These days travel can be stressful given the TSA stuff, Ebola, and congestion among other issues. Nevertheless, I find travel to be deeply rewarding because it offers me so many different perspectives on life and business. I tend to be very open and friendly when I travel thereby meeting lots of interesting people from all kinds of backgrounds. It’s a great way to learn and expand your awareness. The more exposed one is to diverse perspectives the greater the chance of relating to others as if we are all in this together as opposed to us verses them or other limited ways of thinking and being. People are fascinating in all their shapes and sizes and personalities. And at the end of the day, most people want to feel and be loved even if they have a funny way of showing it at times!
Before I left Connecticut for Los Angeles in late September, I had a magical night on the fishing boat with my twin brother. Just as the sun was setting, emanating an outrageously gorgeous glow, I hooked into a twenty pound bass with light tackle. The ten minute fight was as exhilarating as the sunset. As I’ve written in other blog posts, spend time in nature! Life goes quickly as we all know. Nights Iike this one are forever!
I’m a huge pet and nature lover! Clients often come to me for Stress Management issues. I often suggest they spend time in nature, with a pet if they have one, or both. It’s nearly impossible to stay in your head, stressed out and miserable if you go for a long hike. Nature is so powerful that the elements will eventually cause the mind to release or let go! When was the last time you found yourself stressed out on a fishing boat? At some point, the mind lets go when exposed to beauty and the natural world, especially in copious amounts. So take a hike, go fishing or just hang with your beast the next time you are upset and see how the magic of nature and animals help!
Yesterday, I met with Greg Mathews, a former St. Louis Cardinale pitcher, who is now the pitching coach at both Glendale College and Compton College. He is helping young boys become better athletes and better pitchers, in particular, through a combination of strength and conditioning and technical expertise. We talked about Sports Psychology and the importance of the mental game, especially as kids are developing. Good mental and emotional habits lead to better performance, period. For instance, if we learn to harness the power of our minds to focus more and more on what we want and to let go of the myriad of drama and distractions then we will dramatically improve our game in life, business, and sports! I proved this last year with a minor league player who hit .208 and .212 his first two years in professional baseball without mental game coaching and with the assistance of Dr. Brett he hit .272 and is now well on his way to the next level!
My twin brother just sent me this pic from Bermuda where he is vacationing with his family! I sent him one from LA where I go every month as I commit to creating a business here in part to experience more creativity and diversity and in part to leave New England winters behind!
I’m writing this post from a coffee shop inside Rancho Park Golf Course, an awesome public facility walking distance from my apartment in Century City here in the heart of Los Angeles. I am reflecting on a great week of life that was special because I allowed the Flow! On previous trips I’ve over – scheduled and tried to squeeze too much in. This time I flew on a Saturday which takes the pressure off because I don’t have to go right into client mode or networking mode right off the airplane. It’s part of a greater desire to chill more, flow more and effort less! I’ve done less meetings this week than previous trips but the quality of the experiences was far better and more fun too. So if your at all driven or ambitious like me, perhaps there’s a way to do more Being and less Doing, a style of living that enhances the quality of your experiences and invites the Flow!!
I’ve been working hard for months and months with very little down time. This weekend my twin brother and I went on a three day golf and fishing holiday. Getting some sun, time away, twin time, and especially time on the water was just what the doctor ordered! Occasionally, I take clients for walks on the beach or to fish and even to hit golf balls. Sometimes, I take clients to my parents’ island where I walk them out over bridges and do a session looking at the water below or the pond in the back. There is something truly amazing about the water and the elements of nature I tell them, especially when it comes to letting go. Many of us are too busy; busy doing, doing, doing and spend very little time just being. Fishing and any activity involving water is a fantastic way to help the mind release and just be!
I mediate a lot, far more than most of the people I know and yet there is nothing like a few days of exposure to the elements to facilitate peace and a feeling of rejuvenation. I recommend time in nature every week to most everyone I guide. If you can find a few days in a row every so often, all the better!!
Last month I attended a sectional qualifier for the United States Open golf championship at Old Oaks Country Club in a Purchase, New York. Four golfers qualified out of a field of 77. I followed Lee Janzen of two time U.S Open winner fame and Cameron Wilson of Stamford University and the winner of the 2014,NCAA individual golf championship. The experience was especially fascinating because Cameron is 21 and Lee Janzen is 49. Both played well but not well enough though Cameron got in as an alternate beating Lee by a few shots finishing fifth. One at the twilight of his career, the other at the beginning, I was struck by the contrast and yet similarity of all athletes. No matter what age, true competitors want to win. Next month I am giving a presentation on the mental game to hockey players in Los Angeles. No matter who you are, athlete or entrepreneur, the same principles apply; you must deserve it, desire it, and know how to create it. This means present moment time, mental toughness, and physical ability. I teach the mental game because this is my thing. I love working with athletes and entrepreneurs because their commitment to excellence, in general, is much greater than the population at large. This means that the desire piece of the equation is gigantic, a real turn-on. The deserve piece means overcoming whatever fears and insecurities are in the way. Even the best of us have them and sometimes the best have more of them – Tiger Woods, Elliot Spitzer and Lawrence Taylor come to mind. Working through fear, insecurity, and self-sabotage can be a major challenge and yet it’s the biggest no-brainer ever. So whoever you are try to be honest with yourself, acknowledge your limitations, and find someone to guide you on the mental game in life, business and sports!
Learning more about the mind and it’s abilities is always fascinating to me! An article by Sumathi Reddy in the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal suggests that forgetfulness is not only pervasive as many of us suspect but linked to our genetics in a substantial way. For instance, one study found that 75 percent of people may carry a gene mutation that leads to higher incidences of forgetfulness. As we age, the brain shrinks making us more prone to memory and concentration lapses too. The good news is that there is plenty we can do to help ourselves. When we encode memories if we pay closer attention to our behavior we are more likely to remember things. In other words, the more present we are, the better our memory! This is part of how I teach others to succeed in life, business, and sports. The more in the here and now we are, the better our performance no matter what the activity!
Retrieval is also better if we can trace our emotional state to use as a clue to where we put a lost item in the first place. In other words, the more mindful we are the better our memories. This is also true of success and performance. Stress, depression and fatigue decrease memory, concentration and performance. On the other hand, putting ourselves in a great mental state improves many aspects of living including memory and performance!
Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times chronicles the travails of Mike Yurchison, an Iraq war veteran battling head injury and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). His girlfriend of three and a half years is struggling too, not sure if she can continue to hang in there with him considering all the challenges of dealing with a man shattered by war and mental illness. According to Mr. Yurchison, psychiatry has helped him become addicted to opiates and otherwise he has found these doctors “unhelpful.” This is too often the case. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are killing themselves at alarming rates. Mike’s brother and close friend, both veterans, recently killed themselves. We also see periodic rampages at military bases such as Fort Hood where medication is often part of the picture.
The issues are complex and challenging and some doctors are fantastic. War is a terrible thing too. However, mental health treatment, especially for veterans, too often relies on medication that is far more harmful than most doctors care to admit. Anti-anxiety meds are addictive and other meds prescribed for anxiety and depression are often toxic to the body. Prescription medication is a multi-billion dollar business after all. I recently had a dinner with a psychiatric nurse who is now medicating her entire practice. This woman was anti-meds just a few years ago.
As a society, we need more intense involvement well beyond medication for those suffering from mental illness. This would involve both communities and professionals and is especially true for veterans. I share this perspective from years of experience as a licensed psychologist helping countless people with severe anxiety, PTSD and depression to eventually get off most or all medication. We can do better.
In his weekly column in the New York Times Review section, Nicolas Kristof discusses the fundamental need for America to address poverty and crime by investing in preschool education and other early childhood education programs. I worked as a mental health consultant for three years at a Head Start Program in South Norwalk, Connecticut. I saw firsthand the value of early childhood education and the need for it. These poor, mostly African American and Hispanic kids, even with assistance, had little chance at the kind of success and opportunity that wealthier children have and continue to have in America. By age 5, the achievement gap can be as much as two years. In affluent towns, the school systems and teachers are far more skilled at delivering high quality education and support. Impoverished inner city environments put a tremendous burden on the young. Many children are raised by young mothers who lack the skills and resources to parent well. Without additional early assistance, as Kristof writes, we will be increasingly jailing troubled adolescents and young adults who could have been saved.