Happiness After Midlife Blog

The Happiness After Midlife blog is dedicated to teaching skills and strategies for midlife career change, entrepreneurship, money and happiness, and lifelong learning.

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Sep 03, 2012

An e-Course to Build Your Confidence

Are you looking for ideas, insights and practical activities to build your confidence?

I highly recommend you test drive HAM's powerful e-Course, Discover Your Confidence. It was written by Monique Pambrun, author of Dammit, I am Right: A Journey to a more confident me! and produced by yours truly, Dr. Frank.

The e-Course suggests a number of readings that supplement the activities. Here are examples of two of the readings from Module 1, week 1:

(1) Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins, Chapter 4, pp. 81-85.

The book may seem daunting at first; however, there are several key elements of personal power that he presents clearly and succinctly.

This recommended reading deals with "how we deal with adversity and challenges." Robbins discusses the concept of "learned helplessness," a mindset created by repeated efforts to succeed that are ignored or proved futile. Eventually, people simply give up. Robbins presents the findings of Dr. Martin Seligman that suggest three elements of learned helplessness:

  1. a feeling that failure is permanent
  2. a sense that failure corresponds to all parts of our lives
  3. a conviction that failure is our fault.
(2) The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, Chapter 3, pp. 47-53.

This book presents a personal code of conduct to follow, agreements that we keep with ourselves to be well, happy, and successful.

In this recommended reading, Ruiz attacks taking things personally, a destructive behavior that we must avoid. He reminds us that what people say to us or how they act is all about them, not us. He teaches us to live within our own view of the world instead of accepting others' views.

Try out a demo of the e-Course, Discover Your Confidence.

Dr. Frank

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Aug 27, 2012

Great Thoughts from an Inspiring Man

I'd like to share with you some words of wisdom from a great man. Are they the words of the Dali Lama, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham?

  • You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
  • To give service to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
  • There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.
  • In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
  • It is easy to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.
  • It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
  • There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not of man's greed.
  • I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won't resume to probe into the faults of others.
  • If you are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.
  • Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
  • When I admire the wonders of sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expand in the worship of the creator.
  • The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
It was none of the great men above. It was Gandhi. I want thank my dear friend Azmat for sharing these inspiring words with me.

Dr. Frank

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Aug 20, 2012

More from the eCourse Shifting Gears at Midlife

Last week I shared some some amazing personal development books from the Happiness After Midlife e-Course: Shifting Gears at Midlife.

Here are three more valuable resources:

Finite and Infinite Games

An extraordinary book that will dramatically change the way you experience life. Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life, the games we play in business and politics, in the bedroom and on the battlefield - games with winners and losers, a beginning and an end. Infinite games are more mysterious and ultimately more rewarding. They unscripted and unpredictable; they are the source of true freedom.

The Path of Least Resistance

A revolutionary program for creating anything from a functional kitchen to a computer program, to a work of art, Robert Fritz demonstrates that any of us has the innate power to create. Discover the steps of creating the importance of creating of what you truly love, how to focus on the creative process to move from where you are to where you want to be, and much more.

The Bigger Game

Are you ready to play a bigger game?
Do you want more in your life?
Are you hungry for something to be different?
Do you want to make a difference and you're not sure how?
Are you ready to risk?
Do you see a different and better future?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are ready to play a bigger game.

This book is meant to inspire and grow you, and it will point you toward your own bigger game. More important, though, it will point you toward becoming a bigger game player, someone who is always looking simultaneously outside youself and deep inside to create change - by epxressing and growing your talents in servie of what you care about most.

Try out a demo of the e-Course, Shifting Gears at Midlife.

Dr. Frank

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Aug 13, 2012

Great ideas for creating your future

Are you looking for some amazing personal development books and e-Courses?

Here are a few resources from the Happiness After Midlife e-Course: Shifting Gears at Midlife.

The Trance of Scarcity

The Trance of Scarcity by Victoria Castle confronts the prevailing myths in our culture of "not enough" and "not good enough." These fallacies limit the ability of individuals to fully embrace their lives and create abundance.

Based on 20 years of coaching and teaching, Castle brings a new awareness to the pervasive problem of lack in our culture and provides substantive suggestions for awaking from this trance.

Creating Your Future

"Most people spend more time planning their next vacation than they do planning the rest of their lives," says Dave Ellis in Creating Your Future. Yet one of the most powerful paths to creating the future you want is choosing it. You achieve this by setting long-term goals based on a long-range vision. This book shows you the process, with activities that prompt you to write your goals, then follow these five steps:

1. Commit to creating your future.
2. Create a vision of your future.
3. Construct a plan to fulfill your vision.
4. Carry out your plan.
5. Celebrate what you've done and continue creating your future.

The Art of Possibility

The lure of this book's promise starts with the assumption in its title. Possibility - that big, all-encompassing, wide-open-door concept - is an art.

Well, who doesn't want to be a skilled artist, whether in the director's chair, the boardroom, on the factory floor, or even just in dealing with life's everyday situations? Becoming an artist, however, requires discipline, and what the authors of The Art of Possibility "offer is a set of practices designed to "initiate a new approach to current conditions, based on uncommon assumptions about the nature of the world."

Try out a demo of the e-Course, Shifting Gears at Midlife.

Dr. Frank

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Aug 06, 2012

A Gratitude Healing Prayer from Dr. Toni LaMotta

Everyday I give thanks for my rich, abundant life. However, life is never perfect. Tomorrow, I face thyroid surgery to remove a potentially dangerous nodule.

I want to share "A Gratitude Healing" prayer from Dr. Toni LaMotta's web site. Dr. Toni is a spiritual coach and author of a forthcoming program for conscious aging. She herself has faced many physical challenges and is a source of inspiration for me.

Here is the beginning of the prayer:

The beautiful gifts of gratitude begin at home
so today, invite a healing to happen
in your own body,
in your own consciousness,
in your own loving heart
that feels blessed to be alive.

Notice all the riches you’ve been given:
the feet that allow you to stand,
the legs that allow you to walk,
the stomach that allows you to eat,
the lungs that allow you to breathe,
the throat that allows you to speak,
the mouth that allow you to taste,
the nose that allows you to smell,
the eyes that allow you to see,
and your beating heart
that allows you to love.
Honor them all.

Become present to the treasures of your life:
the opportunities that you have been given,
the ones that have effortlessly opened up for you this year.
Reflect on your family, your kids, your partner, your friends.
Look through appreciative eyes,
the eyes of what’s right,
the eyes of the divine.
Give thanks in a way that you never have before.

Click here for the rest of prayer.

Dr. Frank

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Jul 30, 2012

Money and happiness in the news again

As I've mentioned many times, one of my favorite magazines is Men's Health, subtitled "Tons of Useful Stuff." Month after month, year after year, they continue to amaze me with their fresh and relevant content. Innovative exercise routines - particularly the "15-Minute Workout," and articles about relationships, nutrition, cooking and occasionally personal finance and money are treats to read and put into practice.

In the September issue, they revisit "money and happiness" and refer to lots of research on the topic, including The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of my favorite writers on happiness.

Here are some of the research findings MH reports on:

  • "Money also changes the way we think... Researchers found that just seeing a picture of money jerked our brains into Wall Street mode, ramping up our math memory and priming us to keep our eyes on the prize."
  • Other research, however, shows that the quest for money is two-sided. "For all the studies showing how money motivates and builds confidence, other studies find that it deadens charitable impulses, impairs social skills, and makes you less likeable."
  • "Studies show that the owners of luxury cars are generally no happier driving them than the owners of compacts, and that owning a vacation home has no impact on happiness." The process of hedonic adaption comes into play here, according to Sonya L. We get used to any change in our lives very quickly.
  • Other research shows that spending money on others offers greater happiness than spending money on yourself.
For me and my family, having enough money to provide a sense of financial security is an important piece of the happiness puzzle.

Check out the Happiness After Midlife online courses:

Summer Special on Happiness-after-Midlife online courses: 50% off regular price

Shifting Gears at Midlife: Creating an Extraordinary FutureAdd to Cart

Discover Your ConfidenceAdd to Cart

Dr. Frank

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Jul 23, 2012

Be grateful for good friends

I want to share with you my gratitude for having great friends.

First, my former partner at Happiness After Midlife, Dr. Fred Horowitz, referred me to "The Art of World Travel" by Justin Troupe. It's a delightful mini-course aimed at showing people how to travel the world even if they do not believe that they actually can.

Through a series of simple exercises, Justin shows you how to "master your mind and conquer the world." It's strictly intended for those who dream of adventure and travel.

Second, esoteric teacher John Kobel referred me to "The Science of Being Well," by Wallace B. Wattles. John is always there to inspire and share great thoughts.

Writing in 1910, Wattles was ahead of his time. Here are some of his tasty tidbits on eating right:

  1. Don't eat until you are truly hungry.
  2. Before eating, anticipate what the food is so that extra saliva is produced (the mouth-watering effect).
  3. Choose to want to eat what you're about to eat.
  4. Chew your food thoroughly.
  5. Eat in a peaceful environment and state of mind.
  6. Remember that you will be better nourished and eat less if you chew more.
Finally, my dear friend and mentor, Sigy, an Apple fan, spent half a day with me yesterday sharing tips and tricks on how to get the most from my newly-acquired Mac Book Pro.

What is amazing is that Sigy is not a "digital native." He didn't grow up with a computer and cell phone in his crib. Just like me, Sigy is a "digital immigrant." But unlike me, Sigy is 90 years old.

He uses his own Mac Book to skype friends and family, listen to music, keep with up with the latest news, and quench his boundless curiosity.

For other amazing online courses see:

Summer Special on Happiness-after-Midlife online courses: 50% off regular price

Shifting Gears at Midlife: Creating an Extraordinary FutureAdd to Cart

Discover Your ConfidenceAdd to Cart

Dr. Frank

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Jul 16, 2012

Turn Back the Clock with Harry Gaines: Fitness Beyond 50

I did the sprint triathlon on the weekend and I felt like I did indeed turn back the clock.

In case you are not familiar with this competitive event, it combines swimming (750 meters), biking (20 kilometers), and running (5 k). I'm pleased to say that I did better in 2 out of the 3 parts of the race than I did three years ago. I'm ecstatic!

My friends call me Mr. Motion because I am always working out. If you are looking for ways to get back in shape, I highly recommend Harry Gaines' book, Fitness Beyond 50.

I asked Harry about his book. Here is the beginning of my interview with him appearing on Wednesday, July 18.

I began by outlining the topics I wanted to cover and then selecting one at a time. I read recent research publications and books, wrote stories from personal experience or from friends’ input and organized the information into a chapter. The goal was always to develop knowledge and inspiration – the “why” of exercise and healthy eating versus “how.”

During the course of writing Fitness Beyond 50 I developed a cadre of over 50 individuals who read and provided comments, many of them M.D.s and Ph.D.s in various branches of science. They made sure the facts were correct, plus contributed many great stories that can provide inspiration to others. I’ve included over 125 real-life stories in the book.

Check out the Summer Special on Happiness-after-Midlife online courses: 50% off regular price

Shifting Gears at Midlife: Creating an Extraordinary FutureAdd to Cart

Discover Your ConfidenceAdd to Cart

Dr. Frank

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Jul 09, 2012

Do We Need Another Happiness Book?

There are so excellent happiness books on the market. Some of my favorite include:

  • The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky: a research-based resource full of useful information and helpful activities for achieving the happiness you desire.
  • Be Happy!: Release the Power of Happiness in YOU by Robert Holden: an amazing resource based on his eight-week happiness course.
  • Field Guide to Happiness: Finding Happiness in its Natural Habitat by Barbara Ann Kipper: a delightful collection of lists, mind-mapping ideas, journal writing suggestions and many more inspirational suggestions to make you happy.
Do we really need yet another happiness book? After reading Get Happy Now! by Joseph McClendon III I would say resoundingly "Yes."

I wasn't quite sure about the value of the book when I first opened it. However, my opinion changed quickly as the author gained my trust through his simple explanations of complex ideas and his practical approach full of tactics and techniques for increasing happiness.

The author explores:

  • the science behind happiness,
  • how he turned his own life around at age 19,
  • what true happiness looks like,
  • simple, effective activities, such as "Magnificent Day,"
  • what holds us back from being happy,
  • the "warrior mindset,"
  • how to break negative thought patterns,
  • his successful process: See it, Say it, Move it, Prove it, Grove it
Look for my interview with Joseph on Happiness After Midlife coming in August, 2012.

Dr. Frank

Jul 02, 2012

People - who make a difference in my life - worth following

I'd like to mention three people who have made a difference in my life: Dr. Toni LaMotta, spiritual coach, Fred Horowitz, business coach, and John Kobel, esoteric teacher. I highly recommend you follow the great work they are doing and see the difference they can make in your life.

First, Dr. Toni: she is in the process of developing a new video program on conscious aging. She helps baby boomers looking to be clear on who they now are, searching for ways for dealing effectively with life transitions and overcoming their hidden fears. Get her free video.

Check out the interview I did with Toni recently on the spirituality of aging.

Second, Fred Horowitz: He is my former partner on this web site. He's returned to business coaching, his first love. Fred helps small business owners do meaningful work and have a full life. Get his free report: 'Build a Business with Integrity: Do Good, Do Well, Have Fun."

Fred is principal author of the outstanding e-learning course "Shifting Gears at Midlife."

Third, John Kobel: He has been helping individuals for several years now in his live sessions. He "teaches the fine art of successful visualization." Since I took his course I've been following his mind program for 15-20 minutes a day.

Listen to the interview I did with John recently explaining his course.

Dr. Frank

Jun 25, 2012

Priceless nutrition tips from Tom Corson-Knowles

If you believe you are what you eat, the new e-book from Tom Corson-Knowles is a must-read for you. I have an interview with Tom appearing on Wednesday, June 27. Here is a preview.

Dr. Frank: I found your e-book, Dr. Corson’s Top 5 Nutrition Tips, to be highly informative. Please give me an overview of the e-book to whet the appetite as it were of my readers.

Tom Corson-Knowles: The book is basically about what researchers have found to be the 5 most important aspects of human health when it comes to nutrition. It looks at the broad level spectrum of what really makes the most difference. Most nutrition advice these days comes in bits and spurts from the media and has a huge bias and slant to it. You know what it's like - one day they say a study shows eggs are good for you. The next day, eggs are bad for you!

So what happens is people get confused. Consumers spend all their energy trying to make good food choices based on biased or incomplete information, or in many cases, misinformation that's put out there by the industry. So Dr. Corson wrote the book to clear up all the confusion and focus on the 5 most important aspects of human nutrition - fruits and vegetables, Omega-3 fats, Vitamin D, meat/dairy intake, and processed foods/artificial ingredients to avoid.

See my May 21 blog post for a review of the e-book.

Go to the Happiness After Midlife Learning Center for other amazing e-books and courses.

Dr. Frank

Jun 18, 2012

Live Younger Longer

In my last post I talked about the particular interests of older folks related to recreation, health and fitness, cultural pursuits, interest in technology adapted from Joseph Chang's book, The Aging Myth.

Chang also offers some common sense principles that may help you live younger longer.

  1. Decide to be happy. You can decide to be miserable or happy. It's your choice. The other night I watched a film, Beautiful Lies, a psycho-comedy, in which one of the characters says she has decided to be sad. And so she was. Chang notes that "laughter and smiling are directly related to better health."

  2. Exercise naturally. My former fitness coach used to say, "A body in motion stays in motion." I'll often do errands by either running or biking to stores.

  3. Eat a wide spectrum of foods. Don't eat the same foods all the time. Also control the portion you eat. My father, who was a professional cook, used to say that six ounces of meat was plenty. Today's mega-portions in most of the fast food restaurants are BAD for your health. Also try not to eat alone. Check out Tom Corson-Knowles' article on good nutrition.

  4. Bond with people. One of the highlights of my week is sharing breakfast once a week - when it fits my schedule - with my early-bird swim friends. For close to 20 years I'm been sharing stories, ideas and current events with 12 - 15 people. We're English-speaking and French-Speaking, working and retired, younger and older - a fantastic mix.

  5. Rise and shine. Several days a week I'm up at 5:00 am and at the pool by 6:00 am to do 40 - 50 laps. As Chang says, "Acclimate your body to the rhythm of the sun."

Check out The Aging Myth: Unlocking the Mysteries of Looking and Feeling Young for more tips. 

Dr. Frank

Jun 10, 2012

The Top 3 Recreation, Fitness and Cultural Pursuits of Older Folks

It is not surprising that older folks like me have very particular interests relating to recreation, health and fitness, cultural pursuits, interest in technology. Here are the results of survey I came across in Joseph Chang's book, The Aging Myth.

Top 3 sports, athletic and outdoor adventure pursuits (Percent ranked "extremely important" followed by my comment)

1. Swimming 55.2% (one of my favorite pursuits)

2. Golf 49.2% (no interest for me)

3. Bowling 34.4% (no interest for me)

Top 3 increasing in popularity 18%

1. Hiking/climbing/rappelling (My wife and I hike occasionally. I have to admit I had to look up the word "rappelling." It has to do with moving down a steep hill or cliff with a rope. Not a sport for me.)

2. River rafting 17.8% (no interest for me)

3. Downhill skiing 9% (no interest for me)

Top 3 health and fitness pursuits (Percent ranked "extremely important" followed by my comment)

1. Walking 82% (My wife and I do long walks at least once a week.)

2. Cardiovascular equipment workouts 78.8% (I do this regularly.)

3. Strength/weigh training equipment workouts 67.4% (I do this regularly too.)

Top 3 increasing in popularity

1. Biking 56.7% (This and running I do regularly except for biking in the winter.)

2. Balance training programs (Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates) 51.3% (No interest for me)

3. Personal training 41.8% (I'm my own personal trainer.)

Top 3 Crafts and Cultural Art Pursuits (Percent ranked "extremely important" followed by my comment)

1. Ceramics/pottery/clay works 28.4% (My wife loves to do these things.)

2. Painting and drawing 27.2% (Another favorite activity of my wife.)

3. Woodcrafting 27.1% (No interest for me.)

Top 3 Media and Technology Pursuits (Percent ranked "extremely important" followed by my comment)

1. Computer technology - general 44.4% (This is partly my business.)

2. Photography 33.5% (My wife loves this.)

3. Computer graphics 33.2% (Another interest of my wife.)

How do you fit within these interests and pursuits?

A category for me that is in a class by itself is life-long learning and self-improvement. If you feel like I do, check out the Happiness After Midlife Learning Center for engaging and inspiring e-Books, e-Courses, and recommended products.

Dr. Frank

Jun 04, 2012

Conscious aging with Dr. Toni LaMotta

As you probably know, I am a big fan of Dr. Toni LaMotta, the Midlife Mentor, inspirational speaker, best-selling author, and remarkable spiritual life coach. I feel so privileged to be able to share weekly with her our ideas, experiences, successes of the past week, and plans for the upcoming week during our hour-long Skype calls.

I had to laugh on two occasions in the last few conversations I had with her. First, I had mentioned that I read the Creative Mind and Success by Ernest Holmes, an influential new thought minister. I said, "Toni, you must know the work of Holmes." She responded, "Frank, did you know that Holmes started the church in which I am a minister?" Chuckle.

Second, I said I had come across the work of Stephen Brookfield on critical thinking skills in connection with my teaching. I said, "Toni, you in your coaching ask a lot of thought-provoking questions." She said, 'Frank, did you know that I studied with Brookfield at Columbia University in the 1980's. He was one of the best teachers I ever had." Chuckle.

Last week, she told me about her plans for launching a new video product called Becoming Myself: A Blueprint for Conscious Aging - a great title with riveting material. It will be a series of videos that guide midlifers and beyond in uncovering their beliefs and fears about aging and death and doing something about them.

I got very excited about the product in hearing what she is planning. What is so powerful about it is that the product is based not only on her vast knowledge of adult development but also on her personal experiences in "looking the devil in the eye" - facing her own fears and insecurities and overcoming them.

Some of the thought-provoking questions she threw at me are: "Who have you been? Who will you be? Who are you NOW?"

I'll keep you posted on the launch of the product.

I want to thank visitors for coming to Happiness After Midlife in droves. I had 10,000 visitors, who viewed almost 18,000 pages, last month - the best month ever.

Dr. Frank

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May 28, 2012

Confidence can make or break your chances of success

I'm a rabid basketball fun and tune in religiously to the East and West post-season NBA elimination series now taking place. I love watching my favorite players: Wade and James from the Heat, Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili from the Spurs, Rondo and Garnett from the Celtics. I'll even grudgingly watch Bryant and WorldPeace (aka Artest) of the Lakers, players I detest the most, just to watch them get beat.

What does this have to do with confidence? A lot! Watching James reach new levels of excellence in beating Indiana, I was struck by a comment broadcast announcer Steve Kerr made about his seeming lack of confidence. Even though James is considered today by many to be the world's best player, he suffered from a lack of confidence after not rising to the occasion in last year's playoffs.

Kerr commented that during this season James was consulting past star players to get advice on performing better. Kerr said James should be giving advice to others and not soliciting it. Nonetheless, James has rekindled his confidence and his game has soared to new heights literally.

Just as having confidence can affect your level of play, it can also have a tremendous impact in your personal and professional life.

Did you know that confidence and self-esteem are two of the best predictors of performance and resilience in the face of stress and challenges?

Did you know that statistics reveal 95% of adults experience lack of confidence, self belief or low self esteem sometime in their life?

If you are seriously interested in working on your self-confidence, I highly recommend the Discover your Confidence Course that Monique Pambrun created and I produced.

It's a stimulating multimedia course that Aleks Srbinoski, coaching psychologist, says will "get you motivated, focused and inspired."

To test drive the course, click here.

Dr. Frank

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May 20, 2012

Let food be your medicine

Let food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food - famous words of Hippocrates. And so preach Candace Corson, M.D. And Tom Corson-Knowles in their informative e-book, Dr. Corson's Top 5 Nutrition Tips">Dr. Corson's Top 5 Nutrition Tips, available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.

I've been interested in nutrition ever since I was introduced to the topic over 40 years ago. A life-changing event occurred when my first wife's aunt, a Grey Nun and a nurse, gave me a copy of Prevention Magazine. It knocked me off my feet and instantly changed my eating habits, principally in not eating sugars, empty calories and soft drinks. I don't think I swaffed down a handful of Coca Colas since that time. My healthy eating habits have also influenced my two children who are more even careful about what they eat than I am.

Dr. Corson's handy little book has added to my knowledge of healthy eating and I highly recommend it. Not only does it give up-to-date information on new research, it also has links to high-quality nutritional products - discounted by the way - valuable books and weight-reducing videos. It is intended to "help people reach their cosmetic fitness goals by educating them on proper nutrition and exercise guidelines."

Find out:

  • how much fruit and vegetables you should really be eating everyday
  • why it is not necessary to take a multivitamin or individual vitamin supplements like vitamin E
  • the real danger of toxic fats
  • the value of taking a vitamin D supplement
  • why it is not okay to eat "everything" in moderation
  • why eating animal proteins and fats is not a good idea.
There is one chapter I would recommend the authors add to the e-book. It would have to do with helping people put into action the recommendations they make in the book. We all know it so difficult to get people to change any habit, particularly their eating habits.

The authors recommend, for example, reading the label on food products you buy, a habit I practice myself all the time. They could add to the list to make it easy for people to do what they know is right, but don't know how to put into practice.

For more about healthy eating, check the interview with Dr. Joe Schwarz, A Scientific Approach to Healthy Eating.

Dr. Frank

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May 13, 2012

Pains and joys of attending Brooklyn Prep in the early 60's

I got an e-mail this past week from a classmate at Brooklyn Prep about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the class of 64. He was interested in organizing a class reunion and putting together a type of Blue Book of profiles of surviving and interested class members.

Suddenly there was a flurry of e-mails from alumni supporting the idea and promising to attend.

One alumnus, however, said he wasn't coming because of the emotional, psychological and even physical pain he still carries. There was the bullying and harassment of students and teachers and the unjustified homophobia directed at him.

The Prep was certainly not a bed of roses. I experienced my own pains:

  • bullying and intimidation by the "tough guys" who didn't know better
  • the stress of intense competition from some the brightest minds around the city
  • Father Engel's inelegant treatment of me when he threw me down the staircase
  • trudging back and forth for two hours on the A train from Queens
  • swimming naked in the pool in swim class as an adolescent just discovering my own sexuality
Then there were the joys:
  • Loving Mr. Luongo's brilliant lectures on the American Civil War
  • Being introduced to the heart-warming songs of Edith Piaf by Mr. Moroney
  • Taking a class field trip to Washington, D.C. with Rev. DeGiacomo
  • Attending my first opera, Aida, at the Met with Mr. Winans
  • Participating in fascinating discussions with the "smart" guys at Mr. Winans' apartment.
Interestingly, I just finished reading Creative Mind and Success by Ernest Holmes, a new thought advocate writing at the beginning of the 20th century. I'm a practicing Catholic and don't necessarily adhere to all the principles of this school of thought. Nevertheless, I am attracted to the positive mindset and the power of controlled thinking that Holmes and other writers like James Allen, author of As You Think, espouse, as well as John Kobel, esoteric teacher.

Holmes talks about transcending previous conditions: "No matter what has happened in the past, so transcend the old experience, that it will no longer have any effect upon us . . . All we have to do is to drop the undesired thing from our thought, forgive ourselves and start anew. We must never even think of it again. Let go of it once and for all."

Holmes also refers to the power of love and forgiveness. "Did not Jesus at the moment of sacrifice ask the Father forgive all the wrong that was done to him? Shall we suppose we can do it a better way? If we do not at the present time love all people, then we must learn to do it, and the way will become easier, when all condemnation is gone forever and we behold only good."

I believe Life Starts now. If we look within daily, we can create a fulfilled life no matter what our age.

Dr. Frank

May 06, 2012

Why are these people happy?

I know and associate with a quite a few people. Most of them I am pleased to say seem to be happy with their lives. Here are three individuals that are exceptionally happy. I had the pleasure to share some great moments with them this past week. It got me thinking why they are so happy.

  • Sigi, my long-time friend and mentor, just celebrated his 90th birthday with about 25 of his Early Bird pool friends at breakfast this past week. Sigi has many reasons to be happy. He has a huge network of family and friends. Everyone loves him. He is always learning. He is curious and is a great listener. He epitomizes better than anyone I know the four agreements of Miguel Ruiz. He's impeccable with his word and never gossips. He doesn't take anything personally. He doesn't make unnecessary assumptions about anything. He always does his best. Sigi will surely continue to spread his wisdom and good humor to everyone who knows him well past 100.
  • Charlie B., another long-time friend, is a retired teacher and a self-trained singer of popular French ballads and songs. My wife and I had the pleasure recently of sharing his company for lunch for her birthday. Charlie also has a humungous social network of family and friends with whom he constantly interacts. He is one of the most generous and thoughtful persons I know. He shared with his us some of his secrets for happiness: look in the mirror everyday and smile to yourself, laugh whenever you can, and take 5, 10 or 15 minutes once or twice a day to reflect on a positive phrase or idea.
  • Dr. Toni LaMotta, my weekly brainstorming partner, is a new-thought minister and creator of the Midlife Messages blog. Toni has been facing severe physical challenges over the past year. But she has never lost her smile or intense desire to help others cope with midlife transition and understand the power of spirituality. Each week we exchange business ideas, successes of the previous week, and tasks for the following week. I love talking to Toni because she herself is so grounded and keeps me grounded in what is important, what is meaningful. Check the words of wisdom she shares in one of her blog posts called, Wisdom - To Celebrate Growing Older. Here are three ideas that struck me:
  1. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
  2. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
  3. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
Sigi seems to be a happy person by nature. Charlie B. and Dr. Toni, on the other hand, work actively on creating their life and being happy.

Check out the e-course, Shifting Gears at Midlife, for guidance in creating your own life.
Share with us some of the happy people you know.
Dr. Frank

Apr 29, 2012

Music and happiness

Being an American ex-pat living in Montreal for many years as well as being a Francophile offers me the best of both English and French-Canadian culture. For example, I get to see great English theatre at either the Centaur or the Segal Theatre and I get to listen to entertaining French music at local bistros.

The other evening I attended a tribute to Dalida, an iconic French singer, who died twenty-five years ago on May 3, 1987 at age 54. Claire Garand, an engaging, high-energy local French-Canadian singer, sang her heart out performing over 20 songs that Dalida popularized from the late 50's to the 80's. Claire gave her show at the Parc des Princes bistro before almost a hundred devotees of French songs.

I was thoroughly enthralled by the whole experience. It lead me to wonder about the connection between music and happiness. Surprisingly, Sonja Lyubomirsky in her marvelous book, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, doesn't talk about the connection between music and happiness.

Yet we know from recent scientific studies that "people love music for much the same reason they're drawn to sex, drugs, gambling and delicious food, according to new research. When you listen to tunes that move you, the study found, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction", according to Discovery News.

In the case of Dalida, it is sad to think that music can bring so much pleasure and so much pain. During her brilliant career Dalida sold 150 million records and brought joy to millions around the world. Yet her own life was increasingly filled with torment and unhappiness. Three of her numerous lovers committed suicide. She killed herself because as she wrote in her suicide note, "Life has become unbearable for me... Forgive me."

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Apr 24, 2012

Some more interesting websites from the distaff side

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently joined a private forum. I shared some articles from the websites of three of the amazing people in the group. Here is a sample of the work of three more members in the group that will surely interest you.

  • Jennifer Boykin runs the sassy blog Life After Tampons which talks to midlife women who have been hit in the face by life: physically, emotionally, economically. Her most recent post, Do You Have Staying Power? 5 Strategies to Stick with Your Goals, shares her top strategies for sticking with your goals. Here are the first two: view life as a series of small "wins" rather than one ultimate win and put together a series of "wins." Go for it! I believe that success, even in small things, builds on success.
  • Frances Arnold writes about nutrition, yoga, cooking, gardening, and love on her very own Frances L Arnold's Blog. In her March 25th post, Courageously Commit to Your Life, she shares with us her fears and dreams. She's now taking on a new practice to overcome her fears and deal with self-limiting beliefs. It's a practice that we should try emulating.
  • Deonne Kahler has created Life on the High Wire, an irreverent blog that is aimed at creative, independent-minded people who strive to do and be better. Check her informative article, The One Thing You Must Do to Have Financial Freedom for the Rest of Your Life, in which she explains her strategy for being mortgage free. I referred to the article in my own piece, A house may not be an asset but it can be useful when in debt, appearing at my companion website, Money and Midlife.

Dr. Frank

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