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The Benefits List

January 31, 2021 by  
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In these tough times of COVID it’s easy to become very negative about so many things. In the book Letting Go, David R. Hawkins talks about choosing the positive thoughts to push out negative thoughts. He says, “There is an inner reality that we can term our ‘inner greatness’ or ‘higher self’. It has much more power than the inner negativity. In return for letting go of the payoffs that we were getting from the negative position, we are now surprised by the positive payoff. We are subject only to what we hold in mind…The body will respond to what we believe.”

Years ago, I came up with a simple trick that keeps my mind on a positive track. I know how easy it is to let goals slip away from me so I take time to write down, not only the goal, but all of the benefits that sticking with and achieving my objective will bring me. And then when I think of more benefits, I add those to my benefit list. I called this B-RAM, which is short for Benefits, Rewards and Motivation. I also call it my “Big Brain Booster”.

I would strongly suggest that you try it out. Take time to write down all the benefits that sticking with your goals will give you. We certainly have enough time in these COVID days to think these through and come up with lots of benefits we’ll get from reaching our goals.

Now, we may not be able to get out and about to pursue all our goals, at least right now. But given time, this pandemic will be over and we can be so very ready to go after our preset goals and find ourselves glued to them because we can see all of the benefits as we review our list.

Here’s how I came up with this B-RAM concept. Years ago, I had been reading a great book called Beyond the 120-Year Diet by Dr. Roy Walford, a leading expert on longevity. As I read the book and saw how difficult some of the calorie restrictions were on the diet he recommended, I began writing down the benefits that would help me stick with this tough calorie restricted diet. I needed extra motivation so my list made it much easier to stick with the diet. After that, any time I got discouraged, got weak, or got diverted on this diet, I looked at my list and it remotivated me and reminded me of why I set the goal in the first place.

It can be easy to forget why you set certain goals but when you go back to your list of benefits, it’s easy to remember why and it keeps you on track to achieve your goals. And believe me, it’s not easy to stay on a very restricted calorie diet as you probably can understand, especially if you’ve ever been down that road.

As I’m sure you know, if you have followed my posts or read my books, writing down your goals and objectives, putting a timeline on those goals, and revisiting what you wrote increases the chance of you reaching them. It doesn’t matter whether your goals are health or wealth. It works for those goals and many more.

So, now, in these COVID times, let’s all spend more time making benefit lists for our goals. And don’t forget to put your list of goals and benefits in a very convenient place so you can visit them often and easily!

Renewing the Power of Positive Thinking

November 22, 2020 by  
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Some time ago, I picked up an old book from1987 called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. In it she talks about a physical demonstration that she does at some of her seminars that I found very impressive. It shows just how powerful our thoughts can be.

What she did was get a volunteer out of her audience and have them hold their arms straight out to the side. She would tell the volunteer to resist with all their strength as she attempted to push down on their arms. In the book she notes that she has not once been able to push down a volunteer’s arms on the initial try.

Then she would then tell the volunteer to say, ten times, “I am a weak and unworthy person,” instructing them to really feel the statement as they say it. After they did that, she would try to push down their arms again and, this time, she would be able to push both arms down.

To further drive home her point, she would ask the person to repeat, ten times, the positive statement, “I am a strong and worthy person.” This time she would not be able to budge their arms, maybe even less so than during the initial effort she made when they first stood up.

I took this to heart and, just before heading out to play in a round robin tennis tourney, I repeated to myself, many times over (even though I felt kind of childish doing it), ”I am a very strong tennis player and I am very worthy of winning.” I also repeated, “I am younger and more fit now than I was a year ago.” Wow, did that ever work! I played 4 rounds of tennis winning each round by a very wide margin!

Even though most of what Jeffers had to say was stuff I already knew, I was just not doing it anymore. It was like a rebirth doing it again and, wow, did it feel good. And here I am, many years later, needing the reminder again.

We can all use a little helpful nudge to get us back on track now and again. So, this week, I’ve been thinking about that and about the statements I could say to help increase my performance in everything I’m doing.

The power of positive thinking is pretty amazing. Especially when you remember to use it! What kind of positive statements could you use in your life? Come up with a few, use them, and see if it doesn’t make a world of difference.

Powerful Positive Self-Talk

August 2, 2020 by  
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Covid-19 and a concussion are both terrible, but there are certainly things that can be done to survive them. With my concussion, I was thinking all the wrong, negative thoughts, then I realized how stupid that was, especially since I’ve written and preached for a long time about how powerful your mind can be. The mind can cure you and help you heal very fast. The key to this is what you are thinking and what you are saying to yourself – your self-talk. When I realized that all my self-talk was negative and changed it to positive self-talk, it made a big difference. My dizziness and vertigo have been getting better every day since.

I’m not saying that if you have the virus that you can totally cure it by positive thinking, but I do believe that if you have the right positive self-talk, your brain can help lessen the chance of you dying from it.  There’s been many studies that prove that point by the placebo effect. There are even studies and evidence that having the right mindset and self-talk can help cure cancer and heart disease.

In a great little book by Elaine St. James called, Inner Simplicity100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul, the author says “Hand in hand with affirmations go visualizations. In addition to verbalizing to yourself, both silently and out loud, the inner qualities you want to develop, creating a powerful mental image that projects how you want your life to be, focuses your attention on that outcome and helps bring it into your life.”

St. James goes on to say, “Numerous studies in recent years have shown how effective visualization can be for healing, personal growth, and empowerment. Life affirmations and visualizations are just as potent for our spiritual journey.”

I know these things work because they have worked for me in the past and are working now, helping my brain get back to normal. That’s rather incredible and funny at the same time, knowing that the brain can help heal the brain. Self-talk is so powerful and wonderful we all need to use it every day for better health, better relationships, our business, and many, many other parts of our lives that we want to improve.

So, if you want to make 10 million dollars, your self-talk should not just be, “That’s my plan.” It would be much better to say, “I’m in the process of making 10 million dollars.” And then keep saying that!

 

The Influence of Self-Talk

July 12, 2020 by  
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We all do it – some of it is very good and some is very negative. I’m talking about all of our self-talk. The good news, as you already know, is that you can somewhat control whether your self-talk is helping or hurting you. And that, my dear followers, is all about your brain and what you choose to let dominate and rule. Sadly, most often, self-talk is negative. It’s hurting you and keeping you from reaching your full potential.

Self -talk should say:

  1. This is something I can do.
  2. I’m so looking forward to this.
  3. I can do this very well.
  4. This is going to make me what I want to be and get me where I want to be.

But self-talk can say:

  1. I can’t do this.
  2. I’m not good enough.
  3. I’m not going to be able to pull this off.
  4. Why do things always happen like this?
  5. I’m afraid I will fail.

As Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right!”

Think about this when playing golf. If you think you will hit the ball into the water, you probably will. The body follows the mind. It listens to the self-talk. It believes you. The body says, “Your wish is my command.”

I’ll never forget my self-talk as I was playing in this one tennis tournament. I got to a crucial point where I knew that I could not afford to double-fault. As I hit the net on my first serve, my self-chatter was very negative and said, “Wow, I just can’t double fault here.” Ouch!

What a negative thought and message I sent to my muscles. My mind probably only heard the word “double fault” and that’s exactly what I did. My second serve went long—I pretty much did exactly what I programmed my mind to do. My wish was the body’s command.

The point I’m trying to make is that life is lived mainly inside your head, so you’ve got to know what’s in your mind and how your mind works and the great influence of self-talk!

We all need to understand how the mind works and that you can control the self-talk and the self-chatter. You need to know how to direct the self-talk that’s hurting you and your life and keeping you from your full potential.

I learned a great lesson from that tennis double fault. From the terrible loss that day, I went on to win 4 gold medals at the Huntsman Senior games held each year in southern Utah. Before every match I would have some very positive self-talk with myself, saying things like, “Mark, you have a great serve and a super topspin forehand and a great underspin backhand and you will win this match today!” And yes, I did.

The bottom line is, we all need to practice controlling our self-talk and make it very positive. It’s pretty much all between your ears and mind. Sure, sometimes we will lose but if you are using a ton of positive self-talk, you will find yourself a winner in many, many situations – in sports, business, and relationships. Try it and you will see.

Pushing Out the Negative

June 28, 2020 by  
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This darn pandemic is certainly creating a lot of problems, challenges, and tons of stress. For me, it’s not just the boredom, although I do miss my social life, but rather it’s the stress that has been getting to me. It has done some strange things to my sleep.

Of course, some of it is due to my age, as most of us have more trouble sleeping as we get older. On some nights, I am only able to sleep for 2 or 3 hours. Ugh! But other nights are normal. So, a couple days ago I spotted a book by Sasha Stephens titled The Effortless Sleep Method. The book is beginning to be of great help, mostly because of my change in thinking.

One section of the book jumped out at me – “The Two Negative Principles of the Mind”. Stephens said, “It is strange but true that most human beings tend to focus chronically on what they do not want. It can be difficult to spot this tendency in yourself, especially if you do not consider yourself to be a particularly negative person. But just try observing yourself for a few days. See how much of your thinking time is spent focused on what is wrong with your life. Then notice how little time you spend even noticing the good things, let alone celebrating them.” Sasha goes on to say, “If, for example, they had one bad night’s sleep along with three or four good ones, most insomniacs would focus on the one bad night. Not only does this give an inaccurate and exaggerated picture of the problem, it can actually worsen it.”

As I write this, I have just realized that by my talking to my wife about my terrible sleep and now writing about it, what I am doing could make my sleep problems worse because I am emphasizing the negative. So, I guess I will take that risk and maybe what I am writing can help others, not just with sleep problems but addressing other challenges and changing your thinking so you spend more time on the positive stuff.

I find that to spend more time on the positive things of my life and to ignore the negative, it helps to write down specific goals that I want to reach. It makes is much easier to keep my brain thinking on the positive side.  Let me give you a list of questions that I have asked myself over the years. They help me come up with specifics which helps me be more positive.

  • Do I want to substantially raise my level of contentment and fulfillment?
  • Do I want to become a better person?
  • Do I want to be known as a person of great accomplishment?
  • Do I want to be in great physical and mental shape with ideal health my entire life?
  • Do I want to live a very long, active life?
  • Do I want to make a fortune – a million dollars, $10 million, or even 100 million dollars? (Just think of the great good you could do with that money.)
  • Do I want the greater choices and possibilities in my life that making my own fortune would give me?
  • Do I want to leave the world a better place than I found it?
  • Do I want to be a big help to others as I help myself?
  • Do I want to travel and experience the entire world and its cultures? (I will continue this one when the pandemic has let up–I’ve already visited 92 different countries!)

May I strongly suggest that you make up your own list. I think if you do you will be pleased with how it helps your life.

A Titanic Lesson

June 14, 2020 by  
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My wonderful wife, Kimberly, talked me into watching the classic movie Titanic recently. Even though I saw the movie several times years ago, it really to me this time. Watching it was a real upper! Now when I experience problems, challenges, or a mood drop, I think about the people on board the Titanic.

How, and why, did the movie affect my brain in that way? When I think of the panic, pain, fear, and death that those aboard that ship faced, I really feel so fortunate and blessed to live in this time and in our super great country. I’ve been in many very, very poor counties that have huge poverty, pain, and suffering. Years ago, I visited India and later did an African safari. I saw so many very skinny kids begging for food in those two countries. It is so sad but, again, those trips made me feel so lucky. These things really do put my life in perspective.

Even though the $7.5 million Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable, on that April day in 1912, as most everyone knows, it hit a huge iceberg at about 27 miles an hour and, in just 2 hours and 40 minutes, it sank. It was designed to have life boats enough to carry 3547 people and there were only 2220 passengers aboard on that maiden voyage but, sadly, for reasons of aesthetics, the owners only put in enough life boats to carry 1178 and virtually each boat was loaded quickly and far below its total capacity. The pandemonium brought out the worst cowardice in many people and extraordinary bravery in others. There were only 705 survivors. More than 1500 people died.

Even with all the panic and fear, the crew tried hard to let the women and children get in the lifeboats first, but many times that didn’t happen as people pushed and shoved to get on the boats. Some guys used their bigger bodies to force their way through so they could jump on the boats. They also boarded more first-class passengers than any other class. The very first lifeboat had a capacity of 65 but it pulled away from the big, beautiful ship with only 28 people aboard. I have to wonder how brave and calm I might have been if I was there.

So much of our lives are lived in our brains. That makes it so very important for all of us to realize how and what we are thinking. When we are thinking negative thoughts, we really do have the power to redirect our brains to think about what is better for us in our lives. So, remember to appreciate what we have which, for the most part, is probably very good, and direct our brains to think positive and motivating  good thoughts to make the most out of all this good stuff we have.

Writing Down the Urgent Stuff

February 16, 2020 by  
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Last week I wrote about how important it was to write down your goals, your intentions, your dreams, and your to do lists. Why do that? Because if you do, the odds that you will follow through and complete those tasks and dreams increases big time.

There are many other benefits to writing. If you commit your dreams to paper, or on a document in your computer, for some strange reason, the act of writing your fears and negative thoughts down helps you  deal with those bad thoughts and then you can more easily  overcome them.

So, getting into the habit of not only writing your good dreams and goals down but also those fears and negative feelings we all have, can become a huge asset in your life.

Here’s 17 questions from a list in Ilchi Lee’s wonderful book I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers.

  1. What things have I achieved in my life?
  2. When was I most joyful?
  3. When were things most trying?
  4. How did I overcome hardship in those trying moments, and what did I learn through them?
  5. What moments in my life do I regret?
  6. When did I do things that made me feel proud and that I found rewarding?
  7. What momentary choices became opportunities that changed my life?
  8. What values did I try to remain true to throughout my life?
  9. What goals have I had so far?
  10. What motivated me to establish those goals?
  11. Which of my goals have I had so far?
  12. Which of my goals have I achieved?
  13. Which goals have I failed to achieve?
  14. Who has had the greatest impact on my life?
  15. With whom have I shared my gratitude?
  16. With whom do I have emotional issues that I need to resolve?
  17. Which of my habits do I want to keep and develop?

Lee goes on to say, “If possible, write down your thoughts about these questions. Organizing them in writing and not just thinking about them will help you unravel the tangle of thoughts rolling around in your head.”

Like Mr. Lee’s book, Henriette Klauser’s book, Write It down, Make It Happen, makes some of the same points. Klauser likewise emphasizes how absolutely critical it is to get into the habit of writing your goals and dreams down, explaining how, “putting it on paper alerts the part of the brain known as the reticular activating system to join in the play.”

She goes on to explain this mechanism. “At the base of the brain, about the size of a little finger, is a group of cells whose job it is to sort and evaluate incoming data. This control center is known as the reticular activating system (RAS}. The RAS sends the urgent stuff to the active part of your brain and sends the nonurgent to the subconscious. The RAS awakens the brain to consciousness and keeps it alert.”  So, if you write something down, then it becomes the urgent stuff and your brain will keep it accessible to the active part of your mind.

Hope I’m not getting too scientific but knowing all about the RAS and what good it does all of us should be good motivation to keep writing our goals and dreams down. So now we know, when it comes to bad feelings, ideas, or worries, paper is a good place to park those negative mind games.

Habits That Hinder

January 19, 2020 by  
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Wow, how stupid am I or, I guess I should say, what a habit driven man am I?  A few days ago, my wife and I drove our SUV to do a little shopping.  We spent maybe a half an hour at Walmart, walked back to the car, and were surprised to see, when I turned the key, that the car was already running! The SUV is the vehicle that my wife drives, while I have become totally used to driving my Tesla that doesn’t use a key and starts by putting your foot on the brake pedal. When you leave the car, you just walk away, with the electric engine stopping on its own and the car doors locking when you are a few yards away. So, my habit from driving the Tesla was so strong that when I drove our SUV, that habit took over and I didn’t even know it.

Most of the time, when we talk or read about habits, we are usually referring to bad habits.  One interesting and good thing to know, which sadly many people don’t, is that there are methods that can help you change your bad habits and develop good habits. It takes time and you need to consistently stick with the plan or method to make those changes but it can be done.

The most common bad habits make up quite a list. The following is not even close to a complete list of bad habits, but take a look and ask yourself if you suffer from any of these:

  1. Smoking
  2. Heavy alcohol drinking
  3. Watching too much TV
  4. Being on the computer or smart phone too much
  5. Spending too much time playing video games
  6. Eating unhealthy junk food
  7. Eating way too much food
  8. Consuming too much sugar
  9. Eating late night snacks
  10. Not allowing enough time for a full night sleep
  11. Complaining about almost everything
  12. Behavior that leaves you angry, worried or stressed
  13. Overspending your way into debt
  14. Being consistently late
  15. Being rude to others
  16. Road rage
  17. Driving too fast
  18. Losing your temper
  19. Lying
  20. Procrastinating
  21. Always bragging
  22. Being a know it all
  23. Letting fear stop you from doing something new
  24. Spending time with negative friends to bring you down
  25. Being pessimistic
  26. Always interrupting other people
  27. Swearing constantly
  28. Nail biting
  29. Picking your nose
  30. Slouching and poor posture

And, yes, that is just a very short list compared to some of the lists I have seen. So how many, if any, of these bad habits do you have and would like to get rid of? What causes bad habits in the first place and what can you do to drop a bad habit and take on good habits? I will address the answers to those questions in next week’s blog.

A Beautiful Life Now

July 12, 2019 by  
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If someone is really rude and totally offends you but then later offers a very sincere apology, most of us would probably forgive that person and move on with our lives. However, when most of us human beings make a mistake or screw something up, in many cases we will not forgive ourselves and so we carry that guilt around for days or years and that can hurt us in so many ways.

Quoting from Pema Chodron’s Living Beautifully, a great book that I’ve quoted before, “Over time, as thinking minds begin to settle, we’ll start to see our patterns and habits far more clearly. This can be an experience. I can’t overestimate the importance of accepting ourselves exactly as we are right now, not as we wish we were or think we ought to be. By cultivating nonjudgmental openness to ourselves and to whatever arises, to our surprise and delight we will find ourselves genuinely welcoming the never-pin-downable quality of life, experiencing it as a friend, a teacher and a support and no longer as an enemy.”

Pema talks a lot about acceptance of ourselves and the world as it is and how we should appreciate it as it is now. She talks about what she calls the “third commitment”, which is key to this kind of acceptance and appreciation. (You need to read her book to find out what the first and second commitment are and how they can greatly improve a person’s life.) To quote her again, “The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” She goes on to add that, “The attitude of the third commitment is that we live in a world that is intrinsically good, intrinsically awake, and our path is to realize this. Simply put, the practice at this stage is to turn toward your experience, all of it, and never turn away.

Pema talks a lot about being kind to others especially to ourselves. She talks about the process of growing-up and working toward feeling totally relaxed and free. She says, “that process, that transition, is one of becoming comfortable with exactly what we’re feeling as we feel it. The key practice to support us in this is mindfulness–being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few.”

Pema Chodron further explains that we need to pay attention to all the details of our life. “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”.

I think the bottom line is, if we pay more attention to the details of our lives it will give us more ways to free ourselves and that can help us free ourselves from suffering. So, we need to accept ourselves, appreciate our life as it is now, and pay attention. And we need to do all that, right now.

Positivity and Compassion

June 14, 2019 by  
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A very critical part of happiness and contentment is training the mind and, yes, that does take time, but is it ever worth the time you take! The authors of the book, The Art of Happiness, which I talked about last week, have this advice: “Everyday, as soon as you get up, you can develop sincere positive motivation, thinking, ‘I will utilize this day in a more positive way. I should not waste this very day.’ And then, at night before bed, check what you’ve done, asking yourself, ‘Did I utilize this day as I planned?’ If it went wrong, then regret what you did and critique the day and decide what you are going to do to correct the negative stuff of the day. So, through methods such as this, you can gradually strengthen the positive aspects of the mind.”

I think this is why the self-talk that the great Paul J. Meyer of Waco, Texas introduced me to is so very helpful. I have about 10 different mantras that I run through my mind almost every day and many times I say them out loud. Here are a few of those

  1. I am strong and worthy.
  2. I am upbeat and positive.
  3. I am happy and healthy.
  4. I live in the present moment.
  5. I love people and I am becoming more and more social.
  6. I try to live big and give big. I make “to do” lists and carry them out.

It’s amazing how I can feel down and out and how running that self-talk through my mind many times can lift my mood and make me feel so much better. The mind has a lot of plasticity in it according to scientists. The book goes on to say something that I know is true and will work for me and you: “Neuroscientist have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, net combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, re-configuring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning, the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily.” Scientist call the brains inherent capacity to change “plasticity”.

The Dalai Lama and Mr. Cutler have so many great and powerful things to say about how to achieve happiness and they are so very effective. So here is one more quote from Mr. Cutler talking about the Dalai Lama: “He can see that if someone treats him with compassion and affection, then it makes him feel happy. So, on the basis of that experience, it would help him to realize that other people also feel good when they are shown warmth and compassion Therefore, recognizing this fact might make him more inclined to give them compassion and warmth. At the same time, he would discover that the more you give warmth, the more warmth you receive”.

And that, my friends, will almost for sure raise both the giver’s and the receiver’s level of happiness!

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