Friday, June 13, 2014

The Trap

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, May 15, 2014

This Nugget is based on Chapter 13 in Harry Browne's book, How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World.  I highly recommend reading this book.  I found it extremely interesting.  The last time I tried to find a hard cover copy it was almost impossible.  It is more readily available on as an eBook.  It was first released in 1973 and in my opinion is probably more appropriate now than even back in 1973.

Hunters for years have set traps for all types of animals.  They first determine what type of animal they desire to trap.  They animals' habitats are researched to determine where they would most likely pass in order to set up traps at the most optimal locations.  They also research the animals habits and routines to insure they set up traps at times when the animals would most likely pass the traps.  When all these things are done properly the hunter should be as successful as possible in trapping the desired prey.

In Chapter 13 of Browne's book he describes the types of traps that people are caught up in, why they are trapped and then provides suggestions on how to free themselves from the trap most have created for themselves.  This all started me thinking and isn't that why we read books - to think?  How do people get caught up in traps?

First I think age has a great deal to do with the traps people set for themselves and yes I said "traps people set for themselves."  In the hunters case the hunter sets a trap for his or her desired prey.  But in life most of the traps people find themselves in are set BY themselves FOR themselves.  These traps are typically set very early in life but they can also be set late in life and the circumstances that initiate the trap setting at these various stages in one's life are very different.

Let's start with the youth, ages 1 to 30.  There are opinions that suggest even a baby unintentionally has a trap set for him or her by parents (or lack of parents)  who show very little love for the child.  As much as I despise Adolph Hitler, it was his medical staff who conducted the most horrible experiments on people of all ages without their consent. It was during these experiments they discovered that babies who are prohibited from being touched and held showed a very high rate of early death.  So why should children who are brought up in a family environment but who are shown little to no love by their parents be any different?

When babies grow to the point of making decisions for themselves they also begin to make decisions both consciously and unconsciously for themselves with STRONG influence from their parents either in a positive or negative ways.  For example, children start early in life to form habits and it has been said that it takes upwards of 30 days with constant daily activities to form a habit.  Therefore parents who encourage their children to read, as compared to sitting in front of a television, are establishing a reading habit for their children that will pay valuable dividends long into their lives.  As I said earlier reading causes people to think and thinking is always good.  People who spend time reading are also learning at the same time how to write where people would want to read what they have written.  If people want to read what they have written it goes without saying that people would also want to HEAR what is spoken as well.  I would go so far as to suggest that the leaders of tomorrow come from the people who at an early age learn the value of reading as compared to the lack of value in watching mind numbing television, at least the types of programs that most children and even adults watch.

Therefore to avoid the kind of traps that people create for themselves I believe reading is critical.  In Chapter 13 referenced above, Browne refers to a "Box Trap."  People when they hear the word "box" typically envision a four sided box.   But the kind of trap people create for themselves can have many sides and I would suggest that quality education (as compared to just education) and quality reading (as compared to just reading) would be two sides of the "Box Trap" Browne refers to. 

This is how important I believe "quality education/reading" is to a person's future.  Without some form of intervention children will grow up believing what their parents believe.  That can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Whether it is religion, politics, relationships etc, what parents believe will become what the child believes unless there is some form of intervention.  As an example if parents believe in the principals or lack of principles of a certain political party, their children will also become adults believing in the same political party not based on their own research and understanding but because of their parents beliefs.  But if the same children routinely read about politics, government and history, they can formulate their own minds based on facts and not someone else's beliefs.  As an adult it takes a great deal of effort to change what you were taught as a child.  You want proof?  How could anyone think that slavery was an acceptable practice?  Someone who grew up with slavery would not question the practice until such time as they could see the injustice of slavery from a position they were not currently living; an intervention of sorts would have to take place.  If there is no intervention (reading) then they will continue on the same path as their parents.  Prejudice is the same thing and it works on both sides of the spectrum.  If a child is brought up in a home where the parents are prejudice against any specific group of people because of skin color, religion, etc., the child will most likely think the same way.  If a child is brought up in a home where the parents distrust whites the child will distrust whites, if there is a distrust of blacks, the child will distrust blacks.  Nothing will change until there is an intervention (reading or a life changing experience) to change it.

One only need look at local news coverage to see how the value of life has changed over the years.  People are being abused physically and mentally and people are being murdered and it seems like many of these murders occur for no reason whatsoever.  If people valued life they would respect the life of another.  How does one come to the point in their life were they no longer or never have valued the life of another?  It has to start in the home where the parents do not value the life of another such as each other.  Lacking some form of mental illness it is hard for me to understand how a child who grows up in a home where the parents value life could then become an adult who does not value the life of another person.  When this occurs there had to be an intervention in the wrong direction like joining gangs or watching the endless parade of extreme violence on television and in movies and now on computer games.

I once heard the quote, "You are what you are because of what you were when you were ten." Dr. Massey.  What Dr. Massey meant was that a person's values and principles were put in place by all the things that happen to them up until the age of ten.  I believe that to be true.  So if the values and principles instilled in you before you were ten were good values and principles you are indeed lucky.  But if those values and principles were based on something other than what would be considered to be good, it will then take an intervention to change them and it will take a concerted effort to change not only your existing habits but also the way you think.  You can do that by reading and researching quality educational materials with the key word being quality.

How many teenagers think about their health?  Not many I dare say.  Health in this reference means exercise, the things you eat, drugs and alcohol.  Life goes on and most teenagers do what their friends do and I would suggest that in most cases that will not lead to a long and healthy life.  With all the evidence that can be easily found on the Internet to the contrary, why do so many of today's youths use drugs, smoke and drink a lot of alcohol.  You would think that knowing that these things are hazardous to your health they would not develop such destructive habits and remember, a habit once developed is very difficult to change.  As I grow older and experience the health issues that older people experience, I can only imagine what my health would be like if I had taken drugs and abused alcohol which I did neither and still I have health issues but not the types typically associated with long term drug use, cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse.  For example, I have always been very physically active in all types of sports, did not smoke or drink and did not engage in illegal drugs yet I had to have a heart by-pass surgery.  I have been told that had I done these things I probably would have already died long ago.  That also means I probably would not have seen the birth of several of my nine grandchildren and most certainly would have missed my two great grandchildren.

So the health and diet habits created NOW in someone's youth will have long term affects in their future.  So my advice would be to research the subjects and develop WISE habits now instead of bad habits now and hope that your health turns out differently in spite of the bad habits you create.  As Dr. John Maxwell states, "Hope is not an effective strategy!"

Finances would be another side to the "Box Trap" that teenagers and young adults are building for themselves both in a good way or a bad way.  To these people I would ask these questions.  Do you see yourself living a big beautiful home with several hot cars in the garages, a pool in the back yard overlooking a lake with a boat or boats docked at your private dock on a picturesque lake front home?  What do you suppose it would take to make that happen?  Do you really know?  Most people in this age group have no idea if their parents did not tell them because they are not being taught this in school.  In fact it would be my guess that schools are teaching them that such ideas are unattainable and may even be taught that they are bad goals only of the mean and nasty "rich people", I hate that phrase as if there is something inherently wrong with being wealthy. 

The best way to teach people about such lofty goals would be to teach them to work backwards.  If someone were to have these items, what did it take to get to a position that would reward them with sufficient income to where they could purchase them?  Then simply work backwards.  What would they have to be doing in their 40's, their 30's, their 20's and right NOW that would lead them to the position they desire?  What type of career path would enable them to reach their financial goals?  Careful, that does not necessarily equate to a college degree.  I have known a lot of college graduates who are struggling financially.  I have also known a lot of college graduates who obtain degrees that if you actually thought about it would not enable them to be financially successful because all they would be able to do with that type of degree would be to teach others the same subjects and teaching usually does not relate to achieving wealth.  I am not saying it is impossible to become wealthy by teaching, only that it is difficult.  People who learn a trade typically become financially well off by eventually working toward and opening their own business.  People in sales have oftentimes, with the proper training, become very wealthy.  A lot of these occupations do not require a college education.  On a personal note I also know that not everyone is cut out to attend college and if they do, typically do not do well because they either know they do not belong there or they are pursing something that simply does not interest them. 

The point is that unless someone in this age group does not properly set their sights on what they want to happen long-term (goal setting) and then engage in quality education/reading on subjects that will enable them and put them on the proper path, their only HOPE is LUCK and we all know how that works out.

Retirement.  "I'm too young to think about retirement!"  You are never too young.  People in the 20 to 30 year old group ARE actually putting in place right now the factors that will enable them to enjoy a life in retirement or not.  How much money will they need once retired to support and continue the desired life style into their retirement years?  How will they insure that kind of money will be theirs to use?  What are they doing right now to help make that happen?  Are they doing anything in that regard?  For most people I seriously doubt it.  I know in my youth I was never taught any of these things and learned them more by accident than by design and learned them late in life, almost too late to make a difference.  Would my life be different now had I learned these lessons earlier in my life?  Without a doubt!  That is why I am writing this Nugget in hopes that maybe at least one life may be changed as a result of reading it; just one.  Maybe yours.

I write this paragraph with great hesitation.  I am not looking for sympathy and instead I want to just briefly describe what has happened to me since I set my sights on retiring within two years of my actual retirement.  Without warning, I had a 5-By-Pass heart surgery; I am doing fine.  I have had several TIA's (Transient Ischemic Attacks) and if you don't know what they are, they are referred to as mini-strokes. In fact it was the TIAs that ultimately made up my mind to retire when I did.  They would effectively render my left arm and left leg useless and my focus became blurred.  I was finally put on medication which has helped in this regard a great deal.  I have had dental surgery that I had not financially planned on and that has cost upwards of $10,000 which I had not planned on.  (Sadly when I made the decision to serve in the U. S. Armed Forces until retirement, I was promised that dental care for me and my family, if I retired, would be covered by the government as a benefit - it has not been).  It was my desire to retire, do some writing and more importantly play a lot of golf which I love.  But then about 9 months ago I started having severe pains in both legs between the knees and ankles.  I have had a lot of tests, steroid injections in my spine (that did little good) and most recently angiograms that discovered blockages in blood vessels in both legs.  It was so bad that I could not walk a block before I had to sit and rest up to continue.  And to add insult to injury, I have also been diagnosed with Diabetes.  Why am I telling you this?  Because whenever I go into a doctor's office/hospital I see people my age and older and never seem to see the same people twice.  So there are a lot of folks who have medical conditions that require treatment. We see them walking about every day everywhere we go and pay them little to no attention.  Eventually that may be you.  So if you want to enjoy your retirement, you need to plan both financially and physically long before you reach retirement age otherwise your retirement may not be as you expect.  Even WITH the proper planning which I had thought I did, you can see what CAN happen.  Still, it is far better to properly plan than to rely on hope and again, hope is not an effective strategy.  The other lesson learned was if you want to do something, do it while you can and do not wait until you retire to do it because you may not reach retirement or when you do you might not be physically able to do it.  Do it now if you can!

I could continue because there are so many sides to the "Box Trap".  My goal in this Nugget is to get the reader thinking about their life and dare to have them answer the question, "What is my life going to look like when it is finished?"  Once they answer that question, they will then know what path they need to take to get there.  Then they need to ask, "What am I doing right now that if I do it, I will or should be able to achieve the kind of life I desire?"  If they are not doing it, why not?
Action Steps.

I highly recommend using Joe Tye's ( Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) system.  It is quite simple, almost too simple, but it works.  Once you establish what you want, you simply ask yourself this DDQ question:


If yes, say or do it.  If no, don't say or do it and then say or do something that will take you towards your desired goal(s).

More food for thought.  In 1910 Wallace Wattles wrote "The Science of Getting Rich" in which he wrote, if you want to help the poor become rich.  Think about that.  No one who is poor creates jobs for those who need them or who may be poor.  The rich create jobs and opportunities, not the poor and certainly not the government.  In fact a case could be made that if someone is being supported by the government the government would desire for that person to remain poor and because of the government support, they remain supportive of the government in power so their benefits will not be reduced or eliminated.  They become dependent upon the government and that is never a good thing to happen.  So let us use the DDQ question to get rich and be more definitive:


And here is another way to use the DDQ question:


This is what Wallace Wattles refers to as "thinking in a certain way".  It's all about thinking and if you recall at the very beginning of this Nugget I said that reading causes you to think; "think in a certain way!"

When you are in the later years of your life and are sitting in your rocking chair on your front porch, do you own the rocking chair AND the house with the front porch where you are sitting or do you ONLY rent the rocking chair and your long lost dreams?  Now is the time to "think in a certain way" to develop either plan, a plan to only rent the chair or a plan to own the chair - the choice is yours and only yours to make.  If you want to become one of the top 5% of people in the world you must determine what it will take for you to get there.  If instead you are satisfied with being in the 95% of the rest of the people who struggle daily for existence and usually are very dependent upon others for the lifestyle they have, keep doing what everyone else is doing but don't expect different results.  Remember "Hope is not an effective strategy!"  Proper planning is!