End Political Contributions

A lot of political problems in the U.S. can be traced to a single source: That politicians are legally allowed to accept money for their campaigns, and then they owe those contributors a favor. But this problem can be solved, and there are already effective organizations working on solving it. This episode explains the ideas behind the movement.

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The Secret of Rudy's Persistence

I love the movie, Rudy. It's a true story about a boy who wants to play football for Notre Dame even though he’s small, not very strong, not very quick, doesn’t have the money for college (and neither do his parents), and gets lousy grades in high school.

But because of his formidable persistence and consistently great attitude, because of his willingness to keep moving toward his goal no matter what obstacles barred his way, he actually achieved his goal. It is truly inspiring to watch.

The real Rudy Ruettiger was a consultant for the movie, and made sure the movie was an accurate depiction of his life. But it leaves out some interesting facts. You can’t put a whole life into one movie without omitting something.

One of the things the movie left out is what I consider to be a vital part of the story: How he became so incredibly persistent. Luckily, he wrote about his experience in more detail, so we know the answer. A particular event changed his life.

In the movie, only one person supported Rudy's dream to play football for Notre Dame — his best friend, Pete. When Pete died in a tragic accident, something happened to Rudy, and he realized if he was going to make his dream happen, he’d better get on with it because life is short.

A few days later he was in a bookstore and found a paperback copy of Psycho-Cybernetics. “I took the book home and read it cover to cover,” says Rudy, “and then I started again at the beginning.”

The book made a profound impression on Rudy, and he immediately started acting on his newfound understanding of how to accomplish goals.

“Although I was already 23, I immediately headed for Notre Dame with the attitude, ‘I'm going to do this, period, end of sentence,’ and new opportunities were created just by me showing up.”

I’ve had similar experiences where my commitment to a goal — all by itself — seemed to make things happen, almost like magic. You probably have too.

“Maltz said if you take action, the plan will unfold in front of you,” wrote Rudy. “You can develop your game plan as you move toward your goal. Sometimes it’s better not to have everything all laid out; focusing too much on how you think it should go can cause you to miss opportunities.”

According to Rudy, the book changed his life.

If you have important goals (and I’ll bet you do) find yourself a copy of Psycho-Cybernetics and read it. It’s one of the best self-help books ever written.

Two things make the book exceptional: First, it’s easy to read. Second, it is complete. It talks about the value of setting goals and how to set goals, and how to visualize your goals to make them real. But it also talks about one of the most important barriers to achievement: Your self-image.

If you have a goal but believe you’re a loser, no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to accomplish your goal. Something will always cause you to fail before you reach it.

If this has been happening to you, dig into the self-image psychology in Maltz’s book and follow the practical suggestions for eliminating the internal barriers to your success. Rudy said, “I learned from Psycho-Cybernetics that it’s all in what you think.”

But that doesn’t mean “just think positive thoughts and everything will turn out well.” There is more to it. Maltz goes into detail about exactly how to use your mind effectively to overcome the psychological obstacles to achievement. Read a summary of Psycho-Cybernetics.

Rudy wrote, “Every one of us uses our mind to create our life. My story can be your story — if you are willing to swim against the stream, fight against the odds, and believe you can be whatever you want to be.

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

All In Your Head

In 1914, a small ship sailed into the icy Weddell Sea, on its way to the South Pole. It carried a crew of twenty-seven men, and their leader, Ernest Shackleton. But unseasonable gales shoved the floating ice together and the temperature sank below zero, freezing more than a million square miles of ice into a solid mass. And they were stuck in the middle of it. They had no radio transmitter. They were alone.

For ten months the pressure increased until it crushed the ship, stranding them in the middle of an icy wasteland which could, at any time, break up and become a sea of floating ice chunks. They had to get off this ice while it was still solid, so they headed for the nearest known land, 346 miles away, dragging their two lifeboats over the ice. But every few hundred yards they ran into a pressure ridge, sometimes two stories high, caused by the ice compacting. They had to chop through it. At the end of two backbreaking days in subzero weather, they were exhausted. After all their hacking and dragging, they had traveled only two miles.

They tried again. In five days they went a total of nine miles, but the ice was becoming softer and the pressure ridges were becoming larger. They could go no further. So they had to wait...for several months. Finally the ice opened up and they launched the boats into the churning mass of giant chunks of ice and made it out. But now they were sailing across a treacherous sea. They landed on a tiny, barren, ice-covered, lifeless island in the middle of nowhere.

To save themselves, they needed to reach the nearest outpost of civilization: South Georgia, 870 miles away! Shackleton and five men took the best lifeboat and sailed across the Drake Passage at the tip of South America, the most formidable piece of ocean in the world. Gales blow nonstop — up to 200 miles an hour (that’s as hard as a hurricane) — and waves get as high as ninety feet. Their chances of making it were very close to zero.

But determination can change the odds.

They made it. But they landed on the wrong side of the island, and their boat was pounded into the rocks and rendered useless. The whaling port they needed to reach was on the other side of the island, which has peaks 10,000 feet high and had never been crossed. They were the first. They didn’t have much choice.

When they staggered into the little whaling port on the other side of the island, everyone who saw them stopped dead in their tracks. The three men had coal-black skin from the seal oil they had been burning as fuel. They had long, black dreadlocks. Their clothing was shredded, filthy rags, and they had come from the direction of the mountains. Nobody in the history of the whaling port had ever been known to enter the town from that direction.

Although all the men at that whaling port had known about Shackleton’s expedition, his ship had been gone for seventeen months and was assumed to have sunk, and the crew with it. The whalers knew how deadly and unforgiving the ice could be.

The three ragged men made their way to the home of a man Shackleton knew, followed in silence by a growing crowd of people. When the man came to the door, he stepped back and stared in silence. Then he said, “Who the hell are you?”

The man in the center took a step forward and said, “My name is Shackleton.”

According to some witnesses, the hard-faced man at the door turned away and wept.

This story is incredible, and if it weren’t for the extensive verification and corroboration of the diaries and interviews with the men on the crew in Alfred Lansing’s account, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, it might easily be disbelieved. The story is true, and as incredible as what I’ve told you seems, I’ve only given you some highlights.

Shackleton went back and rescued his friends on the other side of the island first, and then after many attempts to get through the ice, on August 30th — almost two years since they’d embarked — he made it back to that barren island and rescued the rest of his men. Every man in Shackleton’s crew made it home alive.

Fifteen years earlier, a different ship got stuck in the ice in the Weddell Sea — the Belgica, led by Adrien de Gerlache — but they didn’t do so well. During the winter in the Antarctic, the sun completely disappears below the horizon for seventy-nine days. Shackleton’s crew endured it. But the crew of the Belgica grew depressed, gave up hope, and succumbed to negative thinking. Some of them couldn’t eat. Mental illness took over. One man had a heart attack from a terror of darkness. Paranoia and hysteria ran rampant.

None of this happened to Shackleton’s men because he insisted they keep a good attitude, and he did the same. He once said that the most important quality for an explorer was not courage or patience, but optimism. He said, “Optimism nullifies disappointment and makes one more ready than ever to go on.”

Shackleton also knew that attitudes are contagious. He was fully aware of the fact that if anyone lost hope they wouldn’t be able to put forth that last ounce of energy which may make the difference. And they did get pushed to the limits of human endurance. But he had convinced himself and his men they would make it out alive. His determination to remain optimistic ultimately saved their lives.

And it can achieve great things for you too. It comes down to what you say: Either you say it’s hopeless or you say it can be done. You can never look into the future to find the answer. It’s in your head.

This article was excerpted from the book, Principles For Personal Growth by Adam Khan. Buy it now here.

Paracelsus

Have you ever heard of a man named Paracelsus? He did a very good thing for you and me. In the year 1500 AD, the doctors in Europe studied the work of a man named Galen. His works had been respected for 1300 years. That's an incredibly long time. You talk about well established! What he wrote became like sacred doctrine. If Galen wrote it, it was so, and that's all there was to say about it.

Now a lot of the things he wrote were accurate. But a lot of it was garbage. For example, supposedly inside each person were what were called the Four Cardinal Humors. Humor comes from the Latin umor meaning fluid or moisture.

The four Humors were Phlegm, Choler, Blood, and Melancholy. In order to be in good health, so the theory went, a person had to have a proper balance between these humors. The whole thing sounds pretty humorous, don't you think? But if you didn't have enough of one of these humors, or if you had too much of one, then you were sick. That's what disease was. So to make you well, the doctor's job was to restore the balance.

Galen also believed that each person had a certain balance that was just right for that particular individual. Therefore, each illness in each person was unique.

So the doctor, with his special knowledge, might find you had, say, too much of one of your humors, like blood for example. And he would treat you by making you bleed for awhile. One of their techniques was to attach leaches to your body to suck out some of your blood. And then you would be well. Now this sounds like a good Monty Python gag, but here were well-respected authorities, diligently studying for years to get their "Doctor of Physic" degree so they could go out and make people sweat and purge and bleed and vomit, and thereby supposedly make them healthy. A lot of the time, as you can probably imagine, the treatment killed the patient. But after 1300 years, this was a very well-established status quo.

Then along comes a rebel by the name of Paracelsus, who came up with the scandalous idea that something from outside your body, like smoke or germs, could make you sick. What a radical! He was viciously attacked by the medical profession so he never stayed in one place very long, and he lived his life in poverty.

But he never gave up. He felt pretty sure he was right, and he knew if he was right, it would have an enormous impact on the health of everyone.

Since he had no Doctor of Physic degree, he was never allowed to publish his ideas — including his studies of people who worked in mines who all seemed to die of the same thing (now called Miner's Disease) which seriously put in question one of Galen's "sacred" ideas that all diseases were unique.

It wasn't until a couple of decades after Paracelsus died that his work became known and published. He turned out to have been right, and although he never knew what he did, he opened up the way for a whole new approach toward disease, and doctors dramatically increased their effectiveness because of that persistent rebel.

Now some people might consider themselves a failure if they lived a life like Paracelsus — in poverty and scorned and all. But there are more important things in life than just winning or getting everyone's admiration, or collecting and spending a lot of money. Nothing wrong with these things. Not at all. But there's at least one thing that's more important: Being true to your own aspiration.

If it stirs you, if that vision captivates you, if the ideas for that invention haunt you and won't leave you alone, if you have a goal that may even seem petty to others, but it's something you feel is good and right, and you want to try...then do it, no matter how long it takes or who thinks you're a fool. Never give up on something that matters to you.

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

The Fate We Make

If you decide your fate is in your own hands, it is. If you decide you are pushed around by circumstances beyond your control, you are.

The truth is, our fate is in our own hands to some degree, and also there are a lot of things that influence us and are out of our control or have been preordained (like where we were born).

But if you decide your fate is in your hands, your fate becomes more in your hands, and as time goes on, it becomes more and more true, like a small wave catching more of the wind and becoming an ever larger wave.

It is only a matter of where you put your attention. For example, if you pay attention to the forces that influence you beyond your control, you'll feel helpless, at least a little. Depression, or some degree of it, follows like thunder after the flash. When people feel helpless, they don't take actions they could take that would make their situation better. A belief in one's helplessness actually makes one more helpless.

Put your attention on what you can effect, however, and your life will go more the way you want it to. You're concentrating your attention where it counts. This makes you more likely to take action, and makes your actions more effective. Optimism follows. And as numerous studies have shown, including the thorough work of Martin Seligman, PhD, Kogod Professor and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the side-effects of optimism are better health, more success, higher self-esteem, and a greater feeling of control. You'll have a greater feeling of control because you actually have more control. Your decision that your fate is in your own hands has given you more control of your life.

Your fate is, to a considerable degree, what you make it.

Why Motivation Doesn't Last

For those who dislike or harbor suspicion about the motivational speakers of the world, a common expression is: "motivation doesn't last." In other words, you go to a motivational seminar and you feel enthused about your goals, but then after awhile, it somehow peters out.

Motivation doesn't last. I've always thought of this as a legitimate indictment of the motivational-seminar industry, but I heard something Zig Ziglar said about it that changed my mind.

Zig Ziglar is one of the most successful motivational speakers of all time. He's not my favorite, but he says something once in awhile that betrays his intelligence. He said the reason motivation doesn't last is that the world is full of demotivators.

Tell your dreams to your friends and family, for example, and you'll hear at least some of them tell you why it won't work. That is demotivating, or at least it can be.

On your way to any goal, you are bound to encounter obstacles. This can be demotivating too, especially if your usual way of explaining setbacks is somewhat pessimistic. Reality seems to be stacked against you for various reasons.

The movie, Pleasantville, had a great illustration of a world full of demotivators. It showed teachers from different classes, one after the other, saying things like this:

"For those of you going on to college next year, the chance of finding a good job will actually decrease by the time you graduate...the median income for those jobs will go down as well."

"By the year 2000, the chance of contacting HIV from a non-monogamous lifestyle will climb to 1 in 150."

"By the time you are 30 years old, average global temperature will have risen two and a half degrees, causing such catastrophic consequences as typhoons, floods, widespread drought, and famine."

The world is full of demotivators. Not because everybody is trying to bring you down, although some may be. But for many different reasons, your motivation and enthusiasm can be continually drained away.

If you're already well aware of the demotivational nature of the world and want some practical steps to do something about it, go here.

The world may be full of demotivators, but you can protect yourself from them if you know how. You can keep your motivation and enthusiasm. Let the good times roll.

Why You're Less Hungry Fasting Than Dieting

This episode is a short excerpt from a much longer podcast (What's So Great About Fasting?). This one touches on the counterintuitive biological reasons many people find fasting to be significantly easier than dieting.

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