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Last week I read a news article about this video. It is a short, 90 second, impassioned plea from a father asking a large corporation for a simple favor. The video plea went viral and received over 1.5 million views in just one day.

 

 

In a USA Today article about the father’s (John Berlin) plea, Berlin said, “I touched the hearts of a lot of people. I wasn’t trying to do that, but I did … I just wanted to see a one-minute video.”

 

The one minute video he is referring to are those magnificent “Look Back” videos Facebook is creating based on a user’s posts over the past 10 years. If you are on Facebook and haven’t done yours yet, I highly recommend it. Berlin wanted to see what the video would look like for his son who passed away in 2012. As often happens when one is led by their heart, Mr. Berlin received his miracle and Facebook agreed to overlook its current policies and create a “Look Back” video from his son’s postings.

 

Then I thought about the amazing work Maggie Doyne is doing in Nepal. You can see her impact here – http://www.blinknow.org. I remember way back to when she was just starting her non-profit organization in 2006, when it was little more than a pang in her heart. Overwhelmed by the thousands of orphans she saw in Nepal due to a 10 year civil war, she said something to the effect, “I don’t know if I can help them all. I just want to help that one right there.” She was referring to a young 6 year-old girl named Hema who she had connected with on one of her first visits to the country.

 

These two beautiful moments, and the impact they have had on the world, demonstrate the perfect model for changing the world. Simply put . . . stop trying to change the world.

 
ripple3

If you really want to change the world, just focus on your passion. What calls most strongly to your heart? Focus on that. Focus on what you care about most, take one SMALL STEP toward that, and let the ripples that passionate and caring step creates do the rest. It will undoubtedly have an impact and will change the world around you.

 

So, what is it you care about most?

 

I can’t imagine a better time than Valentine’s Day to take your first step and send out that first ripple of love.

 

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

- Pablo Picasso

 

What good is a gift if you keep it beautifully wrapped, yet hidden in the back of a dark closet, never to be opened. A true gift is one that is shared with others, and when it is, it spreads joy to all those fortunate enough to share in it. Don’t keep the passions you hold deep in your heart from the rest of the world. That is your gift. That is what the rest of the world awaits for. And until you share it, neither you, nor the world will be complete.

This past fall I had a fascinating conversation with a friend while at the Farmer’s Market.  Among the many interesting topics we talked about, our conversation touched on the growing inequality in the United States and the SHOCKING distribution of wealth among its citizens.  This disparity was recently publicized by a video that went viral on YouTube. (You can view the video at the end of this post)

 

(Before you get your partisan knickers in a knot, to be clear, the point I want to make has nothing to do with privilege, politics, the right to make a living . . . let alone a fortune, or the opportunity this country affords anyone who wishes to set out on that path of wealth.   So keep reading if you want to mine the real gold here.)

 

dollars 2After pointing out the inequality, my friend and I started talking about what might drive such an imbalance.  I suggested that one reason might be the generally understood “game” in this country called, “The person with the most money, wins.”  We all seem to have unwittingly enlisted in this game to accumulate money and wealth over the course of our lives.

 

To this, my friend responded by saying something I found to be bold and beautiful.  She said,“Well, that is not the game I am playing. I am playing the game called ‘Be more kind.’”

 

She then shared with me that in looking at her life, she knew she was not always as kind as she could be and she was striving to be more kind to those around her.  She then followed this amazing statement with one equally as fantastic, saying, “I chose not to play the money game.  I could have played it.  I could have chosen to be a stockbroker when I got out of school in the go-go 1980′s when the focus in this country shifted to money, but I was too lazy and had no interest in that area.”

 

Wow!

 

Such a powerful and honest declaration required two important elements, both of which are key for anyone to possess happiness in life -

 

  1. Awareness (of who she is and what she wants).
  2. Personal responsibility (acknowledgment AND ownership of the choices she made in her life).

 

All of which leads to the BIG question YOU must answer in order to find that same happiness and fulfillment -

 

What game are you playing in your life?

 

If you can’t answer that question, then you will always chase the Ghost of Contentment . . . one you will surely never catch.

 

The only games worth playing are the ones that bring you happiness.
 

- R. Largman

 

2014 just started.   Do you know what game you are playing this year?

 

It may be the money game for you. If so, go for it. But it may not. Maybe you want to play the kindness game. Or the creativity game. Or the parenthood game. Or the peace of mind game. Or the grow my business game. Or the . . .

 

Don’t get caught up in someone else’s game if it is not the one you wish to play. If you want to play a different game, be sure to know and understand what YOUR game is. Choose it powerfully, commit to it, and play it FULL OUT!!

 

Doing so will ensure that happiness is just around the corner for you.

 
 

At the end of every year, I often experience a period of reflection. And when I think back on my life, I am happy to see a few brilliant moments.

 

  • My bicycle trip across the country with my friend Pat to raise money for kids with cancer. (www.fourdiamondsfund.org)
  • My extraordinarily mystical trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where I was honored to sweat with one of the elders involved in the last Native American uprising at Wounded Knee in 1973.
  • My 2 years of full-time volunteer environmental work where I introduced hundreds of students to the importance of preserving the natural world around us while influencing policy at the local, county, state and federal level.
  • The brief moments I shared with the radiant Maggie Doyne and her ever-inspirational organization, BlinkNow. (www.blinknow.org)

 

Each of these moments called to my heart. And after each one, I imagined . . . no . . . was inspired to do more.

 

  • Start an annual bike ride with college students to raise money for kids with cancer.
  • Become a leading environmentalist that would change the mindset of Americans and our wasteful ways.
  • Restore the pride, honor and lives of the Native people who had everything ripped from them by our forefathers.
  • Move to Nepal and spend a few years in service to Maggie as she established her organization.

 

Sadly, I did none of these, and yet I still think about them regularly.

 

Here’s the VITALLY IMPORTANT thing we NEED to know about inspiration.

 

Inspiration requires immediate attention.

 
inspiration

When that flash of brilliance hits you, don’t think about it. Don’t ponder it. Don’t percolate on it. Don’t strategize about it. Don’t try and develop a plan.

 

That is not what inspiration calls us to do.

 
 
 

Inspiration calls us to immediate action.

 

It comes from our intuition. A deep, internal knowing in our soul. It promises a life of excitement, joy, fulfillment and feeling fully alive! But it asks that we take immediate action . . . and to trust.

 

That is the hardest part. That is what kills countless dreams and possibilities. Our fear and inability to trust and make the leap.

 

This coming year, when inspiration hits you, no matter how big or small it is, whether it is about your life, your family, your business, a relationship, your community, your future, whatever – take that leap. Just close your eyes and leap.

 

I promise it will lead to an astonishing life you love . . . and it might just become your legacy!

 

First you jump off the cliff, then you build your wings on the way down.

 

- Ray Bradbury

 

Don’t ever question inspiration. As hard as it may be to believe, it is a message from the Universe guiding you. It is an answer or clue to something you have been pondering or wanting for a while. Sometimes we don’t see how that inspiration fits into our life, but without fail it does. The answer to “how” is only revealed in the future, and without a magic crystal ball, it is TRUST that will lead the way there.

 

The Almost Rule

Many years ago I had a summer job that required a lot of driving here in New Jersey.   One day I was stopped at an intersection when I witnessed two drivers almost get into an accident.   One was going straight through the intersection while the other was turning.   With the piercing screech of brakes, they stopped just inches from each other.

almost 4As you might imagine, tempers flared.   Both drivers got out of their cars and started screaming at each other as their arms waved wildly in the air in animated fury.

 

“What the hell are you doing! You almost hit me!” screamed one.

 

Not missing a beat, the other driver fired back, “I almost hit you? I have the right of way! You almost killed me!”

 

This mini street drama played out for several minutes as their anger rose and their need to be right increased.

 

Neither of them backed down, but eventually they got back into their cars, their faces flushed with rage, still yelling at each other as they drove away.   I can only imagine the stories they told to their wives that night when they sat down for dinner.

 

As I drove from the “accident” scene, I couldn’t stop thinking about what just happened.   I couldn’t understand their reactions and the way in which they chose to interact with each other.    I felt as if they missed one very important fact regarding what just unfolded — they ALMOST crashed into each other.   What they missed in this whole experience was that they DIDN’T crash into each other.

 

As I played the scene over and over again in my mind, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t get out of their cars, run toward each other and hug, exclaiming, “Oh my God!   You almost hit me!   That was so close!   Thank you so much for stopping just in time.   You saved my life!   We are so lucky!   Look, no damage to our cars and we’re safe!   And thank God we didn’t hurt anyone else.   Wow, what a great day!”

 

I am continually amazed by the number of people who get upset about things that ALMOST happened but DIDN’T.   This makes no sense to me.

 

I almost fell.  I almost missed the turn.  I almost missed my train/bus/airplane.  I almost . . .

 

In each of these situations, what should be present more than anything else is gratitude.   Gratitude for what did happen rather than anger, drama or being upset about what didn’t happen.   With just a moment of reflection, any of these incidences can be seen as a blessing for which to be grateful.

 

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.

- Jean Massieu

 

As the beautiful holiday of Thanksgiving approaches, perhaps we should all take a breath and appreciate our angels who prevented something from ALMOST happening in our lives.

 

All too often we choose, usually unconsciously, to get caught up in the drama of a situation.   More times than not this leads to nothing more than wasted energy and emotion in life.   And life is too short and precious to do that!

 

And if you’d like to take a look at some AMAZINGLY CLOSE calls and some people who are thanking their lucky stars and angels, take 2 minutes to watch this incredible video!!
 
 

My favorite hike in north Jersey is currently a trail through Hewitt State Forest. After winding through the woods for several miles it comes to a spectacular overlook perched hundreds of feet above Greenwood Lake. Just beyond the lake is a luscious backdrop of densely wooded rolling hills. And beyond that lies a view of the New York City skyline 25 miles away.

 
greenwood lake3

 
The first time I hiked this trail I had no idea where I was going or how far it was to the overlook. Being in this unknown space was uncomfortable and required more judgment than I might normally exercise on a trail I hiked regularly. Due to that fact, and the fact that I was running out of daylight, I did something I almost never do. I stopped before I reached my goal of the overlook.

 

Two weeks later, I was on the trail again. This time I was committed to making it to the overlook. After about 2 ½ hours, I reached my destination. As soon as saw the lake I stopped, sat down to rest, and ate my lunch as I watched boats zip about in the lake below and turkey vultures circle in the sky above. The view actually wasn’t that great, which had me wonder why people talked about it. Nonetheless, I finally reached my destination.

 

Or so I thought.

 

After I finished lunch and relaxed for a bit, I began my descent back to my car. Less than a ¼ mile further on the trail, I came upon a perfect, table-top, rock outcropping with the most spectacular view of the valley and lake lying below. If only I had known the Promised Land I searched for was just a few steps beyond where I stopped. This spot was clearly what everyone spoke about and its view far surpassed the spot where I originally stopped.

 

How often do we stop just before our promised land? How often do we let obstacles, or the opinions of others, or our own negative thinking stop us and get in the way of what we truly desire in life? How often do we not reach our goal because we simply didn’t take that extra step?

 

Sometimes we just need to go around that one last bend in the trail to reach our destination. Don’t ever hesitate to peek around the corner when searching for your Promised Land. It is usually worth it!

 

Brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

                                                            – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

 

one-more-step3All too often, when striving for a goal, we stop at the doorstep of success. It is a confounding human behavior, but many do it. All we simply need to do is take one more step and we will cross that threshold to success, yet we stop. . . dead in our tracks. Sometimes it is fear. Sometimes it is uncertainty of what lies ahead. And sometimes we simply doubt if we can do it.

 

Regardless of what it is, lift your leg one last time and take the step. As I say to many of my clients, unless that last step results in your death or the harming of others, it isn’t a mistake. Worse case scenario, it is simply something to learn from and, if need be, we can declare a “do over”.

 

If you have not seen Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, I highly recommend it. He exemplifies grace, playfulness, the human spirit and TREMENDOUS INSPIRATION when staring into the face of what is truly that final step in our life.

 

This video is a beautiful summary of his lecture. You can find the full lecture on You Tube.

 

 
 
Photo Credits: Marissa; Crazy Ivory

Every morning after I wake, I spend time doing some yoga and stretching. I usually do this in silence, but lately I have left my radio on. It is tuned to a sports radio station, which means that the silence is now filled with a constant noise about nothing that is truly important in life.
 

silence

After a few days of this, I have just one thing to say, “Oh my God! Will you shut up already?!!” That constant yammering is annoying. I can’t hear myself think. Or breathe. Or be.
 

As long as that radio is playing in the background, my mind, soul and brain is busy listening to the broadcast and thinking about what is being said. It blocks everything else out . . . which I think is the purpose. For some reason, I probably don’t want to be with my silence or hear what my thoughts are. In a nutshell, I am in avoidance, with a desire to be distracted.
 

As usual, this got me thinking. This is bigger than just listening to the radio in the morning. What else is playing in the background of my life’s soundtrack, distracting me from my more important thoughts and feelings?
 

In thinking further about this, I realize this is exactly what has occurred in most everyone’s life today. We have all become so busy and distracted that we can no longer hear the answers we yearn for that lie just below the surface noise. Smart phones, iPads, texts, emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, YouTube, TV, tweets and more have created a society of distraction leaving us little or no time to hear the answers we seek in life . . . let alone understand the questions we are truly asking.
 

What would happen if you allowed yourself to sit with silence for just one day? What do you think you would hear? What answers would you suddenly realize? What questions would you ask? What clarity would suddenly find you? What peace might you find in your life?
 

I am pretty sure these are all gifts that lie in silence . . . if only we had the courage and discipline to give silence a chance.
 

Yes, the world is rapidly moving toward a culture of distraction and disruption, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in what once was. Some may think this is resisting the inevitable future. I think of it more as holding on to the wisdom of the past.
 
In the silence, I rediscover who I am.

- J. Francis

 
I am continually amazed by the number of people who seek out others to tell them the answers they already know. We know so much more than we give ourselves credit for. I think the real problem is that we just don’t listen closely enough to what we know and feel in our hearts.
 

The challenge is that the answers we seek in life lie in silence, for that is the only place we can hear their whispers. Which leaves just one question –
 
Do you have the courage to unplug and listen?
 

Welcome to the Culture of Distraction. This video beautifully demonstrates how smartphones have intruded into our lives and taken us away from being present.
 

Most afternoons when the weather is nice, I will either go for a walk or a bike ride. One day in early April, after a few days of abnormally warm temperatures, a cold front was moving through the area.
 
 
storm 12By the end of my walk that day, the cold front was only about a ½ mile from my house. The sky was strikingly dark, with swirling greenish clouds mixed in for dramatic effect. I had never seen anything like it in all my years of weather-watching here in New Jersey, but it looked like the kind of sky people talk about before a tornado strikes. My thinking was proved right moments later by a neighbor from Texas (part of Tornado Alley) who confirmed that the sky does indeed look like this prior to a tornado.
 
 
The conditions were so threatening and foreign to me that I was a little concerned. I felt a pang of fear in my gut as I focused on the ever darkening skies approaching from the northwest that were filled with frequent flashes of lightning. I hurried my pace to get home before the storm hit.
 

As I walked up the last hill, I turned around and faced the southeast. There the skies were still bright, with patches of blue and white puffy clouds. Just looking in that direction calmed the nervousness and fear I felt in my gut and my whole body seemed to relax.
 

I still needed to get out of the impending storm, but the two drastically different views of the sky had me realize something much bigger about how we go through life.
 

What you focus on determines the reality of your day . . . and your life.

 

Do you focus on fear and the impending storm that might come your way, or do you focus on the bright skies that exist if you simply turn around and change your view? It is amazing how simply changing your focus can completely change the way life shows up for you.
 

If you go through life focusing on the storm, your life will more likely always be in turmoil. If you focus on the clear skies, you will more likely have a peaceful, lighter life.
 

So ask yourself, “What is your focus in life?” Do you like the circumstances that focus creates for you . . . or is it time to look in another direction and focus on brighter skies?
 

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.

- John Lubbock
 

The truth of the matter is that we get to decide what our life looks like and how it gets created. It is up to us and is our responsibility. Consciously or not, we choose what we focus on and create. Do you want that creation to be filled with the dark, swirling clouds of a storm, or do you want it to be filled with the bright light of the sun? The choice is yours .
 
 

And while you are bathing in the warm rays of the sun, why not listen to a fun, hopeful song from days gone by. At a minimum, ya just gotta dig this guy’s clothes! :-)

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