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Focus on the Root Cause

Going Beyond the Symptoms

Karen and Jay stress the importance of going beyond treating the symptoms on the surface and dealing with root causes, if you want to achieve lasting success.

How many times have you experienced a sudden pain or feeling of discomfort – and taken some immediate action to make it go away?  You do, but, then it comes back, and this time it’s even feels a little bit worse. You address it again, but it keeps coming back. Chances are you are doing what many of us do – in fact, probably most of us – you’re dealing with the symptom – not truly getting at the root cause.


As it turns out, focusing on the root cause rather than simply the symptoms is crucial for achieving lasting success in pretty much all facets of life. In terms of health, addressing symptoms may provide temporary relief, but understanding and tackling the underlying causes lead to long-term wellness. For instance, regularly taking painkillers for headaches may offer temporary relief, but identifying and resolving the root cause, such as stress or dehydration, can prevent future occurrences. By addressing the root cause, you can create sustainable health habits that promote overall well-being.  And, the good news – these habits can last a lifetime.

Similarly, think about your finances - addressing symptoms like overspending or debt without understanding the root causes, such as an impulse purchase or lack of financial planning, can lead to recurring financial struggles. Taking time to identify the underlying issues allows for an effective solution, such as budgeting or seeking financial education, leading to long-term financial stability and success.

In relationships, too, focusing on symptoms like conflicts or misunderstandings without delving into the root causes, such as communication issues or unresolved emotional baggage, can result in superficial resolutions.  By the way, these kinds of flare ups can be a cause of emotional stress – really very debilitating.  By addressing the root cause, you can build trust and healthy relationships that can stand the test of time.

Moreover, when it comes to community engagement, we’ve learned some valuable lessons as we’ve been rolling out our Sunshine Initiative – helping to revitalize small towns and develop opportunities for growth and advancement.  Not surprisingly, understanding the root causes of challenges or limitations within small towns and communities is essential for driving positive change. By identifying underlying issues like lack of resources, communication barriers, inequalities, or even sometimes simply the challenges caused by limiting beliefs,’ individuals in a community can work together to foster growth and cultivate a sense of vitality and excitement that becomes infectious in a positive way.

So, the next time, you find yourself feeling that twinge of discomfort – or even a sharp pain, please take a moment – before you reach of the Advil – or if it’s financial pain, before you take out a high interest loan – and ask yourself, how did I get here?  What can I be doing to address the root cause – and make sure the problem gets truly fixed – so that I won’t ever have to deal with it again?

Achieving Optimal Well-Being: Simple Strategies for Physical and Mental Health

 Achieving Optimal Well-Being: Simple Strategies for Physical and Mental Health


(Ross, perhaps an uplifting pic that gives the impression of someone doing positive things for the physical health, mental health?)


What we’re about to share is going to sound simple.  In a way, it is.  However, while it may be simple, the truth is that it’s not easy.   So, here goes: 


  • Turns out, there are several pretty straightforward strategies you can adopt to achieve overall physical and mental health and well-being.  But it’s going to take energy, focus and self- discipline.


The Blue Zones.  There are some valuable lessons to be learned from the ‘Blue Zones Philosophy and Principles.’   I’m referring, of course, to the insights about living longer and better lives, developed by founder Dan Buettner in observing a number of communities around the world where people routinely live to be one hundred – continuing to lead active, purposeful lives.  As a general approach, you can’t go wrong by learning about and adopting the Blue Zones philosophy and putting the practices to work in your daily life.  To learn more, go to  Also, there’s a terrific 6-part documentary film released on Amazon last September that does a beautiful job of describing the Blue Zones approach.  I urge you to check it out.  Meanwhile, please enjoy these practical tips below.



‘Easy’ Steps for Proper Physical Health 


Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity is crucial. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, per week, coupled with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. Even small increments of physical activity, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking during breaks, can significantly benefit health.  Karen and I take sometimes say ‘something is better than nothing.’  So, on those days when you are really struggling to find the energy to do a workout – cut yourself a little slack and just do something that’s easy – but do something!  And, strangely, often times, when you start moving and getting into the flow, you’ll find yourself enjoying it and maybe even have one of your best workouts.


Balanced Diet: Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is foundational. Strive for variety and color on your plate to ensure you're getting a range of nutrients.  Aiming for whole foods is not a bad way to go.  And, of course, staying hydrated is vitally important; aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day. 


Adequate Sleep:  I know it may sound hard to do, but adults should target 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Good sleep hygiene practices include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a restful environment, and avoiding screens before bedtime – i.e. not a good idea to check your phone for texts or emails in the middle of the night.  Makes it doubly difficult to get back to sleep.


Regular Check-ups: Routine medical check-ups and screenings can help detect potential health issues early.  By the way, there are some terrific advances happening in such things as fully body scans that can help identify issues – way, way in advance – and give you the opportunity to address potentially dangerous conditions – long before they pose a threat.


Go Beyond the Traditional Medicine:  While our traditional western medical practice is superb at dealing with acute issues, we are finding that alternative medicine – including naturopathic medicine and the long tradition of eastern medical practices can be an essential component of addressing root causes and promoting overall wellness – such that acute issues/symptoms can be fully avoided.  Our daughter, Morgan, is a naturopathic doctor, and we’ve learned so very much from her - about seeking overall health and wellness – rather than simply fixing problems as they occur.  It’s a wonderful approach to dip into.


Stress Management: Incorporating relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can help manage stress. Setting aside time for hobbies and activities that you enjoy also promotes mental well-being.


‘What to Avoid’ -  Tips for Better Health


Sedentary Lifestyle: Avoid prolonged periods of inactivity. Sedentary behavior is linked to various health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Incorporate more movement into your day, such as standing or walking while talking on the phone.


Unhealthy Diet Choices: Steer clear of excessive consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat, high-sodium foods. These can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Sometimes really tough to do – as these choices are all around us and ‘at the ready.’ 


Ignoring Mental Health: Avoid neglecting your mental health. Addressing issues like anxiety, depression, and stress is as important as physical health. Seek professional help when needed and stay connected with supportive friends and family.  Faith can be an important component as well.  Don’t overlook the power and comfort of being able to address your spiritual well-being.


Overlooking Hydration: Dehydration can lead to various health issues, including kidney problems and impaired cognitive function. Avoiding sugary or caffeinated beverages and opting for water can significantly benefit your health.   A little bit tougher for me – as I do love coffee.


Final Word:  There are a few things that seem to work for me.  Basically, I try to follow several daily rules even when I travel - which seems to be ‘most of the time.’    Wherever I am, I’ll get up early and do a run – or if the weather is bad or I’m just looking for a little variety, I’ll do a workout.  And I do mean – almost literally – ‘every day.’   Partly for physical health, but probably even more so – to feel alert, sharp and truly happy mentally.  Avoiding food and drink which I know will create a drag on my performance throughout the day is something I pay particular attention to. At the end of the day, it’s time to unwind, be social, spend time with family and friends, share stories, share a dinner – enjoy life.  Then, bed before it gets too late.  And wake up the next day and do it again.  Seems to work for me.  So, please feel free to pick up on any of these ideas – or not.  Whatever is going to work the very best for you.  

The Financial Mindset: Keys to Thriving, Not Just Surviving

When it comes to money and finance, many, I dare say most, people, regardless of income, are not doing well. This has been true for thousands of years and has little to do with the economy. Even in the worst of economic times, some people thrive. They manage their finances well, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and bless others along the way. So why is it (to paraphrase Earl Nightingale) that so many people work their whole lives and end up broke? Both success and failure in any aspect of life have a root cause. When it comes to finances, it’s largely about mindset.

As the famed ‘father of positive thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once said, you need a positive philosophy of money.  Money by itself is not the answer.  Sure, it can buy things and get you through for a finite period.  But soon it’s gone and then what?  Instead, think of money as the resource – that creative people such as yourself can use ‘to build things.’  When start doing this – you begin to see it as one of the two primary resources, along with your time, that you can use to achieve your chief aims in life – thereby giving yourself a whole new view of how money needs to be thought of, considered and more.

Or dipping into another source, 1 Timothy 6:10 from the Bible is often misquoted and misunderstood. Many people believe that money is the root of evil. They have been told so many negative things about money throughout their lives that it’s no wonder they have an aversion to keeping and growing it, making it work for them. The actual verse has a couple of distinct messages that need to be understood. One, that the love of money is the problem, not money itself. When people crave money and give it more importance than what they are giving in return, it becomes an issue.

Outright theft is obvious, but indirect theft in the form of taking without providing value is also a problem. The second part of the verse states that the love or craving for money is the root, not simply of evil, but of all kinds of evil. This is one of many examples of a skewed mindset that contributes to the financial problems people face.

Where do you start if you want to gain a fresh mindset and control over your finances and your life? As crazy as it might sound, start by getting your hands on some actual cash. If you’re like most people in the modern world, you rarely touch actual paper money. Get a $1 bill, and a $5, $10, $20, $50, and a $100 bill. That $186 should be relatively easy for you to get from your bank. If not, start with a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter, and work your way up. The idea is to physically hold these inanimate objects and consider the fact that they are simply mediums of exchange. You create value through hourly labor, sales, consulting, or even by lending money in exchange for interest. There are numerous ways you can legally and ethically acquire money, and then there are numerous ways you can utilize it as well. Look at that money with neither love nor hate. It is nothing more or less than an accounting system.

The entire system around money is always changing—inflation, interest rates, the stock market, labor rates, productivity, and so much more. I remember nearly 40 years ago when I worked in a large sawmill earning $5 per hour, and a candy bar was about 35 cents. That job today pays easily $25 per hour, and the candy bar costs well over $1. Take a close look at those bills and coins if you have them handy. You may find some that date back to the 1980s or earlier. What did it take to earn that $1 back then, and what could you purchase with it?

The concept of money as a means of exchange has never changed since before the time of written history. The values have changed in a relative way. What is the root cause of problems with money? Mindset. Getting clear about what money is and what it is not and keeping a really good system for tracking it coming in and going out, is crucial. I once heard it said that when your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall. In some ways, it’s really that simple. The first step is to keep track of every last penny you receive and every last penny you spend. Once you do that consistently, you will start to see amazing changes in your mindset and your actual results. 

Positive Profile of the Week:  Steve Shurtleff

This week, we are delighted to highlight a wonderful leader in our state - Representative Steve Shurtleff.


Steve has been a dedicated public servant in the State of New Hampshire for over two decades. His long service in the New Hampshire House of Representatives is a testament to his commitment to the people of our Granite State. And his ability to address not just the symptoms of problems but get to and deal with their root issues is a skill that has served him and ultimately the rest of the state very well. 


Shurtleff's political career began in 2004 when he was first elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Over the years, he has served in various leadership roles, including Minority Leader, Majority Leader, and Speaker of the House. His most recent title has been Speaker Emeritus.


Throughout his tenure, Shurtleff has worked tirelessly to represent his constituents and to make a positive impact on our state. He has been involved in numerous legislative initiatives, including efforts to improve public education and address the affordable housing crisis. One of his notable achievements has been his work on bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid crisis, which has significantly impacted our New Hampshire communities. He has also been a strong advocate for veterans' affairs, leveraging his experience as a Vietnam War veteran to push for policies that support former service members.


Shurtleff's dedication to public service has earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues. Moreover, his colleagues have often highlighted his ability to bridge partisan divides and foster a collaborative atmosphere in the House, making him a unifying figure in New Hampshire politics.


Beyond his legislative accomplishments, Shurtleff has been actively involved in his community. He has participated in various local organizations and charitable activities, demonstrating his commitment to serving the public not just through policy, but also through direct community engagement. His efforts have been recognized with several awards, including the New Hampshire Humanitarian Award and the Legislator of the Year Award from the New Hampshire Veterans of Foreign Wars.


As Shurtleff steps down from his position in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, he leaves behind a legacy of service and a reputation for getting things done, i.e., getting to the root of issues and not just addressing the symptoms. His long service to the State of New Hampshire will not be forgotten, and his contributions will continue to benefit the people of the Granite State for years to come. His leadership, integrity, and unwavering dedication to his constituents have set a high standard for future legislators.  Thank you, Steve, for all that you have done and continue to do!


Quote of the Week: Get to the Root Cause!

"In dealing with complex problems, solutions are rarely found at the surface; you must dig deeper to unearth the root cause." - Tracy Chou


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