You already have what you need (money, time, health and sex)

Updated to Business on December 14, 2022.

I was in a car the other day with a radiologist and a neurosurgeon talking about hypertension. 

This conversation is actually not as unusual as it might sound. I volunteer for a local society that does trail clearing in a popular hiking and mountain bike park and many of the volunteers happen to be recently retired doctors. 

Back in the car, one of the doctors happened to mention that recently his medical partner, who is in his early 60’s, had a mild stroke. As we wound our way further up the dirt road to our work site my education continued. 

I learned that strokes are the second biggest cause of mortality worldwide and the third most common cause of disability. The scary statistics get worse. As you age your chance of a stroke doubles every 10 years after 55

There’s a checklist of health conditions that make you more susceptible to a stroke, like obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But the biggest culprit – six times out of ten – is hypertension or high blood pressure. In my books, that’s worth paying attention to.

What’s interesting is that stress, in itself, is not the direct cause of high blood pressure. It’s what we do when under stress that leads to nasty results. We eat too much, drink too much, and move too little. Basically, we deal with stress by making unhealthy choices.

For me, stress starts with worry.

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

I’ve had a lot of worries

There is a world of problems you can worry about – take your pick. You can worry that Ukraine will be pummeled into a tiny province of rubble, or that we’ve passed the tipping point with global warming, or the tiny spot on your chin is cancer. 

Or not.

“I’ve had a lot of worries,” quipped Mark Twain “most of which never happened.” Our mind loves a good worry. Like a dog chewing a bone, we want to turn our worry around, looking from all angles, poking and prodding until it swells up into something bigger than it really is.

I used to worry incessantly before every keynote speech. I’d worry I’d miss my flight or wasn’t prepared enough, or I would be greeted by the “audience from hell.” Trust me, when you have 60 minutes to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, and get laughs from an audience you’ve never met before, any sane person would invent a long list of worries.

It was at one of those events when a fellow speaker opened an exit door for my worries. He suggested that audiences don’t want you to fail – in fact, they want you to succeed. “They want to see you having fun—enjoying yourself. That way,” he explained, “they can enjoy the ride with you.”

When I accepted the long list of what I could never control – my flights, the audience, the speaker before me going overtime – I was free to focus on what I could control.

Enjoying the moment. 

What your life will have been

In her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön tells the story of delighting in the preciousness of every single moment.

A woman is running from lions. She runs and she runs, and the lions are getting closer. She comes to the edge of a cliff. She sees a vine there, so she climbs down and holds onto it. Then she looks down and sees that there are lions below her as well. At the same time, she notices a little mouse gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries emerging from a nearby clump of grass. She looks up, she looks down, and she looks a the mouse. Then she picks a strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Learning what to focus on, and what to ignore, seems to be the ultimate secret to living a healthy, stress-free life. “Whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment,” writes Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks (a must-read for anyone over 50), “is simply what your life will have been.”

So, what are you focussing on?

What to focus on

You can learn a lot when you’re the dumbest one in a car full of doctors. I learned that strokes are a silent pandemic. And that hypertension is the leading cause of that pandemic. And I learned the leading cause of hypertension is stress. 

I was also reminded that stress is a choice.

We all have lions and tigers in our life. Maybe even a mouse or two gnawing away at something we value. Meanwhile, we have the moment.

Choosing what to focus on (and what not to) might just be the healthiest choice you can make.

Got this far? You might also like these posts:

Photo of eggs by Nik on Unsplash
Photo of Ngoc Son Temple by author
Photo of tigers by author


The universe doesn’t have everything we want, when we want it. 

You can want a newer car, but it doesn’t have that for you, right now. You can want a better job, more money, more time, slimmer waist, happier kids, whatever. Life doesn’t happen like the day John Travolta walked on Oprah’s stage in a captain’s uniform as Oprah shouted out: “We’re going to Australia!”

Nope, not going to happen. Wanting something is like reaching for the prize with one arm, while the other pushes it away.


There are lots of things I used to want:

I used to want my wife to change.

I used to want to be thinner.

I used to want to be richer, a faster runner, better guitar player, and better dad.

Not going to happen: one arm reaches out, the other pushes it away. 

The tough pill I had to swallow was this: “wanting” was like saying “I’ll try to exercise tomorrow” – ain’t going to happen.

I had to learn that I have everything I need, right now.


Last week, a good friend shared how she finally got her finances together. She had reached a tipping point with credit card debt, overdraft interest rates, and being frustrated with careless spending habits. “I had no idea how much I was spending” she confided, “I just saw it and bought it.” 

She got clear on what she needed and got help. 

Within a month she had analyzed what she was spending (for two weeks she wrote down everything she spent money on), paid off high-interest debt with lower-interest debt, paid off her credit cards, and created a savings plan. She was on-top-of-the-moon excited. 

She had what she needed all along.


This is what I learned:

My wife is better than perfect, already. I had to change. And I did.

I lost weight by just walking my dog twice a day, instead of once, and recording my workouts (learn more about that trick here).

I am richer than I’ve ever been, because I: set a goal, got serious about my business, finally learned how to delegate, and got started.

I could go on and on, but I hope you get the picture. 

You have what you need, right now. You just have to believe it.

** A quick thought for you in this 2 min. video **



It’s easy to sit alone and tell yourself you don’t have what you want. It’s called the path of least resistance. That path is easy to slide down.

You hear your own whining, look around, notice what’s missing and think “Yup, things are pretty bad.” Then you sink deeper into your hole. That sucks.

Meanwhile, people who are less educated, less experienced, less talented and with bad hair are rocking it. 

You have what you need.


Instead of trying to change your whole world, start with one change and do it for two weeks. That’s it. No biggie – just a little change you make for two weeks.

Once you prove to yourself you have what you need, other changes will be a breeze. Trust me, that’s how our willpower muscle works. One commitment builds the muscle we need to make more commitments.

It could be:

  • wake up 20 minutes earlier to: meditate, walk, read something inspirational, or write for your blog
  • drink water as soon as you wake up
  • walk at lunch time
  • find one person to compliment everyday
  • record what you spend money on everyday
  • 10 minutes before you get home, stop thinking about work 

  • record what you eat everyday
  • spend 10 minutes everyday loading clothes you will never wear again into a box for charity
  • spend 10 minutes everyday putting old notes, files, and paper from your office space into recycling
  • go to bed 30 minutes earlier
  • limit your TV, Netflix, Youtube, watching to 30 minutes a day

Once you select the change you are going to make, follow this routine:

1. write down the action you are committing to (you need to write this in the present and in the positive, like: “I am waking up at 5:30AM to drink water and then walk for 30 minutes.”

2. put that instruction somewhere where you will see it every morning. On your fridge, bathroom mirror, bedroom wall, forehead, or car dashboard.

3. follow the instructions, without exception. If you had a long day and didn’t get your walk or workout in, grab a flashlight and go do it. Don’t let a little slippage pull you off course.

4. finally, reward yourself.

When I come back from a run I pat myself on the back and say “Good one!”, you can record your success on a calendar, in Evernote, or in your journal. It’s important to acknowledge the success. The brain needs proof that the extra effort was worth it.


Big change always starts with a little change. If you feel stuck in your life, in any way, my guess is you need to learn how to make little changes stick. Choose one small change from my list, above, (or create your own) and make it stick for two weeks. That’s it. 

When you get into a habit of: 1) seeing a need, 2) committing to changing your situation, and 3) making the change stick, you will be powerful. 

You have what you need. You had it along.

Now, get started.

Let me know what you changed, I’m here for you.


Photo: Dan Culver on East Ridge, Mt. Logan 1992