Take me to Church


You either love or hate that song, right?! Now that I have your attention, I’m going to blog about friendship.

Spiritual or not, I think we can all agree it’s nice to have good friends by your side. People who know you better than anyone else, who you can connect with, who understand you, who don’t judge you, who have your back, who are there for you no matter what, who listen, who care. Days can pass and when you get together it’s like nothing has changed, you instantly reconnect. It’s the people in our lives that make a difference; they come and go for a reason. It’s okay if they come, and if they go. That’s what life is all about. I believe there is a reason behind everything that happens throughout our days here on Earth. Forming solid friendships and relationships gives you strength; it grounds you, and if nothing else, it makes you smile. And it really just feels good. Try it out. Be vulnerable, open up.

Live. Love. Laugh, And do it fully, with all your heart. I can say with confidence that the rewards outweigh the risk.

An Experience Or A To-Do? The Decision Is Yours.


What is an experience? My guess is that most of us know what it means, but do most of us allow ourselves to be in the moment and acknowledge the endless amount of experiences we encounter in our lives each and every day. In philosophy, an experience is defined as the totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived, understood, and remembered. Think about that.

Are we rushing through the minutes, hours, and days failing to pay attention to what really matters and what is passing us by, life. We have expectations and want experiences when we are investing our money or time into something. What about those experiences that don’t cost money, that aren’t planned, those that are unexpected (a smile or helping hand from a stranger). Are we allowing one to experience the little joys life has to offer each minute of every day?

On the flip-side, are we really enjoying and acknowledging an experience that is planned or paid for: daily routines, errands, responsibilities, work, events, out with friends and family. If we are paying for an experience, are we paying attention to it, slowing down, staying present in the moment, engaged? For example, when you’re out to lunch or dinner with friends/family, are you focusing on the conversation and enjoying who you are with and why you chose to spend your time this way (because it is a choice); or are you distracted and not focusing on the present moment.

It’s not always easy to remain present, but the rewards that come from allowing one to have experiences in any given moment outweigh the ease of checking out and coasting through life on auto-pilot. We practice creating and delivering experiences in our business lives (customer experience, event experience, brand experience, client experience), why not in our personal lives? All of these real-life examples can be some of the best moments and experiences to have, if embraced.

Below are some supporting quotes around this idea of experiences;

It is the experiences, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

All true meaning resides in the personal relationship to a phenomenon, what it means to you.

Christopher McCandless

I chose the image for today because it’s an experience I appreciate (having new sisters) and that I’ll always remember (a celebration). Even if you’re not completely convinced by this idea of experiences, I hope it’s at least something you’ll think through and consider implementing in your day, today, because it truly is the power of now. 🙂

 

Sources: Dictionary.com and Brainyquote.com

Curiosity Killed the Cat


But is that really what we want to believe? Maybe I’m the only person who still acknowledges this phrase, but that’s not my point. My point is that curiosity should be valued and encouraged. Being curious means you’re looking for more information, you want to learn, to find out more. Maybe if each of us was a bit more curious we would be a bit less judgmental and critical. Maybe if we were a bit more curious we would find more respect for people or things that are different from what we know or believe. Maybe if we were a bit more curious we wouldn’t hold on so tightly to stereotypes and preconceived notions.

Try it. Be curious. You might just find that being a bit more curious opens up your eyes, ears and mind to a life filled with more adventure, experiences and knowledge.

Curious about other topics, good reads and recipes? Read more at www.thesocialbeing721.com. Thanks for your support.

The Happiest Place on Earth…


Is Costa Rica, according to Nic Marks and The Happy Planet Index. Why? How do they live? What makes them happy?  Let’s find answers to these questions and stop thinking the future will be a nightmare. Fear in the organism is linked to the flight mechanism, which in turn causes us to freeze and run away.  Let’s stop fearing and focusing on the problems and start seeking out and focusing on the solutions.

The very architecture of our national accounting system is firmly based on production and producing stuff.  We hold a financial/economic definition of what progress is. We think that if we get the numbers to go up we’ll be better off, somehow life is going to get better. In other words, too much greed. We’re fixated on what we can produce, and therefore, measuring everything except what makes life worthwhile: social justice, sustainability and people’s well-being.

So what is it that people want? Research has found that people around the world want happiness for themselves, their family, their children, their communities. We all need love and want to be loved, we want to be healthy and live a full life. Nic Marks poses the question, why are we not thinking of the progress of nations in these terms instead of the stuff we have.  I think it’s a good question.

How do we measure happiness and well-being? If we believe people should be happy and the planet should be happy, how do we get there? The outcome depends on how successful nations are at creating happy and healthy lives for its citizens. Nic takes two main factors into account, Ecological Resources, (how using the planet to get there/more is bad) and Happy Life Years, to calculate the well-being of nations (quality and quantity).

What he found is that Costa Rica (and Latin America) is a place where living good lives isn’t costing the Earth. Want proof? The average life expectancy in Costa Rica is 78.5 years old, longer than in the US. According to the 2010 Gallup World Poll, Costa Rica is the Happiest Nation on the Planet and they’re doing it on a quarter of the resources typically used in the Western world.

What’s going on there? What’s the secret? Maybe we try changing the way we live our lives in order to increase well-being and efficiency. Let’s create positive feedback loops at the personal, governmental and business level.

Change starts with each individual. I found the list below very helpful and something I really believe in. I want to share with you in case you’re too interested in executing the mission Nic outlines.

5 positive actions to improve well-being in your life (Happiness Foresight Program):

  1. Connect (social relationships, invest the time with loved ones)
  2. Be active (step outside, go for a walk, dance to radio)
  3. Take notice (how aware of you around people and things around you, be present, mindfulness)
  4. Keep learning (throughout life course, curiosity, informal)
  5. Give (generosity, altruism, compassion)

The future might be Latin America. Let’s work to get there too. Unfortunately, we’re getting less efficient in turning our last scarce resource (the planet) into the outcome we would like. Challenges and trouble may be ahead, but it’s important to fear no one, and see the vision and world we all want. It’s necessary we pave a great transition with good things. Let’s work together to create a world where happiness does not cost the Earth. Who is in?

Source/supplemental video:
http://www.ted.com/talks/nic_marks_the_happy_planet_index

Be Bold. Be Beautiful.


I can say with certainty that beauty comes from within, but do we (as a people) really believe in and practice this concept in our daily lives. This notion doesn’t just apply to women, but to men as well. If we step away from the mirror and focus on our mind and our thoughts, who do we see, what do we experience, are we the person we thought we were. Perception is a tricky thing to understand. It’s not cut and dry. It is different for each human being. Next time you’re feeling adventurous, take some time to step back and analyze what lens you are viewing the world through and how this affects your assumptions and beliefs.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I think it’s a good reminder; don’t be afraid to be different. If you stop judging yourself, judgments from the outside world will not affect you in a negative way. Get comfortable with curiosity, and you might find that feelings of fear and anxiety quickly subside.

Challenge your mind daily so that you are regularly yanked out of your comfort zone and out of your own head. Learn a new skill. Check out this fun video, 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes! (Guys share with your girlfriends or wives.) Who knew there were so many options for tying a piece of cloth?!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LYAEz777AU

This video proves there isn’t always a right and a wrong way, but many different ways to get from Point A to Point B. It’s all about the lens that’s being used, the willingness to be flexible with that lens, and the idea that there are unlimited possibilities out there for everyone.

Be bold, be strong, be courageous, and you will be beautiful.

Zoning


During any given moment, do you choose to zone in or zone out? Zoning out is easy and doesn’t take much thinking or presence. Too much zoning out and you might just realize (or not realize) that you’re going through life on auto-pilot. You might think this is a way to relax, rest your mind, or get through stressful times, but zoning out actually doesn’t accomplish much.

 

Instead, challenge yourself to zone in the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or wanting to rest your mind. Zoning in on thoughts, feelings, and acknowledging emotions causes you to become present in the moment and not see “everything” as one big problem. Being present allows a person to see and experience life’s situations and moments as smaller pieces, which are part of a bigger picture. It gives humans the opportunity to manage thoughts and feelings, acknowledge them, let them pass, and ultimately, let them go.

Meditation and mindfulness is one way to give thoughts and feelings attention in a healthy way. Being present is not automatic, it takes effort. Give it a try. Staying present will allow you to have more energy, creativity and patience to deal with life’s tough situations, that will inevitably arise and require more of your mental effort.

So what will you choose to do, zone out and be passive or zone in and allow yourself to experience and feel? Because it is a choice.

Smoother Than a Fresh Jar of Skippy


I stole the title for my blog post today from Bruno Mars’ song, Uptown Funk. This phrase made me laugh when I heard it.  I thought to myself, who doesn’t want to be smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy!? Cause I sure do!

I’ve always taken life pretty seriously, but am (slowly) learning to lighten up a bit, and can say with confidence, that I love this new-found freedom that comes from letting go. It takes courage and strength to really embrace the ideas that: it’s okay to make mistakes, we learn from experience, and perfection applies to math problems, not real life.

My definition of smooth is having emotional intelligence, being level-headed in any situation and being able to laugh at myself. It means making time for things that matter to me and spending time doing things that make me happy. What’s your definition of smooth, what does being smooth look like for you?

If you haven’t already started, I challenge you to turn up the volume in your own life. Smile. Relax. Dance. Let loose. And if nothing else, be smooth.

Music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPf0YbXqDm0

Quality over Quantity


What a simple concept, quality over quantity, but are we careful to practice it in our daily business and personal lives? I’m making a conscious effort to desire better things, as opposed to more things in my life. In the process of doing this I am noticing that it takes slowing down in order to implement careful decision-making, and that it takes a boundless amount of patience. It takes mindfulness, determination, and less multitasking. I’m finding these concepts can be easily swept aside for a quick fix if I don’t make a conscious effort to pay attention and stay present in each and every moment and interaction I encounter.

I’ve made the decision to cut out the noise and distractions from my daily routine, which isn’t easy and can be cause for some uncertainty. But what I am certain is that I’d rather have one proud moment, than 100 average moments. I’d rather have one dedicated volunteer/employee who shows up and works hard, rather than 100 who says they will show up and work hard. I’d rather have one exquisite pair of earrings than 100 mediocre ones. I’d rather have one good friend who is there for me all of the time, than 100 who are there for me some of the time.

I believe time is money, AND I believe very strongly that bigger isn’t always better.

Supplemental reading: http://www.businessdictionary.com/article/581/the-importance-of-quality-over-quantity/

Joyful, Joyful


Ever find yourself feeling guilty about eating too much, shopping too much, doing too much, overall, consuming too much? We all do. We’re trying to do it all. Everything in moderation, sound familiar? Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy when it comes to habits and “finding happiness.” It takes intentional behavior and effort to change habits, not just wishful thinking.

It’s not worth spending your time or energy feeling guilty about unwanted habits, or trying to implement new limits and strict rules on oneself. It takes doing. Try dedicating more time for you, for listening, lending a hand, giving back, helping someone, being the reason someone smiles today. When you make more time for what matters, there is less time to spend on the things that don’t. Why rush through life buying things we don’t need or doing things we don’t want to do. It’s important to remember we are the ones in the driver seat, in control, making the next move.

Happiness isn’t something one can achieve or an end goal, it’s a feeling that comes and goes. Make it a daily goal to connect with others, help each other. These are the things that bring us, as human beings, instant joy. Joy is something that comes from within and stays with you day after day. Joy is something to strive for. Fill your days with more happiness, gratitude, love, healthy behaviors and with less consumption and stuff. Do it for yourself and your own well-being.

Put yourself first. Give back when you can. Practice gratitude. Do yourself a favor by allowing yourself to experience and feel the joy that will come from implementing these daily practices.

Supplemental Video:

TED Talk – The price of invulnerability: Brené Brown at TEDxKC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UoMXF73j0c (honor the ordinary)