Tag Archives: present

We Are Human Beings Not Human Doers

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Getting the BEING back in our DOING for a more fulfilling, happier work, life, balance.

Whoever invented the TO DO list had a great concept, however, knowing the multi-taskers we are, I’m sure it was a woman, but none the less, I bet, she or he didn’t expect our modern day society to take ‘TO DO” to a whole new stratosphere.

Every day we witness women silently drowning in their “To Do Lists”. Beyond this it appears we’ve become a society which is living under a mindset or more bluntly put, the misconception, that constantly “Doing” is the way to justify our existence: to prove to the world and ourselves that our lives are valuable, that we matter and have relevance.  Or should we be asking our self, is it an easy way to avoid the things we don’t want to face and deal with.

As a toddler I was fondly called Dodo by my family, not because I was fascinated by poop or had some special agenda to prove my existence, but because I wanted to explore and do many things for myself and fully experience what was before me at that very moment. In other words, to be fully engaged just as every free spirited toddler is, not at a scheduled time, but to be fully engaged right then and there in the moment. However, as people grow into adulthood so many feel the need to show the world what good “DOERS” they are for some sort of affirmation and to be known for what they DO rather than who they are and the depth of what they’re contributing.

Work, life balance is critical: in other words balancing BEING with your DOING is critical to your success as a “Human Being” on this planet. The majority of American defines success as our careers, but in essence, success is how you approach and live your life in totality as a “whole being” rather than a fragmented one.

Creating a sense of life balance is fundamental to a feeling of overall success and happiness. Balance is achieved with the right blend of BEING versus DOING toward career, community, family and your self.

So how do we practice introducing a little more balance and real connection in our lives so we can become present in our DOING instead of lost in our BEING.

Seven Steps back to being present in your doing Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Savor the Little Moments

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Savoring small moments doesn’t start and stop with an encouraging needlepoint pillow on your couch. It starts with intentional steps to slow down and capture something that might otherwise easily go unnoticed. It’s the extra time you got to stay cuddled up at home because it was raining outside. It’s the way your kids laugh when you know they’re doing something that’s going to get them in trouble. It’s the last minute coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while who wants to share good news. In some mindsets, they are distractions, obstacles, agenda items. In a world of mindfulness and awareness, they are moments, pauses, gifts.

We intend to savor the little moments.

You too? Here are 3 things to help: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Embrace

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We can rush into a Monday with all kinds of feelings.
Excitement to be back to work on an important project.
Hesitancy because we don’t know what the week will hold.
Utter defeat because we know we don’t want to be where we are.

We like to think of feelings as a smoke signal- it is an identifier of other things going on.
If you’re walking into Monday with excitement and expectancy, this is a great indicator that you are thriving in the place where you are. Clearly.

However, if you’re walking into your week with trepidation, what does that mean? Is there an issue within yourself? Perhaps you don’t feel confident. Perhaps you feel like you’re letting people down. Perhaps you feel unqualified or unprepared. Could it also be that external factors are out of alignment with your expectations? If you’re working as a doctor, but you want to be a baker, walking into that hospital everyday may always be frustrating.

So today our intent is to embrace where we are. We want to take an evaluation of the process. Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself: Continue reading

Learn How to Be Present in the Moment with this Simple Skill

By Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA

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Many spiritual teachers and traditions teach about the power of being present in the moment. By cultivating an egoless state, they claim that you can find great joy and happiness in life. The problem is, many teachers don’t explain how to experience egolessness outside of years of contemplative practice. Meditation is an important process of self-actualization, but doesn’t always translate into the everyday world.

While developing a deep, empathic listening skill as part of my work as a peacemaker, I suddenly experienced non-ego for about 15 seconds. It was remarkable because I felt exactly as the teachers said I would. Nothing could touch me, and I was experiencing a deep connection while completely conscious. Even more startling, I was in the process of de-escalating a very angry person.

Standing in the midst of intense conflict, I found Oneness. Since then, I have perfected teaching the skill so that anyone can learn how to do it. Here are the steps you need to take to experience this for yourself. Continue reading

How Do You Feel About Gifts? A List of Questions.

ElizabethTreadmillDeskTheFamily-150x150People often ask, “What’s the key to happiness?”

I think that question can be answered in a few different ways, depending on the framework used to approach the question.

For instance, one answer is: self-knowledge. As the Fifth Splendid Truth holds, we can build a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own interests, our own values. Continue reading

The Honor of Remembering

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On calendars in the United States, today is a day dedicated to remembering, Memorial Day. We remember those service men and women who sacrificed everything for the sake of others and that is an important practice because it feels easier to forget difficult things. It makes sense to forget everything aside from the happy endings and the good news but there is something very important to remembering the journey as a whole.

Acknowledging the journey allows us to be gracious. It reminds us not to take our steps forward for granted and that time is limited. How we choose to spend it, whether it be in vain pursuit or for the betterment of ourselves will ultimately affect everyone. Remembering is important because it allows us to be informed as we start a new page today. Continue reading

Being Present & Bill Murray

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Bill Murray has made a career out of being someone.
He’s a someone who appears at wedding receptions for people he doesn’t know to just celebrate (if you can find the 1-800 number he uses in lieu of a manager or agent, you can invite the SNL alum to literally anything you want, really). He’s appearing in the upcoming St. Vincent about a cranky old neighbor who becomes the anti-hero for the boy next door. He’s been known to run around the streets of New York warning pedestrians about lobsters on the loose.

Continue reading

Be Present in a World of Constant Connection

presentThe bus from Yangon to Mandalay was packed and I was the only foreigner on it. As such, I was given a seat up front, among the monks dressed in their dark orange robes. Slowly we made our way north on the toll way. In Myanmar, there aren’t any radio stations or satellite radio to be played as the miles crept by. The country has the lowest mobile phone penetration in the world after North Korea and, well, considering that that country is on permanent lockdown, Myanmar has the lowest mobile phone penetration of any country where you can actually buy a phone.

This means as the miles roll by, the people on the bus start to converse and talk. The conversations start muted, whispers from two people sharing a thought or secret and then they slowly built. By the time we were an hour out of Yangon, people were standing in the aisles, talking, laughing and sharing snacks. By the time the bus stopped for lunch, everyone piled out together and shared tables at the the roadside restaurant.

I thought of that trip last year as I sat at the airport in Boston recently. All around me were my fellow passengers on the journey, glued to their phones and computers, listening to music and shut off from the world. There wasn’t a single conversation happening around me. No one had met anyone or shared a story of their day. No snacks were being pulled out and traded.

In Myanmar, they are anxious for the chance to buy the latest phone. They lament the lack of Internet and how slow it is when it does exist. They wonder how much better their lives would be if they had more wifi, more connection and more technology.

In the States, I don’t think that collectively we understand the impact of technology on our lives. I have learned a lot during my yoga practice about being present, about being on the mat. At one of my favorite yoga studios in the world, there is often a sign on the blackboard about how you can’t do anything tomorrow and you can’t do anything yesterday, today’s the day.

We speak in the Internet and the ability to be in touch with everyone in our collective worlds as being “connected.” Partially, that’s true. The technology and the platforms that are at our fingertips do make it easier to stay in touch with family, friends and business colleagues – especially the ones that are at a great physical distance from us.

But it comes at the cost of disconnecting from where we are now. At the airport in Boston, I watched as people messaged, emailed and called people who were not around them physically. I realized that every person around me was trying to connect electronically with a person or a place – they all were trying to be somewhere else, or with someone else.

When a hundred people gather to get on a plane, and everyone is trying to be somewhere else, there is no chance of true connection. There is no chance to meet someone interesting or perhaps, meet a new partner or even future spouse. My parents met in Washington, D.C. at the airport. My mother was flying up to New York for the weekend and my father was heading home to Boston. Would they have even met if they had both had their heads down texting friends? I doubt it.

The advent of wearable technology, Google Glasses and the like, will make the situation even worse. At least when people have to look at their phones or computers, there is the chance that that they might make eye contact with someone. If they are wearing their phone, that low chance is completely gone.

In Myanmar, they anxiously await lower prices for cell phones and improvements in the Internet. All that does is make me want to return there before it happens so that I can enjoy a people and a culture that is still truly connected.

Can the Simple Act of Making a List Boost Your Happiness?

seishonagonWhen I was in college, I took a class on the culture of Heian Japan,  and the one and only thing I remember about that subject is The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. This strange, brilliant book has haunted me for years.

Sei Shonagon was a court lady in tenth-century Japan, and in her “pillow book,” she wrote down her impressions about things she liked, disliked, observed, and did.

I love lists of all kinds, and certainly Sei Shonagon did, as well. Her lists are beautifully evocative. One of my favorites is called Things That Make One’s Heart Beat Faster:

  •  Sparrows feeding their young
  •  To pass a place where babies are playing.
  •  To sleep in a room where some fine incense has been burnt.
  •  To notice that one’s elegant Chinese mirror has become a little cloudy.
  •  To see a gentleman stop his carriage before one’s gate and instruct his attendants to announce his arrival.
  •  To wash one’s hair, make one’s toilet, and put on scented robes; even if not a soul sees one, these preparations still produce an inner pleasure.
  •  It is night and one is expecting a visitor. Suddenly one is startled by the sound of rain-drops, which the wind blows against the shutters.

Other marvelous lists include Things That Arouse a Fond Memory of the Past, Things That Cannot Be Compared, Rare Things, Pleasing Things, Things That Give a Clean Feeling, Things That One Is in a Hurry to See or to Hear, People Who Look Pleased with Themselves, and, another of my very favorites, from the title alone, People Who Have Changed As Much As If They Had Been Reborn.

Making lists of this sort is a terrific exercise to stimulate the imagination, heighten powers of observation, and stoke appreciation of the everyday details of life. Just reading these lists makes me happier.

How about you? Have you ever made a list of observations, in this way?

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Now for a moment of sheer self-promotion: For reasons of my own, which are too tiresome to relate, I’m making a big push for Happier at Home. If you’ve been thinking about buying it, please buy now! If you’d like a little more info before you decide, you can…

Read a sample chapter on “time”

Listen to a sample chapter

Watch the one-minute trailer–see if you can guess what item has proved controversial

Request the book club discussion guide

Get the behind-the-scenes extra

Final note: I love all my books equally, but my sister the sage says that Happier at Home is my best book.

Stock up now! Okay, end of commercial. Thanks for indulging me.

photo by: koalazymonkey

Throwback Thursday: 8 Major US Cities As Seen by Your Great-Grandparents

Here are some of the most iconic American cities, now bustling centers of commerce, entertainment, fashion, and media. They were important in these regards back in the day, too, but by the looks of these photos you’d never know it!

All of these images come from about the late 19th century, which you can tell by the horse-drawn carriages and old-fashioned clothing styles. We live in the 21st century, surrounded by all kinds of cultures and styles and immersed in contemporary issues and concerns. It’s important, though, to remember where we came from, and that we are part of a long line of individuals who have lived in, experienced, and help built this country we call home.

And what’s more, these photographs are just so darn precious. Take a look!

Boston – Newspaper Row, Washington StreetOld-Photos-of-Big-Cities-30

Philadelphia – Broad Street

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San Francisco – Bay Bridge

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New York – Grand Central Station and Hotel Manhattan

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Chicago – Wabash Avenue

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Detroit – Woodward Avenue

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Los Angeles – South Broadway

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Washington D.C. – Ninth Street

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And one bonus from New York… (Wall Street!)

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Images sourced: Fludit and Los Angeles Past

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