Dec 9, 2012

REASON: A spiritual principle.

I will keep those first things first in my life, every day by choosing to think and act in accordance with REASON, purpose and self-esteem


People often draw a separation between material and spiritual realms.

If I understand what people imply by this, it seems as though what is being suggested is that there are two separate dimensions of reality, one that is concrete and one, supposedly on some sort of higher plane (whatever that means), which is above reality. (something above reality or supernatural makes no sense to me, as, if something actually exists, then it is by definition, part of nature, if I understand nature to be 'everything that exists')

Other people will say, "I'm not religious, but I'm 'spiritual', but any definitions of spiritual I've seen in this context seem nebulous at best.

In my view, spiritual and material values are simply two different aspects of one reality.

First of all, I don't think accepting spiritual principles requires any type of blind faith. Spiritual principles are simply aspects of reality that are not corporeal but which self-evidently exist and have profound effects on our quality of life. You can't touch, feel, smell, or draw a picture of spiritual principles such as honesty, willingness, courage, REASON, happiness, enthusiasm, etc. and we may even debate their exact meanings, but no one will suggest that these principles do not exist, or that one needs to accept them on blind faith.

And material objects, those created by men, are simply the material embodiment of those spiritual principles. I consider a Ferrari, an elaborate financial plan, an iPad or a well built home to be profoundly spiritual. They are the direct result of what Stephen Covey referred to in his second habit, "Begin with the end in mind", in which he asserts correctly that there are always two creations, first in one's mind, and then the actual material product.

To the degreee that a material result is good, in that it represents excellence and quality (two other spiritual principles)is the degree to which its creation was aligned with proper principles.

Note the contrast between a beautiful, well designed, and properly maintained home and a crack house, and you will see how proper spiritual principles differ from the lack thereof, or from deeply negative principles.

Note the financial/material result for clients of a well executed financial plan vs. the result produced for Bernie Madoff's clients, and you will see the same contrast.

REASON, is first and foremost the spriritual principle that leads to optimum results, in that it is the principle that is required in order for us to deal with reality properly, (choosing to think from my last post) and to achieve the productivity (another principle)of material goods that enhance life quality.

Thanks again, for reading.... comments are welcome.

Dec 1, 2012


I will keep those first things first in my life, every day by CHOOSING TO THINK and act in accordance with reason, purpose and self-esteem

Thinking is not automatic. Thinking, in my opinion means facing reality as it is, not as we wish it were.

Not choosing to think is popularly known as "being in denial". Denying reality is the first step to causing all of our own problems and of hurting other people in the process.

Most of all, denial is a choice. It is the choice that precedes all evil acts and the choice that prevents us from courageously performing virtuous acts.

Unless you are a psychopath, you are unable to commit an evil act with full consciousness. You first need to somehow rationalize or justify through the use of denial, in effect by choosing not to think. That decision, that choice not to think, is then the actual moral choice which is wrong, and which we must avoid in oder to avoid consequences to ourselves and others.

Choosing to think, is the first step to the achievement of our personal values which will lead to our happiness. No matter how unpleasant any aspect of reality may appear, it pales in comparison to the consequences of not dealing with it. I think this is what Ayn Rand meant when she stated, "I'm not brave enough to be a coward".

Happiness (spiritual 'wealth') 'is the result of man's capacity to think". However, the capacity to think is only potential until one makes that daily and even momentary choice to actually do it.

Thanks for reading!

Nov 15, 2012


I will keep FIRST THINGS first every day by choosing to think and act in accordance with reason, purpose and self-esteem


FIRST THINGS as per Stephen R. Covey, among others are those things that "matter most".

They are the "oughta's" that are often displaced by the "gotta's"... as in "I really 'oughta' _________ but I never find the time because I 'gotta' ___________.

First off, to be a FIRST THING, it has to be YOUR first thing, not someone else's expectation of you that you feel you 'oughta' do to make them happy, or have them like you. (see previous post on second handers)..... in fact if it is someone else's then it's by definition one of those 'gotta's'.

'Gotta's' are an illusion.... we only think we 'gotta' in many if not most cases, when in reality the consequence for not doing this is minor at worst, neutral in many cases, and very often actually beneficial as it will allow us to focus on true FIRST THINGS.

FIRST THINGS, can be defined simply as anything that you will eventually say, "I'm glad I did this!".... or, very tragically in some cases, since life is short, "I really wish I had....".

The next few posts will deal more with why this needs to be a daily focus and why it all starts with a CHOICE to think!

Thanks for reading!

Oct 24, 2012

Prime Movers vs. SECOND HANDERS

I will begin always with my end in mind , so that I may continually evaluate what the true priorities are in MY life, taking care not to be a SECOND HANDER or a people pleaser.


The working title for Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, was Second Hand Lives.
In this book she suggests that some people, a small minority, are prime movers.... people, if you will, who "make things happen", and others, unfortunately the majority, let other people do their thinking for them, and just go with the flow.

There is a saying, that there are three types of people in the world: people who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who wonder what the hell happened.

There is also a song lyric, by John Mellencamp, "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything!"

Prime movers, don't follow the crowd, in fact they are often against the current, although that is not their intent; (being rebellious for the sake of it, is still just a reaction to the crowd, rather than thinking for yourself)but, tragically, independent thinking is not very common. They are called prime movers, because they are the individuals who move the world, the Galileo's, Newton's, Edison's, Gates' and Jobs'. These folks often face criticism, ridicule and often outright persecution. Many are not recognized for their greatness until after their death.

Second handers, on the other hand, want to avoid criticism, ridicule, etc. and so aim to please others, fit in and not "rock the boat", usually not even taking the time to think through the consequences of their actions (or lack thereof). They assume that what the majority believes, or what some alleged religious or social authority dictates is not to be questioned and so they live lives that are not truly their own, but are "second handed". In this respect, they are choosing to not only avoid taking the time to consider the consequences of their second handedness, but they are choosing not to think at all. (which is very dangerous for a human being, since our mind is our tool of survival.)

It is tragic, as a person's OWN life is a precious thing to hand over to others, but even more so, because there are only too many who understand how easy it is to manipulate these individuals and are only too willing to do so, to their own ends.

Ayn Rand said, "He who preaches sacrifice is usually the beneficiary of that sacrifice" (paraphrased)

Peer pressure is a powerful thing and something that youth is known for falling prey to, easily, but in fact most of us never fully grow out of it, which is why this section of my vision statement, specifically states: "...continually evaluate what the true priorities are in MY life, taking care not to be a SECOND HANDER..."

Thanks for reading!

Oct 7, 2012


I will begin always with my end in mind , so that I may continually evaluate what the true priorities are in MY LIFE, taking care not to be a second hander or a people pleaser.


I am going to die.

Hopefully, not any time soon, but sooner than I would like, no matter when it does happen. MY LIFE is limited, and I have no way of knowing just how limited. Every day that I wake up is a reason to be very grateful.

Death deFINES life, meaning that is what prevents it from being INFINITE.

If I were immortal, then the concept of MY LIFE would have no value. Since a value is something that someone seeks to gain, or strives to avoid losing, immortality would make this irrelevant.

However, loving life, is not the same as avoiding death. There is not just the matter of losing my life, but of wasting it, which I think is worse.

Ultimately, my highest moral purpose is to achieve my own happiness during my limited life. My own happiness is not a matter of seeking thrills or mindless pleasures but of reaching my full potential as a human being. I believe my full potential will be reached in finding a balance between producing, relaxing, having fun and achieving personal growth financially, physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. If I choose to express this more succintly, my happiness will be earned by doing my best!

My happiness will not be reached by sacrificing for other people's happiness, nor will it be reached by exploiting anyone. My happiness in not in conflict with anyone else's, in fact, the happiness of people I love and respect contributes significantly to my own, but their happiness is their moral purpose and responsibility and my happiness is mine.

I am always acutely aware that many people lost their lives fighting for freedom, because they preferred to risk their lives rather than to live in a world where freedom was threatened. This is a lesson, that shows that a life where one cannot freely act to gain their own happiness is worse than death. "Give me liberty or give me death". (Patrick Henry)

Because I am aware that my own freedom was earned through these people, I would consider it an insult to their memories to waste my own life..... and so I hope that if I can leave any type of legacy it will be to provide some type of inspiration for future generations to do the best they can to earn their own happiness.

Sep 7, 2012


I will begin always with my end in mind , so that I may continually evaluate what the TRUE PRIORITIES are in MY life, taking care not to be a second hander or a people pleaser.

I woke up this morning! I consider this to be an excellent turn of events for which I am very grateful.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking about.... well, how we go about thinking. I realize more and more that the way human beings process information is by categorizing things into patterns. This enables us to assimilate large amounts of information that our brains could not otherwise handle as inidividual facts or units.

Obviously, this is very helpful, otherwise, it would be impossible to deal with the complexity that we are faced with every day, but it also comes with a caveat.

We should remember, imo, that these "patterns" only exist in our brains, and are not "actual" reality. I think that what we do is extrapolate from past patterns and come to expect that the pattern will simply repeat itself indefinitely. After all, that is our only point of reference, thus far.

A turkey on a farm would have a pattern that told it that the farmer is his friend. Every day the farmer feeds and shelters him, until one day, the farmer walks into the barn with an axe....

Every day of our lives, we've woken up. And, if you haven't yet been diagnosed with a serious illness or had a major accident, every day of your life, you've woken up in decent health. This pattern leads us to complacency, expecting subconsciously that it will always repeat itself. I say subconsciously, because intellectually every one knows that it will not be eternally true, but our "pattern" of reference, is what our experience has always been so that is what "feels real" to us. That's why when someone dies suddenly, loses a loved one, is diagnosed with a major illness, or has a serious accident, it is often described as a "shocking" event.

However, if you look at reality properly, it really shouldn't be shocking at all, because it happens every day.... (just not to us)

Knowing that all our lives will have major challenges, and of course, ultimately an end, the timing of which none of us can predict, can and should give you an entirely different perspective on what your TRUE PRIORITIES really are!

I don't like the expression, "live every day as though it were your last", because I wouldn't go to work that day for one thing.... I would prefer, "cherish every day as though it might be your last" and don't waste it on things that don't really matter, especially don't waste it worrying about little things that don't matter.... if you can keep proper perspective on what your own TRUE PRIORITIES are (each of us has to do their own work to determine what those are)you will be in "alignment" with reality. Just like every other example of alignment, it optimizes your effectiveness, your energy etc and will make you a much happier person!

It may at first be daunting to leave the comfortable denial pattern that we've cultivated, to think about all the bad things that not only might but will happen to us, but rather than allow reality to depress you, it should give you gratitude for every day these things don't happen, and even gratitude when they do happen for all the years that they didn't, as well as all the opportunities that you still have despite whatever challenges you may face.

Thanks for reading.

Aug 9, 2012

Continually Evaluate

I will begin always with my end in mind , so that I may CONTINUALLY EVALUATE what the true priorities are in MY life, taking care not to be a second hander or a people pleaser.


Modern life can be very hectic to say the least. Sometimes it feels like "the tail is wagging the dog, rather than the dog wagging the tail."

Because of this, it's only too easy to get caught up into repeating routines, out of sheer habit, long after the time where those routines have stopped producing desired results, or even more tragically, after the results we once desired are no longer our true priorities.

That's why keeping our "end in mind", what we ultimately want to accomplish, as well as making sure we are not confusing means and ends will give us the proper long term perspective. An example of confusing means and end is someone who has a goal of making a million dollars. This is not an end, it is simply a means to the end of improving life quality by giving choices, dignity, as well as the end of personal growth through overcoming the challenges that it takes to accomplish that "means". (all contributing to your highest moral purpose: your own happiness.)

That's why it is imperative to "continually evaluate" not only the effectiveness of our methods, but, as mentioned above, whether the "desired results" of the past, are still the results we desire.

Evaluating is when we step back and look at the bigger picture to ask, "What's it all about, Alfie?"

Doing this should prevent the insanity of "repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results" or what Stephen Covey referred to as "being busy climbing the ladder of success, only to get to the top and find that it is leaning against the wrong wall."

Also, by always being clear about our end in mind and the corresponding priorities that go with accomplishing it, we will remain motivated by a crystal clarity of purpose.

In future entries, I will visit how all this ties into the three cardinal principles as described by Ayn Rand: Reason, Purpose and Self-Esteem.

Thanks again for reading.

Aug 5, 2012

Begin With MY End in MInd

I will BEGIN ALWAYS WITH MY END IN MIND, so that I may continually evaluate what the true priorities are in MY life, taking care not to be a second hander or a people pleaser.

Note: Credit to Stephen Covey... Habit #2 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Begin with the end in mind.

Note: Credit to Ayn Rand.... "MY".

At this time, with the passing of Stephen Covey, even though I eventually came to disagree with some of his core premises, I obviously need to acknowledge the profound effect his teachings have had on my life, as reflected throughout the mission statement, the elaboration on which, form the nucleus of this blog.

Beginning with the end in mind, reflects the proper use of the mind in exercising the uniquely human ability to imagine various future outcomes to our choices and based on this, to choose the action that is most likely to result in our desired outcome.

That desired outcome may be based on a very short time frame, such as what we wish to accomplish in a given day, or even in one telephone conversation, but any short term goal, in order to conform to this principle, must also align with our ultimate life mission. (and this assumes one has taken the time to deliberately decide what that is)

While the details of life missions will be unique to each individual, I believe that everyone's highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness. This principle comes from the influences of Ayn Rand who would have rejected Stephen Covey's religious premises.

This selfish outlook however, can only be accomplished in alignment with proper principles, meaning, in conjunction with a win win outlook (habit 3) which is, in my opinion, pretty much identical to Rand's rejection of sacrifice, either that of the individual to others, or of others to the individual.

MY end is my primary purpose, but I emphasize that MY end cannot be accomplished in a vacuum, and my happiness is maximized through my collaboration with, and through my loving relationships with the people that I choose to travel with on my life journey.

Rand saw principles as being aligned with objective reality and Covey saw his god as being the source of principles, but quickly added that many people, even in his own organization, while agreeing with the principles themselves, had differing opinions as to the source of those principles.

He pointed out that he not only accepted people's rights to hold differing opinions to his, but held them in reverence based on the fact that this was part of each person's quest to reach for the best within themselves.

Ayn Rand did once say in an interview with Phil Donohue, that she liked the expressions "Thank God." and "God Bless You.", not because she took them literally as she did not accept the supernatural, but because it reflected the "highest possible"

Thanks for reading.

Jul 22, 2012

Golden Opportunities in Disguise

I will be proactive and grateful, so that I may remain aware of, and profit from, all aspects of reality, ESPECIALLY those GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES, that may be DISGUISED as hardships or problems.

In this blog, I strive to bring something to the reader that will be new and not rehash things that have been said countless times before. In this case, everyone, has heard, "look on the bright side of things", "the grey cloud with the silver lining" and "when one door closes, a window opens", which obviously are all variations on my title.

This is not to say that I don't agree with these; I emphatically do, but in my effort to bring something new, I want to truly accent the perspective that focuses on these in such a way as to actually look forward EXCITEDLY to "setbacks".

I bold the word "ESPECIALLY" above, to point out that I believe we need to go way beyond accepting and dealing with these things, all the way to realizing that in the long run, most of us will look back on these as the things that provided us with the most important lessons of our lives. Tony Robbins does say, "when we win, we party, and when we lose, we ponder"..... and if we "ponder" properly we can perhaps gain beyond our wildest expectations.

How many people have had their hearts broken only to go on and find the love of their lives and realize they were in a dysfunctional relationship; or been devastated to have been fired from a job, only to start the business they should have started years before.

There is a saying, "some day we will look back at this and laugh, so why not laugh now?"..... well, in that same vein, if "some day we will look back and realize this was a golden opportunity in diguise, why not have our antennas on to recognize and act on it, right now!

Jul 3, 2012

Reality (part 2) (dedicated to Karla Angott)

I will be proactive and grateful, so that I may remain aware of, and profit from, all aspects of REALITY, especially those golden opportunities that may be disguised as hardships or problems.

I blogged briefly back in early May on REALITY.

At the time, I pasted in the comments section a quote from my friend Karla Angott, who has since lost her battle with cancer. These comments and others that she shared on Facebook showed that, throughout, she maintained a positive attitude, and acted heroically. Can cancer be a "golden opportunity"?

I admit that is a stretch, and yet, the legacy she left behind in showing her daughter a phenomally courageous power of example will no doubt inspire her for life.

She also inspired all those surrounding her near and far, not only to be courageous in their own lives, but to continue to work towards acquiring the technology to defeat this terrible disease.

Death is an inevitable part of reality, and, as such, actually defines life. (if we lived forever, life would be infinite, but life is finite, and as such is "defined" by death.) How we deal with our greatest "hardship or problem" will put any other challenges into perspective (don't sweat the small stuff). It also defines our own life in the sense of how valuable it is, precisely because it is finite, reminding us to cherish every moment, every loved one, and yes, every challenge or problem, while we can, for all are opportunities if we only look at them in the correct way.

Thanks Karla for sharing your strength and inspiring us. I only knew you briefly, but I salute your HEROism.

Jun 24, 2012


I will be proactive and grateful, so that I may remain aware of, and PROFIT FROM, all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that may be disguised as hardships or problems.

PROFIT is a controversial term. This is unfortunate because the fact that it is controversial shows that not only is its meaning not well understood, which wouldn't be that bad, but that it is often misinterpreted as EXPLOITING.

Companies and individuals often fall on one or the other side of this flawed concept; either they implicitly apologize for their profits by communicating that their goals are otherwise, and that profit is almost a necesary evil, or conversely they seek to achieve gains ruthlessly by pursuing strategies that are not in everyone's best interests, especially not their own in the long run. Actually, many actually sit on the fence doing both.

This is also tragic because this misunderstanding is, in my opinion, at the root of why many salespeople fail despite great work ethic and talent, due to succumbing to "fear of rejection". They fear being rejected, because at some level, they believe their motives must fall into being described as either altruistic or exploitive, and, suspecting that what they do is the latter, they lack the courage of their convictions, and go through their careers with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas.... (sometimes only on the brake, which results in short careers.)

These beliefs are based on a scarcity mentality, in which people believe that if one party profits, the other party must lose.

In a proper, abundance mentality, it is not only possible, but practical and optimal for both parties to gain. In fact, long term success MUST be based on this principle. That doesn't mean that my ultimate purpose is to bring value to others per se (although I may well enjoy doing so), but that I recognize that the best way for me to maximize my own profits, long term, in a way that will also maximize my happiness as a human being, is to bring maximum value to the parties who choose to do business with me. This will result in people paying top dollar for my service as well as repeat business and referrals.

I am using business dealings as an aspect to which most of us would be familiar, but in our dealings with "all aspects of reality", the principle will always hold true.

Thanks again for reading.... I hope you may have derived some PROFIT from doing so.

Jun 17, 2012


I will be proactive and grateful, so that I may REMAIN AWARE of, and profit from, all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that may be disguised as hardships or problems.

REMAINING AWARE: One of the unfortunate ways in which most people choose to deal with problems or challenges (or reality in general) is to simply avoid thinking about them. This is tragic for more reasons than I would have time to list in one blog entry. People refer to being "in denial". As human beings, our capacity to think is what sets us apart from other species and is our tool of survival. Choosing to not fully utilize this capacity by avoiding dealing with things we perceive to be unpleasant or are simply inconvenient is akin to choosing not to live.
People sometimes choose to "deny" things and/or combine this with rationalization/justification for either not doing things they should, or doing things they should know better than to do. (often because they become enamored with their whims like the child who thows a tantrum when his mother tells him he can't have candy before dinner.)
The first act of evil that precedes any other is the decision not to think, and therefore this is the ultimate evil.
We should remember that once we have established something as a daily priority, (one that we realize will lead to succeeding at living a full and happy life) and we fail to execute that priority on any given day, any justification other than a true crisis we may use, is simpy an attempt to avoid being aware that we simply chose not to live in alignment with our values that day. Developing the habit of doing this leads to sure disaster.
By being proactive and grateful and looking for the opportunity in every situation, (which is always there), we recognize the advantages of always being aware of reality (of always CHOOSING to THINK),and we reap countless benefits for doing so.
The irony is that we not only gain nothing from denial but always create larger problems instead.
There is nothing so unpleasant to deal with, that we can't make it worse by avoiding it.
As Ayn Rand put so eloquently: "I'm not brave enough to be a coward."

Thanks again for reading.

Jun 9, 2012

Being grateful for GRATITUDE!

I will be proactive and GRATEFUL, so that I may remain aware of, and profit from, all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that may be disguised as hardships or problems.

In an earlier post, I suggested that gratitude, more than just a great perspective on things, can be an actual solution to many challenges, that is, if your ultimate goal is to have a happy life.

In the classic movie, "White Christmas", starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, there is a great scene where Crosby's character spends time with Clooney's character when the two of them are drinking warm milk to deal with a bout of insomnia.  Bing breaks into a song about counting his blessings when he can't sleep.  

I love the word gratitude; I am in fact grateful for gratitude.  I, in fact, often do, exactly what the Bing suggests if I can't sleep because I am allowing some problem (imagined or real) to keep me tossing and turning.  It works amazingly well.... and even if I don't actually fall asleep, I choose to relish just how comfortable my bed and pillow is, and how fortunate I am to feel safe in my bed, due to living in a time and place where acts of crime or war would be extremely irregular, as opposed to a legitimate concern during most parts of history, and in many places even today.

I try to make a point of remembering what may seem mundane such as indoor plumbing, toilet paper and electric lights, along with the more precious, such as my health and safety and that of my loved ones.... and of course the love of my loved ones. I relish the many wonders and luxuries that modern technology has made possible and provides me with an unprecedented quality of life.

I remember and am thankful for the philosophers who helped us recognize that  individual freedoms are proper, the men and women who fought and died for these principles, and the productive geniuses who, thanks to the preconditions of this freedom were able to create the technologies I mentioned before.

I could go on and on, but my goal is to keep these entries short enough for people to read them in one sitting, and hopefully be grateful for getting something out of them.

THANKS to you for reading!  

Jun 6, 2012


I will be PROACTIVE and grateful, so that I may remain aware of and profit from, all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that could be disguised as challenges or problems.

Stephen Covey, asks the question, "Are we the product of nature or nurture?" and answers, "it's your choice".

There is no question that nature, (genetics, sleep, nutrition etc.) nurture, (conditioning, our environment etc.) as well as randomness or luck, actually, (read Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" or Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan")* play a huge role in many of the outcomes in our lives. That is of course, those outcomes over which we have no control, BUT if your outcome, as stated in previous entries is to live a happy life, then you actually have FULL control over that particular outcome.

Your CHOICE then becomes whether you will be a victim of things outside your control, or not, and again, that choice IS entirely up to you.

As Howard Roark states in The Fountainhead, no matter what happens, "it will hurt only down to a certain point."

Pain may be inevitable, but suffering is optional, and Kahlil Gibran said, "Pain is the the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." I'm not saying that pain is a good thing or extolling any kind of "virtuous sufferring" because I believe our natural state is a joyful existence, but there is no doubt in my mind that adversity can be a great teacher.

There are many aspects of reality outside our control, but many are within our "influence" and choosing how we respond to circumstances, has been shown to increase the degree of that influence, which is the best we can do in terms of those particulary aspects.

However, in terms of that aspect of reality that involves our happiness, there actually can be overnight success or even instant success; if we are consistent in our choices to be rational which will lead to the realization that it really doesn't make sense to choose anything but happiness.

While I am not personally a religious person, I must acknowledge that much of this is encapsulated in the prayer: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Thanks again for reading.

* I know some will struggle with the word "luck". I know I did. Read those books.

Jun 2, 2012


I will be PROACTIVE AND GRATEFUL, so that I may remain aware of and profit from, all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that could be disguised as challenges or problems.

PROACTIVE AND GRATEFUL:  (first off, I need to acknowledge,  Stephen Covey's first of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "Be Proactive".)

In one way, there is a certain amount of redundancy in the words proactive and grateful, as it could be argued that they have similar meanings.  I do want to clarify why I am still using them both. 

In the next two entries, I will discuss each of them separately but for today I want to simply point out that gratitude is, in and of itself, IMO an actual solution to many, many challenges, (assuming your ultimate goal is happiness) but the proactive part is the act of consciously and deliberately CHOOSING to be grateful.   This distinction is my reason for using them both.  

In a previous entry, I acknowledged the crucial role that sleep and diet play in the regulation of neurotransmitters that affect our moods, and those can have a powerful influence on our tendency to choose to be grateful or not.    

I acknowledge this because I believe much of the pop psychology about having a "positive attitude" is overly simplistic,  ignoring the fact that having a so called positive attitude can be an uphill battle if certain pre conditions are not met.  A person who has not taken the time  to clearly define their personal philosophy of life, or acquire the knowledge  to make good health choices, (among the mountain of misinformation in both these areas) will find themselves  unnecessarily but significantly challenged in making proper choices.

However, armed with that knowledge we need to stay aware of our "neurotransmitter status", and this awareness takes away the "legitimacy" of using it as an excuse. (sorry!)  This knowledge should also motivate us to CHOOSE to make optimum sleep and nutrition a higher priority, not to mention taking the time to deliberately define a philosophy to live by. (being proactive).

Taking on every day through the "lens" of being proactive and grateful enables us to experience life in a manner described by Kahlil Gibran (quoting him does not imply agreement with all his ideas):  "And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy". 

Thanks for reading. 

Jun 1, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically, live, love, learn and LEAVE A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE.

LEAVING A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE: When I think of the legacy that I want to leave in this world, I am reminded of two things: the first is the scene from the movie "Saving Private Ryan", in which a dying John Miller played by Tom Hanks, whispers his last words to "Private Ryan" played by Matt Damon: "Earn this!".

The second thing is the quote by Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

When I consider that men and women gave their lives not as a sacrifice (a term I do not like), but because they would rather have died as free men then to live as slaves, but nonetheless in doing so, having EARNED the freedom that makes my quality of life possible, I know that I can never even come close to being grateful enough.

That freedom is also what has made it possible for the "giants" of intellect and production to provide me with the comforts, medical care, safe food supply and knowledge and tools that make this the best time ever to be alive in this world. I do not believe these giants did it for me, because in my vision of heroism, I embrace rational self-interest, but in realizing their personal values, I was along for the ride, and again, my gratitude wil never be sufficient to them.

All this makes me realize that I want my legacy to simply be someone who has done his best to "earn this." Note that I say "do my best" to earn, rather than "actually earn", because I realize humbly that I will never be able to earn what others have paid for with their lives and I would never have the ability to create what those "giant" heroes before me have done.

However, for me to not actually acknowledge my debt of gratitude, and DO MY BEST, to earn it, would make of me a moocher, and my chosen goal as a legacy is to be a PRODUCER, not a moocher. Whether I make it or not, my intent is to "die trying, with style and grace!"

Thanks as always for reading!

May 29, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically, live, love, LEARN and leave a legacy of excellence.

LEARNING: How amazing is it that, as human beings, our capacity for lifelong learning is as great as it is? There are fewer more fulfilling things in life than broadening our horizons through acquiring greater knowledge or learning a new skill such as a musical instrument, a new sport or dance.

The dividends of this learning are that we personally can grow throughout our lives having more to enjoy for ourselves and greater values to bring to others.

We can choose to focus more narrowly on a given topic, going deeply or be more of a "renaissance person", embracing a wide range of subjects.

The important thing is that we never stop learning and become stale. It allows us to maintain our view of the world with the wonder of a child while acquiring some of the wisdom of maturity.

As Seneca stated, "as long as you live, never stop learning how to live".

May 28, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically, live, LOVE learn and leave a legacy of excellence.

The journey to Being the Hero or YOUR Life is amazing in and of itself, and does not REQUIRE company, but if you can find a worthy companion who you love because of shared values and who is on their own journey, then your happiness which is the ultimate goal of your life will be magnified many times more. This principle extends beyond just a romantic relationship and should be the criteria for how you choose friends as well Even family members are not automatically granted love as a duty of any type. (the idea of love as a duty is a contradiction in terms)

Unconditional love is touted as an ideal but in fact, it belittles the word love and implies that one would love a child molester as they love the person who exemplifies their highest values. The latter is the one who has earned love and often the supposed ideal of unconditional love comes from the desire to have something without earning it. This is wrong in the financial sense and no less so in the moral sense.

True, when one does not know another person's values they could assume positively until presented with evidence to the contrary.

Also, I'm not talking about being a fair weather friend. I love my wife because first and foremost, I admire her. If she was in failing health, or a mishap caused her to lose some of her talents or possessions that would not change who she is as a person, nor should it change how I feel for her or what I am willing to do because my happiness is linked to her happiness and welfare. I also respect her because I know that if my behaviour showed that I had changed my basic values, she would not stay with me, nor would I expect her to "love me unconditionally" in those circumstances. I need to work to deserve the person whose qualities I cherish and who has chosen to share their life with me and never forget how high a value that represents.

Thanks for reading.

May 27, 2012

LOVE: What It Isn't.

Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically, live, LOVE learn and leave a legacy of excellence.

LOVE: Maslow put love/belonging high on his hierarchy of needs and there is no doubt that we are social creatures. I believe it must be remembered that in a hierarchy, things have to be in a proper order, and Ayn Rand said it well when she stated, "Before one can say 'I love you', one has to learn to say 'I'".

You have to esteem yourself before you can esteem another, otherwise you are looking for the other person to do this for you, and that is the definition of an unhealthy relationship. Finding Mr. Or Ms. Right will not make you whole; that is your job! People who are into these types of relationships use their partner like a drug, and while they get the desired effect at the beginninng, like a drug it doesn't last, and then they build resentments that often lead to abusing the other person for "letting them down".

Don't make another person your journey, embark on your own journey to Being the Hero of YOUR Life, and you will become attractive to other Heroes!

May 24, 2012

LIVE: PART V: Nutrition

Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically, LIVE, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence.

LIVE: Nutrition: We live in a wonderful time and place. For most of human history, and still in many places today, people worry about having enough to eat, and we spend our time, more than ever agonizing about what to eat, what not to eat, and not eating too much!

We evolved in such a way as to survive the famines that were common place on a seasonal basis and those of us whose ancestors were predisposed to survive are here today, and most of those who weren't are not here to read this blog.

One of the main challenges is that today from a nutrition standpoint, we have evolved to survive famines when in fact, our problem of overabundance is the very opposite.

I'm a big fan of modern technology, and a good argument can be made for why it has helped us to feed the world's growing population but it has also come with some consequences that are not always favorable. Having food to eat, so you don't starve and die is good, but that diet may be far from optimal.

It is certainly beyond the scope of this entry to go into great detail, so I will simply advise you to google "archevore" diet, where you will find not only some excellent recommendations but some links that show the research to back it up.

For now let me state that I believe conventional wisdom is not only wrong (Canada food guide or American equivalent) but diametrically so.

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
Mark Twain

If you want it really simple, here are a few quick things that are by no means complete, but with which you would likely get 80 or 90% of benefits:

Carbohydrates: Avoid sugar, flour, fruit juices. Focus on fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit. (smaller fruit are better than larger i.e. berries)
Protein: Eat meat! Preferably beef and lamb and eggs.... grass fed if possible, in the case of eggs, if you can find some that are not fed soy. Do not eat soy, go easy on nuts.
Fats: Love coconut oil, and fat from grass fed beef and lamb, and wild fish. Avoid seed oils.
Dairy: Avoid unless you can get unpasteurized or aged cheese... go easy if you are trying to lose weight.

Thanks for reading!

May 23, 2012

LIVE: PART IV: Exercise, good or bad?

Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically, LIVE, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence.

Note: links are not live, so you have to copy and paste into your browser.

EXERCISE: To summarize this in a short blog entry does present a challenge, but I will do my best, and for more info, I will direct you to earlier entries as well as recommended links from this blog. First a definition: thanks to Ken Hutchins:

You may or may not agree with this definiton of exercise (many will NOT), but as a point of reference, this is what I am referencing when I use the word. Secondly, let me state that the goal in a particular workout should be to "fatigue the muscles as deeply as possible, as quickly as possible, within the constraints of safety". This is the "stimulus" that the body needs to improve, and then we have to allow it to adapt through rest and nutrition.

Exercise is simply a form of stress on the body which, if the body is able to adapt to, improves us, and if it does not adapt due to too much stress or not enough recovery, hurts us. (remember Hormesis post).

Almost all of what is currently referred to as exercise, is either ineffective and a complete waste of time, or does have some beneficial effect, but virtually guarantees, long term or acute injuries or both. (hint: one of the most common mistakes is doing simply too much)

The good news is that only a few minutes of very safe, but very intense exercise is all that we require weekly, and that the benefits of this, are so far reaching as to be the closest thing known to an actual fountain of youth. (assuming that you are properly rested, and nourished i.e see past blog on sleep and future entry on nutrition) For more google and check out articles, forum and videos. Thanks for reading!

P.S. Also very worthwhile:

May 21, 2012

LIVE: Part IIIa: Financial Planning Sailboat

Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun , so that I may have the energy I need to enthusiastically, LIVE, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence.

LIVE: Financial Sailboat: I've decided to digress for this entry from the "physical" to the "financial" side of "LIVE". Health is obviously foundational, but financial security is actually a close second. In fact, without your financial house in order, you won't have time to exercise, money to buy food or take care of health care costs, and your sleep probably won't be very sound, as you toss and turn worrying about making ends meet. Today, I give credit to Brian Burlacoff*, BA, M.Acc., MBA, CFP, CLU, RHU for putting together a simple concept that helps us all to understand the sometimes daunting topic of financial planning. It has been said, that the three threats to our financial security are living too long, dying too soon or becoming ill or having an accident along the way. Living too long means running out of money before we die. Dying too soon, means leaving others who are dependent on us with a loss of income, and unpaid debt, and becoming ill or having an accident can cut off our income as well as bring on significant expense. Brian's concept on how to address these is the Financial Planning Sailboat. A good sailboat has a strong hull, good sails, a rudder as well as safety equipment such as life preservers. The hull represents the emergency fund that we all need: 3-6 months income available in a liquid form for unexpected short term emergencies, such as unemployment, or the transmission on the car needing replacement unexpectedly. The rudder sets the direction and this represents having a proper plan in place that is reviewed regularly (checking the compass or GPS). The sails represent your investments, properly chosen with the help of a competent advisor to suit your goals, and risk profile and they take the sailboat where it needs to go. The safety equipment, proper radio, life preservers and first aid kit, represent the insurance that one needs in case of mishaps. This includes life, disability, critical illness, long term care, home, auto and liability; the one thing you would never leave shore without, especially when your family is on the boat with you. Thanks again for reading!

May 18, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun , so that I may have the energy I need to enthusiastically, LIVE, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. HORMESIS: I originally wanted to break down the "Live" section into three entries, sleep, exercise and nutrition. However before moving on to exercise or nutrition from my last entry on sleep, I feel it is important to have an entry on HORMESIS. Traditional thought refers to certain substances or activities as either being "good for you", or "bad for you". Recent research seems to indicate that this is an oversimplification that leads to two very common mistakes: the first being that "if a little is good, then a lot must be better", and the second being, "if a lot is bad, then abstaining completely must be better." It turns out that our body reacts to exposure to various potentially harmful stresses by compensating or even overcompensating for them, thus making us more able to deal with future exposure to these stresses. (think calluses, suntans, bigger muscles and livers able to "hold liquor" as but a few examples). Exposure to viruses helps us build antibodies for future exposure and lack of exposure leaves us vulnerable. That doesn't mean that viruses are "good for us", per se. Keeping this in mind, some exercise may be good, none may be bad, and too much may be worse. Some red wine may be good, too much will destroy your liver. Even mild smoking may help you deal with air pollutants better than someone with no exposure. (sacrilege!). So, Nietsche's quote, of "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger", IMO is wrong, it may just kill you slower. So moving forward to nutrition and exercise, I will be taking HORMESIS into consideration, looking for a "therapeutic window" where too little is ineffective or deficient, too much is toxic and finding just the right amount is the goal. To further complicate things, the therapeutic window is more than likely a moving target, from individual to individual and even within the same individual at different time or age, or even with differing variables. Thanks for reading.

May 17, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun , so that I have the energy to enthusiastically, LIVE, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. LIVE: SLEEP: Maintaining health and functional ability (I don't like the term "fitness") is a matter of rest, exercise and proper nutrition, and it is difficult to say that any ONE of these is THE most important because they are truly part of a whole. However, if you were to push me into a corner and tell me I had to pick one, it would be sleep. That doesn't mean that you can sleep your way to good health to the exclusion of the other two, but without sleep, the other three may not matter much, and in the case of exercise, may actually be detrimental as you are burning the proverbial candle at both ends. Since the invention of the electric light, our natural circadian rhythms have been forever disrupted, and we no longer go to sleep at sundown or shortly after, and then get up at dawn. We are a sleep deprived society and we pay a heavy price for this. Also, we have bought into a work ethic that actually looks down at people who rest "too much" as lazy. The fact is that proper sleep (at the proper time) should be as important on your priority list as any of your other "to do's", in fact probably more than most. Have a negative attitude? Get some sleep! Feeling overwhelmed or depressed, maybe even on anti-depressant medication? Get your sleep pattern in order! (anti-depressants generally try to regulate the neurotransmitters that are out of balance that would naturally be regulated during proper sleep). Having trouble losing weight even though you are dieting and exercising? You guessed it: sleep. Not getting the results from your exercise program you feel you should be getting? Ditto. Without proper sleep almost every thing else you do to improve your health and functional ability may amount to straightening deck chairs on the titanic. Sleep deprivation is also linked to heart disease and cancer. I highly recommend the book: "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival"..... Thanks for reading.... and sweet dreams!

May 16, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically LIVE, Love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. Live: Providing for the physical needs that allow us to live a healthy life must be foundational because, without health, any other area of our lives in which we achieve success becomes a moot point. The good news is that, contrary to popular belief, this does not involve spending countless hours exercising (more than needed is actually detrimental), or ingesting bottles of supplements (think food that doesn't have a list of ingredients). The bad news is that some aspects of our health, our genes, are only partially within our control. We can unfortunately be predisposed to cancer or heart disease, for example, but that doesn't make it inevitable, as recent research shows that even though we can't control the genes we are born with, we may be able to control whether they are "switched on or not". Sleep, diet and exercise are part of the equation, and in the next few entries I will cover these one at a time. Hint: sleep is actually the most important by far. For now: copy and paste this link:

May 15, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically LIVE, LOVE, LEARN AND LEAVE A LEGACY of excellence! LIVE, LOVE, LEARN AND LEAVE A LEGACY: I stole this from the sub title of Stephen Covey's book "FIRST THINGS FIRST", which had a profound impact on me. I even became certified as a facilitator of what was then known as the "First Things First, Time/Life Management seminar". In future blog entries, I will take each word one at a time, to discuss what it means to me. For now let me just point out that together, they represent, in my opinion, not only a hierarchy of human needs, but an entirety of human development. Live: (physical) Health, Safety, Financial Security, Nutrition, Exercise. (the foundation without which not much else matters.) Love: (emotional) Friends, Family, Support Systems: People with whom you choose to share your journey with. (they are not the journey, or the purpose, but sharing it with them makes it even more enriching) Learn: (mental) Self-development and self-actualisation, knowledge, skills acquisition and skills perfecting. (lifelong personal growth) Leave a Legacy: (spiritual) Being the Hero of YOUR life! "The greatest gift one human being can give another is the sight of an achievement!" (Ayn Rand, paraphrased from memory)

May 13, 2012

Having Fun!

Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, focusing and HAVING FUN, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence! HAVING FUN: When I speak of having fun, I am not referring to mindless indulgences into short term pleasure. (although short term pleasure does contribute to quality of life, but it should never be mindless) I am rather pointing out that striving for personal excellence should not be some ultra-serious, rigid quest in which we take ourselves so seriously that we never smile or laugh. I am pointing out that the spirit with which we should move through our journey is one that includes a love of life that combines both light heartedness, and passion; one in which, acknowledging life's challenges and inevitable tragedies causes us to cherish all the equally inevitable wonders of life. Having fun with everything we do should mean relishing the upwards progression of our work and personal development (even when it seems like one step forward and two steps back), as well as truly enjoying the fruits of our labor, those tangible results that we have earned and that our self-esteem tells us we deserve. (see upcoming posts on EARNING and SELF-ESTEEM) Red Skelton had a great line: "Never take life too seriously, you'll never get out of it alive!"

May 10, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, FOCUSING and having fun, so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence! FOCUSING: Every morning, on the way to work, in my car, I repeat out loud, my personal mission, vision and goals for the year. The reason I do this, is to keep myself FOCUSED on the things that I have decided are most important in my life. Each day, there are forces pulling me in countless directions, and so, without a conscious effort to stay focused I will inevitably fall prey to these distractions. I am faced with hundreds of decisions daily, and this focus keeps them relatively simple to make because it provides an objective point of reference, a map if you will, to navigate these forks in the road. So, even the fun that I alluded to in an earlier blog entry, needs to be aligned with my overall mission, and so it is not a matter of losing or letting go of focus, but perhaps using a wider angle lens to keep the bigger picture in perspective.

May 9, 2012


EnTHUsiasm:  Another of my favorite words.  Apparently, the THU in enTHUsiam, comes from the greek "theo" meaning god, and enthusiasm translates into "God inside you". Not being a religious person, myself, I like to think that we should look within, and not up in order to reach the best in ourselves.  Regardless of your personal concept of the "best and highest", the idea of having that "in you" makes me realize why it's been said that nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.   With enthusiasm we don't just go through the motions, we move swiftly, with a sense of urgency and with joy so that even the most difficult task or challenge can become an adventure on our personal journey to  excellence.    That's why "Today I will ALIGN myself with CHERISHING REALITY, FOCUSING AND HAVING FUN, so that I may have the ENERGY that I need to ENTHUSIASTICALLY, live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence.

May 8, 2012

Focusing AND Having Fun

Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality, FOCUSING AND HAVING FUN,so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. Focusing AND Having Fun: In order to accomplish a goal requires focus, keeping your eye on the ball, if you will. However sometimes people can become overly focused and seem one dimensional or overly serious. Some people think of an alternative as "just going with the flow". The challenge here is thinking "or" instead of "and". To use a baseball analogy, you do want to keep your eye on the ball, but your goal is not to "kill the ball".... a good batter doesn't hold the bat too tightly. When you keep things in perspective, you realize that ultimately your goals are just a means to the ultimate end of having a happy life. You should always have fun, or what's the point? Rather than fun being a distraction from your purpose, it becomes a critical part of the overall purpose. Not only can you have "and" instead of "or", it is actually a prerequisite to truly "Being the Hero of YOUR Life"!

May 7, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing reality so that I may have the ENERGY that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. ENERGY: Energy is vital to accomplishing anything. Motive power is what moves things forward, obviously. Energy is the result of the proper alignment of a circuit. With it, problems and hardships become simply opportunities to learn and to grow. When you have enough, you may feel almost unstoppable. If you feel low energy, check for misalignment. First places to check: your sleep patterns, and your diet; then your perspective on things. (usually if the first is in place, your perspective will follow.) Many people talk about the benefits of having a "positive attitude" as though it were a simple decision to make. It is and it isn't. The decision becomes much easier to make if your sleep and diet is in place.... otherwise it's an uphill battle, reqiring more "will power" in the long run than the vast majority of people can muster. Of course, getting sleep and eating right is a decison you can make. Sleep is easy, diet needs a little more information to crowd out all the misinformation that is rampant..... check past blog entries for this.

May 4, 2012


Today, I will align myself with cherishing REALITY so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. REALITY: is not what I wish it to be, it is what it is, no more no less. It is not fair or unfair. Existence exists independently of my wishes, perceptions or judgements. Any action I take, any word I speak, any thought I have that is not aligned with reality will at best, help me to learn from my mistake. Any of the above in accordance with reality will yield desired results. No part of reality is so negative that I can't make it worse by seeking to avoid it. Therefore I choose to cherish and embrace it.


Today, I will align myself with CHERISHNG reality so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. CHERISHING: I love this word! Sometimes we hear of working on "tolerating", "accepting" or "dealing" with things in our lives. To me, they all sound like you're just going along with something despite reluctance, disgust and hesitation. Instead, I've learned that it is best to decide to CHERISH events and circumstances which allows me to benefit from truly appreciating the "good things" and profiting from the opportunities to learn or become a better person through the "bad things". (which makes them all "good".). EMBRACING would be another great word!

May 3, 2012


Today, I will ALIGN myself with cherishing reality so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. ALIGN: energy cannot be conducted if there is a "short" in the circuit. Putting a screw in cross thread is possible but you have to work twice as hard and you are likely to break something. Cutting against the grain is working hard instead of working smart. These are all examples of misalignments with reality. Seek to work with things as they are, not as you wish they were and you will get much better results in all aspects of your life. "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.". A is A.

May 2, 2012

One day at a time.

TODAY, I will align myself with cherishing reality so that I may have the energy that I need to enthusiastically live, love, learn and leave a legacy of excellence. TODAY: taking things one day at a time is essential, sometimes only an hour or a minute at a time, because commitments need to be made and re-made as we are continually faced with choices that affect our entire future. We plan long term, but we execute one tiny step at a time and it is the accumulation of thousands of tiny steps that help us become what we desire to become consciously and not just drift along aimlessly, a rut that is all too easy to fall into.