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Category: Celebrate

The Nod

I run. And when I take my 4-mile trek around the outskirts of a local golf course very early in the morning, I do so against the tide of about 50 cyclists. These are serious riders and they’re doing about 25 laps a day…so I get to see a lot of them over the course of 30 minutes.

For about a year now, I’ve made it a practice of giving a quick head nod as the riders go by. They’re coming towards me at about 50 MPH so I’ve rationalized that they just can’t see me very well at such a high rate of speed – and that’s why no one has ever nodded back.

This morning that all changed. The lead cyclist was approaching and I gave my customary nod for the gazillionth time. And then it happened. He nodded back. Then most of the riders trailing behind him nodded. And finally, as the last rider in line started his sprint to close the gap behind the person in front of him, he raised two fingers ever-so-slightly off the handlebars and shot me a peace sign…along with a nod.

I had arrived!

I had to earn those nods – at least that’s how I’m choosing to see it. I had to make almost a hundred trips around that golf course at 5AM on weekdays for many months to get that nod of acceptance, of validation, of acknowledgment for my efforts. I run for me and my health, not for anyone else…

But we all need a nod every once in a while, don’t we?

Or maybe, by pure coincidence, they just happened to notice me for the first time today and when the leader gave me my props, everyone else decided to follow suit (which is an entirely separate topic for a great post in the future – stay tuned for that). Whatever. Either way, I finished my last quarter-mile today with a huge, peaceful grin; which hasn’t always been easy to muster up at the end of a tiring run.

So…who can you give a nod to today? Who has earned your respect with their demonstration of resilience, perseverance and determination? Who do you see going that extra mile?

Today – amidst the hustle and bustle of your busy, fast-paced schedule – notice someone going by you who has consistently exceeded your expectations.

Give ‘em a nod. Flash ‘em the peace sign.

They’ll appreciate it.

 

Time As A Means to Happiness

Forget Suze Orman. Time, not money, is your most precious resource. So spend it wisely.

Powerful research from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business …

“Our search to understand what makes humans happy (or happier) goes back centuries. As does our enduring belief that if we just do the right thing, happiness will follow — that additional happiness Blackjack Online will be doled out to us because we earned it, not due to the largess of a benevolent being. ‘Happiness is not a reward — it is a consequence,’ instructs Robert Green Ingersoll, a Civil War-era orator. Many notable others, from Aristotle to the Buddha to Ursula K. LeGuin, agree with this sentiment.

Read more here.

Give ‘Til It Hurts (By BJ Gallagher)

Fellow 8′ers,

While I have a seemingly endless trove of entries to post here on the Live the 8 blog, I was moved today to share this wonderful piece a good friend of mine, BJ Gallagher, just wrote for the Huffington Post. BJ lives the 8; and she knows what it means to do what matters. Read it…learn it…live it…and give ’til it hurts!

———————————————–

Give ‘Til It Hurts
By: BJ Gallagher
Posted: 06/13/11 01:51 PM ET @ http://huff.to/mCFQqH

Reverend Ed Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, stood in his pulpit, resplendent in his flowing white robe and colorful vestments. He’s a big man with a booming voice and charisma enough to light up the sanctuary without candles. On this particular Sunday, he was practically glowing with joy — energized by his guest of honor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Prize-winning peacemaker from South Africa.

“Most people say, ‘Give ’til it hurts,’” Reverend Ed announced to the standing-room-only congregation. “But I say, ‘Give ’til it feels good!’”

The crowd’s laughter and applause thundered their approval. The choir burst into song as ushers made their way down the aisles with collection baskets.

This wasn’t just any Sunday — and it wasn’t just any collection. Archbishop Tutu had come to All Saints to tell us about the latest developments in his homeland. Apartheid had been abolished and the country was now embarking on the long, slow, painful journey of healing. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had been established to facilitate the healing process. It was a court-like body, chaired by Archbishop Tutu, which played a key role in the transition of South Africa to a full and free democracy. Anyone who felt that he or she had been a victim of apartheid’s violence could come forward and be heard. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty and forgiveness.

But, as Reverend Ed pointed out to us that Sunday morning, justice isn’t free. It costs money to hold tribunals, to handle the paperwork, to underwrite the process of hearings and all the administrative details. So he asked the congregation to dig deep into our pockets and purses, since he was giving all the donations that Sunday to Archbishop Tutu to help support the ongoing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“I’ve never done this before,” Reverend Ed said, “But I’m going to do Viagra 100mg it today. I am urging to give what you can, in whatever form you can. If you want to donate your car, we’ll take the pink slip. If you want to donate jewelry, we’ll take that. If you want to give cash or a check, or even put your donation on a credit card, fine. We’ll take it all. We here in Southern California have a wonderful standard of living — we’re rich by any standard. So I’m asking you to give as much as you can to the people of South Africa to support their healing and reconciliation. Most people say, ‘Give ’til it hurts’ — but I say, ‘Give ’til it feels good!’”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. We were so moved by Tutu’s sermon, so inspired by his moral authority and loving compassion, that we could do no less than give our all.

As the collection basket made its way toward me, I wondered what to do. My business had been slow, so I had no extra money to give. I needed my car, so I couldn’t donate that. What can I give? I asked myself. I desperately wanted to support this marvelous process unfolding in South Africa. I wanted to contribute something — no matter how small — to the good people half-way around the world.

The collection basket finally came to me and I looked down into it, still not sure what to do. As my hands cradled the basket of love offerings, I noticed that I was wearing a 14K gold and garnet ring my mother had given me on my 12th birthday. Instantly, I knew what to do. I took off the ring, put it in the little white offering envelope, and dropped the envelope into the collection basket. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I passed the basket to the person next to me. I imagined the South Africans melting down my gold ring to help pay for their national healing. I was filled with gratitude and happiness to be a tiny part of something so momentous, so important, so essential to humanity.

As I wiped away my tears and joined the choir in song, I realized that Reverend Ed had been right. I gave … and it felt good.

BJ Gallagher’s new book is If God Is Your Co-Pilot, Switch Seats (Hampton Roads).

Giving Effective Praise

Plaudit junkie that I am, I was once grumbling to my wife about the fact that some extraordinarily praiseworthy effort on my part had gone unnoticed by a friend. Isabel wisely responded, “Most people probably don’t get the appreciation they deserve, Dave.” That’s right, I thought to myself — for instance, my own wife! Whom I certainly don’t give enough praise for everything she does for me and for our family.

This got me thinking about the importance of praise, and how to compliment and congratulate others effectively. The right words of support and acknowledgement can be so encouraging, but bland, empty praise is meaningless.

  1. Be specific. Vague praise doesn’t make much of an impression.
  2. Find a way to praise sincerely and realistically. It’s a rare situation where you can’t identify something that you honestly find praiseworthy.
  3. Never offer praise and ask for a favor in the same conversation. It makes the praise seem like a set-up.
  4. Look for something less obvious to praise – a more obscure accomplishment or quality that a person hasn’t heard praised many times before.
  5. Don’t hesitate to praise people who get a lot of praise already. I’ve noticed that even people who get constant praise – or perhaps especially people who get constant praise – crave praise. Is this because praiseworthy people are often insecure? Or does getting praise lead to a need for more praise? I’m not sure, but it seems often to be the case.
  6. Praise people behind their backs. The praised person usually hears about the praise, and behind-the-back praise seems more sincere than face-to-face praise.
  7. Beware when a person asks for your honest opinion. This is often a clue that they’re seeking reassurance, not candor.

Praise is gratifying to the person getting praised, of course, but it also boosts the happiness of the praiser — at least I’ve found that true of myself. Because the way we feel is very much influenced by the way we act, by acting in a way that shows appreciation, discernment, and thoughtfulness, we make ourselves feel more appreciative, discerning, and thoughtful. And that boosts happiness.

Have you thought of any other good ways for giving people deserved praise?

On Happiness and The Vanishing Rattle

Jean Piaget was a Swiss developmental psychologist and a philosopher in the early 1900′s. Unknown to many people outside the fields of psychology and social work, his theory of cognitive development has had a profound impact on what we know today about a child’s thoughts and actions growing up.

I first read about Piaget as an undergrad in an Early Childhood Development class; where I was introduced to a concept he called object permanence. Object permanence is the understanding that things continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard or touched. It’s a level of development achieved by all of us as infants (typically between 8 and 12 months old) when we learned that just because mommy left the room, that didn’t mean she’d left the planet. And when the rattle went hidden under our blankie, it wasn’t gone forever. It’s when we discovered that out-of-sight didn’t necessarily mean out-of-mind; that just because we’re not experiencing something at the moment, that doesn’t mean we’ll never experience it again.

This is a concept we grasp as little ones, and apparently forget when we’re older; especially when it comes to happiness. We feel joy one moment – connected to the things in our lives that bring us gratitude and fulfillment – and those good feelings disappear into the proverbial kitchen the next. Then we struggle to get our happiness back, fighting a tendency many of us have to view positive emotions as nothing more than fleeting conditions, as opposed to embracing the idea that positive emotions can become permanent objects in our lives. Good feelings – like joy, serenity, hope Cialis, interest, pride, amusement, inspiration and love – don’t have to remain out-of-mind for us for too long. Sure, they’ll leave us sometimes when life creeps in and replaces the good stuff with the bad. And we’ll allow people and situations to take our rattle away from us every once in a while. Just remind yourself that the joy will soon return, the hope will come back, your inspiration will reveal itself again and love will fill your heart in due time.

Here are three tips to help you reconnect with those good feelings you might be searching for:

  1. Make a gratitude list. This will shift your mood and remind you of all that is good in your life right now. It’s an especially great technique for feeling better when you’re fearful, angry or impatient.
  2. Do good things. Recapture some positive energy and emotion by getting out of yourself and doing something for someone else. Go volunteer at your child’s school or call up a local homeless shelter and see what you can do to help. I guarantee (yes, I said guarantee) that you will be better afterwards.
  3. Let it go. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. If you find yourself voluntarily stuck in a negative emotion (as opposed to experiencing a normal and natural state of discomfort such as grief or temporary anger) then ask yourself what you have to gain by letting him/her/them/it continue to rent space in your head. It might be time to let it go and move on.

Now…go find your rattle. It’s gotta’ be around there somewhere.

Shift Can Happen

Several times since my book came out, people have come up to me with copies of The 8 for signing. “My [boss, wife, sister, colleague] doesn’t understand what matters to me,” some have said, “So I’m going to give them your book.”

“Thanks,” I have replied a few times … although I feel a little squirrely about signing books for people who don’t necessarily want them. I’ve invented a specific dedication for these copies, though:

“To John: I’m not sure you’ll like my book, but your coworker isn’t crazy.”

“John” could have been “Mom and Dad” or someone’s business partner or brother or manager at work, who sincerely cares about the people around them, but sometimes (he said with a real positive spin on it…) cares a little too much to let them have their own happy, healthy, productive life. Sometimes the generational gap is reversed, and it is the kids who worry about their parents. Sometimes coworkers are so wrapped up in their own journeys to see you on yours, and how your pursuits impact them and theirs. And sometimes bosses fail to see that an employee’s purpose-driven life is directly connected to their company’s profit-driven motives.

Guess what? I don’t think that simply reading any book (let alone mine) can change perspectives like that. That’s the bad news that I’ve discovered in my short time on this planet: it’s rarely that simple to change someone’s mind. To those on the outside, examples of successful people (or companies) who are living their values and getting more done aren’t very persuasive sometimes, because people (and organizations) always find reasons why someone else’s success can’t be replicated.

But thankfully, there’s also some good news. If you want to influence the people around you, you don’t have to buy my book (oh boy, the publisher’s gonna’ love this post) but instead, you can lead the way through your own peacefully productive actions. They are not going to change their worldview or their perceptions of you based on something you post on Facebook or Twitter, or by what I write in the front of my book. But when people see you following through on your dreams – and living your life on purpose – they can’t help but notice. Then the shift happens.

The challenge you face, therefore, is to be courageous in the face of opposition from those around you – “John the Colleague”, “Barbara the Mom”, “Frank the Dad”, “Betsy the Boss”… all of them. This is no small challenge, since you would much rather fight dragons or vampires or something that is clearly evil. Your family isn’t evil (despite what may be evidence to the contrary), your boss probably isn’t wicked (regardless of how that last performance evaluation went) and you probably can’t ignore these people and their perceptions. But I’ve learned something else in my short time on this planet, and it became especially clear while writing The 8: you can’t ignore your power and your purpose for very long without eventually losing your connection to both.

Some battles are better won by example than by persuasion. So you can talk forever about the shift you want to make at work or in your life; why you want to study a subject you’re interested in instead of one people think would lead to better career options, or why you want to communicate more openly and honestly to coworkers and customers, or whatever. And by following this well-trod path of just talking about it, you may make marginally incremental progress in the form of compromise. But while you’re judging yourself by your great intentions, the people around you are judging you by your actions.

More than just talking about making a shift in the direction your life’s headed,  you can put it in perspective for the people around you: I’m doing these things in my life today because they are important to me. I’m willing to give up other things to make it work. I am willing to do what matters today. I am willing to walk the talk.

More often than not, people will get used to it over time. You may always be thought of as the black sheep at the office, the strange one on your sales team, the outlier in the family. But you’ll eventually earn your right to freedom and maybe even some grudging respect from some of the “evil-doers” around you.

Then they’ll say, oh, there goes _____ again. That’s just what she does. Or they’ll think,  _____ has another crazy idea to fulfill his purpose in life… but the last one worked out pretty well for him.

And once in a while, a funny thing happens: they’ll learn from the decisions you made and the actions you took, and how you stepped out, faced down your fears, tapped into your talents and focused on what’s most important to you in your life. (They may or may not realize that some of your fears had to do with them, but by then, it won’t matter.)

So for those of you on a dysfunctional team at work, in an “interesting” family or embedded in a workplace culture where doing what matters is implicitly misunderstood; or for anyone else who feels pressured to be like those around them and dare not blaze their own trail, it’s all up to you now to lead by example. Who knows — maybe John, Mom, Dad and Betsy will end up shifting with you. Because (in one last insight I’ve gained in my short time on this planet) …

Shift can happen.

Now…go make it happen.

Happy Matters

I was talking with a long-time friend this weekend who just read my book and then promptly called to ask me a question. She commented: “Dave, nice work here; I like the do what matters angle…but why does being happy matter?” Boy – what a great question. Rather than offering my own experiences or referring her back to a few things I mention in the book, I pulled up some relevant research to pass along. So…here’s some of what we know about why happy matters from some other experts on the topic.

Adrian Furnham is a Professor of Psychology in the UK. He has written over 650 scientific papers and 55 books. Furnham wrote the following paragraph about the importance of happiness in his book 50 Psychology Ideas You Really Need to Know.

“Does happiness matter? Indeed it does! The research evidence suggests happy people have strong immune systems so they are healthier and live longer than unhappy people. They tend to be more successful at work and have better personal relationships. They are more attractive to others. They seem to like themselves more than unhappy people and to cope better with Viagra Online all sorts of setbacks. Happy people make better decisions and tend to be more creative. Unhappy people seem to waste time and effort being vigilant for signs of danger or failure. This saps their energy.”

A great website I discovered this weekend – www.wellsphere.com – featured another researcher’s findings on why it’s so important to get (and stay) happy. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky – Stanford Ph.D, current professor at the University of California Riverside and the acclaimed author of many books on what she refers to as “sustainable happiness”:

“…Happy people have overall higher incomes, greater productivity, higher quality of work, more satisfying and longer-lasting marriages, more friends, stronger social support and better social interactions. They also experience more energy, more flow, stronger immune systems, lower stress levels, less pain and even longer lives than unhappy people. Study after study indicates that happy people are more creative, helpful, charitable, and self-confident; have better self-control, and show greater self-regulatory and coping abilities.”

Thank you, Shannon. And for the rest of you out there living your happy lives: why does being happy matter to you?

Drop me a line; I’d love to hear from you.

david@livethe8.com

 

Surrender To Win

Back in “the day” – when I was a full-time addiction therapist – we used to talk with the patients all the time about turning it over. All of the clients on my caseload were actively working the 12 Steps of some recovery program (e.g: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous, etc.) and this topic of discussion in my group therapies and individual sessions was a direct reference to Step 3 in that recovery process: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him”. It is as difficult a Step as any for people in recovery to get their heads and hearts around. It means giving up. It means giving over control. It means recognizing that you can’t make most changes in your life on your own (not most of the healthy ones, anyway). It means that your best plotting and planning likely got you here (wherever that “place” is for you – physically, mentally or even emotionally) and you may want to consider connecting with a “higher power”. It means…you must surrender to win.

Here’s the thing. This concept – the idea that one can find hope, strength, comfort, relief, even joy in surrender – doesn’t only apply to people in recovery from addiction. The idea can (for those of us that choose to accept it) be a freeing experience for the rest of us, too. And it doesn’t have to be a “religious” or “spiritual” act. For me, to “turn it over” means to ask for help with something. I’m not saying that’s how you might define it, or that it directly mirrors any Step in the recovery process. It’s just my way. It means reaching out to a power greater than me for hope, for guidance, for clarity and for peace. Sometimes tapping into that “power” is a spiritual experience for me, and other times – most times, in fact – it’s less abstract and easier to measure. It’s a conversation with my wife. It’s asking for help from a colleague. It’s reaching out to my children and Generic Viagra asking for a hug. There’s no greater release from my bondage of self than an embrace from my two children.

Now, I like things that are predictable and easy to measure. I look for things that fit those two criteria everyday. That’s also why I have to surrender, and turn things over, about twenty times a day though; because I’ve learned that life is full of people, places and things that constantly force me to confront my unrealistic expectations of concrete predictability. Very few things in life – at work, at home, with family, with friends – are “predictable” or “easy to measure”. Not sure if that’s true for you? Get out a piece of paper right now and write down all of the things that are true about your life today and are EXACTLY as you predicted they’d be five years ago. Even a year ago. Heck, even a month ago. And try to “measure” that relationship with a challenging colleague or a micromanaging boss. Not so easy, right? It might be time to turn some things over and ask for guidance. It might be time to let go. It just might be time to surrender. If you’re like me, surrendering to what you can’t control yourself and what you should no longer allow to rent space in your head and your heart, can be a big life-changer.

If you choose to “give up” (contrary to what my baseball and soccer coaches told me, and opposite of what cultural ideas have been drilled into me as a man in this world) you may just find some peace. Turn your problems over to a friend who can help you and whom you trust completely. Pray if that’s what works for you – and give it up to the higher power of your understanding. Write your problems on a piece of paper, stuff it inside a balloon, put some helium in it and let it fly away.

Whatever it takes, just remember that you don’t have to go it alone and that surrender doesn’t always mean defeat.

FREE Book + DVD Giveaway!

On March 1, 2011 (the official launch date for The 8) David will be celebr8ing by holding an event for The 8′s Facebook “likers”!

Sign up to attend this virtual celebr8ion and enter into a drawing to be one of Online Blackjack 8 friends selected to win a FREE, signed copy of David Vittoria’s new book, The 8 – Basic Elements to Greater Happiness, Health & Productivity, along with a DVD of The 8 movie!

The 8 Giveaway


Good luck!

I Did What Mattered…

Write Away...Over the Halloween weekend, I accomplished a BHAG (a BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS GOAL). I finished the manuscript for a book, entitled The 8 – Basic Elements to Greater Happiness, Health and Productivity. It’s set for a Spring, 2011 release – likely in March.

So here are exactly 7 things I learned about myself (and about writing) while writing The 8

1. It’s not as easy as it looks. Being a decent writer is very different from being a good (read: credible) author.

2. Writer’s block does exist. There were times that I couldn’t even think of the next word to write, let alone a chapter.

3. My family is phenomenal. I pretty much knew this one already, but boy did online poker player my wife and two children love and support me during this arduous task.

4. My “prime time” is early morning. I wrote 90% of the book between the hours of 6AM and 8AM over a three month period.

5. My prime motivation is to share my message. It started out as an ego-driven thing. That changed and then I changed…so did the book.

6. Damn, I’m pretty good! I always remind people of their strengths and I try to be very positive and uplifting. I am one of my people…can’t forget that!

7. People don’t suck. So many people – and many were once complete strangers to me – were gracious and very generous with their time and feedback.

———-

David