All posts by Positively Positive

About Positively Positive

Founded by Eric and Julie Handler, Positively Positive formed a Facebook community of over 1 million people in its first year with its notes of optimism. Positively Positive launched into the world as a multimedia platform in October 2011. Fueled by creative content, videos and bite-sized inspiration, the site spotlights top influentials and everyday individuals to spark, innovate and dare each visitor to live a life worth sharing.

7 Practical Tools to Ease Anxiety and Depression to Make Your Season Merry and Bright

It’s the time of year when your regularly scheduled programming for nutrition, exercise, and centering activities (like meditation and journaling) is interrupted for party hopping, shopping, and travelling. Throw into the mix the pressure of spending money and time (with perhaps some stress-inducing relatives), and it’s a wonder anyone says “Happy Holidays.”

Just as with the other eleven months of the year, you have a choice in whether you make your holidays merry and bright or, well, not so much.

In the busyness of the season, anxiety and depression can be gifts you’d rather not unwrap. But, they can be returned. 🙂

The key is to make a conscious effort to maintain a mind and body balance. While “mind/body connection” and “balance” are buzzwords that are often misconstrued and misunderstood, my friend and fellow Positively Positive contributor Dr. Frank Lipman and I want to offer some practical, easy daily tools to help you find a little more presence this holiday (your presence, by the way, is the ultimate present, despite what Target and Best Buy want you to believe).

7 Daily Tips for Better Holiday Presence

Cut the Caffeine

Switch to decaf or, better yet, herbal tea. Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger anxiety and depression by making your thoughts and mind feel chaotic. It is also extremely acidic, which leads to inflammation (a factor in many diseases and ailments, such as heart problems, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and weight gain) and a diuretic (causes dehydration).

Drinking. Messy or Merry?

As with caffeine, alcohol is acidic and dehydrating. Drinking can also overwork your liver and may interfere with your body’s ability to properly use oxygen, which can make you more sensitive to stress. Also, alcohol masks the symptoms of anxiety because it is a depressant (meaning it slows down the nervous system and increases feelings of sadness) and is a form of self-medication that ultimately exaggerates the problem.

Water to the Rescue

As mentioned above, alcohol and caffeine lead to dehydration, as do processed, sugary foods and a general lack of sufficient hydration. Dehydration interferes with proper brain and body functioning, which can be a trigger for anxiety and depression. Aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.

Foods high in water content also count—so load up on the fruits and veggies. When your body does not get enough water, it starts to conserve and prioritize allocation, meaning certain body processes suffer. Increasing water intake flushes toxins and other depression contributing elements from your system at a faster rate and keeps your brain, digestive, and circulatory systems in their prime.

Get Enough Zzzzz… for Belly and Brain

Lack of sleep can make you more vulnerable to anxiety by making you edgy, unfocused, and hormonally imbalanced. And generalized feelings of tiredness worsen depressive symptoms.

Holiday parties can often lead you to grazing late into the evening. Remember, every part of your body needs its rest, including your belly! Get into the habit of resting your digestive system for at least ten hours a night. This means that if you eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m., try not to eat anything after 9:00 p.m. Another tip: don’t eat within two hours of bedtime so your digestive system isn’t revved up while you’re trying to get everything to hush.

Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is recommended for your body to renew, restore, and replenish.

Move Your Body

Do any sort of physical activity for a minimum of thirty minutes a day. It does not have to be thirty solid minutes. Take the stairs and walk whenever you can. Do some crunches and pushups while watching television. If you are not sure what to do, don’t stress about it! Whatever you enjoy doing that ups your heart rate is perfect. Exercise helps flush toxins and lowers anxiety and depression-provoking chemicals and hormones while it increases feel-good hormones.

Breathe. Release. Repeat.

Deep breathing slows the body’s rhythms and restores calm. This is a super effective and completely free way of ritualizing relaxation and being present.

  1. RPM (Rise Pee Meditate)—from my meditation maestro and another Positively Positive contributor DavidJi. Wake up five minutes earlier to just sit in silence and stillness and set the tone for your day.
  2. Throughout the day, schedule your cell phone to vibrate every three or four hours to take five deeps breaths.

Common breathing technique: Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale out of your mouth with a sigh. On each inhale, breathe in love, expansion, and joy, and on each exhale, breathe out any tension or fatigue.

Savor the Flavors

Eating slowly gives your body enough time to gear up, stoke the digestive fires, and signal to the gastrointestinal system that it’s time for digestion. Gulping your food down in a hurry is like piling logs in the fireplace and expecting a crackling fire to materialize without striking a match.

I hope you take the time to implement some of these suggestions. You are worth the effort!

If your depression and anxiety are debilitating to the point of interfering with daily functioning, please seek treatment from a licensed professional. Therapy is a gift you can give yourself even if you are not suffering from clinical depression and anxiety. Consider it one hour a week that you do not have to take care anyone but yourself!

Love Love Love

Terri and Dr. Frank

Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. A cornerstone of Terri’s practice, meditation, was the impetus for her recently released guided mediation CD Meditation Transformation. Terri can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

For more information about my 21-Day Mind/Body Cleanse with Dr. Frank Lipman starting January 7, click here.

Also check out Liver-Palooza, a fundraiser for my sister’s liver transplant.

*Photo by kelp1966.

The List — December 2012: Featuring Kyle Maynard (No arms, No legs, NO EXCUSES)

Every once in awhile, I come across an individual that truly blows me away. Kyle Maynard is one of those individuals.

My friend Lewis Howes (also a very inspiring guy) recently introduced me to Kyle Maynard, and, as I was sorting through content for December’s LIST, I realized that it was not necessary to list five things that inspired me this month. I just want to share Kyle’s story with you and give it the spotlight it so deserves.

Kyle Maynard is a motivational speaker, author, entrepreneur, and athlete. This kind of description might compel you to believe everything about Kyle’s life is pretty normal. In a sense, it is, but Kyle was born with a congenital amputation with arms that end at the elbows and legs near the knees.

Despite what others might consider to be a “limitation,” Kyle has beat the odds to be extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary.

Kyle’s wrestled for one of the best teams in the Southeast, set records in weightlifting, fought in mixed martial arts, and, most recently, became the first man to crawl on his own to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa!

One of the most awesome insights that I think Kyle offers is how his parents didn’t baby him, even through the trials. They watched him fail. They let him fail. They stood guard as safety nets to his pursuits, but they ultimately lay the choices of success into their son’s hands.

As a result, Kyle is constantly moving to new heights, pushing past what others deem “impossible,” and being a real teacher of adventure and pursuance of dreams to a global audience. He has been interviewed by many, including Oprah and Larry King. He just won the ESPY this past July for “Best Male Athlete with a Disability.”

“I had to go through failures in order to learn how to do it.” — Kyle Maynard

Kyle Maynard on the summit of the Continental Divide in Colorado at 12,000 ft.

What’s more amazing? I am not just introducing Kyle Maynard to all of you today as a new friend or inspiration but as our newest contributor to Positively Positive. I have no doubt that he is going to bring so much perspective, energy, and impact into our online community. I cannot wait for him to share his story to the world through the lens of Positively Positive.

“When we start anything, it’s hard, but…in order for the next generation to be a better version of ourselves, than we do have to learn how to fail. Failure is not fun, but I believe it is the only way to go outside our comfort zone and learn how to be not bound and to stand back up.”
Kyle Marnard

Please be sure to watch Kyle’s first (must watch) video below:

Wanting more of Kyle’s inspiration? Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

New to THE LIST? THE LIST is a monthly post featuring the top inspiring finds that hit me at my core. Morsels so good that I cannot possibly think of keeping them to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. Missed the last LIST? Check it out here!

As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I personally read them all.  And Kyle will be reading and responding to your comments as well!

Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER

* Video above shot by Takashi Doscher of INTELLECTUAL PROPAGANDA

You Are Who You Are When No One Is Looking

By Betsy Brown Braun

The mother unwrapped the straw, poked it into the little box, and handed the drink to her toddler as they walked out of the grocery store. The sliver of straw paper slipped from the mother’s hand. I doubt that she even noticed it.

Rolling my grocery cart back to its stable, I looked around to see how many carts were randomly parked, willy-nilly throughout the lot, nowhere near the stable. Who leaves her cart to roll into the next parked car?

Since my greatest interest and life’s work centers on parents and kids, the world is my lab. I notice random acts, relationships, and interactions wherever I go. Observing, noticing, gathering data, storing information, wondering: that’s me. Today at the grocery store, I couldn’t help but think about where and how children learn to do the right thing, to make the right choices. Of course, “right” means different things to different people, but I’m thinking of generally accepted right. The answer is kind of complicated, but not really.

To do the right thing, children have to do the wrong thing. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Much of growing up is trial and error, testing limits and boundaries. Do it wrong, experience the consequence, then do it right the next time. At least, you hope it works that way. That’s certainly one of the ways kids figure out what is the right thing to do.

However, even without actively teaching your children, they learn from you because they copy you. Think about the things that you automatically do because that’s the way you’ve always done it. There is the great old tale of the mother who is preparing her Thanksgiving turkey with her adult daughter. The daughter asks, “Mom, why do you always cut off the end of turkey before you put it in the roaster?” The mother, who has no answer, knowing only that she cut it because her mother had always done so, calls her own mother. “Mom,” she asks, “Why do we always cut off the end of the turkey before putting it in the roaster?” The grandmother replies, “So it will fit in my roaster.”

Over and over, I remind parents that your kids are watching you all the time. It’s about how you live your life every day. If you ALWAYS hang up the clothes you tried on before you leave the store dressing room, the habit will become your child’s too. If you ALWAYS put your trash in the wastebasket, your child will do the same. If grocery shopping ALWAYS ends by returning your cart to the stable, not doing so won’t be a choice. Behaviors, right and wrong, become automatic when they are habitual. And so it will be for your absorbent child. Doing the right thing has a good chance of becoming ingrained in him, whether or not you are there watching.

Are you a person who does the right thing when no one is looking? If your answer is yes, then it’s likely you’re teaching your child to do the same.

Betsy Brown Braun is the bestselling author of the award-winning Just Tell Me What to Say (HarperCollins 2008), and You’re Not the Boss of Me (HarperCollins, 2010), a bestseller in its fourth printing. A renowned child development and behavior specialist, popular parent educator, and mother of adult triplets, she is a frequent speaker at educational and business conferences, has been a guest expert on Today, the Early Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, Fox and Friends, Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Rachel Ray, and NPR and has been cited in USA Today, the New York Times, Family Circle, Parents, Parenting, Woman’s Day, Real Simple, and Good Housekeeping, among countless other publications and websites. For more on Betsy, please visit her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

*Photo by neonzu1.

The List — November 2012

“The more grateful we become, the more we experience grace in life.”
Eric Handler

November is a month known for its gratitude. It is the beginning of a season that makes us more aware of the blessings, people, and opportunities that surround us.

I am grateful for this chance to live in an age where it is possible to find so many amazing projects, ideas, and movements with just a few clicks of the mouse. We’ve never had the ability to be so connected to innovation before, so I feel like it’s only right to share the goodness I’ve come across.

New to THE LIST?

THE LIST is a monthly post featuring the top five inspiring finds that hit me at my core. Morsels so good that I cannot possibly think of keeping them to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. Missed the first list? Check it out here!

THE LIST for November features five exciting ventures and game changers.

Digging what’s on the list this month? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section. And remember, This List only grows more valuable with your contributions—share your own favorite finds this month in the comments. I’m always searching for more inspiration, and your suggestions might be featured in an upcoming post!

1. Breathing CONSCIOUSLY

It may seem a simple, but I don’t know how to express enough just how much of a difference conscious breathing can make. Breath awareness is a doorway to self-discovery that we often take for granted.

I have been meditating on and off since I first learned when I was ten years old. But it was when I started Kundalini Yoga twelve years ago that I became conscious of the power of my breath. In 2007, when I became a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, I really started to get it.

I recently was with one of my energy healers, Satish, and he explained, “When you master your breath, miracles happen.” He asked me to focus on taking a slow breath in for fifteen seconds and then a slow breath out for fifteen seconds. In one minute, that would be two full cycles of breath. The key was to not be so serious when doing it; it should be a playful and graceful effort. Sounds easy, right? Just try this for five minutes. 🙂

After just a couple of weeks, I noticed that breathing like this really helped me relax my mind and centered my awareness. I had a tremendous increase, as well, in my overall sense of well-being. Conscious breathing allows us to declutter the inner and outer spaces of our lives to find clarity and positive change through simply focusing on the in-and-out flow of our breath.

Looking for a powerful example? This video inspired me. Keep in mind, there are many techniques in mastering the breath. It is said that if you can control your breath, you can control your mind. That’s a powerful thought that I wish to leave you with today.

2. The World Needs More Love Letters

Founder of The World Needs More Love Letters Hannah Brencher is a contributor for Positively Positive, so I have been able to see firsthand the impact this organization has on people across the world. Beginning in August 2011, after Hannah spent a year of her life trying to fight off depression by leaving love letters across New York City and writing to strangers in need, More Love Letters has since spread its work to forty-seven countries and all fifty states.

In an age where we don’t have a reason to mail a letter anymore (yet we secretly crave one), the organization invites anyone to join their tribe of anonymous love letter leavers and help them deliver bundles full of love letters into the mailboxes of unsuspecting strangers, in need of an inspiration boost.

Join the cause. It is a really powerful way to make a mark in this world by way of paper and pen.

3. Jack Canfield’s Book The Success Principles

I’ve wanted for a long time to create books that would shake up people’s perspectives and make them rethink classic definitions they’ve been exposed to all their lives: success, friendship, love, family, etc. While this is now coming down the pipelines for Positively Positive, I have to allow each of you to meet one of my greatest inspirations for this dream: Jack Canfield’s classic book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

Co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Jack Canfield is someone I look up to when it comes to shifting the typical “life lessons” on their heads and showing people to uncover a fuller life while living to their highest potential. The Success Principles is packed with wisdom from the greats, know-how from his years in the industry, and sixty-four defining principles that will propel you further on your road toward living your best life now.

This book was a huge driver behind the desire to create a powerful book for Positively Positive readers. We are more than excited to reveal this book to all of you in 2013. Now is your chance to sign up for updates on the progress of the first ever Positively Positive book (as well as other exciting upcoming products). You don’t want to miss out on it, trust me.

4. Seth Godin’s Free Download of Stop Stealing Dreams

Never less than brilliant, Seth Godin’s FREE e-book Stop Stealing Dreams (over 1 million copies have been downloaded) is a telling manifesto for the changes that may need to happen in our school systems and the goals that need to shift in order for us to get a better outcome from our kids in the classroom.

This topic hits close to my heart. I have two young daughters and am invested in everything it takes to give them a bright future full of opportunity. It is also a topic known to fuel a lot of debate, so I really admire how Seth organized the book into 132 simple sections to make it easier for the content to be used for both discussion and debate.

Download your free copy here and be sure to listen to Seth’s recent TEDxYouth talk on the subject.

5. Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Free Fall From Space!

“Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.”—Felix Baumgartner

In our lifetime, we’ll be able to say we witnessed one man break through the sound barrier. He broke world records. He proved something to be possible after it was already labeled as impossible by so many.

On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner (Fearless Felix) ascended to 120,000 feet (twenty-four miles above the Earth) in a stratospheric balloon and made a freefall jump back to earth. Daring much? He reached supersonic speeds before slowing his descent via parachute and then finally landed somewhere in the vicinity of his takeoff point in Roswell, New Mexico.

This jump broke a number of records:

1) Highest Skydive: shattered the current skydiving altitude record, which stood at 102,800 feet (31,333 m), set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger

2) Fastest Fall: the first skydiver ever to break the sound barrier during a 5.5-minute freefall, followed by a fifteen-minute parachute decent back to Earth

3) Longest Fall: the longest duration freefall

4) Highest Balloon Ride: the highest manned balloon flight

I can only imagine the amount of people that came in and out of Felix’s life saying, “You cannot possibly do this” or “There is no way, quit trying.” Yet Felix proved to all of us that something that gets labeled as “impossible” really can be possible when we put our mind and heart fully into it. His jump and daring act of faith is already challenging me to examine my life closer: What leaps do I need to make? What dreams have I labeled as “impossible” that need some new perspective?

So there you have it, my top five inspirations for the month. I hope you enjoyed checking them out as much I loved finding and sharing them. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box below and leave links for all the discoveries you’ve been loving lately. I will be clicking away and maybe even adding them to next month’s list!

Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.

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3 Ways to Keep the Love Flame Burning

By Terri Cole

Recently, I shared some ideas on how to attract healthy love into your life. Making the love connection is one thing, nurturing and growing that love once you have it is another and is the topic of this week’s discussion.

Included were eleven questions to ask yourself to get clarity about your downloaded LOVE blueprint. Hopefully, that information helped you to connect the dots backward to any unresolved issues from childhood and bring into focus any “flaws” in your current mindset that are not in line with the type of love you want.

Frequently, simply understanding where a limiting belief came from is enough for you to decide to actively and consciously change your mind about it.

As humans, we are programmed to repeat the modeled behavior from childhood. Our parents and caregivers show us “the way it is supposed to be” by the way they conduct themselves. We watch and learn. This happens even if we say it won’t, even if we hated the experience, and even if we really don’t want to repeat that pattern. Unless, of course, we are aware we are repeating the pattern, have the desire to create a new one, and set about to learn and implement a different way.

Expecting to magically know how to create a healthy, loving, functional, committed relationship if your parents had an unhealthy, dysfunctional one is like expecting to suddenly become fluent in Chinese simply because you really want to be. Would you agree that mastering a complex language requires time, energy, effort, and a deep desire to achieve your goal? Creating and maintaining an amazing relationship is just like that.

My parents are divorced. They got married too young, had terrible communication skills, and drifted apart until they eventually divorced when I was thirteen. At age nineteen, I started therapy for many reasons, including my desire not to end up divorced. For a long time, the way I handled my confusion about how to have a healthy relationship was to claim I had no real interest in marriage. However, I was fascinated by couples who seemed to have the secret formula for keeping love healthy and fun. I would ask anyone who had been partnered longer than five years to share the secret.

The responses all contained some version of:

“I really LIKE him.”

“He makes me laugh.”

“She is my best friend.”

“There is no one else I would rather be with.”

The big take away from my ongoing, non-scientific study is that a good partnership is based on solid friendship and mutual affection.

Throughout my career as a therapist, I have collected a few other helpful facts about how to make love last.

Communication is Key

Effective communication is a key component to a healthy relationship, and it starts with you. What is your communication style? Do you speak your truth or act it out? Do you deny what you need or secretly wish your partner had a crystal ball? If you have the desire to communicate with integrity, the first step is to acknowledge what you need to change. There are only two ways to communicate: effectively and ineffectively.

Here is a comprehensive list of communication characteristics. Take a look and see what resonates.

Ineffective Communication:

– Indirect: not getting to the point, never clearly stating intention

– Passive: timid, reserved

– Antagonistic: angry, aggressive, or hostile tone

– Cryptic: underlying message obscured and requires interpretation

– Hidden: true agenda never directly stated

– Non-Verbal: communicated through body language and behaviors rather than words

– One-Way: more talking than listening

– Unresponsive: little interest in the perspective or needs of the other person

– Off-Base: responses and needs of the other person are misunderstood and misinterpreted

– Dishonest: false statements are substituted for true feelings, thoughts, and needs

Effective Communication:

– Direct: to the point, leaving no doubt as to meaning

– Assertive: not afraid to state what is wanted or why

– Congenial: affable and friendly

– Clear: underlying issues are articulately expressed

– Open: no intentionally hidden messages

– Verbal: clear language used to express ideas

– Two-Way: equal amounts of talking and listening

– Responsive: attention paid to the needs and perspective of the other person

– Honest: true feelings, thoughts, and needs are stated

Create a snap shot of your communication style. If it is not what you want it to be, what right action are you willing to take to make it better? Can you allow yourself to be vulnerable or try something different?

Attitude of Gratitude

Throughout my years counseling couples, I have discovered that once positive regard and words of gratitude and consideration start to slip, so does the relationship. Inevitably, each person feels the other no longer respects him/her, which, in turn, fuels the “victim” to become negative toward the “offender” and on and on the vicious cycle turns until the relationship has spiraled into resentment.

My husband Victor and I are both mindful to verbalize our gratitude for all that we do for each other. I mean every single day in all situations. Whoever did not make the bed thanks the one who did. Every time the dishwasher is unloaded, a meal is cooked, or laundry is folded, words of thanks are exchanged. This may sound extreme, but the truth is that we all need to feel appreciated, and institutionalizing positive behavior creates a reserve of good feelings, which, in turn, creates resiliency and flexibility in the relationship.

Forgiveness Frees

Do you keep a mental file of all of the past hurts in your relationship to whip out when needed? Do you think if you forgive the other person you are condoning their bad act and that reminding them of it will protect you from it happening again? There are a zillion misguided excuses to hold onto anger and not forgive, but none of them will make a relationship better. Having the flexibility to move on after an incident has been fully discussed and authentic apologies made is one key to a happy relationship. I am not talking about repeat offenses due to addiction issues or habitual infidelity. I am talking about being hurt, sharing your feelings, and moving on. I am talking about remembering why you love this person in the first place and releasing yourself from resentment prison.

Without forgiveness, the potential for true happiness in your relationship is limited.

When we are not unconsciously repeating dysfunctional patterns from the past, everything is possible right here, right now. A relationship can be an endless source of joy or an endless source of pain.

I hope this post inspired you to take some steps to keep your relationships alive and thriving. As always, I am interested to hear your thoughts, so please drop a comment and share your wisdom on how you keep the flame burning.

Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. A cornerstone of Terri’s practice, meditation, was the impetus for her recently released guided mediation CD Meditation Transformation. In Fall 2012, she will begin hosting a Hay House radio show, giving listeners who are swimming upstream easy tools to flip over and float. Terri can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

*Photo by fanz.

Decoding Deepak: Q&A with Gotham Chopra

By Eric Handler

There is no way to say for certain what tomorrow will bring.

I’ve heard that dozens of times, and yet, I am still always hoping that I’m living all of this the “right” way: That I am making some sort of impact, that I am loving people as they deserve it, that I am staying authentic and true to myself. But at the same time, that I am not taking it all too seriouslythat I am finding the balance and enjoying the journey along the way.

It has been teachers like Deepak Chopra who have shown me, time and time again, just how important this balance is in life and how you can actually impact others just by being the most true version of yourself.

A new film that really gets to the heart of authenticity is Decoding Deepak. Journalist and filmmaker Gotham Chopra spent a year traveling the world decoding his father Deepak Chopra, resolving the spiritual icon he is to the world versus the real man known to his family.

This film had a very positive personal impact on me. I’ve spent some time with Deepak on the road for Oprah’s Lifeclass Tour, and I’ve also had some really awesome live discussions with the Chopra family. But today, I am ready to bring a new spotlight into the mix with this Q&A with Gotham Choprathe creator of Decoding Deepak―to have a deeper conversation about making the film and the lessons he gathered from the yearlong journey of documenting his father.

Check out the interview, watch the short clip or the full length film, and leave your thoughts in the comments section below! I always love hearing from you.

Want to see the full documentary? CLICK HERE.

Q & A

Eric Handler (EH): What was the original “deal” you made with your father regarding issues like creative control and point of view on the project? Did you have to “pitch” the idea to him, and, if so, what was your pitch?

Gotham Chopra (GC): Not really. I’m very close to my father and always have been. There’s never been a formality to our relationship and so there was no negotiation or even articulation of process around access, creative control, or any of that.

At the beginning, I don’t think he was entirely clear what we were doing. I probably wasn’t either.

I had this vague idea that I wanted to try and separate the icon whom the world has made my dad to be from the man I thought I knew. I shared that idea with him, and he shrugged and said “okay.”

I appreciated then—and even more so now—his trust in me but also in himself to not draw any real lines. He’s very comfortable with whom he is—his own contradictions and his relationships—that he just rolled with it as we rolled tape on it.

EH: There is a long, not-so-nice tradition of tell-alls, confessionals, and exposes by the children of celebrities. Though your film doesn’t not fall into this category, were you concerned about falling into that category? And, how critical could you allow yourself to be without venturing into “Daddy Dearest” territory?

GC: I was aware of it, but not imprisoned by it. At the outset, I knew in my head that I didn’t want to do an exploitative film of my dad that destroyed all of the credibility and status he has built over his career nor did I want to do some celebratory ode to him. In the end, I don’t think either of those types of films would have serviced a wider audience, which I was after.

I do think what comes across in the film is a certain questioning—even skepticism—from me while the camera follows my father.

More than anything, that’s probably the natural tenor of our relationship. I question everything I see. My father and his world wouldn’t be immune to that. If anything, a small group of Deepak loyalists have reacted to that, sensing more cynicism than skepticism, and that perhaps I was being too snide toward what he has built over his career, how many people he has touched, etc. Ironically, he hasn’t expressed any of those feelings.

EH: Early in the film, you say that you sometimes find it hard to tell where your father ends and you begin. Yet, the film carries themes of forging one’s own identity and finding one’s own path. Can you comment on the importance of this theme to you, your father, and to your respective (and shared) audiences?

GC: It’s funny, at the beginning of this process, I set out to make a film about my dad. Early on, as I contemplated what I was really doing, I realized that the film was actually about me. When I was done and started showing it to people and getting reactions like “that reminds me a lot about my relationship with my father” or “yeah, your dad and you express a lot of the questions I find myself asking about my life,” I realized that really this film is about people.

That’s a long way of saying that the film is about a lot of things: It’s about the icons we build in a culture that’s constantly searching for meaning. It’s about deconstructing that celebrity. It’s about families, father and sons, and trying to resolve love with longing to self-determination. And it’s about making sense of a world that is somewhat collapsing in on itself.

I think my father has become a symbol of this “flattening world”—Eastern wisdom traditions merging with western insights, the nexus of science and spirituality. I think the audience he has built, and that I have attracted, are trying to resolve these forces in the world and in their own lives. I know I am—trying to figure out meaning and purpose and significance while making a living, paying a mortgage, and having a political opinion but also having a spiritual existence. Onward.

EH: Well, one thing you make clear in the film is just how much your father broke with tradition at a few pivotal points in his life—abandoning traditional medicine for alternative medicine, breaking with his guru to go out on his own, etc. To what extent do you see yourself as having done the same thing? Did your father encourage and inspire your own breaks with tradition?

GC: I guess it’s ironic that while my dad is considered a teacher to millions, he’s never truly tried to teach me (or my sister) any rigid lessons. I do think he’s taught by example—his willingness to take bold steps in his career into uncharted territories, to break from comfort and safety, and to challenge established institutions and ideas—which has definitely been inspiring and empowering.

As for me, perhaps at some subconscious level, I have tried to break the norms as well. Or at the very least, be relatively detached from people’s expectations and reactions to what I do. But I also find myself rather frustrated and uncertain often times as to whether or not the constant desire to create and push undermines the discipline that comes with more traditional paths. Alas, I am who I am, and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with that over time, especially after documenting my dad through the course of the film and realizing that, ultimately, I just want to sing in the shower and not care much who is listening or what they think.

EH: You say more than once in the film that if your father didn’t have one, it would be a problem for him. Can you speak a little more to the conflicts facing someone who speaks to wide audiences for a living but who also has to speak to the individuals in his personal life?

GC: My late friend Michael Jackson used to tell me that he just had music inside of him and all he was doing was letting it out. Whoever listened, listened. Later in his life, when he became embroiled in more controversy and scandals and wanted to use his music as a way to express his rage or articulate his response to some of his critics, he told me that it just didn’t feel the same. That same detached inspiration that was once the bedrock of his art was lost. I’ve never forgotten that, and when I reflect on gifted creators—like MJ, or my dad, or many others—I often think that they’re at their best when they are totally indifferent and detached from who is listening to them or paying attention. They are singing in the shower, and whoever happens to be listening, listens. Whatever they think, whether criticizing or celebrating, often has a lot more to do with them and their state of awareness rather than the person doing the singing.

In general, I do think there are fundamental challenges for people like this, who are able to detach themselves from those around them. The consequence of detachment can be emotional distance, which is probably something that, for years, I struggled with my dad. Why I felt he may be able to solve the world’s problems, but he wouldn’t necessarily be the guy I go to solve mine.

Over time, though, as I have personally matured, I think I’ve realized that the only person who can really help me solve my own problems is me. And that’s something my dad has been telling the world his whole career.

EH: The concept of legacy is important to your film, especially when you travel to India with your son. How important, in general, do you see the idea of legacy in people’s lives?

GC: I think the idea of a legacy is fascinating. Because when it’s all said in done, when this ego encapsulated bag of skin and bones withers and fades, all we are really left with is the wisp of something prior, a memory that modifies and gets idealized over time. In fact, where someone’s legacy really resides is in the people most affected by that someone. So for my dad, it will inevitably be me and my sister and our kids. We’ll take the good, forget the bad for the most part, and construct some recall of him that will hopefully make a positive mark on the world. I do think about this more now than before. I’m not sure why.

EH: One of the warmest and most revealing moments in the film is when your father is just lying on a large bed, with his grandson in his lap, watching TV. Is your father just “grandpa” to your son? Is your son aware of his grandfather’s public persona?

GC: Having a child is the most spiritual experience I think I’ll ever have. As a parent, your point of view often shifts to your child, and, in the reflection of your child’s eyes, you get to see the cosmos in a fresh way. No experience, no person, nothing comes with any predisposed baggage—at least at the beginning. The Universe literally imprints itself on the consciousness of an infant until they start to transition into childhood. My son is right at that stage—he’s becoming very aware (for better and for worse) of the world around him.

Initially, I think his grandfather was just that to him, but, over time, he’s become aware of the larger persona that exists. He’s most certainly less snarky about it than his dad, at least for now. In fact, recently, I had a moment when watching my movie that I thought to myself for a moment, “Wow, will my son judge me this way someday?” And the answer is that he probably will. Hopefully, he’ll be gentle.

EH: Acknowledging that your father has an enormous following, how did you craft your film with “Deepak devotees” in mind, or did you? What did you want people who are not necessarily fans to find out about him, both as a person and as a personality?

GC: I was conscious of it but not held to it. I couldn’t be. I think that would have suffocated me if I tried to make a film that was in service to his devotees or if I just took potshots at him because I could.

In the end, I think his fan base will get to see a side of him that may surprise them—simple stuff that comes with the territory when you poke a camera behind the curtain. But beyond that—and perhaps for the people that only know him because of his ubiquitous twitter handle or social media iconography—I think they’ll see that, for all of the spiritual and scientific certainty that is his “brand,” there’s an underlying humanity to which is underpinned. There’s a fallibility and curiosity and tenuous need to be accepted and to belong, and that’s very familiar and relatable. Life is fragile, and life is precious. It’s not be taken for granted nor to be taken too seriously, and, at the end of it, hopefully we’ll have made some sort of positive impact in the world. I think my dad has, and I’m happy for him.

Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.


The List – October 2012

I consider myself to be a seeker.

I am always on a constant search for people, places, and things that ignite a spark of energy within me and inspire me to be the best version of myself. I believe that awareness is the key to inspiration. In today’s world, with the news so cluttered with tragedy and unpredictable events, it is more important than ever to keep ourselves fully stocked with go-to inspiration that reminds us to be positive and proactive about the future—and the roles we play within it.

For this reason I have assembled THE LIST.

THE LIST will be my new monthly post, featuring the top five inspiring finds, gems that hit me at my core, morsels I cannot possibly think of keeping to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. I’m eagerly looking forward to sharing them all you!

So here’s the challenge at hand: Check out the top five inspirations that made THE LIST this month and let me know what you think in the comment section below. AND, if you want to go the extra mile, please post the links to your own awesome discoveries in the comment box so that you, too, can inspire the many readers who come across this post. Who knows, your contributions below may just end up on next month’s list!

Dig deeper and share today, and I’ll be sure to do the same.

1. The Drawing Hope Project

I received an email from photographer Shawn Van Daele last month. I had chills up and down my body and tears in my eyes as I read what it is that Shawn does and how he is impacting lives on a level I’ve never even imagined before.

Shawn is the founder of the Drawing Hope Project. He takes drawings created by children either born or living with health conditions and turns them into magical photo artwork. He is planning to pull all the images into a storybook that will be a constant reminder to kids and adults of all ages that anything is possible.

All of the kids (I should call them young artists) have defied the odds—surviving heart transplants, living with rare forms of leukemia, waiting on organ donors—and are still dreaming bigger than ever before. One little guy is still waiting on two lungs AND a heart, and he’s only four years old.

Shawn truly has a magical project under his belt that has already changed many lives. Check it out and be reminded of Shawn’s mission in your own life: any dream is possible, no matter what odds seem to be against you.


2. Happy

Directed by Oscar®-nominated director, Roko Belic, and produced by Tom Shadyac, director of another amazing documentary called I AM, Happy is an award-winning documentary about the journey to find what makes human beings truly fulfilled in life.

From the slums of Kolkata to the the swamps of Louisiana, Happy asks the questions, Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in a world that values and promotes happiness and wellbeing? Are we in the midst of a happiness revolution? These questions alone are enough to challenge a lot of us, so one can only imagine what the whole seventy-five-minute documentary will do for your spirit!

3. Today We Are Rich

I read about one book a week so it is difficult for a book to stand out among so many. Tim Sander’s book, Today We Are Rich, is one that I cannot help but share.

Written as a memoir, Tim weaves us through a heartening journey filled with hardships and grace that helped him develop a framework for his own life centered on positivity and gratitude.

The book is packed with the kinds of lessons you just want to slip into your back pocket, one of them being, “Fill your mind with good stuff.” Just like we clean out our body or take on a cleanse to rid our systems of toxins, Tim suggests we go on a “mind cleanse” by feeding our mind the right kind of “mind food.”

Thanks to Tim’s advice, I’ve made personal decisions over the last few months to stop surrounding myself with negative people or letting myself be sunk down by the tragedies that clutter the news headlines on a daily basis. I’ve turned myself toward more upbeat conversations, people who want to lift me higher instead of bring me down, and good books, articles, and music. When I turned on the news a few weeks back, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Instead, I felt cleansed and released from the ways the barrage of negativity used to hold me captive.

I don’t recommend many books. But this read is one you should make sure is on your bedside table by the end of the day. You’ll pick it up and instantly be better because of it. Who doesn’t want that?

4. Matisyahu

Matisyahu recently released his new album, Spark Seeker. In the past months, he created a lot of disruption among his loyal fans because he shaved his beard and cut his hair (which goes against his Chassidic Jewish tradition). Me? I was already a fan of his music, but I really love how authentic he is and how he chooses to stay true to himself by living out loud.

He explained on his website last year:

No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias.

When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey: to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through real life. At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.

Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry… you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.

And he wrote this on his Facebook Fan Page right before Spark Seeker came out.

To My Fans-

I will try to write a couple of ideas and thoughts, but I prefer to speak in my native language, the language of the soul, Music. So I will preface this piece by asking that before prescribing judgement to some pictures, please wait and listen to my new record Spark Seeker from start to finish. The record is infused with both Jewish and universal inspiration, as it is a reflection of my inner landscape over the past 2 years of its making. From visions of the Bal Shem Tov to Kabbalah references, prayers in Hebrew and stories in Yiddish, this record was both a spiritual and reflective journey full of transition and growth. That being said, I believe there is a higher level…a level where there is no divisiveness. Where there is complete unity, and that is what I am mirroring. There was a time when I felt it was necessary to show the world what I believed in through my physical appearance. I think this can be a wonderful thing, but as my faith has evolved I have come to believe there are many other ways to show my spirituality and Judaism. Ways in which our humanity is emphasized over our differences. This was my aim for the music. This was always my aim. During the making of this record I began to feel that I was shedding something, and with that I chose to shave. Just as when I was 18 and I shaved my dreadlocks to let go of my identity, I felt as if I was returning to a time prior to religion or rules or right and wrong. To a place where truth shows itself in beauty and balance and I felt it was time to walk a new path. What that exactly means or looks like I am still figuring out, and will be for the rest of my life, I hope. To those who feel betrayed by my choices or my look, don’t worry, I think they will continue to change and evolve–that is the awesomeness of life. I think that through patience, in time you will see we are still on the same team. We are ALL on the same team. I am so excited for you to hear my new record I hope it will explain and inspire so much more then my words here can.

Sincerely In Love and Truth,


Matisyahu is forging his own path, but even more than that, he is not conforming to the standards of society and what people expect of him. He is blazing a trail and being a true example. It takes a great deal of courage to go against the stream for the sake of authenticity, but I believe we get to new levels when we choose to evolve and grow when seasons in our lives shift.

5. Baby Chimp Adopted By Dog (PHOTOS)

This one doesn’t even require a description. I am a HUGE animal lover so the pictures can speak for themselves.

A zoo employee cared for this baby chimp after its mother died but never expected that her dog would end up raising the chimp as one of her own.

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So there you have it, my top five inspirations for the month. I hope you enjoyed checking them out as much I loved finding and sharing them. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box below and leave links for all the discoveries you’ve been loving lately. I will be clicking away and maybe even adding them to next month’s list!

Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.

Life: Captured in 5 Minutes

I think the video below can speak for itself in a lot of ways.

I’ve watched it a few times and am constantly amazed by the overwhelming peace that surrounds me for the full five minutes of the clip. There is something untouchable and indescribable about what happens in this video as the baby gets its first bath. Even in writing this, I am still looking for the words to say it.

I first thought about the miracle of life. We live in a world that so easily forgets how amazing it is just to be alive and how very precious this life of ours is. It’s short. It’s unpredictable. It’s a miracle, really.

We’ve all been there—just as small as the baby in this video—but why do we stray so far away from the magic and wonder captured here?

This is one simple moment caught on camera that brings me back to square one—minus the clutter and stress of the day. Every gentle action floods me with peace and convinces me that life is about so much more than “just getting by.” It is important to slow down and stop every once in awhile to stand in awe of this fact: We are alive, and we have the ability to rediscover life as the miracle it has always been.

I would love to hear what kind of reactions you have from watching this video. Does it make you think about the miracle of life? Are there other precious moments in your life that remind you of this one? Does it call you to look at things in your own life a bit differently? Share below!


Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.

Would You Bet on You?

I’ve never been much of a gambler. It always seemed too risky to bet money on something that wasn’t guaranteed.

But there I was recently in Las Vegas thinking about placing a bet.

As I walked around a massive casino dotted with people betting their money on slot machines, blackjack tables, and roulette wheels, I asked myself this question:

Would I bet on me? Would I bet on me doing all that’s required to accomplish my most important goals in life?

I realized for the bookies in Vegas my odds of success would be easy to determine. All they had to do was take a look at what I did yesterday, the day before that, last week, the month before, etc. Like a sports team, this is my track record.

The harsh reality is that just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have bet on me, let alone allowed anyone else to do so.

It’s not that I didn’t care—my resume would tell you otherwise—it’s just that for most of my life, I’ve gotten “good enough” results while not nearly giving my all.

I’ve held good enough jobs that I didn’t like. I’ve spent good enough time with family and friends. And I’ve been in good enough relationships that didn’t last.

I’ve always been great at accomplishing goals for others and the various companies I’ve worked for over the years—their goals. But accomplishing what was important to me was a different story.

The reality was that I didn’t know what it meant, or even how, to live intentionally. With purpose.

Over the years, I have let a lot of good opportunities pass me by. I missed deadlines. I skipped important meetings. I didn’t follow up on phone calls. I was great at making excuses.

Why? Frankly, I was afraid of showing up 100 percent. Afraid of giving my all. Afraid of the grit and commitment involved.

I mean, god forbid, I might finish something. Something might work out. I might realize that what I thought was important to me wasn’t important at all. I might spend time with people who made me better. I might, gasp, be happy!

It was only after I experienced a life-changing event that I decided to love and accept my past, put in behind me, and turn the page.

During this raw time, I realized that no one cared more about my goals than I did. That effort was between me and me. The fear of not giving my all shook me to the core.

From here, a shift occurred. I got curious about what would happen if I followed through. What would happen if I surrounded myself with people who made me better? What would happen if I approached each day intentionally? What would happen if I stayed committed and finished something?

After getting curious, I took action, and what happened was results.

Some of these results included self-publishing a book (Student Athlete 101: College Life Made Easy On & Off The Field) and producing a short television pilot on my own dime. No, the book hasn’t made me a millionaire and the networks passed on my show. Slowly but surely, though, I became addicted to finishing projects.

Then in 2011, and scores of finished projects later, I started my company in which I partner with young professionals and help them produce exceptional results in their careers. And you know what? Even with a steep learning curve, it’s going pretty good!

There’s no coincidence that the tag line of my company is, “Transform Potential Into Exceptional Performance.” Initially, that was for me. Now, it’s a call to action to empower others to do the same.

Now a question for you: Would you bet on you?

Would you bet on you doing all that’s required to accomplish your most important goals in life? Would you bet on you following through and staying committed? Would you bet on you taking that first step today?

It took me some time to learn, but until you’re willing to bet on you, it’s hard to get others to do the same.

Share in the comments section below why you would bet on you.

Antonio Neves is a career coach, speaker, and award-winning business journalist. He is the founder of THINQACTION, where he works with young professionals to produce exceptional results in their careers. Via his blog posts, videos, and speaking engagements, Antonio’s goal is to empower young professionals to create their own luck. For more on Antonio, visit his website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Send Smiling Energy—As Easy As 1, 2, 3, and 4

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
Phyllis Diller

In the heat of a Hong Kong summer, between bites of lotus root, sticky tofu, and congee, I met Taoist master Daniel Li Ox. Expecting a slight Chinese man with a long, gray beard, mustache, black sweatpants, and black shoes of the Toms® variety, I was surprised to stumble upon a well-built, broad-shouldered, blonde Australian bloke who lives most of his time in Bali. We were both in Hong Kong instructing at a yoga conference when he taught me one of the most potent, simple tools to cultivate immediate joy and stress-relief.

What to do when you’re annoyed, irritated, disappointed, or frustrated with what’s happening in your life? Send “smiling energy.”

This short, sweet practice helps train your mind to immediately switch gears—not only moving into acceptance, but sending Smiling Energy to everyone and everything in your path.

4 Quick Steps to Send Smiling Energy and Lighten Up

The anatomy of our breath is a perfect harmony of YIN and YANG. Slowing down the breath stretches our brainwaves and the space between thoughts to create a more alpha state.

Inhale symbolizes the feminine, receptive current, and the exhale equals the masculine, active energy.

1. Deepen Your Breath

(Try it now: three deep breaths in and out through your nose.)

A mental shape-shift is as easy as focusing on your breath. Deepen your breath, and it naturally calms the nervous system, moving you out of the habitual fight or flight stress response of the sympathetic nervous system and into the relaxation response of the para-sympathetic nervous system.

2. Inhale = Unconditional Acceptance

Now as you inhale, focus on unconditional acceptance.

Breathing in, literally receive the molecules of the present moment. Allow your body to soften and take in this very moment—as it is, right here, right now. Literally receive all of the circumstances, sensations, fragrances, and people of the present moment. Notice how you feel without needing anything to change.

With unconditional acceptance of exactly what is, we surrender our desire to control, understand, or change anything that is happening. Simply, it just is what it is. Imagine a warm, ocean breeze washing through you.

3. Exhale = Unconditional Love

As you exhale, focus on unconditional love.

When we exhale, we send our molecules back out to the moment.

Unconditional means that no matter who or what it is or how they are acting, you send love. Imagine sending a wave of love rippling out in every direction. You not only allow things to be as they are, you practice loving it. Not pretending to love it, but sincerely appreciating and wishing the best for (even if you don’t understand) everything. Flex the muscle of the heart! Silently radiate love to everything and everyone around you.

4. Send Smiling Energy

While radiating unconditional love, send smiling energy. Literally put a smile on you face (you probably feel better already) and send the energy it creates out into the universe.

Every moment of the day, wherever you are, practice permeating smiling energy. Through your bones, your organs, the expression on your face, tone of your voice, and quality of your movement, send a smile.

Added Bonus: this will light you up just as much as (and probably more than) the people and things you are smiling at!

Imagine your breath like liquid light. Envision the warmth and gentle, affirming uplift of a sincere smile. Let your whole body, mind, and heart smile. Then, share it.

Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what shifts you see in your life from sending smiling energy.

Love (and smiles),


Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Ashley: YOGA TANGO RETREAT in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 28 – Nov. 2 and URBAN PRIESTESS – Empowering the Feminine at Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Nov 23 25.

*Photo by entrelec.

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