Monthly Archives: March 2008

Nurture Your Mind

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think. – Benjamin Disraeli

The subconscious mind makes no distinction between constructive and destructive thought impulses. It works with the material we feed it, through our thought impulses. The sub-conscious mind will translate into reality a thought driven by fear, just as readily as it will translate into reality a thought driven by courage or faith. – Napoleon Hill

What we think has a great impact not only in what happens to us but how we feel. “Well, of course”, you say. But most of us go through life thinking thoughts without regard for the consequences. We are not tuned in to the subtleties of our thought processes. When we are feeling bad, there is always a thought or group of thoughts behind it. The same thing goes for when we are feeling good. External inputs are not relevant here.

Start to examine your thoughts, thought processes and beliefs as they relate to how you are feeling at any given moment. As you practice this technique you’ll begin to find patterns of thought that are directly associated with how you are feeling. As you become more and more aware, it will become easier to start changing or “tweaking” those thoughts to shift your mood. When you find a thought that doesn’t make you feel good, try and change it slightly so that it is a little less negative, but still believable. Once you are there, then you can change that new thought into something a little bit better. And on and on until the original thought has been completely transformed.

I’m talking about small changes in thought and small shifts in mood. You don’t need to do anything more. The continual march towards feeling a little bit better will make a huge difference in your overall life and experience. One note of caution – Do not try to stop thinking a particular thought. The opposite will happen and you will continue, almost obsessively, to think that thought. It’s much better to just think another thought instead.

Have a great day!

Michael

Pleasant Surprise While Traveling

My company had upgraded my ticket to business class today so that I would have an easier flight home after my surgery. I was very appreciative until I got up to the Lufthansa reservation desk. I was told that I had been upgraded to first class and would that be okay? Uhhhhh. Let me think. “Well, I’ll accept this time and make the sacrifice”, I said. My appreciation level jumped off the scale.

This is the second time I’ve been upgraded to first class on an international flight since I began my intense yearly travel in 2001. Let me tell you, I become spoiled within about five minutes. It’s the opposite of flying in economy. The difference is extraordinary but I could never see paying the thousands of dollars extra to actually buy a first class ticket unless of course that kind of money was a fraction of what I really owned.

As they were only seven of us in first class, the flight attendant basically waited on us hand and foot. First, we were all handed a toilet kit (toothbrush, tooth paste, eye shades, lotion, ear plugs, etc.), slippers, socks to keep our feet warmed, a night shirt so we could sleep comfortably and a single rose for our extremely large seats that could lay out flat for that perfect nap or deep sleep.

Then the food began to pour in. Drinks (water, sodas, wine, liquor, coffee, tea, etc.) to start and a plate of warm nuts to wet our appetites. Before our five course meal began we were handed heavy face towels; hot with a bit of citrus oil to refresh our faces and hands. We have been flying about 20 minutes at this point.

My five course meal consisted of: 1) some kind of sliced meat with pickled vegetables, 2) boiled shrimp with eggplant and tomato, 3) salad with 10 or 12 choices of bread, 4) lamb medallions with potatoes and mixed vegetables and 5) apple crisp with almond ice cream. The flight attendant asked if I would like coffee with my dessert. As I nodded yes, she asked if I would like and espresso or cappuccino. Cappuccino, please! I’m realizing that heaven is somewhere around 35,000 feet surrounded by a large metal tube.

I thought that the food would stop at this time, but I had to choose from a large box of very fancy chocolate truffles to go with my iced Bailey’s. I had not prepared myself for the innumerable decisions I would face on this flight. It was quite challenging.

During my meal, I had the choice of watching about 50 different movies or T.V. shows. I choose a long movie to complement my long meal. As we reached the southern tip of Greenland, I became sleepy. Probably caused by all the food. I laid my seat flat and took the most restful nap I’ve ever had on a plane.

As we flew over eastern Canada, I again had more food choices. I settled for smoked salmon sandwiches and fruit.

My only complaint about the entire trip was that it was too short! :-)

I’m always very grateful when events like this happen. I use them to instill an attitude of hope for future experiences to be the same or better.

Have a great day!

Michael

Coming Home

There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again. – Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. – Maya Angelou

Today is my last day in Brussels, Belgium. My adventure with Belgium health care is coming to a close. I have no regrets and had the fortune to meet many wonderful people even if most of them were in a hospital.

Even though I love to travel, coming home is a very special time for me. It’s my safe haven, my place to recharge and relax. It’s my foundation; the place where I feel most comfortable.

Every trip I take has a distinctive flavor, different characteristics and which invariably turns into a unique adventure. But coming home always feels the same. For me, it’s the stability in the swirl of life, the world and my travels.

I must say though that one of the ways I adapt so well to traveling is that I am able to make anywhere I go my home, albeit temporary. I bring a little bit of my own home with me. That’s why I relate so well to Maya Angelou’s quote above.

I couldn’t do that if I didn’t have a place that I permanently call home. That’s my secret.

Michael

Health and Happiness – Part 2

It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. – Marcel Proust

Illness has always brought me nearer to a state of grace. – Abbe Pierre

If we are suffering illness, poverty, or misfortune, we think we shall be satisfied on the day it ceases. But there too, we know it is false; so soon as one has got used to not suffering one wants something else. – Simone Weil

Nothing like getting an illness to make you think about health and how much better that state of being can be. I always saw illness as something that “attacked” me from the outside. I had no control over it so it produced hefty amounts of fear.

Much of that has changed for me now, but I usually need to be conscious about it when I’m sick. I really work on relaxing and try to learn something from the illness. Maybe I need to get some rest. Maybe I need a dose of patience. Maybe I need to reflect on my life or let someone take care of me for a change. It could be anything, but there is always a lesson.

One thing I really work hard on is too keep my attitude up even when I’m completely laid out with a flu, appendicitis or etc. This is a great secret weapon to make yourself feel better, quicker or at the very minimum help to make your time of sickness more pleasant than it could have been.

Use the contrast that illness brings to clearly know how you want to feel. Focusing on that instead of being sick will keep your mind in a better place. Keeping your mind in a better place can actually reduce the length and intensity of the illness you may be experiencing.

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Dogs and Happiness

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. – Ben Williams

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too. – Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment. – George Eliot

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. – Gilda Radner

Flo talked about her basset hounds in Basset Babies and Homer Update. It made me think of our (my daughter) beagle Allie. She had surgery last week for something turned out to be benign. But, you think about them during these times just like they are friends. And really, they are. Simply as that.

One of the many reasons I love dogs is that they are the perfect examples of how to live with unconditional love. They know no other way. Dogs possess the amazing ability to make almost anyone smile and feel better about themselves. Some people resist but most succumb and feel better.

I can think of many times when Duncan, our golden retriever, or Allie have lifted my spirits just by being themselves. They seem to have an uncanny ability to know when people are feeling low. At that point, the dog will insert themselves into the situation and make sure you are feeling better in short order.

Thank God for dogs. And if you’re not a dog lover, no worries. There are many other pets that can give you similar feelings.

If we could learn to have just a fraction of their unconditional love, the world would immediately be a better place to be. Why wait? No time like the present to make a positive change like that.

Have a great day!

Michael

Health and Happiness – Part 1

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. – World Health Organization, 1948

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields,
What the River Knows, 1990

He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors. – Chinese Proverb

If you have health, you probably will be happy, and if you have health and happiness, you have all the wealth you need, even if it is not all you want. – Elbert Hubbard

I’ve been thinking a lot about health and it’s connection to happiness. Many of us take our health for granted. I believe that we truly underestimate its effect on our happiness. Its easier to not think about it if things are working okay.

True health comes from more than regular exercise and good diet. It really starts with a positive attitude and emotional state. That’s the secret foundation to good health and another tool to manage your level of overall happiness. Think about it, when you feel good you want to go and do something physical. You want to move around, get out of the house or enjoy nature. When you feel bad, you tend to eat poorly and lay on the couch. Your attitude is not positive and your energy level decreases.

You can exercise all you want but if you haven’t built the foundation with an inner positive outlook on yourself, your health and therefore your happiness will never be quite as good as it could be. But saying that, exercise (even small amounts) can have an incredibly positive effect on your mood. There have been many studies on this. Think about how well you feel after taking a brisk walk through your neighborhood or local park. Your body releases endorphins. Your blood flows more. Your body and mind have received a healthy dose of extra oxygen.

So, work on both. Cultivate a positive attitude and emotional outlook. Take periodic walks or some other form of regular (that’s the key) exercise. Together they will synergistically work to help increase your level of happiness.

Tomorrow I’ll touch on illness and its effect on happiness.

Have a great day!

Michael

Hospital Beds Are Comfortable

I never thought I would say this, but hospital beds are comfortable. I only realized this after trying to get comfortable in a normal bed shortly after abdominal surgery.

I had to laugh at myself last night as I keep reaching over for the bed controls. Alas, they didn’t exist. I had to make a raised bed by using multiple pillows. It was not as flexible nor did it work as well as the hospital bed.

One great thing is that I’m in a hotel room and not a hospital room, though I obviously miss the bed. It definitely means I’m improving and quickly at that. Of course, that feels great.

Also, I have a lovely view from my hotel window of the Brussels Stock Exchange (BSE) called the Bourse. Beautiful building! Very impressive.
Have a great day!

Michael

Back Online after Appendicitis

It’s been several days since I’ve written here. I’ve been in a hospital in Brussels, Belgium with acute appendicitis. I had no access to the internet and for at least a couple of days would not have been able to post anyway.

This has been quite an extraordinary adventure (yes, an adventure) for me; not the least of which was being in a foreign country with a potentially serious diagnoses and with very limited skill in speaking French. Okay, I can say hello, goodbye, good evening, your welcome, please, thank you very much and no. :-)

I’m doing quite well now and was released from the hospital early this afternoon. Over the next several days, I’ll be posting some of my experiences during my hospital stay. The last few days have been difficult but also blessed in many ways.

Time for some rest. Apparently getting dressed, walking to the cab and then getting settled in my hotel room in Brussels took a lot of energy.

Michael

Homer update

Homer basset didn’t have surgery last week.  Considered to be “non-surgical” due to the other spinal issues he has, we brought him home and with medication, there has been limited improvement.

It’s surprising to me how much life changes in just a few days – we carry Homer up and down the stairs and watch him totter across the back yard, doing his “business” with the other dogs.  His positive demeanor has returned and he is pain-free. At times, it feels we’re living with an infant, which is different for us and all the while  Homer continues to be his warm, loving and happy self.  For this I am grateful.  We are enjoying his presence, his companionship and have to laugh at his ability to be so very joyful as his physical limitations increase.  This is a quality I’d like to possess.

He is a good friend and we are happy he is here.

Namaste’

Nostalgia (Soda Pop)

Today’s edition of “All Things Considered” on NPR featured a story on John Nese’s store in Los Angeles, called Galco’s Soda Pop Stop. Nese inherited the store from his father and now stocks over 500 types of hard-to-find soda pop. He carries a brand of root beer made from sasparilla bark, and he even carries rose petal soda, which he imports from Romania.

Not only is this my favorite kind of radio feature story, shedding light on a particularly unusual and whimsical slice of American life, it took me back to the product attachment I used to have as a child. Items that resonate in this way include Chuckles candies and Necco Wafers, cotton candy, Stan Mikita hockey helmets, Eskimo Pie mint ice cream bars, and Schwinn bicycles. Chuckles and Necco Wafers hold a special spot because we used to stop at Ada’s Penny Candy on the way home from church with my father every Sunday. He bought the Sunday New York Times there, even though we subscribed for home delivery every other day of the week. Ada wrote every regular customer’s last name on the copies of the paper in black grease pencil. The candy was the real reason my dad bought his paper there, though he loved Ada and served with her on a town political committee.

I am a product marketer’s dream. When a particular product establishes a place in my memory and my life, it stays there forever. So when I was in the Phoenix Airport last month, I was thrilled to come across a kiosk that sold Chuckles and other throwback candies. I could even remember, 25 years after I ate my last packet of the fruit jellies, in which order I always ate them, from least favorite to most: green, orange, red, yellow, black.

The radio story captured my imagination not only because I loved the idea of seeing all of these unusual sodas in one place, but also because I couldn’t imagine the business sense behind making an obscure soda in a very small operation with such narrow distribution that no one has ever heard of it. There is only one reason to invest in making a product like this: you want to connect with a person like me.

I can’t wait to go. Please listen to the story. If you ever go to L.A., please visit the store and let me know how it was. Here’s the link, if you want to buy online. You can buy old fashioned candies, including Chuckles, there too. Yum.