17 for ’17 – Embrace These 17 Growth Thoughts for 2017


“There is nothing as powerful as a changed mind.” –T.D. Jakes

There are few places as exhilarating to the senses as South Beach in Miami on New Year’s Eve. Definitely not a time or place for introverts, though the people watching is amazing. So many cultures, personalities, flavors, dancing, music, and moods, all melding together in a cauldron of high energy and celebration.

Last night was epic, ringing in the new year with my wife and 6-year-old son next to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, slightly removed from the madness of party-central South Beach, but close enough to enjoy the high-octane energy of the night. This morning my mind was clear with goals and well-wishes of greatness for family, friends, and readers wanting to make the most of the upcoming year.

The power of a solid morning routine in creating an accomplished day (and life) cannot be overstated. For the most part, my morning routine involves waking up earlier than anyone in the house and finding a few moments of solitude to think, read, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee (cream no sugar).

From time-to-time ideas that I call Morning Coffee Thoughts – mantras, aphorisms, and affirmations of well-being – pop into my mind. This morning, the first morning of the new year, sparked 17 positive thoughts of sincere well-wishes for each and every one.

Some of these thoughts may resonate strongly with your being, others may not. Choose one or choose several…and allow them to help guide you toward a better life in the coming year.

Here are 17 for ’17…a collection of constructive and powerful well-wishes directly from me to you. Enjoy, and if you feel these are of benefit, please share!

1) May you maintain a mindset of optimism, confidence, and clarity from this day forward.

2) May your health, in all aspects, be a top priority.

3) May you conquer personal fears that have been holding you back, causing hesitation along your journey to achieving greater things.

4) May abundant love, with no fear of hurt, harm, or limitation, follow you daily.

5) May you be methodical in your pursuits, realizing all great things are built piece-by-piece, regardless whether the pieces are observable in physical form or not.

6) May you experience regular and restful days of simple joy.

7) May a persistent feeling of inner-peace be your constant companion regardless what is going on around you.

8) May your greatest gifts become so obvious you have no choice but to embrace and develop them.

9) May your territory be enlarged, protected, and used for greater good.

10) May humility be maintained as your greatness grows.

11) May you experience new travels, foods, and cultures with an open mind.

12) May balance be your lifestyle, not a needed vacation to recovery from everyday life.

13) May your friendships be easy, respectful, and supportive.

14) May alone time daily inspire impactful moments to think, renew, and give thanks.

15) May you find peace in being still.

16) May your work, play, and rest integrate seamlessly, leaving nothing undone that needs to be done.

17) May you share your greatness with the world and be abundantly compensated, in many ways, even without expectation of compensation.

I sincerely hope these well-wishes may be helpful in guiding your toward your best year ever in 2017. We’re in this together, seeking peace, prosperity, and potential-fulfilled. Let’s choose consistent optimistic realism and have a blast.

Thank you for reading…wishing wellness and empowerment your way,

Dr. J

7 Lessons of Grit & Greatness Learned From ‘The Greatest’


“His energy and presence existed much larger than his physical form. He walked with his own atmosphere. His atmosphere was his entourage.”

Nearly a quarter century ago, long before the age of smart phones and digital photos, I was blessed to be in the presence of The Greatest.

Imagine being in the same place at the same time as one of the greatest human beings walking the face of the earth, at one time the most famous living person on the planet, and not having the sense to memorialize the moment in a photo…even though a photo was taken. Regretfully, it happened to me.

Muhammad Ali was well past his athletic prime at the time. A weathered warrior in his early fifties, his fight with Parkinson’s disease already taking a visible toll on his body.  Still, he was an impressive figure. Literally and figuratively. His energy and presence existed much larger than his physical form. He walked with his own atmosphere. His atmosphere was his entourage.

This day I was downtown Minneapolis with a friend. It was a chance occurrence. There was a large crowd gathered in a city center plaza. Soon we discovered the reason for the gathering was Muhammad Ali. I don’t recall exactly why he was there, perhaps a book signing or celebrity endorsement, but we quickly hatched a plan to pitch for a photo.

Those were the days of disposable yellow Kodak cameras – the kind you drop off to a local drug store and wait a day or two for the film to be developed. We put ourselves in the path of The Champ as he exited the store and boldly asked for a picture. He was more than obliging. I remember him putting his arm around my shoulder and giving a friendly, confident squeeze. No real conversation. A simple cordial greeting, smile, and click. The perfect picture.

A fleeting moment forever imprinted in my mind, which is great because the film was never developed. Those were college days, moving to a new residence after every school year. The disposable camera probably wound up in an apartment junk drawer or hidden in a shoebox, discarded as trash many years ago.

The importance of following-up on opportunities, quickly and thoroughly, is a valuable lesson most of us will learn many times over our lifetime.   

 A lost opportunity, but the experiential memory is amazing.

How do you adequately pay tribute to a man as great as Muhammad Ali? A man who, for a full half-century, galvanized and inspired much of the world’s population regardless of race, creed, or color. A man who unabashedly thrived internationally as a voice of confidence, truth, and potential-fulfilled, with a heart to represent and speak for the lesser-heard, under-served, and under-represented people of the world. A man who’s demeanor, confidence, and energy was powerful enough to stand up to the most powerful government in the world in the midst of racial segregation and prejudice in the United States. Not only demanding, but commanding respect and admiration, regardless of opinion about his brashness, race, or athletic ability.

It’s a curious combination…the triad of bravado, wisdom, and compassion. It’s a beautiful combination.

The world is fortunate to have a great deal of Muhammad Ali’s passion, principles and charisma captured in print, audio, and video. Past generations were blessed with his presence, the present generation is being blessed, and future generations will be blessed by his preserved greatness. Indeed, he was a Creator-gifted human being who lived a life true to his beliefs, character, and potential. Collectively, the world expresses our thank you.

Detailing Ali’s athletic accolades is easy – any brief article or history book can list them. More interesting is how Ali’s physical combination of power, speed, agility, and grace mirrored the same tenants in his intellect. His athleticism was a microcosm, just a tiny piece, of the macrocosm of the man. His mental keenness and mental fortitude blended perfectly with his confidence, personality, spiritual-grounding, and love for humanity.  All allowing him to transcend sports to become an iconic, yet relatable, larger-than-life figure championed by all.

Muhammad Ali’s poetic personality and charismatic showmanship created many timeless quotations, many of which could be expounded into self-empowerment chapters of their own.  For the sake of brevity, here are 7 of my favorite Muhammad Ali quotations along with a brief explanation why they resonate with such power.

“We can’t be brave without fear.”

Everyone feels fear…there are zero exceptions to this powerful human emotion. It is not lack of fear that separates us. It is how we respond to fear that separates us. The greatest amongst us are simply braver than their fears and willing to act upon that bravery. Fears faced and conquered shatter perceived limits, and once limits are shattered the realm of unlimited possibility exists. The amazing message of this quotation – feel the fear and do it anyway, or make a conscious choice to live a limited life. That’s no way to live fully.

 “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Everyone is gifted with at least one super talent that if pursued and developed will allow them to become great in that area. Finding that super talent, however, is a process many will never undertake. It can be difficult, but living a life of average and mundane is not the purpose of life. In order to discover our greatest gifts we must go against the well-intended advice of average and ordinary, usually coming from those who care about us most. Failure does not lie in not achieving something we set out to pursue, the greatest failure lies in not having the courage to try. The powerful message of this quotation – be courageous, take the risks, and pursue the dreams. Don’t settle for average when greatness is an option.

 “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you’re walking the only way to progress along the journey is to continually set one foot in front of the other…time and time and time again. Have you ever tried walking a considerable distance with a stone in your shoe? It may be one of the most annoying sensations imaginable. A smart man will take a moment of pause, remove the stone, and then continue on the journey. With the stone removed, focus once again returns to the bigger picture. The valuable message in this quotation – great things are accomplished in small steps, but to accomplish them you must keep on stepping. At times this may require pause and the removal of small irritations, annoying and unproductive, along the journey.

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”

Grit and determination allow us to rise-up in situations where others may elect to stay down. In the pursuit of goals and dreams, or simply along the course of life, everyone gets knocked down. Usually multiple times. It doesn’t matter how strong, smart, or gifted we may be, everyone suffers defeats along the way. Once again, it’s how we respond to the situation that matters. The great ones collect their wits, rise-up, and soon are back in action. The more times you get knocked down and get up, the odds are improving in your favor. The motivational message in this quotation – if you get knocked down, don’t stay down. Rise up and continue to fight. Eventually you’ll be the winner still standing.

 “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

It’s the long hours of work behind the scenes when no one is watching, before the lights come on, before you show up at school or the office, before the big presentation, that makes the stage show shine.  Plain and simple, hard work and discipline are absolutely necessary to achieve great success. Life may look charmed from the outside looking in, but guaranteed it’s the work behind the scenes, the countless hours of practice, that makes the great become The Greatest. The simple message in this quotation – success is no good-luck accident. If you truly want it, be willing to put in the work.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Perhaps it was a quality rooted in his humble upbringing in the United States’ segregated south, but Muhammad Ali was a humanitarian to the core.  From a young age he exhibited a love, kinship, and heart to help those less fortunate than himself. To stand up for those who would be bullied, picked on, or treated unfairly. This was a quality that seemed to strengthen with Ali’s conversion and life-long practice of Islam. The greatest among us are not takers, they are givers. Perhaps because they are so spiritually filled themselves they feel no need to take. A vessel that is full cannot help but give. A quiet irony in life is the more you give the more you receive. The higher message in this quotations is simple – he who helps the most, wins. In the big picture being of service to our fellow man is being of service to ourselves.

“Me? Whee!”

These two words delivered by Ali at a 1975 Harvard lecture went on record as the shortest poem ever written. At the time he had been asked, “What it’s like to be as great as Ali?” With this two word response, living true to his reputation for playful bravado, he conveyed that being Ali was a lot fun! Some sources argue this poem was meant to be printed as “Me / We” – implying the connectedness of all people, which would hold amazing meaning in itself. Especially coming from Ali the humanitarian, also known as The People’s Champ.  Either way, this two word quotation holds an incredible meaning – either celebrate thyself, or realize we’re all connected and act accordingly.   

Muhammad Ali was a fighter to the very end. A fighter for empowerment, truth, equality, and the fulfillment of human purpose and potential. Indeed, he was an amazing athlete, named Sportsman of the 20th Century, but his skills in the boxing ring are not what made him The Greatest.

At the end of his physical life, even though his movements were shaky and slow, and his speech slurred, his mind was sharp and fully functioning. After all his other organs had failed his HEART would not stop beating. According to his family, for a full 30 minutes his heart just kept beating. A true testament to the strength of his will.

There is an ancient Sanskrit Proverb that says, “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”

These words could be no more fitting than for Muhammad Ali. Many sportsman are considered great because of their skills, and other personalities have transcended sports to become iconic figures, but there can be only one ‘The Greatest’.  Muhammad Ali was, and will always be, The Greatest.

Thank you for reading…wishing wellness and empowerment your way,

Dr. J

The Power of Envisioning A Higher-Version Of Yourself


As a child growing up near the shore of Lake Erie in Canada, I used to marvel at the rich, black soil found a mile or two inland from the water.  On hot summer days my father would drive our 1976 Chrysler Imperial along the shoreline, windows wide open, and the saturating smell of sweet onions growing in the fields would permeate every breath. These farms produced some of the best green onions in the nation. In the entire world. The reason? That dark, rich, nutrient-filled soil nurtured those plants to their maximum potential. In many aspects, the human mind is exactly like that soil.

Your Mind Is Like A Garden

The nourishing soil of a garden possesses the potential to grow most anything planted in it, good or bad. A garden may be cared for by a responsible, constructive caretaker, or neglected to grow random and unpredictable, but inevitably it will bring forth growth of some kind – this is an irrefutable law nature. If no beneficial seeds are planted in a garden, then a bounty of useless weed seeds will find their way into the ground, and these weed seeds will germinate, grow, and ultimately wind up producing more of their own, choking the life from anything positive attempting to grow.

If you are the gardener of your mind, just as a good gardener continuously monitors their plot of earth, removing harmful weeds that choke the roots of the vegetables and flowers they are attempting to grow, you are responsible for removing the weeds of negativity, fear, non-growth and decline from your mind. Destructive thoughts must be replaced with constructive thoughts, otherwise the destructive thoughts will flourish. When the weeds of destructive thoughts are removed, and the flowers and plants of right thinking are cultivated, nourished and pruned, useful thoughts will grow in abundance, spawning the effects of peace, joy and success in life.

As a person thinks, so shall they become has been a lesson taught with certainty through the ages by some of the most enlightened teachers our world has ever known, including Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Moses, Krishna and more. It’s a powerful statement embodying much more than utopian-sounding ideal; it’s a blueprint for peace, joy and success, yet remains understood, believed and practiced by significantly relative few.

All things visible in our world today were first created in the realm of thought, without exception.  Before computers, the Internet, electricity, someone first had the idea they could exist in their mind.  The greatest beauty of an idea is perhaps its indestructibility. Ideas can exist forever, whether manifested or not.  Ideas harbor the potential of what we may one day become. Potential means possibility, not positively. So, once a positive idea is seeded it is our responsibility to nurture it to reality. If the idea is not positive, we have a choice to terminate it at its root.  In time, our reality will become a mirror of our thoughts, beliefs, knowledge and attitude. Whether realized or not, this is how our individual realities are created.

We are first defeated in our minds, and victorious there as well.

Most of our lives we are taught to think in terms of lack and limitation, dependence and low risk. We are first taught these values in good faith and unintentionally by the perceived authority figures in our lives….our mothers, fathers, teachers and preachers. As children growing, most are constantly conditioned with phrases like, “You can’t do that,” or “Don’t speak until spoken to,” or my personal favorite, “We can’t afford that…money doesn’t grow on trees!” As a result of this subconscious pre-programming most people naturally seek a level of existence well below their true potential. This is scientifically proven. The good news is that a habit of right thinking, with potential unleashed, can be developed through knowledge, repetition and proven techniques. A few simple techniques I’ve learned through the years to retrain the subconscious mind include:

  • Goal Setting: One of the most exciting and rewarding habits we can acquire, setting short and long term goals allows us to develop the attitudes, habits and thinking necessary to move in the direction we want to go. Having goals allows us to see ourselves as we want, as compared to how we are, and helps shape a step-by-step progress toward completion of our goals. Goal setting is a habit that should be worked on, updated, and developed over time.
  • Affirmations: Much of what we think and feel is determined by how we talk to ourselves, and using affirmation on a daily basis is one of the simplest, easiest ways to guide our “self-talk” in a positive way. Affirmations are repeated statements which stimulate our mind with an attitude of expectancy. By choosing what thoughts we allow to start our day or dominate our mental space, we effectively choose what we want to manifest in our reality.
  • Visualization: Vivid visualization goes hand-in-hand with consistent goal-setting and affirmations. Visualization is the process of holding a thought in our mind until that thought creates a mental picture or image of “being there”. The human brain cannot distinguish between a thought that is imagined (visualized) in vivid detail vs. an actual event that occurs. The human brain is that powerful.

It is a duty of our existence to instill in ourselves a strong sense of belief-in-self daily, and our thoughts manifest this duty. This vein of thinking is an absolute truth, and the sooner we accept it as such, the sooner we begin to attract into our lives the blessings we so desperately desire.  Literally, we become what we think. We must be intentional about creating a habit of positive, growth-inspired thinking. Try it…and revel in the eventual result. You, and the world, will be better for your effort.

Wishing Wellness & Empowerment Your Way,

-Dr. J