By Deryck Richardson
I’ve heard before that, “the only people without problems are dead people; and then again, they might have the biggest problem of us all!” How true this statement is. Everyone in the world has problems. Problems are colorblind and they don’t care how much money you have or where your family lives. Problems come up everyday and we must find the proper way to attack these problems and come out on the winning end.
It all starts with your attitude and mindset. We all know that conditioning is real. Pavlov proves this with his experiment with the salivating dogs. If you’ve never heard of this experiment, google it. It will blow your mind. A better experiment to outline in this book however is the experiment with the monkeys, the ladder, and the sprinkler. I’ve heard this story many times, both in college and in the workforce and I find it amazing how our brains are wired to think to do things, simply because it’s been done that way before. Grace Murray Hopper states that, “the most dangerous phrase in the human language is, we’ve always done it this way.”
There was a scientist who put five monkeys in a room. On top of a tall ladder was a few bananas that were obviously tempting to the monkeys. One monkey became very ambitious and began to climb the ladder towards the bananas. As soon as this happened the scientist turned on the sprinklers in the room and all of the monkeys became cold and wet. Soon, however, the bananas started to look good again and another monkey decided to climb the ladder. Again, the scientist turned on the sprinklers so that all of the monkeys became soaked with cold water. As the third monkey attempted to climb the ladder, the other monkeys had had enough. They recognized that climbing the ladder, for some reason, triggered the sprinklers. The four remaining monkeys quickly pulled the monkey off of the ladder and began to punch him and scream.
The scientist then replaced one monkey with a new monkey that had not witnessed any of the prior events. The first thing that this monkey notices is the banana at the top of the ladder. As he begins to climb the ladder the 4 monkeys in the room, quickly pulled him down and began punching him and screaming. The scientist duplicated this process by adding a second new monkey and taking away one of the original monkeys. The same thing happens as this new monkey ends up getting beaten up by all of the monkeys in the cage, including the replacement monkey who has no idea why he was being punched for climbing the ladder.
Eventually, the scientist replaces all of the monkeys and there are 5 new monkeys. None of these monkeys have experienced the sprinklers as a result of climbing the ladder, however, they all beat any monkey that tries to get to the banana. They had been conditioned to do this simply because, the society, that they had been introduced to, had always operated in this manner. How often are we limiting ourselves from developing further in life simply because society tells us it is not OK?
Many of my friends and colleagues have flirted with network marketing or direct sales. I find it so amusing that we, as people, will go out and buy a product that is endorsed by a celebrity that we have never met, yet we rarely support our friends or family who are trying to start a new business. How many of us have had our idea’s shot down by friends and family and our confidence takes such a hit that we just give up? Our friends and family want us to stay where we are on the socioeconomic ladder simply because that’s how things have always been. People have always failed in their circle, or never tried and remained stagnant, so it is hard for them to imagine anything different from you. It’s not their fault that they doubt you, it’s just how they’ve been conditioned.
Understanding this is the first step in reprogramming your attitude. You don’t rely on them, for the most part, to make everyday decisions anymore. You are no longer a high school student who has to wear Nikes instead of Pumas to fit in. You are an adult and you are your own person. These people who doubt you will have no skin in the game when it comes to your ambitions. They are not vested in your journey, so they have no, or very little knowledge on the game plan that you have come up with. And believe me, you must come up with a game plan for whatever goal you want to accomplish. We will talk about his in later chapters.
The next step to reprogramming your attitude is to dive deep into the science that is the mind. The mind is made up of two major parts. The conscious and the subconscious. The conscious mind is what you are aware of. The thinking mind. This portion of the mind is controlled by you. You have the ability to raise your right hand high in the air. You have the ability to do a jumping jack, simply because you tell your mind to make the body do it. The subconscious mind are things that you don’t have to tell your mind to do. Breath, put your right foot in front of the left foot when walking. This part of the mind controls things that need no instruction or direction.
The beauty of the mind is that the conscious mind has the ability to control and retrain the subconscious mind. Your friends and family are telling you that you can’t succeed so much that your subconscious mind starts to believe it. You get lazy when attempting to accomplish your goals. You start out working diligently on a project, but as the weeks go on, you get discouraged, often times giving up. Your subconscious mind has now gone into autopilot, filling your mind with doubt. One of the easiest ways to reprogram yourself is to speak to yourself. Auditory senses are extremely powerful and we must utilize them when training our mind to convert from a negative thinker to a positive thinker. This is the reason why so many motivational speakers utilize crowd participation. The “repeat after me’s,” and “everyone scream” techniques are powerful because you are tapping into the subconscious mind and reminding it that you are in control.
I recommend starting everyday with verbalizing your goals and your dreams. I recommend reminding yourself verbally that you can do this and that you were meant to be great. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will, I promise you that!
Go back to the days of your childhood for a second. The little things brought us joy. The sound of the ice cream truck in the summertime, the new toy that your parents brought home that came as a surprise, staying up late on the weekends, laughing and joking with a group of friends about meaningless activities, a hug from a parent or a loved one. It didn’t take much for us to maintain a positive attitude as a child, we could do anything we wanted and our brain didn’t comprehend that there could be adverse consequences we just acted. Some of those actions did result in trouble, but I’d bet the overwhelming majority of those actions make up a big piece of our memory from childhood.
What brings you joy now? I’m not talking about the type of joy that leaves you hung over the next morning. We can all treat ourselves to an adult beverage every now and again, but what actually brings you joy? Is it time spent with loved ones? Hiking? Enjoying a sporting event? Make sure you reward yourself with things that bring you joy. Being happy is a big part of maintaining a positive attitude. The world is tough, in fact, it is the world that probably helped to destroy your confidence.
The news is filled with depressing story after depressing story. The watercooler talks at work are all negative. Parents at your child’s sporting events are complaining about each and every aspect of the game or league. People are flat out negative and it’s up to you to stop the negative thoughts now. Remember, if your subconscious mind continues to hear negative things, it will pound those thoughts into your head. You are constantly fighting a battle, that you may not even know you are fighting, with yourself. In literature and pop-culture we see the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. This is real and it’s happening inside of you. And since you are hearing a plethora of negative content every day you must begin to think positive thoughts and have positive conversations every day. Fight fire with fire.
So often we get caught up with drama. It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s interesting. There are more reality shows, showcasing the lives of people who don’t get along with each other, than ever before. Ratings on these shows are through the rough. Conspiracy theorist will tell you that “they” want you to get caught up in this culture of drama. They want to suppress your mind with the negatives of the world to keep you from growing as an individual. I say that even if that is the case, you have the power to control your thoughts. You have the power to turn off the TV and pick up a book. You have the power to watch shows that focus on positive themes rather than negative. This world is scary and dangerous, but it’s also beautiful and fulfilling. Whichever world you focus on will be the world you live in.
Another way to reprogram your thoughts is to devote yourself to spread positivity. A smile will go a very long way. In fact, there are studies that show just smiling or laughing will have an impact on your body’s chemical reactions. It just makes you feel good to smile and to laugh. Take control and reap the rewards of having a positive attitude. Watch how you physically feel better and your body has less stress attached to daily activities. Negative things are going to happen, but take the half full approach and only focus on the positive side of any situation. Captain Jack Sparrow says, “it’s not the problem that’s the problem, it’s how you react to the problem, that is the problem.”
A popular sales story that sales managers and trainers use is the story of the shoe salesmen in a remote desert country. A shoe company sends two salesmen to the same country where the occupants don’t wear shoes. The first salesman comes back to the corporate office to report that he hadn’t sold a single shoe. He complains that he should have never been sent to a country where people don’t wear shoes. How can he possibly be successful in this environment?
The second salesman comes back and reports that he had broken sales record after sales record. He asked why they had never sent him to a country where people do not wear shoes before. This was the greatest marketing strategy that he had ever heard of. Nobody wears shoes, how could he possibly fail in this environment?
When you are faced with a problem are you looking at the positives? When you have to face adversity, do you automatically look at the worst possible outcome? If so, it’s not your fault. You have been programed to think negatively about everything. You have been programed to think that there is no positive solution. But you have the ability to reprogram your mind. You have the ability to train your mind to only see positives. It may feel strange at first. You may feel as if you are not yourself. In fact you aren’t! Your old self was used to complaining, whether internally or verbally. Your old self was used to seeing the glass half empty. Make the decision today to become a new person. Make the decision to embrace your newfound feelings of discomfort. Once your mind gets used to thinking about everything with a positive spin, the benefits will be plentiful.
Less stress, more money, more positive relationships. Both positivity and negativity are contagious. Become the leader that spreads positive content. Become the leader that tells people in your circle that you no longer want to listen to the negative vibes. It’s up to you to feed your brain and your mind with the seeds that will grow into beautiful flowers. If you only plant seeds of negativity, that is all that will grow. Be cognitive of the music you listen to. Violence and sin sells because people are drawn to the negative vibes. Reverse that magnetic pull within you and those you love. Make it cool to be positive. Go back to using peer pressure like tactics to be vocal about the power of positive thinking and positive reinforcement.
Finally, think about what you are about to say before you say it. If you were talking to a child, whose mind was still pure and able to be molded into a cesspool of positive vibes, would you say what you are about to say? Pretend that everyone you speak to is in a transitional phase just like you. Act as if your co-workers, family, and friends are transitioning from negative magnets to positive thinkers. Is what you’re about to say going to help that journey or harm it? Not only do we need to speak to ourselves in a positive manner, we need to speak to others in a positive manner as well. Remember the basic manners that you were taught as a child. Say please and thank you, hold a door open, speak when spoken to, and if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. These procedures will help you to become a leader within your circle and may influence others to begin to shift their thinking too. Can you imagine what the would would be like if every spread positive vibes? It may never happen, but it’s possible that within your world and your circle you live that way. How lucky you will be when that day comes!
By Tami Harris
Let’s talk about Medicare. There are clearly so many options available on the market and navigating the selection process, whether for yourself or (if you’re an Insurance Agent) for a client, can be quite the tricky endeavor. If you were to take a poll, I would be willing to guess that most people are generally, pretty pleased with their Medicare coverage. Despite that being the case, you will still typically find two areas of concern where people may not be as happy. Firstly, there is the lack of vision and dental coverage with original Medicare. This is both concerning and surprising since as we age, these two areas tend to be of increasing importance for most people. Secondly, out-of-pocket expenses, which are oftentimes quite unpredictable, can be another source of contention. If you consider that many Seniors operate under a fixed income since they are retired, you can imagine just how devastating unexpected health care costs can be.
So how do we fix it? How do we keep our Medicare while still being able to have our much needed vision and dental coverage? How do we protect ourselves from catastrophic out-of pocket costs or monthly premiums that we cannot afford? There are two options that tend to be the best solutions for most people:
Let’s start by discussing the key components of each one.
With a Medicare Advantage plan, your Medicare plan (either part A or part B) is essentially replaced and the insurance company, not Medicare, provides for all of your health coverage needs. These plans offer lower premiums and greater flexibility in switching plans if you were to be unhappy with your current selection. Medicare Advantage plans will usually also include the added benefits of dental, hearing and vision coverage and even gym memberships as part of their plan offerings. Additionally, these plans generally include Part D prescription drug coverage and do not require monthly premiums. As in with most things in life, when it comes to Medicare Advantage plans there are positives and negatives. This type of coverage does come at a cost, namely by way of out-of-pocket expenses. Instead of costly monthly premiums, with Medicare Advantage, copayments and deductibles must be met, with out-of-pocket maximums typically being around $5000. Ouch! Another main caveat with Advantage plans is that not only is preauthorization often required for certain diagnostic tests and/or procedures, but in addition to that, only approved in-network providers can be used. This can really limit your choices for who provides your medical care. This can be particularly restricting if you tend to travel frequently or if you live in another state for the winter or summer months. What you gain in coverage and a no monthly out of pocket, you lose in copays and medical bills.
On the other hand, our second option, Medicare Supplements serve as a complement to your original plan, rather than a replacement. Essentially, your health insurance still comes from Medicare then when it comes to your coinsurance, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses the Supplemental plan will cover those costs. This is precisely why these are commonly referred to as Medigap plans. They fill in the gaps for coverage costs. It does not, however, provide any additional medical benefits. As for your Part D prescription drug coverage, Medicare Supplement plans will not be contributing to your out-of-pocket costs leaving you responsible for your own coinsurance and deductibles there. There is yet another positive with a Medicare Supplement though! Unlike with Advantage, Medicare Supplement plans do not have restrictions as far as prior authorizations or strict provider network guidelines. Instead, you really have the freedom to choose any doctor, in a location, as long as he or she accepts Medicare. So if you’re a snowbird who heads south for the winter months, you don’t need to fear if you’ll be covered in an emergency situation in an unfamiliar area.
With ten standard plans available from which you can choose, Medicare Supplement plans put you in the driver seat when it comes to being able to control your costs. Yes, the plans with the most coverage will be the most costly, but the choice amongst plans is yours, which can be helpful when you are trying to either stick to a budget or just have a solid expectation of what your medical expenses will be for each month. The final two perks of Supplemental plans are guaranteed acceptance on the front end and the automatic renewal process on the back. So how do these two things work exactly? The month that you turn 65 years old, you have six months to purchase your Supplement plan without fear of being turned down - for anything. That’s right! Pre-existing conditions too! On the back end, when you are due for renewal of your policy, as long as you are continuing to pay your premiums, you can renew each and every year regardless of your health status.
So let’s say you choose a plan, any plan really, and you absolutely hate it. What happens then? Is it possible to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement plan (or vice versa)? The answer is a resounding yes, you can….with some stipulations, of course. The main requirement is simply that this switch be done within a particular time frame. If you originally (at age 65) selected an Advantage plan only to find it is not the best option for you, you have 12 months, known as your trial period, to return to Medicare and purchase a Supplement policy. This option is afforded to you by Federal Law. Similarly, if you had Medicare Supplement and surrendered it to enroll in Medicare Advantage, but were ultimately unhappy with the switch, you are allowed to return to Original Medicare as long as you do so within 12 months from the time you joined. If the company still sells your original policy type, you can get that same exact Supplement policy back. If not, you are free to select a new or different Supplement policy. In both scenarios, the Supplement insurance company cannot use medical underwriting (read: they cannot use your medical history against you) or impose a waiting period for pre-existing conditions.
Knowing and choosing the best plan for you is obviously a personal decision and it is one that is based on your financial situation, your medical needs and your personal preferences. There really is no one solution that is better across the board. Need low to no premiums, out of pocket maximums and added benefits like nutrition care, meal delivery or access to your gym’s Silver Sneakers program? Medicare advantage may be just what you are looking for. Want greater flexibility in choosing your own provider, hospital, etc., protection from mounding medical bills, standardized benefits and coverage for your coinsurance and copayment costs? Medicare Supplement may be the best bet for you. No matter the choice, you don’t have to go through the decision making process alone. Speaking with a licensed insurance professional or even your physician or other healthcare provider is a great first step in choosing what’s right for you.