Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Free Reading Program for Kids

Quite possibly, one of the most joyful websites The Daily Prism has discovered over the  years is KidsRead2Kids.

kidsread2kids photo

"KidsRead2Kids is a web-based platform that provides visitors with read-aloud, abridged versions of literary classics – everything from “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” to “Jane Eyre” to “Alice in Wonderland.” And, in line with KidsRead2Kids mission, the readings are performed by a diverse team of young readers," according to Points of Light.

The project is a volunteer effort by Alana, Jacob and Reuben Blumenstein after Jacob was diagnosed with dyslexia.  As explained to Points of Light:  As a child, Jacob, now 15, was diagnosed with dyslexia. Inspired by the support he received and resources available to him, he became determined to help provide other kids with learning differences the same opportunities he’d had. “It was a really big struggle for me. I felt like I was alone, like I was different from everyone else,” said Jacob. “When I figured out I had dyslexia, it kind of made sense. So here at KidsRead2Kids we wanted to help people who have the same type of problems, but don’t have the resources, to get to the point where I got to.”

From the Kids Read 2 Kids website:  Being an avid reader really does make you smarter. But struggling with Dyslexia or other learning disabilities can make reading difficult and not very much fun. So we tend to put the books down and our learning slows along the way.

Reading is a major source of knowledge and a great way to reduce stress in our every day lives. Reading allows us to transport our worried minds to another place, so we won’t feel so overwhelmed with the hardships of everyday life. While watching a movie may seem easier or more fun, there is nothing like curling up with a good book. We realize that reading can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have the right resources to help you.

Studies show that listening to books is the most important activity to build the skills for reading success.

So let us read to you.  We have picked our favorite abridged versions of beloved classic stories.  Together we can embark on great journeys, travel to foreign lands and meet fascinating people.  Along the way you will learn new vocabulary words, boost your analytical thinking, improve your writing skills, and even increase your working memory.

Let’s tackle some of the greatest classic literature together – one book at a time.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One World Bearing Witness--Dec. 2 & 3



From One World in Dialogue:

One World Bearing Witness is a free 24-hour online, global/local, live, participatory, healing ritual for humanity that brings us together in Unity and Difference.

Our intention is to stir the hope and courage of humanity and create a space between us in which our painful and often long-standing divisions can be held and seen from the depth of our nonseparation and interconnectedness. This is a small but essential step toward developing a ground together from which a new will toward cooperation and action can arise.

From December 2nd to 3rd, using the latest interactive video technology, we will go on a profound journey with thousands of concerned, caring people worldwide through seven ritual cycles offered by spiritual leaders, revered elders, community activists, visionary artists, and transformational tricksters from all directions on this planet to bear witness and to take a stand for the Light in the face of Darkness.

You are Invited
During this 24-hour online vigil, you will travel virtually from the Philippines to Hawai’i, from the Canadian plains to the African desert, touching down on “acupuncture points” on the body of our wounded world where you can participate in healing rituals and ceremonies guided by courageous individuals who offer to transform our divisions by working for a deeper reconciliation and peace.

Your hosts, Dr. Thomas Steininger and Dr. Elizabeth Debold, will introduce you to wisdom keepers from many lineages who will guide you into a deep recognition that we are not separate, and your hosts will also provide you with a seat in ceremony circles around the world where ritual holders are working to heal critical divisions in the human psyche and family.

We welcome you to participate in any or all of the 24-hours, as long as you feel drawn to take part.

You can bear witness and take part by:

  • Meditating with gifted spiritual teachers and practitioners from different traditions,
  • Realizing the remarkable depth of Oneness in a global meditation field,
  • Sitting with different communities and elders that invite you to take part in ancient and contemporary rituals to deepen our connection with each other and with earth,
  • Allowing yourself to be touched by the stories and ceremonies of healing and reconciliation,
  • Standing in solidarity with groups around the world that are working to heal the wounds of war and conflict,
  • Offering your own ideas and inspiration to help heal the past and forge a wholesome future,
  • Sharing your experiences with others from around the world, and
  • Developing a greater capacity to hold unity-in-diversity as one whole.
Learn more by clicking this link: One World


Monday, November 20, 2017

Are You TOO Nice?



Leo Durocher once remarked: “Nice guys finish last.” Do nice people really finish last? Sometimes. It depends on the type of "nice" one exudes. Some nice people command appreciation and respect, while others are used and abused. If you consider yourself a "nice" person, which type are you?

Here’s a quick self-assessment quiz:

  • Do you have a hard time saying “no” to others’ requests, even when they’re unreasonable?
  • Do you often find yourself under-appreciated and taken for granted?
  • Do you believe you’re being taken advantage of at work or in your personal relationships?
  • Do you let people give you thankless tasks they don’t want to do themselves?
  • Do you often go along with what others say and want, even if you feel differently deep down?
  • Do your kindness and self-giving often go unreciprocated?
  • Are you afraid of being rejected if you don’t go along with certain people’s whims and demands?
  • Do you take care of others first and yourself last?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you could be too nice, at least in certain areas of your life.

To be sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice. The world is a better place with more kind hearted and generous people. At the same time, it’s important to be nice in a way that’s healthy for everyone involved (especially you), so that you’re not consistently holding the short end of the stick. Below are seven keys to gaining appreciation and respect.

1. Practice Self-Respect ― Know Your Individual Rights

Many researchers (Lefcourt, Ng et al.) state that having a sense of internal locus of control over our own lives is one of the important conditions for mental health. A healthy sense of control comes from exercising your right to set your own priorities, say “no” without feeling guilty, protect yourself from harm, choose healthy relationships, get what you pay for, and create your own happiness in life. At times, it’s simply wiser to take good care of yourself first, so you can in turn be better (and truer) with others. If your life is your own to choose, then with each moment you have the power to make a good decision. No one can take this power away from you unless you allow it. Know your individual rights, and practice self-respect.

2. Change Your Attitude About Having To Be Nice All The Time

“The difference is too nice - Where ends the virtue or begins the vice.”
―  Alexander Pope

There’s a big difference between being nice because you want to, versus being nice because you have to. The first comes from your heart, while the second feels like a burden. “Nice” people often associate not doing something for someone with erroneous negative thoughts and emotions. For example:

Negative Thought #1: “I’m selfish if don’t help my friends all the time. “

Negative Emotion #1: Guilt

Negative Thought #2: “She won’t like me if I don’t go along with what she wants. “

Negative Emotions #2: Fear of rejection, fear of negative outcome.

For “nice” people, it’s important to know that no one should be expected to be nice all the time. It’s neither reasonable nor real. If negative thoughts and emotions arise as a result of you being selective about your niceness, simply talk back to them with self-confirming responses:

Self-Confirmation #1: “If I allow myself my own time, I can take better care of myself as well as others.”

Self-Confirmation #2: “If I treat myself with respect, I will attract more respectful relationships in my life.”

Whenever reasonable and appropriate, practice self-confirmation when you feel obligated to be nice. Each time you do so, you remind yourself that YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO.

3. Distinguish Being Kind To People From Having To Do Things For Them

There are two ways to be nice: Being friendly and courteous to people, and doing things for them. We can practice the first with just about everyone, as long as they don’t violate our boundaries. As the saying goes, “A smile costs nothing but gives much.” While we’re courteous with people, we can at the same time be selective about what we want or don’t want to do for them. In communication we call this being soft on the person, and firm on the issue. Steve Jobs reminds us: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.”  Distinguish being kind to people from having to do things for them. Choose your giving wisely.

4. Don’t Try To Please Everyone, And Don’t Try To Please Any One Person All The Time

No one can please everyone all the time, so please don’t even try. People who receive your thankless and unreciprocated giving on a regular basis are also more likely to take it for granted. There’s power that comes with exercising your right to set boundaries and say “no.” While there are many ways you can say “no” diplomatically (see tip #5 below), you’re saying “no” nonetheless. With my private coaching to clients learning assertiveness, I often remind them that it’s more important to be respected than to be liked. Nice people often don’t get the respect they deserve, while those who are respected have the luxury to be nice. Again, there’s power in saying “no” and setting your own priorities. Gain respect first, so that your generosity, when you do offer it, is truly appreciated.

“At home I am a nice guy: but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, 
I've found, don't get very far.”
― Muhammad Ali

5. Know How To Say “No” ― Gently But Firmly

To be able to say “no” gently but firmly is to practice the art of communication. Effectively articulated, it allows you to stand your ground while keeping the peace. In my book (click on title) “Are You Too Nice? How to Gain Appreciation and Respect,” I review seven different ways you can say “no,” to help lower resistance and keep the peace.

“It's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

― Steve Jobs

6. Know That You’re Not Responsible For Other People’s Feelings

Sometimes we feel obligated to do things for others because we don’t want them to feel bad, even when it’s unreasonable for us to go out of our way. We may be so concerned about how others might react if they don’t get what they want that we submerge our own feelings to theirs. When done repeatedly, this facilitates a co-dependent relationship where other people’s happiness becomes your responsibility and burden.

In these situations, it’s important to remember that as long as we’re being fair, reasonable and conscientious, we’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. If you deny their unreasonable requests and they don’t like it, so be it. They’ll get over it. In the meantime, you’re teaching them how you’d like to be treated - with more consideration and respect.

7. Know That For Those Who Take You For Granted, Less Is More

The economy runs on the law of supply demand: the more something is available in abundance, the less values it has. The same rule applies to the economy of human relations. In the presence of ungrateful people, the more you give to them, the less they appreciate what you offer. Why should they value you when their taking is so easy, and your giving seems so inexhaustible?

When appropriate, you may do yourself a big service by cutting off or limiting your giving to ungrateful people, and setting standards for your generosity (which may include values such as mutual respect, consideration, appreciation, and reciprocation). If they give you a hard time about it, stand your ground and utilize the tips offered in this article. Remember that you alone hold the power in deciding whether you want to be nice or not. Don’t’ give that power away so easily. For those who cannot accept that you’ll no longer cater to their every whim, you lose little by ending your thankless service. For those who begin to show more appreciation, you now have a healthier relationship.

“Some people don’t appreciate what they have until it's gone.”
― Common saying

In conclusion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with offering your generosity and kindness to those in need, or to the well deserving, or just because you have a big heart. Compassion makes the world a better place. At the same time, it’s healthy and wise to be a good person who also knows how to set appropriate boundaries. Nice people deserve the same love, appreciation, and respect they give to others, which can only be had when one begins to love, appreciate, and respect oneself. It is in affirming these values that you begin to find your own identity, and discover your true voice. YOU DESERVE NOTHING LESS.
---From Greater Good Magazine

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Volunteerism Unites a Divided Nation



Volunteers in California serving food for a community fundraiser
to benefit veterans, children and yout

If ever there was good news, it is this (edited for space) letter from the CEO of Points of Light. Take a second to read and The Daily Prism hopes that these positive words will inspire the reader to take action and volunteer to do something that makes life better for us all.  All highlighting in this post is by The Daily Prism.


By Natalye Paquin, CEO, Points of Light


There is a steady drumbeat of stories that focus on our differences. No matter how you consume your news, you’ll see or hear stories about intolerance in our daily lives and political stalemates at every level of government. At the beginning of the year, the Pew Research Center released a poll and said that Americans predicted the country’s deep political divisions to persist – with 86 percent saying the country is more politically divided than ever.

Shortly before that poll was released, however, Points of Light affiliate New York Cares reported that, just a week after one of the most divisive national elections in our country’s history, there was a 137 percent increase in people who came to them with an interest in volunteering.

As we approach the end of 2017, the two sides of this story continue to play out. Yes, we are still seeing rallies of hate and intolerance and our elected officials still don’t agree on solutions to some of the toughest challenges we face. But on the other hand, people are seeking out ways to do something that makes their community better or helps an individual in need. It’s the inclination to help in times of need. It’s what Americans do. And it binds us together as a nation.

The recent series of natural disasters has offered a striking visual – a national story about the power and impact of volunteers. Communities darkened by flood damage ultimately shine with the bright light of neighbors helping neighbors.

Some people walk out of their front doors to help others in their community. Some drive across the country to volunteer. And those who aren’t able to deploy, organize relief efforts from home.

The truth is, people committed to serving others unite around our common humanity.

When it comes to helping – whether it’s rescuing people from flooded homes or pulling up damaged floors after a storm – it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican; rich or poor; black or white; religious or not. Volunteers unite in service. And, strength, resiliency and generosity flow from those simple acts of service.


Friday, November 17, 2017

St. Francis, Wealth, Poverty & Democracy



The Daily Prism's final posting of essays and thoughts from difference sources about the various elements of maintaining a democracy comes from the Center for Contemplation "Depth and Breadth" by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. We could post essays on this subject for weeks. The center message to this research is that compassion remains the key to a healthy democracy. 

***

One reason so many people have lost heart today is that we feel both confused and powerless. The forces against us are overwhelming: consumerism, racism, militarism, individualism, patriarchy, the corporate juggernaut. These “powers and principalities” seem to be fully in control. We feel helpless to choose our own lives, much less a common life, or to see any overarching meaning. The world is so complex, and we are so small. What can we do but let the waves of history carry us and try to keep afloat somehow?

But maybe we can at least look for some patterns, or for those who found the patterns. Let’s turn to a thirteenth-century Italian who has one of the longest bibliographies of anyone in history: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). His simple wisdom has attracted many cultures and religions and continues to resonate eight hundred years later.

Saint Francis stepped out into a world being recast by the emerging market economy. He lived amid a decaying old order in which his father was greedily buying up the small farms of debtors, moving quickly into the new entrepreneurial class. The Church seems to have been largely out of touch with the masses. But Francis trusted a deeper voice and a bigger truth. He sought one clear center—the Incarnate Jesus—and moved out from there.

Francis understood everything from this personalized reference point. He followed Jesus in at least three clear ways. First, Francis delved into the prayer depths of his own tradition, as opposed to mere repetition of tired formulas. Second, he sought direction in the mirror of creation, as opposed to mental and fabricated ideas or ideals. Third, and most radically, he looked to the underside of his society, to the suffering, for an understanding of how God transforms us. In other words, Francis found both depth and breadth—and a process to keep him there.

The depth was an inner life where all shadow, mystery, and paradox were confronted, accepted, and forgiven—and God was encountered. The breadth was the ordinary and sacred world itself.

Francis showed us the process for staying at the center: entering into the world of human powerlessness. In imitation of Jesus, he chose “poverty” as his honest and truthful lens for seeing everything. Francis set out to read reality through the eyes and authority of those who have “suffered and been rejected”—and, with Jesus, come out resurrected. This is the “privileged seeing” of those who have been initiated by life. It is the true baptism of “fire and Spirit” with which, Jesus says, we must all be baptized (see Mark 10:39).

For Francis, the true “I” first had to be discovered and realigned (the prayer journey into the True Self). He then had to experience himself situated inside of a meaning-filled cosmos (a sacramental universe). Francis prayed, “Who are you, God? And who am I?” Finally, he had to be poor (to be able to read reality from the side of powerlessness). He realized that experiencing reality from the side of money, success, and power is to leave yourself out of sympathy with 99% of the people who have ever lived.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

16 Ways to End Racism in a Democracy



Racism is ugly. We likely all have a touch of racism within -- even the most liberal minded among us. Regardless of race, culture or faith, racism exits -- an unfortunate element of being human. It is, however, an aspect of being human that we can rise above. And in a democracy, all citizens are equal.  

From the series on democracy from Spirituality and Practice

Recent outbreaks of racial bigotry and violence have jolted Americans and people of good will around the world. Social critics, scholars, and cultural commentators have explained this revival of prejudice by pointing to a social justice system in need of repair; police brutality; parental abdication of the responsibility to teach respect for others to children; unemployment among people of color; and widespread feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness of those who sense that they have been denied equal opportunity.

Although these factors shed light on the divisiveness afoot in our world, they do not really get at the heart of the matter. Racial prejudice is a disease of the mind in which we project our self-disgust, anger, alienation, and paranoia upon others whom we perceive to be different from us.

This sickness of mind creates "the hostile imagination," a term coined by freelance theologian Sam Keen. It has already perverted community loyalties and threatens family solidarity. It is eating away at respect for the ideals of ethnic diversity which traditionally have animated our pluralistic society.

One way to lessen racial prejudice is to replace the hostile imagination with "the moral imagination." Here is where qualities and spiritual practices of the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy hit the road and provide antidotes to the fears and resentments which at the root of racism. Among them are:


  1. Compassion
  2. Connections
  3. Hope
  4. Hospitality
  5. Imagination
  6. Justice
  7. Kindness
  8. Listening
  9. Love
  10. Meaning
  11. Openness
  12. Peace
  13. Reverence
  14. Shadow
  15. Transformation
  16. Unity



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Find Solutions to Poverty for a Strong Democracy



Poverty impacts democracy. We can observe the current circumstances of homelessness, hunger, and impoverished families within the American society, and a  evident separation of the wealthy and the impoverished. The key phrase in the following abbreviated essay is "...it will take the commitment of compassionate individuals willing to learn about this issue and do what they can to help their neighbors.


From Spirituality and Practice:

Poverty destroys the bodies, minds, and spirits of people. It savages and ravages their hopes and dreams and puts them in a prison of fear, danger, and despair.

According to September 2017 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau provided by the Federal Safety Net, 40.6 million Americans or 12.7 percent of the population live in poverty — that's one of every eight people. The child poverty rate is even higher — one in five children — disturbing because children can do little to influence their living conditions.

(Editor's note: The U.S. poverty rate dropped to 12.7% of the population in 2016 from 13.5% in 2015.)

There is no quick-and-easy solution to poverty. It will take a concerted effort on the part of government and socially engaged institutions (churches, synagogues, mosques, sanghas) to tackle the problem and change the structures and systems which fuel and perpetuate poverty in all its virulent forms. And it will also take the commitment of compassionate individuals willing to learn about this issue and do what they can to help their neighbors.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Healthy Society Boosts Democracy



Healthy citizens are more likely to vote in elections.


Today's post on democracy comes from the University of Wisconsin. It focuses on being healthy and how that can impact democracy.  

Excerpted from the University of Wisconsin:

Factors that facilitate social environments and health are varied and span far beyond medical care. Politics has a hand in most factors in one way or another. “Nearly everything we experience is touched by government,” says Barry Burden, a professor of political science and Director of the Elections Research Center at UW-Madison. “Roads, air, taxes, medications, movies, cost of textbooks, and the moped speeding limit are some examples.” While these may not immediately impact individual biology, they do impact the social environment we find ourselves in, subsequently impacting our health status. Tom Oliver, a professor of population health sciences in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, says, “broadly speaking, how we improve public health has to come from a lot of areas, and we have to look beyond just health care.”

...The impacts of voting and political decisions touch nearly every facet of daily life, from safety, to housing, to education, and even our health.

...The relationship between health and voting is both well-researched and reciprocal. “Research shows that the healthier you are, the more likely you are to cast a ballot,” says Burden. In turn, there is also research that shows voting can actually make people healthier. “When a person is involved with civic life, they are social, efficacious, and participating,” says Burden.

Participation in civic life is one way to improve social wellbeing. Feelings of connection and belonging change the way individuals interact with the world around them. Oliver speaks highly of the importance of participating in community life as it relates to health. “Social connectedness is really important for physical health, because they are active when they’re getting out and doing things, and also mental health, because social capital relates to an underlying ideal that can determine health status.”

The Social Ecological Model of Health is one way to visualize this idea. The model suggests that an individual’s health is determined not only by their biology and individual choices, but also the community they live in, the systems they interact with, and the societal norms that shape their realities. “Health begins with the genes you inherit from your parents,” says Oliver, “but it grows into how you are affected by your social environment.”

... "We have to decide where we’re going as a country morally, economically, and politically,” says Wells. And this certainly has an impact on wellbeing. “A lot of people talk about a right to health,” says Oliver. “And while we can’t ensure that, we can support it.” No matter what this support looks like, whether it is directed to health policy or otherwise, the people have the power to facilitate not only their personal health, but the determinants around them that can shape it. This is the foundation of a healthy democracy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

7 Virtues for a Democratic Society




The birthright of being a citizen in a democratic society is something of which one should find gratefulness in being.  Democracy is a gift and a gift that all citizens share with each other. The next few posts in The Daily Prism will feature essays and thoughts on democracy in America, and ways to help end the current divide fueled by fear and anger. 

From the Fetzer Institute:

Americans are people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, united by a powerful idea: we are all created equal. We believe everyone deserves the freedom and opportunity to pursue our own happiness and purpose in life.

But fear and anger are tearing at the fabric of America. Division and suspicion threaten our very survival as a democratic nation.

We, the people, have the power to shape our democracy. Working together, we can transcend the labels that polarize us and develop a fuller understanding of what unites us. We can cultivate sacred connections with our neighbors and build a shared vision for our communities and our country.

An inclusive America begins with each of us, as individuals. We have the responsibility to practice spiritual and moral virtues that enable us all to flourish as members of a democratic society:


  • Love in the face of hatred and division
  • Respect for every person’s sacred dignity and worth
  • Commitment to the greater good
  • Humility to admit we might not have all the answers
  • Openness to having our minds changed by those with whom we disagree
  • Courage to compromise
  • Wisdom to see that we’re all in this together—and that none of us can truly prosper unless we all prosper


These are simple rules we can live by every day. They can help all of us open our hearts, find a common purpose, and make our democracy work for the greater good of all.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans and Cats--A Natural Kinship




Thank a Veteran for their Service.

Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served our country in the armed forces.

 For one day, we stand united in respect for our veterans.

Veterans and Cats, what do they have in common?  People often think of dogs as providing comfort and therapy for our Veterans, but cats also provide comfort and ease the pain for Veterans too.
Here is a video that honors the relationship between veterans and cats.....


Friday, November 10, 2017

Visit National Parks for Free in California This Weekend


Free entry this Veteran's Day weekend in all national parks within California

The news announced today: (If you are) looking to get away for Veterans Day weekend can visit any of California’s national parks without having to pay an entrance fee.

Saturday and Sunday will be the final free entrance days of the year offered by the National Park Service. The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees.

Other fees such as reservations, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise, according to the National Park Service.

Yosemite National Park — about a four-hour drive from San Luis Obispo — also will offer free rides to Yosemite Valley through the Yosemite Area Regional Transit System (YARTS) over the weekend.

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/environment/article183728066.html#emlnl=Morning_Newsletter#storylink=cpy

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Let Hurtful People Empower & Polish Your Inner Good






At a time in history when leaders have demonstrated that it is quite okay to publicly demean others with name calling, or to strike out at others in a verbally cruel way, it presents a challenge to compassionate behavior.  How many times have we been forced to deal with difficult people? How many times have we struck back, and then felt bad afterwards?  In the following outtake from a piece by advice author and columnist, Kari Kampakis, she recommends that we allow the hurtful person to teach us how not to behave -- something this blogger discovered many years back when working as a retail store owner.  Bad, rude, distasteful behavior by some customers were grand lessons in humanity.


“Everyone in your life serves a purpose. Everyone has something to teach you.

And while people who are kind and friendly help teach you who you do want to be, those who are not kind and friendly teach you who you don’t want to be.

So when you encounter someone who hurts your feelings, lean into that feeling. Ask yourself what they did to make you feel that way. Was it the words they chose? Their tone? The way they picked favorites and then ignored everyone else?

Whatever they did, make a pledge. Promise yourself that you’ll never treat anyone the way they treated you. This is how you become a kinder and more compassionate person. This is how you learn from their mistakes.

And when you meet someone you really like, lean into that feeling, too. Ask yourself what they did to make you feel so good. Then make a pledge to yourself to be more like them. This is also how you become a kinder and more compassionate person.

Regardless of how anyone treats you, you stand to benefit. While some people teach you who you do want to be, others teach you who you don’t want to be. And it’s the people who teach you who you don’t want to be that provide some of the most lasting and memorable lessons on social graces, human dignity, and the importance of acting with integrity.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Gratitude Scavenger Hunt


The Daily Prism found this list on a Facebook page, The Practices of Gratitude. A large swath of mindfulness about gratitude and working towards being a better person sweeps social media. These efforts are not loud. These efforts are as gentle and pleasing as a breeze that asks the leaves of fall's deciduous to fall to the ground.

Thanks to the author of this list at simpleacresblog.com.

Friday, November 3, 2017

5 Gratitude Practices to Make You Smile




As another year wanes and fall is the precursor to a time of rest in winter, it seems that November is a perfect month in which to bring gratitude as a daily practice into our lives.

With all the disheveled behavior by world leaders and others, it would seem incumbent upon the rest of us to walk in gratitude for the good that remains. Peace does indeed, begin with you and I. It may seem like a strenuous uphill hike, but do we continue to wrestle in the muck, or seek to rise above it?

From the Bodhi Tree website comes the essay 5 Ways To Practice Gratitude And Boost Happiness.

The Daily Prism has extracted a portion of the essay by Justine Amodeo, contributing editor to Bodhi Tree and the editor of Pacific Coast Magazine and Montagemagazine.com:

1. Write a gratitude letter.

Think about someone who’s done something incredibly kind for you that you have never properly thanked. Write him or her a letter expressing your gratitude and try to deliver it in person. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been.

2. Take a sensory walk.

How often do we rush from place to place unconscious of what surrounds us? Take a walk near your home and pay attention to the sensations around you. Spend some time with a tree or building, notice the sound of the birds, and observe the light. Take all of it in and let yourself appreciate each sensation. (Read How to Forest Bathe at Work to learn how this practice can help you reap more than just gratitude.)

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

Record three to five things you’re grateful for in a journal every day or week. If you need tips, go to the GGSC’s easy-to-use online gratitude journal, Thnx4.org.

4. Teach gratitude to your children.

Discuss with your children an act of kindness that they could do for a classmate, friend or family member and help them carry it out. Afterward, ask them how that person responded and how they felt about their act of kindness. Then try to model this behavior for them on a regular basis.

5. Make gratitude place cards.

During holiday meals, surprise your guests by writing what you love and appreciate about each one of them on handmade place cards. It might be a nice exercise to read them aloud once all are seated at the table. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Free Workshop for Women Over 50, "Thriving in Your 3rd Act"



Are you ready to flourish in your “next act?”

Are you ready to reclaim your life once and for all, and create the solid foundation in order to flourish — to have financial security and a home community whom you love and supports you, as well as healthy, vibrant and energized later years?

Are you passionate about fulfilling your true purpose — to be the voice of wisdom and lived experience, to guide the world toward the change that we so desperately need?

You’ve lived a rich life, filled with knowledge, experiences, and accomplishments... and you may now be asking yourself “What’s next?”

“What’s the opening, the opportunity, the possibility for me? What have I always longed to do, but have never done?” Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I’ve loved my career, my family, but I dream of doing _________ (fill in the blank)...”

In our mainstream culture, there’s an underlying message that after you arrive at a certain age, you’ve already achieved your goals, reached your pinnacle, and mastered what was meant for you in this lifetime...

What’s worse is that many of us internalize this voice and unknowingly, we stop dreaming about bigger lives for ourselves and our futures. We settle for less relevant roles or accept physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual limitations as the status quo.

Yet, the life experiences you’ve navigated, the path you’ve pioneered, the work you’ve done in the world, is only the beginning — a launchpad into an inspiring, fulfilling “third act,” where you give and receive in equal parts, enriching the lives of others and making a difference in everything you do.

Thriving in Your Third Act is here to equip and empower you to live fully! Click this link to learn more and register for free.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

3 Prosocial Giving Strategies for a Good Feeling




The season of giving is upon us.  While charitable acts do warm the soul, we can also feel empty when feeling forced or guilted into giving to a cause.  The following is excerpted from the Greater Good Magazine article, "How to Make Giving Feel Good."


When does giving promote the most happiness? Understanding the answer to this complex question can help us get the biggest happiness bang for our own prosocial buck—and can help us create positive giving experiences for our children, clients, customers, employees, and donors. Below, we describe three strategies designed to boost the impact of investing in others.

1. Make It a Choice

Most of us have experienced a situation in which we felt cornered into providing help, whether by an overeager street canvasser, a colleague’s child selling overpriced chocolate bars for her basketball team, or a friend’s awkward request for a loan...

...Research by Netta Weinstein and Richard Ryan backs this up. In one study, 138 college students kept a daily diary over a two-week period, reporting how they felt each day and whether they had helped someone else or done something for a worthy cause. Students reported feeling better on days when they did something prosocial, but only when their actions felt self-chosen...

...In a study at the University of Oregon, researchers gave $100 to people, who then donated some of this money to a food bank—all from the inside of a scanner that assessed brain activity as they donated. Sometimes people could choose whether to give money, but sometimes the donations were mandatory, more like taxation. Even when donations were mandatory, giving to this worthwhile charity provoked activation in reward areas of the brain. But activation in these reward areas (along with self-reported satisfaction) was considerably greater when people chose to donate than when their prosocial spending was obligatory.

2. Make a Connection

It may seem obvious that gifts can help strengthen relationships. Indeed, after learning that their girlfriends have selected a desirable gift for them, men in long-term relationships are significantly more likely to say that the relationship will continue—and culminate in marriage.

But not only do gifts make us feel close to others; feeling closer to others makes us feel better about gifts. Research shows that people derive more happiness from spending money on “strong ties” (such as significant others, but also close friends and immediate family members) than on “weak ties” (think a friend of a friend, or a step-uncle)...

...But it’s possible to create a sense of connection even with total strangers.  A particularly strong example of that is the website DonorsChoose.org, which allows donors to purchase supplies or fund projects for a specific group of students. Creating links between a specific donor and a specific classroom enables an emotional connection to emerge from what would otherwise be a cold financial transaction.

3. Make an Impact

A donation to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) helps children around the world. There is no denying the importance of this cause, but it can be hard to see how a small donation to such a large, nebulous organization will make a concrete difference in a child’s life. Contrast that with Spread the Net, which allows donors to contribute $10 to send one malaria net to sub-Saharan Africa. Their slogan? “A child dies needlessly from malaria every minute. One bed net can protect up to five children for five years. 1 net. 10 bucks. Save lives.”

Both UNICEF and Spread the Net are worthy organizations devoted to children’s well-being, and the two are partners. But it’s a lot easier to see how your donation to Spread the Net will make an impact. And, sure enough, research we’ve conducted has found that when donors give money to Spread the Net, they get a bigger happiness boost than when they give money to UNICEF.

As that finding suggests, people feel better about giving money when they can sense the real-world impact of their generosity. Knowing that we’re having an impact on someone else is another critical factor in transforming good deeds into good feelings.




















Monday, October 30, 2017

5-Year-Old Empties Piggy Bank for Other Kids' Milk



The Daily Prism could not resist posting this story from the Good News Network: 

Two weeks ago, Sunshine Oelfke’s grandmother Jackie Sue spotted the youngster emptying out her piggy bank and counting the coins. She then dumped all of the change into a plastic baggy and tucked it into her school backpack.

Jackie Sue was confused as to what Sunshine was planning to do with the cash because the kindergartner exclusively uses the piggy bank to store up all of her allowance money so she can one day buy her own snowmobile.

“I’m going to take it for milk money. I’m taking it for my friend Layla,” explained Sunshine. “She doesn’t get milk — her mom doesn’t have milk money and I do.



There are 20 students in the 5-year-old’s class and half of them cannot afford to buy the $0.45 milk cartons for snack time. This means that providing every student in the class with milk costs roughly $180 per month.

So, after buying Layla’s milk, Sunshine eventually brought her kindergarten teacher all the money in her piggy bank, totaling up to $30. Jackie Sue and Sunshine then created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the rest of the school year.

Because news of the youngster’s compassion has gone viral, the campaign has surged past their original goal and raised $6,000.

“Sunshine is 5 and doesn’t grasp the concept of the HUGE impact she is making, but we all do,” says Jackie Sue. “What she does understand, [is that] all her friends were able to get milk last week at school.”

“My heart is so full of pride and love knowing that in a world where there is so much hatred, there is a ray of Sunshine with a HUGE heart that – at the age of 5 – LOVES everyone and always wants to help,” she added.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Replay of Compassion Thoughts: Observe & Listen



As October comes to a close, it is the hope of The Daily Prism that the Compassion It effort has made a bit of a difference.  As a final essay on compassion, the following piece is from Excellence Reporter, in answer to a question, "What Makes a Compassionate City:

WHAT MAKES A COMPASSIONATE COMMUNITY?
By
Charmaine Coimbra
Cambria, California

Eyes wide open and caring, are the first two steps to feed compassion where we live. With an understanding that I, as one person, cannot possibly bring well-being to all of those who hunger — those who hunger for love, shelter or peace  — I do understand that each action and smile that I make within a day creates a difference.

And this is where compassion within our communities begins. A day that ignites with the intention to illuminate sparks of light that follows our footsteps, compassion becomes the inevitable result.

Two key words are employed in the effort to bring compassion to the community: observe and listen.

Observe the needs and challenges. How can we address those needs and conquer the challenges? The recent California drought created severe water issues for my small community, compounded by a forest ripe for disaster. It remains incumbent upon every resident to grow in mindfulness of how we use water and how to react in the face of disaster.

That requires the second key word, listen. To listen without judgement to another’s point of view as a community that faces a growing list of frustrations and concern for the basic element of living — our environment — can best resolve the challenge at hand.

Positive change is ours when we seek our interconnectedness within our communities. How unmerciful would life be if we were all mirror images of each other? It is the differences, like a balanced blend of spices and herbs added to a soup, that creates the delectability of being human.

A compassionate community can be measured by the care of the environment that is a part of that community. The care of our environment reflects how we care for our inner environment. When we forget our connection to our water, our plants and animals, and the air we breathe, we have lost the very first steps to maintaining a compassionate community.

Every community experiences change. For my community, the change is in how we use water. For other communities the change can include a differing population, incoming jobs/outsourced jobs, housing, cost of living, or an environmental disaster. If we employ care, keep our eyes wide open and understand that we are all on this ride together, then creating a compassionate community has begun. It will spread. My smile made you smile. Your smile made a child smile. The child’s smile brought smiles to 10 more people, and so on. At this point we begin to work together to feed humanity’s hunger for love, shelter and peace.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Volunteer Makes a Difference: Pet Rescue in Disaster Regions




Today, October 28, 2017 is Make A Difference Day.  Thousands of volunteers across the country will come together with a common mission: to improve the lives of others through community service.

One example of service during the recent hurricanes is animal rescue and reuniting lost animals with their owners.

Cheri Deatsch travels to communities affected by natural disasters to rescue animals in need. Through Kinship Circle, an all-volunteer animal advocacy and disaster rescue nonprofit where Cheri serves as disaster field response manager – she has stepped up to volunteer in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Fukushima earthquake in Japan, severe flooding in Thailand, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and many more.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Cheri spent four days performing search and rescue missions to save animals from the floods and other detrimental conditions in Houston.

Deatsch shared some of her thoughts with the  Points of Light Foudations:

"I’ve seen the worst of times brings out the best in people. Often people not affected by the disaster feel helpless when they see television images of the pain and suffering of others, and volunteering allows one to channel those feelings into actions, which can really make a difference in the lives of persons who are in a time of need.

"Everybody has a skill, and there are always circumstances where you can use your skill to make a difference in the lives of others. Not only will your work be greatly appreciated, but you will learn a lot about yourself and others. And, that learning experience is invaluable."

Friday, October 27, 2017

5 Tips to Make More Space in Your Day





From the Chopra Center

How often do you find yourself thinking, “I just don’t have enough time!”?

If you’re feeling overscheduled and under-rested, try these 5 surprising tips to find more space in your day.

1. Go to Bed Earlier
While the late hours of the night when the house is quiet may seem like the ideal time to get things done, depriving yourself of sleep inhibits brain function – which is a fast track to reduced productivity.

2. Listen Fully
When someone else’s lips are moving, how often is your brain somewhere completely different? When you listen fully (especially at work), you’re clear on what’s being said the first time, and avoid wasting time with confusion later.

3. Meditate
Sitting in silence may seem like the last thing you need to do during a busy day, but you’ll actually have more time when you meditate because it makes you more productive. It also gets you in touch with who you really are and what you really want, so you can better prioritize what truly makes you happy.

4. Avoid Multitasking
While multitasking may make us feel like we’re getting more done, the quality of our presence is diminished – and over time, it can actually damage our neural networks. Focus on just one thing to do it right, the first time.

5. Learn to Say No
We all receive requests each day for demands on our time. Ask yourself if the request is truly in line with your priorities. While saying “no” can be uncomfortable, people will often be more understanding than you think.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

World Leaders Assemble to Combat Global Hunger









Pope Francis called for governments around the world to collaborate to make migration a safer and voluntary choice, arguing that assuring food security for all requires tackling climate change and ending conflicts. He made the call at the global ceremony to mark World Food Day, held at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters. This year's theme focused on addressing migration through investing in food security and rural development.


Read the speech by Pope Francis by clicking this link:  Change the Future of Migration

World Food Day is being marked this year as global hunger rises for the first time in over a decade, affecting 815 million people or 11 per cent of the global population. The increase is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks which are also major drivers of distress migration. 


  • 800 million people do not have enough to eat.
  • Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.
  • One in nine people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight.
  • Around 45 percent of infant deaths are related to malnutrition.
  • Women make up a little over half of the world's population, but they account for 60 percent of the world's hungry.

Hunger is common in America, despite its image as the land of plenty. For one in six people in the United States, hunger is a reality. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different. Hungry Americans are often hard-working adults, children, or seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals or even days.

"The beggar's bowl is both a physical reality among the poor and a spiritual symbol of our neediness. Fasting is a method for experiencing that neediness in a physical way. Select a small cereal bowl before you go to bed and place a flower and some water in it. Begin your fast in the morning by making the intention that your hunger will be a form of prayer for the homeless in your area. Eat nothing all day. In the evening, remove the flower and water, and limit your dinner to the amount of food that will fit in the bowl."
— Tom Cowan in The Way of Saints

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nature and Spiritual Well-Being




There is power in nature. Generally undisrupted by modern conveniences, nature offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of your daily life. No cubicles, no traffic, no emails—it’s a stark departure from what modern society tends to value.

Sacred men and women throughout history have understood the power of nature, using the wilderness (whether forest, beach, or desert) to cultivate an inner spirituality that in turn makes a meaningful impact on others’ lives. It’s in the wilderness, stripped from distractions, that you face yourself and your circumstances in one of the rawest and most vulnerable ways you’ll ever experience. And it’s well worth it.

Pause for a minute (actually stop reading this article) and think about the last time you incorporated a practice solely for the sake of your spiritual life.

If you can’t remember, it’s probably time you blocked out time in your schedule for yourself. This time won’t create itself; you will need to make it a priority. Unlike physical health, which often takes precedence with exercise and healthy eating, spiritual well-being is a little more elusive and can be put on the back-burner.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Memorial Fund Clears Student Lunch Debt




A memorial fund set up to honor the late Philando Castile, killed by police last year,  has raised enough money to clear a year’s worth of student lunch debt across St. Paul, MN.

Castile ... worked as a nutrition services supervisor at the J.J. Hill Montessori school in St. Paul.

The Philando Feeds The Children Fund was started by Pam Fergus, a local community college professor who was inspired by stories of Castile having helped pay for student’s lunches with his own money.

“We just had this little idea that we were going to help do Mr. Phil’s job and make sure you guys have good lunch to eat every day,” Fergus told students, according to a WCCO report.

In total, more than 2000 donors helped the fund raise over $72,000—well above the initial $5,000 goal—which was presented to officials at J.J. Hill on Friday by Castile’s mother Valerie.

“We as a community have to work together in order for things to work,” Valerie told WCCO. “This would’ve meant everything to him.”

... While the money raised in Castile’s honor is believed to be enough to wipe out St. Paul Public Schools’ $400 per-student lunch costs for the coming year, Fergus noted that the fund’s work is hardly done.

... In addition to the Philando Feeds the Children fund, a separate scholarship has been established in his name by his former classmates at St. Paul’s Central High School. The $5,000 award is intended for an “African American male or to a member of another underrepresented demographic in education.”

Last summer, a local auto mechanic also announced plans to fix and replace tail light and license plate bulbs to ensure more people aren’t pulled over by police as Castile was.

“We will be replacing tailight and license plate bulbs indefinitely FOR FREE,” Unity Autoworks, a Twin Cities car repair and customization shop, explained. “A defective bulb should never be a reason to be murdered.”
--Edited and Excerpted From Splinter News

Monday, October 23, 2017

Compassion Month Week 4--Compassion Toward Everyone


We are now in the 4th week of the October challenge to expand upon compassion.  The following is from the Compassion It team: 

So far, you've practiced mindfulness, you've cultivated compassion for your loved ones, and you've aimed compassion toward yourself. Now it's time to broaden that compassionate attitude and recognize that EVERYONE deserves your compassion and kindness.

You may be thinking, "Ummmm...everyone?"

Yep. Everyone.

Perhaps you're familiar with the quote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" (attributed to Philo).

That is the gist of common humanity. You recognize that all people, deep down inside, are alike. Each of us has a mind, a heartbeat, and a body. We all want to be happy, and life is not easy for any of us (even though our social media feeds might suggest otherwise).

Take a moment and consider this about your fellow humans:

We all want to be content.
We all want to be loved.
We all want TO love.
We all want to be appreciated.
We have all suffered in some way.

What's a real-world example of how you can practice recognizing common humanity? Try it on the road.

Have you ever been angry at someone on the freeway, because he cut you off? If so, how did you react? Did you call that person a jerk?

Now consider (honestly)...have you ever cut someone off on the freeway? If you answered "yes," let's think about why. Maybe you were in a hurry, or you didn't see the other car, or you were afraid of missing your exit.

So...are YOU a jerk?

This week, set an intention to give others the benefit of the doubt. If a driver cuts you off, assume that she is in a hurry. Instead of the knee-jerk reaction of calling her a jerk, let's assume that deep down inside we are all the same.

Here are some ways that you can recognize common humanity this week:


Greet strangers.
Say “hello” to someone you don’t know. Repeat!

Smile at people.
Lots of them! Loved ones, strangers, “enemies,” and yourself.

Offer kindness on the road.
Let someone in. Try to offer drivers the benefit of the doubt if they cut you off.

Practice generosity.
Purchase coffee (or something) for a stranger, take some clothes to a homeless shelter, donate to your favorite charity.

Consider common humanity.
Think about someone you don’t know well and spend a few minutes imagining her hopes, fears & dreams.

Schedule kindness.
Make plans to volunteer. Go to www.volunteermatch.org to find opportunities near you. 

Introduce yourself.
Seek out a neighbor, co-worker, or fellow student that you don't know and introduce yourself. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Global List of Compassion Educators



Continuing tips of growing compassion during October, Stanford University has taken the science of compassion to heart through their Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education  (CCARE) center at the university's School of Medicine. 

The link that follows CCARE's statement and mission, provides a global link to CCARE trained educators who offer compassion training to others. 

While science has made great strides in treating pathologies of the human mind, far less research exists to date on positive qualities of the human mind including compassion, altruism and empathy. Yet these prosocial traits are innate to us and lie at the very centerpiece of our common humanity. Our capacity to feel compassion has ensured the survival and thriving of our species over millennia. For this reason, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine was founded in 2008 with the explicit goal of promoting, supporting, and conducting rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior. Founded and directed by Dr. James Doty, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, CCARE is established within the Department of Neurosurgery. To date, CCARE has collaborated with a number of prominent neuroscientists, behavioral scientists, geneticists and biomedical researchers to closely examine the physiological and psychological correlates of compassion and altruism.

Mission
CCARE investigates methods for cultivating compassion and promoting altruism within individuals and society through rigorous research, scientific collaborations, and academic conferences. In addition, CCARE provides a compassion cultivation program and teacher training as well as educational public events and programs.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tokyo & London: Safest Cities for Women



Researchers dubbed Tokyo the safest city when considering sexual violence and harassment. London was named the best city for women overall due to the city’s free and universal National Health Service and economic opportunities.

As the poll points out, the world is urbanizing, with more megacities on the horizon, so city-level policy on the issue of women’s safety is increasingly important. As Next City has covered, this can mean licensing women-only transportation options, rethinking architecture to evade violence and rethinking public space with women in mind (and at the urban planning helm).

In 2016, the UN’s Habitat III conference met to adopt a New Urban Agenda, which hammed out some impressive goals for women’s equality — although the document was criticized for lacking commitments for implementation. It included land tenure rights, informal economic opportunities and goals for safety and security, with a vision for cities “without fear of violence and intimidation” for women, girls, children and youth, as Caroline Moser laid out in an op-ed for Next City.

The full results of the poll can be viewed here.http://poll2017.trust.org

---From Next City

Friday, October 20, 2017

Using Breath in Meditative Prayer -- Peace Path


The Daily Prism picked this contemplative thought from the Center for Action and Contemplation because it is not only a calming read, but because it represents the foundation of most meditative belief systems and uses breathing as a means of reaching a higher level of meditation or prayer. 

by
James Finley

I have the intuition that in his Spiritual Canticle, John of the Cross was trying to move us poetically into a spacious state or a way of being in the world which really is Christ consciousness, the way Christ lived his life.

Let’s say you are sitting in prayer and using your breath as the prayer. As you inhale you listen to God saying I love you. When you breathe out you exhale I love you: you give yourself to the love that gives itself to you. In the I love you received and the I love you response, the reciprocity of love and of the communion deepens.

Now while you are sitting there saying this prayer, let's say there is bodily pain. Now when you inhale, you inhale Infinite Love, loving you pain and all, through and through and through and through and through. And when you exhale yourself into God, you give yourself, pain and all, into the Love that loves you, pain and all.

Let’s say you are sitting there and you are confused; something has happened and you are bewildered. You sit there and as you breathe in God, you breathe in God loving you, confusion and all, through and through and through and through and through. And when you exhale yourself in the I love you, you give yourself, confusion and all, to the Love that loves you, confusion and all.

And let’s say you are sad, and you breathe in God loving you through and through and through, sadness and all; and you exhale yourself in your sadness. Then your sadness is an act of love. And so, in every reciprocity of love, the ultimate irrelevance of conditioned states yields and gives way to Love that unexplainably sustains you in the conditions in which you exist.

This is the message of John’s Spiritual Canticle. It is not saying that you are not in pain, that you are not sad or confused; nor is it saying that you don’t need to deal with these things.

Let’s turn it around. You are sitting in prayer and bubbling over with joy because you just won the lottery. And God is loving you through and through, joy and all; and you breathe yourself back to Love, joy and all. It’s the infinite irrelevance of attainment and nonattainment, the infinite irrelevance of laughter and tears with respect to the oceanic Love that loves you through and through and through and through in your tears, in your laughter, in all things.

So, stabilized in love, we are grounded in the courage that empowers us to touch the hurting places. Prior to being grounded in love, we think we are nothing but the self that things happen to. We are afraid to go near the hurting place because we absolutize the relative. But if we are absolutely grounded in the absolute love of God that protects us from nothing, even as it sustains us in all things, it grounds us to face all things with courage and tenderness.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Practical Ways to Not Feel Helpless in Tragedy's Face




The following is excerpted from a local newspaper column that addressed the feelings of helplessness during times of local, national and worldwide tragedies.  To read the entire column, click this link: Slice of Life.

“You can only do what you can, where you are, with what you have. That’s all you can do. You can do no more, but you can do no less. … God doesn’t see if you succeed or fail. All God sees is how hard you tried."

So, while I can’t stop the fires, hurricanes, floods or earthquakes, I can donate to help those who lived through them.

I can speak out against the horror of sexual harassment with the voice of someone who has experienced it and prevailed.

When I think legislators are wrong, I can tell them so. I can take on local government issues — even pesky little ones, such as shushing people who stage-whisper, mumble, talk, shout or cause upheaval from the audience at a meeting, thereby preventing others from hearing what they’re there to hear. So rude!

And when all else fails, I can scream or punch away on some unsuspecting inanimate object.

I can’t change what happened. But I am not helpless! If I react positively and make a difference, maybe I won’t be so tired anymore.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Prayer for Peace


Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

UAE Seeks to a Sustainable Environment




In the UAE, the government has launched numerous environmental protection initiatives, as part of its UAE Vision 2021, to achieve a sustainable environment. Several policies were also introduced at emirate-level to improve marine environment and protect it from pollution. Over the past decade, companies across the country have stepped up efforts and pulled up their sleeves to take part in clean-up campaigns, a corporate contribution mostly carried out in the frame of public-private partnerships. In a broader effort to keep our cities and beaches clean, environmental authorities, municipalities or civil society volunteers went on clean-up campaigns, pulling tonnes of rubbish from waters along the shores of Mussaffah and Al Mafraq in Abu Dhabi, and from the Dubai Creek, as The National reported.

--Excerpted from The National

Monday, October 16, 2017

Week 3 of A Month of Compassion -- Self-Compassion




From the Compassion It Team:

Hello Compassion It Champion,
So far, you’ve learned how to pay attention to what’s happening around you (and within you) by practicing mindfulness. Then you used mindfulness to offer kindness, patience, and compassion for your loved ones.

Now that you know what compassion feels like, it’s time to turn it toward YOU. That’s right…this is a week that gives you permission to tend to yourself. Welcome to the week of self-compassion!

What is self-compassion?


According to the pioneer of self-compassion research, Kristin Neff, Ph.D., self-compassion involves three main elements:

1 – Self-kindness
Instead of berating yourself for making mistakes or not being perfect, try befriending yourself. What would you say to a friend who is facing the same situation? Treat yourself as you would treat your friend.

2 – Common Humanity
Realize that what you’re going through is part of being human, and that many others around the world suffer in the same way. You are not alone.

3 – Mindfulness
Try to bring non-judgmental awareness to your experience. Notice that you’re suffering, and try not to ignore, suppress, or avoid it.

When I learned about self-compassion during my Stanford CCT teacher-training course, my life immediately changed. Our teacher encouraged us to think about how we speak to ourselves, and consider, “Would you have any friends if you spoke to them in the same manner that you speak to yourself?”

When I honestly answered that question, I immediately thought, “Hell to the no!”  I was much more willing to say something like this to my friends, “You did your best, and you’re awesome for even trying.” Whereas I would say to myself, “You are an idiot! How could you make that mistake?”

Self-compassion gives me permission to be human. I can navigate life with much more joy, because I know that we’re all in this together. Self-compassion allows me to tend to myself, which means I am much more capable of offering compassion to those around me. (There's a LOT of useful information about self-compassion on Kristin Neff's website, and I encourage you to check it out.)

Here are some ways you can practice self-compassion this week:


Pause and take inventory.
Stop and notice how you feel. For two minutes, send breath to any tense areas.

Treat yourself.
Enjoy your favorite coffee, tea, fruit, or ice cream.

Rest and restore.
Acknowledge your need for rest. Take a nap, slow down, or take a break.

Be your own friend.
Notice your inner voice. Offer yourself kindness and encouragement.

Celebrate you.
Write down 5 things that you appreciate about yourself, and notice how that makes you feel.

Remember you’re not alone.
Write down one thing that is creating stress for you, and then remember that others are suffering in the same way.

Create joy.
Play your fave song on repeat, dance in the kitchen, pick some flowers, go for a run…whatever makes you smile!

Friday, October 13, 2017

3 Reasons Why Gratitude is Good for Work


From Three Surprising Ways That Gratitude Works at Work
.  Click the above link for the entire story.


1. Gratitude facilitates better sleep


Sleep is the mind and body’s quintessential restorative activity. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 95 percent of people need seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and yet 30 percent of Americans get less than six hours. Preventing sleep deprivation could be a massive cost saver for workplaces: Last year’s Rand Corporation study reported that sleep deprivation cost U.S. companies more than $400 billion a year in lost productivity, more than 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Similar losses were found around the world, with Japan, Germany, and the U.K. also losing 1.5-3 percent of their GDP to too little sleep. The Rand study estimated that if people who sleep under six hours a night started sleeping between six and seven, this could add over $200 billion to the U.S. economy.



Lost sleep quantity and quality is also linked with poor job satisfaction, worse executive functioning, less innovative thinking, lower occupational performance, more safety errors and work injuries, and even death. Sleep deprivation also negatively affects relationships because sleep-deprived people are less trusting of others and more impatient, frustrated, and hostile.

A number of studies have shown that gratitude promotes physiologically restorative behaviors, chief of which is better sleep. Grateful thinking and grateful moods help us sleep better and longer. In one study, people keeping a gratitude journal slept on average 30 minutes more per night, woke up feeling more refreshed, and had an easier time staying awake during the day compared to those who didn’t practice gratitude.

How does gratitude facilitate better sleep? Research suggests that grateful people have more positive “pre-sleep cognitions” and fewer negative pre-sleep cognitions.  Negative, critical thoughts (e.g., about bad things happening in the world) tend to induce sleeplessness. But grateful people’s minds are awash in pleasant thoughts (e.g., about enjoyable things that happened to them during the day), and this promotes sleepiness.

The connection is clear: Grateful people enjoy more restful, restorative, and refreshing sleep and reap the benefits at work the next day.



2. Gratitude reduces excessive entitlement


Entitlement refers to “attitudes about what a person feels here she has a right to and what a person feels here she can expect from others.” But some people suffer from a condition known as “excessive entitlement”: They feel they deserve more than others, a disproportionately greater amount of a particular good beyond what would be considered appropriate. They are dissatisfied with whatever they receive, whether it is pay, promotions, or praise.

On the job, people with excessive entitlement tend to engage in more counterproductive work behaviors, actions designed to harm an organization or its members. These include theft, aggression, violence, sabotage, withdrawal, deliberate poor performance, and threatening, abusing, and blaming others. Entitlement can show up in toxic workplace cultures alongside gossip, complaining, and negativity. 



How is gratitude relevant here? A person who feels entitled to everything will be grateful for nothing; gratitude is the antidote to entitlement, and to other aspects of toxic workplace culture. Grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of workplace environment that human beings long for. Gratitude produces higher levels of positive emotions that are beneficial in the workplace, such as joy, enthusiasm, and optimism, and lower levels of the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness.

Furthermore, recent social psychological research has shown that gratitude is linked to lower levels of hostility and aggression. When people are experiencing gratitude, they are approximately 20-30 percent less likely to be annoyed, irritated, and aggressive. They are less susceptible to having their feelings hurt, and, when their feelings are hurt, they are less likely to strike back. Years ago, a very wise person said that gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.




3. Gratitude allows us to contribute more


Grateful people practice behaviors that fall in the category of being a good citizen. In the workplace, gratitude inspires employees to be helpful and deters them from engaging in behaviors that are harmful.

Considerable research has demonstrated gratitude as a driver of “prosocial” (kind and helpful) behavior. A recent review of over 50 studies found that gratitude is even more strongly linked to prosocial behaviors than happiness or empathy. Not surprisingly, then, grateful people make better organizational citizens. They are more likely to volunteer for extra work assignments, take time to mentor coworkers, be compassionate when someone has problem, and encourage and praise others.

Beyond the social sphere of work, gratitude also drives enhanced performance in the cognitive domain: Grateful people are more likely to be creative at work. Gratitude promotes innovative thinking, flexibility, openness, curiosity, and love of learning. Grateful people have an interest in learning new information and skills, and they seek opportunities to learn and develop. (In fact, a highly publicized 2015 study found that out of 24 strengths of character, love of learning and gratitude were the strongest predictors of overall well-being.)

Willibald Ruch and his colleagues at the University of Z├╝rich recently proposed a new organizational model where team members fall into one of seven roles: idea creator, information gatherer, decision maker, implementer, influencer, energizer, or relationship manager. They found that grateful people were likely to be “idea creators”: successful with developing new and innovative ideas and reaching solutions in unconventional ways.

These early findings are promising, but systematic research on workplace gratitude has only recently begun. Much work remains: Ryan Fehr, a professor of management at the University of Washington, recently proposed 17 testable hypotheses to move research on gratitude in the workplace forward!

But you literally cannot overplay the hand of gratitude; the grateful mind reaps massive benefits in every domain of life that has been examined so far. There are countless ways in which gratitude could pay off in the workplace. As I wrote in The Little Book of Gratitude, gratitude is “the ultimate performance-enhancing substance.”