Friday, July 31, 2015

A Place to Post Good Deeds

A website called Good Deeds, asks the public to post good deeds.  The website scrolls the posts on its home page.  Here's a sample scrolling now:

  • My son went to a tire store a couple months ago to purchase tires for his vehicle and he overheard a conversation between the sales associate and an older woman. He heard the employee explain to the woman that she needed more than one tire to have a safe vehicle. The woman asked if she could apply for a line of credit to try to buy tires because she only had enough money for one tire. The woman went to fill out the app for credit and my son asked the associate to install 4 new tires on the womans car and he paid for it. God bless my son. I'm so proud of him! 

  • A million thank yous to Jo Dee of Central London who picked up my hand bag that I left on the platform at Bond Street station. She looked on my mobile 'phone for the most frequently called number (my partner's) and rang him to say she had the bag. When we collected it from her, she told us that people where eye-ing the bag and she knew someone would steal it, so she boldly picked it up despite the stares of others. Her incredibly honest and selfless act has restored my faith in human goodness. Thank you a million times Jo Dee. 

  • I would like to say thank you to Richard Clark who donates his time to children giving them free art classes and stimulating their imaginations. He offers the free classes to children 6 through 17 every Saturday at absolutely no cost to parents. It's good to see someone give back. God Bless you Mr. Clark 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Meditation Made Fast & Easy

C. Coimbra photo

10-Minute Meditation Breaks

by: Tris Thorp
When kids get too rowdy, they’re given time-outs. Regardless of why parents and teachers administer a time-out, it’s ultimately meant to help children slow down, reconnect with the present moment, and begin again. It’s a reset that helps kids re-enter the playground of life a little more slowly and with increased awareness of their actions.
Adults too, can benefit from a periodic reset. Although most people move so quickly through fast-paced, deadline-driven days that they often neglect their own health and well-being. To help you slow down, reconnect to yourself and your goals, and make more conscious and deliberate choices, try taking a periodic break to recalibrate.
Try a 10-minute meditation break—or “time INs”—to help you reset. Rotate through them depending on your current needs. Set a timer for 8 to 10 minutes before you begin each one. Bonus: these meditations can be extended to longer periods of 20 to 30 minutes if you find them enjoyable.

Blood Donors Texted When Their Blood Saved a Life

Saving blood saves lives, but whose lives? Sweden decided to answer that question, with a new service which sends donors an automatic text message when their blood has been used. This push for extra transparency came in response to blood donation shortages, and is a creative way to let donors know that their donation really counts.

The extra step of being notified that their blood is saving someone’s life is being met with positive feedback and a rising interest in blood contributions. Additionally, Swedish authorities are bringing awareness to blood donations by informing citizens of the exact levels of blood in stock - even supplying real-time charts of blood stock levels accessible on their website.

--From Good Net

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Seeking Peace through Conservation

Environmental peacebuilding is an emerging field of practice that responds to the needs of the many remote, biodiverse communities around the world that struggle to prevent or mitigate conflicts over natural resources. Between 1950 and 2000, 118 of 146 conflicts (81 percent) took place wholly or partially within biodiversity hotspots. About 40 percent of violent interstate conflicts in 2009 were linked to natural resources (UNEP 2012). Conservation International (CI) is an international conservation organization dedicated to empowering societies to care for nature, global biodiversity, and the well-being of humanity in a responsible and sustainable manner. CI’s environmental peacebuilders engage with local communities and institutions to restore societal cohesion, conserve the environment, and protect dwindling natural resources—often in countries with weak governance, social divides, and ongoing insecurity and violence.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Daily Acts of Generosity, Gratitude

C. Coimbra photo

In an instant we can lose loved ones to an unexpected tragedy. Imagine the loss of two of your children in one accident, and that the same time you lose the rental agreement on your family home.

This happened in my community, and it happens in communities every where.  This is when we can see the beauty of so many people who come together to not only bring comfort to the survivors, but real generosity.

Funerary costs for the mother who lost her children were far beyond her reach.  Fundraising efforts began immediately.  I witnessed two elements of light grow with this heartbreaking event: Generosity and Gratitude.

It happens every day.  It happens in every town.  It happens in every country.

Friday, July 24, 2015

10 Rewards for Volunteering

Volunteers like Bob Watson (above, left) brings people together as he
showcases his WWII experiences. C. Coimbra photo

The Community Service page from UC San Diego sums up the top 10 reasons to volunteer:

10. It’s good for you. Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It reduces stress … enhances moods and emotions, like optimism, joy, and control over one’s fate.

9. It saves resources. Volunteering provides valuable community services, so more money can be spent on local improvements.

8. Volunteers gain professional experience.

7. It brings people together. As a volunteer you assist in uniting people … to work toward a common goal and build camaraderie and teamwork.

6. It promotes personal growth and self-esteem. Understanding community needs helps foster empathy and self-efficacy.

5. Volunteering strengthens your community. As a volunteer you help support families (day care, elder care), improve schools (tutoring, literacy), support youth (mentoring, after-school programs), and beautify the community (beach, park cleanups)

4. You learn a lot. Volunteers discover hidden talents. Volunteers learn about the functions and operation of government and can gain knowledge of local resources available to solve community needs.

3. You get a chance to give back.

2. Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.

1. You make a difference.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Glow of Volunteering

Volunteers seem to gravitate toward each other ... Mike Land is an expert in the field of community service, as an associate professor of English and director of community service learning at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

Land took a cross-country road trip and chronicled his community service discoveries in his blog, I asked him, “Did you discover any surprises or circumstances that you did not expect?”

“As the trip unfolded, I found myself focusing more and more on the connection between awareness and action, and how each feeds the other. Without the satisfaction of being able to take some positive action, the awareness of the vastness of the problems out there can make people fall into feelings of despair, helplessness and cynicism. Some sensitive people can even check out of awareness altogether for days at a time, because they can’t get a positive handle on things. Whereas the action of volunteer work, or even taking a job in a cause-driven nonprofit, both fosters awareness and makes that awareness easier to handle. The many people I met working with immigrants on the border, or the homeless on the West Coast, or with the environment, or other causes, radiated a positive energy about what they were doing, even when talking of the odds against change.”

---From The Cambrian 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

King of the Road: Plastics

It's an idea that's on paper, and an interesting idea.  To begin with, "In the United States alone more than 250 million tons of waste are generated every year, 136 million of which is dumped into landfills. While no one can calculate how much waste is generated globally, the numbers range in the billions: at least 200 billion plastic bottles, 58 billion disposable cups, and hundreds of billions of plastic bags are trashed annually," according to Record.  

So VolkerWessels, a Rotterdam corporation, is developing a means to take plastic and use it in making roads. "PlasticRoad features numerous advantages compared to conventional roads, both in terms of construction and maintenance. Plastic is much more sustainable and opens the door for a number of new innovations such as power generation, quiet road surfaces, heated roads and modular construction. Additionally, the PlasticRoad design features a 'hollow' space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater," notes the VolkerWessels' website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Totally Awesome

The Awesome Foundation is an ever-growing worldwide community devoted to forwarding the interest of awesome in the universe. Created in the long hot summer days of 2009 in Boston, the Foundation distributes $1,000 grants, no strings attached, to projects and their creators. At each fully autonomous chapter, the money is pooled together from the coffers of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees” and given up front in cash, check, or gold doubloons.

...The Awesome Foundation is a global community advancing the interest of awesome in the universe, $1000 at a time.

Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1000 or the local equivalent, come out of pockets of the chapter's "trustees" and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.


Every chapter interprets "awesome" for itself. As such, awesome projects include initiatives in a wide range of areas including arts, technology, community development, and more. Many awesome projects are novel or experimental, and evoke surprise and delight. Awesome sometimes challenges and often inspires. Browse some grants on the chapter pages of this site to see what we mean! We're still waiting for something with dinosaurs (hint, hint).

---From The Awesome Foundation website

Friday, July 17, 2015

Thoughtful, Fashionable Clothing for Children with Special Needs

Independence Day Clothing photo

"Independence Day Clothing was started with a mission to help people with autism and specifically those with sensory integration disorders...with products that make people feel special in the skin they are in.  After designing ID clothing with reversible and personal tracking features we realized that lots of people, not only those with autism, needed and were tirelessly searching for clothing with these special "perks".  ID Clothing solves a problem that not only the special needs community has -  cutting out the hassles of getting dressed," explains the business's website.

The fashionable clothes are free of tags, zippers, and buttons.  They are made with sensory-friendly fabrics, are reversible and come with an optional pocket for GPS. The designs are made to accommodate persons with cognitive and physical impairments.

"Independence Day/ID is a women-and-minority run company drawing from the resources of the fashion, design, special education, media and finance sectors of New York City."

A Free Summer of Peace Program

As we near the midpoint of summer,  there is still time to join The Summer of Peace--a free series of discussions, workshops, meditations and information--all designed to a commitment of global peace. The Daily Prism will post more from the Summer of Peace effort through the September workshops.

From The Summer of Peace website:

With a steady stream of news about unspeakable violence in war-torn areas to escalating reports of police brutality, we are reminded of the need to strengthen our capacity for outer and inner peace. It’s clear that it’s time we create a new story about peace.

We need a narrative that speaks to the human complexity of the inner spirit, to international relations, to dialogues across multiple sectors of society – including healing humanity’s relationship with the Earth. We need an understanding of peace broad enough to embrace the deep spiritual realms, along with the grounded – and at times even hard-nosed – practical actions that can transform difficult situations locally and globally.

However, for all of us who long for more peace and harmony in our lives and our world, some days, the challenges we face can feel daunting.

In these times, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by the inner conflicts within ourselves – not to mention the pain generated by clashes with family members, friends, co-workers... and even strangers. And when we hear about bullying in schools, the senseless violence in our neighborhoods and the overwhelming number of refugees displaced from war, it’s so easy to feel helpless and fall into despair.

It can be difficult to know where to turn to find the inspiration and guidance we need to heal the conflicts in our own hearts, in our relationships and in our larger world.

This is where The Summer of Peace comes in. The Shift Network has a deep commitment to global peace, which is why we’re offering this amazing series to you for FREE.

This monumental 3-month event features powerful insights and practical skills from the world’s leading peacebuilders – so you’ll be empowered to co-create a life and a world where peace – instead of conflict – is the baseline.

Through The Summer of Peace, you’ll:

  • Discover more personal ease, joy and well-being with practices to help you connect more profoundly to the deep peace within yourself.
  • Experience more harmonious and loving relationships with your family, friends, co-workers and community members.
  • Be uplifted when you hear success stories from those on the front-lines of creating positive change in the most desperate areas on the planet.
  • Receive deep wisdom for co-creating a new narrative of peace, and find effective methods for putting this vision into inspired action.
  • Discover best practices for citizen engagement and conscious activism to help accelerate the shift to a world of peace!

As part of The Shift Network’s commitment to peace, we have also created the first virtual World Peace Library. The 2015 Summer of Peace programs will eventually become part of this FREE global resource.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three Additional Thoughts on Generous People

The final three elements of a generous person as posted in Becoming Minimalist:

7. They see more resources to give than money.

We have so much more to offer this world than just financial resources. We have time, talents, experiences, and lessons learned. Giving people think beyond their money and begin to invest their lives into others. Often times, this step can be more difficult than signing a check… but usually, it is more desperately needed.

8. They fully embrace the reality that life is short.

Life is short. And we only get one shot at it. Those who fully embrace this reality learn to live life in light of it. They recognize we have but a short time to leave our imprint on this world. And they cheerfully give their resources to accomplish it.

9. They are content to live with less.

By definition, true generosity requires a level of contentment. It recognizes the reality that giving our resources to another person means we have less for ourselves. In this way, contentment forms the foundation for generosity. But in response, surprisingly enough, generosity also becomes the fuel for greater contentment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Generous Person's World-View

Three more tips from Becoming Minimalists on how generous people function:

4. They believe changing even one life is worthwhile.

Generous people are quick to admit the world’s problems will never be solved by one person… and perhaps, never completely solved even in the future. But perfection does not slow them. To them, changing even one life within their sphere of influence is reward enough. And is a worth endeavor to be sought.

5. They trust others.

Generosity always requires trust. To invest individual resources into another person, we must believe, on some level, that they will use them wisely. Generous people are optimistic. And optimistic people are happy people because they choose to live in a world where belief in others is liberally employed.

6. They dream big dreams for their money.

Our money is only as valuable as what we choose to spend it on. Generous people use their excess to bring big dreams into reality. Our financial resources can be used to improve the quality of life for others. They can be used to make our communities safer, smarter, and more responsible. They can be used to make this world a little more pleasant for everyone. Indeed, generous people dream big dreams for their money… and so should we.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Joy of Generosity

The Becoming Minimalist website offers tips about living fully with less.  The next few posts from the website discuss the inner happiness that generosity provides.  The first three:

1. The resource pie is not finite.

The mindset of competition—that my resources only grow when someone else’s shrinks—is based on a faulty premise. It assumes there is a finite sized pie and if someone else enjoys success, my opportunity shrinks. But quite frankly, this thinking is incorrect. The pie of resources is not finite. It continues to grow as society benefits from others’ success.

2. Generosity leads to greater happiness.

Studies confirm what generous people already know: Giving increases happiness, fulfillment, and purpose in the life of the giver. We were not designed to be creatures of selfishness. Instead, we were designed to seek and discover happiness in loving and caring for others. And those who decide to look for fulfillment there, quickly discover it.

3. Success in helping others succeed.

The easiest path to finding success in your life is to help someone else find theirs. After all, our contribution to this world has to be measured by something more significant than the size of our savings account. Our lives are going to find their greatest significance in how we choose to live them—and how we enable others to live theirs.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Meditation for Peace

From the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation:

Every Monday, we share with you the stories from luminaries, celebrities and unsung heroes, about how we can achieve Peace Within, so that we can use that Inner Peace to have Peace Between people and Peace Among nations.

Today we wanted to share something more – the science behind WHY you should begin working on developing Peace Within. We turned to Dr. Emma Seppälä, Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism and Research at Stanford University.

“When my colleagues at Stanford and at other universities started researching meditation, most of us expected that meditation would help with stress levels,” Dr. Seppälä shares. “However, what many of us did not anticipate was the extent of the benefits the data ended up showing.”

Seppälä continues, “Hundreds of studies suggest that meditation doesn’t just decrease stress levels but that it also has tangible health benefits such as improved immunity, lower inflammation and decreased pain. Additionally, brain-imaging studies show that meditation sharpens attention and memory. Perhaps most importantly, it has been linked to increased happiness and greater compassion.”

Inspired to share her findings, Dr. Seppälä summarized her data in an article and then created this helpful infographic to help readers visualize the data and to inspire would-be or regular meditators to keep up with their practice!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Vacation Time

It's a holiday in America, which means The Daily Prism will take a holiday too.  We'll be back with those sparks of light later in July.  Thanks for reading this blog.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hike. It's Good for You

C. Coimbra photo

The following is excerpted from Science proves what you suspected: hiking's good for your mental health

Do not underestimate the power of a walk in the woods: A new study suggests that even a 90- minute stroll in a natural environment can lead to measurable changes in the brain, and may help combat depression.

Previous research has shown that just a 50-minute walk in nature can improve your mood, decrease your anxiety and even improve your memory. But for the new study, published this week in PNAS, the research team wanted to see if they could understand what the mechanisms for these positive effects might be.

...To help them figure it out, they decided to focus specifically on what psychologists call "rumination," which has been shown to predict depressive episodes.

...Examples of rumination include spending a lot of time thinking back over embarrassing or disappointing moments, or rehashing recent things you've said or done.

To see how a walk in nature affects ruminative thought, the researchers randomly assigned 38 volunteers with no history of mental illness to take a 90-minute walk in an urban green space near Palo Alto or a loud, busy street with three to four lanes of traffic in each direction.

...The researchers found that those who went on the nature walk showed reductions in both self-reported rumination and in the profusion of blood flow to the subgenual prefontal cortex. They observed no significant changes in the urban walkers.

Gratitude Strategy

A recent post from Greater Good, discusses gratitude.  Here is the short version.  To read the entire post to to Four Great Gratitude Strategies.

Over the past two decades, much of the research on happiness can be boiled down to one main prescription: give thanks. Across hundreds of studies, practicing gratitude has been found to increase positive emotions, reduce the risk of depression, heighten relationship satisfaction, and increase resilience in the face of stressful life events, among other benefits.

The problem is, gratitude doesn’t always come naturally. The negatives in our lives—the disappointments, resentments, and fears—sometimes occupy more of our attention than the positives.
But Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that intentionally developing a grateful outlook helps us both recognize good things in our lives and realize that many of these good things are “gifts” that we have been fortunate to receive. By making gratitude a habit, we can begin to change the emotional tone of our lives, creating more space for joy and connection with others.

Fortunately, researchers have identified a number of practices for cultivating gratitude. Many of them are collected on the Greater Good Science Center’s new website, Greater Good in Action (GGIA), which features the top research-based exercises for fostering happiness, kindness, connection, and resilience. Here I highlight GGIA’s gratitude practices, which can be divided into four main categories.

Count your blessings
Mental subtraction of positive events
Say, "Thank you"

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Saudi Prince Promises His Fortune to Women's Rights and Other Causes

A Saudi prince has promised to give away his entire $32 billion fortune to focus on causes including the empowerment of women, The Wall Street Journal reported. He cited the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as his inspiration.

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, nephew of Saudi King Salman, has been vocal champion of women’s rights in a country where women are barred from many activities including driving. In a statement, he said that the money will be disbursed according to a “well devised plan throughout the coming years.” In addition to the empowerment of women, it will support disaster relief and disease eradication.