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Perspective

Ripples #1124: Bringing Out the Best

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Ripples #1124: Bringing Out the Best
Dec 7, 2020

PEBBLE
You can work miracles by having faith in others.
By choosing to think and believe the best about people,
you are able to bring out the best in them.
-Bob Moawad, shared by Tim in St. Louis, MO

BOULDER
If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.
-Margaret Mead, shared by Debbie in Knoxville, TN

PONDER
Way back at the beginning of the Incredible and Awful Pandemic of 2020, my friend Toby and I brainstormed a Handwashing Meditation (http://2Rpl.me/HandwashingMeditation.jpeg)
that allows us to spend twenty seconds scrubbing our hands while remembering that most of us, most of the time, are doing the very best we can…even when it seems like our best isn’t good enough.

Eight months later, I still recite it several times a day, and it continues to help me access reserves of compassion and generosity toward myself and others. It hasn’t kept me from growing exasperated at times, but it has allowed me to put my frustration in context.

I’m sure I’ve said this before in these weekly splashes, and I think it is worth repeating: there are plenty of times we declare a person or group to be stupid, crazy, and/or evil when it is probably more useful and more accurate to describe their words/behavior as uninformed, irrational, and/or lacking compassion. Those are less caustic and more generous terms, and they help us remember that there are times when WE are the ones guilty of speaking/acting from a place that is less informed, less rational, and less compassionate than we realize.

We have a long road ahead of us, and the polarization we’re currently experiencing is indeed daunting. I believe that 2021 holds some opportunities for us to step back, pause, pivot, and hopefully find some new ways to step forward. Easy? Nope. Possible? Yup.

Peace,

Paul
P.S. Thanks to everyone who is sharing Hope for the Holidays with our Ripply books and goodies. I’ll soon be taking some down time over the holidays, but will mail out Bundles of Hope, books and other orders that come in by the end of this week.… Read More!

Ripples #1123: Free Your Focus

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Ripples #1123: Free Your Focus
Nov 30, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t water your weeds.
-Harvey Mackay, shared by Carol in Bloomington, IN

BOULDER
What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.
-Robin Sharma, shared by Ted in Lancaster, PA

PONDER
As we get closer to wrapping up the year, my partner Jamie and I recently sat down to write our holiday letter. Our first thought was, “What are we gonna write about? We’ve basically been stuck at home for most of 2020!” It didn’t take long, however, until we were thinking about some fun adventures we had before Covid inserted itself into our lives. And then we remembered quite a few good times we had despite all the limitations and restrictions.

We also realized that even though the year is almost over, there is still time to focus our time and energy so that the year can include a few more bright spots. My pal Toby reminded me in his weekly tobynotes email that there is still 8% of the year left, and there are plenty of possibilities to be explored!

If we focus primarily on our weeds, we might inadvertently set ourselves up for more weeds in 2021. So this week, I’m asking myself:
What thoughts and actions are keeping me in the weeds?
How can I pivot away from them and move towards more productive thoughts and actions?
To end the year strong, are there areas that need my attention more than others? Rest? Reflection? Chores? Planning?

I invite you to join me in pondering, planning, and pivoting.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. We’ve already sent out all the Bundles of Hope we assembled last week. I’m open to creating a few more if you or someone in your life needs Hope for the Holidays: https://bit.ly/HopeBundle-Doc… Read More!

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 #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 #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!

Ripples #1103: Your New Life!

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Ripples #1103: Your New Life!
July 13, 2020

PEBBLE
I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.
-Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)
shared by Savannah in Plymouth, NH

BOULDER
Your new life is going to cost you your old one. It’s going to cost you your comfort zone and your sense of direction. It’s going to cost you relationships and friends. It’s going to cost you being liked, and understood. But it doesn’t matter. Because the people who aren’t meant for you are going to meet you on the other side. And you’re going to build a new comfort zone around the things that actually move you forward. And instead of liked, you’re going to be loved. Instead of understood, you’re going to be seen. All you’re going to lose is what was built for a person you no longer are. Let it go.
-Brianna Wiest, shared by Alison in Pittsburgh, PA

PONDER
In case you were wondering: nope, you’re not dreaming. 2020 is half over, and the unfortunate reality is that this Terrible Time of Covidia is most likely *not* half over.

I’ve lately returned to the four strategies we developed in the early days and weeks… Can you remember all the way back to March when we explored the “Covid Coping” hypothesis that WE GOT THIS if we can pull together with Curious Minds, Open Hearts, and Calm Spirits while Nurturing Health?

I’ve also been relying on the “unfortunate and also fortunate” truth about my own life: the hardest chapters have invariably been the periods when I’ve grown the most. So even though part of me just wants to fast-forward through the rest of 2020 and then erase the entire year, I can already identify several ways that I’ve become stronger and more skilled both professionally and personally.

There are three components of coping with challenge and change: surviving, reviving, and thriving. This pandemic is not impacting everyone the same; plenty of people are struggling to just survive. Still, it is important to remember that many of us have at least a little extra bandwidth to occasionally invest in reviving (picking up the broken pieces) and thriving (building of the new). As the quotes above remind us, growth requires getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and moving toward the next destination on our life’s journey requires walking away from where we’ve been.

What are you willing to walk away from so that you move closer to your new life? If it feels even a little scary, remind yourself that growth requires discomfort. You cannot remain comfortable and grow into the best possible version of yourself.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. We still have a batch WE GOT THIS Stickers; visit our Google Doc for how to snag a free and/or buy a few to unleash hopeful ripples to friends, family and colleagues: https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc. Oh, and if your group/team needs a lift, let me know and perhaps we can create a package of ripply … Read More!

Ripples #1088: Curious Minds

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Ripples #1088: Curious Minds
March 30, 2020

PEBBLE
Wisdom isn’t about accumulating more facts, it’s about understanding big truths in a deeper way. -Melinda Gates, shared by Sr. Miriam in St. Louis, MO

BOULDER
Of course, life does not unfold according to our desires or even according to our beliefs. We are part of life unfolding and teaching us all the time.
-Michael Ketterhagen, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
We revealed last week the idea of our WE GOT THIS stickers to cultivate curious minds, open hearts, and calm spirits while we nurture our health. (Cool news: we’ve since distributed over 1,000 stickers and just ordered another batch! If you’d like a free sticker for yourself OR perhaps order some colleagues and loved ones, please visit this Google Doc for details: https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc)

I thought we’d spend the next few weeks unpacking these four Covid Coping strategies, and it makes sense to start with the first one: Curious Minds. My intention in leading with this one is to remind us that there are choices about how to respond to things even when we don’t have a choice about the thing happening. Leaning into these questions can help: How can I learn from this? Who do I want to be on the other side of this? Is it possible to grow through this even if I’m not pleased that I have to go through this?

I had a great exchange with someone last week who messaged me after watching one of the videos I whipped up to help talk us all through this weirdness. She wrote, “Thanks Paul! I hear and appreciate everything you’re saying – but I am struggling with the curious minds part. I don’t want to do this! It’s too big and too overwhelming. I am hanging in there but not liking it one bit.”

I fully agreed that this is indeed really big, and many of us are experiencing daily doses of overwhelm. I asked her to imagine a teacher on the first day of school thinking it would be a good idea to give the class an overview of everything they’d learn for the entire year. My thought is that would probably make you think or even scream something very similar to: “It’s too big and too overwhelming!” Instead of grappling with the whole big mess and how we’re going to get through this, an alternative might be to notice one thing you’ve done in the past couple of weeks that has helped you grow personally or professionally.

Another small way to help activate your curious mind is to pivot from judging people who are handling this differently than you are and instead get curious about what might cause someone to think, say, and do the things that seem at first glance to be irrational or unhelpful in some way.

As for the part about not liking this one bit, I shared that it sounded to me like a part of her is … Read More!

Ripples #1080: Magnificently Mundane

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Ripples #1080: Magnificently Mundane.
Feb 3, 2020

PEBBLE
Each small task of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the universe.
-St. Therese of Lisieux, shared by Cathy in Wisconsin
listeningtowhispers@yahoo.com

BOULDER
Life is mostly about mundane experiences. When you start thinking that only your most thrilling experiences are significant, you have already lost the most precious thing in life, the ability to fully immerse yourself in every experience.
—Brad Warner, shared by Thomas on Sanibel Island, FL

PONDER
So it’s been a kooky week. A really good week, just really busy. I started out up at Oakland University hanging out with some old friends from University Recreation and Well-Being and a bunch of new friends in Athletics. I zoomed back to Cincinnati to rest up and then hang out with my new pals at Chard Snyder (an Ascensus company!). I’ve spent the last couple days prepping and packing for another set of talks next week.

People often try to measure my work in the number of minutes that I am standing in front of an audience. I get that, because those are the only minutes I’m actually paid for my work. But to figure out how much time I spend working, you gotta add up the number of minutes I spend engaging with potential clients, preparing for upcoming presentations, traveling to and from events, connecting with past attendees, and a few minutes here and there recovering from these adventures, too. (Oh and tending to these weekly Ripples splashes, of course!).

I thoroughly enjoy every minute I get to be in front of a group. For. Sure. Still, the magnificence of those moments depends almost entirely on the more mundane moments of my work, and there is quite a bit of joy and satisfaction to be found in scribbling ideas on my white board, practicing chunks of speeches on my morning walk, even going through my packing checklist to make sure I’ve got everything I need.

If you’ve been feeling bored with some of the more mundane aspects of your work or life, I invite you to join me in taking a few mindful breaths and a scoop or two of curiosity; together we can let the mundane lead us to magnificence.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1031: Obstacles as Opportunities!

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Ripples #1031: Obstacles as Opportunities!
Feb 25, 2019
Celebrating 20 Year of Ripples: 1999-2019!

PEBBLE
I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is and not as a comment on my life.
-David Ignatow, shared by Teri in Santa Rosa, CA

BOULDER
Your perception of obstacles makes a difference. Some people see obstacles as a puzzle to solve. Some see obstacles as an opportunity to grow. Others see obstacles as threats. Still others see obstacles as meaning they cannot succeed. Your view of the barriers to achieving your goals affects how you react.
–Dr. Karyn Hall, shared by Bob in Texas (via Project Happiness)

PONDER
I first spied today’s pebble in a Facebook post from Teri, a Cal Poly parent I’ve enjoyed connecting with (thanks to her husband and son’s adventures in taking selfies with “famous people!”). I messaged her to find out what prompted her to post the quote, and here was part of her reply:

“I was in the middle of one of those episodes in my life where things seemed horrible, terrible, no good, very bad all around and suddenly I realized I was blaming myself for things others do and say that likely have nothing to do with me, and also trying to control or fix what is not my responsibility to even engage in. And this just spirals into the mud and muck of insecurity where I become someone I don’t want to be, and seriously would never hang out with on purpose!”

This isn’t to say that some of the challenges Teri is facing aren’t mountain-sized; I happen to know that she and her family have been dealing with some pretty big stuff. What I like about the quote, and what I like about Teri’s perspective, is that they gently remind us to avoid making difficulties even worse by personalizing them. A few years ago I picked up a really useful saying while hanging out with my buddies at Recovery International: “Sometimes people do things THAT annoy us, not TO annoy us.” It’s also true that sometimes blechy stuff just happens even if we haven’t done anything to cause it.

Teri seems to be wired for resilience–something I noticed when she explained how quotes and poetry often help her when she’s struggling: “They can scold me in the most loving way, shock me into righting myself, and remind me to laugh at myself then turn to wonder. Kind of like having my wise, beloved Great Grandmother Catherine at my side.”

Whatever mountains you may be climbing this week, I invite you to tackle the challenges with your best self by setting aside any temptation to get bogged down in catastrophizing and personalizing. It’s okay to rest, and sometimes it helps to grumble a bit just to get it out of your system. Then hop up and embrace the obstacles as opportunities to grow!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. If you find yourself needing more frequent splashes of inspiration … Read More!

Ripples #1027: Pain vs. Suffering!

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Ripples #1027: Pain vs. Suffering!
Jan 28, 2019

PEBBLE
Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering.
-Dan Millman, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
Life provides pain. We provide the suffering. We don’t have control over eliminating pain altogether because pain is part of life. There is no pain-free living. We do, however, have at least some control over how we suffer pain. To suffer means to carry, and we are in charge of our way of carrying pain. We learn ways of carrying pain, just like we learn so much else. Some ways we learn are efficient and some are inefficient and even make the pain worse. No, we can’t eliminate pain from our lives, but we can suffer or carry pain in a way that doesn’t create additional or unnecessary pain. Our challenge is to learn and develop efficient ways to suffer pain.
-David Doane
written and shared by David in Perrysburg, OH

PONDER

There have been a few periods in my life where I didn’t realize how attached I had become to physical and psychological pain, unintentionally creating a downward spiral of suffering that made things much worse. It isn’t that the pain wasn’t legitimate; it’s just that the pain triggered a large amount of suffering which then led to more pain. Without realizing it, I was lengthening these difficult chapters in my life and often keeping myself from joyful moments that are possible even when pain is present.

A few months ago, I was struggling with chronic pain that was really bothersome until I happened upon two activities that shifted my perspective and short circuited the pain-suffering loop. One activity I happened upon while googling, “pain management techniques;” it involved mentally scanning my body to notice all the places that I was not experiencing pain. It wasn’t about ignoring the pain, but instead putting it into context. Pain has an upside-it serves as a useful warning alarm for our bodies and your brains. The problem with pain is that it can overwhelm the system and make it seem like pain is the only thing going on at a given moment. Noticing all the places we are NOT in pain creates a more helpful perspective by reminding the system that pain is just one part of what is happening.

The other activity I stumbled upon quite by accident: I was stuck dealing with a string of nightly headaches and had been temporarily prohibited from taking the usual medication that reliably resolved the pain. I needed a distraction, so I took myself out to a nice dinner and on the way home remembered that the zoo near my house was hosting their holiday light show. I wasn’t sure whether the crowds and the cold and the blinking lights would make things better or worse, but I decided to experiment. It turned out to … Read More!

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