15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


Breathe Like It’s 1999


I did something the other night that I’ve never done before. I went outside to get some fresh air. Now, I have been outside before. And I have also breathed air while I was outside. And while I have no direct scientific evidence to prove it, I’m sure a case could be made that the outside air was indeed fresher than the inside air. But this evening I actually went outside for the sole purpose of breathing.

Everyone has probably been told by some adult figure to go outside and get some fresh air. Especially my generation, since the personal computer became mainstream as I was growing up and nerdism became an epidemic.

But that was always advice I never took. Unless it became an order to get out of the house, in which case I sat outside pining for my Apple IIC, not getting any appreciation out of the air.

So what prompted this sudden desire to go outside and breathe? I just finished reading The Science of Being Well, by Wallace Wattles (who also wrote the Science of Getting Rich and The Science of Being Great). The more books I read, the more convinced I become that everything was already discovered thousands of years ago. For example, millions of people were so impressed by that book The Secret, since it was recommended by Oprah Winfrey (full disclosure: I’ve never read it) even though from what I understand it’s essentially the same ideas presented by Napolean Hill in his breakthrough book Think and Grow Rich (read it). Which in turn was mostly information covered by The Science of Getting Rich by Wattles in 1901.

Just like The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach was really a new version of The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason from 1926. For those of you that read my book, in the Foreword I cover the fact that I don’t have any new ideas.

But getting back on point, Wattle talks about the idea of exercise and how we shouldn’t exercise for the sake of exercise. One of the things that we should learn to appreciate and enjoy on a daily basis is breathing. Straighten your spine, put your shoulders back, lift your head and inhale. Learn to appreciate breathing for the sake of breathing. Let it become a habit throughout the course of your day to straighten up, breathe deeply, and let the oxygen replenish your body. This will benefit your posture, your circulation, your core muscles, your energy level and your general appreciation of all things air.

And this was from 1901, before aerobics and cardio classes. Of course yogis have been teaching the importance of breathing for thousands of years before this, so like I said, no new ideas…

Appreciate breathing. If you can’t appreciate breath, have a friend hold you underwater for a while. You’ll appreciate breath.

What other simple things can we learn to appreciate more that will benefit our health?


This Is What My Cat Let Me Write Today

So I should be working right now, but my kitten is curled up on my lap grooming herself. Since this is one of those very rare instances where she is not biting me; I thought I would start writing on my iPhone notepad whatever comes into my mind until the clicking noise gets to her and she goes back into biting mode. Then perhaps I will snap a photo of her “mean face.”

Hopefully those of you following my blog are not in desperate need of a pick me up or advice from me. Instead I’m just stream-of-consciousness writing for the duration of my kittens good mood. Except now she has fallen asleep, which means I could end up being here for another hour or so (how long exactly is a cat nap?). I know an hour doesn’t mean anything to you, since all of this will have been shunted into the “past” column by the time you read this. Instead I’ll need to translate it into terms you will understand. For example, my kitten was sleeping for four hundred words or seven and a half paragraphs.

While I have gotten fairly adept at typing on an iPhone screen, this is actually starting to wear down my thumbs. Probably since I haven’t kept up on my Nintendo skills over the decades. As my thumbs start to cramp, I’m beginning to rethink this whole idea of typing until my cat turns mean again. In fact there is the temptation to jostle her to get her off me and instigate a fight so I can stop typing.

But how can I do that when she looks so peaceful? Taking a quick break to switch to camera mode…photo

See? Isn’t she precious? Unfortunately the camera clicky nose wasn’t quite enough to rouse her so I am still stuck. Or am I? As it turns out, it is close enough to feeding time that my half-Manchester terrier/half-Corgi mutt, Milhouse, is whining loud enough to wake her up. And with irritation comes the biting, and Matt is saved! Sort of. It’s really more of a switch from cramping thumbs to bleeding…

As it turns out, dogs are man’s best friend. At least when they are hungry.photo(2)

Well. That was fun. I’ll return later in the week with something that is hopefully motivating and/or inspiring. (Full disclosure: everything after the dog photo was typed on a keyboard–for those of you concerned about my thumbs…)


My Cup of Tea is Stronger Than Your Cup of Tea

It’s time for a new feature I think I’ll call Simile Day.

“A person is like a bag of tea; you find out what is inside of them when they are placed in hot water.”ImageIt’s easy to be calm and impressive when you are well fed and groomed and comfortable. It’s altogether different in a crisis situation.

Will you panic, will you sell out, will you give in to temptation? Or will you stand strong and stick to your principles when you are under pressure? That’s a question that haunts some of us. What us my true character? Will I stand true to my convictions when it would be easier to fold?

The thing about the tea bag though, is that it is not mystery tea from some magical village. We are very familiar with the tea bag. We take care of it on a daily basis. We control the content of what is allowed to be put in there.

Take responsibility for the seeds that get sown into your mind, by controlling what you watch, who you listen to, what you do. You develop your character, it is not developed for you by tea growers in China. This is the subject of my next book. It’s not about developing your skills or personality, but your character.

Your character is who you are behind closed doors, what you do when no one will find out, how you behave when it will not hurt your reputation. Your character is what is exposed when you are put in hot water.

Maybe sometimes you feel that society places too much importance on talents, skills, reputation; and not enough on recognizing character. I’d like to see a generation of people that are taught about substance over glamor, content over packaging, character over reputation.

So that’s what I’m writing about for the subject of my next book. I’ve also been tweeting about character all this week (which should have society back in alignment in no time!). The book is scheduled for release in July of 2013. The title is TBA; I know what it will be, I’m just not announcing it publicly yet. I am coy that way.

Last couple of questions to ponder:

1. Which do you think is more important: character or talent?

2. When is the last time you complimented someone on their character Vs. their talent?

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Hurry Up and Wait

hourglassThis may come as a shock, but I am not an expert on everything I write about. When you write a book, there comes along with it the perception of expertise, of mastery, of wisdom. But the fact is I (and most authors) are human; and as humans we are imperfect.

I write about being productive with time, but there are times when I am lazy. I write about taking action immediately, but there are times when I procrastinate. In fact, I used to be an expert at procrastination. Now there is something I could write a book about, but (you know what, insert your own punchline here…).

Today, I thought I’d write on a subject that I am an expert in, and that is: Patience.

Patience has always been one of my strengths; probably because of my quasi-Zen philosophical upbringing and the fact that I don’t have children yet. But I never thought of patience as being something of any particular value until later in life.

1. Patience keeps us focused on the present. We are only impatient because we want something to happen that hasn’t happened yet. The promotion, the traffic light, the bag of popcorn in the microwave. Just realize, that what you are waiting for is going to happen, and very rarely can we do anything to speed up the process. Being anxious or worrying about it will not affect the future, but it will hurt us in the present.

Since worrying about your promotion will not help you, just focus on performing your work right now with excellence and enthusiasm. Let the promotion take care of itself. Since swearing at the red light will not help you get to your destination any faster, why not enjoy the song currently playing on the radio? Since standing next to the microwave staring at it will not make the popcorn pop faster… Actually, that’s a bad example since microwave popcorn requires your attention so you can stop it before it burns. Don’t sweat over your burrito though.

Don’t try to pull the future to you faster.

2. Patience helps provide emotional stability. When we are impatient, we have shorter tempers, we are stressed, we fret. When we are patient, it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about things, just that we have the fortitude to wait. (“Patience is passion tamed.” Lyman Abbott).

Patience eliminates a great deal of stress, which in turn allows the patient person to maintain calm and balance even under stressful circumstances. Just recognize that time will eventually overcome a current problem or hardship. Now, I am not advocating inactivity or passivity. Just realize that all we can do, is all we can do; and once we do all we can do, the rest requires patience.

3. Patience helps to nurture growth. John Maxwell, expert on leadership and personal growth writes that “Leaders develop daily, not in a day.” The mentality of growth by lottery, or sudden inspiration, or through instantaneous quantum leap transformation is a myth not a reality.

To grow mentally, physically or spiritually, requires consistent and persistent activity compounded over time. Impatient people want the results now and maybe they will promise to do the work later. But unfortunately life does not work that way. Patient people recognize the need to put the work in now and reap the results later. This allows them to focus on the immediate work; the process rather than the results.

Those are my thoughts on patience.

“But I never got around to it!” That was the punchline for that sentence. Scroll back up if you don’t remember what I was talking about. Sorry, I couldn’t wait…