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Ripples #973: Glorious Opportunities!

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Ripples #973: Glorious Opportunities!
Jan 15, 2018
PEBBLE
We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
shared by Keith in San Luis Obispo, CA
BOULDER
So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? …The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
excerpt from Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963
PONDER
In the twenty years we’ve been assembling these weekly splashes, one of the traditions I’m most proud of is our annual rippling of Dr. King’s wisdom on the third Monday of January, which wasn’t even recognized as Martin Luther King Day by all 50 states when we began sending out Ripples in 1999.
Many of us are too young to have directly experienced the turbulence Dr. King and others were trying to help our bitterly divided nation grapple with. And as divided as our country was in the 1960’s, imagine just how bleak things must have seemed a century earlier as the civil war ravaged and nearly fractured our nation.
As we to attempt to navigate the difficult and significant challenges that currently permeate our conversations and our culture, I remain optimistic that we have the potential to grow exponentially if we are willing to embrace these challenges as GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITIES for growth. This process isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to be comfortable. But as I said in a conversation last year (and recently repeated in some of my presentations)…. Discomfort is required for growth. We cannot remain comfortable and grow into the best possible versions of ourselves.
Let’s honor Dr. King’s legacy by renewing our commitment to speak up, to show up, and to stand up for those who are not being seen or heard.
Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Members of our Team Ripples group on Facebook have access to a compendium of quotes from Dr. King that we’ve used over the last 20 years.

Ripples #972: The Nth Time!

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Ripples #972: The Nth Time!
Jan 8, 2018
PEBBLE
The Nth time’s the charm!
-David Keith
written and shared by David in Carlsbad, CA
BOULDER
The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I will persist until I succeed.
-Og Mandino
shared by Toby in Chicago, IL
link to Toby’s post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214496984075007
PONDER
During leadership and personal development presentations, I often speak about the importance of patience and persistence when trying to learn a new skill or develop a new habit. Since each of us learns and grows at our own pace, we never know exactly how long it is going to take or how many times we’ll need to practice something before we get it just right. Even though we don’t know the exact amount in advance, there is usually a finite number of attempts required. Since the exact number it will actually take is unknown, we could think of it as the variable N. We can’t really know the precise value of N until we finally achieve the success we’re seeking. Still, each attempt brings us one step closer to the Nth time when we cross the finish line.
I eventually started to apply the same concept in communication and team building sessions.  When we are trying to influence others, we might be tempted to measure our success by counting only the times when someone immediately changes their thinking or behavior after a single conversation. The problem is that it usually takes a number of exposures to a new idea before someone is ready to seriously consider perspectives that are different than their own.  If, however, we consider the possibility that a particular insight we share today could eventually help someone revise their perspective or habits down the road, then every single conversation has the capacity to inch someone closer to an Nth time that provides a real breakthrough.
If you’re attempting to make some kind of change change, whether it is learning a new skill, adopting a habit, or influencing others around you, remember that growth is almost always incremental and each baby step is important even if it isn’t sufficient to observe measurable improvement. Each failure helps us learn a little more, and each small success moves us closer to the larger goal. Patience and persistence can often help you more than think you initially realize. Hang in there, and keep at it!
Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. This concept also inspires me to continue assembling
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Ripples #971: Ready to Climb!

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Ripples #971: Ready to Climb!
Jan 1, 2018
PEBBLE
Step out of the history that is holding you back.
Step into the new story you are willing to create.
-Oprah Winfrey, shared by Angela in Madison, WI
BOULDER
Success, happiness and everything else you want in life need to be worked for, not wished for. In the real world there are no escalators; just stairs. So get ready to climb.
-Lilly Singh, shared by: Heather in Edmonton, AB Canada
PONDER
Happy New Year to you!
Here we are in the first hours of 2018…positively bursting with potential. It is time not only to decide what we want this year to look like, but also to decide what we’re willing to do in order to make it a really extraordinary chapter in our lives.
Some people like the idea of setting resolutions, and others….well, not so much. While I do not usually set traditional resolutions, I do like to set aside some time at the beginning of the year to ponder possibilities and then mindfully set intentions, priorities, and direction for the year. That usually involves identifying some specific, concrete actions I’m ready to commit to as well as a couple of achievements I’m ready to work towards.
What might help you infuse the new year with a little more hope, a little more courage, and a little more purpose? Think about this a bit, and figure out some way to act on your intentions. Are you in? Please, be in!
Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. This year is going to extra special for Ripples, as we are just a few months away from a really special milestone: Ripples #1,000! We are planning to unleash a few special treats, and we will also be seeking your input on how we can celebrate and make this both meaningful and fun.… Read More!

Ripples #970: Wonderful Gifts!

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Ripples #970: Wonderful Gifts!
Dec 25, 2017

PEBBLE
A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
A great gift has been made to each and every one of us—the privilege of living in the world for a short span of years and the opportunity of doing our part to help the less fortunate; to improve civilization; to advance knowledge, both the scientific knowledge of men and the wisdom which is from above. The gift of human life and the opportunity which is ours to serve others…should be regarded as a sacred trust.
-George Pepperdine
shared by a Secret Friend of Ripples via Values.com
http://www.values.com/inspirational-quotes/6579–a-Great-Gift-Has-Been-Made

PONDER
Many of us are celebrating Christmas today, and I hope that we can all appreciate the gifts we’ve received this year whether they are objects under the tree, relationships that have deepened, or good stuff that has unfolded in various areas of life (work, school, health, money, etc.).

If your life is anything like my life, you’ve also had some tough stuff to tackle as well. Keep in mind that there are a few ways to unwrap the presents that can be hidden in unpleasant/unwelcome happenings: perhaps the difficulty is far enough behind you that you can say, “WHEW I’m glad that is over!” or maybe you could reframe it as, “I suppose this could have been worse;” finally, there may be ways it helped you grow so at least you’re a little stronger and wiser because it was in your life. (There are also some “gifts” that are so unwelcome and so unpleasant that you’re allowed to scream into the void, “I didn’t like this present one bit!”)

Regardless of what beliefs you hold and traditions you participate in, I’m wishing you happy holidays and hoping that you’re able to wrap up the year by reminiscing on many wonderful gifts you’ve received and given. I look forward to connecting with you next week to help kick off the next year!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!

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Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!
Dec 11, 2017

PEBBLE
If you find who you are and embrace it, your life will work for you.
-a wise & happy woman
shared by Lauren in San Diego (who’s never forgotten this tip she heard from a guest lecturer when she was a student at Cal Poly)

BOULDER
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
-E.E. Cummings, shared by a Rippler in the Northeast

PONDER
A few weeks ago after I mentioned some ongoing health challenges I’m currently facing, a Ripples reader suggested I take a peek at Pema Chödrön’s “The Wisdom of No Escape,” a written compilation of remarks given by a warm and wondrous Buddhist nun over the course of a 30-day meditation retreat. In the very first chapter, she focuses on the concept of Loving-Kindness and how important it is to apply that to yourself.

She writes, “When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.” She then goes on to challenge the idea that meditation is about improving or changing. “It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.”

These lines were underlined in the copy I acquired from a used book store, and someone had written in the margins, “We come to God as we are, not as who we think we should be.” That was reinforced by a Facebook post I came across a few days later: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is, “supposed to be.”

I’m still taking all of this in…trying to be curious about how I can embrace myself and my current situation just as it is, and making a conscious effort to gently release any expectations about how things are “supposed to be.” It’s a tall order, and it might seem ironic that embracing ourselves just as we are is an essential first step to growth and change. How about we all keep pondering and working on this. I will if you will!

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #967: The Evolution of Happiness!

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Ripples #967: The Evolution of Happiness!
Dec 4, 2017

PEBBLE
You’re not happier because you turn your brain off. You’re happier because you encourage yourself to think more deeply about what actually matters.
-Charles Duhigg, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
The art of living does not consist of preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.
-Charles Morgan, shared by John in Denver, CO

PONDER
Of course we want to be happy. Of course we do! The pursuit of happiness is such a compelling quest that Thomas Jefferson even wrote it into the Declaration of Independence!

While I agree that being happy is a worthy outcome of a satisfying life, it’s also true that pursuing happiness tends to make a better by-product than a goal in and of itself. This is because the highest level of happiness you’ll find by just trying to be happy is a more hedonistic, or pleasure-based type of happiness that tends to be very fleeting: “I’m happy because I have this object or that amount of money or I just ate my favorite food.” Deeper, more sustainable, more meaningful states of happiness are more attainable when we pursue deeper, more sustainable, more meaningful goals.

The puzzles and games that keep us entertained and engaged when we are younger no longer hold our attention and eventually lose their magic. As we grow up, we need to find more complicated puzzles and more challenging games to enjoy. Similarly, as we go through (and hopefully grow through) life, the pursuits that have the potential to cultivate and sustain happiness will need to evolve as well.

Give some thought this week to your current and desired levels of happiness. Ask yourself what new actions and thoughts might help you grow into a deeper level of happiness, and what actions and thoughts you might need to graduate from in order to more easily make some changes.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I received an ENORMOUS outpouring of support in response to last week’s Ripples where I disclosed that I’ve been dealing with some significant health issues. The replies definitely gave me a boost, and I’m already feeling so much better. I have every reason to expect that I’ll be close to 100% by the time I hit the road for the start of my 2018 presentations! THANKS TEAM RIPPLES!… Read More!

Ripples #966: The Tensions and The Doldrums.

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Ripples #966: The Tensions and The Doldrums.
Nov 27, 2017

PEBBLE

We grow and learn the most during the tension we experience in life.
-Ashley Lorah
written and shared by Ashley in Columbus, OH (who has been facing recent challenges by looking ahead to get excited about the growth that will come from them rather than dwelling on the difficulties themselves)

BOULDER
It has been liberating to allow myself to feel and experience life so intensely, to go through the doldrums, and then to come out of them having learned something about myself.
-J. Hardin (adapted; original quote here)
shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

PONDER
I’m not gonna lie: I’ve been dealing with some rather unpleasant STUFF lately, including challenges related to my physical health and a few wrinkles with my mental health. Add in the steady stream of really heavy news stories over the past several months….well, it is a recipe for feeling less than my best self (understatement, you have a call on line 1).

The good news is that all of this STUFF didn’t prevent me from having some truly lovely moments over the holidays, and I continue to have a really strong support base that I’ve been able to consistently depend on over the last several weeks. The bad news is that it is gonna take some time and effort to get myself back to my usual self and my usual life, and the progress is gonna be more gradual than I would prefer (control issues, you have a call on line 2).

As I sat down to pull together this issue of Ripples, I confessed to my boyfriend that I wasn’t feeling very Ripply and for the first time in a really long time I didn’t quite know how to summon the right energy and mindset to pull together something uplifting to zoom out on Monday morning. His response was significant and powerful: “Paul, what if you just shared exactly what you are thinking? Lots of other people might be feeling less than stellar either because of all the carbs they ate, or coming down from the high of being around loved ones, or just the letdown of the holiday being over.”

I immediately recalled the “doldrums” quote Leslie had shared with me a while back and knew it would make a good base on which to build this issue. It took only another moment to match it with the simple yet powerful words that Ashley shared quite recently, which reminded me of a consistent truth in my life: I’ve always learned more during the tough chapters of my life than the easy-breezy ones.

Now I’m feeling better about not feeling better than I do, so I can exhale and get back to letting myself feel exactly the way I do. And the irony is that I can already sense the tensions lifting and the doldrums dissipating….

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #965: The Grateful Heart!

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Ripples #965: The Grateful Heart!
Nov 20, 2017

PEBBLE
Even in the most peaceful surroundings, the angry heart finds quarrel. Even in the most quarrelsome surroundings, the grateful heart finds peace.
-Zoe Zantamata, shared by Gretchen in Florida

BOULDER
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
-John Milton, shared by Ria in Fox Crossing, WI

PONDER
It’s Thanksgiving week here in our little corner of the world, a time when many of us will gather with loved ones for feasts and festivities. We here at Ripples HQ have developed a tradition over the last 19 years of using this particular issue to reflect on the value of gratitude.

It won’t come as a surprise to readers of these weekly splashes that gratitude has long been known to be a powerful natural tonic that helps us savor the GOOD STUFF in our lives. It is also true that cultivating gratitude for the HARD STUFF can help us appreciate the opportunities for learning and growing that are inherent in life’s inevitable challenges.

I’ve recently been exploring how gratitude can help us even when life is really, really, REALLY tough. The practice of identifying people, circumstances, events, and things that we’re glad to have in our lives does more than just distract us from challenges; it can serve to help us regain a larger perspective of the overall context in which a particular difficulty is happening. If we only spend time focusing on the difficulty, we might conclude that life is 100% yucky. If we take just a bit of time and energy to recall specific good things in our lives, the hard stuff can seem less overwhelming, less all-consuming. It is still there and it is still really hard, and yet it can be experienced as just one slice of a larger life instead of the whole pie.

If things are super tough right now, I invite you to experiment by jotting down even a few things that you’re grateful to have in your life and see if that helps at all. If life is already pretty swell, perhaps the activity might infuse an extra sense of joy into your holiday. Try it and see!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. If you want some extra splashes of gratitude, I’m especially proud of last year’s Ripples #913, and 2015’s Ripples #861. We also keep a Gratitude Archive with all 19 years worth of Gratitude Quotes.

 … Read More!

Ripples #964: Start From There!

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Ripples #964: Start From There!
Nov 13, 2017

PEBBLE
Go out as far as you can and start from there.
-Albert Einstein, shared by Sue in Colorado Springs, CO

BOULDER
In human life, if you feel that you have made a mistake, you don’t try to undo the past or the present, but you just accept where you are and work from there. Tremendous openness as to where you are is necessary.
—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, shared by Pete in Ouray, CO

PONDER
In the experience of being human, it is natural (and healthy!) to occasionally become dissatisfied with the current state of things and to decide it is time to make some changes. It makes sense that we’d want to spend a bit of time reflecting on how we got here and where we want to go next. The trick is to avoid getting so distracted by the disappointment of our previous choices that we get stuck in the muck of the past.

The quickest way forward is to recognize that we cannot do much about the path we’ve already traveled. Whatever has happened before today, it happened! It led us to this particular moment in time and space, which happens to be the right place to start moving forward. It is the RIGHT place, the BEST place, the ONLY place to start, because THAT IS WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW! (Sorry for yelling…I sometimes get worked up about this stuff…can you tell?)

So wherever you happen to find yourself right now, and whatever is going on in your life, if you decide you’d like to make some changes: START FROM THERE, and be on your way!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #963: Find Your Purpose!

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Ripples #963: Find Your Purpose!
Nov 6, 2017

PEBBLE
Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.
-Dolly Parton, shared by Kaitlin in Littleton, CO

BOULDER
Follow your heart and you will find your passion.
Follow your passion and you will find your purpose.
Once you start living your life with purpose,
you will realize that you do not need wings to fly.
-David Lee-Schneider
written and shared by David in Sydney, Australia

PONDER
I wrapped up my recent travels with a stop to hang with one more batch of P&Gers who gathered in St. Louis for a learning forum. They asked me to speak on innovation, and to do that we started with something you need to have on hand before you can even think about innovation: purpose.

Having a solid understanding of what inspires, motivates, and drives us is essential to creating a satisfying, successful life. In a really popular TED Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” Simon Sinek unpacked the power in knowing your WHY. He explains that leaders and organizations who master the tasks of identifying, understanding and remembering their purpose are able to influence and attract others to their ideas. This leads to success in work, in relationships, and in in life.

I also came across a great article from ThriveGlobal about clarifying your WHY as a way to more productively manage your time. One activity they described was simple yet enlightening: asking myself what I want, and then asking myself: what about that is important to me? And then whatever answer comes up, to ask myself: what about *that* is important to me? The article suggests that continuing to ask that question as many as seven times, and answering honestly and unflinchingly each time, can help us find our way to our core purpose.

If you’ve been stumbling along lately, either dissatisfied or unsure about the path you’re on, hopefully one of these resources could give you some things to think about. Gaining clarity on your purpose will help you focus your time and energy, and will likely help you increase your enjoyment of work and life.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. If you’re enjoying Ripples, remember that the best way to show it is to SHARE Ripples with your peeps and encourage them to join us, and also click the SUBMIT A QUOTE button below whenever you encounter a groovy quote that we should consider for an upcoming issue. Thanks for both!… Read More!