Friday, July 21, 2017

Baltimore Program for Students Makes a Difference

Thread photo
Thread engages underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. We foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens.

Compelling Student Success
Thread engages students in the bottom 25% of their freshman class and radically and permanently reconfigures their social support structure. Each student is matched with a group of volunteers and provided individualized support for ten years while working toward realizing his or her potential.

  • 87% of students who have been in Thread for 5 years have graduated high school
  • 84% of students who have been in Thread for 5 years have been accepted to college
  • 86% of student alumni have completed a 4 or 2 year degree or certificate program
--From the Thread website






Thursday, July 20, 2017

Study Show Connection Between Generosity and Happiness


...a  study published in Nature Communications suggests we should treat others—or just think about being generous—if we want to feel happier.

Researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland told 50 participants they would receive $100 over the course of a few weeks. Half of these people were told to spend the money on themselves while the other half were told to spend it on a friend. Before they received the money, participants were asked to think about who they would spend the money on and how much they’d likely spend. The researchers then scanned regions of participants’ brains associated with “social behavior, generosity, happiness and decision-making” using MRI machines  ... While their brains were being scanned, participants also completed a decision-making task where they could "behave more or less generously," according to the study.

Previous studies have shown that being generous can lead to physical and mental perks, but the goal of this study was to see if simply committing to future generosity could yield similar benefits.

... The researchers found that depending on how they'd been directed to spend the money, participants’ brain activity and decisions changed: those who were told to spend the money on someone else were more likely to make generous decisions on the tasks throughout the experiment compared to the “treat yourself” group. 

The generous group also showed more interaction between the brain regions linked to altruism and happiness ... Plus, generous participants reported being happier once the experiment was over ...

... It's important to note that the researchers aren’t sure if these results hold true if your only motivation is to make yourself happier. Meaning just thinking about doing something nice for another person could make you feel good, but it’s in your best interest to actually follow through on that thought .

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Intentions: A Positive Starting Point


While the original intention of The Daily Prism was/is to focus on the good that occurs daily, helping each other grow in good, advice from leaders in the positive movement does fit into this blog's intention. It's a natural growth as we ride out this cycle of time.

The following is a lightly edited (for space) post by Deepak Chopra, MD, "5 Steps to Setting Powerful Intentions."

Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love.

Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention. When I decide to buy a birthday present, wiggle my toes, or call a friend, it all starts with intention.

In my book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, the Law of Intention and Desire lays out the five steps for harnessing the power of intention to create anything you desire.

1. Slip into the Gap
Most of the time our mind is caught up in thoughts, emotions, and memories. Beyond this noisy internal dialogue is a state of pure awareness that is sometimes referred to as “the gap.” One of the most effective tools we have for entering the gap is meditation. Meditation takes you beyond the ego-mind into the silence and stillness of pure consciousness. This is the ideal state in which to plant your seeds of intention

2. Release Your Intentions and Desires
Once you’re established in a state of restful awareness, release your intentions and desires. The best time to plant your intentions is during the period after meditation, while your awareness remains centered in the quiet field of all possibilities. After you set an intention, let it go—simply stop thinking about it. Continue this process for a few minutes after your meditation period each day.

3. Remain Centered in a State of Restful Awareness
Intention is much more powerful when it comes from a place of contentment than if it arises from a sense of lack or need. Stay centered and refuse to be influenced by other people’s doubts or criticisms. Your higher self knows that everything is all right and will be all right, even without knowing the timing or the details of what will happen.

4. Detach from the Outcome
Relinquish your rigid attachment to a specific result and live in the wisdom of uncertainty. Attachment is based on fear and insecurity, while detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of your true Self. Intend for everything to work out as it should, then let go and allow opportunities and openings to come your way.

5. Let the Universe Handle the Details
Your focused intentions set the infinite organizing power of the universe in motion. Trust that infinite organizing power to orchestrate the complete fulfillment of your desires. Don’t listen to the voice that says that you have to be in charge, that obsessive vigilance is the only way to get anything done. The outcome that you try so hard to force may not be as good for you as the one that comes naturally. You have released your intentions into the fertile ground of pure potentiality, and they will bloom when the season is right.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Four Thoughts About the Art of Kindness


With a concerted effort of living with kindness, it is possible that this current flood of discontent would subside.

The following four thoughts of developing and living with more kindness is an edited version (for space) of the original post "A Bouquet of Kindness Practices."

Visualize Loving Kindness

"Practice these two visualization exercises daily. Wake up each morning and stand in front of a mirror, seeing your body as the incarnate Name of God. As you go about your day, see everyone and everything as the Name as well. Listen for your angel announcing your true nature, and listen for the angels of others doing the same. In time you will break up the hard-packed soil of the narrow mind and plant in it the seeds of lovingkindness that will soon grow and awaken in you the spacious mind that is your holy and most true self."

Serve Others with Kindness

"A rabbi I know devotes one day a week to simply being of service. She gets up in the morning and dedicates the day to God. She then leaves her home for the city close by and wanders about looking for ways to be of service to others. 'I have no plan for the day, other than to be present to what needs doing and to do those things I can without pride or prejudice. Sometimes I will find myself helping someone move into or out of an apartment, or sitting with the homeless, or walking tourists to their destination. The idea is to be free of any idea other than to serve, to befriend, to be kind."

Be Kind in Speech

"Avoiding hurtful speech has as much to do with how you say something as it does with what you wish to say: Keep it simple; stick to what you know to be true; and move on."


Preserve Kindness

"How do we preserve kindness? We preserve kindness the way we preserve any other value we cherish — we tell stories about it. Preserving kindness means telling stories of loving kindness from your past, but not only your personal past. Working this attribute means exploring your family history to find stories of loving kindness. Talk with relatives and explore your collective memories to sift out these tales. They may be small incidents of kindness that were largely unnoticed at the time, but which, in hindsight, are the stuff of kindness tales. When you find these stories, share them. The more you tell them, the more kindness will take root.

"One of the best ways to practice preserving kindness is to create a ethical will. Writing an ethical will is a centuries-old Jewish practice that is making a comeback among Jews and others. Originally an oral tradition, with parents passing on their values, blessings, life lessons, and forgiveness to their children, ethical wills have been committed to writing for the past one thousand years."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Loving while Hating Your Partner -- 7 Relationship Survival Steps



It's true, we can't always love the one with are with all the time. Sometimes partners just get on your nerves.  But if we can't always love the one we are with, what steps can we take to make sure those moments of not loving, are pastuerised to remove any lingering toxins?  The following is a severely reduced take of a post from the Greater Good Magazine,  "What to Do When You Hate the One You Love."

Have you ever hated your partner?

You are not alone: It turns out that almost all of us have times when we strongly dislike the people we love the most—although some of us may not even realize it.

In a series of studies, Vivian Zayas and Yuichi Shoda found that people don’t just love or hate significant others. They love and hate them—and that’s normal. The key to getting through the inevitable hard times, as my own research suggests, is to never stop trying to understand where your partner is coming from.

So how do you increase understanding during conflict? Here are seven suggestions for how to think and act to do so.

  1. Instead of asserting your own point of view, try to take your partner’s perspective. Make it your goal to understand why your partner feels the way they do.
  2. Avoid the four horsemen of the apocalypse—criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
  3. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Assume that their intentions are not malicious.
  4. Take a moment to reflect on your partner’s positive traits. You can even try some gratitude-inducing techniques.
  5. Think of you and your partner as a team, rather than opponents. Your goal is to figure out together why you do not see eye-to-eye and find a solution; it is not to win the fight and prove your partner wrong.
  6. Recognize that it won’t always be easy to follow these suggestions, especially if your partner isn’t playing by the same rules.
  7. Give yourself a mantra to repeat when you start feeling angry to help you remember your goal—even something as simple as “be understanding.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

10 Positive Statements for a Better World


Regardless of one's belief-system, these 10 statements spoken within or aloud, may help lessen the daily challenges and bring a more positive attitude to brighten the world.  The following was written by Jean Houston, Ph.D., a scholar, philosopher and researcher in Human Capacities.

Say aloud and in your heart’s mind (and mind’s heart) the following:

  1. I live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future. I know that with quantum practice I have access to entering and making whatever changes I wish in the worlds of past and future, for I live in the eternal present.
  2.  I cultivate the art of making connections—cosmic connections, local connections. I pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life. I become the friend of nature and preserve her beauty and harmony wherever and whenever I can.
  3.  I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. I spell out my days with the grammar of gratitude. I speak forth my gratitude: “Thank you for this food and all who worked to bring it forth. Thank you, Grandma, wherever you are, for teaching me how to cook.”
  4. I practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the other is shunned. I see no one as other. I welcome guests and even people with very different ideas from mine with graciousness, with deep seeing of the fullness and wonder of the other.
  5.  I seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world, a world that works for everyone.
  6.  I add to the planet’s fund of goodwill by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.
  7.  I cultivate the skills of deep listening. I will cross the great divide of otherness. I remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside of me.
  8. I practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world. Everything exists within the field of the sacred.
  9.  I give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I listen to what my shadow side says, but I will not just live there. I know that I am releasing many of these old forms, these old shadows, and I am bringing in light to banish shadow and to bring me into luminous light and life.
  10. I am willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.