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A Sign for Unconditional Self-Acceptance

May 15, 2022 by  
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A few weeks ago, I wrote about “USA”, an acronym for Unconditional Self-Acceptance, discussing how we should think about what that stands for anytime we are down on ourselves for doing something stupid or worrying about tomorrow. When a psychologist introduced me to that term and encouraged me to think about that when I’m down on myself, I put that to work on my brain. It turned out to be very, very mind boosting.

After a while, however, I realized I wasn’t thinking about that as often as I used to, so I did something to help me remember it, putting it into regular use when needed.

What did I do different? Well, I kept in mind that when I set a goal and write it down, I am so much more likely to work on that goal. I figured I could make writing things down work for this too. I took a large piece of paper and a black magic marker and wrote in big capital letters: USA. I put it on my bedroom wall where I could see it every day, many times a day.

That little step has helped a ton. The human brain can be so fantastic and little things like posting a reminder on my wall really helped my brain to keep it at the front of my mind as well as helping me to not be so hard on myself. 

Yep, positive self-talk is such a great thing for us humans and little things like a piece of paper with a message on it can help more than you might expect.

So, if you are being hard on yourself for some mistake you made, or worrying needlessly about something in the future, just take time to think about “USA”. Go a step further even and post a reminder in a location where you’ll see it often. Go ahead and do it now and see how well that works! 

Signs and Habits for Longevity

May 8, 2022 by  
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Recently, I was going through some old files, and I came across notes I wrote about living a very long life. I wrote it in 2008, but as I reread what I’m calling the “12 Signs and Habits for Longevity”, I was re-motivated to pay more attention to those 12 signs.

I thought I’d share them with you as well and I hope that they are as helpful to you as they were, and still are, to me.

1. Drink 2 cups of green or white tea every day.

2. Take 30 minutes each day to walk, bike, or run.

3. Don’t drink a lot of soda.

4. Work out your lower body and legs to give you more strength.

5. Eat more blueberries and red grapes as well as having a little of red wine here and there to reduce the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer.

6. Eat little or no beef to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.

7. Get a college education if you can. Statistically, it increases your life expectancy by 18 months or more.

8. Reduce or try to eliminate chronic stress as it weakens the immune system and increases cellular aging, shorting life expectancy by 4 to 8 years.

9. Hang out with more healthy people.

10. Work on keeping your weight down. Don’t use housekeepers or gardeners to maintain your house, but do it yourself to burn more calories and help control your weight.

11. Work on having a very positive outlook and sense of purpose.

12. Give yourself over to helping other people, not just your family, but old friends and new friends as well.

If there are things on this list, you can do or change in your life to live better and longer, now is the time to do it!

Daily Joy

May 1, 2022 by  
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Years ago, after successfully building my wealth, I retired so I could enjoy the “good life”, including traveling and having plenty of time to spend with family. That is the kind of life everybody would love to live, right? Well, it did not end up being what I thought it would be. I was shocked at how unhappy and depressed I could get. Sometimes I didn’t even want to get up in the morning. I just didn’t see any joy in my day.

This situation was a mystery to me at first. Why would leisure make me so unhappy? I researched my symptoms and tried various methods to improve my health and my mind. Some techniques I found worked, to an extent, but if I thought back to my earlier years when I had been working really hard to build my wealth, there was no comparison.

The thing was, when I worked long days fixing up homes or, later, negotiating huge real estate purchases, I was happy, regardless of all the toil and pressure of those times. I had goals and a bright future, and I was intensely passionate about what I was doing. It was while pondering the past that I realized, for all the great things I had accomplished, for all the wealth and love I had in my life, life was not worth waking up for without a purpose and a passion.

As it turns out, I enjoy life the most when I am helping others better their own lives and knowing that led me to a solution for what I was feeling. With so many years of experience and knowledge, and having already written books on succeeding financially, writing another book, one that would help people not just become wealthy, but would help them reach any goal they desired, was just a natural choice. Once I decided to write the book, my days came alive again.

It was a long, arduous road, but eventually I published How to Ignite Your Passion for Living in 2008. It wasn’t long after publication that I began to see and hear the stories of people whose lives were changed because of the words and techniques in my book. It turned out, however, that the book would be just the beginning of a new chapter in my life, one where helping people find their passion and better their lives became a focus for my life.

To this day, I continue to work towards spreading these ideas through whatever channels I find, including this blog. I continue to hope that, through these posts, I can further inspire and motivate people. And I always love to hear the stories of struggle and success from my readers, so if you have one or more to share, please do write to me.

My readers are my purpose and passion now, the driving force that gets me jumping out of bed in the morning, looking forward to all the new day has in store. I hope you have found or are looking for that something that brings joy into your life every day as well. Joy really is working towards something you truly believe in.

Focus on Flexibility

April 24, 2022 by  
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I’ve always been impressed by people who are very, very flexible, probably because I’m not flexible at all! I did a little research and discovered that some flexibility is inherited. I know I’m not one of those people. Even as a kid, I was quite stiff and, to this day, I still have a hard time touching my toes. My wife, on the other hand, is super flexible and, yes, I am always asking her to pick up things that I have dropped, and she helps me put on my socks every morning.

The good news is, I can work on that. It helps that I have constant reminders, much of them from myself, because anything I write about—especially self-improvement stuff—helps me big time. When I wrote about how important it is to have a routine, I noticed that I began setting more routines for myself. It is so interesting to me that when I preach or advise people, I see that I start doing more of whatever I’ve been preaching about. So, let’s talk about flexibility so that I can help you, and myself, improve.

Even though I was a good pole vaulter in my younger years and even played basketball for my high school and a little in college, that wasn’t enough to gain a ton of flexibility. But not too long ago, I decided I needed to do something about my lack of flexibility. I got a book called The Genius of Flexibility by Bob Cooley and, wow, that was a great move on my part.

The author gives excellent advice on what to stretch, how to do it, and how often. One of his big points is that when you stretch, you should use your muscles to resist a bit to the stretch you are doing. That never occurred to me and, I think, that might be news for a lot of people.

This book has lots of pictures showing how to stretch different parts of your body with resistance stretching. This kind of stretching is so much more beneficial for the body than standard methods. Quoting from his great book, Cooley says, “Anyone who has ever tried Resistance Stretching continues… they NEVER stop. They continue not only because they see immediate improvements in their flexibility but also because as time goes on, they discover the other benefits that come from feeling, looking, and behaving like the person they were intended to be!”

If you are interested in becoming more flexible, I would highly recommend Cooley’s book, The Genius of Flexibility. Even if you don’t think you need it now, you want to be careful not to lose your flexibility as you get older. It happens to almost everyone, but there are things, like this book, that can help you maintain your flexibility as your age.

Living Large Despite Failing

April 17, 2022 by  
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Back in 2015, Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP candidate for President, made some powerful comments to graduating students at Utah Valley University. He advised the students he spoke in front of “to experience a fulfilling, purposeful life.” He called that living “a large life”. What great advice. We all need to go out and live large, not just when we’re young, but throughout our entire lives.

However, people often hesitate to live large. Why? Because most of the time, they fear their potential failure.

“Failures don’t have to define who you are,” Romney said in that same 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.”

The thing about failures is that they come hand in hand with success. 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 that then led me to some very, very large successes. I had decided to lend a large amount of money using 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.

With those guidelines in mind, I forged ahead and made many millions of dollars’ worth of loans that were backed up by more familiar types of real estate. Those ventures were largely 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. Those did come with increased risks, but they were risks I was willing to take because I knew enough to be comfortable with those types of properties. Much, if not most, of the success I had in those ventures came from lessons learned from my failures and my efforts to live large.

Now, living large for you may not be about investing in real estate. It will mean different things to different people, but keep in mind that the term refers to more than making money. As Romney says, it’s about “expanding your world and engaging in your world, constantly learning, nourishing friendships, overcoming reversals and servicing others.” In other words, there are plenty of opportunities for you to live large in a way that is meaningful to you and boosts your life and the life of those around you.

So, what are you doing, or will do, to live large and take your life to the next level?

Slowing Down Time

April 10, 2022 by  
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I don’t know about you, but I am so amazed by how quickly 2021 went by. It was gone in a flash. And now we are almost a quarter of the way through 2022. Why does time seem to go at warp speed these days? Well, there are actually very specific answers to that question and your age has a lot to do with how quickly or slowly time passes for you, but it’s not the whole story.

The speed of time is, for one, perceived quite differently by kids and young people compared to older folks. When we are young, time seemed to go so slowly. Do you remember when you were 15 years old but just months away from turning 16 when you could then drive by yourself? Wow, the time then seemed to slow down so much it almost stopped.

But have you noticed that now, being older time seems to have sped up? I just turned 78 last week, but it seems so much less than one year ago that I cerebrated my 77th birthday. That was a really fast year.

The reason for this has a lot to do with how many new experiences we have. Our brain encodes new experiences differently than familiar ones and our subjective experience of time is tied to the number of new memories we create. The more new experiences we have, the more memories we are storing and the slower time will seem to pass. That does make sense to my brain as I get older and pay attention to my thinking and my life and the speed of our human existence.

In BBC’s Science Focus magazine, Dr. Kit Yates, author of The Math of Life and Death, writes that, “The greater our acquaintance with the routines of everyday life, the quicker we perceive time to pass and, generally, as we age, this familiarity increases.”  

He goes on to say that this theory, “suggests that, in order to make our time last longer, we should fill our lives with new and varied experiences, eschewing the time-sapping routine of the everyday.” I’d like to add that seeking out new and novel experiences is also really great for the health of your brain. It’s even been suggested that the desire to have novel experiences can be a predictor of a healthier, happier, and maybe even longer life.

If you are interested in these challenging ideas that we face as we age, I encourage you to search the internet and find out more about why time passes quicker as we age as well as ideas for adding new experiences to your life so you can slow time down and benefit from a happier and healthier brain.

Keys to a Fit Brain

April 3, 2022 by  
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The human brain really is a very powerful instrument and is used for the most wonderful things, but it also can be very harmful, depending on what you put in it.   

For instance, we can read books that help move us towards our goals in life or that comfort us. Alternately, we could read garbage online that skews what we think or discourages us from even trying to make our dreams a reality. We can choose to be friends with very smart people, allowing us to learn from them and grow from that knowledge. Or we can surround ourselves with people that are vindictive, derogatory, or pessimistic. Which do you think would help your brain and improve your life? That’s easy to figure out.

But even if we read great books and keep the best and most positive people around us, we also need to keep our brains fit and ready to take in all that good stuff that helps us greatly improve our lives. Here’s a few ideas that might be just what you need to keep your brain in great shape.

1. Think about thinking. This is sometimes called metacognition, and it makes you aware of how you learn so you can improve your learning and problem-solving skills.

2. Read books about improving the brain. Just search my blog under the keyword “brain” for my many recommendations.

3. Associate with intelligent people so that you are constantly learning.

4. Look into food and supplements that can help the brain, like gingko biloba or DHEA. Be sure to read up on dosage and side effects as even natural supplements can be dangerous in certain situations. For instance, gingko is a blood thinner which could be a problem if you take a blood thinning medication. Other good supplements include B-complex vitamins, vitamins C, D, and E, magnesium, choline, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Meditate. It can help improve your concentration and memory, reduce stress and anxiety and help preserve your brain function as you age.

6. Exercise. Blood flow to the brain is a huge brain helper and exercise increases that blood flow. Running can be great, but if you don’t like running, walking is also tremendously helpful.

Speaking of walking, I have a daily 20,000 step goal and I almost always hit that thanks to the Fit Bit I keep in my pocket. I challenge you to set some walking goals to make you feel better, help your brain and most likely increase your life expectancy! That, along with the stuff listed above, will keep your brain fit and healthy for years to come, if not for the rest of your life!

Our Amazing Brain

March 27, 2022 by  
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Wow, what an incredible machine we all have and often take for granted. I’m talking about the human brain and it does so much more than we fully realize. Even as I write this, I have to stop and take note of the fact that my brain knows where each key on my computer is located to the point that I don’t even have to think about it. Likewise, when we are sleeping, the brain continues to work without our input. Then, when we are awake, we can, again, choose what we want to think about.

When I decide to accomplish a particular thing, I can think about it and set my sights on it, keeping my decision and the steps I need to get there in my mind. I can set a goal with a time frame on it and most of the time I can reach that goal, mainly because of the powerful machine in my head.

When we take a big look at the world, we can see what the human brain has been able to come up with. It came up with the automobile, airplanes, rocket ships, computers, space stations, and even heart replacement surgery! And that’s just a tiny list of the amazing things it can invent.

I’m very, very impressed by the brain’s ability to remember things, especially my wife’s. She remembers everything and with so many details that I am constantly surprised. On the other hand, the older I get, the less my brain remembers, although it’s still amazing.

The change, however, has motivated me to find various methods to kick it into gear. One that works really well for me is when I am trying to remember a person’s name that I haven’t seen or talked to in a very long time. I mentally go through the alphabet and usually, when I come to the first letter of their name, bingo, I remember it. For example, I was trying to think of a tennis friend in Kauai that I hadn’t seen in sometime so I started going through the alphabet and, wow, the first letter did it. His name was Al.

So, how do we wake up the power of our mind and intentionally and productively choose what we think about? To start, we all need to be conscious of what we are putting into our brain. What kind of information do you feed it? Do you give it challenges and problems to figure out to keep it agile? And what do you eat to keep your brain healthy?

There are a lot of ways to support your amazing brain. But the first thing you need to do is decide to intentionally take care of it and make it a priority. Once you’ve done that, be on the lookout for ways to keep it fit, healthy, and amazing.

I’ll talk more about what you can do to keep your brain fit and healthy in next week’s post.

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!

Pay It Forward

March 13, 2022 by  
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This past week, my wife Kimberly and I drove around Salt Lake City to maybe see some houses or office buildings that we had not seen before. As you probably know, the mind craves novelty even when it’s as simple as driving through a new or rarely seen neighborhood.

Kimberly chose to drive down a street where we used to live. We decided we’d like to meet the people living at our old house. When we knocked, a young, good-looking guy came to the door. We told him we used to live there, and we’d like to take a little look around. Before we went into the house, however, Kimberly said, “Hey, Mark, why don’t you go to the car and give him one of your books?” 

I did, and when I gave it to the young man, he looked surprised and said, “I know your name.” He quickly retreated into the house and brought out a book called Pay It Forward, co-authored by Brian Tracy and several other experts, including himself.

What a coincidence! I have known Brian Tracy for years. He was a top-notch motivational speaker at some of my seminars. Not only was he super successful and a superb writer and speaker, but he was also a super nice guy.

The young co-author we meet was Daryl L. Kemsley. His section in the book was “Driven By a New Purpose”. In it he writes about taking “Three Steps Forward” which I thought could be very helpful for a lot of people. I’d suggest that you get the book and read about his three steps:

Step 1. Sacrifice helps you embrace what you deserve in life and business. 

Step 2. The principles of building a business are consistent.

Step 3. When you listen for it, you will find the people that need you the most.

Pay It Forward is an excellent little book and Brain presents a lot of great subjects in his chapter, “Create Your Own Future” including:

  • Think About the Future
  • Become a Millionaire
  • Create a Five-Year Fantasy
  • Imagine No Limitations
  • Practice Blue Sky Thinking
  • Refuse to Compromise Your Dreams

That is to name just a few of what he writes about that can be so helpful to a person’s life. I sure remember when he spoke at our seminars and how the audience loved what he had to share. You could tell they knew it would be very, very helpful to in their lives. Go out and find the book and buy it. You won’t be sorry. 

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