Monday, December 28, 2015

Make Effective Resolutions for Happiness, Health, & Prosperity in 2016....

Today's Post:  Monday, 12-28-2015

(This is an upgrade of last year’s post.  I liked it then and still think well of it now!
And the upgrades are substantial.

Before the part from last year’s post,
  we start with how to make your resolutions effective!)

A.  Effective resolutions have these parts:

1.  Things that you want enough or are large enough that you are enthused if you think you have a shot at getting them tend to work better!

But if that’s all you do, they are wishes rather than actual ways to get those things.

 To have a shot at getting them, do the next things!

2.  Start something small early in January or this week! that starts you on the road to that goal.

The wonderful news is that it can be tiny and even easy to do as long as you set a time to start it early in January or this week AND do it on that date!

You must think through or research or at least guess what a good but small and likely doable first step would be. 

If you are stumped, write 3 ideas that MIGHT work that you CAN do.

Then try the easiest or most promising one first!

(Tony Robbins found that last step really effective and teaches it!)

3.  What if it’s something that is required to get that first result or seems to be but you haven’t a clue how to do it?

Brendon Buchard found a way to solve this one! 

Have your first task be to think up or look up online for 3 people who might be able to tell you how to do it.

Then make asking the first one what you do first. Then ask the other two.

What if they don’t know, haven’t time to tell you, or give you a version you cannot use?

Ask them to suggest a few people who might be able and willing to do so!

Brendon found this often got to the person who could tell him what he needed to know.

Last year we posted on what goals might be worth it for you to pursue.

We want you to have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

And we gave ideas for a first doable first step for each of those areas:

1. Everyone says, or most people say, Happy New Year!

So, why not begin to do things that test as making people happy from now to the end of 2016?

Surprisingly, there ARE 3 ways to do become much happier!

a)  Make prudent choices that avoid things that would make you unhappy or very unhappy.

*Always wear your seat belt. 

*Never text while driving. 

Be extremely careful using your cell phone while driving.  And do it only if you can pay attention to your driving and talk on the phone at the same time.

(Texting takes your eyes off the road too long to make that reliably possible.  That’s why to avoid it.)

*And, either don’t drink or drink only AFTER you get home or arrange things to get you home if you drink before you go home. 

This goes double on New Year’s eve! 

The ideal thing to do is stay home or go someplace you can spend the night.  

Not only can you then drink a bit extra and be safe,
you will stay safe from the people who drank too much AND drove on New Year’s eve.

New this year!:

Drink one or maybe two drinks -- but BEFORE dinner only.  You’ll sleep better. 

And after dinner you will feel the effects which make it far easier than drinking less than you want before dinner and then thinking you can do the same afterwards!

(I had tried to drink less than I wanted both before and after dinner and hardly was able to do so.

But I tried drinking what I wanted before dinner only which I DID find DOABLE. 

And I found the sleep doctor who suggested it was correct.  I DO sleep better since I made that change!)

And, of course this is critical if you will be driving.  That way you will both have a chance to have the effect wear off before you drive AND what effect is left over to be buffered by your dinner and less intense!

Lastly, if you get drowsy with alcohol, take a 20 minute nap BEFORE you drive!

Sleep restores your alertness and ability to drive safely BETTER than coffee! 

Of course you can also drink a cup of coffee before your nap; and the coffee will begin to take effect about the time you get up from your nap!

b)  Make having close and loving relationships with people a priority. And do things with them, that you’ll remember later.

“Did you hear about the 75-year long study that researchers at Harvard University conducted to unearth the keys to living a happy and meaningful life?    

After following the lives of several hundred people since 1938….”

“One of the most important findings of the study is that relationships are what really matter in life. 

You can have all of the money, success and power in the world, but without close, loving relationships, you’ll most likely never experience true happiness.”

c)   Focus on the things you did that worked, the things you enjoyed, the things that went well, and the ways in which you are fortunate. 

(When you notice you are spending time thinking on the bad things, STOP. 

Then think of at least ONE good thing ----- something that DID go well today or might go well tomorrow.)

Earl Nightengale made a fortune and a career once he found that
   “people become” what they focus on and think about every day. 

And, he taught the implication of that too:

If you continue to focus on good things and making good things happen, even if they are not happening yet, they will!

And, if you do the opposite, good things you could have had will never appear!  So focus on the good things and especially notice the ones that are already happening even if they are little.

Here’s the same lesson from the Harvard study:

“….No matter how bleak your childhood was or how difficult the circumstances you may find yourself in now, it’s never too late to turn things around.” 

The researchers found that the key is to change what you choose to focus on. 

If you focus on what’s not working in your life, you’ll notice more and more of what it is that you don’t want - and life will continue to look dimmer and dimmer.

But, if you switch your focus to love - to where it’s present in your life and to how you can cultivate more of it with others - you can go from being the saddest person you know to being the happiest and most fulfilled very, very quickly.”

This combines the power of the positive focus with the most happiness producing events and effects you get from doing it!

2.  Be Healthy in 2016

Pick a few, repeat few, things to upgrade in the first part of 2016.  

You can always add more later.  (You can also expand the things you start doing at an easy, doable level!)

Even ONE easy upgrade you actually begin to do and keep doing will do more for you than ten great ones none of which ever happens!

So, on the list below, write down only the ones you might consider doing.  Then list them from the easiest to hardest for you and the ones that get the results most important to you.

Pick at least one easy one and one that gets the results you want most.

Do that easiest one right away!  

Then in a few weeks, add the most important one. But schedule your starting date now!

Here’s the reason why:

People who make a certain to be easy health upgrade and maintain it for a few months, are empowered to do more over time.

And, THEY ACTUALLY make the easy upgrade!

     People who only set a huge goal for the year usually make no changes at all in practice!

(I should know, because when I used to set such goals, they never, ever happened!)

Here are some high-return, easy to do & easy to begin, health upgrades to try.

*What is the easiest, high payoff health upgrade?

People who eat even ONE serving a day of an organic fruit and drink no fruit juice get half or more of the health benefits of a person who does an athlete’s exercise routine or who eats nine servings a day of organic vegetables!

(Recent research found that eating ONE piece of whole fruit a day cut their risk of BOTH obstructive or ischemic stroke AND their risk of a bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke dramatically!)

Pick 3 kinds of fruit that you actually like and can buy in organic form -- either frozen or fresh.

Pick one to start with and eat it on the same day each week for a few weeks.

Once you do that, adding the other two kinds or eating your favorite kind of fruit two or three days a week is then easy to do.

(I find that eating the same fruit the same day each week; but eating several kinds -- both gives me variety and the benefit of a regular, easy to maintain and shop for habit!)

This is least fattening, even for sugary fruits, if you do it at breakfast.

It’s super easy to do and tastes good too!

Doing this is so heart protective and so extremely preventive of both kinds of stroke, it’s worth a thousand dollars a month to do in avoided medical care costs and disability costs you never will need! 

I think no one should ever leave elementary school without learning it!

*Do you live by yourself?  Do you drink soft drinks? 

If yes to both, both regular and diet soft drinks are so fattening and harmful to your health, consider tossing out any in your home or giving them away if you are too frugal to waste them and never buying another either at a restaurant or a store, has such huge potential, it’s worth doing.

(If you’ve read our posts, you have seen the reasons these drinks are fatteners and heart attack starters.  

In fact they cause so many additional health problems, from speeding up aging to causing osteoporosis two ways, most people who know their full track record never drink them!)

Then set up and learn to enjoy chilled water and several kinds of tea or coffee instead.

The key to making this an easy change, is that if you know you’ll be less fat and why to avoid both kinds of soft drinks, focusing on those facts every time you are tempted to do otherwise for a few weeks will make this a surprisingly doable and massively positive upgrade.

It’s the most effective and massive health upgrade you can literally do in just a few days!

People have lost over 25 pounds a year from just doing this one thing AND with no added effort.

 (Important note:  studies find diet soft drinks also fatten and have health harmful effects.)

And, eliminating soft drinks is comparably heart protective as the fat loss effects and takes very little effort once soft drinks never come in your home and you never drink them even outside your home!

*Eating six to nine servings of organic vegetables a day has incredibly powerful health benefits. 

But it’s quite challenging to do if you haven’t already done it.

And, doing this is SO powerful that even averaging four or five a day will help!

Here’s two ways to make it so easy, you CAN get closer to that and even get there eventually.

Pick one health supporting and organic vegetable you can actually buy.  Buy some and eat ONE serving of it once a week for a few months until it’s easy to do. Then keep doing it by habit.

Or, buy the quiet and low profile, shorter and slightly fatter new Vitamix, and make a drink once a week with three health supporting and organic vegetables you can actually buy.  Do this once a week for a few months until it’s easy to do.

(Notice that the quiet and low profile new Vitamix is a “force multiplier” for eating the optimum level of vegetables because it almost triples how many a day are doable by most people!)

But also know that people who add even one vegetable once a week not only wind up eating far more vegetables a week than they were,
taking even that one easy action is also a “force multiplier” and has often empowered people to remake their entire ability to make OTHER effective health upgrades in their lives!

*What is the one force multiplier health upgrade that has the most carry over to your whole life?

Whether or not you do it in a way that also cuts your body fat, it’s beginning regular exercise on ONE day a week for a few weeks!

The biggest benefits are huge and happen within the first few weeks!  People literally feel better about themselves and become empowered to do other things to protect their health. 

Starting even a bit of regular exercise makes doing more health protective things as much as ten times easier.

This effect was found and proven over 50 years ago!  Astonishingly few people have heard of this effect.

People who start with just ONE very easy exercise on one day each week often become regular exercisers.  And, it’s so easy anyone can start it.

The easiest to begin and keep doing is an exercise you can do safely at home first thing in the morning.

Pick ONE exercise and a number of repetitions or times that is very easy to do. 

Then schedule which day of the week will work best and treat that as you would going to work or going to bed or eating as something you will do short of a life threatening emergency.

What if you do an exercise for 3 repetitions or for 15 seconds and it’s clear the very first time you can easily do five times that much?  This time, stop at 3 to 5 or 15 to 20 seconds.  

Then celebrate somehow! 

That has been a foundation block for many people for becoming far healthier!

It’s critical that the first time is THAT easy.

Next week do 7 and then 8 and then 9 and then 10 in the following weeks or do 30 seconds, then 35 seconds etc until you get to 60 seconds.  Then do two 35 second sets etc.

The 3 key concepts are:

First  -- Make your start extremely easy. 

 Second-- Build up gradually each week which does the double of making injury much less likely and which will make you much stronger and fit as you keep gradually improving.

Building up to being stronger or more fit by starting at an extremely easy level and then gradually increasing until you are strong and fit is proven to work.

Third-- With cardio or faster heart rate and breathing exercises, to get fit fastest and to stay safe once you are doing it at all begin to do the amount you do faster until you get slightly out of breath.  Then stop and rest until you recover.  Once you can do one set like this you can build up to several sets. 

BUT it’s imperative that you rest completely or slow way down once you get out of breath. 

Forcing yourself to keep going at a really fast pace you haven’t built up to is hazardous, and like some people shoveling snow without short breaks when they get out of breath, you can give yourself a heart attack.

Paradoxically, you can work just that hard or even harder but WITH the short recovery breaks and stay quite safe!

If you picked this as one to do or begin in 2016, decide if you will do strength training like pushups or squats, or such as walking fast for brief times or marching in place inside your home. Then decide which day a week you will always do it every week.

Or  if you decide to do strength training on one day a week and vigorous cardio on one day a week. Pick which day each week for strength training and which day for cardio.

3.  Do a few things to become more prosperous in 2016.

This area is more complex and challenging than exercise or eating upgrades or even than happiness upgrades. 

But there are some things that work, some of which you can do.

Here are a few of them.

a)  Spend less overall but with more to show for it:

 One writer said to buy twice as good and half as many.  He spoke of clothes noting that higher quality clothes look better and last longer.

You can even spend less and have twice as good!

In some places in the United States, for clothes, you can buy twice as good for a fifth as much!  Thrift stores often get nearly new clothes from well to do donors.  Then they sell them for a quarter or a fifth as much as the price new.

Get them cleaned and treat them well and you can be well dressed for less than most people spend.

If you have space for larger amounts, stores like Walmart and Smart & Final and Costco sell major brands for less.

A similar thought is in a new book on how to eliminate clutter by Marie Kondo called, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which is available on Amazon.

Her basic method is instead of focusing on whether or not to toss something out, you focus on finding the things you actually love to have and bring you satisfaction or joy.

Then her clients find that tossing most of the rest is easy.

Buy her book and try her method.

The carry over is that when you shop, you ask her question BEFORE you buy.  That way you have more to spend on things that really please you. And, you’ll bring less stuff home you’ll throw out later.

You’ll spend less and have more things you actually enjoy having.

b)  Do you make enough to pay your bills on time? 

First, if not, making more will help if there is a doable and safe way that fits your values to do so.

That one is tough and books have been written on it.  But people do it. 

If you do, to the extent it’s safe in your current location, avoid moving to more expensive or larger living space. 

Do this at least until you have built up savings AND gotten your income up!)

Do your best to spend no more than you do now for most things.

Then, whether you can do it now with no increase in income
OR you can do it because you increased your income but not your expenses, 
pay yourself first some definite percentage of your income each month.

At first, put it into savings.  Then once you have a month’s expenses in savings, buy small CD’s or money market funds until you have five more months of current expenses in those.

Note that paying down credit cards where you have a balance of more than 25 to 30% of your credit limit also increases your emergency funds and pays far better interest than CD’s.

(This, plus always paying a couple days before the due date, will also build a good credit rating; and they will give you more credit.  THAT increases your financial security in addition to you your savings.)

Then once you have done those things, next put an equal amount to your savings into investments that may or may not go up but which are unlikely to go down.

Loan pools like the Lending Club and Prosper pay a higher return on money you give them to loan than stock dividends on strong companies that pay dividends. 

But if you invest about half in these loans and half in strong stocks that pay dividends, the stocks will tend to be worth more and pay more over time, and you’ll have an income from your investments that you can invest further after the taxes are paid.

Third, once you do those things, then investments that may be more risky but which have a high but likely potential to go up make sense.


Make the resolutions many make to be happier and healthier and more prosperous in 2016.

But this year, make the starting but doable small steps to put the wheels in motion right away to have more of those things by next December too!  

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

3 Ways to have good winter holidays....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-22-2015

(This is an upgrade of last year’s post.  I liked it then and still think well of it now!
And the upgrades are substantial.)

This post is to celebrate the holidays of mid-winter.

How can you have good ones?

A.  The peoples of Northern Europe all celebrated this time of year for two reasons.

1.  One is that they knew that at this time of year the sun stopped acting like it would disappear and would gradually begin to return and spring and summer would follow.

This generalized into the very hopeful message that

“….bad times are temporary and good times always return again.”

Take that to heart and live it and celebrate it this time of year and your whole life will be better.

Martin Seligman, PhD and others have found that this belief and its parts creates good mental health, a happier life and people who are more effective and successful on the average than people who don’t.

So this reminder to do so every year is a very valuable and reality based way to celebrate it and live it!

2.  In their time, agriculture and food supplies were a bit iffy and in the cold weather, lack of food could cause people to freeze or die of malnutrition.

So the tradition arose to gather together for warmth and help and for those with food surpluses to share some of it.

The groups who did so, outsurvived those who did not.  So the tradition has lasted!

And so, in more modern times, families often gather together at this time of year.

There are two ways to make your family gatherings go as well as possible.

First is to treat them as Seligman’s optimists do.  Problems are temporary and bad actions have specific causes that can be fixed or which may not repeat.  And good things tend to be permanent.

So be forgiving and treat people with love and caring; and if there are problems hope next time will be better.

Many times if you show you care and treat people as their best selves, they act more in that way and everyone is happier!

The second way is to be what one brilliant man called an encourager instead of hoping to be an encouragee.

Everyone would like to be treated as their best self and for the people they meet and their family to be interested in them and encourage them and support them.

As the Quaker’s might say, “This includes me and thee.”

But people who stop there often don’t get what they want and need particularly at family gatherings.

The much better news is that if you proactively take the initiative and do those things for the others in the group or in your family--

-- whether they reciprocate or not, YOU will feel better and be a more worthwhile member of the group.

It takes practice and isn’t perfect even when people are skilled at it.  But it can make and has made an enormous positive difference to the people who learn to do it and almost always do it!

The best news is that whether or not others do it for you is not under your direct control. But choosing to be an encourager and doing it IS under your control.

I find that good news indeed!

So here’s hoping your holidays go well.

B. It helps to feel good mentally and physically this time of year.  But some people don’t and get SAD, seasonal affective disorder, a feeling of depression due to lack of sunlight.

If that happens to you at all or this year, here are some things that do work to do to remove it!

1.  My reading of the research suggests that taking 7,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 year round in today’s world of inside work and recreation is critical to maintain good health and gives you the level of vitamin D3 people got from sunshine when they went outside in earlier times.

(This is an upgrade from 3,000 iu last year because it now looks like the real optimum intake of vitamin D3 now is 7,000 to 10,000 iu a day.)

2.  In the Northern Hemisphere, Mike Geary, earlier in 2014, wrote a brilliant article showing that at this time of year you had to live somewhere like Key West Florida or farther South to get ANY of the kind of sun’s rays needed to create sunshine caused vitamin D3 and people in these areas that do not can ONLY have enough by supplementing. 

So, for good health, let alone feeling good, it also looks like taking at least 10,000 iu a day from about the first of October to the first of March is also very important.  (This is an upgrade from 5,000 iu last year because it now looks like the real optimum intake of vitamin D3 now is 7,000 to 10,000 iu a day.

Also, it may make sense to take 20,000 or 30,000 iu of vitamin D3 the first few days if you haven’t been taking any at all to bring your blood level up sooner. 

Also new since last year! 

We now know that taking this much D3 increases the level of serotonin in your brain.   The anti-depressants that were once thought to do this do NOT.  They raise the blood level instead where the extra serotonin causes side effects instead of making you feel better. 

So, if more brain levels of serotonin will help you feel better and with very low sunlight it likely does, take vitamin D3!)

3.  SAD is diagnostic I think of lack of vitamin D3.  So, if you get it, you likely need to take that much vitamin D3.  It will protect your health; and it will likely help you feel better too.

Also, other components of sunshine and light may have anti depressant effects and walking definitely does.  So if it’s safe, take a 20 minute walk or so around solar noon too! 

Astonishingly, even in gloomy daylight light monitors for photography show it can be 20 times brighter outside than it is inside!

One man who has seriously depressed did this on rainy days around Noon on a cruise ship.  His fellow passengers thought he was a bit loony.  But he went from quiet and quite depressed to energetic, friendly, and outgoing and always in a good mood. 

Besides the light, we now know that this regular walking grows new brain cells particularly in the part of the brain that connects the other parts, the white matter.  And we know that this sharply improves the person’s optimism, proactivity, and ability to think on their feet.

4.  Regular exercise, positive socializing – see above; and eating wild caught fish at least once or twice a week; and taking both a daily omega 3 supplement and a DHA supplement has been shown to reduce depression.

If the depression is from damaged brain cells, each of these has a restorative effect.  And, the research shows from brain scans when these are done well and the regeneration shows up, the depression improves too.  This also works for many cases of PTSD, so it’s a very powerful combination effect.

 So if this time of year, you feel depressed, be sure to do them!

5.  There are also “light boxes” that you can buy and use first thing every morning this time of year that also work well for some people.

(That may also be why lunchtime walks in mid-Winter works so well.)

I find that good news indeed!

So here’s hoping your holidays go well!

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