Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

This quote was sent to me by a friend (thanks, John!) and I loved it so much, I want to share it with all of you.
What are you discussing?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: Nigel Marsh: How to Make Work-Life Balance Work

I don't know about you, but I've had a long-standing struggle with work-life balance since my very first job.  I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, and this generally leads to me either working like a crazy person at the expense of my health, my sleep, my relationships and my mental well-being; or completely burning out and completely mentally disengaging with work and frantically trying to catch up with all the things I've neglected.

Which is why I was so drawn to this TED Talk.

Nigel Marsh, the author of Fat, Forty, and Fired and Overworked and Underlaid, was the epitome of the corporate warrior.  He worked too much, ate like crap, drank too much, and didn't spend nearly as much time as he should with his family (sound at all familiar?).  He had a life-changing moment that prompted him to take a year off of work.  During this year and after he returned to the workforce, he studied the paradox of work-life balance.

In his funny TED Talk, he offers realistic suggestions on how to try to genuinely achieve work-life balance.

Some awesome quotes from his talk:
“There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”
“All the discussions about flexi-time or dress-down Fridays or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue, which is that certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Motivation Monday: Be Great, Be Powerful Beyond Measure

I absolutely love today's Motivation Monday video.  It's four minutes packed with some of my absolute favorite motivational clips and quotes.  It includes video from Rocky, Snatch and Coach Carter.  If you are in need of a boost today, I double-dog dare you to watch the short video.  I guarantee you will be motivated!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo Friday: Cotton Candy Tree

Photograph courtesy Russell Watkins, U.K. Department for International Development, featured in National Geographic
In 2010, heavy monsoon rains dumped almost ten years worth of rainfall on Pakistan in one week.  It is estimated that one-fifth of Pakistan was under water, 20 million people were affected and the total damages cost around $43 billion.

An intriguing effect of the floods was that the spiders and other insects crawled into the trees to escape the rising water.  Because the waters took so long to recede, many of the trees became cocooned in cotton candy shrouds of spiderwebs.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Dalai Lama's Instructions for Life

Holy Holiness!  The Dalai Lama is coming to Hawaii in April and I was lucky enough to score tickets!  For those of you also in Hawaii, here is the link to where you can get tickets.

In honor of His Holiness, here are the Dalai Lama's Instructions for Life.

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs:
    • Respect for self
    • Respect for others and
    • Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Today's TED Talk was recommended to me by not one, but two people (thanks Steph and Dr. Phil!).  Shawn Achor studies and teaches Positive Psychology, and is the CEO of Good Think, Inc.  In his funny and fast-paced talk, he argues that being positive can make us more productive.

Some pearls from his talk:
  • "If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average."
  • Only 10% of our long-term happiness is predicted by our external world.
  • 90% of our long-term happiness is how our brain processes the world.
  • If we change the formula for happiness and success, we can change the way we affect reality.
  • 25% of job successes are determined by IQ.
  • 75% of job successes are determined by optimism levels, social support and the ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.
  • Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does in negative, neutral or stressed.
  • Every business outcome improves when your brain is in positive.
Here's his talk.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Motivation Monday, President's Day Edition: Top 10 Motivational Presidential Quotes

Happy President's Day!  

I hope you, unlike me, have the day off and are enjoying a three-day weekend.  In honor of President's Day, here's my unofficial list of the

Top 10 Motivational Presidential Quotes

10.  "Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

9.  "The best way not to feel hopeless is to get up and do something.  Don't wait for good things to happen to you.  If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope."
-Barack Obama

8.  "We grow great by dreams.  All big men are dreamers."
-Woodrow Wilson

7.  "Believe you can and you're halfway there."
-Theodore Roosevelt

6.  "A man is not finished when he is defeated; he's finished when he quits."
-Richard Nixon

5.  "If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes.  But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person.  It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.  The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit."
-William Clinton

4.  "My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country."
-John F. Kennedy

3.  "There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, not barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect."
-Ronald Reagan

2.  "A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and and optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties."
-Harry Truman

1.  "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."  
-Abraham Lincoln

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo Friday: Cliffs of Moher

Today's Photo Friday was a National Geographic photo of the day in 2010.  It was taken by Jim Richardson and the subject is one of the most magical places I've ever been, The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.  Enjoy!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top Five Regrets People Have on Their Deathbed

Bronnie Ware is a nurse who spent years caring for the dying.  She wrote a book called, The Top Five Regrets of Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing

 When she asked the dying in their final days if they had any regrets or would do anything differently, these five common themes kept popping up.

Source: dalydose

1.  "I wish I had more courage to be true to myself, not the life others expected of me." 
This was the most common regret.  When people got to the end of their lives, they often reflected back and realized that many of their dreams were unfulfilled.

It is so important to live your authentic life and to go after your dreams, regardless of what others may think of them. 

2.  "I wish I didn't work so hard."
This regret came from every single male patient that she interviewed.  They regret missing spending precious time with their children or spouse at the expense of work.

With its continual urgent deadlines, and the fact that it's what pays the bills, it's incredibly easy to often put work first.  But there must be a balance, and we all need to keep perspective.  The truth is no one has ever sat on their deathbed and regretted that they just didn't work enough.

3.  "I wish I had the courage to express my feelings."
Many of those she interviewed suppressed their true feelings in order to maintain harmony with others.  Often, keeping their feelings hidden manifested in physical illness.

Don't keep everything bottled up inside you.  Express how you truly feel. 

4.  "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."
At the end of their lives, many of the dying wished they could reconnect with old friends, but were often unable to track them down.  Many expressed how they got caught up in their own lives and didn't give a lot of friendships the time they deserved.  Many good friendships slip away because of this.

It's really easy in our busy worlds to let friendships slip.  But we must fight to keep those friendships alive.  Pick up the phone and call that old friend you haven't talked to in a while.  Come on, it's not too late.

5.  "I wish that I had let myself be happier."
Many of the dying expressed how they allowed comfort and fear of change interfere with their happiness.

Don't be afraid to be happy.  Be silly, be joyful, and stop worrying about what others think about you.


What do you think of this list?
What can we learn from the regrets of the dying?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: Cupid's Chemistry

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of the holiday dedicated to love, today's TED Talk is Helen Fisher's research on the brain in love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photo Friday: Through the Clouds

Ever since the first flight I can remember being on, I have always been obsessed with watching the clouds through airplane windows.  There is something so magical about that moment when you break above the cloud cover and everything is all bright and perfect.  It was always a reminder that you just had to rise above the dreary, depressing stuff, and a crisp, sunny world would be waiting for you.

Even now, I fly every week for work, and you can often catch me playing tourist and snapping photos through the airplane windows of clouds.  They don't always turn out as good as this one, but I still love taking them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Be Happier

It's harder than you think.

Studies show that we all have a fairly stable baseline for long-term happiness.
In other words, regardless if something amazing or something tragic happens to you, within a few months, you will tend to return to roughly the same level of happiness as before.

That's really great news if you're happy with your current overall level of happiness.
However, if you, like most of us, wish you could have more long-term happiness, what can you do?

Research has found that one of the most effective ways of increasing your happiness level boils down to one word:  gratitude.
There's a study on gratitude written about in Robert Emmon's book, Thanks!:  How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.  Emmons took 200 people, split them up into three groups and asked each of them to make a list every week for ten weeks.
  1. The first group was asked to list five things in their life they were grateful for.
  2. The second group was asked to list five hassles in their life that annoyed them.
  3. The third group was asked to list five things that had an impact on them.
Those in the gratitude group were significantly happier than those in the other two groups.  They felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the upcoming week, had less physical complaints and also spent more time exercising.

I try as much as possible to keep a gratitude journal.  I used to jot a few things down everyday in my journal that I was grateful for, but lately, I've been putting them in this pretty neat app I found.

It looks like this, and also has inspiring quotes and a place to put your own photos:

My challenge for you today- jot down three things that you are grateful for.  It only takes a second, it helps remind you of the positive things in your life, and it can increase your overall happiness.

What are three things you are grateful for today?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: Ken Robinson says Schools Kill Creativity

Today's TED Talk Tuesday by Sir Ken Robinson is easily one of my favorite TED Talks.  It is witty, insightful and focuses on rethinking education to nurture rather than stifle creativity.  He believes that creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.

During one of my summer semesters at college, I worked as a teacher's assistant at a preschool and also took a 5-credit hour intensive Chinese language class.  It was simultaneously one of the most wonderful and horrible experiences of my college career.

I adored working at the preschool.  There's nothing quite like the feeling of a dozen three and four year olds running as fast as they can at you with open arms and huge smiles, screaming your name.  One of my favorite parts of that job was watching them during free play.  I was constantly amazed at the level of imagination and creativity these kids possessed.  They weren't afraid to be wrong or make a mistake and they had no fear of completely expressing their authentic selves.

Contrast that with my Chinese language class.  Learning Chinese can be pretty daunting to start with.  But cramming five credit hours into a couple months in an "intensive" format class is straight-up masochistic.  I highly recommend NOT learning Chinese that way.  At the beginning of every class, the professor would make us stand in front of the class and recite a reading.  If you made a mistake, she made you start all over again until you recited it all perfectly.  You could smell the fear in the classroom every single day.  I remember one kid running out of the room and throwing up from the pressure.

It was such an intriguing contrast to watch young kids at the beginning of their educational experiences just ooze creativity and joy, compared to college sophomores and junior in my Chinese class that had become completely one-dimensional, reciting and memorizing out of fear of failure.

That summer taught me what Sir Ken Robinson talks about in this talk.  Schools (and sometimes parents and workplaces too) slowly wring out every last drop of what makes a child magical, what makes our souls sparkle.

Sir Ken ends his talk saying, "The only way we'll do it [use the gift of the human imagination wisely] is by seeing our creating capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are.  Our task is to educate their whole being so they can face this future."

Do you agree?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Motivation Monday: It's Halftime in America (Chrysler/Clint Eastwood's Superbowl Commercial)

I admit, I am totally biased because I was born and raised outside of Detroit, but I loveloveloved the Chrysler commercial with Clint Eastwood that played during yesterday's Super Bowl.  Clint Eastwood's gravelly voice giving America it's half time pep talk was beyond inspirational, and I loved it almost as much as Chrysler's Eminem commercial from last year's Super Bowl.

Here's the commercial:

It’s half-time.
Both teams are in their locker rooms discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half.
It’s half-time in America too.
People are out of work and they’re hurting.
And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback.
And were all scared because this isn’t a game.
The people of Detroit know a little something about this.
They almost lost everything, but we all pulled together.
Now Motor City is fighting again.
I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life.
And times when we didn’t understand each other.
Seems that we’ve lost our heart at times
The fog, division, discord and blame, made it hard to see what lies ahead.
But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one.
Because that's what we do.
We find a way through tough times and if we can't find a way then we'll make one.
All that matters now is what's ahead.
How do we come from behind?
How do we come together?
And how do we win?
Detroit’s showing us it can be done.

And whats true about them is true about all of us.
This country can’t be knocked out with one punch.
We get right back up again and when we do the world's gonna hear the roar of our engines.
Yeah, its half-time America.
And our second half’s about to begin.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What if You Won $86,400 Every Day For Life?

I received this article last week from someone who is like a father to me.
This is an incredible reminder.
Please pass it along.

Imagine you have won the following prize in a contest:  Every morning your bank would deposit $86,400 in your private account.  However, this prize has rules.

The first set of rules:
  1. Everything that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you.
  2. You may not transfer money into another account.
  3. You may only spend it.
Every morning, the bank puts  another $86,400 into your account.

The second set of rules:
  1. The bank can end the game without warning.  
  2. It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you do?
  • You would buy everything you wanted... right?
  • For yourself, and everyone you love... right?
  • Even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spend it all on yourself... right?
  • You would try to spend every cent... right?

Actually, this game is REALITY!  Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank. We just can't seem to see it.
The magical bank is time!
Each morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.  What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost.  Yesterday is forever gone.  Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your  account at any  time....without warning.

What will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?
Those seconds are so much more precious then gold.

Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much more quickly than we think.


How are you going to spend your 86,400 seconds today?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What You Have Now Was Once What You Only Hoped For

I love today's quote of the day.  We are sometimes so caught up in wanting more and more, that we often forget to stop and appreciate what we have.  The irony is there was once a point in the past that all we wanted was exactly what we have.

Take a moment and appreciate all that you have and just how far you've come.