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Would You Rather Die Than Change?
December 01, 2008

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #117, December 1, 2008

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Would You Rather Die Than Change?

We are at the age where life has brought some challenges - perhaps with our finances, health, relationships, or all three. It seems logical that we would find it easy to change so we don't face another crisis. But the myths we believe about changing usually make us fail.

How Balanced Is Your Life?

Balance is not a static state, where all aspects of our lives are always in 'right relationship' with each other. But it is important that, over time, our lives feel balanced. Below is a tool to help you assess how balanced your life feels.

There are about 900 words in the articles in this issue, which should take you about three minutes to read.

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Written by Noel McNaughton
Midlife-Men.com
(c) copyright 2008 midlife-men.com

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If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favour and forward it to him. If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting Midlife Wisdom for Men.

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How Balanced Is Your Life?

When I took coach training from The Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California, I was introduced to the 'Assessment Wheel' also known as the 'Wheel of Life' as means of helping people figure out how balanced their lives are.

Now it is available to you online. It only takes a minute, and may help you change some things for the better: The Wheel of Life

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We're at a an age where health is more important than it used to be. Youth Juice might help us stay healthy.

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What do you call Santa when he has no money? Saint Nickel-less.

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Would You Rather Die Than Change?

If a well-informed trusted authority said you had to change your lifestyle - diet, exercise, mental approaches to stress - or you would die much sooner than necessary, would you change?

Before you say, "Of course!" think about this: if you are like nine out of ten people, you would find it so hard to adopt new habits that you would give up and die.

Want proof?

About two million North Americans with heart disease have either bypass surgery or angioplasties every year. Their arteries usually clog up again within a few months to a few years unless they make some lifestyle changes. But 90% of the patients don't sustain the necessary changes in lifestyle.

So why is it so hard for us to change? Partly because we believe these myths:

Myth: Crisis Is A Big Motivator Of Change. Reality: Crisis may cause some short term adjustments, but it does not sustain long-term change.

Myth: Change Is Sustained By Fear. Reality: Fear is too hard to endure on a long-term basis, so we slip into denial and go back to our old ways. The crisis is passed and we hope it doesn't happen again.

Myth: The Facts Will Convince Us To Change Reality: We really make decisions by stories and emotions. If the facts don't jibe with our view of the world, we reject them. "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts."

Myth: Small, Gradual Changes Are Easiest To Sustain. Reality: Big, sweeping changes are often easier, because we see benefits soon enough to get the positive reinforcement we need to keep going. Myth: As We Get Older Our Brains Won't Accept Changes (the "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" theory). Reality: Brain research shows we can change at any age. The key is to continue learning new things, which keeps our brains flexible. When we want to make a real change, we have to 'carve a new neural pathway' in our brains.

The REAL keys to change

In the early 1990s Dr. Dean Ornish, a professor of Medicine at the University of California designed a vegetarian-based diet he said could reverse heart disease without surgery or drugs. The medical establishment was skeptical, so Dr. Ornish persuaded Mutual of Omaha to fund a research trial. They put 333 patients with severely clogged arteries into an holistic program that included Dr. Ornish's diet, plus regular support groups meetings, and instruction in meditation, relaxation, yoga and aerobic exercise.

After three years, 77% of the patients were still 'doing the program', and had avoided angioplasties or bypasses. It saved Mutual of Omaha about $30,000 per patient.

Here's why it worked:

  • Ornish helped the patients get a positive picture of their future. Fear of death is not as strong a motivator as the pull of a desirable future.
  • He made sweeping changes in their diets, which brought immediate results: 91% fewer chest pains in the first month. He says people who make moderate changes to their diet are worse off because they feel deprived, and don't see much change.
  • He gave them wide-ranging help, from support groups to consultations with dietitians, psychologists, and yoga and meditation instructors.

Want to make a change for the better in your life? Here's what you can do:

  • Think about, and WRITE DOWN what you want in your life (the picture of a positive future that will help you change). And here is a secret: it will be more powerful, and easier to accomplish, if you include your wife and children in this exercise, having them ALL talk about what they would like their future to look like.)
  • Done? OK, now look at every aspect of your home and business life, and determine which conditions/activities are helping you get where you want to go, and which are just keeping you running on the spot. Drop the ones that aren't helping.
  • Next, make a plan. You could use the "Life Time Goal Setting Exercise" on this page: Your Life Mission and maybe some of the other resources here to help you allocate the amount of time you will spend gaining balance and fulfilment in your life. Make a financial plan as well. I recommend Your Money Or Your Life to help you do that.

Sound hard? It is - at first. But then maybe what you are doing now isn't all that easy either. And as the Chinese saying goes, if we don't change direction, we'll end up where we're headed.

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What do you have in December that you don't have in any other month? The letter "D".

**************************************************** I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to noel@midlife-men.com . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.

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Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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