Tag Archives: service

Inspiring Quotes in Honor of MLK Day

Today we honor a motivational leader and speaker, who advocated for non-violent pursuits of equal rights far ahead of his time. Martin Luther King Jr.  is known now as the face of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and President Barack Obama has declared the national holiday of MLK Day to be a national day of service. As you go out today and serve – in whatever way you can – Intent wanted you to carry the words of a man beyond his years.



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Happy Veteran’s Day from Intent


As many of you are celebrating your day off (we are taking a mini-break today on Intent as well. Regular blogging schedule will resume tomorrow), we wanted to remind you why it is we have today to spend with our families, to catch up on various left behind projects, or go see that movie we’ve been meaning to see. We live in a country of free choice and liberty because of the brave men and women who volunteer to defend those freedoms. Today is to honor them and the invaluable service they provide for America and its inhabitants. Everyone here on the Intent Team would like to offer a sincere thank you to all those who have served here and abroad to allow us the freedom to run a website that hopes to provide help and support and wellness to all those around the Internet.

Help us celebrate Veteran’s Day by checking out the Veterans hangout Mallika Chopra hosted as part of The Chopra Well’s “Aspire to Inspire” series this past May. If you have a Veteran in your life that has suffered an intense trauma or struggled with PTSD, introduce them to the Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans Coping With Trauma course from the Intent Shop.

Thank you again Veterans for all you do. We are eternally grateful for dedicated service.


The Intent Team

How are you celebrating this Veteran’s Day? Leave your thanks and appreciation in the comments below! 

“Giving is Communication”: This Incredible Video Will Change Your Life

The title doesn’t lie. This video offers a poignant a message on the power of service, compassion, and gratitude, told through the lens of one incredible and fleeting act of kindness.

This video was made by TrueMove-H, an arm of Thai mobile conglomerate True Corporation. The video serves as a commercial, but also doubles as a meditation on the importance of real human connection in changing people’s lives and spreading empathy to every corner of the world.

Take a look and let the video’s message go to work in your heart:

If you look at your life and how far you’ve come, there are undoubtedly faces sprinkled throughout who had an impact on you along the way. They may be teachers, parents, mentors, or friends. They may be strangers. Sometimes it’s those fleeting, half-developed conversations in passing – on the subway, in the supermarket, on an airplane – that struck you most potently and in some way influenced the course your life would take.

We invite you to reach out in gratitude to those important people who helped you become the person you are today. And for all those unnamed strangers, the briefly known, angels in disguise, send your thanks outward. Pass it on. Pay it forward. Love and service make the world go ’round. And you are part of that essential cycle.

Did this video inspire you? Who are you grateful to? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

3 Way To Make The World A Better Place

Wonderful TimeBy Jay Forte

At last count, there are just over 7 billion people on the planet. Even with that extreme number, no two of us are exactly alike in abilities, interests, strengths, talents or passions. Our differences are intentional – they enable each of us to invent lives that fit us – to find our own way in a world filled with people, and to bring to our world what we do best. We get to be who we are. This is at the essence of building a better world.

Though we each have this built in “great life” advantage of customizing our lives around our abilities and interests, few of the 7 billion on the planet do this. Because we were not each born with an owner’s manual that gives us some clarity about what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us, we have to show up each day to our lives to discover this. And in this life, we are met with the loud voices in our faith, history, family, schools and society that tell us who we are to be, how we are to think and what we are to do. We abdicate our power to own and direct our lives when we use others’ rules to build our lives. These lives frequently are filled with regret – wrong job, wrong marriage, wrong faith, wrong town, wrong whatever. When this happens, we show up to our lives less than we could be. We shortchange our lives; we shortchange our world.

Creating a better world starts with clarity about who we are. Here are my three ways to make the world a better place:

  1. Know yourself. It is difficult to make the world a better place if we show up to areas in our lives that do not match our best abilities. We are each born with unique talents, strengths, and passion that not only prepare us to be great at some things, but give us the interest and desire to pursue those things. To make a profound difference in our world, we will first need to know what hardwired abilities came with us. Since we never got an owner’s manual for this information, we have to instead use each day to observe and assess our reactions, responses and abilities. We gradually learn what we are great at, passionate about and what matters to us. We are then challenged to do something with this information.

  1. Be yourself. Scan your world for applications to connect the best of you with the world. This way you show up to those areas that connect with you. You have both ability and interest in these areas. If we all loved and were good at the same thing, we would be in continual competition. Instead, our uniqueness creates opportunities for each of us. We get to show up to our lives exactly as we are – we show up to our world in a more significant way; our actions are stronger, our thinking is more profound, our commitment is more intense.

  1. Allow others to be themselves. Bullying, judgment, criticism are the hallmarks of humanity. Instead of supporting others to discover and be their best selves, we use much of our time finding fault with the approaches others have in how they live their lives. We judge their looks, work, hobbies, how they spend money, what they eat, who they marry, what they believe, etc. Knowing how difficult it is to discover our own abilities and gifts – and to openly and successfully live them, why would we add any complication to the process for others? Plato is credited with the comment, “Be kind, for everyone one is fighting a hard battle.” That battle is an authentic life. How can you end the judgments and allow others to show up who they are and how they are. How can you support others in their quest to bring their best to the world, particularly if it looks different than what your best looks like?

It is human nature to judge. I actually think it is part of our core brain hard-wiring – the part that looks to keep us safe. By judging, we are constantly assessing our world for challenges or concerns; it is innate. So, as with discovering our abilities, we will also need to work at dropping our guard and allowing people who look, act, think and dream differently than we do the room to be who they are. This only challenges how we think things should be and does not encourage how they could be. We let our stories, fears, concerns and traditions inhibit all that could be.

The world is built by those who are right here, right now. If those who are here are more concerned with telling others how they should live, instead of living fully themselves and allowing others to live fully, then we limit our lives and our world. We let our personal histories and belief systems interfere with who others are and how they should live. We spend our time trying to correct or judge others, instead of amplifying our personal impact in our greatest ability areas.

So, imagine the world we would create if we spent more time developing our gifts, and more time encouraging others to discover and live theirs. It starts with each of us. Today, it could be you and me. I’m in. How about you?

Know yourself. Be yourself. Allow others to be themselves. It isn’t complicated. It just challenges what we know. But a view of a better bolder life and world makes it completely worth the effort.

Photo credit: Robert Bejil

Unlikely Heroes: The California Teen Responsible for Feeding Thousands of Hungry Families

waste-no-food-sridhar-537x399At twelve years old, most of us were trudging through the awkwardness of adolescence, developing friend groups, and struggling to master pre-algebra. But at that age, Kiran Sridhar, a teenager from California’s Silicon Valley, had larger concerns on his mind.

According to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, nearly 4 million people in California are “food insecure,” which means they cannot afford to buy enough food to sustain themselves. Southern California is disproportionately ailed by hunger in comparison with the rest of the state, but the Bay Area also contains some of the largest numbers of food insecurity. This may seem counter intuitive, especially considering the ever-growing prosperity of Silicon Valley, in particular, with its booming tech economy. But the reality that Sridhar learned as a middle schooler was that many in his own community were suffering, even in the midst of such prevalent wealth.

Shocked and inspired by this revelation, Sridhar got to work. He founded the non-profit organization, Waste No Food, to connect restaurants and farms to food banks that would distribute their excess and leftover food. According to the organization’s website, a whopping one third of California’s food goes to waste. With so many in the state hungry, such waste is simply unacceptable, and Waste No Food works to get that food to those who desperately need it.

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If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or cafe, then you know how much food gets thrown out at the end of each day. Oftentimes food service workers just feel limited by the effort to transport leftover food, or else the fear of liability. But through the program, all the work is done for them with the click of a button. Farms, restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores can sign up on the website to donate their excess food, and Waste No Food then connects them to aid organizations (already vetted for authenticity) who are responsible for all food transportation and handling. It’s a win-win all around!

Now a 10th grader in high school, Sridhar hopes to expand the program to other parts of the Bay Area, and we have no doubt the enterprising teenager will succeed in his aims. As he told CBS San Francisco:

When you’re hungry, that is your primary focus, figuring out what your next meal is going to be. But when you have your needs for food met, than you can actually be a positive contributor to the community and to the economy.

It’s inspiring to see not only what such a young person is capable of accomplishing, but also more generally the length a concerned citizen is willing to go to support his community. Over 50 million Americans live in households that quality as “food insecure,” the highest percentages occurring in Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. These are our communities, our neighbors, and our families. Let Kiran Sridhar and the Waste No Food program inspire you to make a difference.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!


Photo credit: Inhabitat.com

Graphic credit: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

Deepak Chopra: What Is The Soul?

Do you have a soul? Where is it? What’s it made of? We discuss the “soul” so often in the discourse on mindfulness, but many of us would be hard-pressed to really parse out its meaning. In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses the soul’s relationship to consciousness, and how the two play out in our lives.

The soul is your core consciousness. It is the ground of your being. It has two components. One is called Jiva, which is the personalized soul that recycles through time on a cosmic journey. It is Karma, memory and desire. The conditioned soul is part of an unconditioned soul called Atman, which is part of the universal soul – Brahman. The purpose of the conditioned soul is to create the evolutionary journey to unity consciousness. We do this through being, love, creative expressions and through service. The soul is also the confluence of meaning, context, relationship and archetypal stories. The soul is the source of all our lives. It projects as the mind, the body and the universe of our experiences.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul!

A Million Reasons to Volunteer This 4th of July

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.40.44 PMBy Levi Newman

I’d like to believe that most of us are actively looking for ways to live healthier, more meaningful lives. It may be a “glass half full” way to view life, but to me you should always be looking to do more with the time you have. That’s why I think we should become more responsible citizens of this planet by finding ways to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Think about it; we’re always asking for help from dieticians, aestheticians, yoga instructors and life gurus, but how often do we ask what we can do for someone else? I’m going to let you in on a secret that I’ve been using to fill my own health and wellness needs—it’s called volunteering.

Wait, you mean you’ve heard of it? Okay, you caught me, it’s not a secret, but it is amazingly good for you!

There are a million and one reasons to volunteer at either a local or global level, but let’s focus on just a few. For starters, people who volunteer are linked to having better mental, physical and emotional health. According to a study by the UnitedHealth Group and Optum Institute, 76 percent of people surveyed said volunteering made them feel physically healthier, while another 78 percent reported lower stress levels. Researchers at the London School of Economics have even found a correlation between the amount you volunteer and the chances you’ll have of being “very happy.” In essence, the more you volunteer, the happier you become.

Of course, I don’t need statistics to tell me that if I trimmed my waistline and dropped some stress that I’d be a lot happier.

Did you also know that people who volunteer are more likely to land paid employment? In fact, people who volunteer are 27 percent more likely to find a job according to research by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Looks like all that time you spent passing out meals on Thanksgiving could pay even more dividends than you imagined.

Let’s not forget the social aspect. Your selfless service helps your community grow and come together. In today’s society we can sometimes lose those close ties because of social media, so it’s imperative that we build strong bonds with those around us. And while making new friends, expanding your social network (hooray for jobs!) and even boosting your interpersonal skills are important facets, we’re not even scratching the surface of the benefits of volunteering.

We’ve talked all about the selfish—in a good way—reasons we should volunteer, but let’s talk about how volunteering our valuable time affects those in need.

The single most important thing you provide those you serve is hope, and even a little hope inspires. Giving your time, time you may have otherwise wasted on some mundane, forgettable task, could have been time used to inspire someone that may have all but given up on life. It doesn’t matter if it’s volunteering at a food bank like Feeding America, or rebuilding communities around the globe with Team Rubicon, the point is that you’re providing a service to people that truly need help.

Volunteering is one of the few activities on earth that benefits the givers as much as the recipients. That’s why when you’re looking to take on a new hobby, project or adventure, choose something that can impact someone’s life in a positive way. It doesn’t matter if you decide to start down the street at a local church, or choose to take on the big jobs with the United Nations, know that you’re making the right decision.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If we’re all looking to be happier people living more fruitful lives, I challenge you to take those words and volunteer to be that change. Here’s hoping I see you out there.

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-1Levi Newman, a 10-year Army veteran and graduate of the University of Missouri, currently serves as the senior author for the Veterans United Network. He also works as the Director of Outreach for Veterans United Home Loans, where he builds and maintains relationships with businesses, organizations and individuals.

Reach Further: Your Life is Only As Big As the Communities You Serve

In a recent TED Talk, Dan Pallotta boldly stated, “No one ever went bankrupt giving to charity.” I love that line. The words remind us that we can give a little cash and still have enough to fill our own needs. That’s true of our energy, too. We can give a little time and still have enough to do the things we need to do.

So often we get caught up in the complexities of our lives and forget that we co-exist in a big world filled with people who need our help.  My vlog today is a loving challenge to parents. The hope is to inspire families to work together to serve the greater community, to spend time helping folks who can offer them absolutely nothing in return. Today’s message focuses specifically on parents because I blog about mindful mothering on Bringing Up Buddhas; but really this message is for everyone. CEOs and introverts, democrats and yogis, students and circus performers. We all have something to give.

So I’m officially dubbing this season the Summer of Service. A perfect time to let our babies use their superpowers to give freely, love wildly, and live fully.

Click to read the Huff Post article.

Click to read the story of my mentee and me.

What The Buddha Might Say To Bill Gates

Bill Gates by Tristan Nitot“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” – Buddha

Bill Gates is a rare breed. He defies what most billionaires appear to be: trapped in the hoarding of money with a large dose of poverty mind. While most people are obsessed with getting money, Gates wants to give it away.

By the time he was 32, Gates was a billionaire. In May this year he was declared the richest man in the world with a net worth of over $72 billion. He stopped working at Microsoft five years ago in order to focus on using that money to make the world a better place. He and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with investor Warren Buffet. The primary aims of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. To begin, Gates is committed to ending polio by 2018, with tuberculosis and malaria to follow.

Although, obviously, few of us have money to spare like Gates or Buffet, and it is easy to applaud them while feeling useless ourselves, it doesn’t mean we can’t give or help another in need, using whatever means we have.

“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.” – Buddha

We were in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, in northern India, attending the Dalai Lama’s teachings. It was crowded, cold, and very uncomfortable sitting close together on mats on a concrete floor. Deb was longing to go back to our hotel room so she could meditate quietly on her own when the Dalai Lama started talking about the dangers of solitary peace. He spoke of how tempting it can be to want to be on our own, but how easily this can disengage us from the reality around us. That it is vital to be in communication, engaged in giving, sharing and caring for each other.

Wise spiritual teachers from all traditions have taught how the path of service is the most important of all, as it means we are less self-obsessed; through caring for others we can step out of indulgence and into big-heartedness, releasing any sense of separateness.

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” – Buddha

The generosity Gates is sharing is not the stuff many rich people are made of. It can be very difficult to give when you have so much, as it incites tremendous fear of loss. We only have to look at the upper 1% of this country to see how greed and selfishness rule the day, as they hide their money in offshore accounts, avoid paying fair taxes, and have little time for the poor or needy.

When we feel uncomfortable with generosity we get stuck in our limitations and fear. When we appreciate the joy of kindness our life is transformed. We can both give and receive. Such ego-less moments are exquisite!

We may think we have little to offer but whether it is a few pennies or a whole bankroll, a cup of tea or a banquet is irrelevant—it is the act of giving itself that is important. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, although life changes are inevitable we can initiate personal change so that we rise to the challenge and become a bigger and better person as a result. As Mahatma Gandhi also said, “Almost anything we do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that we do it.”

“Be generous. Give to those you love; give to those who love you, give to the fortunate, give to the unfortunate — yes, give especially to those you don’t want to give. You will receive abundance for your giving. The more you give, the more you will have!” – W. Clement Stone

As one of our teachers, Sri Swami Satchidananda taught: “Who is the most selfish person? It is the one who is most selfless! Why? Because by being selfless, you will always retain your happiness. A selfish person can never be really happy. So to be happier, be more selfless!”

I slept and dreamt that life was joy

I awoke and saw that life was service

I acted and behold, service was joy. 

Rabindranath Tagore

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For more information: www.edanddebshapiro.com

Why Kids (and Parents!) Need to Do Community Service

Would you take your kids to the local emergency room to teach them a lesson in compassion? Arguments could be made on both sides. On the one hand, kids can develop empathy, sensitivity, and selflessness through exposure to real life problems and even tragedies. But it can also be traumatizing to witness the harsh realities of life – for kids and adults. Is there something to be said for prolonging innocence as long as possible?

In this week’s episode of “Perfectly Imperfect Parents” on The Chopra Well, our hosts discuss ways in which parents teach their kids the importance giving back to the community. The ER example comes right from host Dr. Cara Natterson, who uses that tactic in her own parenting. Certain neighborhoods of Los Angeles can feel like a bubble, she and host Mallika Chopra say. You might live in a nice house, own a car, and send your kids to great schools, when just down the street people are living a very different lifestyle. But to most kids, their world is the only one they know. Exposing them to the blood and gore of an emergency room may seem overly traumatic, but in Cara’s words, “To see it is to know it.” With the ultimate goal of raising kind, compassionate humans, the shock of exposure to other realities of life may be worth it.

Empathy seems to develop naturally enough through witnessing other human beings’ suffering, but how do parents convey a sense of ecological responsibility to their children? Do pollution, environmental footprint, and sustainability make sense to us inherently, or these concepts ingrained in us over time, beginning in childhood? For host Dani Klein, water conservation is an issue she’s attempted to tackle with her kids. Her family lives in Southern California, where it is constantly “abnormally dry,” if not downright drought conditions. But as long as the faucets always deliver water and the sprinklers always turn on, it can be difficult for kids to grasp the reality of a water shortage. Dani approaches this by explaining the issue to her sons and implementing a policy of conservation (shorter showers, turning off the faucet when they’re not using it, and so on). These are small steps to start off with, but over time, the child who was sensitive to running water may become a teenager who asks for a fuel-efficient car, and later an adult who goes to work for an environmental advocacy group. See where we’re going with this?

What steps have you taken to teach social responsibility to your kids? Do the small steps count? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss next week’s episode of “Perfectly Imperfect Parents”!

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