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Perspective

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!

Ripples #1024: Transforming Our Battles!

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Ripples #1024: Transforming Our Battles!
Jan 7, 2019

PEBBLE
We each walk our paths so we can learn and share those lessons with others.
-Cynthia Mazzaferro, shared by Sam in Des Moines, IA via Values.com

BOULDER
Your battles shouldn’t make other people’s battles less significant. They should make you more considerate.
-Tye Tribbett, shared by Norma in Orlando, FL normajaltidor@gmail.com

PONDER
Since our very first issue back in 1999, we’ve benefited greatly from the steady stream of quotes that people share with us. Recently, I’ve enjoyed asking follow up questions about some of the submissions to learn more about where they were found what stood out about them.

Norma (who submitted today’s Boulder) shared with me how earlier this fall she had moved to Orlando to start a doctoral program and was initially overwhelmed. Attending church that Sunday, she was significantly moved when the pastor opened his sermon with the words she shared above. “The message resonated strongly,” she shared when I contacted her for more information. “I had moved here without a job or a place to live and was worried about everything – food, paying my bills, finding a job – while trying not to let the solitude of living out of hotel rooms consume me.”

Norma went on to to say that Tribbett’s sermon caused an instant shift in her attitude and perspective: “It was a gentle reminder that we are not all called to be the same, do the same, or experience the same things in life. We’re called to live in community with others. What I’m going through is necessary for the person I’m becoming, and it isn’t fair of me to measure up and/or minimize other people’s battles. Since that day, I have been more positive and the pieces have been gradually falling into place: I now have both a job and an apartment. More important for me, though, is the fact that I’ve become more conscious of how I’m checking in, supporting, and loving on the people around me. Even if I don’t know what all they are juggling, I can still be there for them.”

I’m embracing Pastor Tribbett’s wisdom and Norma’s story as invitations to transform the battles I’m dealing with (the large ones AND the teensy ones) into opportunities to extend my compassion and my humility. It will help me, and it will help others, too. How cool is that?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1023: Radical Amazement!

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Ripples #1023: Radical Amazement!
Dec 31, 2018

PEBBLE
Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to you.
-original source unknown, shared by Tammy in Dallas, TX

BOULDER
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, shared by Paul in Parkville, MD

PONDER

Radical Amazement?!
What a phrase…so delicious, so daring, so delightful!

It reminds me of a YouTube video that I sometimes show in presentation about the Power of Awe. In just under three minutes, Jason Silva delivers a passionate mini-sermon, extolling the virtues of “radiant ecstasy” and the dangers of hedonic adaptation, a pesky habit we humans have of growing bored with things that initially amaze us.

The message of the video and today’s quotes is to encourage our conscious cultivation of radical amazement. Not just to see and feel the WOW that is all around us, but to BE THE WOW for ourselves and those we encounter.

As we wrap up the last few hours of 2018 and dive into the new year, I’m curious if you can unleash some radical amazement while savoring memories of the last 12 months and daydreaming about what you want 2019 to look like and feel like and be like.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. I hope the year that is ending has provided plenty of laughter and also some learning. And I hope the year that is about to arrive will delight you and dare you. As long as you’re still in, I’ll continue to meet up with you every Monday morning with a couple of quotes and something to ponder for the week. You can help by keeping an eye out for exceptional quotes to share, and submit a quote here when you find one!… Read More!

Ripples #1020: Stretching Toward Bigness!

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Ripples #1020: Stretching Toward Bigness!
Dec 10, 2018

PEBBLE
You need your enemy. They hold the keys, or at least half of them, to peace.
-Matt Whitman, shared by Jacob at Cal Poly SLO

BOULDER
You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.
-Cheryl Strayed, shared by Petra in Ft. Meyers, FL

PONDER
I’ll admit that one of the most challenging aspects of the otherwise joyous process of coordinating these weekly splashes of inspiration is addressing current issues in a way that our incredibly diverse readership can hear. I’m proud of the fact that our ripplers include people from a wide spectrum of political, religious, and ideological viewpoints; I want Ripples to be a place where we can all meet up for 60 seconds every Monday and ponder something positive that we can agree on. I’ve learned the hard way that it sometimes gets a bit tricky to talk about certain issues.

When I first read the “You need your enemy” quote that Jacob sent in, it immediately resonated with me personally and yet I was nervous it might make some readers bristle. I was curious enough to reach out to Jacob and ask him why he liked it. His response was powerful for me, and I’m glad he agreed to let me share his additional thoughts here:

Jacob wrote, “I heard the quote while listening to a podcast and it struck me for two reasons. The first relates to the current political turmoil in the US: we tend to portray political ideologies that differ from ours as the enemy, the cause of evil, and we often seek to defeat them and/or suppress them. Matt’s wisdom offers an alternative approach: if the people we view as enemies are part of the problem, then they also need to be a part of the solution. There is no hope of achieving any sort of peace unless both sides are willing to work towards compromise, peaceful resolution, and in this case political stability.”

Jacob went on to share another, more personal reason for sharing the quote: “I have been struggling with stress and time commitments in my life recently. In the past, I have attributed this stress to factors beyond my control, putting myself at its mercy, making it my enemy. This quote helped me to realize that part of the way to address these stresses in my life is to embrace them; owning them puts me in the driver’s seat. This approach allows me to more clearly see the best way to productively deal with the cause of the stress and its negative effects in my life. When I experience stress, I am fighting an internal struggle, and to make things better (as I am sure we all want to do), I need to realize that the way to do that is to address stress head-on.”

I’m eagerly accepting Jacob’s invitation … Read More!

Ripples #986: Falling Into Place!

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Ripples #986: Falling Into Place!
April 16, 2018

PEBBLE
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.
-Eckhart Tolle
shared by Toby in Chicago, IL

BOULDER
Life is like a giant puzzle. Each of us has a picture in our mind of how our life will turn out. We keep adding pieces, one at a time, attempting to create that beautiful picture… We never get all the pieces in the right place on the first try. It’s about experimenting until each piece fits together with the next. Each of us has the strength to put the puzzle together. We just have to look for the right pieces. It may seem impossible, but keep striving. Life’s pieces have a way of falling into place when you least expect it.
-Renee M. Brtalik, shared by Adam Z

PONDER

So…what are the puzzle pieces you’re dealing with right now? Hopefully, there are enough fun pieces to boost your happiness and enough challenging pieces to keep you growing. If your life is anything like mine, it includes some lovely pieces of good stuff; a handful of difficult pieces that are troublesome-yet-manageable; and a few that at times seem too frustrating to be worth including in your life’s puzzle.

The thing is, some of the more difficult pieces turn out to be the most precious. I’ve learned from assembling jigsaw puzzles as a hobby over the last few decades that I’m far more pleased and proud when I finally finish the really difficult ones than I am when I zip through one of the easier ones. I appreciate them more, and I value them more. (That doesn’t mean I never do the easy ones, by the way. We all need a guaranteed win sometimes!)

If you are handling some particularly difficult pieces in a really complicated life-puzzle right now,I encourage you to pause long enough to catch your breath and hopefully regain a sense of perspective. (Ask. For. Help.)

If, on the other hand, things are going fairly smoothly at this time in your life, perhaps you can make an extra effort to help someone nearby who is struggling with their puzzle. It may make all the difference in the world to them, and it just might add a few cool pieces to your own puzzle.

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

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