How to improve your memory

A good memory is a huge asset in every area of life, but how many people struggle to remember simple everyday things?

Psychologists universally agree that there’s a great deal we can do to improve. They  distinguish between short- and long-term memory. Short-term is the stuff of day to day living and long-term, well, longer. The techniques taught in memory books and courses deal mainly with the short term memory.

Improving short-term memory

Here are some hints:

  • Write things down. Make shopping lists, action plans, ‘to do’ lists. Keep a notepad with you – paper or electronic and use it.
  • Pay attention. You are more likely to remember something you pay attention to in the first place.
  • Take an interest – we find it easier to remember things which interest us. E.g. sports fans can reel off facts and figures from fixtures long ago.
  • Practise – like most skills, the more you practise, the better you get. And practising a little every day is more effective than a frantic session once a fortnight.
  • Repetition – the continual repetition of information, silently or aloud, ingrains it in the memory. Memory responds to repetition – this is a core principle.
  • Use rhymes – for example, ‘In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.’
  • Mnemonics involve using words and letters to remember things; a popular one is ‘ROYGBIV’ to recall the colours of the rainbow.
  • Weave the items you wish to remember into a story – the more outrageous the better. E.g. if you want to remember items on a shopping list your story might go: ‘One day, when spreading butter over the teacakes, an argument broke out. The man said he’d like some eggs. His wife asked him if he’d prefer bread instead. He said ‘no’, pulled out a tube of toothpaste and hit her over the head with it. She responded by hitting him with a bottle of shampoo….’
  • Use associations. They make use of the way the brain connects and stores information. E.g. the ‘place method’ – physically leaving objects in a special place which acts as a reminder; or ‘face name’ associations – changing a person’s name into something meaningful and matching it with something unusual about them, such as Mr Rose who has a big nose.
  • Another method is to mentally retrace a series of events to jog the memory, e.g. to remember where you left something or recall at what stage a significant incident happened.
  • Memory pegs are a popular way of remembering lists. You can invent memory pegs which mean something special for you. For example:

One is the sun

Two is a shoe

Three is a key

Four is a door

Five is a hive

Six is sticks

Seven is heaven

Eight is a gate

Nine is a sign

Ten is a pen

When you want to remember a list, such a shopping list of butter, eggs, bread, toothpaste and shampoo, ‘hang’ the items you want to remember on the pegs. Each item goes with one peg, and you imagine the two together. So, make an image of butter melting in the sun; eggs cracked over a shoe; bread on a table next to a key; a tube of toothpaste splattered on a door; shampoo spilt over a hive, etc.

When you want to recall the items, simply go through the peg words and note what object you placed on each peg. The pegs trigger your memory, and with practice you can easily remember up to two dozen items or more.

  • Use an affirmation. E.g. If you’re having difficulty recalling something, use an affirmation such as: ‘Right now, I can’t recall… but soon I will. My unconscious is helping me and it will come to me shortly’.
  • Triggers: Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax. Then put the thumb and fingers of your dominant hand together and whisper ‘Alpha’ under your breath (this acts as a ‘trigger’). Ask for the information you require. The answer may pop into your head immediately or come to you later. Your intuition will lead to where you left the object.
  • The ‘place’ method: e.g. imagine a set of the objects you want to remember placed in different locations around the house. Imagine them in different places as you move through each room in a logical order. With practice you’ll find it easy to recall the object/s you ‘left’ in each place.

Improving Your Long Term Memory

These techniques can be useful when you need to remember blocks of information for longer than, say, a week or two, for example when studying for an exam.

  1. Be systematic

Commit the information you wish to store and retrieve to memory systematically. This makes it easier to harmonise with material already stored. Sometimes recalling a fragment of information makes the rest more accessible.

  1. Think about it

Think about what you want to remember and its application to experiences you’re having: it makes a big difference.

  1. Focus

Next time you want to memorise something, imagine that your memory is a clean sheet of blotting paper. Focus intently, imagining the material being absorbed in the same way you would press the blotting paper over the page.

  1. Autosuggestion

Use autosuggestion to programme the memory ‘computer’ housed in your unconscious. Relax into the dreamy Alpha State (the ‘CALM’ setting on the AcuPearls can help with this), then affirm, with feeling:

‘I have perfect memory and concentration. Therefore I can recall instantly and easily whatever I hear, read or study. Because I have perfect memory, I can remember at will whatever I require. I am at one with the source of all knowledge.’

Do this regularly and you will soon notice an improvement. You may find it helps to record the message onto an audio device.

  1. Affirmations and Creative Imagery

You can use affirmations and Creative Imagery to programme your memory. E.g. if you want to remember the contents of a book or lecture, use the thumb and fingers trigger and affirm:

‘I will remember the information I am about to study easily. My mind is clear, my memory is perfect. It is the nature of my mind to remember effortlessly.’

When you have finished, affirm:

‘The information I have just studied will flow quickly and easily. My mind is clear, my memory is perfect. It is the nature of my mind to remember effortlessly.’

Accelerated Learning

Physical and mental relaxation assists learning by reducing anxiety. You can deliberately store information for straightforward retrieval using deep relaxation into Alpha State. This is the basis, for example, of the accelerated language learning method pioneered by Michel Thomas in the 1980s – he demonstrated that students could go from zero to proficiency in a few months.

Summary

Memory training appears daunting at first, but with perseverance the result can be impressive and have a knock on effect on all areas of life.

©David Lawrence Preston, 2.10.2018

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Children in Eastern Europe have long been using accelerated learning techniques to learn foreign languages, sometimes reaching fluency in just a few months. The language teacher, Michel Thomas, used these techniques to help celebrity students from nil to fluency in a few months.

 

Accelerated learning removes the main blockage to learning – stress. Pupils relax, close their eyes and drift off while the teacher speaks the information at a slow pace and prescribed pitch and rhythm. In some cases, they learn more than a hundred times faster than before.

 

You can do the same using the thumb and fingers trigger, which is particularly useful if you have reasons for wanting to absorb a large amount of information (e.g. an exam, or if you’re an actor/actress remembering your lines).

 

Relax. Bring the thumb and fingers together (this sends a signal to the brain to prepare for stronger programming). Affirm that you will easily remember everything you are about to see or hear. Add, ‘Nothing will distract me. I have superior concentration and understanding’.

 

Read the material (or record it beforehand) at a slow and steady pace. You will absorb and retain the information more readily than in the waking state.

 

When you’ve finished reading, again use the trigger to relax and affirm ‘I can recall the material I’ve just read/heard about… (mention the subject) at any time using the thumb and fingers trigger’.

 

When you need to recall the information, use the thumb and fingers trigger and affirm that the material will rapidly return to consciousness.

 

Steve, a young student, was worried about his forthcoming exams. He’d done very little work, but with less than a month to go, was willing to do whatever he could to get good grades. He prepared a précis of the information, recorded it onto tape and listened to it daily, morning and night. He used the memory affirmation and the thumb and fingers trigger. During the exams, he used quick relaxation techniques and deep breathing to stay calm.

 

Steve achieved the right grades. He felt he’d cheated the system, but he hadn’t. He’d just found a way to make his brain work better, and surely that’s what it’s all about.

 

These techniques work. They’re tried and tested and are frequently taught in memory training courses. But they have to be practised regularly for maximum results.

You won’t get far without self-belief. It’s one of the biggest factors in success, yet many people, even the most able, lack it.

To strengthen your belief in yourself:

  1. Make your short-term goals challenging but within reach. Your unconscious finds it hard to accept a huge leap but can adapt to a series of small steps. For instance, if you want to be a radio presenter, don’t expect an early call from a national station – you’ll only be discouraged when it doesn’t happen. Instead, get some experience on hospital radio, then work your way up to local radio, then regional stations.
  2. Reflect on your successes. A belief can be formed instantly, after one event, so long as you think about it and dwell on it. Whenever you succeed at something or exceed your expectations, reflect on it. Keep a list of the goals you’ve already achieved and read it through frequently. Your confidence will grow with every positive step, however small.

 

 

  • Read and repeat your written goals to yourself every day. Keep your mind on your goals, keep going and be alert to every opportunity.

Think success. When you face a difficult situation, think, ‘I can do it, I’m equal to the task’. Constantly remind yourself that you’re better than you used to think you were.

 

  • Write down affirmations that support your new beliefs. Copy them out frequently. Read them morning and night. Commit them to memory and repeat them silently as often as you wish.

 

  • Learn from others in every possible way. Associate with people who support your goals and share your philosophy. Read self-development books. Listen to motivational audio materials. Attend workshops and lectures given by inspirational people.

 

  • Persist, persists, persist. Don’t let anyone steal your dream or alter your new reality.

 

 

 

Exercise 5.9

 

Think of additional things you can do to build beliefs.

Write them down.

And do them.

 

 

 

The Power of Suggestion

Suggestions have a big influence over our lives. Tell anyone something convincingly enough and they’ll accept what you say. Tell them over and over again and sooner or later they’ll start to believe you.

Unfortunately it’s often the suggestions of others that we allow to control us. For instance:

  • Advertisers use them to persuade us to buy their products. Promotional suggestions are often recalled years after they ceased to be used.
  • Politicians use them too with catchy phrases (whether or not they’re true) as we’ve recently seen with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum.
  • Parents use them all the time. Young children tend to believe everything their parents say. E.g. when a young child gets hurt and Mum ‘kisses it better’ it does feel better, even though there’s no logical reason why it should.
  • Placebos – pills and potions with no active ingredients – can cure illnesses for no other reason than the patient believes they can. Placebos were once treated as a bit of a joke – as if the patient were ‘fooled’ into getting well -but now they’re taken very seriously indeed.
  • Suggestions don’t necessarily have to be direct: parents who receive a letter from school about head lice in their child’s class often feel itchy!
  • Nor do suggestions have to be verbal. Non-verbals (gestures, facial expressions and so on) can be even more powerful, and verbal suggestions backed up by visual, taste, tactile or olfactory stimuli can be extremely compelling.
  • Some hospital radio stations do not play certain records because of the effect they could have on patient recovery. For example, ‘My Way’ (‘And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain’), ’ ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’,  ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ contain some unhelpful suggestions!

You’ve used suggestion many times, and it has also been used on you. You can learn to make good use of this vital tool to:

  • help internalise your goals.
  • replace negative attitudes and beliefs with positive ones.
  • relax and combat stress.
  • cultivate better relationships with yourself and others.
  • change unwanted habits and personality traits.
  • build confidence in yourself and your abilities.

… and for many other purposes.

Suggestion, Affirmations and the Law of Attraction

Affirmations are simply suggestions made to ourselves – statements that represent how we are or how we want our lives to be. They help bring into effect the great Universal Law of Attraction:

Whatever your mind dwells upon, with feeling, you attract into your life.

Think about it – do you know anyone who is always talking about their illnesses and who is always ill? Or anyone who is always running themselves down, and who consequently never achieves very much?

Affirmations are powerful tools that use the power of structured repetition. One of the best known was formulated by Emil Coué in the 1920’s: ‘Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.’ He helped many people to heal themselves using this simple phrase. Try it for yourself!

Properly phrased affirmations make a big impact on your unconscious, but be aware you must observe certain rules, otherwise they may backfire.

The following rules apply to affirmations. They’re even more effective when used in conjunction with deep relaxation (this is called ‘autosuggestion’) – but slightly different rules apply.

Personalise your affirmations

Affirmations which attempt to change other people are totally ineffective. Repeating ‘Jim loves me’ does not work, because only Jim can make this choices. But you can affirm ‘I am attracting a wonderful person into my life who has… (all the qualities you’re looking for)’ You may not win Jim over, but you will find someone to your liking.

A simple way to personalise your affirmations is to use the first person pronoun, ‘I’. For example:

  • I accept, love and approve of myself.
  • Every day, I am becoming more calm, peaceful and relaxed.
  • I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, peaceful and happy.
  • I am a positive person. I think, act and talk positively at all times.

Another way to personalise – and strengthen – your affirmations – is to use the ‘first, second and third person’ technique. Let’s suppose you want to be a calmer and more confident person. Add your first name and affirm:

  • I, Chris, am a calm and confident person.
  • You, Chris, are a calm and confident person.
  • Chris is a calm and confident person.

Use positive words and phrases

It’s important to always use words and phrases that express what you want, not what you don’t want. Otherwise you might inadvertently end up with the opposite of what you intended.

The unconscious often overlooks a negation if it occurs in the middle of a sentence. If you affirm, ‘I will not fail’, only the word ‘fail’ registers. It’s far better to affirm, ‘I am a success’.

I recently heard a woman telling how she stuck little notices all over her house one morning reminding her not to forget her son’s team’s football kit for the match that afternoon. The notes said, ‘Don’t forget the kit’. Guess what happened!

Make your affirmations credible

This is one of the biggest secrets for using self-suggestion. The purpose of self-suggestion is to impress your unconscious with empowering beliefs which reflect the way you want to be. This is why some writers recommend stating all your affirmations in the present tense, i.e. beginning your affirmations with ‘I am’, ‘I can’, ‘I have’, ‘I do’ etc.

The problem, though, is that an affirmation which totally contradicts your current belief system alerts a mechanism in the brain known as the Reticular Activating System (or ‘Critical Censor’). It can assert itself in many ways, such as an uncomfortable feeling in the chest or solar plexus or a quiet but persistent voice in your head saying, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ This is your old programming and conditioning trying to reassert itself.

How do you get round this?

Firstly, consider affirmations as a tool for change rather than statements of absolute truth. Think of them as planting seeds. You won’t see the results immediately, but have faith in the technique, and you will.

Another way is to choose your wording carefully so the suggestion will bypass the Critical Censor. This is how:

  • Put all weaknesses and limitations in the past tense.
  • Affirm your willingness to change.
  • Affirm that you are making good progress towards your goal, and this continue.
  • Affirm your determination to do whatever you can to improve.

A useful form of wording is:

‘I used to be… but all that is changing. Now I am becoming more and more… ‘

For example, if you’re shy, affirm: ‘I used to be shy, but all that is changing. I am becoming more assertive every day. I know I can and I will continue to improve.’

More examples:

  • I used to believe that I was weak, but all that is changing, and I am now becoming stronger and stronger each day.
  • I used to be negative, but that attitude is now behind me. Nowadays I think, talk and act positively at all times.
  • I used to be judgemental, but that is now changing. Every day, I am becoming more open and accepting of myself and others.

Say your self-suggestions as if you really mean them

The Law of Attraction is widely misunderstood. Just wishing or hoping – even believing – are not enough. You must invest some energy into the conditions you wish to create. In other words, you must do something.

As a first step, invest some emotional energy into the affirmations themselves. Say them out loud, enthusiastically. Mean what you say. A thought alone has little power, but when expressed with genuine feeling, it has real impact. Emphasise your words with passion, a strong tone of voice, movement and firm intent.

For maximum impact, also:

  • Write them out every day – this reinforces them in your unconscious.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror as you speak them.
  • Jot them down in your diary, list them on cards, programme them into your mobile phone, carry them with you and read throughout the day.
  • Record them onto a recording device and listen frequently.
  • Write them on sticky labels and place them anywhere you routinely look.
  • If your goal is something tangible, carry a reminder of it with you and affirm that it is yours every time you look at it.
  • You can increase the effectiveness of your affirmations by adding, ‘This, or something better, I accept for myself, for my greatest good and the greatest good of all’.

Keep at it

The unconscious loves repetition. The more you use self-suggestion, the more effective it is.

It takes about a month to change an old thinking pattern, so don’t give up. Affirm whenever you can, wherever you are, especially during those times when the mind is naturally most receptive. Last thing at night is a good time – give it something uplifting to work on while you are asleep. Another good time is first thing in the morning. If you can find a few moments during the day to relax and unwind – terrific!

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 23.11.2018

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Can We Really Think And Grow Rich?

In the Victorian era success was believed to be about hard work, serious effort, application and persistence, and maybe a slice of privilege or good luck.

Later Deepak Chopra and other ‘New Age writers taught that by raising our consciousness we achieve everything while doing nothing, and it doesn’t matter what our background.

Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, writing in the 1930s, laid one of America’s most influential and barely recognised authors, Dr Napolean Hill.

I first came across his seminal work, Think and Grow Rich, in the late 80s. At that time I taught in the business department of a university. One day, the secretary of the students’ association invited me to attend a talk given by a former professional footballer who had gone on to make a fortune in the insurance industry. The subject was Think and Grow Rich.  At first, I wasn’t attracted to what I thought (wrongly) was just another book preaching ‘greed is good’. Remember, in this was the Thatcher era. Government ministers showed little empathy for the poorest in society, and every week on TV Harry Enfield’s comic character ‘Loadsamoney’ could be heard mocking the lowly paid as traditional industries collapsed around them.

But I attended. An hour and a half later I was convinced that this was exactly what we should be teaching our students. This was the missing link between academic and vocational success and in many ways the key to happiness at all levels.

Napolean Hill was just starting out on his career in journalism when he met the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, at that time reputedly the world’s richest man. Carnegie, a Scot, had arrived in the USA penniless. He was convinced that the formula for success could be identified and expressed in simple terms that anyone could apply. They made a deal. Carnegie would introduce the young journalist to five hundred of America’s most financially successful men. Hill would interview them and publish his findings. No money would change hands since Carnegie reasoned that once Dr Hill had completed his task, he would need no payment from him.

TAGR was first published in 1937. It was an immediate success. The first five thousand copies quickly sold out despite there being no advertising. Another ten thousand copies were printed, then another twenty thousand, and all sold out within a few weeks. To date, more than fifteen million copies have been sold.

What is the formula that Dr Hill so eloquently articulated? It is based on two sets of ideas – The Six Steps to Riches and the Thirteen Step Programme to Wealth and Success.

Here are the Six Steps:

  • Fix in your mind precisely what you want. ‘Know what you want’, wrote Dr Hill, ‘and you’ll generally get it.’
  •  Determine what you intend to give in exchange. You have to give before you can get, and nothing comes for free.
  •  Establish a definite date by which you intend to have it.
  •  Make a plan and start right away. If the plan isn’t working, amend it, but never give up.
  •  Write a statement of intention on a small card and place it where you can see it. This keeps your goal permanently etched in your mind.
  •  Read the statement several times a day. Let your subconscious mind absorb it.

These Six Steps are complemented by thirteen action points and principles:

  • Desire is ‘the starting point of all achievement, and the first step to riches.’ Dr Hill wrote, ‘All success starts with selecting a definite purpose, the desire to achieve it, and commitment to it.’
  • Faith: ‘a state of mind which may be induced or created by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind through the principle of autosuggestion.’ ‘There are no limitations other than those we impose on ourselves,’ wrote Dr Hill, ‘because both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.’
  •  Auto-suggestion: self-administered suggestion in the form of affirmations to be used morning and night and frequently in between.
  •  Specialised knowledge: Contrary to the well-known maxim, knowledge is not power, but potential power. It only becomes power when it is organised into plans of action and directed to a definite end
  •  Imagination: Everything starts out as an idea waiting to be brought into expression. Imagination may be cultivated through relaxed visualisation, which also strengthens belief in attainment.
  •  Organised planning is the crystallisation of desire into action. To be sure of success, argued Dr Hill, you must have plans that are faultless. You also need a Plan B (and a Plan C and maybe D).
  •  Decision: Lack of decision is a major cause of failure. It causes procrastination, ‘a common enemy which practically all must conquer.’
  •  Persistence: Dr Hill had much to say on this subject. ‘Persistence is to the character of man what carbon is to steel,’ he wrote. ‘No man is ever whipped until he quits in his own mind.’  And ‘every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.’
  •  The Master Mind: No individual has sufficient knowledge and experience to succeed massively without the cooperation of other people. The Mastermind is the harmonious coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.
  •  Sex Transmutation: Sex energy is the creative energy of all geniuses, but it must be channelled into constructive activity.  This means the switching of the mind from thoughts of physical expression to thoughts of some other nature.
  •  The Subconscious Mind:  Dr Hill wrote that the subconscious is ‘a field of consciousness in which every impulse of thought is classified and recorded and from which thoughts may be withdrawn as letters may be taken from a filing cabinet’. It receives and files impressions or thoughts, and draws upon the forces of Infinite Intelligence for its power.
  •  The Brain: Every brain is capable of picking up vibrations of thought being released by other brains. ‘Our brains become magnetised with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds,’ and ‘the circumstances of life harmonise with the nature of our dominant thoughts.’ Dr Hill was teaching the ‘Law of Attraction’ long before it entered the popular imagination.
  •  The Sixth Sense (or intuition) can be understood and assimilated only by mastering the other twelve principles.  This is the receiving mechanism by which ideas, plans and thoughts flash into the mind, and the medium of contact between the finite mind of the human being and the Infinite Intelligence.

So what made Think and Grow Rich the runaway success that it became? Well obviously it offered hope at a time of great economic hardship and was based on thorough research and experience. ‘Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,’ became his most famous phrase. Since we all have the ability to desire, to think, to imagine, our destiny is in our own hands. Moreover, since the Infinite Intelligence does not play favourites, riches are within everyone’s reach.

But there’s more. Far from being a mere formula, it is a profound work of practical and spiritual philosophy. Hill believed there were universal forces beyond our intellectual understanding and identified the blockages that prevent most of us rising above the daily grind, most of which exist only in our limiting thoughts and imagination. He drew on ancient wisdom, that we accomplish nothing without the Power (or ‘Infinite Intelligence’) that works within us. And he gave us tools that anyone able to think and act for themselves could use.

There’s little doubt that virtually every Western success coach and motivational speaker owes Dr Napolean Hill a huge debt without necessarily acknowledging his influence. Most of the self-help books that I have read merely regurgitate his ideas using modern, NLP-influenced terminology and up to date examples. Many of today’s motivational gurus are slick, polished performers well versed in the persuasive arts (take a look at the YouTube clips of Napolean Hill and you’ll see he was none of these things), but scratch beneath the surface and you soon discover that they add little to Dr Hill’s original work.

But here’s the rub. On the surface, TAGR appears to be about financial success, but look a little deeper and you realise it’s much more. ‘Riches’ do not just consist of money – they are anything just and worthwhile that your heart desires. Dr Hill said so himself.  Health, happiness, friendship, peace of mind, love… all are ‘riches’, subject to the same principles of acquisition.

Can we think and grow rich? Certainly. And as Dr Hill concluded, ‘when riches begin to come, they come so quickly and in such great abundance, that you will wonder where they have been hiding during all those lean years!’

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 22.2.2018

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Bridge and the Game of Life

Having recently taken up the game again after a twenty year gap, it seems to me that in many ways Bridge is an analogy for life.

Think about it. People come from North, South, East and West. Everyone must come to the table. There are rules and conventions to be observed.  If you don’t, you’ll be disappointed. The game can be relaxed and informal or more serious.

You form partnerships. You also have to face rivals and antagonists. There are dealers and dummies and most of us can benefit from good teachers to help us face the challenge. There is also merit from teaching others.

You’re dealt a hand; it may be balanced or unbalanced, strong, medium or weak. Your task is to make the best of it. Others are dealt hands too, but you don’t get to see their cards until the hand is played. Some have more winning cards than others. Some have lots of trumps, others none at all.  You look for a good fit with your partner/s taking account of both your and their strengths and weaknesses.

You make a play for what you want. Sometimes you’re over optimistic and take on too much; sometimes too pessimistic, undervaluing yourself and your resources. Sometimes you have to bluff.

Having bid, you play your cards. Sometimes you lead, sometimes follow. You have to follow suit if you can and if you don’t you’re in trouble. It feels good when you can trump.

Sometimes you’re vulnerable. The rewards for winning when vulnerable are considerable, but so are the potential losses. It takes courage to aim high but the payoff is great.

At the end of each hand, you add up the points. You’re a winner or a loser, but you decide how much it matters. Have you enjoyed the game? Have your co-contestants enjoyed playing with you?

Eventually we all leave the table. Are you happy to do so, or regretful? Can you look back on hands well played and lessons learned from your mistakes? If so, you’ve got it!

©David Lawrence Preston, 5.11.17

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Are you getting enough?

It is said that we can go five weeks without food, five days without water and five minutes without oxygen. Oxygen we normally take for granted, food we enjoy, but drinking pure water can be an effort for many.

Water make up on average two thirds of our body weight – higher for younger people and much less (as little as one third) for older people. Dehydration can be a problem at any age but is a major health problem for many of the elderly.

We should drink around 1 litre for every 30 kg of our body weight (less if our diet contains lots of foods with high water content, mainly fruit and vegetables). But most of us drink much less than that, especially older people wary of incontinence and frequent trips to the toilet. This is an even greater problem if the person has restricted mobility. Fetching a drink can be a problem, as can getting to the bathroom in time. In addition many people find plain water bland.

However, there can be serious health implications of not drinking enough. It can cause headaches, constipation and urinary tract infections and reduce muscle and tissue pliability, and also mental problems such as dizziness, confusion and tiredness.

Drinking adequate amounts of water reduces all these risks, and can also reduce the risk of kidney stones and gallstones, protect against blood clots (and hence strokes and thrombosis), helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Good hydration also reduces the risk of heart disease by around 50%.

What counts as healthy fluid? Well first of all, animal milks don’t count. Milk is a food not a drink. Beer and caffeinated drinks don’t count either. The ideal fluids are pure, fresh, non-carbonated water, herbal and fruit teas and diluted, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices. A dash of lemon juice can be added to water for flavour. They should be taken at room temperature or only slightly chilled.

Whether tap water or bottled water is best depends partly on where you are – in some areas the tap water is highly chemicalised and leaves an after taste. The jury is out, but most are agreed it’s better to drink tap water than none at all.

It’s best to drink the most during the daytime. Evening drinks can cause anxiety over visits to the toilet during the night. Drink little an often. Think of a dry sponge – pour water over it and it runs off, but gently add a few drops at a time and it absorbs.

Most people live busy lives of course, but taking a few moments each to day to make sure we’re properly hydrated is an investment of time and effort well worth making.

 

©Feeling Good All The Time, 25.10.2017

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Exercise – Luxury, Pleasure, Necessity?

Oscar Wilde once said that whenever he felt the urge to exercise he would lie down and rest until it went away. Shame! This is a certain recipe for physical ill health, stress and mental deterioration. However, the amount and type of exercise needed to stay healthy are well within the grasp of most people.

One of the most disturbing aspects of modern life is how little physical activity many of us undertake. In Britain, eight out of ten adults are so physically inactive they are damaging their health, and the numbers are rising. Three-quarters of young Britons have less than two hours’ physical education per week at school, and almost a quarter of 12-15 year-old wheeze after a brief jog. And it’s getting worse. Research in 2015 – three years after the London Olympics that were supposed to help raise participation rates in the UK – nearly half a million fewer people were participating in physical activity. The biggest culprits were distractions such as TV and computers.

The benefits of regular exercise are too numerous to list. They include more energy and stamina, increased resistance to disease, lower cholesterol levels, deeper, more satisfying sleep, and a more youthful appearance. Exercise also brings mental benefits such as increased self-confidence, better concentration, improved memory and greater resilience to stress. It is also vital for weight control. The metabolic rate is raised both during exercise and for hours afterwards, burning off fat and excess calories.

As little as thirty minutes rapid walking four times a week can provide up to ten years of rejuvenation, making the heart more efficient, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and significantly increasing life expectancy. Indeed, sixty year-old men who have exercised regularly throughout their lives have reaction times equal to, or better than, inactive men in their twenties and women who exercise have lower rates of breast and reproductive-system cancers.

Exercise is also a natural tranquilliser and antidepressant. It helps releases the stress chemicals which flood the body when we are stressed. We’re also happier when we exercise because the ‘happy hormones’ known as endorphins are released into the bloodstream bringing feelings of elation which can still be felt long after. Endorphins also block feelings of pain and help manage stress and depression.

What Kind of Exercise Do You Need?

Twenty to thirty minutes a day sufficient to raise the rate of breathing is adequate for most adults to maintain good health. Make discreet adjustment to your lifestyle. For instance, walk or cycle instead of using motorized transport and use the stairs instead of the lift. Buy a push mower – gardening is excellent aerobic exercise.

You need:

  • Endurance exercises to build stamina, improve breathing and condition the cardiovascular system.
  • Flexibility or stretching exercise to loosen the muscles, build suppleness and prevent stiffness; aches and pains in the joints as we get older are not so much the result of aging or arthritis, but lack of use.
  • And you need strengthening exercises to increase or maintain muscle power.

Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

Aerobic increases the oxygen supply in the bloodstream (aerobic means ‘in combination with oxygen’). It increases lung capacity, burns fat and builds stamina. It includes anything that can be done at a steady rate without becoming breathless: walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, dancing, etc.

Aerobic exercise also helps burn off excess adrenalin and the harmful toxins that result from stress and tension. We can’t always respond to frustration and stressful situations with instant fight or flight, but we can work it off walking, jogging, cycling or swimming.

In contrast, anaerobic exercise burns starch and builds strength. ‘Anaerobic’ means ‘in the absence of oxygen’. Any activity which leaves you breathless is anaerobic. It involves short, intense bursts of energy which impose a much greater strain on the body.

If you’ve been physically inactive, start with gentle aerobic exercise and increase your work rate gradually. Make sure you can do it without discomfort before attempting strenuous anaerobic exercise.

Stretching and loosening

Stretching and loosening builds suppleness, prevents stiffness, relieves muscle tension and reduces the risk of injury. Create a regular routine of stretching and moving the joints and muscles is recommended. One excellent way is yoga. Anyone who does yoga regularly will be supple well into their later years.

Hints on exercise

Within a few days of beginning a sensible exercise programme, anyone who hasn’t taken regular exercise will find they’re looking and feeling better than they’ve done for years.

  • If you are over forty, have a medical check up before you start exercising, especially if you haven’t exercised regularly for a while.
  • Don’t try to do too much to begin with. Stay within your limits and increase your work rate gradually.
  • Always warm up first. A few minutes of gentle loosening and stretching protects the heart, muscles and joints from injury.
  • Exercise at least three times a week at a time to suit you. Choose activities you enjoy.
  • Never miss a session (unless you’re ill). It’s easier to get out of shape than into it. It takes several months to reach peak condition, but your fitness can be lost in two or three weeks of inactivity.
  • Cool down afterwards, e.g. a few minutes of gentle loosening and stretching.
  • Don’t overdo it. You should feel better five minutes after completing exercise than you did before. If you feel breathless, slow down until your body is safely used to it.
  • Don’t exercise too hard if you are ill. Your body needs the energy for recovery.
  • Allow yourself plenty of recuperation time between sessions. Your body will recover more quickly and you will be less likely to get injured.
  • Smile! Nothing else benefits the facial muscles as much.

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Weight Control

An obese man was given a list of permitted foods by his doctor. ‘Fine,’ he said having read the first few items – lettuce, carrots, celery, etc – ‘but do I take them before or after meals?’

Unless you have a medical condition which interferes with metabolism, there are only two ways to lose weight – eat less and exercise more.

If you are overweight, first get yourself checked out by a doctor. Then, if there is nothing medically wrong, avoid eating and drinking between meals (no nibbling and snacking), eat smaller portions (you’ll soon find that a smaller amount of food makes you feel satisfied and comfortably full) and choose only health giving, low sugar, high fibre, low fat foods and drinks, which are consistent with a slim figure.

Reinforce your weight control programme by using the I-T-I-A Formula:

  1. Clarify your intention by setting firm, challenging but realistic goals. Set deadlines by which you intend to achieve your milestones.
  1. Changing your thinking and beliefs about weight (e.g. reinforce the idea that if you eat less and exercise more, you will lose weight – no excuses!). Affirm that things are already changing and you will succeed.
  1. Mentally ‘imagine’ yourself having reached your target weight.
  1. Take action, monitor your progress, make adjustments if necessary, and persist until you succeed.

The types and amounts of exercise needed to reap the rewards are well within the reach of most people, even those who have not previously exercised regularly. Go for it!

 

©Feelinggoodallthetime, 27.6.2017

Nothing herein is intended as a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor or qualified health care professional about any condition that may require diagnosis or treatment.

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The AcuPearl Sport is designed to support the body during exercise. Further details – www.AcuPearl.co.uk.

 

How to Books, 2010

6 Tips for Inner Peace

Inner peace if destroyed by mental tension. The source of most mental tension is the ego – that part of our psyche which constructs the image of ourselves we like to present to the world.  Your ego is your idea of who you should be and who you would like others to think you are.

How do we put the ego in its rightful place and create inner peace for ourselves? Here’s six thoughts:

1. Give up the need to be right

Giving up the need to be right has nothing to do with whether you actually are right or not (which is often a moot point), but avoiding making others wrong.

Let everyone have their say and keep your counsel. Unless you absolutely must (e.g. in a difficult negotiation situation), avoid arguments and disagreements and refuse to respond to provocation.

In the greater scheme of things, you and your adversary are at one, so look for ways you can both be right. That’s win-win.

2. Stop judging

A judgement is ‘a view or declaration of what is good, right or fair.’ Some judgements are necessary because they help us to make sound decisions. Take driving for instance: judging speed, distance and direction are essential for our safety.

But there are other kinds of judgements: judging what is good or bad, better, worse, right, wrong, moral, immoral and so on. These are judgements of the ego.

Stop judging other people. Who are you to judge them? How can you condemn the path they have chosen? What right have you to make statements about what they are doing and where they need to be?

 3. Get away from ‘what’s in it for me’

‘What’s in it for me’ is the mantra of the ego. Its first instinct is to protect and take care of itself.

The deeper, Inner Self has different priorities. It sees the bigger picture. It is concerned with what’s most likely to benefit all and how you can help.

4. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Ego-dominated people feed off others’ approval. They are preoccupied with their reputation and easily take offence. They are easy targets since they are easily upset and become aggressive when they feel under attack.

Learn not to take offence at what others say or do. Remember, when someone disagrees with you or criticises you, they’re judging only your outward appearance, not the real you. Step back – there’s always a lighter side!

5. Put a stop to jealousy

Jealousy is born of fear. The ego is dominated by fear. It begrudges others their talents and achievements, not recognising that one person’s success can benefit all.

In order to feel jealous, you must compare yourself unfavourably with others. Let go of the need to compare yourself with others. Take pleasure in their good fortune. Wish them happiness. What matters is not what others have or do, but how far you have progressed along your path.

6. Constantly remind yourself who you are

Constantly remind yourself you are Infinite Intelligence in human form. Stop looking outside yourself and instead look within to where lasting peace and joy may be found.

Before long, you won’t need to remind yourself any more – you’ll just know it.

The difference it makes

When you discover the truth about yourself, that you in essence are a spiritual being, your self-image is no longer based on your physical features. Your deepest values are non-physical – happiness, peace, love, truth and so on. You transcend your previous limitations.

You are equally aware of others as spiritual beings on their own journey. You see them in terms of their virtues, values and talents. Love is your predominant feeling towards them.

You take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions because you know they are the seeds of your future harvest. You approach problems differently. You know that if you want change you must focus on ’causes’ because it is absurd to expect ‘effects’ to deal with themselves. You are self-reliant, at ease with yourself and warm and respectful towards others.

Isn’t this what you want?

©David Lawrence Preston, 23.6.2017

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How to Books, 2007

Don’t be a ‘praying beggar’!

Many religious people believe that prayer is about pleading for miracles or flattering a supernatural being into taking pity on them. They assume that some higher power is able and willing to intervene directly in earthly affairs.

A more enlightened approach is to reject the notion that prayer is for acquiring things or having our problems solved for us by an outside force. Instead it is to help hasten our personal growth.

All change starts from within. We get inspiration not in the form of miraculous interventions, but ideas, ideas that bring motivation and solutions and guide us towards constructive actions that bring the right results.

Prayer changes the person who prays

When you pray, don’t ask for changes in your circumstances, but in yourself. Prayer brings about changes in the character of the person who prays:

  • Our perceptions The world becomes a more peaceful and loving place, reflecting back the changes taking place within us.
  • As we incorporate more of the higher qualities into ourselves, we are able to make a real difference to our own and other people’s lives.

Pray alone, in private

Spend regular quiet time in prayer and contemplation. Go to a quiet place, put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and close it behind you. Focus on noble ideas, ideas of truth that come from the heart. Invite your Inner Power to guide you. You don’t have to pray to an outside ‘presence’ unless you want to – ask your inner self for ideas and for the means to actualize them.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 21.6.2017

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Adventure before dementia

Saw a sign on the back of a camper van today. It read ‘adventure before dementia.’ It made me think. I know people who have played it safe, stuck to the same profession for forty years and even worked in the same building for several decades. Some of them are retired now and living very comfortably on a good pension where they do the garden, read the newspaper, go out for Sunday lunch and watch the detective dramas on ITV3.

My life has been completely different. I’ve worked as a market researcher, university lecturer, hypnotherapist and life coach, tutor trainer, training manager, tour guide, marketeer and mail sorter. I’ve pursued by interests in health, spirituality, happiness, energy medicine and wellbeing to the nth degree. I’ve visited every inhabited continent except Africa, stood for Parliament, taught in Moscow, North Carolina, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. I lived in Brazil for a while, have been married three times, had four beautiful children (all grown up now and thriving) and published eight books. All of this while having undiagnosed Aspergers!

I’m 64 now, still taking risks and show no signs of letting up. There’s no sign of dementia (yet), but still plenty of adventure! And I hope it stays that way until the day I die!

 

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How to Books, 2010

 

 

5 reasons to forgive

Practise forgiveness

Judging, blaming, bearing grudges and forgiveness are closely related. Before you need to forgive you must have judged, blamed and felt a measure of fear. Otherwise there would be nothing to forgive.

It is not for you to decide whether the recipient deserves to be forgiven is not. Forgiveness is not about condoning wrongdoing, but is part of the process of righting wrongs and putting something better in their place.

Five irresistible reasons to forgive

  1. When we forgive, we free ourselves from anger, bitterness and resentment and create inner peace. Our bodies feel less tense. The incident becomes merely a memory, no longer charged with emotion.
  1. Everything we give out returns to us. When we forgive, the bitterness evaporates and we avoid being on the end of others’ bitterness in future.
  1. We take responsibility for our lives rather than expecting something outside our control to happen or someone else to change.
  1. We forgive not so much for the other person (they may know that we’ve forgiven them). We do it for ourselves. Who benefits the most when you forgive – YOU! There’s a wise old saying: Acid harms only the vessel that contains it.
  1. Forgiveness brings our awareness to the present. We let go of the past, stop plotting for the future, let go and move on.

Forgive yourself too

Guilt is one of most disempowering emotions and one of the most common. Many people fret over things they can do little about, and some even feel guilty knowing they’ve done nothing wrong.

Guilt is a futile emotion because it is rooted in the past which, of course, can’t be changed. All we can do is change our thoughts and feelings about it.

What about you? You deserve forgiveness as much as anyone else. What do you need to be forgiven for? You have made mistakes – we all have. Instead of feeling guilty, look for the lessons and don’t make the same mistakes again.

Do you find it hard to forgive?

Do you ever feel you’re not ready to forgive? You want to, you know it makes sense and yet those blaming thoughts keep coming.

If so, start by wanting to, then intending to forgive. The willingness to forgive is a major step.

  • Examine your beliefs about forgiveness. Do you believe that you have to get even for every wrong done to you? Do you believe that forgiveness is a sign of weakness? Do these beliefs serve you well?
  • Eliminate unforgiving thoughts. Sow thoughts of love, empathy and forgiveness. Affirm – Perfect order is now established in my mind. I am at peace.
  • Picture the person who you wish to forgive. Surround this image in white light and affirm, ‘From this moment on, I send you love and light.’ ‘See’ the two of you as connected.
  • Extend love, generosity and compassion to them and avoid petty acts of revenge.

 

©David Lawrence Preston 6.6.2017

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