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Lessons from Ukraine

October 2, 2022 by  
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Like many of you, this war in Ukraine has been weighing very heavily on my mind. It just seems so stupid and pointless. It has gotten me thinking about my visit to that beautiful country in 2011. Back then, we spent a very pleasurable couple of days in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital and one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. The city has been on a crazy roller coaster throughout its history. It’s gone from great prosperity and prominence to near obscurity and everything in between. And although the Russians aren’t at the capital, and hopefully will never get there in this crazy war, the spirit of that city represents the whole country, a place that we can all learn from as we hope and pray for an end to this awful fighting.

It was thought that Kiev was a commercial center of Eastern Europe as early as the 5th century, being on the route between Scandinavia and Constantinople. In the 9th century, the city was seized by Vikings, then it was demolished by Mongols in the mid-13th century. The city made a comeback during the Russian Empire’s Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, going on to eventually be chosen as the capital of the newly formed Ukrainian National Republic in 1917. It weathered the sweeping communist reforms of the early 20th century only to be greatly damaged in World War II. Even so, it recovered to become the 3rd largest city of the Soviet Union. Half a century later, Ukraine claimed its independence and Kiev, again, became the capital of a richly fertile, if still financially struggling, land.

For all its hardships, including the one it’s dealing with right now, the country is historically resilient and strong. It has had huge challenges and, sometimes, great defeats. But being knocked down has only been a temporary state for this country and its capital city. It keeps getting back up and keeps moving forward.

If this place, which has been invaded, demolished, controlled by its neighbors, and beaten-up multiple times can recover to claim and reclaim its prominent position after all it’s been through, we can hold on to tremendous hope for the Ukrainian people, and for ourselves, because they represent the possibilities for us all.

So, next time you are facing a huge challenge or defeat, consider how much the country of Ukraine has been through and how the people there are persevering and even pushing back the much bigger country of Russia. If Ukraine and its beautiful capital can do that with all they have been up against, there is no reason why we as individuals can’t weather our challenges and fully recover from our own losses and defeats as well, if not come back better than ever.  

Accepting Our Differences

September 25, 2022 by  
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Have you ever noticed how life can be so very different for males versus females? When I observe the two sexes, I really am surprised by those differences. This is not about saying men are better than women or that women are better than men. Some people truly believe that one sex is better than the other, and sadly some religions and different cultures not only believe that but preach it as well.

Personally, I am very enamored with the differences. Here are a few examples that stand out to me when I see the men and women around me interact.

The first obvious one is what men wear versus women. For example, most men don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what they are going to wear. Women tend to take more time looking through their closet and picking just the right outfit for the day. Another difference, which I think is kind of cute, is that women, many times, will comment on another woman’s attire, saying things like, “I just love your outfit”. I don’t think I have ever heard a man say that to another man. Oh, yes, occasionally I’ll hear a woman compliment a man on his attire and we men do usually like that.

Then there is the big difference in talking. Women will talk to each other so much longer compared to men. Women seem to get more into the details and in a way that men usually don’t. I can always tell whether my wife is talking to a man on the phone or a woman, just by the length of the conversation.

In my experience, when two men meet it’s “Hey, bud, good to see you. How are you doing?” And their answer will be something like “I’m fine. Good to see you too.” Then maybe they’ll talk for a minute about work, sports, or some place they might be going, but that’s about it. Women, on the other hand, will ask dozens of questions and tell each other complete stories.

Men’s and women’s common habits are also very different. I don’t need to point out or talk about women painting their nails, putting on makeup, and so many other things that men, in general, don’t do. And men have just as many things they do that most women don’t.

Why am I pointing out all these obvious differences? Well, I just want to get across the idea that if men and women want to get along and love each other more, we need to fully accept our differences. We can learn so much from the other sex as well as from other people that are dramatically different from us. Those differences are what make us unique and give us opportunities to learn and see the world in a new way. Because of this, we should all pay more attention to those we may see as opposites and respect these other people not just regardless of those differences, but because of them.

The Time For Healthy Habits is Now

September 18, 2022 by  
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I had a bit of a fit while I was in Paris last week. That fit was a big trip next to a busy street. I went down and my right eye got hammered. The good news is that I didn’t get hit or run over by a car. Yay! Always try to find the bright side, right?

I recently read Stephen Perrine’s book, The Whole Body Reset, and recall the section where he talks about what we can do to live longer and healthier lives. He discusses two different ways that we can dramatically change our lives and our well-being. It’s all about what we eat and how active we stay. It’s the part about staying active they came to mind after my little incident.

The fall was my fault and, I believe, a big part of it was the simple fact that I have not been working out very much. I’ve had a lot going on and became lax with my exercise routines. As a result, I’ve lost a lot of muscle strength and flexibility, so when I lost my balance, my muscle reaction time was slow, and I went down very hard.

I’m sure I could’ve avoided such a bad fall if I’d only followed some of the advice I found in that book. Stephen Perrine says you should try to do exercise that “fits your lifestyle and your body — walking, running, biking, hiking, dancing in the kitchen — along with some strength and resistance training. Shoot for about 30 minutes a day, about five days per week.”

Not only could this kind of easy exercise routine help someone avoid serious injuries, Perrine says this will help you live longer. But it takes more than just exercise to increase your longevity. Most of his advice and research has shown that what you eat each day has even more to do with health and longevity than exercising.

The most surprising and advice he gives is not so much about calories as it is about what foods you are eating. His research and experiences with people who have followed his plan is that if a person eats 3 meals a day, eating mainly foods that are high in protein and fiber, that will help keep the weight off.

So, between trying to avoid injuries and aiming to live longer, healthier lives, it’s obvious that we all would benefit from keeping up with an exercise routine and healthy eating habits. And now is a good time to recommit to living your best possible life. You don’t want to wait until you get hurt or have a health scare to work on those things. Commit to living a better, healthier life today and every day.

Travel: A Needed Boost

September 11, 2022 by  
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I’ve said this before, mostly because it is so very true — traveling lifts the mind and spirit! Right now, we are in Vienna after traveling a couple of nights ago from the Slovak Republic. Before that we had been in Budapest. Just wow, wow, wow! Talk about lifting one’s spirit. Our trip is doing that for me big time!

Even after all that flying around, we still have two more countries to visit — Austria and Germany. I’ve been to these countries before and just love the culture and the variety of people, buildings, and landscape we encounter along the way. I’ve now been to 94 countries and loved all of them.

You may wonder why I travel so much and why I’ve been to so many countries. Well, for one, I really love it. The reason for that, and another reason that I keep doing it, is because our minds really crave new and different things. There are a lot of ways to introduce novelty in your life, but going to new places and meeting new people is one of the best.

All this travel makes me want to do more and more things with my life and it is so mind expanding. Sometimes I take my kids and grandkids. They love all the new experiences and I get even more out of it because I get to share it with them.

Now, we have been to Europe many times, so maybe it doesn’t sound like such a new experience. However, this time was quite different for us, and I think I like it even better. Why? Because this time we took a cruise ship called the Viking. They do so much for their passengers. They arrange all the land tours at the various stops, and they serve a great food and drinks. They are also always there to answer any questions that passengers may have.

Having the cruise staff take care of all the details really took the pressure off our minds and reduced the stress on our bodies. If you haven’t taken a cruise, you might want to look into the cruise lines available and all the places they travel. Yes, we will sure do this cruise thing again and again.

Whether you choose to take a cruise ship, a plane ride, or a road trip, I highly recommend that you do more traveling, especially now that we can travel so much more than we had been in the past couple of years. It’ll be good for your mind and your spirit.

Train Your Brain

September 4, 2022 by  
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I’ve been talking about the power of the brain a lot recently because it’s been a super helpful thing for me to review and to share with others. Your brain is a very powerful organ, operating beyond your conscious thoughts. You can use its vast abilities to feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally, as well as live better in so many ways, but it takes some work and some practice.

In the book, Super Brain, authors Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi write that you need to train your brain to do what you want it to do. “The minute you say, ‘My memory isn’t what it used to be’ or ‘I can’t remember a thing today,’ you are programing your brain to live up to your diminished expectations.”

The authors go on to explain how this works and hint at what you can do about it. “The first rule of super brain is that your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts. As it listens, it learns. If you teach it about limitation, your brain will become limited. But what if you do the opposite? What if you teach your brain to be unlimited?”

In other words, we all need to be very aware of our thoughts. We need to monitor them and then move them to the where we want them to go so our brains operate on healthy and positive ideas.

When I read this years ago, I tried saying to myself “I’m starting to feel younger and healthier by the day—frickin’ A!” and, wouldn’t you know, I actually began to believe it and feel it! My brain was listening in on these thoughts and operating based on them.

Our wise authors also make note that, “You are not your brain.” When you are acting as the leader of your brain, you can actively reprogram your own neurochemistry and even genetic activity, no longer having to be a slave to mood swings, pain, and negative thoughts.

So, the takeaway here is, be aware of your thoughts and direct them the way you want. Set aside the negative thoughts and defeatist self-talk. Think positively and encourage yourself and your brain will listen.

By the way, when I wrote about what Chopra and Tanzi said in this book about the placebo effect two weeks ago, a reader, Cora , wrote that “the same topic is very well described in a book by Randy Baker —net-boss.org/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect-by-randy-baker”. I haven’t read it yet, but it just goes to show how powerful and well-accepted these great concepts on the power of the brain really are.  

The Great Gratitude List

August 28, 2022 by  
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Although I’ve had a few small health challenges of late, I’ve been feeling a bit better and even more healthy in some ways. I was also grateful that I had not gotten COVID but, oops, it finally caught me! Ouch. Talk about feeling strong and healthy and then suddenly losing all of it and feeling ten times as terrible or even more!

COVID sure got its revenge, but I am finally feeling much better. My terrible experience of feeling so sick struck me hard and made me realize more fully how much good stuff we really have in our lives. I’ve been reminded of just how much we tend to take for granted, at least until we lose some of that great stuff. It’s not just health we take for granted, but happiness and our great friends and family as well. Not many people, including myself, take time to think about these things, maybe taking even less time to count them or make a list of all the wonderful things in our lives so we can really appreciate how much we have. But when things turn bad, and the things we just assume will be there each day aren’t there, that’s when we finally come to truly understand what they mean in our lives. However, it really shouldn’t be just at those times that we realize that.

It’s no surprise that my recent fight with COVID had me thinking about how much I have to be super grateful for. It led me to the idea of listing all the things I am grateful for right now, with a goal to add to that list over time. Of course, I’ll need to include reviewing that list when I’m feeling poorly, am hard on myself, or when my thoughts or actions are bringing my mind and attitude down.

I think that last part is particularly important. Reviewing these kinds of lists can really help the human mind focus and see the positive in our daily lives and beyond. And I do think I have one of those human minds that can use that kind of help. Okay, maybe sometimes my wife doesn’t think my mind is very human!

Sorry! I was just kidding about my wife. She is always so supportive and a really great person. She is one of the things I am super grateful for and I never want to forget that, not even for a moment.

I’m not alone wishing I was more grateful more often for all the many wonderful things I have, am I? If you’re like me, why don’t you give a “Gratitude List” a try. See if it doesn’t help you focus and appreciate all the great things your life has in it!

A Pill-less Placebo

August 21, 2022 by  
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You’ve heard of the placebo effect, right? It’s that brain-body connection in which the brain is tricked into believing that a simple sugar pill can relieve pain or cure certain illnesses by simply telling the person that the pill they are taking is genuine medicine. That’s how powerful our brains really are!

There’s a book I’ve talked about many times before called Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi, which points out that, if we so chose, we could set up or create our own placebo effect at any time and without any kind of pill.

“Where did the patient’s relief come from?” the authors ask in regard to the results of placebo effect studies. They then answer, “It came from the mind telling the body to get well.” Your mind can and does control healing of all kinds including pain, disease, and wounds that our bodies deal with from time to time.

“In serious illness, doubts and fears play a marked role, which is why a practice like meditation or going to group counseling has been shown to help,” the authors write.

But this effect isn’t just for serious illness. We can do this to relieve of heal all kinds of pain, injury and disease, if you truly believe in it.

The authors suggest that there is a specific method that will allow anyone at any time to turn on the pill-less placebo effect. It requires the same conditions as in a classic placebo response:
1. You trust what is happening.
2. You set aside doubt and fear.
3. You don’t send conflicting messages that negate each other.
4. You open the channels of your mind-body communication.
5. You let go and allow the healing system to do its work.

That last item is a big one. Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal themselves, but we need to truly believe in that. When we get a cut on our finger or knee, we slap on a band-aid and know that it will heal itself. In doing that, we’ve just let our brain send a positive message to our cells to do their job, right? Shouldn’t that faith in our body to heal itself in such a small matter be equally effective when it comes to more serious issues?

The problem is, when we are faced with a serious illness, we let our minds jump in with all kinds of worry and negative thoughts, which pretty much does the opposite of the things listed above.

If we are going to benefit from our own built-in placebo effect, then we’ve got to, at a minimum, follow the list of the five conditions above. If you can do that, you are supporting your body’s ability to take care of you, as it is supposed to do. Believe in that ability, and talk positively, both out loud and in your mind, about how well your body can heal itself, and you’ll see the results for yourself.

Finding Joy in the Journey

August 14, 2022 by  
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I don’t really like the saying, “No pain, no gain.” It’s not that I don’t believe the struggle can be worthwhile—the struggle is what makes most gains so very fulfilling—but the idea that in order for us to reach a goal it must be painful seems, to me, to say that enjoying yourself means you’re goofing off and not trying hard enough. Our society glamorizes the painful struggle in popular media and, although it makes great drama, it does not give us a realistic view of how we could, or should, live our lives and achieve our goals.

Chances are you will spend many hours and days, if not weeks, months, or years, working towards the big goals in your life. So, the question becomes, why would you choose to spend so much of your life suffering to reach a future goal? The path you walk to achieve your goal should have some level of enjoyment in it. It might not be a constant joy, but joy should be a consistent enough part of it to keep you going.

For instance, if you are flipping houses to build your wealth but hate every minute you spend searching for the right property, fixing it up, and talking to buyers, why do it? If what you really enjoy is entertaining people, you can work towards amassing wealth by going big in the entertainment world. It might take longer or be harder to build wealth that way (but then again, it might not) but no matter how long it takes or what trials you go through, you will probably enjoy getting your name out and searching for those big gigs. When you’re spending so much time and energy on something that it becomes what your life is about, you really ought to enjoy it!

Our society tends to focus too much on the end goal itself, even to the point of drilling into us that happiness is something that we reach in the future, or even in the next life. But happiness can, and should, be yours now. You can find great enjoyment and satisfaction in pushing yourself and being challenged in almost anything—it’s really up to you and how you look at a situation. But it’s also wise to find something that keeps your interest and makes you jump out of bed every morning, excited to get back into the life you’ve made for yourself.

So, save your “no pain, no gain” moments for those little jobs we must do to continue doing what we love. Like those few hours you need to prepare your taxes correctly or those last few reps at the gym. But don’t let it be about large chunks of your life and what you do every day. Be happy now. Enjoy the whole of your life including the journeys you take, not just what your life will be when you reach your goals.

Small Steps to Your Better Self

August 7, 2022 by  
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Do you ever wish you could just better yourself as a person? Do you feel overly pessimistic, especially judgmental, or too self-involved? If you aren’t happy with who you are, you can improve this just as you can improve your financial situation, health, or skills. Although it is less common to hear that someone’s goal is to be a nicer, more positive person, it isn’t any less important or admirable. In fact, it might be one of the most important goals you can have.

If you’ve read my book, you know about the power of the ‘Bite Size’ approach to reaching your goal. If you haven’t read it, you can get your copy here, then go to Chapter 6 on page 57 for the story of how this method kept a man alive and helped him rescue himself when everything was against his survival.

Becoming a nicer, more positive person may not sound as monumental a goal as keeping oneself alive in dire circumstances, but the approach that will get you there is not really any different. The most important thing to remember is to take it one small step at a time. That’s where the Bite Size approach comes in.

You became who you are over a long period of time, and you were affected and changed by many small influences and experiences. It makes sense that your road to changing your attitude towards others and how you live your life will likewise take many small gestures and encouraging encounters.

You can begin by taking note of the things you do that make up the behavior you want to change. Then take on just one of those little things and focus on eliminating or transforming it into something positive for others and yourself.

If something so simple as taking one bite size step at a time can be so powerful as to save a man’s life, it can certainly help you to improve the person you are and better your life and the lives of those around you. It just takes that first small step. What will be your first small step to becoming a better person than you are even now?

Good Mood is in Your Food

July 31, 2022 by  
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Depression. it’s something none of us humans like but, at certain stages of life and under various circumstances, many of us have been hit by the big, bad D word.

In 2020, there were about just under 15 million cases of major depression in the United States. Not surprisingly, when Covid it, there was a 25% increase in depression cases. It’s also interesting to note that more people get depressed on Sunday than any other day of the week. Perhaps it’s because, both during pandemic restrictions and on Sundays, we have less structure in our lives. During those times, we may have gone without goals or plans and, certainly during the pandemic lockdown, routines were often thrown out the window.

Certainly, having a set routine and goals for the day can help a lot with depression, but there are several other methods for avoiding or getting rid of depression if you get hit with it. There is even one surprisingly simple way to reduce the likelihood of depression. Would you believe that simple thing is the foods that you eat?

I’ve read a lot about this and, from what I’ve found, I have been able to create a list of some of the most helpful foods for getting you out of a depressed state of mind. Here are some that I focus on:

  • Nuts, especially almonds
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Yogurt
  • Whole grain bread
  • Celery
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Ginger tea
  • Foods rich in vitamin B, C, D, E, and zinc such as avocado, peas, spinach

There are certain vitamins and supplements that help a lot as well:

  • B vitamins, especially B12 and Folate
  • Vitamin C, D, E
  • Ginkgo biloba extract
  • St. John’s wort
  • DHEA
  • 5 HTP
  • Turmeric
  • Folic acid
  • DHA
  • Folic acid
  • L-tyrosine
  • Magnesium

You also want to drink lots of water and drink very little or no alcohol.

I eat and take most of the above and it has helped me big time. There are a lot more foods and supplements that help reduce or eliminate depression though. So, if you are struggling, or someone close to you needs help in that part of their life, look up options on the internet and, most importantly, talk to your doctor about changes to your diet and supplement regimen.

Although diet is very important, don’t forget those other simple things you can do to get out, and stay out, of those depressive moods. Set agendas and routines for yourself, get outside, and try new things such as walking through new neighborhoods, meeting new people, or planning a vacation or weekend getaway to some place you’ve never been and know very little about.

Remember, the mind craves unique places, novel experiences, new friends, and interesting new people, and when we are not getting those things, increases our chances of falling into a depression. So, push yourself to find those new places and people as well as switching up your diet to support a healthy and positive mood.

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