Friday, April 28, 2017

Shaquille O’Neal’s Mom Talks Boys & Girls Clubs


Fundraising Event for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.
Editor's Note: We have excerpted parts of a story in a recent edition of the Ventura County Star:

She may be the mother of one of the greatest athletes of all time, but Lucille O’Neal is much more than Shaquille O’Neal’s mom.

“She’s endured poverty, rejection, abuse, addiction and the illness of a child – yet today her faith and passion for others is stronger than ever,” Andrew Firestone said Thursday as he introduced Lucille O’Neal, the keynote speaker at the 15th Annual Great Futures for Kids Breakfast presented by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

Thursday’s event was part of the club’s 2017 campaign goal to raise $100,000 for programs that serve 10,400 children and their families in Oxnard.

... Growing up in the 1960s in New Jersey, she remembers racial tension in her neighborhood. But not at the Boys Clubs of Newark, where all the children were taught to respect and get along with one another.

... After spending decades raising her two sons and two daughters, she went back to school at the Adult Education Program at Bethune-Cookman University, where she graduated cum laude in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Two years later, she completed her master's in organizational management at the University of Phoenix.

“My oldest son that got that good job…he paid for my education because it was a dream I had,” O’Neal said. “He said, ‘I’ll send you – but as long as you keep your grades up.’”

Today, the mother and son continue to support the Boys & Girls Club as their way of giving back. Just like his mom, Shaquille O’Neal credits the club in Newark for making a positive difference in his life when he was growing up.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mothers Campaign for Newborn Baby Supplies




Parents at Rio Grande School in Santa Fe are campaigning for donations of baby supplies as noted from their most recent newsletter:

"Many Mothers has joined with Children Youth Families Division to provide Joy's Baby Boxes. Baby boxes are now available for families living under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level in Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Rio Arriba Counties.

"Baby Boxes are a safe place for babies (up to about 15 pounds) to sleep and are easy to move from room to room so your little one is always sleeping close by. In addition to the baby box, parents are provided basic supplies and information on safe sleep."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tips on How to Conquer Fear


FEAR! Nothing stops the brain like fear. We see it implemented in political campaigns. Plus we harbor an assortment of fears from cracks in the sidewalk to monsters under the bed, and worse.  The Greater Good in Action website has posted ways and means of dealing with these fears. The Daily Prism has sampled the page. Follow this link for the complete post: Overcoming Fear


Some types of fear—like the fear that stops you from running into a busy street—are useful and necessary. But other types of fear are less rational and more likely to hold you back in life. Fear of public speaking, fear of flying, fear of heights—these are some of the more common ones.

To cope, you may avoid the situations that elicit these fears, or you may try, often unsuccessfully, to counter your fear with reason—for example, by reminding yourself of the very low likelihood of a plane crash.

Research suggests that a more effective way to combat fear is to do the thing you least want to do—face your fear head on—but do it one step at a time, in a healthy and safe way. This strategy can help retrain your brain to develop a more positive association with whatever has been triggering your fear. Confronting your fears head-on can also increase your self-confidence and show yourself that you’re capable of doing what might once have seemed impossible. Whereas acting based on fear limits you, facing your fears can be liberating and transformative.


HOW TO DO IT
Note: The following guidelines are geared toward addressing mild, everyday fears. Fears related to serious mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder should be addressed with the help of a mental health professional.

Sometimes one or two scary experiences can cause us to fear things that we don’t rationally need to fear; some fears aren’t based on first-hand experience at all. Either way, overcoming these fears often requires that we develop a more positive—or at least less negative—association with the thing that we fear. Here’s how:

Start with small doses. The first step is to expose yourself to small doses of the fear-inducing activity in a safe context. For example, if public speaking makes you nervous, you could start by seeking out a low-pressure speaking opportunity with a small, supportive audience, in a setting where you don’t have to worry about being perfectly articulate—perhaps giving a toast at a friend’s birthday party. Or if you’d like to learn to rock climb but are afraid of heights, you could start by spending time observing and assisting other climbers.

Repeat the activity until you start to feel the fear dissipate. Over time, repeated exposure to a safe, non-harmful version of whatever made you afraid can reduce the negative association and replace it with a neutral or positive association. For example, repeatedly seeing other people climb without falling may begin to overwrite your negative association with heights. And the more you fly and land safely, the less dangerous flying is likely to feel.

Gradually increase the challenge. After you begin to feel more comfortable with small doses, try taking it up a notch. For example, you could go from watching others climb to climbing a short distance yourself. Or you could volunteer to present the results of a team project to co-workers or fellow students. From here, you can continue to incrementally ratchet up the challenge until you reach your goal, whether that’s to scale Mt. Everest, give a talk in front of hundreds of people, or fly to a new continent.

Your fear may never be fully extinguished, but hopefully it will hold less power over you and not prevent you from achieving important goals and enjoying your life. In the words of Mark Twain, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Imprisoned Charity Worker Released




The Washington Post recently reported:  An Egyptian American charity worker who was imprisoned in Cairo for three years and became the global face of Egypt’s brutal crackdown on civil society returned home to the United States late Thursday after the Trump administration quietly negotiated her release.

President Trump and his aides worked for several weeks with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to secure the freedom of Aya Hijazi, 30, a U.S. citizen, as well as her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, who is Egyptian, and four other humanitarian workers. Trump dispatched a U.S. government aircraft to Cairo to bring Hijazi and her family to Washington.

Read the complete report here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/freed-egyptian-american-prisoner-returns-home-following-trump-intervention/2017/04/20/d569fe1e-2608-11e7-bb9d-8cd6118e1409_story.html?elq=aba7b135a4e74efa99ba5d51ad11a47e&elqCampaignId=5647&elqTrackId=cd49f30d4bfb4dcb8374094edfa83d7e&elqaid=13615&elqat=1&utm_term=.cc819458ce26

Monday, April 24, 2017

Environmental Prize Winners Stood Against the Odds




The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

The Prize Recipients
Goldman Prize recipients focus on protecting endangered ecosystems and species, combating destructive development projects, promoting sustainability, influencing environmental policies and striving for environmental justice. Prize recipients are often women and men from isolated villages or inner cities who choose to take great personal risks to safeguard the environment.


Congratulations to the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners!

Mark Lopez, United States: Born and raised in a family of community activists, mark! Lopez persuaded the state of California to provide comprehensive lead testing and cleanup of East Los Angeles homes contaminated by a battery smelter that had polluted the community for over three decades.

UroŇ° Macerl, Slovenia: UroŇ° Macerl, an organic farmer from Slovenia, successfully stopped a cement kiln from co-incinerating petcoke with hazardous industrial waste by rallying legal support from fellow Eko Krog activists and leveraging his status as the only citizen allowed to challenge the plant’s permits.

Prafulla Samantara, India: An iconic leader of social justice movements in India, Prafulla Samantara led a historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.

Wendy Bowman, Australia: In the midst of an onslaught of coal development in Australia, octogenarian Wendy Bowman stopped a powerful multinational mining company from taking her family farm and protected her community in Hunter Valley from further pollution and environmental destruction.

Rodrigo Tot, Guatemala: An indigenous leader in Guatemala’s Agua Caliente, Rodrigo Tot led his community to a landmark court decision that ordered the government to issue land titles to the Q’eqchi people and kept environmentally destructive nickel mining from expanding into his community.

Rodrigue Katembo, Democratic Republic of Congo: Putting his life on the line, Rodrigue Katembo went undercover to document and release information about bribery and corruption in the quest to drill for oil in Virunga National Park, resulting in public outrage that forced the company to withdraw from the project.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Contemplation for Earth Day



Today's Daily Prism, in honor of Earth Day, features a contemplation from a work in progress, "Connection: A Book of 48 Natural Contemplations."

Interconnectedness

“The ocean is impossibly complicated, interconnected, turbulent and nonlinear and it touches every part of life. … Every third molecule of carbon dioxide you exhale is absorbed into the ocean. Every second breath you take comes from the oxygen produced by plankton,” writes Alanna Mitchell in "Seasick: Ocean Changes and the Extinction of Life on Earth"

Take coral reefs as an example. Sometimes referred to as the rainforests of the sea, coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. Coral, a live animal, is complicated, fragile, and sensitive to changes in the sea. 

“Coral reefs are the largest structures of biological origin on Earth, and rival old-growth forests in the longevity of their ecological communities,” explains experts at NOAA.  A coral reef can be compared to a metropolitan city of interdependent species.

Thanks to this symbiosis of the sea, coral benefits humankind by not only producing some of the oxygen that we breathe, but by protecting our shorelines from storm surges, food production, tourism and even medicine.


The contemplation
I wish to understand the puzzle of life from the sea. I wish to understand the puzzle of my own complicated, interconnected, turbulent and nonlinear life. 

As I breathe in the oxygen from the sea that fuels my body, I will exhale the negative from my heart.

Each breath will be like every drop of water that becomes the sea — a vast pool of life worth living. The interconnectedness of water, air and life will help me solve the puzzle.

Enjoy this 2 minute seaside meditation moment






Friday, April 21, 2017

Free E-Book with Earth Day Sensibility




Sometimes it seems as if there is a clear effort by others to discount and revile all that is good on Planet Earth. It can overwhelm one's sensitivity -- until we're reminded of those who diligently work to correct a negative course.  EarthGratitude.org offers a free e-book with uplifting ways toward clean living that benefits the human and the planet. Click this link for the free mini-e-book: Earth Gratitude







Thursday, April 20, 2017

7 Steps to "Steady Ground"


C. Coimbra photo

These 7 steps to finding steady ground come from Finding Steady Ground.  The webpage writes:  To be in shape for the long haul, we have to get our minds and spirits ready, as well as jump into action.

When we’re in bad shape, our power is diminished — we’re less creative, more reactive, and less able to plan strategically. If we intend to stay active and effective in the world, we have a responsibility to tend to our spirits.

Here are 7 behaviors we can use right away to strengthen ourselves, so we can keep taking more and more powerful and strategic actions.

Every day
1. I will make a conscious decision about when and where I'll get news — and what I'll do afterwards.

What you choose to pay attention to during the day has an impact on you. Which news sources help you understand the world more fully, and which ones only leave you fearful and despairing? After getting your news, what works for you: moving your body, talking with friends, hopping onto social media? Make it conscious — and if it doesn’t work, don’t keep doing it. Read More…

Once a week
2. I will get together with some people face-to-face to support each other and make sure we stay in motion.

The goal is accountability, so that we don’t freeze up in the face of overload or despair. Check in to share and reflect on how you are staying in motion (like writing letters, volunteering, creating resistance art, preparing direct action campaigns). This may be in formal settings such as meetings or facilitated spaces, or informal spaces such as cafes, over dinner tables, or at the gym. Read More…

3. I will pray, meditate, or reflect on those I know who are being impacted by oppressive policies, and extend that love to all who may be suffering.

Learn to cultivate love. One starting point may be holding compassionate space for your own pain or the pain of those close to you who are being impacted by the policies and politics of the time. In that reflective space you can give yourself space to be, feel loss, grief, anger, frustration, helplessness, and conviction. Then hold your love and extend it beyond, to others you may not know who are also suffering. And lastly, take time to notice that this is not all of your reality: you also may have joys with your folk around you, be surrounded by beautiful music or nature, and take delight in creation. Joy in the face of hard times is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

4. I will read, listen to, or share a story about how others have resisted injustice.

Millions have faced repression and injustices and we all can learn from them. Stories may be from ancestors, contemporaries in this country, or lessons from those around the globe who have faced more severe and repressive governments. The goal is to become a student of history so that you can take inspiration and deepen your understanding of how to struggle and thrive. Read More…

5. I will be aware of myself as one who creates.


The goal of injustice is to breed passivity — to make us believe that things happen to us, events happen to us, policies happen to us. To counteract this, we need to stay in touch with our sense of personal power. One goal is to see ourselves as people who create, whether it’s cooking a meal, organizing a dazzling dramatic action, knitting a hat, making a sign, or playing the piano. We are more than consumers, and our humanity must be affirmed.

6. I will take a conscious break from social media.

Instead, fill the time with intentional and direct human interaction. You could take a full day a week away from social media as a healthy minimum, but you decide what is right for you. Read More…

7. I will commit to sharing with others what’s helping me.




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

3 Inspirational Films



Public Doman photo by Cristie Guevara



I don't know about you, but I'm done with all the less-than inspiring leaders who appear to have a single interest--them! I did a bit of research about positive persons who are true leaders without all the window dressing. I'm posting a few movie trailers of purchasable movies about such people here. You can visit YouTube or other sights to view the films in their entirety. Let's get inspired and leave anger and frustration behind. Inspiration is energizing.







Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Find Common Ground During Debate (4)



Our fourth and final post with excerpted ideas to bringing about a healthy debate, originally posted by the Chopra Center, 4 Tips to Have a Healthy Debate,  is the most obvious, find common ground. Common ground is basic and includes joy, health, and comfort.


Find Common Ground
Many debates, arguments, and protests all come from a good place. Although you may have your own ideas of how to achieve particular goals, these are basic human wants:


  • Safety.
  • Reliable work with fair pay.
  • Clean food and water.
  • Nice environment to raise children.
  • Health care for everyone, young and old.
  • Freedom to live how you desire.

When any group or person feels the above list is threatened, they become upset, depressed, angry, and often blame others. The 'others' that are blamed will more than likely be those of another group or race that they do not understand. Again, this is where the research and questions come into play. You cannot make another person research or even have desire to learn but you can ask questions that make them think while partaking in conversation.

Finding common ground can be found if you practice patience and love. We are here to work together, build each other up, and detach from the programming that has been placed upon us since birth. Whenever you find yourself in any debate, remind yourself of the labels you were given before you even take your first breath: your country, your sexual preferences, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the religion you follow, your name—so many labels that you know as pure truth until you begin to adventure through life.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Research the Truth for a Healthy Debate (3)



The third post in The Daily Prism 4-part sharing of a Chopra Center article, 4 Tips to Having a Healthy Debate,  discusses knowing the truth and facts of your point of view. Becoming mindful of your information's source is extremely important to a healthy debate. You can bet that information from a highly charged one-sided political, ideological, or "news" website, will exclude facts and references that may well be germane to the discussion. For healthy debate with those who see an issue from another point of view, research is the key to a civil and mutually-satisfactory debate.


Research

People tend to be more emotional during the current state of humanity. This is wonderful, but also dangerous. You live in a tech age with information firing at you like a rocket full of confetti. Grabbing one piece and calling it truth or getting upset is not helpful to either side.

When it comes to your stance on any topic, I highly suggest learning as much as possible. Yes, this means you sometimes have to read or watch your counterpart’s favorite shows. For example, in sports one team watches the rival team’s previous games. Countless hours are spent playing back how they move, talk, run, communicate, etc. Anything you intend to change or achieve in life is the same. Here are some tips:


  • Go back into the history of the topic.
  • Ask older generations their perspectives as well as small children. How do humans see differently now vs. then?
  • Ask the tough questions to verify how much the other and yourself believe what is being said and how much is from the fear of being authentic. Authenticity can be a scary place when you are the only one in a particular environment who is on the opposite opinion.
  • What evolution has been made on the situation? Has the other side contributed in a positive way?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Healthy Debate, Ask About Past, Present & Future (2)



Continuing a series on healthy debate as posted by the Chopra Center. The author of the original post, 4 Tips to a Healthy Debate, noted:  Humans continue to evolve, creating a deeper intuition and increased resistance against falsehoods. Generations prior to those alive today chose to be silent more often and stay in their safe zones by not letting neighbors know that they think differently or not talking about sex so that people won't know you engage in it.

Past, Present & Future

You have a past that has molded, programmed, and sculpted you into who you are today. You can only understand as far as your consciousness has been expanded. No, you are not “better” than another person if you have wider expansion—you are just different. Each of us has our moment in time when we are meant to evolve. Taking this into account, be that expansion for each other. Go deeper than the surface with your questions or thoughts.


  • What from our past molded us to these beliefs or opinions? How were our pasts different?
  • Where are we at currently in our separate lives? Do our lives parallel in certain areas?
  • What do we each desire for our future, the future of our planet, and our children?


Friday, April 14, 2017

A Healthy Debate Begins with Passion (1)




One of the most popular posts on The Daily Prism is 7 Steps Toward Thoughtful Speech.  Elaborating on that theme, today will begin an excerpted four-day series recently posted by the Chopra Center on 4 Tips to Have a Healthy Debate.    The complete article begins:  

"... there seems to be a lot more public debates than ever before. From the way our society should be ran or what is morally correct, to how and if politicians are serving our communities, there are more controversial topics than most of us can keep up with.

"Why do you see and hear more open debates now vs. previous years? Obviously, the number one answer is social media. You can now debate all day with people all over the world"

Debate is healthy, and can be a source of new information for one or both of those in the debate. But how do we keep the debate healthy? It is the hope of The Daily Prism that each of the following days will help each of us become better communicators.


Passion
Typically, a debate begins behind some sort of passion. Two people have a large amount of energy and emotion fueling their words. Passion is a powerful force for accomplishing goals in life, but it can also block your window of understanding. If you only look through one side of a window, you only see one view. Take a moment to change your view with the following actions:


  • Ask as many questions as you can about the other person’s feelings and passion behind the topic. What fuels passion the most on each side of the debate?
  • Read the books, articles, and newspapers this person would be interested in.
  • Travel to the areas where the people on the other podium live.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Combatting Hunger in Alexandria, Virginia

C. Coimbra Photo

Across America, 48.8 million live in households that face hunger on a regular basis – 13 million of those people are children. Food insecurity can have a significant impact on the health and general well-being of the families affected by it – especially children, as limited access to nutritional food can stunt growth and critical brain development. Community organizations everywhere are taking action to find solutions to this public health crisis – Volunteer Alexandria, a Points of Light affiliate, is one of these organizations.

A 2014 report conducted by the Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network revealed that of the more than 139,000 residents of Alexandria, Virginia, 8.6 percent live below the poverty line. Of those residents, more than 13 percent are below the age of 18. To combat this, the Hunger Free Alexandria Coalition was formed and Volunteer Alexandria, an active member, is putting volunteers at the center of the solution.

“We believe, first of all, that we are better together,” said Marion Brunken, executive director of Volunteer Alexandria. ”We like to make connections that make sense to the community and to the group or individual seeking to get involved. In regards to the hunger issue, we support the fight against hunger by connecting people.”

The organization, positioning itself as the conduit for impassioned volunteers to connect with opportunities to address pressing causes in the Alexandria community, is doing this in a variety of ways.

--Excerpted from Points of Light, "Fighting Hunger by Connecting Do-Gooders with People in Need.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Global Compassionate Efforts Towards Women & Children

C. Coimbra photo


The Charter for Compassion Women and Girls Global Task Force and Ambassadors, suggest the following steps to help bring about compassionate action to help and serve those women and girls facing atrocities:

We recognize that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by all such conditions. We also agree that when women and girls are protected and empowered, all conditions will improve. We stand on the side of love and fierce compassion, committed to protecting and empowering women and girls and advancing solutions for all in need.

As the women of the Charter for Compassion, we request all to remember and hold dear the words of the Charter for Compassion, and know that now is the time to be the compassion we must  see in the world to achieve our goals.

We ask all to join us in upholding the vision where compassion is the driving force of all decision and policy making. We ask that you join us in our compassionate solutions of not only empowering women and girls in political literacy and  ending violence against women and girls, but also in programs that provide tools and models through the Reaction to Response and other campaigns for a world that embodies peace and harmony for all. Please join us as we live the values of the Charter for Compassion and co-create compassionate solutions within your social circles as well as within your local government and community organizations.

As Women and Girls of the Charter for Compassion we stand in our responsibility to work tirelessly to accomplish our vision of a world in which all girls and women reach their fullest potential for global transformation, holding compassion as our driving force, resulting in a compassionate and harmonious world that works for all.

Think Globally, Act Locally

Become Politically Literate In the United States, many organizations provide training to become educated and trained on anywhere from the basics of public policy to how to run for local, state, or national level government. Two are listed below, yet we are most interested in knowing what other such organizations exist around the world. Please contact us at WomenandGirls@CharterforCompassion.org

(The Charter for Compassion Int'l does not endorse any candidate or any party affiliation)

Emerge America http://www.emergeamerica.org/   Emily's List  http://www.emilyslist.org/

Advocate to End Violence Against Women, City by City

CEDAW, a UN Treaty that was signed and ratified by most all UN member states except Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Tonga and the United States. Cities for CEDAW (The Convention on Elimination against all forms of Discrimination and violence Against Women) is a US based initiative. What measures are you taking to insure CEDAW is upheld in your country, or if you are in the US, check out what cities are active in your state.  www.CitiesforCEDAW.org

This reference guide highlights key international human rights provisions found in CEDAW that are relevant to women’s nationality rights and individuals affected by gender discrimination in nationality laws, including stateless persons. It is addressed to all stakeholders who may wish to use this international human rights instrument to advance gender equal nationality rights and improve the enjoyment of human rights by affected persons.
http://equalnationalityrights.org/reports/document/1229-cedaw-nationality-laws-guide

Are you a City of Compassion organizer and want to include CEDAW in your campaign? Contact us. WomenandGirls@CharterforCompassion.org

Compassion in Action

Water is Life Earth Week Compassion Games Join the Team Women and Girls and express your compassion outloud in the upcoming Earth Week coopetition with the Compassion Games!  Make sure to name Compassionate Women and Girls as your Team name!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Inspirational Videos About Volunteers Who Made a Difference



One seed of beauty makes a difference, as does the seed of volunteerism. C. Coimbra photo


The power of one person doing one good thing is as magic as wildflower seeds that bring beautiful blossoms of people making life better for themselves, their neighbors, and the planet. This collection of videos is a joy to watch and inspirational.








Monday, April 10, 2017

Forgiveness -- 7 Steps to Emotional Freedom




Forgiveness is very desirable. For those who receive it, the burden of guilt is lifted. For those who give it, resentment and anger can be released, clearing the slate in a relationship and making room for peace.

Despite this, in everyday life forgiveness is not easy to achieve. Let’s see if there is a way to offer genuine forgiveness, especially to those closest to you, because ironically, they are the ones you should forgive first and yet they are often the hardest to deal with.

Key Steps to Forgiveness
Here are the key steps involved:


  • Feel your emotions and face them directly.
  • Write down your reasons for not forgiving someone.
  • Ask yourself how motivated you are to offer forgiveness.
  • Let go of as much resentment and anger as you can, here and now.
  • Envision what the future would be like if you do forgive the other person.
  • Reconnect at a sincere positive level.
  • Find the place of forgiveness in your own awareness.
  • Each of these steps clears up a specific obstacle to forgiveness that may be inside you. Let’s see how this works, step by step.
To read this entire piece on forgiveness from the Chopra Center, click this link: The 7 Steps of Forgiveness

Monday, April 3, 2017

Connecting



The Daily Prism will rest for a few days while the editor works on her book project.  Daily updates of the good news and ways one might become a better person very soon!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Saving Sea Turtles



STF anti-poaching patrol leaders Bernardo Rosales Ordoneez and William Zuniga Aguilar taking data from a clutch of Eastern Pacific Green Turtle eggs before trans locating them to a safe spot. These men have been patrolling now for 6 months straight on Punta Pargos this season -- tirelessly going out every night ( one night off per week) to protect the nesting of our critically endangered turtles. They love their work, and the turtles love their work. THANK-YOU EVERYONE who has supported our patrol team this season, the turtles need us.   --(From a Facebook post.)

----
Sea Turtles Forever (STF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the conservation of marine turtles and the protection of their nesting and foraging habitats. Since 2002, STF has led conservation operations in Punta Pargos, a small coastal town in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica known for its sea turtle nesting beaches (and great surf). By hiring the local residents of Punta Pargos to patrol nesting beaches at night, STF creates jobs in the rural community and educates locals about sea turtle conservation. Together, STF and the Punta Pargos community are able to safely conserve and hatch over 11,000 baby sea turtles every year.

With the rise in global plastic production and the inadequate plastic recycling infrastructure in many parts of the world, many sea turtle nesting beaches have fallen victim to marine plastic debris landfall. Microplastics (small pieces of eroded plastic) are the most toxic of all, absorbing high concentrations of PCBs and other harmful chemicals from the ocean. In response, STF’s Microplastic Removal Team has developed a static charge filtration screen technology to easily remove microplastic debris from sand. With your support, STF is leading a global initiative to clean up beaches worldwide. 

Our mantra, “More Turtles. Less Plastic.,” is a vision we believe will lead to a healthier ecosystem for all marine life. Join us in our effort to revitalize the planet.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Volunteers Save Senior Citizen's Home from Collapse

Storm driven creek during one of California's recent rains

Editor's Note: California's creeks and rivers have taken their toll over the winter. This story featured on local news, KSBY, is about a home on a creek that was deemed unsafe because of damage by the creek it is near. Click the above link for the video.

Creek erosion forced a man and woman from their Atascadero home in February. Now that home, once red-tagged and deemed unfit to live in, has been saved by the Atascadero community.

Seventy-year-old John Shaydak and 86-year old Erna Shaydak have lived in their house on Ensenada Avenue since the 1970s.

Heavy storms this winter caused erosion, putting the home at risk of falling into the creek behind it, but volunteer contractors and numerous other Atascadero residents have been working hard for nearly two months to save it.

"When this hillside first came down, it had undercut the concrete here at the shed and it dropped down 75-feet to the water. This was all gone, every bit of it," described John Shaydak.

Members of the community pulled together to fix the hillside, digging, pumping, and working for free. The volunteers chalk it up to being good neighbors.

"Why'd we do it for free? Because it's the right thing to do," said Leonard Sutherland, Vice President of Michael Frederick Paving Corp.

The Shaydak's have been living in a motel for nearly two months. On Monday, the house was deemed safe.

"Last night, we sat and watched the sun go down realizing we got our home back," Shaydak said tearing up with joy.

"We've got a lot of people who donated, a lot of help from other construction companies. Over 20 people, various companies stepped up to the plate asking what can we do, what can we do?" said Sutherland.

"I got these cards here so I wouldn't forget anybody," said Shaydak as he tried to thank everyone who had done so much for him.

The list of helping hands goes on and on.

"They treated us like we were family. The people of Atascadero are fantastic," said Shaydak.

The Shaydaks hope to move in early next week once the home has been cleaned out.

There are a few minor projects still to be finished up in the next week, such as fixing the fence around the property.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

5 Ways to Exclude Racial Bias in Kids




"Five Ways to Reduce Racial Bias in Your Children," is a recent essay from The Greater Good website of UC Berkeley. The following is an edited (for space purposes) copy of that essay. Click on the above link for the entire post.

Here are some of the ways that parents can help reduce negative bias in their children.

1. Expose kids to more positive images of other racial groups

Kids are immersed in negative stereotypes perpetuated by the media and culture, just as adults are. To counteract that, parents can expose kids through stories, books, and films to more positive, counter-stereotypical images of people from different racial and ethnic groups—including moral exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr. or Dolores Huerta. In studies with adults, this type of intervention has been shown over and over to be one of the most effective ways of decreasing bias.

2. Help your kids develop cross-group friendships

Research suggests that cross-race friendships are an important factor in decreasing prejudice, probably because they help decrease stress and fears of rejection that may occur in cross-group situations. Having a friend from another group may also remove barriers to empathy and caring, which in turn decreases prejudice.

Research shows that having contact with different racial or social groups—especially when that contact is warm and positive—helps to decrease prejudice and to encourage more cross-group friendships. In a study with school kids of various ages, students who had higher levels of cross-race contact—including cross-race friendships—were more likely to see the way race plays a role in social exclusion and to view that behavior negatively.

3. Cultivate cross-group friendships yourself

Parents can help normalize cross-group friendships by role-modeling them for their kids. This may seem superfluous, but research has shown that children’s racial attitudes are less tied to parents’ explicit messages around race than to the racial makeup of the parents’ social network.

Why does having cross-race friendships have such a strong impact on bias? Mendoza-Denton says ...
“It’s so much more organic to reduce bias by developing intergroup friendships, because it changes your attitudes through a very human mechanism, which is the interpersonal.” ... Once friendship grows, empathy develops organically, says Mendoza-Denton.

4. Talk explicitly about race and the effects of racism

Many black parents give explicit instructions to their kids about the importance of race in society and what they can do to mitigate any bias they encounter. But well-meaning white parents are less likely to bring up race with their children, perhaps fearing that doing so would mean they don’t value egalitarianism or believe in a “post-race” society. The problem with that approach is that not talking about race can create a vacuum of information, which leads children to absorb biases around them—often in ways that are counter to parents’ own held values.

In one study, researchers had white parents read books depicting racial issues to their preschool-aged children (under the guise of studying the effects of literature on learning) while being videotaped. Racial attitudes were measured and compared afterwards in both parents and their children.

In fact, research suggests that parents need to be much more explicit about racism and its effects. When white parents were asked to have race-related discussions with their kids—either with or without watching educational videos about race—their children showed more favorable attitudes toward racial outgroup members only if their parents discussed race directly. Interestingly, though, the researchers had trouble getting the parents to have these discussions—even when instructed to do so as part of the study. Apparently, there are psychological barriers to discussing race among many Caucasian parents.

5. Work to combat biases in yourself

Research clearly shows that the impact of parent bias on kids shouldn’t be underestimated. Although explicit biases have negative effects on kids, implicit bias can also impact children.

In one study, researchers found that very young children exhibited more explicit negative bias if their mothers held implicit biases—regardless of their explicit messaging. There can be a mismatch between what parents say and their unconscious reactions toward minority groups—and children seem to pick up on this.

... Research suggests that automatic biases can be countered by deliberate attempts to counter them, exposure to moral exemplars, or positive cross-race interactions. In other words, much of what influences children may also influence you.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ride and 'Round Up & Donate'



(Lyft will offer) a new program that lets riders top off their fare to the nearest dollar, and donate the difference to one of a group of selected charities.

The new feature is reminiscent of another recent ‘light side ridesharing alternative’ move by Lyft, namely its decision to commit $1 million in donations to the ACLU over the next four years, as a response to Donald Trump’s initial Muslim immigration ban. Lyft’s new program is in line with its founding principles, the company says, and not tied to any behavior by the competition, but it’s definitely a contrasting image given the circumstances.

Lyft will be rolling out the program, which it calls ‘Round Up & Donate’ as a test at first, gradually making its way to users over the next few weeks. The feature works with an opt-in for those who are selected to participate, and it’ll then automatically round up the fare for your current trip to the nearest whole dollar, with the excess going to charity. So if your ride costs $9.67, for instance, the additional 33 cents will go to the chosen charity.

--From TechCrunch

Monday, March 27, 2017

Conflict Resolution and the Law of Three





Editor's note:  Grumble and grouse. Point fingers and blame. Or consider the Law of Three for challenge resolution? This mini-essay written for meditation, seems to be a perfect way to begin a new week. Click the link below for the entire series of applying the Law of Three toward resolutions.

The political and religious culture wars of our era could be eased by the simple courtesy of the Law of Three:* (1) the enemy is never the problem but the opportunity; (2) the problem will never be solved through eliminating or silencing the opposition but only through creating a new field of possibility large enough to hold the tension of the opposites and launch them in a new direction.

A good part of the initial learning curve with the Law of Three is around developing a capacity to look directly at a situation and assign the forces (affirming, denying) according to the role they are actually playing, not according to pre-formed judgments or expectations.

A new arising is not always a solution. Sometimes it is simply the infusion of a more subtle quality of aliveness in whose light the real meaning of the situation is transfigured (or at least made clearer).

Third force is best accessed (or midwifed) through presence that can hold the tension of opposites.

Third force contains transformative power because it does not take sides. Could it be said to be compassionately indifferent?

According to the Law of Three, once an impasse is reached, it can never be solved by going backward but only forward, into that new arising that honors all the players and brings them into a new relationship. (Einstein seems to have been on to this insight in his famous dictum that a problem can never be solved at the level at which it is created.) The three forces are like three strands in a braid; all three are required for the weaving.

---by Cynthia Bourgault Center for Action and Contemplation

* From Wikipedia:  The Law of Three is described by Gurdjieff as "the second fundamental cosmic law". This law states that every whole phenomenon is composed of three separate sources, which are Active, Passive and Reconciling or Neutral. This law applies to everything in the universe and humanity, as well as all the structures and processes. The Three Centers in a human, which Gurdjieff said were the Intellectual Centre, the Emotional Centre and the Moving Centre, are an expression of the law of three. Gurdjieff taught his students to think of the law of three forces as essential to transforming the energy of the human being. The process of transformation requires the three actions of affirmation, denial and reconciliation.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SMILE! 7 Reasons Why Smiling is Good




Editor's Note: Life moments are not always perfect. But why dwell on those moments of imperfection that bring grimacing to our faces? Be forward, and smile instead. The following is slightly edited for space content.

1. Smiling can make you happy (even when you're not).
... the simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you're happy. And when you're happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins. This reaction has been studied since the 1980s and has been proven a number of times.

... the research goes both ways. When the people in the one study frowned, they felt less happy, and in a German study, people who held a pen in their protruding lips, imitating a pout, felt unhappy. So the next time you feel sad or upset, try smiling. It just might make your body—and therefore you—feel better.

2. Smiling can make others happy. 
"When you're smilin', the whole world smiles with you," ...a song, made famous by Louis Armstrong? ... Research shows that smiling is contagious. Ever been around someone who just had something fantastic happen to him or her? Isn't it almost impossible not to feel good, too? Studies show that something as simple as seeing a friend smile can activate the muscles in your face to make that same expression, without you even being aware that you are doing it. Crazy, right?

But remember that this, too, can be for better or for worse. You know the expression "misery loves company"? Frowns act just like smiles, just with a negative reaction, so choose to smile and watch the world smile back!

3. Smiling makes you more attractive. 
Ever wonder why are we always asked to smile in photos? Because people usually look their best—and happiest—when smiling. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 percent of American adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. So the next time you are about to ask someone on a date, smile. It'll make them feel happier (see No. 2), and you'll already be more attractive in his or her eyes!

4. Smiling can help you de-stress. 
The next time you're stressed about work or realize that your favorite jeans feel a little snug, don't freak out. Take a few deep breaths and smile! Smiling may help to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety. When that smile signals to your brain that you're feeling happy (even though you're not really feeling happy...yet), your body will usually slow its breathing and heart rate.

Reducing stress is so important for health, too, as it can lower blood pressure, improve digestion and regulate blood sugar. Note that this works during workouts, too! If you're having a hard time getting through that last rep or getting those final 5 minutes in on the treadmill, smiling can do wonders!

5. Smiling can help you land a job. 
If you're about to go on a job interview, you may think that your appearance is just about wearing nice clothes. Wrong! You can't just wear that suit; you have to wear it with a smile. In a study published in the December 2009 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people looked at full-body photographs of 123 people they had never met. The people in the photos had one of two expressions: neutral (think your passport photo) or a smile. And guess what? When observers saw the photos of smiling people, they were more likely to think that the person in the photo was likeable, confident, conscientious and stable.

6. Smiling can lead to laughter. 
Have you ever laughed without smiling? It's pretty impossible to do. And it's funny how a smile here and a smile there with friends can turn into a whole fit of hysterical laughter. Numerous studies have been done on the health benefits of laughing, including how it acts like a mini workout that burns calories and works the abs. Laughter also helps blood flow, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces stress and improves sleep. It may also raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body, which helps boost your immune system. So the moral of this story is smile—and laugh—often!

7. Smiling just feels good. 
Have you ever found that smiling just feels good? Go ahead, smile now. Doesn't it feel natural? Make you feel happy to be alive? It sure does beat the heck out of a frown.

---Article created on:  8/3/2010 by Spark People

Friday, March 24, 2017

3 Ways to a More Productive Day




This is an excerpt from a post "3 Things To-Do to be More Productive Today." Imagine having more time to do something special and good today!


  1. Go to your email inbox. Delete or Archive any email that is over 40 days old. The person that sent that email has long forgotten about it and you’ve been dodging it for so long it’s become a cement hurdle in your productivity. If it’s important it will come back up and maybe at a level of urgency that you’ll act on it promptly. NOW EXIT EMAIL.
  2. Identify the thing you’ll say you did at dinner tonight. Take 3 deep inhales and exhales right now and imagine telling your family or your cat or Facebook about the thing you did while at work today. Sometimes, we don’t take action because we can’t imagine it being done. But once you trigger your brain to see it as done your brain finds many routes to get you to that destination. Quite literally: Begin the task with the end in mind.
  3. Set a timer, turn on Do Not Disturb, shut down messenger, skype, Facebook, Twitter, email notifications and do the work. Sometimes people hear this piece of advice and they get really anxious. How long do I have to put on the timer? What if something NEEDS me? But what about Facebook? Set the timer for 20 minutes and see what you can get done. Just try it out. Repeat your successes. At the end of the 20 minutes get out of your chair — reach to the sky, touch your toes — grab a glass of water and see if the mood strikes you to go on another 20 minute speed-date with your work.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

8 Tips to Make Good Deeds Day a Hit!




On April 2, Good Deeds Day 2017 can happen in any office, anywhere – all it needs is you! This year Points of Light is celebrating our 11th year doing good, and we’ve more than got you covered with ideas, tools, guides and resources to make your Good Deeds Day a golden one.

1. Have the desire to do good. We have a feeling you’re reading this right now because you’re a good person who aspires to be even better. Having the drive to do good is all that it takes to join in the largest celebration of the year devoted to good deeds.

2. Save the date. And this one is a special one as we are celebrating our 11 years doing good deeds worldwide. Last year, more than 1.5 million people took part, and hopefully many more will join this year. You, along with at least 1,499,999 other awesome humans, will unite as one philanthropic force on April 2, 2017, to do good and create large scale positive impact. Go you!

3. Get approval from above. It should be pretty easy if you share all the benefits you get, personally and professionally, from volunteering. From health benefits for employees to increased job satisfaction and productivity at work, this opportunity is a win-win-win for all parties involved. And just in case, send your HR head or manager this kit for companies to explain it all.

4. Decide how you can help. There are countless ways in which you could be of service in your community, especially if you’re bringing the whole office along! Browse our how to guides to doing good, brimming with various ideas and activities to suit everyone in your office. Reach out to your coworkers to vote, or see if someone has a special cause to rally around to build office rapport.

We’re also happy to work with you to brainstorm a volunteer program for your community, so get in touch!

5. Rally the team. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with your co-workers, do something fun, and create better bonds with the people you may not get the chance to chat with in your office. Get everyone on board by emailing them this fact sheet, sharing all the added value benefits for doing good.

6. Register your group. Fill in a short form and join close to two million people in over 75 countries in sharing your Good Deeds Day tales. Tell us about your project and ideas by registering. Want to match? Make sure to mention you want to order t-shirts with your logo!

7. Promote your event. Now that we know you’re doing good, you should share it with the rest of the world! Not only will this benefit your team, but it’s also good business. Use our ready-to-go media kit to handle any communications you need, and update your social media channels with our cover photo and sweet social media graphics.

8. Get excited! You should be proud of yourself, friend. You and your office are contributing to a global celebration of goodness! Good Deeds Day 2017 is a dedicated day which proves that millions of small changes can do a world of good. Thank you for joining in our efforts, for believing in good, and for helping to change the world – one good deed at a time!

You can get the complete tool kit on how to participate, scour worldwide projects you’re interested in, or sign up here!

---From Points of Light

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Archangels of the Ancient Trees



A Michigan based nonprofit is all about saving the trees.  It's called The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.

The mission is to:


Muslim Immigrants Give $15 Million to University of Notre Dame

Rafat and Zoreen Ansari. UND photo

Rafat and Zoreen Ansari and their three grown children donated $15 million to create an institute at Notre Dame dedicated to the study of religions around the world.

Mr. and Ms. Ansari are medical doctors who were born in Pakistan and raised their family in South Bend, Ind., the home of the university. They are Muslim and said in a news release that they hope the new center will encourage partnerships among religions to solve problems like violence and poverty.

“The need for people of faith to focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us has never been more urgent,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “This extraordinary gift from an esteemed local Muslim family, longtime friends of Notre Dame, will allow us to bring together scholars of the first order to foster dialogue and deepen understanding. We are immensely grateful to the Ansaris for making this aspiration a reality.”

Notre Dame parents, Rafat and Zoreen Ansari moved in 1980 to South Bend, where they raised their three children – Sarah, Adam and Sonya. Their passion for the Ansari Institute is a reflection of their hope that it will help foster partnerships globally and locally, and that communities large and small – from South Bend to Jerusalem – can be brought together through a shared understanding of certain guiding principles inherent in all the world’s religions.

Faculty at the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement With Religion will study how religious teachings, traditions, history, practice, and thought inform today’s shifting patterns of global migration, conflict, peace building, political culture, and human development.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

7 Ways to Boost Your Mental Strength

C. Coimbra photo


Editor's note: The Daily Prism is well aware of the ongoing frustration by people from around the world with the changing conditions and circumstances to be faced most every day.  The following (edited for space concerns) piece was written for "the busy entrepreneur."  That seems exclusive. But, in fact, every individual is his or her own business (the business of living) and is the entrepreneur of his or her own well-being. 

From 7 Powerful Morning Routines That Will Make You Mentally Strong

... It all starts with waking up mentally tough. Skills can only take you so far without the grit, determination, and mental willpower to tackle anything life throws at you.

Thankfully, there are some pretty simple techniques that everyone from Navy SEALs to U.S.
Olympians use to stay mentally strong. Start adopting these powerful habits in the morning to become just as mentally resilient:

1. They practice positive self-talk

Studies estimate that we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every single minute. That’s why none other than the U.S. Navy SEALs swear by positive self-talk as a way to take on a strenuous day.
When their oxygen flow is suddenly cut off underwater, SEALs are able to tough it out by telling themselves that everything is fine and thinking positively. So you can probably also use this tip to get through a day at the office.

To start, tell yourself how great your day is going to be as you’re riding the subway or driving down the freeway. If you start encountering a rough morning, go outside for a few minutes and repeat some more positive affirmations to yourself.

2. They visualize tackling tasks

Champion U.S. Olympians use visualization as an effective way to stay tough when they’re running a marathon or endlessly swimming.

Rather than just picturing themselves at the finish line, they visualize themselves going through the motions of the race. It’s a scientifically proven way to boost your mental willpower — whether you’re jumping over a hurdle or filing paperwork.

By visualizing how you’ll get through a task in the morning, you’ll not only give yourself the self-confidence to do it, you’ll also come up with unexpected solutions along the way.

3. They work on their hardest tasks first

... It’s been scientifically shown that motivation and willpower is a finite resource that dwindles throughout the day, so frying your biggest fish first ensures you’ll have the energy to complete the task at hand. Plus, everything that comes after that will feel like a piece of cake.

4. They don’t give up their power

How many times have you thought something along the lines of “my mother-in-law drives me crazy”?

... motivation expert Amy Morin says thinking like this “gives away your power.” Instead of thinking that your in-law is driving you mad (or that your workday is stressful), Morin recommends a powerful alternative: knowing “your world is what you make it.”

... start thinking about (the task at hand) as an opportunity to change your success and have an impact on the world. By believing you’re in control, you’ll start to be in control.

5. They avoid comparisons (and Twitter)

If your morning routine involves checking Facebook or scrolling through Instagram, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Morin also spoke about how seeing her “perfect” friends on Facebook in the a.m. dragged down her whole day. Quite simply, you’re seeing someone’s highlight reel, not his or her life story, so it will do nothing but make you feel inferior if you feel the need to keep up.

6. They exercise and prioritize their health

It’s been scientifically proven that being physically strong is an integral part of being mentally strong. Doing aerobic exercises has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress and have other amazing benefits. It’s no wonder that ultra-successful people channel that energy into exercise before they go to work in the morning.

7. They connect with loved ones before work

... the busiest people in the world know that a part of staying mentally strong means cultivating a meaningful life for yourself outside of work.

... Whether it’s a friend or family member, connecting with someone important to you at the start of your day helps maintain healthy relationships, and it can also give your day perspective, while keeping your spirits up while you work.

Friday, March 17, 2017

One Farm at a Time -- A Program in Africa



By Denver Frederick
Seventy per cent of the world’s poor are farmers, many of them concentrated in parts of eastern and southern Africa. In those regions, one in 10 farm-family children dies before the age of 5, with hunger as the primarily underlying cause, notes Matt Forti, managing director of the One Acre Fund. "Agriculture has become so much more productive everywhere else in the world over the past few decades," he says. "We said, ‘Why not Africa? What’s driving this? Can we do something about it?’ "

In ... the Business of Giving, Mr. Forti talks about the nonprofit social enterprise’s market-based model for attacking poverty and hunger in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Malawi. Key to the effort is bringing advanced agricultural products and techniques to small rural farms and treating them as clients instead of beneficiaries. They receive loans, not donations, of "farm inputs" like hybrid seeds and fertilizer, as well as training in effective planting techniques.

The result is far greater crop yields, which enable farmers to repay the loans, which helps fund One Acre and keeps it growing. A decade after launching with 40 farmers, the organization now has 450,000 clients and aims to reach 1 million by 2020. The nonprofit is expanding in other ways, branching into crop insurance to protect farmers from calamities like drought and helping them switch from kerosene and candles to cleaner, safer solar energy.

One Acre’s model empowers farmers as well; they become investors in a viable enterprise, one they can pass on to their children and generations beyond. "We’re trying to alleviate hunger, but the long-term goal is intergenerationally," Mr. Forti says. "We’re trying to get families to be able to educate their children, and those children to be able to pull the whole family out of poverty."

Click this link to listen to the podcast, the Business of Giving.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Positive Side of Social Media


C.Coimbra photo
The following is part of an essay, "Vulnerability in the Age of Social Media," highlighting the positive side of social media:

In the 21st century, we live in little boxes and drive little boxes and work in little boxes within little boxes. It is more important than ever that we find new ways to connect — even if that means using the little boxes we hold in our hands all day to do it. We can continue to stumble through our lives using social media as a mask to pretend our lives are perfect. Or to troll the Internet underbelly. To carefully craft personas. To be someone that we’re not. Or we can use it as its name declares: social media.

A synonym for “social” is “community,” itself defined by Google as “A feeling of fellowship with others.”

We cannot feel genuine fellowship if we aren’t real. Being real means vulnerability, sharing the parts of ourselves of which we are most ashamed. Shame is an emotion that comes from doing or thinking something we fear is unacceptable and will result in being shunned by the community. When someone accepts unacceptable parts of us, it brings us, all of us, ever closer.

I find tremendous hope in social media. On a macro level, in its ability to help us organize. On a micro level, in the elation we feel collectively when stories of survival go viral. In the pain we experience together when a beloved figure dies, or when grave injustices are committed. For all our differences, we are so much the same. And we cannot truly connect with each other if we aren’t vulnerable. Now more than ever, that connection is imperative. I believe it’s the secret to overcoming everything that lies ahead. In your life. In mine. In the country. And the world.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Science of Gratitude: It's Good for You.



Yes, “thank you” is an essential, everyday part of family dinners, trips to the store, business deals, and political negotiations. That might be why so many people have dismissed gratitude as simple, obvious, and unworthy of serious attention.

But that’s starting to change. Recently scientists have begun to chart a course of research aimed at understanding gratitude and the circumstances in which it flourishes or diminishes. They’re finding that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
  • Higher levels of positive emotions;
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness;
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion;
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated.

That’s why the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley—in collaboration with the University of California, Davis—launched the multiyear project Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. The project is supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The general goals of this initiative are to:
  • Expand the scientific database of gratitude, particularly in the key areas of human health, personal and relational well-being, and developmental science;
  • Promote evidence-based practices of gratitude in medical, educational, and organizational settings and in schools, workplaces, homes and communities, and in so doing…
  • Engage the public in a larger cultural conversation about the role of gratitude in civil society.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5 Steps to "Detachment" for Happiness



It's like an Angst Fair out there. Rightfully so. However, angst will drain our energy. Sometimes it's important to let some things go so that we can maintain the fire of energy to get the real work done.

From the Chopra Center, here's an edited (for space purposes) version  of "Detaching for a Happier Life."

As spiritual author Ron W. Rathbun wrote, “True detachment isn’t a separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living.”

Clues You Are Attached
When you are attached to an object, a goal, a dream, or another person, there are feelings that tell you “If I don’t have that, I won’t be whole.” These are feelings like:


  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Hopelessness
  • Sadness
  • Disconnection
  • Pride
  • Vanity


Why Do We Attach?
In an effort to define ourselves, we listen to what others want us to be and make choices about the things we like or dislike. The paradox here is that in our effort to become ourselves, we actually create separation from others.


How to Detach: 5 Steps   

1.    Observe your mind: Become aware of what kind of thoughts you habitually think. What things or descriptors do you identify with most? Become a student of self and heighten your awareness of where attachment happens more frequently for you. Recognize attachment comes with an emotional charge. Notice where you feel this in your physical body. It’s different for each individual and learning your patterns is a useful tool in creating change.
2.   Distinguish between the voice of your ego and the actual situation: Your ego might tell you that not getting the job you want has ruined your career. The actual situation is: you are disappointed because you don’t have something you never had in the first place. There has been no loss. Nothing has changed except your thoughts about your future potential. The actual situation is the same as it was prior to not getting the job.
3.    Embrace uncertainty: Only a willingness to embrace the unknown provides security. As Deepak Chopra says, “Those who seek security in the exterior world chase it for a lifetime. By letting go of your attachment to the illusion of security, which is really an attachment to the known, you step into the field of all possibilities. This is where you will find true happiness, abundance, and fulfillment.”
4.    Meditate on it: Meditation is a vehicle to help your mind release patterns of thought and action that no longer serve you. Spend some time in meditation each day and watch how the patterns in your life begin to change.
5.    Don’t beat yourself up for falling into old habits: The first step in making change is recognizing what it is you want to change. Instead of getting frustrated or disappointed when you fall back into an old habit, celebrate that you are now noticing when you repeat the pattern of thought or habit. In time, this will allow you to transform your behavior.

Happiness
When you begin living a life that starts with happiness from an internal place rather than placing your ability to be happy on external conditions, then you have understood detachment. Remember, it’s a practice. Happiness is the journey and not the destination, or as Wayne Dyer said, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.”