

Well, talk about getting nervous, worried, and scared! Man, oh man, my anxiety rose to a new high. I was a wreck.

What pushed my anxiety to a new high level was that I mistakenly thought an angiogram was the same as an MRI. All I could think about was the MRI I went in for about a year earlier. When they put me in the little, tight tube of the MRI machine, I freaked. I told the doctor and assistants that I was getting out as I was claustrophobic. Even though they were very insistent that I should stay in the machine until they were finished, I crawled out anyway.

So here I was last week, facing an angiogram but thinking it was going to be an MRI. My anxiety was through the roof. My own brain was beating me up.

I really do believe that our brains have so much power. It’s amazing. But internal thinking can be a great asset or a huge liability. Our brains can raise our spirits and lift us to a higher and happier place, or it can wreak havoc on our bodies, our souls, and our lives. 

So, I did a lot of thinking about my brain and how my thoughts were hurting me with all this worry. That’s when I realized that if I redirected my brain and thoughts, I could, most likely, get rid of my super high anxiety.

We human beings really do have the power to direct our brains down positive paths, even though it may take some time and a lot of mental work and discipline to do it. But we CAN do it! I did decide to get to work on that, attempting to remove my high anxiety. Soon enough, I found that my work on it was working!

So, I went to the hospital and got my angiogram a few days ago. Wow. My positive thinking really helped me stay calm, plus the angiogram was nothing close to having an MRI. It also turned out to be a great lesson about anxiety, fear and how we can control so much with our brains.

Yes, controlling our emotions takes time and effort, but it is so well worth it. Our brains really can lift our contentment level and make our lives so full of happiness. So, let’s all keep working on getting our brains to totally work for us and not against us!

A Healthy Appreciation

October 10, 2021 by  
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Wow, this was a very ironic coincidence. Last week I talked about health, how important it is in our lives, and what we can do to be healthier and to stay healthy, increasing our lifespan. Just after that blog posted, I received a call from my doctor. The results of some tests they had done on me a few days before had come back and it wasn’t very good news.

It all started when, recently, I noticed that I was tiring more readily, that my long walks each day left me out of breath. I needed to stop and rest about every 50 or 100 steps. Well, the tests showed that my heart, quite suddenly, was not pumping near enough blood. Ouch. That was scary to hear!

So, with this latest news, I certainly got a big wake-up call. I am determined to beat this health challenge and take more time to be grateful and appreciative of any and all good health. Plus, I am determined to work on everything I can to improve and fix all aspects of my health. This made me realize that I’ve been taking my good health and conditioning totally for granted. I really haven’t stopped to think about, and to be grateful for, the good health I have. Again, I was totally taking all this for granted.

In a few days, I’m scheduled to go to the hospital to have an angiogram. That test will tell me and the docs if there is a blockage in my veins. If there is, they will most likely put in a stent. The good news, which I’ve found from talking to a few people that have had this kind of procedure, is that, most of the time, the stent got their heart and life right back to normal.

Talk about greatly appreciating the doctors, researchers, and inventors who came up with the angiogram machines, tests, and stents that can solve the problem! I am double and triple impressed by what they’ve accomplished. I’ll never take those advancements, and the many other medical miracles happening every day, for granted again.

All of us humans need to, more regularly, take time to look at our lives and be grateful for all the great people and great ideas that have helped us. When we increase our gratitude and appreciation, it lifts our lives and makes us happier and helps us to help those friends and family around us. I certainly will be spending more time looking at my life and giving more and more thanks, appreciation, and gratitude for all that good stuff!

Mindful Health

October 3, 2021 by  
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Most of us have some health-related goal or area of improvement that we are working on, or hope to work on, very soon. But how do you know you will be successful? One way is to keep yourself mentally and physically aware while exercising and eating by using a “living in the now” approach. You can get you through a strenuous workout as well as help you eat right, all while increasing your enjoyment of these activities by simply being present and more aware of what you are doing.

For most of us, getting through an exercise routine is a struggle, but if you are completely attentive to your movements instead of thinking about how you can’t keep up an exercise routine, or how much nicer it would feel to be lounging on the couch, you aren’t as likely to quit in the middle of it. Just keep focused on the feeling of your muscles moving and listen to your breath as you control your inhaling and exhaling. This is a primary concept behind yoga and its distressing effects. Soon enough, you will have completed your routine or finished that 30-minute run and are feeling great.

When it comes to food, it’s all about being mindful of what you eat, how much, and the way you eat. For instance, when you reach in the fridge for something, consciously decide what will contribute to a well-balanced intake for the day and choose your best options, not just what looks tasty. Also, stop eating directly out of the box or bag. Instead, set a small portion on a plate or a bowl that you can sit down with as you savor every bite.

Eat in a place with no TV or computer or anything else to distract you. Taste your food, becoming aware of every flavor and texture, and chew it completely. This will make eating even more enjoyable. Slowing down your intake of food will also allow your stomach time to tell the brain it’s getting full. This way, you’re more likely to eat less. Additionally, thorough chewing will help your digestion by having food well broken down before it hits your stomach.

“Living in the now” will help you by not only increasing your appreciation of the sensations of exercising and eating, but will also help you attain your goals for a better, healthier life. You’ll feel great because of your accomplishments, along with gaining the long lasting and compounding effects of the bliss that comes with being consistently happy in the moment.

Time to Appreciate

August 1, 2021 by  
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As I was walking down our very long driveway to pick up the garbage cans, I looked up at the same sky I see every day, but this time I focused in on the absolutely beautiful blueness and the great billowy white clouds. It almost took my breath away. 

Probably the biggest reason that I was so moved is because for the last few days we’ve had thick, ugly, smoke-filled air caused by the huge fires in the western part of Utah and from all the way over on the west coast. Seeing the beautiful blue sky I had missed over the previous days just made me really appreciate it.

While I admired our clear skies, the thought hit me that there are so many times in our lives that we just take things for granted. The truth is, we often don’t really appreciate them until they are taken away from us.

That was certainly the case for me when the pandemic restrictions started to be pulled back. The lock downs took away my social life and, as I wrote several posts back, the pandemic restrictions made me realize how very important my social life and friends are in my life.

So, up until the day all that dirty air and smoke hit our city and state, I took all that good clean air for granted. Ugh! But now, wow, I notice and totally appreciate our beautiful sky and clear air. 

After this mental breakthrough, I started making a list of the many things I love but don’t always take time to appreciate. Here’s part of that list. The first 6 are all good “F” words:

1. Family, especially my wife

2. Friends

3. Freedom

4. Finances

5. Fun

6. Future

7. Health

8. A brain that works fairly well. (Okay, my wife may dispute that one!)

9. Home

10. Country

11. Nature

12. Kindness

I think I need to make more and more lists and review those lists and on a regular basis. I am sure that will lift my spirts and my life. I would encourage and challenge you to do the same!

Quality Living is in the Moment

July 18, 2021 by  
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With age, and the experience of achieving great success, it has become glaringly clear that wealth, power, status, fame, possessions, etc. do not, by themselves, add anything significant to the actual quality of our lives. Yes, I find having wealth is nice and allows me to do many wonderful things like travel a great deal. I do thoroughly enjoy many of my physical possessions, like my house and all the bits and pieces my wife has brought in to make it a home. These things, however, are not how I measure how well I live.

Most of what makes a life worth living cannot be bought or collected. They can only be found in the experiences you have, what you give to others, what you accept, and how you choose to look at the world. It’s those many small steps that make up the journey that determine the true importance of the destination, not the destination itself.

If your ‘destination’ is great wealth, gaining that wealth will only be important if you’ve lived well, struggled often, and celebrated your small successes along the way. This is why lottery winners almost always end up unhappy. There is no journey, no sense of success, and no memories that make up the path to their wealth. The money just becomes a condition of their life, not something that engages their sense of personal achievement.

This idea brings together much of what I’ve been talking about these past few weeks — that your quality of life is made up of what you experience in the great right now. You want to live in the moment and choose to be happy or your life will be made of many disappointing moments, making the whole of your life disappointing as well.

Also, don’t forget to look for joy in the wonderful act of giving to others. Generous, kind acts will infuse your life with the kind of treasures that you could never buy or fabricate — they can only be given. When you give, you’ll often find that even more is given back to you.

Go ahead. Go for the wealth and the status and whatever else you dream of. Just remember to live a quality life along the way, and keep up your passion for living, not just for the future life you’re after.

Unconditional Self-Acceptance

June 20, 2021 by  
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I do a lot of self-talk, as I’ve said before, saying all kinds of positive things to myself. I use things like, “I’m happy and healthy,” “I am very upbeat and positive,” and many more.

You probably know that self-talk can lift the brain to greater heights, so you can imagine how happy I was when, just last week, I came across another great thing to say to myself every day, several times a day.

It was something that a wise coach and counselor from years back said to me. He had asked if I had ever heard of USA.

Of course, I said, “Yes, we all live here, right?”

“No, not that USA,“ he said.

As it turned out, he was talking about it being the abbreviation for “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”. Remembering this, I thought, wow, I like that saying and thought.

So, last week, I started reminding myself of the concept of unconditional self-acceptance. I repeated the phrase many times each day and, yes, it lifted my spirits and confidence in myself. It’s so simple but so effective.

The thing is, when you totally accept who you are and accept what you have done so far in your life, your life feels better and, yes, it builds up your confidence. And while you’re accepting yourself and your life in a more positive way, you can start accepting your friends and even people you don’t like for who they are and the good that they’ve done in their lives. This acceptance of others, as well as yourself, will lift your spirits and happiness factor.

Looking back at the famous and super successful people that I’ve met, like the Dalai Lama, Joe Biden, other past presidents, and other accomplished people, it almost always strikes me that they seem to believe in themselves immensely, even when they failed at different things or at different stages in their lives. Yes, they all seemed to believe in “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”.

I will certainly stick with that saying. It’s already making a difference. Maybe you should consider saying that to yourself and see if it makes a difference in how you think about yourself and your world too.

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.

Better Health Through Pictures

March 28, 2021 by  
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Photo by Pixaby from Pexels

I recently received some absolutely amazing pictures of super beautiful nature scenes and, wow, was I ever impressed!  Just looking at those photographs raised my brain to a very high level.

I then took some time to research why these gorgeous pictures have such a huge effect on the human brain. I came across an article called “13 Science Based Reasons that Suggest Viewing Nature Scenes Can Improve Your Health”.

The article listed what beautiful nature scenes can do for you. It can:

1. Reduce depression.

2. Give the brain a break.

3. Help the body heal faster.

4. Bolster your immune system.

5. Restore your focus.

6. Stave off the effects of dementia.

7. Increase social well-being.

8. It can even increase your life span! 

To see all 13 reasons and the author’s explanations, go to the article here.

I love the tremendous way these great pictures and scenes lift my mood, especially if I take time to pay particular attention to the beauty that Nature gives us. 

Here are a few more gorgeous pictures to give your brain a break and lift your mood. You can use the links below the pictures to see even more.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
Photo by Venelin Dimitrov from Pexels
Photo by David Rupert on Unsplash

The Greatest High

February 28, 2021 by  
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When I was very young, I never got high. But now, at almost 77, I must admit I get high quite often. In fact, right now is one of those times. I’m high, real high – the captain just announced that we are about 33,000 feet high.

Ho ho… you might have thought I was talking about drugs, drugs that stimulate the brain. Nope. I’ve never done drugs. I really do love being at 30,000 feet or more, as long as I’m on an airplane. Oh yes, I love to travel, and flying not only gets me 30,000 plus feet high, it also lifts my brain as I see and experience new things.

The brain responds tremendously to novelty such as new sights and sounds. It certainly gives me a high. Yes, I know that many people are afraid to fly, especially when they see things like a jet losing an engine over Denver. But wow… look at the odds of dying on a commercial flight. Research shows there is a 1 in 29 million chance that you will die that way.

I love to visit foreign countries, not just because of the flight there, which I love, but because of the uniqueness, the novelty of new countries and new people, and the amazing variety of cultures. Sadly, those great things like foreign travel and being very social were suddenly taken away from us, but it isn’t permanent. Fortunately, it seems like we might be pulling ourselves out of this COVID mess. (And, yes, I did get my COVID vaccine!)

As I write this, we are thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean, flying from Kauai to Seattle then on to Salt Lake City. And, yes, our months in Hawaii were warm and wonderful although it did rain a ton! But we still got in some tennis time and beach time.

I am a huge believer in staying active. There is so much evidence showing that if you keep moving you will, on average, have better health and a longer life. Pair activity with novel things to do and novel places to visit and you can lead a longer and healthier life while having tons of fun!

We are now making lots of plans for future trips and are very carefully increasing our social life. I hope the best for you as well as we get our lives back to normal. How novel everything will seem then!

When the Brain Let’s Go

February 7, 2021 by  
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I continue to read and reread David Hawkins great book called Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender. I’m even more into it now, especially with all the evidence he gives on the huge power of the brain and how it can do so much to aid the body, including its power to cure diseases. It’s all done by giving the brain the right signals. And, of course, if you give it the wrong signals, it can cause lots of problems.

The brain, if used right, really does have the power to eliminate disease. It’s all about your thoughts and feelings. Dr. Hawkins tells of how his brain eliminated and stopped more than a dozen different physical problems that he had. He did it by using what he calls the “letting go” technique. “Once the mind knows the way to alleviate its inner pressure, like Pandora’s box, it begins to let all the garbage up, and up it came in profusion!”

Hawkins healed himself from more than a dozen physical and medical problems by using his brain. He did this with migraine headaches, gastritis, hyperacidity, and intermittent pylorospasm. He also cured what he calls “middle age syndrome”. He describes this as, “Coldness in hands and feet, loss of energy and libido, and depression.” He adds that, “The mounting pressure of suppressed emotion in all areas of life obviously contributed to the multiplicity of illnesses.”

To get the brain working on healing the body, one of the first things Hawkins says you should do is “stop giving a physical disorder a name; do not label it.” Instead, ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” For some reason this does make a difference and for the good.

I love David’s summary of this thing called “letting go”. He does so by describing the process he went through: “Now, like it or not, it had to be acknowledged that everyone is a thinking/feeling organism. It would not work to keep denying reality. Before long, it was okay to have feelings. With the letting go technique, the only way out was to acknowledge and relinquish the feelings. This became easier as the physical condition started to improve … Within days of using the technique, the physical condition at the lower end of the gastrointestinal tract promptly healed itself and, in fact, the surgery was cancelled.”

Then he wraps it up, saying, “How wonderful to be free and to experience the power of mind! It was obvious … that we are only subject to those things that we hold in mind. It is not necessary to be a slave or victim in the world.”

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