Top 10-#1 Laugh!

A few years ago I gave a talk in Argentina listing 10 of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life. I will be blogging on these lessons every day for 10 consecutive days. I hope they will inspire you and motivate you to come up with your top 10! #1 Laugh a lot It’s so easy for us to be overly serious. We stress. We’re tired. We are overwhelmed. We feel guilty about the stuff we did and the stuff we didn’t do. We need to lighten up. The cliché is true that laughter is good medicine. Research proves it. Paul E. McGhee spent 22 years researching the health benefits of humor; he concluded: “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” He thinks laughter is so important, he calls it “the laughter remedy!” In his book, Health, Healing, and the Amuse System: Humor as Survival Training, Dr. McGhee promotes an 8-step program: Determine the nature of your own sense of humor Become less serious and cultivate a more playful attitude in life (this is the basic foundation for your sense of humor) Develop a more hearty and healthy belly laugh Improve your joke-telling skills Create your own spontaneous verbal humor Find humor in everyday life Laugh at yourself, and Start applying these skills to cope with stress. So chill out, lighten up and...

Living With Purpose

“Finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer,” says psychology researcher, Patrick Hill of Carleton University. Hill and his colleague Nicholas Turiano recently published “Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood,” in the journal, Psychological Science, adding to a list of studies that show the importance of living life with purpose. Many studies have shown the physical benefits of psychological wellbeing. And several have even studied attitudes about life purpose. But Hill and Turiano (of the University of Rochester Medical Center) decided to see  if the benefits of purpose vary over time and help people deal with life transitions. They looked at data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, funded by the National Institute on Aging. They examined responses about purpose from over 6,000 participants over a 14-year period. They found those who had reported a greater sense of purpose outlived their peers. In fact, they had a 15% lower risk of death compared to their more aimless counterparts Purpose turned out to be a greater predictor of long life than other factors including gender and emotional wellbeing. We know there are many influences on our health and aging. It is not simply the fate of our DNA that determines our happiness, success and longevity. Living a life of purpose is a uniquely human endeavor. There seems to be a drive deep inside everyone to live for something greater than themselves. Some live for their children. Some live to change the world. It doesn’t seem to matter how lofty the purpose. But having a purpose is essential for living life as you were designed. It is no coincidence that Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life:...

The Power Of Habit

My whole life I drove manual transmission cars. Shifting was almost as natural as breathing. I hardly had to think about pushing the clutch with my left foot and changing the gears with my right hand. It was a habit…that is, until two years ago, when I bought my first automatic. The funny thing is, I still sometimes reach for the shifter and insist on putting on the emergency brake when I park. Though driving an automatic car is easier, I still find myself occasionally resorting to old habits. Habits are like police characters in TV shows. Just like there are good cops and bad cops, there are good habits and bad habits. Some we want to break; others we want to develop. By understanding how habits work and what triggers them, we can make conscious changes and get control of our life! That’s the theory behind, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. I listened to the book over the holidays, which seemed like a timely addition to my toolkit for the new year. The book is a fascinating study into why we do what we do, with real steps on how to change. The book isn’t a pipedream; Duhigg read hundreds of studies on habit formation from social science, neuroscience and psychology, to come up with his theory. What he offers is both insight and practical. His basic premise is that habits involve 3 key steps: cue, routine and reward. Learning to recognize and manage these 3 steps can empower us to make lasting changes. Check out this short video review that reviews the concept. I encourage you to pick up the book (available in hardcover, paperback, Nook, audio CD, Kindle and downloadable...

Map Your Progress

Looking for a life hack to help you reach a goal? Check this out. I love sharing resources as well as ideas with you. This time I have a GREAT one! Map Your Progress is a new initiative to help you accomplish your goals by coloring your progress. You may remember the old thermometer posters that were sometimes used to show the amount of money raised for a project. This is like that, but much more personal and much more creative. It all started when Californian Amy Jones got a clear message from her accountant that it was time to clean up her financial mess. She had carried debt on credit cards for much too long, and it was time to pay them off. (Funny how easy it is to put charges on a credit card and so hard to get it off!) As a tool to help her stay focused and encouraged, Amy decided to turn her knack for doodling (in boring meetings and conference calls) into something practical to help her abolish her debt. Using an unused canvas that was laying around, she drew swirls to represent specific increments ($100). Then each time she paid that much towards debt, she would color in the appropriate number of swirls. Brilliant! After a few months, the drawing actually built up Amy’s confidence. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, she actually believed she could eliminate her debt. And she did it, more than $26,000 worth! Wow. I used a similar technique in the past to mark off chapters of the bible I read in a year. But this is way more fun than little boxes. This is creative! And it’s something you can keep in front of you all the time. What is your goal? To save for...

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead...

Joe Cross found himself overweight, feeling terrible and on multiple medications for an auto-immune disease. He was fat, sick and nearly dead! He decided he didn’t want to live that way, so he left his native Australia to come to American to begin a life-change, travel across the country, and document the process in a film. The film, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was the result. Discovered on Netflix, I found it to be an inspiring documentary that shows the incredible difference diet can make. Joe did what he calls a health “reboot.” He decided to only drink vegetable and fruit juice for 60 days. What he discovered was that the body has an amazing ability to heal itself when it is given the proper fuel. Joe lost a ton of weight and was able to get off his prescriptions. As he traveled across the U.S., Joe talked to hundreds of people about food, health and longevity. What emerged was nothing short of amazing. Joe rubbed shoulders with people who suffered like he did, and who were ready for change—big change. Take Phil for example. He was a 429-pound truck driver who was also sick—one cheeseburger away from a heart attack. Like Joe, Phil also did a reboot with juicing and exercise; and he got his life back. Now Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2 is out. See the trailer here: In the 2nd film, Joe revisited Phil, helped him back on track while he continued to spread his message. He also discovered a little boy who was almost paralyzed with arthritis. After juicing for several months, the kid had a complete health turnaround, is off medications, and is now able to run around and play like other kids. There seems to be a...

Gym Memberships

We’re a whole week into the new year. How are you doing with those resolutions and goals? If you’re like me (and a lot of other people), you decided you want to be healthier. And that likely includes eating better and getting more exercise. How are you going to do those things? Could joining a gym be a potential solution? Like investing, I started seriously exercising way too late in life. But it’s never too late. I figure today is better than never, and there is no time like the present to make a change. I always thought gym memberships were too expensive, until I started researching them. Years ago I had tried jogging; I hate jogging. I tried an exercise ball and elastic bands, DVDs and TV exercise routines and an in-home bike and treadmill. I even tried a circuit-training program for women, I found little motivation to go. None of these worked for me. Now that I’ve found something that works, I’ve stuck with it. That is a key! What’s the best exercise for you? The one you’ll actually do. If you live in a place with a lot of nice weather, daily walks, hiking or swimming may be great for you. Or maybe you’re self-disciplined enough to follow an online program or use your own equipment. I found that actually GOING to a gym helped me. There is nothing like seeing other people workout to convince you to do the same. Somehow being with others who care about their bodies enough to workout motivates me. Here are some options you may not have considered: FREE – Is there a gym you may have free access to, like at school, work or where you live? BARE BONES – I found there are...

Countdown to 2015…5...

Besides enjoying the holidays, you are likely thinking about the coming year. Perhaps you’re even thinking of making some health resolutions! But according to Forbes Magazine, 92% of us fail to realize our resolutions. There seems to be a systematic problem with resolutions. I “wish” I lost weight or was more spiritual are just that, WISHES! Making systematic goals that are SMART are much more helpful. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, you want to be healthier. But how will you DO IT? Specific: I want to lose 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) by March 1st and build body strength. Measurable: My goal is 2 months away, so I need to lose 2.5 pound a month. How? I will mostly illuminate high-sugar carbohydrates like bread and sugars, visit the gym for at least one hour 3 times a week, and have no more than 1 serving of alcohol per day. Attainable: I will shop and prepare lots of vegetables and meat. I will reevaluate my schedule and plan when I visit the gym. On those days, I WILL go to the gym, not decide that day if I want to go or not (because I will usually want to go home or otherwise opt out; I will make saying, “no” NOT an option. During my 3 gym visits, I will 1) swim, 2) do a yoga class, and 3) lift weights. Realistic: This is a realistic goal. Losing 10 pounds in 1 week is not. I can achieve my goal by doing the things listed above. Timely: I will lose 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) by March 1st. Life changes do not just happen; you have to make them happen. Think about what you really want this year and put systems in place that will allow...

Healthy Ramen

Healthy ramen; sounds like an oxymoron. But it doesn’t have to be. Ramen noodles are the most popular dish in Japan, a staple of cash-strapped college students, and an easy meal for busy Westerners. In fact, some 94 billion packages are consumed every year! They’re cheap and fast, loaded with carbohydrates and salt. But they don’t have to be bad for you. Toss in some goodness, and you can have an affordable meal that is both satisfying and nourishing. I watched the first episode of the TV series, The Mind of A Chef, where David Chang traveled to Japan to trace the history of the famous ramen noddle.” “The soup first appeared in Yokohama where the broth is fatty and salty. In Hakodate, the soup is pork and chicken based. In Sapporo, it’s miso-based. In Kitakata, the noodles are flat.” As the show when on to demonstrate, ramen is always being tinkered with and the center of new and experimental recipes. The dried instant noodles we know today were invented by Momofuku Ando in 1954 to help feed his war-torn country. What is unique about ramen is that they stay firm in a soupy base because of how they’re manufactured.** Asians would rarely think of eating ramen noodle by themselves.–even with the flavoring and microscopic vegetables that come with many brands. Ramen are meant to be consumed as part of a healthy meal with vegetables and protein (meat, seafood, egg or tofu). Eating ramen noodles by themselves may give you a little energy from the carbohydrates, but you will hardly be eating a healthy meal with the macro and micro nutrients you body needs! You don’t have to live in Japan or even visit an Asian restaurant to eat healthy ramen. Quick and Dirty...

Real Food

The irony was overwhelming. I walked into a popular fast food restaurant to use the facilities while traveling. It was a small town in Kansas surrounded by lush, fertile farmland. I immediately noticed that almost every person in the place was overweight. The crowd was not dining on fresh fruits and vegetables full of rich nutrients, fiber and life. Instead, people were munching on highly processed chicken nuggets, deep friend potatoes, soda, and Big Macs made with standardized ingredients shipped from thousands of miles away. The contrast between the surrounding land and the sight in the restaurant was jolting. I can imagine the diet-related diseases many in the place struggle with: heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis, gout and who knows what? We have bought the lie. We have traded the goodness and power of a juicy strawberry and lush, alive salad for fast, cheap comfort food with a long shelf life. The conventional American diet consists primarily of corn, white flower, sugar and mass-produced meat. I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about our food. I’ve found it shocking to realize most of it is controlled by a handful of multi-national agro-conglomerates. As I drove further, I landed in the city of my birth in the heart of the American Midwest: Iowa. I passed miles and miles of growing fields. Instead of crop diversity that encourages a balanced ecosystem, the fields have two crops that are rotated endlessly: corn and soybeans. Farmers are forced to buy hybrid and GMO seed from big corporations and get sued if they try to save any seed for replanting. They grow “Roundup-ready” seeds that won’t die when the weeds are sprayed with chemicals. That’s a scary thought. It’s hardly the scene that greeted my great-grandfather who landed here a...

Germs

We need to have a healthy view of germs. There are good bacteria that are essential for life. They make is possible to grow food, break down that food in our bellies, build our immune systems, and compost plants in the life cycle. However, there are bad bacteria and viruses that make us sick. Some people are germaphobic, washing their hands dozens of times a day and using antibacterial cleaners on everything. Overuse of antibacterial soaps are actually harmful as they destroy good and bad germs. People associate bathrooms with germs, so they clean the toilet and sinks. But what about the door handle, faucets and light switch? (Consider that 10% of people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet.) Here are some items we often forget to clean and should: Cell phones: When is the last time you cleaned your cell phone? Think about all the places your cell phone has been: on public counters, in pockets with money, in the bathroom when you use it to pass the time. Your cell phone has 10 times more germs that the average toilet seat. Remote controls: We grab and use them when our hands are in various states of cleanliness. Remember to wipe them down next time you clean around them. Door knobs and handles: We touch them; our friends touch them. Yet we forget they are even there when we clean. Give them a good wipe down with an antibacterial spray as part of your cleaning routine. Car surfaces: We jump in our cars after shopping, running errands, handling money and meeting people. Use cleaning wipes on that steering wheel, shifter and other things you touch often. If you use public transportation, be aware of what your’e touchng and clean your hands...

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