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Contentment is in the Right Now

July 24, 2022 by  
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There are so many things in our lives that we view as priorities — many, many things. There are obvious ones like getting an education, finding a good job, staying in good health, and taking care of the ones you love, including parents, siblings, your spouse, kids, grandkids, and friends. And you want to be sure you have time and energy to pursue the things you love in life as well.

All those things are so important and critical to a good life and even a great life. But many of those items can be thrown off track if we lack contentment and satisfaction. And, I think, there’s one big thing that gives us great contentment — living in the “right now”.

Of course, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, for us to always “live in the now”. Our busy lives distract us, causing us to worry and contemplate what’s coming next. But, I think, our greatest contentment and satisfaction comes from living in the now, so it’s important to make that a priority, too. Luckily, there are easy ways to help us spend more of our mind time living in those right now moments.

  • On a regular basis, ask yourself, “Am I at ease at this moment and living in the now?”
  • Visit the future but don’t stay there. Keep coming back to the right now.
  • Visit the past but don’t bring back any regret or guilt.
  • Make a habit of monitoring your mental and emotional state through self-observation.
  • When you are stressed, stop, pause, take a big deep breath and count in your mind. That’s right. Just count numbers. You can start at 1 and count to 500 or start at 100 or 500 and work backwards. Then refocus on living in the now.
  • Buddha said, “The root of suffering is found in our constant wanting and craving…” so let’s all work at reducing our wanting and craving so aren’t as anxious and can be more present.

Of course, living in the now should be a priority, but you also want to prioritize those things that require planning. The question is, how do you stay in the moment while planning, dreaming, goal setting, and doing all those things that help you get what you want out of life?

Well, you can go ahead and set future plans, dreams and goals, but once they are determined, write them down. That way, when you don’t need them, you can physically set them aside until you want to work on them or need reminders to keep focused. So, as you see, it’s not that you can’t think about the past or the future, but rather that you need to be aware of how much you do think about things that are not part of the moment you are living right now.

Awareness of what your mind is doing is a big part of living in the right now moment. When you are aware of what your mind is doing, you can steer it back to the right now after you give yourself the time to plan future things or momentarily ponder the past. Once you have, try to become totally absorbed in what you are doing, thinking, or being right now and enjoy the contentment that comes with it.

GBAs and PBAs

May 22, 2022 by  
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Just the other day, I was going through a ton of old stuff of mine. Most of it was old paperwork including my past journals in which I wrote mainly about my thoughts and actions, from work stuff to family trips.

I began reading a journal I wrote between 2003 and 2004. That brought back both good and bad memories. I particularly liked reading of my thoughts when going to a foreign country which always lifts my brain and body. I took my kids and, later, my grandkids on these trips. They were so much fun and always pushed my enjoyment of life to a higher level. It did the same for the kids and grandkids. When I just stay home and do almost nothing, the lack of activity causes me to get depressed.

In my journal, I wrote about Martin Seligman, and was reminded of his advice. Martin Seligman is a psychologist and author who gives talks and writes about positive psychology and what it can do for our well-being. He believes we should follow our passions, the type that takes us away to that wonderful place of total engagement. For me, that is usually writing. Amazingly enough, however, I spend so little time doing it these days!

Seligman believes it is vitally important, especially as an antidote to depression, to engage oneself in activities and projects that challenge us and cause us to think. That effort gratifies us as opposed to activities that take little or no thinking and require very little effort. For me, it is obvious that writing is in the first category of gratification-based activities, or GBA. That second category is pleasure-based activities, or PBA.

Here are two lists — one of gratification-based activities (GBA) and the other of pleasure-based activities (PBA). Which one do you think lifts the mind and body to a higher level?

PBA:

  • Watching T.V.
  • Shopping
  • Drinking at a bar
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Eating favorite foods
  • Back rubs/massages

GBA

  • Writing
  • Reading good books
  • Stimulating conversations
  • Playing tennis
  • Hiking in the mountains
  • Social gatherings

There are lots more on my list, but I don’t want to bore you. I’m sure you can make a great list of your own.

I should note that pleasure-based activities are not necessarily bad. The thing to remember is that when indulging in pleasures, you should try to enhance them by being very mindful and aware of what you’re doing, taking time to savor those pleasurable moments. It also helps to spread out the PBAs as well as change them up to keep them fresh and novel. The brain really loves novelty.

Paying attention to how the things we do in our life lifts our brains and bodies, or doesn’t, can help us to make better choices in how we spend our time. Pleasurable things are nice in the moment, but doing something that leaves us feeling gratified can give us a boost for days, weeks, or even years. We humans can, in fact, choose to change and lift our minds and find greater levels of gratification in so much of what we do.

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.

Beautiful Mindfulness

July 11, 2021 by  
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Recently, I re-read Pema Chödrön’s great book, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change. It got me thinking again about the human mind and how our thinking can be super helpful or just terrible for us.

It’s so very, very important that we try to “live in the now” as much as we can. It’s not easy but we do need to keep working at it because it really can lift our life and happiness.

In last week’s blog, I talked about meditation and how important and helpful it can be for our lives. Pema says in Living Beautifully that, “Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness–fully present wakefulness.”

I totally agree with her.

She goes on to say that, “The specific details of our lives will, of course, differ, but for all of us, wakefulness concerns everything from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors, our forks and spoons. Just with other aspects of this commitment, we’re either present when putting on our sweater or tying our shoes or brushing our teeth, or we’re not. We’re either awake or asleep, conscious or distracted.”

Later she says, in reference to creating a comfortable life that this, “means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate self-honesty”. Those things and thoughts are so very important to our happiness. We all need to put a lot of effort into really living in the present moment. Doing that can lift our mood and our life tremendously.

To help me with this, I’ve made a list of what I call My 10 Natural Mood Boosters:

1. Get into a routine

2. Set goals

3. Exercise

4. Eat healthy

5. Get enough sleep

6. Take on responsibilities

7. Challenge negative thoughts

8. Take good supplements

9. Do something new

10. Try to have fun

I’d like to add one extra thing that has always worked for me when I am feeling down. It’s so simple — just go outside and take a walk to anywhere, although a place that’s new for you is best. And yes, it’s very important to live in the now as much as you can—you will be glad and much happier if you do this as often as possible!

Lift Your Life — Focus on the Present

July 4, 2021 by  
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One of the best ways to increase happiness in your life, and therefore maintain and lift your passion, is to stay in the present.

This can be challenging for most of us, if not all of us, when things are stressful. Most of the time we are worried about the past or the future and not really paying attention to what is happening right now, so we miss life as it is happening. That can make it tough to live passionately in that “right now” time and place.

Living this way takes practice. You have to train your brain to live in the moment. It’s something I’ve worked to achieve all my life. It is easier now than when I started, but it still takes a concerted effort. It is, however, more than worth it.

As you learn how to redirect your thoughts and focus on the present, it’s important not to be hard on yourself. (Take a look at my previous blog where I talk about good ole USA—not the country but “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”!) Just keep working at it and when you get cut off, when your mind wanders, take the time to steer your thoughts and yourself back to the present.

Yoga and/or meditation are ways that we all can practice keeping our focus on the present moment, making us happier and more content. Yoga and meditation are way underrated in this country. They can be such great tools and you don’t need to go to a gym or studio to do either.

For instance, you can do yoga at home with tools such as the Yoga for Beginners with Patricia Walden DVD or through videos found on websites such as Yoga with Adriene. There are also many websites designed to help coach you and I on the best ways to meditate, such as Mindful.org. Even just 10 minutes a day on either of these can make an enormous difference in your life.

Keep practicing and you will lift your life and get better at it the more you do it. You’ll be amazed at how much spending even just 10 minutes a day focusing on the present can increase your life and happiness factor. It’s the real deal!

Actions and Practices in Self-Esteem

March 21, 2021 by  
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Having healthy self-esteem is a critical part of all of our lives. It is one of those attributes that can help us rise very high in business, within our social circles, and in terms of our happiness and self-confidence.

I was looking through a bunch of my old papers and came across some notes I made years ago while I was looking into a related thing that is so important to our lives—that being confidence. I want to share with you some of those notes that helped me better understand the importance of healthy versus low self-esteem, it’s role in my confidence level, and how I could build more of both in myself.

The sources of healthy self-esteem are mostly internal. In our brains we work on and build what we think of ourselves, and if we approach it correctly, we tend to have lots of confidence and work on bringing our self-esteem to higher levels.

No, you don’t need to achieve perfection overnight, but you can get so much from just small improvements designed to lift low self-esteem. We all need to be aware of the operations of our consciousness as your mind is the best tool for survival. You should be aware of everything and live in the present moment, seeing first, then knowing, then acting.

So, you may ask, what are these actions are we talking about? Well, here are some of them:

1. Have an active mind.

2. Be in the moment.

3. Reach toward relevant facts.

4. Know where I am relative to my goals.

5. Always be open to new knowledge.

6. See and correct mistakes.

7. Make commitments to learning and growth.

In addition, there are a few practices that can boost self-esteem. Here is a list of practices that I wrote down and regularly work on that seem to boost my self-esteem. These practices have helped lead to some great success in my business and personal life.

1. The practice of self-acceptance. (It’s sad that most of us are very hard on ourselves, even harder than we are on other people, and, of course, that self-judgment is quietly tucked in our minds and quietly reduces our self-esteem.)

2. The practice of self-responsibility.

3. The practice of self-acceptance.

4. The practice of living purposefully.

5. The practice of self-assertiveness.

6. The practice of personal integrity.

When self-esteem is low, we are usually motivated by fear. Fear is how we act. There is fear of being exposed, fear of failure, dreading the unknown, and change. Higher self-esteem looks for new frontiers, looks for opportunity, and looks for new and bigger challenges. Sadly, without a good level of self-esteem, we suffer with lots of anxiety and insecurity.

These guidelines were and are very helpful to me in building and maintaining my self-esteem. This is quite important to me now in my retirement years. I am also only a few years away from hitting that big 80 number. I’ve been keeping my tennis game up so I need to keep working on keeping my self-esteem up too! Hope these guidelines and suggestions are helpful to you!

Direct Your Brain

April 12, 2020 by  
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Now, maybe more than ever, it’s so good for all of us that are home bound because of the virus, to live in the present or the “great right now”. There is a very thoughtful, but short and simple poem from John Greenleaf Whittier that makes a very good point:

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here

Our human minds can do so many great things, but the brain can also do some major damage. We do have a choice, right now, to use our heads to keep us going and in good shape physically and mentally. I’ve seen in the news what I expected and that is a rise in the number of suicides. In addition, unfortunately, the instances of spousal and domestic abuse cases have jumped as well. These people are obviously having difficulties using their brain in a good way.

I did, however, laugh out loud when I read this morning about a guy in England that ran a marathon in his back yard—a very small yard too. That was a lot of circles-especially since his yard was only 20 feet wide. His name is James Campbell and he set his mind to do the huge run to raise money to help fight the coronavirus. I’m sure that thinking about helping other people gave his brain good, positive thoughts which raised his energy level. It’s been proven that your brain really can give you energy.

So now, in these tough days, most of us, being stuck in the house, have plenty of time to plan and set goals for when this is over. Hey, how about doing some detail planning of an exotic trip to Rome or Paris or, if your budget can’t handle that, how about a camping trip and hike in the mountains or even in a nearby open space or campground?

If you have lost some of your passion for life being locked up in your house, you can focus on reviving and getting your passion for living back. First of all, don’t let your brain think about all the stuff you can’t do right now or how you can’t have face to face conversations with friends, co-workers or even some family members. We do all know our social lives are quite important, but our brains can help us out here. Our brain can be our best friend or worst foe and we really can direct our brain to be the way we want it to be.

Ernie J. Zelinski says in his book, The Joy of Not Working, “Fully alive individuals experience the here and now … the more we focus on the past and the future the more we miss the right now. Sadly, we miss most of life’s precious moments because we are so preoccupied with the past and the future.” So, in times like we have right now, we need to use that great brain to think in your present moment. Or, as the author also says, “Being in the now is crucial for living happily, because the present moment is all that you really have.”

If you missed my last week’s post, I would suggest you go back and read my list of the 9 items that are helping me through these stressful times. Plus, I would strongly suggest that you work up your own list to keep your mind and body connected. It will help you lift your spirits and your life.

17 Proven Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels

December 1, 2019 by  
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If you have high energy levels, life is so much more enjoyable and, of course, you can get a ton of stuff done. I’m not just talking about work stuff either. With high energy levels there’s tons of fun things and experiences that you can enjoy. As we age, our energy levels begin to drop, but there are many ways that you can lift or boost your energy and that makes life so much more fun and interesting.

Whether it’s for work or play, family or friends, whether you’re young or old, we could all use a little bit more energy. So here is a list of proven ways to boost your energy levels.

  1. Set big and exciting goals to put your BIG dreams into action. Be sure to make a list of those big dreams and to put a time frame on those goals.
  2. Take a good look at your list of goals, either the night before or the morning of, so you wake ready and focused which will give you with lots of energy that day.
  3. Eat more nutritious foods — lots of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Drink green tea to help overcome that mid-morning slump.
  5. Get plenty of exposure to natural light.
  6. Ease your stress by simplifying your life and mainly, or exclusively, pursue your life’s priority items.
  7. Heal yourself by being more grateful as well as loving more and letting go of all anger.
  8. Thinking good thoughts and increasing your positive self-talk can stimulate good neurotransmitters called endorphins.
  9. Play and exercise daily as that releases more endorphins and dopamine, which will boost your mental and physical energy.
  10. Keep moving, even if it’s just walking. My fit bit was a fantastic gift. It got me walking at least 5.000 steps a day at first then I began getting 10,000 steps a day and now I consistently get 20,000 steps in a day. That is about 10 miles, but I break up those steps during the day and it doesn’t seem like 10 miles. it always surprises me that doing all that walking gives me even more energy.) My all-time best steps in one day was 40,111. Not bad for 75-year-old dude!
  11. Get lots of sleep, but not too much, and take a nap when needed.
  12. Take time for a few minutes of yoga stretching and a bit of meditation for a morning boost.
  13. Listen to your favorite music. For some people it may be music with a heart pounding beat. To others it may be inspirational symphonic music.
  14. Socialize with energetic friends and family.
  15. Go visit new and different places such as new states, cities, or countries, but it also works to just drive or walk through a different neighborhood.
  16. Drink lots of water. Dehydration drains energy.
  17. Talk to yourself using positive affirmations. Some of my favorites are:
    • I am strong and worthy.
    • I’m upbeat and positive
    • I have lots of stamina and energy. (I use that one a lot before and during my tennis matches.)

Okay, and here is one last one that may seem strange, but it works. Take huge breaths, exhaling slowly and do a it many times. I do it 100 times without stopping, which takes only about 10 minutes and the reward is a very calm and energy filled mind and body. It also works to help you go to sleep at night which helps with item number 11.

This and all the above will give you lots of energy throughout your day!

 

 

Our Changes in Fortune

November 3, 2019 by  
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Wow and double wow! I never expected the huge and heartfelt response I received after my closing comment on my last week’s blog, asking people to send their best wishes and love to little 2-year-old Kate who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. So, at minimum I want to take time right now to give a HUGE THANKS to all you beautiful, wonderful people who cared enough to take time to send your heartfelt wishes to little Kate and her family. That means so much to me, her parents, the rest of the family, and to little Kate and her twin sister Ellie. I’m thinking that Kate and her twin sister could feel the love and the caring that was sent to them. I sure could!

We all know that life has its big bumps, surprises, and setbacks. And, yes, it also has many wonderful, fun, exciting, and pleasurable moments as well. It behooves all of us to constantly remember to live in the great “right now” moment. I’ve written a lot about this previously and most people know they should try to live more in the “now moments” and not spend too much time worrying about the future or beating themselves up for the past mistakes and or bad decisions. But, if you are like me, you have to keep reminding yourself to think more in the “now”. That kind of thinking can be very critical for our mental and emotional health and our great enjoyment of life. Meditation can help with this. Meditation works because, if you do it right, you truly are living in the moment!

Knowing all this and preaching it to others, I still wake up worrying about what I need to get done in the immediate or not too distant future as well as fretting a bit over what I missed out on doing yesterday. I have noticed, however, if I take time to write down my next day’s plans and actions the night before I go to sleep, I usually wake up much more likely to just get out of bed and get going on my to do list. My mind seems to be so much clearer and my thoughts are much more positive in the “now moment”.  Of course, we all need to think about the future and make plans, much of which is very fun and exciting like when planning a trip to Disneyland with the kids, or a vacation to Europe, etc. It’s the same with the past – we enjoy taking time (but not too often) to relive our great experiences and the really memorable moments in our life.

Talking about great moments in time… did you read about the older lady in Paris that recently discovered that one of the paintings she had hanging on her walls — one that she wasn’t even particularly wild about — was very, very rare? She sold it for a shocking $26 million dollars. I sure hope she’s not like so many jackpot and lottery winners that have never had a ton of money. So many of them have lost everything years later, making the news again because, not knowing how to handle tons of money, they spent it all and/or were scammed out of it. Whether fortune smiles on us or we have a ton of bad luck thrown at us, we need to learn how to handle our changes in fortune. I want to talk a bit next week about the smarter ways to handle money when good fortune comes your way.

 

Grateful Action

August 23, 2019 by  
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Okay here is a $64,000 dollar question: Should you and I choose to be mindful of what we have and be grateful most of the time, reaping the benefits from that attitude along the way, or should we whine and complain and be ungrateful and end up unhappy and miserable?

Ok, I know that’s not too tough a question but isn’t it funny that, regardless of how obvious the answer is, we so often fall into an ungrateful mode in our daily life? Shouldn’t we do something about that? And if so, what would that be?

Well, maybe we can just practice it more often, being mindful of our attitude so that we can stop the complaining when we realize what we are doing. If we can become more aware of our attitude, we would surely see a difference in our lives and our relationship with the people around us.

As I look out at the world, especially in the incredible times we live in right now with all the turmoil, uprising, pointless deaths, instability and chaos in so many places in the world, and then look outside my door, it’s hard not to be a little shocked by how different my life is here in an affluent, developed country. When I see these things, I am struck big time with the thought that, wow, we really do have it good, those of us living in the USA, Canada, Europe, etc. But how often, and seriously, do we consider how blessed we are?

But we just can’t think about it. Agreeing that the more grateful is a good idea is not quite enough, is it? We need to act. We need to make it important in our lives. I have to tell you, when I take time to be grateful, that very process and feeling of gratitude boosts my satisfaction, contentment, and happiness levels! It’s almost like magic.

So why not start now? You could write or call someone or post something on your favorite social network site. Just put something out there, saying that you are grateful and want never to forget it. Then keep that in your mind as you go through the day and you are sure to start reaping the benefits almost immediately.

Appreciating what we have is good for our spirits, our attitude, our family, our outlook on life, and, by extension, the world out there that is working through the chaos and pressure of broad and often, unstoppable, change. It’s the least we can do for them, and for ourselves.

 

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