Ripples #970: Wonderful Gifts!
Dec 25, 2017
A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ
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.
shared by a Secret Friend of Ripples via Values.com
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!
The Ripples Guy… Read More!
Ripples #968: Embracing Ourselves!
Dec 11, 2017
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)
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
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!
The Ripples Guy… Read More!
Ripples #967: The Evolution of Happiness!
Dec 4, 2017
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
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
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.
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.
Nov 27, 2017
We grow and learn the most during the tension we experience in life.
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)
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
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….
The Ripples Guy… Read More!
Ripples #965: The Grateful Heart!
Nov 20, 2017
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
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
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!
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.
Ripples #964: Start From There!
Nov 13, 2017
Go out as far as you can and start from there.
-Albert Einstein, shared by Sue in Colorado Springs, CO
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
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!
The Ripples Guy… Read More!
Ripples #963: Find Your Purpose!
Nov 6, 2017
Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.
-Dolly Parton, shared by Kaitlin in Littleton, CO
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.
written and shared by David in Sydney, Australia
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.
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!