Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Moment I Knew I Was Turning Into My Parents

From the time you were a little peanut up until, well, your last phone call, your parents have dispensed pearls of wisdom and ushered you into adulthood in their unique way. As a kid, their corny sayings and strange mannerisms drove you up the wall, and you swore that you’d never, ever be the same way.
Until you become an adult and realize that you’re quickly turning into your parents, and … you actually kind of like it.
In honor of this moment of realization, we’ve partnered with Toyota to bring you some classic tales of “oh my god, I’m turning into my mother/father."

Here are the life lessons we learned along the way.

LESSON #1: Put this one in the memory box (and this one…and this one…)
Natasha Huang is a page right out of her mother’s book. While she’s all about fashion and flashy trends, she’s said that she’s begun to take style cues from her more conservative mom -- and her mom has even started to borrow her clothes.
Natasha Huang
Another moment was when I started realizing I was hoarding ‘memories.’ I used to make so much fun of my mom for keeping absolutely everything as a memory and I find myself having a walk-in closet and a loft packed with memories and items of things I can’t let go of that remind me of great times.

LESSON #2: Never, ever, ever give up.

In common parenting parlance, the official name for a persistent child is a “nudge.” But Nancy Guberti, a former executive at Goldman Sachs turned entrepreneur, has passed on that trait after coming face to face with her son’s serious illness. Now, her preternaturally mature children, ages 16 and 18, have started a Teenager Entrepreneur boot camp at Fordham University to help others find their passions.
Nancy Guberti
I would basically use this phrase: there's more than one way to skin a cat. if one door is not opening, and someone isn't working with you, find someone who will help, or go through a back door.
Michael Guberti, host of Teenager Entrepreneur Bootcamp
I learned the importance of persistence as well as well as patience! To know when to ramp it up and to be extremely determined and know when to sit back a little bit and let the fruits of your labor take hold. To do your best always; to fly high but stay grounded.

LESSON #3: It's just homework.
Nancy Shenker is the founder and CEO of New York-based marketing company theONswitch.

Nancy Shenker
I spent one eternal hellish year -- ninth grade -- in private high school. A straight-A student, I was always plagued by science. It didn't come naturally to me and I would stare for hours at the periodic table or at chemistry formulas as if they were written in Urdu. After a torturous two hours of plowing through a particularly difficult homework assignment, I came downstairs in total panic, sobbing hysterically.
''I don't get it!'' I pronounced.
''So, what will happen if you fail science?'' my sage father asked.
''I won't get into a good college,'' I bemoaned.
''So?'' he responded.
''I won't get a good job,'' I pronounced.
''So?'' he continued.
''I won't make a lot of money,'' I went on.
''So?'' he asked.
And I stopped crying for a moment, thought about it and shrugged, wondering if that one page of science was, indeed, a predictor of my entire life's happiness and success. I went back upstairs and finished the task at hand.
Epilogue: I did fairly well in the class. And I never forget to think ''So?'' when tackling life's homework assignments.
Excerpted from a letter to The New York Times

LESSON #4: Know when to demand perfection, and when to let it go.
Crystal Trinh is an NYC native. It turns out that she and her mother share a perfectionist streak, especially in the kitchen.
Crystal Trinh
Food is very central in my family. My mom’s always feeding me and giving me way too much food to take home. She has no concept of portions for one person.
As an Asian family, we always cook all day to prep for family gatherings, and I have memories of sitting around, rolling egg rolls together, and my mom would critique my rolls to make sure they’re the right length or not stuffed too much.
I recently was doing this with my (much younger) little sister, and she was getting distracted -- making triangles, playing with the eggroll skins and so on. I caught myself critiquing her egg rolls (which were far from perfect) and saying to her, How are you so bad at this?! Haven’t you been raised doing this for years?! Kids these days!
Anyway, cooking food together and being a total perfectionist is a tradition in my family. Of course, I was being a crazy person and projecting this onto my little sister. They’re just egg rolls!

LESSON #5: Never settle for less.
TierraNicole Taylor describes herself as “definitely my mother’s child,” which means that in addition to sharing the same name, they are nearly the same height, have the same mannerisms and distinct way of gliding across a room. She says her mother is “the best thing that has happened to me.” She continues: "While I was away at college, I experienced a particularly tumultuous phase with friends, acceptance, and 'finding' myself. Three years down the line and several emails, phone calls, Skype dates, care packages, and Facebook statuses later, I've learned that the value in being away from the ones we love teaches us that distance is the best teacher of love."
TierraNicole Taylor
From my mom, I learned that persistence is key. This wonderful woman decided to go back to college when I reached high school. She completed her bachelor's degree in 2008 and even went on complete a master's in educational technology in 2011 ... all while raising me through high school and the first two years of my own college career. Settling has never been an option for her, and what she has achieved so far continues to show me that persistence reaps far greater rewards than any virtue in life.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life

In a recent interview with the Argentine publication Viva, Pope Francis issued a list of 10 tips to be a happier person, based on his own life experiences.
The Pope encouraged people to be more positive and generous, to turn off the TV and find healthier forms of leisure, and even to stop trying to convert people to one’s own religion.
But his number one piece of advice came in the form of a somewhat cliche Italian phrase that means, “move forward and let others do the same.”

It’s basically the Italian equivalent of, “live and let live.” You can check out the full list below.

The Pope gives a thumbs up to an audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
(Photo: CSV)

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life
1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

Monday, November 10, 2014

66 things to be grateful for

With the hustle, bustle, and stress of everyday life, it's easy to become fixated on big-picture worries and take for granted all the little facets of life that deserve appreciation and can be a major boost to your overall happiness.

If you're in need of a mindset transformation, here are 66 things to be grateful for — not only during the holiday season, but also all year long.

1. You're alive and breathing.
2. You're able to read this.
3. You have someone (or multiple someones) that you consider a best friend.
4. Your pet(s) love you unconditionally.
5. You have a job.
6. If you're currently unemployed, you have free time.
7. Much-needed vacation days.
8. Those weekends that feel longer than two days.
9. Those workweeks that feel shorter than five days.
10. Mornings you can sleep in.
11. Movie marathons.
12. Cozy fires and hot chocolate.
13. Maintained connections with long-distance friends.
14. Holiday memories from past years.
15. Future life events to look forward to.
16. Your earliest childhood memory.
17. The places you have traveled to, and the promise of future travels.
18. The shoes on your feet.
19. Your bad days. (They make the good days better. )
20. The people you love.
21. The lessons you learned this year.
22. You're not the same person you were this time last year. You've grown.
23. The food on your table.
24. The moment you finally see someone you've missed. 

coffeeFlickr/staroneGood coffee is everything sometimes.

25. Good coffee.
26. The song that always makes you feel better.
27. The memories with your parents you will never forget.
28. The people in your life who always make sure you're getting home safely.
29. The money in your bank account.
30. Your significant other.
31. If you're single: You get a period of self-discovery and quality time with friends.
32. People who have forgiven you.
33. A soothing cup of tea.
34. Friendly coworkers.
35. Good hair days.
36. The internet.
37. Warm whiskey.
38. Home-cooked meals.
39. Seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and gingerbread.
40. Books that changed your life.
41. Cozy sweaters.
42. Good conversation.
43. Heating.
44. People who pick up the tab.
45. Cuddling.
46. Good health.
47. Fresh-baked bread.
48. That hair grows back after a bad haircut.
49. Kind people on public transportation.
50. Kind people in general.
51. Long overdue hugs from friends and family.
52. Those voicemails you have saved on your phone.
53. Warm hands.
54. Uncontrollable laughter.
55. Rainy days spent at home.
56. Hometown spots with a lot of nostalgia.
57. Happy tears.
58. Your individual talents.
59. Old photos with people you've lost.
60. Home videos.
61. The teachers you will never forget.
62. Gifts you didn't expect to receive.
63. Being able to buy something you've been saving up for.
64. Friends who have stuck around through your toughest times.
65. Family traditions.
66. Everything you have yet to learn but will.

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Things the Death of my Father Made Me Change - by Kevin Green

Exactly one year ago today, my father lost his long battle with Parkinson's Disease. It was, and remains, the worst day of my life. However, from that day forward, I finally started doing what he had asked me to do for so many years.

My father was an extremely successful man in both business and life. He had a positive outlook on almost everything and openly shared his perspective, experience and wisdom every time we spoke. Like most children, I listened, but rarely acted or understood the message he was trying to deliver. As a father, he knew he couldn't tell me exactly what to do, but he did his best to influence while letting me make my own decisions.

After he passed, I kept hearing his words and realized that listening to his guidance wasn't enough, it was time to act. As a result, I changed everything.

While some of this may not be relevant to all, I thought I would take this opportunity to share 5 life and business lessons posthumously from a man who never had the tools and technology to deliver them to a broader audience. May you also find something of value in his advice.

1) Move to a different part of the country (check) - It's easy to find comfort in what we know. Change can be terrifying, but it is also liberating. Don't settle for what life has given to you, take the right opportunities as they come to you and hopefully you'll find that what's right for you, may be 2,000 miles away.

2) Respect is given, then earned (check) - Entitlement is an easy emotion. We want more, we want it faster, and we want it exactly the way we imagined it in our minds. We are hard wired to think we know what's best and often ignore those that paved the road before us. Respect the guidance and wisdom of others. Even those younger than you and holding entry level positions. Respect the ideas, emotions and needs of others and they will in turn respect yours.

3) Be open about how you feel (check) - I've often been blamed for being too emotional when it comes to things I am passionate about. Many previous managers have advised me to control those emotions vs. letting them control you. It's not about controlling your emotions, it's about expressing them the right way. Do not hesitate to communicate how you feel, but do so in a way that fosters a discussion, strengthens a relationship and creates the opportunity for people to see your point of view.

4) Talk to Everyone - as your equal (still working on this one) - My father spoke to everyone as if they were the CEO of their company. From the waitstaff at a restaurant to the guy bagging groceries (if he actually ever made it to the grocery store). He genuinely wanted to know about them. Did they like their job? How was business? He was a natural conversationalist and people loved him because he took interest and time. Something we all claim to have less and less of. A senior executive at a Fortune 50 company and he'd spend 15 minutes talking to the waitstaff during a business lunch because he felt they were equally as important as the people around his table.

5) Give of yourself often (still working on this as well) - Need a job? Talk to my dad. Need financial advice? He's your guy. Want to help improve childhood illiteracy? You have his attention. It's important to be involved in things beyond what pays you. Beyond things that benefit just you. The most rewarding experiences of my fathers life were not those found around the boardroom table, they were making material changes in the lives of others. From volunteering with dog rescue programs, bringing toys to underprivileged children, building programs that help children learn to read, or guiding people through their careers. He was a mentor in the truest form.
While this post may be a little unusual for LinkedIn, I felt compelled to share as the world we live in today is more complicated, distracting and evolving at a pace we're just not used to. We are asking our employees to do more, with less everyday and often forgetting that they are people, with real challenges, emotions and issues that prevent them from doing things the way you want them done.
Since he died, I vowed to change that mindset. My mindset. I finally started to see what it meant to be "People First." To be a true leader, you need to be people first. Put people in scenarios where they can succeed. Where they can explore and find their passion. Enable them to find the time vs. consistently asking for more, if not all, of it. Be open to the ideas of others, as brilliance exists at all levels and everyone has the ability to surprise you. Listen. Listen with intent. Help.
So, while the world keeps trying to "Lean In" and chase dollars, remember that no amount of money or title will make you well rounded. "Lean Out" as often as you "Lean In" and when you become a leader...

  • Help your team grow, even though they may leave the nest eventually and move 2,000 miles away - Their success is equally important as your own
  • Make time for the interns and entry level folks. They need it more than anyone and could someday be your boss
  • Communicate effectively and openly. Encourage your team to be open when they are about to break or burn out. Fix the problems together, before you lose someone for reasons that have simple solutions
  • Talent is everywhere. Ask people what they think. Listen more than you speak and you may just find out what your people are capable of
  • Be accessible and open to ideas. Just because you like something done a certain way, doesn't mean it's the right way. Just because that's the way things have always been done, doesn't mean that's the way they should still be done. This applies in work and changing the way we teach children to read. Use what you learn in the office in places that desperately need your perspective

I hope you find some value in these words and guidance. I waited too long to make these changes and know now just how valuable they are. I've seen these traits in the leaders around me. I look for them in my current mentors and find that those with these traits are not only helping me make the right career choices, but amazing friends.

It was one year ago that I stood by his bed as he left us. It was when I said goodbye, that I finally promised to change.

(Photo used is my father's last watch - He made the time... and believe it or not. It hasn't kept time since he died.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

33 Awesome Quotes to Inspire Positive Change By David Van Rooy @dlvanrooy


Organizations and people that don't embrace change are bound to lose ground and stagnate. When you are anxiously anticipating a change--or in the midst of a challenging one--grab one of these quotes to help you or your team plow through it.
  1. The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. ~ Albert Einstein
  2. Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. ~ Arnold Bennett
  3. Change is inevitable. Change is constant. ~ Benjamin Disraeli
  4. When you're finished changing, you're finished. ~ Benjamin Franklin
  5. The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. ~ Bill Clinton
  6. It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. ~ Charles Darwin
  7. The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress. ~ Charles Kettering
  8. If you don't like change, you will like irrelevance even less. ~ General Eric Shinseki
  9. Change means that what was before wasn't perfect. People want things to be better. ~ Esther Dyson
  10. Resistance at all cost is the most senseless act there is. ~ Friedrich Durrenmatt
  11. If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. ~ Gail Sheehy
  12. Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ~ George Bernard Shaw
  13. When people shake their heads because we are living in a restless age, ask them how they would like to life in a stationary one, and do without change. ~ George Bernard Shaw
  14. I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. ~ Georg C. Lichtenberg
  15. He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. ~ Harold Wilson
  16. Change before you have to. ~ Jack Welch
  17. People can cry much easier than they can change. ~ James Baldwin
  18. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. ~ John F. Kennedy
  19. Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. ~ John Kenneth Galbraith
  20. Be the change that you wish to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  21. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead
  22. Your success in life isn't based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business. ~ Mark Sanborn
  23. If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. ~ Maya Angelou
  24. I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. ~ Mother Teresa
  25. The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. ~ Nathaniel Branden
  26. Change your thoughts and you change your world. ~ Norman Vincent Peale
  27. People don't resist change. They resist being changed. ~ Peter Senge
  28. You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller
  29. Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. ~ Sydney J. Harris
  30. It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory ~ W. Edwards Deming
  31. There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction. ~ Winston Churchill
  32. To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. ~ Winston Churchill
  33. And just for fun... "Change is inevitable--except from a vending machine." ~ Robert C. Gallagher
  34. By David Van Rooy  @dlvanrooy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dear 30-Somethings, I Hope You Won’t Make These Mistakes In Life


Dear 30-Somethings,

I am writing this to help you change your life around for the better. I want you to live a long and prosperous life without looking back with regrets. You have many years ahead of you, and I want to make sure that you live them to the fullest. There’s nothing like waking up one morning and having a meltdown because you didn’t do what you wanted to, so I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Read this with an open mind and think about your life at the moment; are you living a happy life? If the answer is no, you won’t be living a happy life when you’re older either. No matter how much you’re saving for retirement.

1. Making Work a Priority

You’re a newbie at your job, and you want to make a good impression on your boss. I get it, it’s a natural feeling. You can’t just put work before everything else in your life though. If you respond to every call you receive from your boss or coworkers, even on your days off, you will never take the time to enjoy the present moment. You will soon become so obsessed with work that your life will only be about that… work. Your friends will start drifting away, and your relationships will be affected. I get that you want to work hard now and have fun later, but work will never cuddle with you when you are sad. Find a balance between work and fun that works for you. Work can come second on weekends and special occasions. Turn off your phone while you’re at the restaurant with your friends and make it clear to your boss that you will not answer calls or texts on specific days.

2. Forgetting Your Passion for Money

Money controls everything in today’s world. If you want a luxurious life, you need more money; it’s just how it works. Which is why you might consider putting your passion behind in order to make more money. Let me tell you something about this type of thinking: it will make you miserable. If you go to work unhappy about what you do, or not passionate about your everyday tasks, you will be miserable. You will groan when you wake up in the morning, and you will sigh in relief when it’s time to punch out. You will find yourself in a mediocre routine where your feelings will be pretty much inexistent, because there will be no passion or excitement in your life. Of course though, we’re humans, so we need to feel something to not be depressed, which is where shopping splurges will come in. The money you make will pay for your happiness in things like shoes, dresses, suits, or cars. It might seem like you’re happy for a few minutes, but the feeling will fade very quickly. After a while, your boss might even think of letting you go because he can see that you’re miserable on the job. I write from experience. My advice? Follow your passion. When you’re passionate about something, the money will follow. Your excitement and love will allow you to create something amazing, something that sets you apart from others. If you’re passionate about writing, become a writer. It won’t always be easy, but you will wake up in the morning happy about what you’re doing of your day. You will create content that will make your readers want to read more. That’s what passion does and that’s why money always follows it. To find your passion, think back to when you were a little kid. What did you love doing more than anything? If it was playing video games, can you become a video game creator? If it was painting, can you become a museum curator? Think about it, and follow it. There’s a career for every passion.

3. Not Taking Care of Your Body

You might think now that you don’t need too exercise or eat healthy in order to look good, but your future self will think differently. You’re young, take care of your body! The food you eat today will start affecting your body later, by adding more wrinkles to your face or increasing your chances of getting ill. Go to the gym now, even if you don’t think you need it. If you exercise and eat healthy now, your skin will be tighter and your body will be slimmer later. Not only that, but you will also feel better about yourself. You’re already young and beautiful, so why not enhance this beauty of yours through a healthy lifestyle?

4. Neglecting Your Family

Family should always come first. You probably left the nest a few years ago and don’t plan on looking back, which is fine. But, you should never neglect your family. If you live in the same area, make time for all of them and catch up on their stories. You don’t want to be so caught up in work or adulthood that you forget to call your mother for a month or two. If you are living in a different Country, you can Skype to talk to your parents, siblings, or other close relatives. You might think that you’re above it all right now and that your friends are your new family, but it’s false. When you’ll be older, it’s a guarantee that you’ll regret not spending time with your family when you had the chance. You’ll regret forgetting to call your sister on her 30th birthday, or going to that lunch date with your parents. Your family is precious. Hold on to it and let them know regularly that you love them. They’re the ones who will be by your side no matter what happens. If you had a fight with a close family member, let go of that anger. Call your sibling or your parents and set things right, you’ll be happier.

5. Being Negative

Negativity will kill you. Simple. If you spend your thirties thinking negatively, you will not blossom the way you should. Not only will you become a grumpy old person in the future, but you will also lose your entourage. People around you will slowly stop talking to you, because they know how negative you are. Your negativity will also take a toll on your relationships and career, as no one will want to spend time with you. It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Negativity will kill you. Instead of victimizing yourself and thinking negatively all the time, change your thoughts. Say affirmations every morning to start your day on a positive note. If you catch yourself being negative, shake it off and force yourself to think positive again. If your entourage is the one who’s negative, let go of them. It will make you feel better and a whole new life will open up before you.

6. Thinking You’re Too Old

You’re mistaken if you ever think that you’re too old to do something. Not only will you miss out on a lot of fun, but you will also age more quickly than you should. You don’t want to turn 50 one day and look back at your 35th birthday, when you passed up going to DisneyLand with your friends and just had a quiet dinner at home. You don’t have to be serious all the time, and you most definitely don’t have to act like you’re in your thirties, whatever that looks like. Take Richard Branson for example, he’s in his sixties and still lives like he’s in his thirties. Age is just a number, it shouldn’t define what you can or cannot do. You will live a much happier life if you stop thinking that you’re too old for this or for that. You’re never too old to ride the roller coasters or dance on the table! You have one life, make the most of it until the end.

7. Forgetting Yourself

If you are spending too much time pleasing others and forgetting about yourself, you will regret it later. Allow yourself the right to say no to certain invitations or certain requests from your significant other. When you’ll be older, you’ll regret not putting yourself first in certain situations, especially if you put aside your hopes and dreams to let someone else have the spotlight. If you put your needs first every once in a while, you’ll be much happier. It doesn’t matter if your friends and family don’t approve of your change of career, if you love it and know that it’s what you want to do, do it. You know yourself best.

8. Living Too Safely

There’s no regret like the regret of living your life too safely. If you live too safely right now, you will never accomplish the things you could’ve accomplished, period. If you’re always so afraid of taking risks, you will pass up on job offers, promotions, relationships, friendships, and dozens of other opportunities. The time will never be right for taking a risk, but if you know what you’re getting yourself into, take the risk. Take the risk of failure or rejection and see what happens. Even if that guy at work doesn’t like you romantically, at least now you know. You won’t always go home overthinking every eye contact you’ve had with the guy, because you’ll know that nothing can happen. The best way to embrace risk is by testing new foods. Go to a Mexican restaurant and try hot dishes, see what happens. Go on a spontaneous trip with your best friend, see what happens. Worst case scenario? You’ll have hilarious stories to tell your grandchildren.

9. Not Traveling Enough

This is one of the most common regrets people have when they’re older. You might be extremely busy with work or adulthood right now, but you should always make time to get out of the country and visit new cities. When you get older, you won’t have the energy to travel around the world, so do it now. Traveling will help you find yourself by breaking away from the routine and thinking of only one thing: yourself. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, you now have the time to travel. Take two weeks off and visit Paris or London, see what everyone is talking about! See for yourself if Italians are real charmers or if French macarons are the best dessert on earth. Many people take a gap year before University to travel around the world, why not do it now? Grab a luggage and head out into the world, that’s where the real opportunities lie.

10. Leaving Feelings Unspoken

A lot of you today think that feelings should just be bottled up, mostly because you’re afraid of getting hurt. This fear will create a lot of regret in the future as you look back and wonder if that person at work really liked you. You can’t leave your feelings bottled up for fear of being rejected or of ruining whatever is going on between the two of you. If you think that the other person likes you, make a move. What if your best friend likes you as much as you like him? Imagine the regret you will have if you both like each other, but no one has the courage to speak out. You’ll get married one day and still wonder if your best friend likes you the way you like him. I mean, haven’t you seen Maid of Honor? Talk to your crush about your feelings or ask that cute waiter out. Worst case scenario, they don’t like you romantically but still want to be friends with you. At least you will know for sure that the person doesn’t like you. You can move on to the next person without regrets, because you did what you could to find out if the feelings were reciprocal.

Good luck, and remember to stay true to yourself!


10 Navy SEAL Life Lessons You Can Use Every Day

In his 2014 commencement speech, former Navy SEAL Admiral William H. McRaven offered 10 lessons to the University of Texas at Austin graduating class. He outlined the lessons of the bed, paddle, heart, cookie, circus, obstacle, shark, dark moment, song, and bell. Each one was a metaphor for an important life area.
The Admiral offered this wisdom to encourage the class of 2014 to change a world of eight billion people — 10 people at a time. He reasoned that after five generations of change, 800 million people’s lives would have been changed by the 8,000 people sitting in that room. However, the video of his speech has already been viewed by over 2.2 million viewers!
But let’s start with one person: you! Use your imagination and look in the mirror. Who do you see? Are you there yet? Is the world defining you or is it the other way around? What is your bed, paddle, heart, cookie, circus, obstacle, shark, dark moment, song, and bell?
So are you ready to learn these lessons from the Navy SEALs? Here is how we can apply each lesson to our daily lives.

1. The lesson of the bed.

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Making our bed seems simple, but if we don’t do the simple things right … well … you know how that goes! Bed making is strictly enforced in the military for this reason. After we all get up in the morning, we look at ourselves in the mirror and decide how to “make our lives.” So if we can get the bed part of our day right every morning, maybe we can get our lives right too!

2. The lesson of the group.

“If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.” Are we changing “my” world or “our” world? Humans tend to do stuff together. Getting along with each other takes time and patience and perseverance but in the long run, it’s worth it. So paddle away and ask for some companionship. Get some more Navy SEALs! The more paddles the better!

3. The lesson of the heart.

“If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.” I have a theory about height and size. Seems like the shorter folks I know tend to put more effort into everything they do. They have a bigger heart inside their smaller body. I never ever want to cross a person who is shorter than I am. And two-year-olds can eat my lunch if I am not careful. Motivation seems to trump intelligence and if we work at strengthening both, we can change the world.

4. The lesson of having a bad day.

“If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.” Some days no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, things will not turn out as planned. Failure will be experienced, and because we are not perfect as human beings, we need to prepare for that situation. The “sugar cookie” exercise in Navy SEAL training is designed to put the trainee into this environment to learn how to push through to the end of the day and survive the ordeal. So when we have a bad day, push through it and look forward to having a better day tomorrow.

5. The lesson of doing the extra work.

“But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.” When you fail a daily physical training event, the Navy SEALs’ “circus” is having to do two hours more of additional calisthenics — designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. But that extra training actually can help build strength and stamina if you don’t quit. We all live though our own “circuses” in life and they can be exhausting, confusing and sometimes downright depressing. Many times, we can glimpse insight and perspective during those trials, if we are looking for them. When you do the extra work, you become stronger, more experienced, and more confident. Doing the minimum is sometimes not enough, so practice the maximum! Go the extra mile. That pivot to a more committed and prepared approach can sometimes be life changing!

6. The lesson of overcoming your fear.

“If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.” Twice a week an obstacle course was required for McRaven’s SEAL training. One of the most feared obstacle course challenges was the “slide for life.” It was dangerous and it put the SEALs at risk. In the movie “Dune,” the character Paul says to himself, “Fear is the mind killer.” It’s true, because while it’s good to be wary, if fear paralyzes our intellect and our motivation, then we are truly lost. Sometimes we have to take that chance and “risk” it. But it needs to be with purpose, resolve, and awareness.

7. The lesson of confronting “your daily shark.”

“So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.” Like it or not, we will be living our lives “swimming with the sharks.” McRaven’s lesson #6, above, reminds us that fear can diminish our capacity. But if we prepare for the “shark” encounter, our response may surprise us. Top survivalists know something about the predator’s mindset. Attackers prefer to attack the weak not the strong: “Don’t ever behave like prey and run unless that is your last resort.” Your shark could be a physical attacker, so self-defense classes (personally I prefer Aikido) can give you some confidence so you can avoid being easy prey. But your more common “shark” attack is likely to be verbal. Now here is where you can adequately prepare your response. Lock in on your values and ethics. The “Win-Win” response is a good place to start, particularly if you are in a group setting. Getting ahead at the expense of someone else needs to be examined, so take a stand for yourself and others may follow suit.

8. The lesson of being your best while experiencing your worst.

“If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.” Some of the Navy SEAL training missions require them to perform dangerous underwater operations in complete darkness. All of their training needs to carry them through that moment. No one knows when we will take our last breath. We may not have SEAL training but we do have our values, our spirituality, and our relationships to pull us through these darkest moments. It’s not how you start but how you finish that counts!

9. The lesson of raising your voice.

“So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.” The ninth week of McRaven’s SEAL training (a.k.a. Hell Week) consisted of six days without sleep, continual physical and mental harassment, and a hellish day at the Mud Flats between San Diego and Tijuana. This was one of the most difficult Navy SEAL exercises of their training. Often, many SEALs quit right here, but some find a way to get through it.
While McRaven’s group were up to their necks in mud, one such SEAL started singing through the ordeal and others joined him in chorus. It was something that gave them hope. It was an affirmation of what can be not what is. So you can use your voice in music (no matter how bad it is) to transform a dark moment into hope so long as you seize it. So shout it now: Carpe diem!

10. The lesson of ringing your bell.

“If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.” Any time a Navy SEAL wants to quit their training and leave, all they have to do is go up to the bell and ring it. The question is, “What is our bell?” Let it be our last breath and let each of us have a life worth living … again!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Simplest ways to stay Enthusiastic (even when you are drowning at work!)

“Every man is enthusiastic at times. One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years that makes a success out of his life.” — Edward B. Butler
Here are 13 tips I’ve learned in the past decade-plus that really help me stay enthusiastic in life, even when I’m crazy busy.

1. Act enthusiastic

Back in the early 1900s, there was a major league baseball player named Frank Bettger, who was demoted to the minors (the story goes) because his manager thought he lacked enthusiasm.
Instead of lamenting his bad luck, Bettger took his manager’s note to heart and determined to establish a reputation as one of the most enthusiastic ball players in the league, even if he had to fake it. People began to take notice, and before long Bettger landed a position with a better team, shout-outs in the papers and a dramatic increase in his income, too.
It’s worth noting that Bettger’s playing hadn’t improved; it was simply the power of his enthusiasm that led to his change of fortune.
Bettger’s baseball career only lasted a few years, but he went on to become one of the most successful salesmen of his day, and a best-selling self-help author. “Force yourself to act enthusiastic, and you’ll become more enthusiastic,” was his number one rule. He challenged people to try this for just 30 days, because this one change could easily revolutionize your life.

2. Take 15 minutes a day to do something you love

I used to complain regularly that I “never had time” to pursue my passions, until I heard an artist I admired say, “If you can’t put fifteen minutes into doing what you love, you’re making an excuse.”
I’d been nailed. That very day I determined to paint for at least 15 minutes every day for the next month. I was astonished at how my enthusiasm for life soared, just from 15 minutes a day of doing something I loved.
Try this yourself. Make a list of everything you love to do. What’s calling to you right now?
No matter how busy you are, take 15 minutes to do something that gives you joy, and watch your enthusiasm return.

3. Get enough sleep

There’s a prevalent notion in our “go-go-go” culture that sleep is for wimps. “You can sleep when you’re dead,” goes a popular saying.
In fact, chronic sleep loss not only drains energy and enthusiasm, but can contribute to serious health problems. Learning and memory, metabolism and weight, cardiovascular health, and immune function all suffer when you don’t get enough sleep, and so does mood.
Getting enough sleep can be so hard, but making it a priority makes everything in life go so much better!

4. Feed yourself well

The typical American diet is not just terrible for the heart, bones, and belly. Big spikes and drops in blood sugar levels also wreak havoc with the way the brain uses energy. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it affects brain chemistry, which impacts mood, memory, and cognitive function.
Shifting to a plant-based, low-glycemic diet actually changes how the brain functions, which can boost your mood, help you deal with stress, and make it easier to stay enthusiastic.

5. Move your body

Face it, we were not designed to sit eight (or more!) hours a day. Our bodies are made for movement. Exercise is not just essential to keep obesity at bay and keep our muscles, hearts and bones healthy; research has shown that it’s a powerful mood booster.
In his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. John Sarno shares study after study that demonstrate the power of exercise to improve thought processes, attention, and creativity, and even eliminate depression more effectively than prescription drugs!
When you’re feeling unenthusiastic, you may want to head for the couch, but instead of lying around in the dumps, go do something that will make you sweat. Take a walk, swim, dance, go throw a football around with a friend. Anything that gets your body doing what it was made for (i.e., moving!) will make it easier for you to find your enthusiasm again.

6. Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion is the practice of noticing what you’re feeling, remembering that you’re human (and therefore fallible, just like everyone else on the planet), and treating yourself with the same kindness you’d give to a beloved friend. Unfortunately, few of us have been trained to respond to ourselves in this way. Much more often our response is to beat ourselves up when we stumble, but research has shown (and your own experience may echo) that self-flagellation is counterproductive.
If you practice responding to yourself with self-compassion rather than aggression, you’ll discover it’s a much more pleasant way to live, and when life is better, it’s so much easier to stay enthusiastic.

7. Meditate

Meditation (or any kind of mindfulness training) affects the brain in powerfully positive ways. In fact, studies have shown that mindfulness training actually increases grey matter in brain regions involved in learning and memory, emotion regulation, sense of self, and perspective taking — all important for keeping your enthusiasm up!
Even just 10 minutes a day can spur these kinds of positive changes, and because meditation is the practice of continually — and self-compassionately — redirecting your attention (and redirecting your attention, and redirecting your attention … ) when you notice it becoming absorbed in thought, it’s the perfect way to strengthen your self-compassion muscles, too!

8. Flex your “what’s going well” muscle

Human beings seem to be wired to focus on what’s not going well. It’s important to notice this, of course, so we can make adjustments, but it’s equally important to notice what’s going well.
Yes, I wanted to smack my boyfriend whenever he preached “attitude of gratitude” at me, but he was right: the more attention you put on what’s going well in your life right now, the better life goes, and the easier it is to stay enthusiastic. Instead of focusing on all the things you wish were different, write down everything you can think of that you’re grateful for, and make a practice every day of noticing what’s going well.

9. Clear out clutter

It’s hard to be enthusiastic when you’re weighted down with stuff cluttering up your space. You can’t find things (where did that overdue cable bill go?), you’re ashamed to have people over, and it’s hard to even think!
If clutter is a big problem for you, it may feel overwhelming and impossible to start. Just pick one small area where you’ll really notice a change, and you’ll be amazed at the fresh supply of energy and enthusiasm (and motivation to keep at the clutterbusting!) that will be your reward.

10. Spend time with enthusiastic people

Enthusiasm is contagious. Since your time and energy is limited, pay attention to how you feel after spending time with people in your life, and seek out those who fill you up, energize and inspire you.

11. Avoid energy drains

Negativity is also contagious. If you notice certain people or relationships causing you to feel drained, depressed, or badly about yourself, stay away from them!

12. Learn to say no

Notice where your time is going. Write down everything that takes up time in your life, and ask yourself who you are doing it for. Is it nourishing you, or are you acting out of a sense of false guilt or martyrdom? The happiest, most enthusiastic people I know are those who have learned to be ruthless with their time and energy, and to say no to things — and people — who suck them dry.

13. Practice spontaneous acts of kindness (but not sacrifice)

Have you ever noticed how good it feels to say or do something kind for someone else? Performing random, spontaneous acts of kindness — even just a kind word or a genuine smile — has been shown to boost self-image, lead us to perceive others more compassionately, promote a greater sense of connection with others, and feel grateful for our own good fortune. All of these things make us happier, and when we’re happier, it’s easy to be more enthusiastic.
Be careful, however, not to get sucked into acts of kindness out of a sense of obligation. Acts of kindness must be offered spontaneously — not as an act of martyrdom — in order to have a positive effect.
Each of these tips has helped me keep my own enthusiasm up. Let us know if you have any to add!
Featured photo credit: David Goehring via


What I do when I fail -By Leo Babauta

I fail at things much more than you might imagine, given that I’ve written books on forming habits and being content with yourself and being a minimalist and more.
I fail at all of that stuff, and it feels just as horrible for me as it does for anyone else.
I get down on myself, feel guilty, try to avoid thinking about it, would rather hide it from everyone else.
Failing at things can really suck.
And yet, I get back up and try again.
I fail at eating healthy on a regular basis, but I keep trying again. I’m pretty good these days at sticking to an exercise plan, but I failed and tried again, regularly, for years and years.
I’ve made several attempts at writing the book I’m writing now, and scrapped it all each time because it didn’t feel right. And yet, I started again, and I’m almost done now.
I fail at loving myself. But I don’t give up on that.
I fail at being a good dad, seemingly multiple times a day. But I continue to try, and sometimes I succeed.
When I try over and over again, once in awhile I succeed.
So what’s the secret? Well, there isn’t any. You just have to keep trying.
That said, here’s what I’ve found to work:
  1. I learned a more flexibile mindset. When you are rigidly trying to stick to a plan or achieve a goal, and things don’t go according to plan, then you feel like crap and things can get derailed. But if you have a more flexible mindset, and think, “I might not be able to go according to plan but that’s OK because things change,” then it’s not a disaster when you get off track. There’s no single track that you have to stay on.
  2. I came to realize that every attempt is about learning. When you fail, that’s actually really good information. Before you failed, you thought that something would work (a prediction), but then real-world information came in that told you it didn’t work. That means you now know something you didn’t know before. That’s excellent. Now you can adjust your plan, figure something new out, try a new method. Keep learning.
  3. I ask for help. When I’m struggling with something, I know that I can either give up, or I can figure out a better way. But it’s not always easier to figure out a better way, so I reach out to my wife, friends, trusted family members, and I ask them. They might give me simple, obvious, why-didn’t-I-see-that advice that I need, or brilliant tips, or accountability. Whatever happens, my friends and loved ones never seem to fail me.
  4. I give myself a break. If I’m struggling, sometimes my mind or body just needs a break from the discipline. So I’ll take a day or two off, or a week, or even more. There’s no set time that’s right for every situation, so I’ve been learning to go by feel. For some things, I’ve taken a month or two off from trying to learn something.
  5. I remind myself why it’s important. It’s easy to give up on something, because not doing it is always easier. But giving up means you’re losing something important, like helping someone, and so if my reasons for doing something aren’t just selfish (pleasure, vanity), then I will renew my vigor for the struggle. This alone is often enough to get me going again, especially if I’m doing it to help someone important, like my kids.
I realize that I’m far from perfect, and that the guilty secrets I hide inside myself are no different than anyone else’s. You guys are just like me, in the inside, and while we all share the commonality of failing to live up to our better nature, we also share the bond of being able to start again.
So start again.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

25% of the world lives on a $1.25/day (exteme poverty)....

Extreme poverty: life on a $1.25 a day.

Living on $1.25 a day . . . You are a member of a household dependent on casual laboring in South Asia or subsistence cropping on a small plot of rain fed land in Africa. When times are good you eat two meals a day of rice or maize flour with a little chili or vegetable. When times are bad you eat one meal a day. Sometimes, when there is no work or the rains fail, you do without food or make do with leaves from the bush or scavenging. Meat and fish are rarely eaten - only at celebrations and feasts. The children in your household probably do not attend school - if they do, they will probably have to drop out before completing primary level. If someone gets sick then usually you wait until they get better . . . and pray. If someone is really sick then you sell assets (the spade, pans, title to you rhome plot) or borrow money to pay for a hospital visit. At  the hospital you are made to feel a non-entity - made to wait in long queues, treated as an idiot, nothing is explained to you. You are accustomed to death - brothers, sisters, cousins, parents died when you were young - it just happens. You get to vote every few years in elections - but, you do not expect much of politicians. These people often pay violent gangs to help them get elected and they are known to be corrupt. What can you do? When you look out of the doorway in your leaky shack you worry about the unpaid rent and your outstanding emergency loans from relatives and traders. Your shack does not have electricity or sanitation - water comes irregularly from a communal pump 200 meters away provided by an NGO. If you could just get a job (as a poorly paid maid or a security guard) or just get control of the land your father mortgaged to a moneylender or just marry a good man, life would be so different - a pair of shoes, clothes for the baby or a savings deposit so you could join a micro-credit group. In the distance you see the vehicles flashing past on the newly tarmaced road - lucky people in overcrowded buses, off to do poorly paid but regular work in factories and offices in town; and important people, in business or related to politicians, in air-conditioned BMWs and Mercedes - wearing flashy clothes, eating pizza . . . thinking of going on a diet.

25% of the world, 1.377 billion people live in extreme poverty - $1.25/day 
47% of the world, 2.562 billion people live in poverty - $2/day

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -Helder Camara, Former Bishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil

Excerpt from: Global Poverty, How global governance is failing the poor ~David Hulme

Friday, July 11, 2014

3 Things Everyone Should Know Before Growing Up

With peak graduation season just behind us, we've all had the chance to hear and learn from commencement speeches — without even needing to attend a graduation. They're often full of useful advice for the future as seniors move on from high school and college. But what about the stuff you wish you'd been told long before graduation?

We take it for granted that children should play. Why not adults?
Here are just three of the many things I wish I'd known in high school, accumulated at various points along the way to becoming a professor of psychology.
1. People don't judge you as harshly as you think they do.
In a 2001 study, psychologists Kenneth Savitsky, Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich asked college students to consider various social blunders: accidentally setting off the alarm at the library, being the sole guest at a party who failed to bring a gift or being spotted by classmates at the mall while carrying a shopping bag from an unfashionable store. Some students imagined experiencing these awkward moments themselves — let's call them the "offenders" — while others considered how they, or another observer, would respond watching someone else do so. We'll call them the "observers."
The researchers found that offenders thought they'd be judged much more harshly than the observers actually judged people for those offenses. In other words, observers were more charitable than offenders thought they would be.
In another study, students who attempted a difficult set of anagrams thought observers' perception of their intellectual ability would plummet. In fact, observers' opinions hardly shifted at all.
Why do we expect others to judge us more harshly than they do?
One of the main reasons seems to be our obsessive focus on ourselves and our own blunders. If you fail to bring a gift to a party, you might feel embarrassed and focus exclusively on that single bit of information about you. In contrast, other people will form an impression of you based on lots of different sources of information, including your nice smile and your witty banter. They'll also have plenty to keep them occupied besides you: enjoying a conversation, taking in the view, planning their evening or worrying about the impression that they are making. We don't loom nearly as large in other people's narratives as we do in our own.
Now, it isn't the case that others are always charitable. Sometimes they do judge us harshly. What the studies find is that others judge us less harshly than we think they will. But that should be enough to provide some solace. We can take it as an invitation to worry less about what others think of us and as a reminder to be generous in how we judge them.
2. You should think of intelligence as something you develop.
Is a person's intelligence a fixed quantity they're born with? Or is it something malleable, something that can change throughout the lifespan?
The answer is probably a bit of both. But a large body of research suggests you're better offthinking of intelligence as something that can grow — a skill you can develop — and not as something set in stone. Psychologist Carol Dweck and her colleagues have been studying implicit theories or "mindsets" about intelligence for decades, and they find that mindset really matters. People who have a "growth mindset" typically do better in school and beyond than those with a "fixed mindset."
One reason mindset is so important is because it affects how people respond to feedback.
Suppose George and Francine both do poorly on a math test. George has a growth mindset, so he thinks to himself: "I'd better do something to improve my mathematical ability. Next time I'll do more practice problems!" Francine has a fixed mindset, so she thinks to herself: "I guess I'm no good at math. Next time I won't bother with the honors course!" And when George and Francine are given the option of trying to solve a hard problem for extra credit, George will see it as an attractive invitation to grow his mathematical intelligence and Francine as an unwelcome opportunity to confirm she's no good at math.
Small differences in how George and Francine respond will, over time, generate big differences in the experiences they expose themselves to, their attitude toward math and the proficiency they ultimately achieve. (The gendered name choices here are not accidental: Girls often have a fixed mindset when it comes to mathematical ability; mindset probably accounts for some of the gender gap in girls' and boys' performance in mathematics in later school years.)
The good news is that mindsets are themselves malleable. Praising children's effort rather than their intelligence, for example, can help instill a growth mindset. And simply reading about the brain's plasticity might be enough to shift people's mindsets and generate beneficial effects.
That's enough to convince me that whether or not intelligence is malleable, our skills and achievements — the things we do with our intelligence — certainly are. Let's do what we can to "grow" them.
3. Playing isn't a waste of time.
We take it for granted that children can and should play. By adulthood, that outlook is expected to give way as we make time for more "mature" preoccupations. In her recent bookOverwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Schulte takes a close look at how American adults spend their leisure time. She isn't too impressed: We don't have much of it (especially women and especially mothers), and we don't enjoy it as much as we could.
Young adults are somewhere in the transition: too old for "child's play" and not yet into adulthood. But the lesson from psychology is that there's a role for play at all ages, whether it's elaborategames of make-believe, rule-based games, unstructured summer playtime or forms of "higher culture," like art, music and literature. Playing is a way to learn about ourselves and about the world. Playing brings with it a host of emotional benefits.
Play is joyful in part because it's an end in itself. It's thus perhaps ironic (but fortuitous) that play is also a means to greater wellbeing and productivity, even outside the playroom. So make time for play; it's not something to outgrow.
Finally, if you're in search of more advice, check out NPR's collection of more than 300 commencement addresses, covering 1774 to the present.