Monday, February 27, 2017
The following is excerpted from The Good Men Project based in Pasadena, CA.
The Good Men Project is a diverse community of 21st century thought leaders who are actively participating in a conversation about the way men’s roles are changing in modern life—and the way those changes affect everyone.
Compassion is a huge part of our culture and fabric. Compassion for diversity and inclusion. We fight for those values, and against racism, sexism, homophobia or other harmful 'isms.'
Our content reflects the multidimensionality of men — we are alternatively funny and serious, provocative and thoughtful, earnest and light-hearted. We search far and wide for new stories and new voices from “the front lines of modern manhood.” And we do it without moralizing and without caricaturizing our audience; we let guys be guys, but we do it while challenging confining cultural notions of what a “real man” must be.
Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be. Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
|Photo by Ryan Tanaka with permission|
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
From a website, Let's Grow Leaders, these 10 ideas are ways to bring positivity into the work environment.
- Make a list of what you like most about your job. Share it with others. Ask them what they like most about their jobs.
- Ask people why they work. In a negative environment, the answer may seem obvious—“For the paycheck, stupid”—but take it a step further. Do they work to support their sick mom? To pay back student loans? To save for their children’s education? Because they enjoy helping customers? Reconnecting to the purpose of work can help make the smaller annoyances less frustrating.
- Call out negativity. When you see negative thinking or actions, talk to the person privately to call it out, particularly if other leaders are involved. When negative attitudes and talk are all around, it’s tempting to ignore it. Raise the bar and change the conversation.
- Rise above the drama. Refuse to get sucked into the rumors and gossip. Respond to your team’s concerns with transparency and candor. Be the one who people know they can trust for a straight answer.
- Find kindred spirits. Not everyone is negative, although it can feel that way at times. Look around and find other folks trying to change the scene for the better. There is strength in numbers. Look outside your organization as well.
- Create an “envelope of excellence” or cultural oasis. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to fix the overall culture. Start with your own team and do what you can to make it feel better to come to work.
- Find reasons to celebrate. With all the negativity, it’s easy to overlook the good. Go out of your way to recognize and celebrate small wins. Substitute weak phrases like “No problem” with more enthusiastic words like “I’d be happy to.”
- See barriers as a challenge. Encourage your team to embrace the problems they see as opportunities and challenges to learn and grow. Recap learning along the way to help them feel a sense of positive momentum even during the most challenging times.
- Laugh more. I had one colleague who would respond to the company’s most ridiculous political nonsense by reminding the team, “It’s all comedy.” Step back and recognize how ridiculous some behavior is. You’ll create a healthy distance from which to respond more appropriately.
- Hold deeper developmental conversations. In periods of uncertainty, people yearn for a sense of control and connection. Take your developmental conversations to the next level. Ask your team and your peers about their hopes and dreams, what motivates them, and what scares them. Show up as a real human being caring about other real human beings.
Don’t let the naysayers win. Be the positive spark that ignites possibilities in others.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
- Community connection. Recognize all of the levels of community, but start at home. Your own family is your closest circle of community. Start talking to those closest to you, of all ages, with a practice of sharing ideas and beliefs in an open-minded, opinion-based manner. Look for similarities, and practice agreeing to disagree. Then take this practice out into other levels—into neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, and states. Expand this idea of community both nationally and globally.
- Communication. Practice respectful, “I statement” language and learn how to agree to disagree. No one likes to be judged for what they believe or to feel attacked. Owning your opinion while communicating allows for dialogue and debate instead of argument and conflict.
- Honesty and Accountability. Be honest with yourself and others about what you feel you could have done better up until this point. Then, in the areas you have fallen short, take action. Even making a point to pick an issue and thoughtfully, respectfully communicate your opinions to your elected officials via phone, letter, or email just once a week is a proactive, positive action.
- Passion. Take inventory of what inspires you and act upon it. Make a list of everything you can think of that inspires positive feelings within you or that you feel passionate about. Pick a few of those things and research needs or initiatives in that area.
- Commitment. We will never be united and find any sense of peace if we do not make a commitment to stay engaged and active in the democratic process.
Let’s all take a moment today and offer one small step toward a better tomorrow. Let’s offer one small step to ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.
Adapted from author: Cyndy Dalton
Friday, February 17, 2017
|By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=447494|
After a Girl Scout selling cookies was robbed at gunpoint, California cops reached into their own pockets to make things right. Harshita Phardwaj, 12, and her mom were running a cookie stand outside a Union City supermarket when a man threatened them with a gun and stole all their cash. Local police are still looking for the culprit, but decided to help Phardwaj’s fundraising drive by buying all of her remaining cartons of Samoas, Thin Mints, and other Girl Scout Cookies — donating $1,000 in total. “We did what we could to make it loving, compassionate, and healing,” says Officer Lisa Gratez.
From The Week
Thursday, February 16, 2017
|C. Coimbra photo|
Free Meditation Technique Event --Online
(Click the above link for more information)
We know that a daily meditation practice brings wonderful benefits in terms of lowered stress, increased resiliency, enhanced wellbeing, better sleep and more...
These qualities are especially needed in times of increased tension — in your life and in the world around you.
Neurological research explains why meditation is spreading from yoga studios and meditation centers into businesses and even schools. Meditation improves our mental abilities, balances our emotions, and even helps us perform at a higher level at work.
Developing a consistent daily meditation practice is one of the most generous gifts you can give your body, mind and soul.
But are all meditation practices equal?
In this special call with Richard Miller, one of the world’s most respected teachers of meditation, you’ll get a fresh perspective on the basics as well as insights into more advanced practices — and pick up valuable tips for fine-tuning your meditation based on the latest brain science and the instructions of ancient seers.
Richard’s work is primarily sourced in yogic traditions, which distinguishes it from western mindfulness practices sourced in Buddhist lineages. Yogic meditation is particularly effective for accessing higher octaves of your being, and the joy and wellbeing that great yogis say is your birthright.
These methods build a deep inner ground of peace you can call on as a resource in the midst of difficult circumstances. They also reset your nervous system, which helps you reduce stress, increase your wellbeing, and experience the benefits of a baseline of true peace and inner joy.
Richard has been at the forefront of work on meditation for over 45 years. He’s consulted on over 25 research studies on the efficacy of the iRest Meditation program he developed for healing trauma, chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep issues, and for enhancing resilience and wellbeing. Yoga Journal named him one of the top 25 teachers of Yoga and Meditation in the West.
During this powerful hour with Richard, you’ll discover:
- Unique aspects of yogic meditation that can help you navigate uncertain times
- The latest neuroscience research on meditation — what works and why
- How to establish a practice grounded in resilience, wholeness and joy (yes, joy!)
- Why advanced meditation techniques are foundational for your wellbeing
- How to extend your meditation beyond a sitting practice — and why short practices done consistently can outweigh longer practices
- How to harvest the best from advanced meditation practices from Mahayana, Dzogchen and Zen without having to learn highly complex protocols
--From The Shift Network
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The following 5 ways that being in nature is good for us is an edited version of the essay, How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier and More Creative
1. Being in nature decreases stress
It’s clear that hiking—and any physical activity—can reduce stress and anxiety. But, there’s something about being in nature that may augment those impacts.
In one recent experiment conducted in Japan, participants were assigned to walk either in a forest or in an urban center (taking walks of equal length and difficulty) while having their heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure measured. The participants also filled out questionnaires about their moods, stress levels, and other psychological measures.
Results showed that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress), and reported better moods and less anxiety, than those who walked in urban settings. The researchers concluded that there’s something about being in nature that had a beneficial effect on stress reduction, above and beyond what exercise alone might have produced.
2. Nature makes you happier and less brooding
... Gregory Bratman, of Stanford University, has found evidence that nature may impact our mood in other ways, too.
In one 2015 study, he and his colleagues randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50-minute walk in either a natural setting (oak woodlands) or an urban setting (along a four-lane road). Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory. Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.
3. Nature relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity
Today, we live with ubiquitous technology designed to constantly pull for our attention. But many scientists believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” to get back to a normal, healthy state.
Strayer is one of those researchers. He believes that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.
4. Nature may help you to be kind and generous
... In a series of experiments published in 2014, Juyoung Lee, GGSC director Dacher Keltner, and other researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, studied the potential impact of nature on the willingness to be generous, trusting, and helpful toward others, while considering what factors might influence that relationship.
...As part of their study, the researchers exposed participants to more or less subjectively beautiful nature scenes (whose beauty levels were rated independently) and then observed how participants behaved playing two economics games—the Dictator Game and the Trust Game—that measure generosity and trust, respectively. After being exposed to the more beautiful nature scenes, participants acted more generously and more trusting in the games than those who saw less beautiful scenes, and the effects appeared to be due to corresponding increases in positive emotion.
5. Nature makes you “feel more alive”
With all of these benefits to being out in nature, it’s probably no surprise that something about nature makes us feel more alive and vital. Being outdoors gives us energy, makes us happier, helps us to relieve the everyday stresses of our overscheduled lives, opens the door to creativity, and helps us to be kind to others.
Still, the research does suggest there’s something about nature that keeps us psychologically healthy, and that’s good to know…especially since nature is a resource that’s free and that many of us can access by just walking outside our door. Results like these should encourage us as a society to consider more carefully how we preserve our wilderness spaces and our urban parks.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The following is a reduced version of a post from the Chopra Center:
It’s time to silence the inner critic. Here are five simple ways to infuse some self-love into your life:
1. Try a Self-Compassion Meditation
According to leading self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff, Ph.D., self-compassion has three key components: mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness. She created the brief Self-Compassion Break meditation, which accesses all three parts of self-compassion. Here’s a modified version you can try:
Begin by finding a comfortable position that allows you to be relaxed, yet alert. Close your eyes and take a few deep and cleansing breaths.
Identify what is troubling you without bringing harsh judgment or ridicule into the equation. Bring up your unmet goal with non-judgmental curiosity and without self-criticism.
Next, remember that you are not alone. Find comfort in knowing that many others have been unable to stick to their intentions.
Finally, offer yourself kind words. What would you say to your friend who has fallen off track? What words comfort you? It may help to give yourself a squeeze or to place your hands on your heart during this part of the meditation. Soothing touch promotes the release of oxytocin, even when it is your own touch.
Close by taking a few more breaths, paying attention to any positive feelings you may notice.
Open your eyes, and congratulate yourself for taking time to tend to yourself.
2. Create Affirmations
Research indicates that you need a ratio of roughly three positive emotions to every negative emotion in order to be happy and flourish. In order to create more positive emotions, repeat affirmations that generate joy. Write down a few affirmations that resonate with you, and repeat them each day. Some examples include:
“I am enough”
“I am full of peace and love”
“I am leading a purposeful life”
3. Make a Date with Yourself
Think about the last time you did something you truly enjoyed. Do you love dancing? Drop in on a local dance class. Or maybe a cooking class would light your inner fire.
Author Christine Carter, Ph.D. stresses the importance of downtime in her book, The Sweet Spot. She reminds you that happy people are successful people, and that you are your best, most creative, and most connected self when you create space for play.
4. Flip Your Inner Voice
Take a moment and pay attention to your inner voice. Chances are, you are your harshest critic. What would happen if you spoke to your friends with that same tone of voice? You would most likely be friendless.
See if you can begin to catch yourself when your inner critic speaks up. Instead, try to offer the same words of encouragement and kindness you would offer your friends or loved ones. This one simple mindset shift can profoundly change your life.
Need a reminder to be kind to yourself? Try incorporating one or more of these practices:
- Write a message of encouragement on your bathroom mirror.
- Leave an inspirational quote on your dashboard.
- Wear a self-compassion wristband that reminds you to be your own friend.
- Keep a self-kindness journal by your bed.
5. Reframe Your Intentions
According to Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., author of The Willpower Instinct, you will have an easier time attaining goals if your intention aligns with your values.
For example, if you’d like to lose 20 pounds this year, saying that you want to be skinny may not motivate you to stick to your guns. Take time to truly contemplate, “Why do I want to lose weight?” Your answer may be that you want to live a long life. Then ask, “Why do I want to live a long life?” Perhaps you want to witness your grandchildren’s lives. As your motivation shifts to align with your values, you are better positioned to stay connected with your intention.
Perhaps by incorporating these practices of self-love, you’ll be able to make this your best year yet. If not, well … be easy on yourself.
Friday, February 10, 2017
|Public Domain photo by Ken Kistler|
---From Yale e360
Thursday, February 9, 2017
|Public Domain photo by Karen Arnold|
Over the past decade, science has shown that the practice of gratitude can be transformational for students and the adults who work with them. In this webcast, Giacomo Bono, Ph.D., will offer practical strategies and exercises for fostering gratitude in schools. Teachers and school staff can employ these strategies daily to support more grateful and purposeful thinking, help address students’ emotional challenges, and improve relationships between teachers and students. Ultimately, these skills can help educators and staff connect more deeply with students—and turn schools into caring and thriving communities.
The webinar will take place on
Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 5:00pm PST.
Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 5:00pm PST.
Registration is not required.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
|C. Coimbra photo|
Editor's Note: Today we have posted a portion of a contemplation from the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This particular visualization seems relevant to current daily news, and the elements of life that distract one from discovering one's inner self.
Imagine a river or stream. You’re sitting on the bank of this river, where boats and ships are sailing past. While the stream flows past your inner eye, I ask you to name each one of the “vessels” or thoughts floating by. For example, one of the boats could be called “my anxiety about tomorrow.” Or along comes the ship “objections to my spouse” or “I don’t do that well.” Every judgment that you pass is one of these boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let it move on.
For some people this is a very difficult exercise because we’re used to jumping aboard our boats immediately; in doing so, we give them “gas”! As soon as we own a boat and identify with it, it picks up its own energy. We have to practice un-possessing, letting go, detaching from our thoughts and feelings, or they own us. With every idea or image that comes into our head, we have the opportunity to say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.” This frees you to intentionally choose your divine identity instead.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, top this year’s Philanthropy 50, The Chronicle’s annual ranking of the 50 Americans who donate the most to charity.
The Knights earned the No. 1 spot for the first time in the 17-year history of the list. They gave $900 million in 2016: $500 million to the University of Oregon and $400 million to Stanford.
...Rounding out the top five were media magnate Michael Bloomberg ($600.1 million); Howard and Lottie Marcus ($400 million bequest), friends of and early investors with Warren Buffett; Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen ($295 million); and former hedge-fund manager John Arnold and his wife, Laura ($284 million).
---From Philanthropy Today
Monday, February 6, 2017
When we read the recent unbridled separation of people based on faith, culture or race via social media posts, it is disheartening. At the end of January, nearly 200 people participated in a free cross-cultrual event, Crossing Lines in San Mateo Sharing Stories, Creating Community — “a hands-on community workshop for respectful communication across all lines beginning with a new quality of listening to one another — to everyone.”
From the San Mateo Daily Journal: “A lot of us are realizing that we are strangers even in our own nation,” said Len Traubman. “The entry point of this day and of creating our desired culture of connection really begins with the person who has the will and the skill to be the first one to listen.”
… Len’s work as a children’s dentist and Libby’s work as a social worker, combined with their roles as parents to their two children, brought them close to their community. But after a trip to the Soviet Union in 1984, the couple realized how profoundly having conversations with the people they had met on their trip changed their perspectives on the United States’ perceived enemy in the Cold War. “We realized how fearful we had been based on the information we had been given but not on any experience that we had,” said Libby Traubman. Fueled by their learning, they continued to seek opportunities to work with others outside their own circles and focused on those dealing with conflict. The couple is going into their 25th year of hosting monthly living room dialogues about the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in their San Mateo home and has advised countless other groups and communities across the globe on conversations regarding conflict resolution.
Post event responses included:
- "This was a wonderful way to start an on-going community-based program. For me, it was particularly gratifying to see such a wide range of people gathered for the purpose of creating better understanding. It was inspiring in light of what's happening nationally. It gave me a glimmer of hope in the midst of despair."
- "It was inspiring to be at the gathering Sunday. I especially appreciate seeing how possible it is to use guided storytelling to enable "strangers" to build real connections among us in such a short time. I'll have what we did in mind as I lead the evening of members of a church with many undocumented folks coming to join us at Sherith Israel on Shabbat in a few weeks." Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller San Francisco
Saturday, February 4, 2017
|C. Coimbra photo|
However, the features of where you actually end up experiencing awe may vary. No matter where you choose to take your walk, these general guidelines should increase your opportunities to find awe-inspiring moments.
Turn off your cell phone. Cell phones (and other gadgets) can be distracting and draw your attention away from what’s happening around you. Even better, don’t bring your phone with you at all so that you won’t be tempted to check it.
Tap into your child-like sense of wonder. Young children are in an almost constant state of awe since everything is so new to them. During your walk, try to approach what you see with fresh eyes, imagining that you’re seeing it for the first time.
Go somewhere new. Each week (or month, or whatever frequency works for you), try to choose a new location. You’re more likely to feel awe in a novel environment where the sights and sounds are unexpected and unfamiliar to you. That said, some places never seem to get old, so there’s nothing wrong with revisiting your favorite spots if you find that they consistently fill you with awe. The key is to recognize new features of the same old place.
Here are some more specific ideas for where to take an awe-inspiring walk.
- A mountain with panoramic views
- A trail lined with tall trees
- The shore of an ocean, lake, river, or waterfall
- A clear night when you can see the stars
- A place where you can watch a sunset or sunrise
- The top of a skyscraper… or look up in an area dense with tall buildings
- A historic monument
- A part of your city that you’ve never explored before
- A large ballpark or stadium
- A city art walk and explore different galleries
- Botanical gardens or a zoo to see plants and animal species you’ve never seen before
- Walk around with no destination in mind and see where it takes you
- A planetarium or aquarium
- A historic mansion, cathedral, or opera house
- Walk slowly around a museum, giving your full attention to each piece
--From Greater Good in Action
Friday, February 3, 2017
|SLO Tribune photo|
The city of San Luis Obispo’s Parks and Recreation Department wants to get people out and sharing random acts of kindness through a new art-in-nature initiative.
On Wednesday, the department kicked off #RockAroundSLO, a social media campaign that encourages residents to decorate small rocks and leave them in city parks. According to the department’s official announcement, the goal is to have fun, explore the community and bring people joy.
Here’s how it works: Find a rock you like, paint it, and put it in a San Luis Obispo park. You can either take a rock from one of the parks to decorate or add your own. If you see a painted rock, or want to show off your own creation, you can take a picture, post it to social media and use the hashtag #RockAroundSLO to share it with the community.
And if you find a painted rock that really makes your day, it’s OK to keep it. Just replace it with one you’ve painted.
Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article130189494.html#storylink=cpy
Thursday, February 2, 2017
World Whale Day Celebrations, presented by Pacific Whale Foundation, raises awareness and support to protect humpback whales and their ocean habitat. We hope to see you at the Run & Walk for the Whales (Feb 4), World Whale Film Festival (Feb 11), Parade of Whales & World Whale Day (Feb 18), plus other fun and inspiring events in February 2017. Join the Celebrations!
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
|Public domain photo by Circe Denyer|
Oxfam America sent an email Friday asking supporters to sign a petition urging the president to rescind his executive order to ban refugee admissions into the country for 120 days and bar U.S. entry for 90 days for travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.It also paid for social-media ads to promote the petition.
"The refugees impacted by your decision are among the world’s most vulnerable people — women, children, and men — who are simply trying to find a safe place to live after fleeing unfathomable violence and loss," the petition states.
On Saturday, the aid charity resent the email to people who had not signed the message.
"It’s been by far the best performer we’ve ever seen for an action," said Amanda Peña, who leads Oxfam America’s digital campaigns. She said about 33,000 people had signed the petition by around noon on Monday.
Oxfam also sent an email appeal Sunday with the goal of gaining more monthly supporters. The missive had already been scheduled, but it was updated to include a reference to the Trump order and noted that a big donor had pledged to triple people’s initial contributions.
Oxfam brought in $77,000 through the weekend, with the petition generating about $30,000 in donations — much more than usual for a message that is not explicitly a donation appeal, Ms. Peña said.
On social media, Oxfam sought to share real stories of people affected by the order, linking to news articles and videos, Ms. Peña said. It also posted graphics with messages like "I stand with refugees and immigrants," and "No matter where you’re from, you’re welcome here," that people could share online.
"We wanted to reach everybody out there who also cares about refugees, but maybe they hadn’t heard about Oxfam," she said.
--From Philanthropy Today