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Ripples #1122: Gratitude in Tough Times

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Ripples #1122: Gratitude in Tough Times
Nov 23, 2020

PEBBLE
When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
-Gilbert K. Chesterton, shared by Amy in Charlotte, NC

BOULDER
When people in great numbers choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire, for ourselves and for future generations.
-Angeles Arrien, shared by Scott in Madison, WI

PONDER

Gratitude is important, powerful, and helpful, even when life is really hard.

You know what? Let me state that again with a tweak:

Gratitude is important, powerful, and helpful, especially when life is really hard.

Expressing gratitude is not about ignoring the unpleasant aspects of our lives, and we sometimes misuse the concept. Think about the last time you heard some version of: “I know things are crappy right now, but things could be worse so we should just be thankful for what we have.” You may have even used a version of this on yourself, and that’s not good, either.

Even when this is accurate, it may not be particularly useful because it reinforces a false choice that we can either be blissfully happy about the good stuff in life OR miserably disappointed about the inevitable hard stuff. Especially in the midst of tough times, the key is to expand our awareness to make room for both the yummy and yucky aspects of our existence. Cultivating gratitude allows us to savor the yummy stuff, and puts the yucky stuff in a context so we remember that it isn’t the ONLY stuff we have in our lives.

I’ll wrap up by extending an extra helping of gratitude for the many Ripplers who have chosen to sacrifice some traditions this year in order to help us minimize the spread of Covid. May our choices in 2020 lead to a much more enjoyable 2021!

Peace,
Paul
P.S. If you’d be interested in sharing Hope for the Holidays, we whipped up a limited-edition gift package called A Bundle of Hope: https://bit.ly/HopeBundle-Doc… Read More!

Ripples #1121: Making Sense of Change

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Ripples #1121: Making Sense of Change
Nov 16, 2020

PEBBLE
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. -Alan Watts, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.
—BKS Iyengar, shared by David in Springfield, MO

PONDER
There are plenty of people out there who struggle mightily with change, and just about ALL of us have trouble with at least certain changes that happen in our lives. For some of us it might be about accepting the end of something we aren’t quite ready to be finished with. Others might be uncomfortable with changes that happen a result of aging. And the constant change we’ve been dealing with throughout 2020? One word: ugh.

It is okay to be frustrated with someone else who isn’t managing change the way you’d like them to. I get that. 100%.

Just for today, however, it might be useful to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What change(s) am I resisting?” And maybe see if doing your own work might release more change energy into the world that might inspire others who are struggling with change.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. If you’d enjoy a monthly infusion of insight and inspiration in the form of an online presentation with The Ripples Guy, consider joining Paul’s Patreon Peeps. Each month I share some of the professional and personal development content I’ve developed over the last 20 years, and then spend time chatting and checking in with a few dozen awesome Ripplers who are helping me unleash ripples of compassion and kindness. We’d love to have a few more join us: https://www.patreon.com/RipplesGuyRead More!

Ripples #1120: Still Here

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Ripples #1120: Still Here.
Nov 9, 2020

PEBBLE
As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter how ill or how despairing you may be feeling in a given moment.
-Jon Kabat-Zinn, shared by Mary in Denver, CO

BOULDER
Remember, you are still here. The human heart beats approximately 4,000 times per hour and each pulse, each throb, each palpitation is a trophy, engraved with the words, “You are still alive.” You are still alive. Act like it.
-Rudy Francisco, shared by Theresa in Macon, GA

PONDER
You are still here.
Despite the myriad difficulties going on right now…
You are still here.
Regardless of the traumas you’ve endured, the setbacks you’ve encountered, and the disappointments you’ve had to face…
You are still here.
Even if you’re tired, sad, frustrated, bewildered, or some combination of all of these…
You are still here.

Your presence hints at your purpose, even if you’re not always 100% sure what you’re supposed to be doing. You are still here, and that matters. To me and I’m guessing to many others in your life as well. I hope it matters to you, too.

Thank you for everything that you’ve done to make it to today, and thank you for anything you can do today to make the most of your here-ness. Depending upon your needs and wants, invite yourself to work some, play some, rest some, eat some, giggle some, cry some, rage some, ponder some, and maybe go back and repeat the ones that you need some more of.

If you have a spare moment to congratulate someone else on their here-ness, it will likely improve their day and yours, too.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. If you’re wondering whether you made a difference today, I am 100% sure that you absolutely did: just peeking at this email helps me fulfill my mission of unleashing ripples of compassion and kindness. #urock… Read More!

Ripples #1119: Calm Within Chaos

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Ripples #1119: Calm Within Chaos
Nov 2, 2020

PEBBLE
Tomorrow can still be glorious even in the midst of uncertainty.
-Stephanie Chinnart, shared by Heather in Fort Atkinson, WI

BOULDER
Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path.
-Pema Chödrön, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

PONDER
Most of us did not need a year as unsettling and unpredictable as 2020 to understand just how uncomfortable we are with uncertainty. The many unanticipated twists and turns have reinforced that we feel safer within our comfort zone. And it is true that we generally *are* safer in our comfort zone even though we tend to do our best learning and growing when we are move beyond our comfort zone.

Our minds are so uncomfortable with uncertainty that in many situations where we aren’t sure what is going to happen, we default to expecting (and dreading) the worst possible outcomes rather than just resting in the place of “Hmmm…I’m not sure how this is going to turn out.” Really sit with *this* for a moment: our mind can trick us into believing we’d rather just have the bad thing happen rather than remain in the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome.

Given the high stakes of the 2020 U.S. election, and given the high likelihood that we won’t immediately know the results, this week is likely to contain more than its share of uncertainty. We can’t control this uncertainty, and yet we can manage how we respond to it. I’m trepidatiously accepting this opportunity to wade into this liminal pond of unknowing. These waters are going to be uncomfortable, especially at first. If you’d like to join me, I’m guessing we’ll learn a thing or two, and maybe even find a way to have some fun. Are you in?

Peace,
Paul
P.S. If you’re seeking a distraction on Tuesday night, I’m tentatively planning to unleash some “Election Night Non-Electiony Shenanigans” by sharing hopeful, helpful content in a series of brief Facebook Live webcasts. Just head over to Team Ripples and look for me there.… Read More!

Ripples #1118: Interconnection & Interdependence

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Ripples #1118: Interconnection & Interdependence
Oct 26, 2020

PEBBLE
When conditions are harsh and life is tenuous, it takes a team of sworn reciprocity to keep life going forward…interconnection and mutual aid become critical for survival.
-Robin Wall Kimmerer, shared by Allison in Cincinnati, OH

BOULDER
Sometimes LONELINESS comes as a reminder that we have to reach out.
Sometimes our SADNESS comes as a way to poke us, to tell us to look up.
Sometimes the thing that FRUSTRATES us is the thing that’s calling us forth to be connected.
-Dr. Bertice Berry, shared by Julie in West Chester, OH via Team Ripples

PONDER
At the beginning of our lives, we are highly dependent upon others for our survival. We count on parents and/or other caregivers to feed/clothe/house us and also to guide us as we grow. As we get a little older, we start to explore our independence. Most of us go through a phase of, “I can do it myself and I don’t need help from anyone!” As we mature into adulthood, we ideally seek close relationships that are interdependent: where we are in some ways dependent on and yet totally independent from the other person.

Adulting has always been hard. I think it is fair to say that Adulting in 2020 has tested most of us in ways that we didn’t want to be tested. If you’re like me, there are some days when you just want to move to an island far away from everyone else and other days when you wish a grown up would come along and make you grilled cheese and maybe some Rice Krispie treats before gently rocking you to sleep.

Our best chance of getting through this year with at least a shred of sanity and a dollop of dignity is to remember that leaning on other people doesn’t mean we’re not grown up enough to handle stuff on our own. And at some point, we’re gonna have to explore better ways to connect and engage with those who look at things differently than us. The future of our society depends on it, and the future of our planet depends on it, too.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. So much gratitude for the recent support. We added a few new Patreon Peeps, sent out a few more books and stickers, and received a steady stream of lovely kindness. Thanks, y’all.… Read More!

Ripples #1117: Serendipities!

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Ripples #1117: Serendipities!
Oct 19, 2020

PEBBLE
The universe is always speaking to us. Sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more.
-Nancy Thayer, shared by Genna on Sanibel Island, FL

BOULDER
A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change. -Earl Nightingale, shared by Curt in Kansas

PONDER

TRUE STORY: Once upon a time (okay, last Wednesday morning) I had blocked off some time to work on Ripples. I was wading through previous quote submissions as part of my process for assembling these weekly splashes, and I was sidetracked by an email notification from a friend who was asking if I knew anyone who could help her with a specific aspect of her business. SHUT UP STOP THE PRESSES! Still awaiting a reply in my inbox was a message I had received a few hours earlier from someone I know and respect who has recently launched a consultancy to help small businesses…specializing in the specific area my friend needed help with. I quickly and excitedly exchanged email introductions so they could explore mutually beneficial possibilities and then paused to delight in the joy of serendipitous connection.

And then I giggled at myself for a completely different bit of synchronicity. Earlier that morning I had been reviewing notes I took on the nifty book Indistractible (https://www.amazon.com/dp/194883653) as I prepared for a mini-presentation I was giving that afternoon for my Patreon Peeps (https://www.patreon.com/RipplesGuy). In it, Nir Eyal shares two core strategies for gaining traction on your goals and priorities: blocking off time for focused work on specific projects, and hacking back against distractions like the notification dings that emit from our devices. Here I was playing with some new concepts I was about to teach to others and the universe concocted a lovely teachable moment, inviting me to put theory into practice (my grad school professors would be so proud!).

After spending a few minutes disabling notifications on both my phone and computer, the time I had purposely set aside to work on Ripples was rapidly dwindling without much progress. I decided to commit to a handful of really focused minutes with the ambitious goal of identifying the theme and quotes that would help guide the ponder. I reopened the Ripples folder on my computer and spotted a file dated May 6, 2019 has been patiently waiting for me to rediscover it: an abandoned early draft of an issue of Ripples that never quite found the right ponder. It had two quotes all paired up, and a few sentences of the ponder that just trailed off. The theme? Can you guess? Wait for it…Serendipity!

I’ve long experienced coincidences like these as delightful God-winks: merry moments of meaning-making that hint at our intertwined, interconnectedness which too easily falls from our consciousness. And I’ve loved … Read More!

Ripples #1116: Water Your Wild

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Ripples #1116: Water Your Wild.
Oct 12, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t water down your wild.
-Heidi Osborn, written and shared by Heidi in West Virginia

BOULDER
More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm. -Oliver Burkeman
shared by Pete in Colorado via Oliver Burkeman’s final Guardian column

PONDER
Today’s pebble showed up randomly in my Facebook newsfeed, so I curiously reached out to the person who posted it. I soon learned that “Don’t water down your wild” had become Heidi’s personal motto, one she uses to motivate herself and others.

“I spent many years in self-doubt and holding myself back,” Heidi shared in a message exchange. “I did A LOT of healing and growing to finally allow myself to be the person I wanted to be and was meant to be.” She went on to describe several key crossroads in her considerably challenging life when she heard what she calls “Wild Whispers,” opportunities she experienced as invitations to release her authentic, powerful potential that hadn’t been tamped down or tamed by the expectations and limitations others had placed on her. Some of these wild whispers seemed risky and/or difficult, and yet she looks back on them as key opportunities for growth that she’s glad she embraced.

This line was especially cool to read, “Once I found my wild, I promised myself that I would use that knowledge and wisdom to spark the wild in others. I want people to remember that greatness already lies within…and not to stifle it.”

Here’s my take on Heidi’s awesome motto: maximizing your potential requires harnessing your power without diminishing it. It means not just healing from your many hurts, but also extracting the lessons and wisdom they offer. It means not just overcoming obstacles, but also recognizing the strength you couldn’t have gained without facing those obstacles.

Your wild needs to be encouraged and not extinguished, so keep in mind:
When you WATER your wild, you nourish your power and give life to your potential.
When you WATER DOWN your wild, you dilute your power and weaken your potential.

Be careful and be curious about the choices you make for yourself this week. Do what you can to encourage your authentic voice and instincts while resisting any temptation or habit to diminish what you know to be your real self.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1115: Let Go, Stand Tall

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Ripples #1115: Let Go, Stand Tall
Oct 5, 2020

PEBBLE
I think of the trees and how simply they let go.
-May Sarton, shared by Loreen in Washington

BOULDER
If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come.
-unknown, shared by Becki in Quakertown, PA

PONDER
I suspect many people will look back on this period of time as one of great loss. My best guess (and my fervent hope) is that these losses are clearing the way for a period of massive growth and creation. Autumn is the time when many plants and trees must drop their leaves and prepare for a period of dormancy.

This can look like a death, and there is definitely a loss. While it is natural and understandable and important to grieve that which is going away, it can soothe us to remember that some things must be released so that our cycle of growth can continue.

Here’s the good news: with a little faith, a dollop of patience, and a decent memory, we can rest assured: things will cycle around. Before we know it, green shoots will burst forth from the fertile ground once again.

Peace,
Paul

P.S. I’m determined to keep Ripples FREE and AD FREE for all who enjoy these Ripply splashes, and I’m now able to do that thanks to the help of several dozen “Patreon Peeps” who are pitching in a few bucks a month to more actively support our mission. If you’ve enjoyed these weekly splashes for a while and might be interested in a bit more direct engagement with The Ripples Guy, you can learn more here: https://www.Patreon.com/RipplesGuy… Read More!

Ripples #1114: Cofounding Life

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Ripples #1114: Cofounding Life
Sep 28, 2020

PEBBLE
Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.
-Susan Statham, shared by Eric at Oakland University, MI

BOULDER
Realize that you are not a mere guardian or administrator of your life, but your own co-founder, CEO and Chief Executive Creator. Nobody, nothing owns you anymore.
-Andrea Balt, @projecthappiness_org shared by Daphne in St. Joseph, MO

PONDER
One of my favorite things about assembling these weekly splashes of inspiration is the pairing of the two quotes that become the PEBBLE and BOULDER. The pairing determines the theme for the week, which then guides the direction of the ponder. I love that these two quotes just happened to end up right next to each other on my trusty list of magnificent quotes submitted by our magnificent readers.*

I don’t think these quotes are suggesting that we have complete control of our lives (cuz we don’t). I also don’t think we’re supposed to be striving to create a perfect life (cuz we can’t). Instead, I think they invite us to optimize our effectiveness and enjoyment of life by bringing leadership, creativity, and mindfulness as we plan and live our lives.

What might happen if this week you focused less on the aspects of your life that are beyond your immediate influence, and instead pivoted towards the things you can edit, delete, or maybe even copy and paste?

Peace,
Paul
*P.S. I’m rarely able to personally acknowledge the many quote submissions that come in each week, but please know that even though I only use around 100 quotes a year, it is so helpful to have a few thousand quotes to choose from. So when you find a quote that really grabs you, keep in mind there is a SUBMIT button in each issue that takes you to a simple form to share it with me in a way that helps me manage the flow. #QuotesRock #YouRockToo… Read More!

Ripples #1113: Making Noise

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Ripples #1113: Making Noise
Sep 21, 2020

PEBBLE
Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

BOULDER
Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.
-U.S. Representative John Lewis (1940-2020)

PONDER
I don’t think it is an overstatement to suggest that 2020 may end up being one of the hardest, strangest, and most pivotal years most of us have lived in. Depending upon where things go from here, 2020 has the potential to reset our society’s course on health care, race, politics, climate change, and likely education, too.

And while both of our quotes today were around long before the dawn of this year, I’m sharing them here today in part because I believe they are so timely, and of course also because we are mourning the two remarkable people whose wisdom they reflect.

The pebble was Justice Ginsburg’s response to a question about advice she would give young women today, while the boulder was one of Representative Lewis’ legendary tweets.

We are living through a particularly polarizing time, one which informs which media channels we turn into, who we feel comfortable connecting with, and even what facts we believe to be true.

After Justice Scalia’s 2016 passing I learned that he and Justice Ginsburg had been good friends. Over the weekend, Scalia’s son wrote a moving piece about the friendship, and about the upside of debating fiercely while maintaining close ties.

I’m pleased and proud that over the last two decades we’ve forged a community of hopeful, helpful souls who sometimes disagree passionately about policies and ideas, and yet can still come together every week to unleash ripples of compassion and kindness.

Is it possible for us to make noise about issues we care about without ignoring or denying the humanity of those on the other side? And could we end up having more influence on others if we took a few steps back from the “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric which is often neither helpful nor accurate? My answer for today is, “I dunno, but I want to try harder to find out.”

Rest in power, Justice Ginsburg & Representative Lewis.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

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