Is Over 50 Too Old?

I recently turned 54.

When I was young, 54 years old was ancient, nearly a Grandpa.

Now that I’m 54, I don’t feel any different than I did at 20; in fact, I feel even more pumped up than I did back then.

Every year I set my goals that I want to accomplish. The last few years I have upped the game and focused on fewer goals, but ones that are more impactful.

This year was no exception. My big goals focused on relationships, side income and fitness. I feel good about the other areas of my life; career, spiritual and emotional.

1. Relationships

I have an introverted side that is harmful to my relationships with others, especially my wife and daughters and closest friends. I am making a conscious effort in 2015 to spend more time with those I care about.

It means less time on projects and I have to estimate that they will take longer than they have in the past. So what. People are more important.

My conversation skills leave a lot to be desired, so when I want to hang with a friend, I invite two or more and that makes things easy for me to keep the talk going.

Time with my family can be as little as watching a TV show once a week, or going out to dinner and talking. I have also made an effort to be more thoughtful on occasions like Valentine’s Day and leaving notes to tell my wife and daughters I love them.

2. Fitness

I ate like a pig over the holidays, and I gained a few pounds.

I fasted one day and lost it all. My body fat percentage is still high; I want it to be 10% and I’m at 12.5%, but I don’t want my weight to drop too. I want to keep the muscle I’ve gained over the past year.

Mapping out my progress on my monthly basis has been great. My monthly goals are small enough to be achievable. For example, in February I need to maintain my weight but reduce my body fat percentage to 12%. I can do that easily.

I have also been motivated this year to accomplish feats of strength; 25 pull ups and 25 hand-stand push ups, for example.

I listened to a podcast where a guy was in the gym and watched “an old guy over 50” do 22 hand-stand push ups. The guy speaking on the podcast was motivated by the old guy and decided to become a personal trainer. It motivated me to want to break that guy’s record, and I did it last month. I am up to 26 hand-stand push ups, whereas a year ago I couldn’t do one.

3. Side Incomes

I believe that a person should never fully retire.

What I mean is to never sit around the house and watch TV, living off of social security.

I want to have side incomes (several) that will provide enough income that I don’t have to drain my savings when I quit my job. I also want these side incomes to involve activities that I love doing.

If I make $10K per year off of five activities, that is $50K of income that I won’t have to pull out of my savings and it will last longer. Plus I will enjoy doing them.

Last year, I took a course on trading stock options. I really enjoy trading and can see myself doing this until the day I die. I paper traded for months, but moved to trading real money and made a profit in January. I also started trading options from my IRA account, a few months ago, and I’m about even despite getting into some oil stocks (these are making a nice come-back).

I decided to try and market my personal finance knowledge in a product I call Visual Money Pilot. This is an Excel spreadsheet that provides a simple method to budget, save, payoff debt and monitor your net worth in a nice time-efficient manner.

It has worked for me and I want to show others how to do it.

It took almost a year to put together the spreadsheets, write the ebook and record the training videos. I went online this month. I am hoping to sell several of these per month and that it will lead to some personal finance coaching clients.

I have taken several writing classes with the hopes to one day write a book. It is a ten year plan for me. I know I don’t have the skill level right now, but improving a little bit each year will get me there.

Later in the year, I will brainstorm what I try next.

SUMMARY

Hopefully you are like me; over 50 and still feel like you have more to learn and give. I personally am looking forward to the rest of my fifties and my sixties and what I will do with my time.

Thank you for reading this post. I appreciate you doing so.

Is it too early to think about 2015 personal goals?

Defining Goals for 2015

defining goals for 2015
As 2014 draws to a close, I have started to think about defining personal goals for 2015. I limited 2014 to just three areas of focus; writing, muscles and income, which in hindsight looks selfish. So in 2015 I want to add at least one area involving others.
[Read more…]

Investing in Education

the value of education

I recently heard a quote from someone that went “If you put money into your mind no one can ever take it away from you”.

That hits home with me. I am a lover of learning. My dream job would be to be a professional student and spend the rest of my life learning new things. Funny how things come full-circle. I hated school as a kid. Of course, I used to hate vegetables and now I love them too. It makes me think of my last blog post where I go back in time to talk to my younger self LINK.

I thought for this post that I would share all the ways I learn.

1. READ QUALITY BOOKS

I keep a list of books to read. There are lists like this one LINK that display the top fiction books ever written. Many of these books make everyone’s list and the reason they do is cause they are timeless classics that are really really good. Everyone should read them.

Non-fiction book titles I find from reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts. The good thing about many of these top non-fiction books is they are relatively short and can be devoured in a day or two. I try to read at least 52 books per year. It is easy to read a short non-fiction book every week, but a long fiction story like War and Peace may take several months to read. I find that summarizing the book or following along with book summaries helps a great deal with the comprehension.

One of the most valuable skills I have learned is to read faster. I was around 200 wpm and now I’m at about 350 wpm and want to get to around 800-1000 wpm, or 4-5x faster than I used to be. Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett stated reading as their most valuable source of learning.

2. RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET

Yes, there is a lot of mis-information out there, but there is a lot of great, often free, information too. I subscribe to a number of blogs and podcasts and keep those I really like and get rid of those that don’t interest me. I not only learn from each of these sources, but frequently the host will introduce me to other people or resources that are valuable. Try a podcast like “Entreprenuers on Fire” with John Lee Dumas. He interviews an entrepreneur every day, seven days a week and always asks for their favorite internet resource and book. I have learned much from listening to that podcast.

3. CLASSES

I spend a couple grand a year on classes. This year alone I spent about five thousand dollars. In the Spring, I studied under a coach by the name of Dan Faggella and he has helped me develop a product that I will begin selling this month. He taught me things that would have taken me months or years to learn and in less than six months from starting to work with him, I will have a product for sale.

In the next month, I have two classes; one I will travel to North Carolina to study stock option trading for three and a half days and in October I will travel to Florida to spend two days with Jon Morrow, a master blogger.

Yes these are expensive classes, but I actually budget money towards education and I know I will get a great return on my investment. Plus, I just love learning from people who are at the top of their fields. Not only do you receive great training but the amount of time it takes you to develop the skills is reduced tremendously and as we know, time is money.

I also believe there is a mindset shift when you spend good money on education. You tell yourself you are going to use this information and you will be successful with it and it eliminates a lot of fear and procrastination. You treat the learning like a job and you are accountable to someone to complete tasks at specified times, with a coach who can correct you or encourage you. It is like education on steroids.

4. TRAVEL

I have traveled to 46 states and nine countries. I have learned from almost every trip I have taken.

Experiencing different cultures, scenery, food, people, and music stimulates the mind. Some places are so different that you can’t even imagine what they are like unless you are there first-hand. Last year, my wife and I went to the middle east for three weeks and that area is culture shock for an American. It is amazing to view places you’ve only read about in history books. I realized I love middle eastern food, the Arabic language is very beautiful, and the area is not as dangerous as I had imagined (although things have changed quite a bit this year). The people we met were wonderful and their friendliness puts many Americans to shame.

I have made travel one of my lifetime goals. I hope to visit 50 or more countries.

5. HOBBIES

I have many hobbies, probably too many. I learn from each of them. Sometimes it is as simple as I learn what I love to do and what I don’t love to do.

Some hobbies, like playing instruments and fitness, have been with me most of my life. Others like working on cars have come and gone because I have no aptitude for them, but hey you never know until you try.

This year I have tried drawing and surprisingly, I have some ability in this area. I never tried before because I thought you were born an artist, but you can learn some techniques. I try one new hobby a year. You never know if you’re the world’s best at something unless you give it a chance.

SUMMARY

While there is currently debate on the value of going to college, educating yourself through methods like those above is worth every penny…at least I believe so. Some of the methods like reading and some hobbies are no or low cost to you. Others like world travel and spending time with top coaches can be expensive, but if the subject is worth it to you, think of the time you’ll save and the skill levels you will jump and whether the benefits out-weigh investing in education.

If I Could Go Back in Time

Lettertomyyoungerself

I don’t normally time travel.

Today I want to. I’ve heard several people talk about what they would tell their 20 year old self if they could go back in time.

I’ve never done this exercise because I didn’t see any value in it. What’s done is done, right?

I’ve changed my mind. I think it allows you to think about what you value and to concentrate on activities today that follow those values and not waste time with anything that doesn’t. So here goes.

1. Fitness – Diet is 85% of the equation. Eat lots of meat and veggies and cut out carbs on non-workout days. Once or twice a week do a sixteen hour fast. Concentrate on body-weight exercises; pushups, pullups, chinups, squats, planks, handstand pushups, lunges, jumps, mountain climbers, burpees, janda situps, hanging leg raises and bicycles. Do these only three times per week and interval training two days a week with two days of rest. Do lots of stretching and mobility exercises every day. Measure and log everything.

2. Mental Health – Avoid negative relationships and hang with positive people. Keep stress out of my life as much as possible. Sleep 8-10 hours per day. Think positive thoughts. Meditate – it’s not crazy.

3. Career/Education – Don’t go to college. Move to California and pursue a career in music. Be relentless. Don’t back down. You will make it. Don’t worry if you have to struggle for a few years. Hard work, persistence and networking will get you there. Hang with people smarter and more successful than you. Meet as many people as possible. Travel the world. Master playing music, writing music, listening to music, learning music business. Read 100 books per year.

4. Useful Skills – Read and write daily. Study vocabulary and grammar. Learn to be an expert at sales, marketing and negotiating. Don’t be afraid to talk to people – the downside is not bad. Manage your emotions – stay mellow in hot situations. Form good habits.

5. Relationships – Opposites don’t attract. Find someone like you and that likes what you like. Hang with positive successful people. Maintain contact with family, friends, business associates; don’t lose touch. Reach out to one stranger per day until it is comfortable to do so. Find someone older than you that has done what you want to do and form an apprenticeship or ask them to mentor you. Find people you can learn from. Help someone else every day. Always think of something positive to say to another person when you are talking with them. Laugh and make others laugh with or at you. Don’t give up on people; remember why you love them and not why they drive you crazy.

6. Financial – Start saving early with small amounts that you won’t spend. Open a self-directed Roth IRA. Avoid debt as if it were a deadly disease. Start several small businesses to form multiple streams of income. Learn and read about finances. Don’t risk more than 2% on any one trade. Monitor your finances and watch your net worth grow. Don’t overspend on the big items like cars, houses and education. Protect yourself with good password protection, insurance, shredding financial information and good computer backups.

7. Lifelong Dreams/Goals – Pursue these relentlessly. Avoid anything that distracts you from your dreams. You love music. You want to be in a successful band that goes on a world tour. You love writing; write music and books, write every day, learn your craft. Start businesses, as many as possible. Keep going till you find ones that are successful and then start more, use the internet to help you. Don’t neglect your health. It is possible to be in great shape your whole life, not just when you are young. Travel the world, see what is out there, explore different cultures.

8. Spiritual – Grab on to your faith and never let it go. Study and memorize scripture. Support those who make it their calling to go into the world to spread the Word. Pray daily for guidance, not all prayers will be answered how you want them to. Find a great church to fellowship and worship in.

SUMMARY

After writing this post out, I realized how solidified my values are. Each category was easy to write. Do I still have some topics that I don’t have the answer to? Yes I do. There are things I have learned in this life and there are things I won’t know the answer to no matter how much or how long I research, I just have to live by faith that it will work out.

I recommend you do this exercise too. Keep it with your lifetime goals and review it annually.

Two Must Have Steps to Achieve Any Goal

How to achieve any goal

Ideas are good, putting an idea into action is great.

What is an idea alone, but words on a paper or screen. It is when someone takes those words and accomplishes something with them that the tangible power of them is realized.

You can be an idea machine, creating thousands of ideas, but if you never bring any of them to fruition what good are they?

I’ve always had ideas. I have seen others with similar ideas become successful with them and thought to myself “That was my idea, I should be rich.”

It was only the past year that I have started to finish an idea. I had an idea to form a product based on what I know about personal finance and the struggles others have with it. I have spent the last five months developing it, creating bonus materials, writing training materials, writing marketing campaigns and setting up the web site and infrastructure.

It has been way more work then I originally anticipated. I have wanted to quit many times due to frustration, procrastination, fear and reluctance to work, but I push through each of these moments because I have the faith that it will all work out and I can celebrate my first sale.

I instead focus on doing some activity every day that helps get me there. At the end of every month, I review what I accomplished, and enjoy the thought that I am 30 steps closer to my end goal. Each step may be insignificant, but taken in whole, I can travel a great distance.

I have a wallpaper on my computer screen that has two spots on opposite sides of the screen. One spot shows “my comfort zone” and the other shows “where my dreams happen.” I heard this from someone else and thought it really captured the essence of going after your dreams. Dreams are sometimes so far away from where we are right now and even though where we are right now isn’t ideal, it is comfortable and we get scared to venture away from it because we fear to lose that comfort.

I read about a man that was over-weight and could not develop a routine to exercise. One day he got off the couch and walked to the front door and then walked back to the couch. Not a huge task but it was a start, and every day he went a little further; day two he opened the door and stepped on to his porch, day three down to the sidewalk, day four down to the corner and so on. These little steps got him to the point that he was walking several miles per day and he never missed his workout.

I like to climb mountains. It is tough for me as I live close to Chicago, which is only about six hundred feet above sea level and I like to climb mountains over 12,000 feet tall. My body is not acclimated to the altitude and every step above 10,000 feet is a chore. Many times I want to quit because my body says it can’t take it anymore. I can’t breathe, I’m exhausted, my legs are sore and I’m mentally wiped.

But two things keep me going; one, I know eventually I will get to the top and two, I keep telling myself “one more step”.

Continuous action on my goal combined with the faith that I will make it there.

It hasn’t failed me yet and I keep pictures of those moments to remind myself, pictures of me on top of the mountain with a big ‘ole smile. Even if no one else knows the struggles or the thrill, I know what it took to get there and the sheer joy I had at that moment.

SUMMARY

Want to achieve any goal? Take small steps every day and have the faith that you will achieve it and you will reach your goal. The steps can be tiny, really tiny, but do something every day.

What will you do this year and commit to seeing it through to the end?

4 Steps to Controlling Your Emotions

4StepstoControllingYourEmotions

You would think that after 50 plus years I would have it all figured out.

I don’t.

One area I struggle with, that I have made a conscious effort to address this year, is managing my emotions. 98% of the time I am a calm, low-key person that goes with the flow; however, on occasion I get angry, not violent angry but that kind of anger where you stew in it and let it fester until all you can do is think about what is bothering you.

The other day, I emailed a co-worker on an issue and didn’t hear back a response. The issue was important to me, but certainly not a hot issue for the company. I got offended and for at least an hour I had imaginary conversations where this person was telling me my issue was stupid and to not bother her and she ran around telling everyone else about it. She told my manager and he called me to say that my behavior was immature and unprofessional. I started to draft my letter of resignation. I could actually feel my pulse pounding in my body, my muscles get tense and my breathing get shallow.

Wow, all because my email didn’t get answered within nine hours!

The next day, this person answered my email and fixed my issue. All was good, or was it?

Another day, I was practicing trading stock options. I thought I had placed the perfect trade and then the market went against me. I kept thinking it would reverse and go in the direction I had planned, but it didn’t. I became an animal inside. I prayed. I told myself I would quit trading and never try again, I wasn’t born to do this. I was huddled over like a kid.

I placed a trade, got out of the bad trade and took my loss and watched as the market continued to move against me. I saved myself a lot of money by getting out of that trade.

What a waste of time and energy. Maybe I’m the only person who does this, but I guess I am not.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often with me, but it bothers me so much when it does, that I want to prevent it from every happening.

Writing all this down now, I feel like I should be put in a rubber room with the door locked, sipping my dinner through a straw, while my hands are tied behind my back. What a nutcase.

Even though I haven’t eliminated these episodes from my life, I feel that I have cut down on the number of them. Below are the techniques I have used to help when I get into the hot water and that help me return to peace and calm.

TECHNIQUES TO MASTER MY EMOTIONS

1. Recognize I am in a state of anger and frustration – The first step is to be aware of when you get into a state where your emotions run rampant. What are the situations that cause you anguish? Who are the people that push your buttons? How does your body react? Does your blood pressure intensify so much that you can actually feel your pulse in your forehead or neck? Do you grit your teeth?

Once you know when, where and how you will potentially lose your cool, you can prepare yourself for it. This sets you up to take one of the other steps to prevent or eliminate a blowout.

2. View yourself in the situation – Watch yourself in the heat of the battle. It’s like you’re on TV and you’re embarrassed to watch your acting skills. You want to tell yourself, “hey, get it together, you’re getting mad at nothing.”

It’s almost never as bad as it seems. Seeing yourself at that moment is like a whack across the cheeks. You can become objective about the situation, like the smart side of you telling the dumb side how to act.

3. Get up walk and breathe deeply – OK so you’re in the middle of a scene where you could come out badly. You might say or do the wrong things. You know you’re there but viewing the situation in your mind doesn’t work cause you’re too far gone.

Get up and walk away from the place or person and start to breathe deeply. Use this link to a previous blog post on how to do an effective breathing exercise LINK. Don’t come back until you feel your heart rate return to normal and you can speak or act calmly.

4. Laugh at how silly it is – Keep the bad moment out of your memory by thinking how silly it was. Maybe the actual event was stressful, but how you were reacting to it was over the top. Find some way to make yourself laugh about it. Think of the crazy look on your face, or the vein in your temple pulsating, or your voice shaking as you told that person off. If there isn’t anything funny to remember then make something up. Laughter will get you out of a lot of messes.

SUMMARY

There you go. The 4 steps to controlling your emotions. Be aware of moments when it could happen. Be objective by picturing yourself in the moment, get up and walk away and don’t return until you’re calm, and then laugh about it so you don’t retain the negativity in your mind.

Simplify Your Morning Routine

Morning Routine

Do you want to know one of the best things you can do to lead a more productive life? Start a morning routine.

You know the old saying, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. This advice works well for me and countless others. I have talked about my routine on a previous blog post here LINK.

I have steadily increased the number of tasks I tackle each morning, in part due to waking up a little earlier each day. Lately, I have found that I am scrambling to get everything done before I head off to work and I feel like I am rushing so much that I am losing the benefit.

I decided to pare down what I do based on one principle I live by; focus on what is important. This ties in nicely with my OBG, or the One Big Goal of the day. In the case of the OBG, I make sure that I at least complete my most important goal each day and shoot for completing this task as early in the day as possible, keeping in mind to make the task small enough that I will tackle it and complete it.

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How to Read Twice as Fast

SpeedReading

SPEED READING

Technology changes all the time, but I still have the need to do some things the “old-school” way.

Reading is one of them. Yes, there are audio books, but I can not concentrate when I listen to audiobooks, I find myself drifting away with my thoughts or maybe one thing that was said starts a series of thoughts within my mind and before I know it, I haven’t listened to the last ten minutes of the book. Worse is when I fall asleep listening to the book, not good to do that while driving.

So I read books, blog posts, emails, company memos and so on, every day.

I have seen some blog posts where the writer explains that they read fairly large books in one week. I can read four to five books per month on average, but to do so, some of these books are short business books of around 200-250 pages. I am reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” right now and it must be close to 1000 pages and will take me a couple months to finish.

So I looked into speed reading. Could I learn some techniques to speed up my reading, while retaining my comprehension of what I just read?

Do you remember the commercials for the Evelyn Wood Speedreading course, where people would literally run their fingers down a page and read it in around one second?

I have been implementing some of these techiniques and they do work, but not to the extent of those commercials, at least not for me.

BASIC FACTS

The average person reads about 200-250 words per minute with about 60% comprehension. If someone were to ask you a question about what you just read, you would have about a 40% chance you couldn’t answer it. Seems like a waste of a lot of time to me.

Fast readers can read 800 or more words per minute with 80-90% comprehension. That is amazing to me.

There is a website where you can copy/paste a selection of text and then have it play back to you one word at a time at different speeds. Just moving the needle to 300 words per minute makes you think you’re at an auction house. LINK

By increasing my rate to about 300-400 words per minute with 80-85% comprehension I could get a lot more read with much better understanding.

ISSUES

1. Your eyes have a lot to do with how fast you read.Try and read some text and see how often your eyes backtrack and you reread or glance at text you’ve already read. This slows down your reading immensely.

2. How many times have you read a passage and started day dreaming, either about what you just read or something else that is on your mind? If you’re like me, this happens quite often. I used to read a page and frequently have no recollection about what I just read.

TECHNIQUES TO FIX THESE ISSUES

1. Follow the Finger – Keep your index finger on the page you’re reading and follow along with your eyes. This will keep you focused and prevent your from backtracking.

2. Learn to Move Your Finger at a Faster Pace – Use the LINK here to see how fast you currently read and get a feel for how fast you need to read to double that (say 200-400 words per minute). Once you know how fast a pace is needed for 400 words per minute, move your finger at that rate. It will be challenging at first so you may need to move towards that rate gradually. 400 words per minute is achievable.

3. Forget Reading the First and Last Few Words on a Line – Depending on the font size, a given line in a book may have ten to fifteen words on it. By eliminating four to six of those words you have effectively increased your reading speed by 25-40%. When you read the rest of the words your mind will naturally fill in the missing words so that you understand it. Your peripheral vision will also grab some of these words and allow you to see them.

4. Establish Your Baseline and Set a Goal – Use the LINK to find where you’re at right now and aim to double this number. Work on it daily and retest yourself every 30 days until you have achieved your goal.

5. Scan the Book Chapters, Headings and Sub-Headings – These give good clues into what you’re about to read. By knowing in advance what you will be reading/learning it will make understanding it easier. Some non-fiction books have summaries at the end of chapters. If so, I like to slow down a bit when reading these so I fully understand what I just read.

SUMMARY

If you’re like me, even with today’s technology you have to do a lot of reading. Time is precious so learning to read faster adds more to your productivity for the day. Use the techniques above to double your reading rate and increase your retention. I am very happy with the improvements I have made, especially with the comprehension levels. Why bother reading if you’re going to forget almost half of what you read? I hope you find this valuable and can implement it into your own life.

Workout Monday Aug 4

Minamalist Exercising

Good workout this week that left me sore, but in a good way. I know that it worked, especially in the abs.

Several supersets. I like these because they are efficient timewise, intense, get the heart rate up and boost metabolism. All were done with 60 seconds of rest in between circuits.

SS1 – Pullups/Dips/V-Situps – I did three circuits with 15, 12, 10 reps

SS2 – Pullovers and Hanging Leg Raises – Three circuits with 15, 12, 10 reps

SS3 – DB Rows/Kickbacks and Side Planks – Three circuits with 15, 12, 10 reps for the rows/kickbacks and 30 each side for planks

Followed these with three sets of burpees with the same 15, 12, 10 reps

Eight Ways to Battle Depression

Depression

Depression

I like to laugh and have fun, but even I get down once in a while. I made a list of my eight ways to battle depression and thought I would share it with you.

1. Stay Busy – I find the more I stay busy, the less time I have to focus on problems. Time goes by quickly when you’re busy. When I’m not busy, my mind likes to think about my problems and worries and fears. Staying busy with the right activities eliminates those worries and fears. I stress I won’t have enough money for retirement, but I stay busy working on developing other sources of income. This year I have taken multiple classes on stock investing, developed an informational product I will start selling in August and continue to work on writing. All of these help battle my worries on money.

2. Exercise – I like to do something physical every day. Most of the time it is either a workout or a cardio interval training, but I also will take long walks or bike rides. If I can’t do any of those, I will work in the yard, around the house, or shovel snow in the winter. I find that when my body is in good shape, my mind is in better shape. I am able to better handle the issues that come up when I feel good, and exercise does that for me. Also activities like long walks and mowing the grass give me a chance to think over problems, and when combined with the activity helps me to come up with ideas to solve them.

3. Read a Good Book – Reading is an escape from every day life for me. I become part of the book and imagine myself within the story and I forget about my own life. Reading is something I commit to daily. I read during lunch and before bed for a total of about one hour or more each day. It is important to me to read good books. More and more I tend to stay away from depressing stories. I love comedies and “good over evil” stories with characters I root for.

4. Daily Affirmations – I have a couple lists of affirmations that I say every morning. They are positive up-lifting phrases that provide encouragement and fill my subconscious with thoughts that build me up. Most of the benefit is hidden internally. It is important that I say these daily affirmations with emotion and conviction. To just recite them rotely and check them off my list does no good at all. Be dramatic.

5. Watch a Comedy – I don’t watch a lot of television but when I do I like to watch a good comedy. Laughter is the best drug for my soul. I can’t help but feel good after a good laugh. I DVR David Lettermen and Conan O’Brien and try to watch a bit of both every day. I subscribe to Spotify and they have classic comedy albums available. I have been meaning to add these to my playlists so that I can listen to them in the car or when I exercise. When I was a kid I would listen to George Carlin, Steve Martin, Cheech and Chong and Bill Cosby. I’m sure there’s a ton of material out there that I have never heard before (send suggestions).

6. Listen to Great Music – When I hear some music that I love, it really pumps me up, I feel energized, motivated, happy, excited and confident. But not all music does that to me. If I listen to Pink Floyd or Evanescense I get depressed. When you hear a song or a musical piece that inspires you, jot it down and put these into a collection. Back in the eighties we made mix tapes, now you can put them into collections on your iPhone or an online radio like Spotify. Crank up your collection when you feel down, want to exercise or get started on your project.

7. Get Outside – Humans need to get out into the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors. When I feel down, I work out in the yard, take a long walk or head to the park. One park by me has a nice lake that always makes me feel great just to look at it. Grab a friend or family member and throw the frisbee or drink a cup of coffee outside. If it is wintertime I still like to go out, the parks look beautiful with the snow on the trees. When I was a kid I used to spend hours outside in the winter having snowball fights, building forts/snowmen, playing hockey. I haven’t done some of those activities since, and I need to remember that this winter. My favorite time of the year is Fall when the weather in Chicago is perfect, but those first few Spring days when the weather warms after a brutal Winter are special too. Anytime the weather is awesome, I try to take at least a moment to go out and enjoy it. When you feel good physically, you feel good mentally.

8. Hang With Positive People – When I am my most depressed I am usually alone. It is so easy to feel sorry for myself when I’m just focusing on Mister Me.

Don’t!

Hang with family, friends or even complete strangers. I make sure though, that they are positive people who will make me laugh, encourage me and take my mind off my troubles. I don’t need to magnify them by spending time with people who will make me feel worse.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I think I’m more extroverted around complete strangers than I am around my own family and friends. So going out for coffee, spending time downtown, joining a club or taking a class gets me out of the house and I am able to meet new people.

SUMMARY

Illnesses of the mind are every bit as important as those of the body. Take them seriously. Try all of the techniques above, especially number eight. If nothing works, then seek out professional help. Don’t try to handle it all by yourself. The more you interact with other people, the more you realize that there are people out there in this world with problems way worse than your own.