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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 #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 #1019: Loving Stillness.

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Ripples #1019: Loving Stillness.
Dec 3, 2018

PEBBLE
Being still does not mean don’t move. It means move in peace.
-E’yen A. Gardner, shared by Petra in Ft. Myers, FL

BOULDER
I am finding the antidote to overwhelm not by completing more or by doing less but by falling in love with stillness.
-Leah Pearlman, shared by Pidge in Pacifica, CA

PONDER
I’ve reached the end of a long and in certain ways difficult and in other ways delightful year: I’ve mostly recovered from a couple of health challenges; managed the process of selling my condo and transitioned to living with Jamie in our new house; I’ve wrapped up the last of my speaking engagements; and I’ve been touching base with the groups I’ll fire up early in 2019 so see if they need anything before the holidays.

And now: it is time for me to rest.

I’ve cleared my schedule, set up my vacation messages for email and voicemail, and picked out some books and puzzles and other activities to help me wind down. Most importantly, I’m going to make time for stillness. I’ve learned before that carving out this time at the end of the year allows me to reset my mind, body, and spirit.

Fear not, hardy ripplers: I have been working double time the last few weeks so I could queue an ample supply of weekly Ripples emails as well as the daily splashes that I post on social media (if you’re not familiar, you can enjoy these by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn).

I know this is a hectic time of year for various reasons. Still, I hope you can find at least a few moments stillness in the coming weeks!

Oh, and Happy Hanukkah!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1012: The Pleasant Present!

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Ripples #1012: The Pleasant Present!
Oct 15, 2018

PEBBLE
The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.
-Thich Nhat Hahn, shared by Cheryl in North Mankato, MN

BOULDER
Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).
-James Baraz, shared by Darren in Oregon, WI

PONDER

These weekly splashes come together in a variety of ways: sometimes there is something happening in the world that inspires me to focus on a certain theme; other times it is something unfolding in my personal life that guides the topic. There are also plenty of times that just scrolling through the pile of recent quote submissions reveals the right quotes for the week.

This week, well….nothing screamed or even whispered to me, even though there was plenty going on in the world and in my life. Even worse, I had depleted my “just in case” secret stash of pre-made Ripples. I was beginning to panic when I borrowed the trusty ritual I use before presentations: three deep breaths, thinking HERE on the inhale and NOW on the exhale. By the third breath I was feeling calmer.

I scooped up my laptop and walked to a nearby restaurant, determined to enjoy the walk and the meal as pleasant distractions. By the time my chili arrived, I was curious: could focusing on the present work as this week’s theme? I received the answer when the above two quotes quickly revealed themselves when I glanced at the same big pile of quotes I had already scoured several times.

Whether your life is currently pleasant or unpleasant, or even a quirky mix of both: do what you can to stay mindfully present as you savor the good and tolerate the difficult. It will all change soon enough, giving you a fresh landscape to practice your present-minded presence!

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #992: Be Where You Are!

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Ripples #992: Be Where You Are!
May 28, 2018

PEBBLE
If you’re going to be in the gym: BE IN THE GYM!
-RAS
shared by Belinda in Berkeley, CA, who saw this at the US Olympic Training Center

ANOTHER PEBBLE
Can we get to the place where there is no place to get to?
-Michael Stone
shared by PT in Miami Beach, FL

PONDER
I’m on holiday, and would like to keep this brief. If it’s okay with you, I’ll be where I am, and you be where you are. Let’s be okay with that for today. Tomorrow we can wake up and get back to the task of moving and going and growing.

Can you get there?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. For those of us here in the U.S., our Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff to summer. It’s grounded in an observance of those who died in service to their country; please consider taking some time to acknowledge their sacrifice.… 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 #962: Looking for the Wonders!

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Ripples #962: Looking for the Wonders!
Oct 30, 2017

PEBBLE
I am always looking, like a child, for the wonders I know I’m going to find–maybe not every time, but every once in awhile. -Richard Feynman, shared by David Markle (1932-2017) in Maumee, OH

BOULDER
I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world.
-John Burroughs, shared by Terri in Holderness, NH

PONDER
I’d like to dedicate this issue of Ripples to my boyfriend’s father, Dave Markle, a fierce reader/supporter of Ripples who passed away unexpectedly a few days ago. Even before I had the chance to meet him in person, Dave had subscribed to Ripples and joined our Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/TeamRipples/). Over the past few years, he repeatedly responded to our requests for quote submissions by sharing some excellent snippets of wisdom with me, including the pebble above. His legacy will ripple on in the lives of his family, students, and all of us who had the good fortune of crossing paths with him.

You can help us honor Dave’s life and passing by spending a bit of time looking for the Wonders. Wherever you’re headed this week, keep your eyes and your ears open for people and things that stir curiosity, delight, and/or awe. Savor them, thank them, and share them with others.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #956: Being Awake.

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Ripples #956: Being Awake.
Sept 18, 2017

PEBBLE
The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.
-Jon Kabat-Zinn, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
It’s interesting to think that no matter how far you are from yourself, no matter how exiled you feel from your contribution to the rest of the world or to society — that, as a human being, all you have to do is enumerate exactly the way you don’t feel at home in the world — to say exactly how you don’t belong — and the moment you’ve uttered the exact dimensionality of your exile, you’re already taking the path back to the way, back to the place you should be. You’re already on your way home.
-David Whyte, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

PONDER
Managing time and stress are two of the more popular topics I’m asked to present on at professional development conferences, so I make an effort to keep my eye out for research, articles, and blog posts that help me keep current. An increasing focus in both areas is the topic of mindfulness: being more fully present in the present moment, and being nonjudgmentally aware of what is going on within and around you as you move through your day.

While I’m a strong believer in the power of optimism, the goal of being fully awake isn’t about just noticing the good stuff. It’s about being able to identify the unpleasant aspects of life in a way that allows us to be more conscious of their impact and also empower ourselves to take actions to help improve our situation.

I came across an article recently that suggested happiness might be more effectively achieved not by denying our unhappy feelings, but instead acknowledging and allowing them: https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/youll-be-happier-if-you-let-yourself-feel-bad.html. I also came across good reads about emotional resilience and emotional diversity:
https://heleo.com/5-strategies-building-emotional-resilience/16209/
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/08/emotional-diversity-is-more-important-than-happiness.html?

The gist of these articles is that rather than ignoring or suppressing what we sometimes view as “negative” emotions, it is healthier and more productive to recognize them and notice how they are impacting you.

If there is anything bugging you right now, perhaps you can see it, describe it, and accept it just as it is, without judgment. Then wait just a bit to notice whether its negative impact might diminish or dissipate as you move through your day.

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!

Ripples #941: Aliveness of Life!

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Ripples #941: Aliveness of Life!
June 5, 2017

PEBBLE
Life is immediate and alive.
-Zuiko Redding, shared by Ryan in Cedar Rapids, IA

BOULDER
You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved Ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude. Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.
-Jeff Foster, shared by Lorene in North Royalton, OH

PONDER
I like to keep each issue of Ripples compact enough that it takes less than a minute to read. The awesome boulder Lorene found for us is meaty enough (and sacred enough) that I have just a few moments to make this request: do what you can this week to recognize and celebrate the aliveness of your life. Even if things are super duper tough, and even if you’re feeling more grumpy than grateful, hopefully you can notice at least a few thin slices of goodness worth savoring.

Do it for me, and do it for you too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #940: Sweetness of Friendship!

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Ripples #940: Sweetness of Friendship!
May 29, 2017

PEBBLE
In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
-Khalil Gibran, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
I have come to the realization that friends are the only true staple in life. More than food, they sustain us as we hike that trail of life, taking the road less traveled, and more than water they quench our thirst, our thirst for living, our thirst for life.
-written and shared by Amy in Waukesha, WI

PONDERMany of us here in the U.S. recognize Memorial Day Weekend* as our kick off to summer, a time when many of us get to spend more time with our friends (and family, colleagues, neighbors, classmates, etc). I thought this might be a good time to consider just how much these friendships add to our lives.

Whether it’s people that you’ve relied on consistently over many years, or newer connections that you’re still developing, spend some time this week savoring their presence in your life. If you’re feeling adventurous, choose a few people to reach out to and extend the ripples by letting them know just how sweet their friendship is for you.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. *I invite you to keep in mind that Memorial Day evolved as a way to remember people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Consider carving out a small chunk of your weekend to attend an official event, or perhaps even take a few moments at a party you’re attending to raise a glass to those who sacrificed.… Read More!

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