Another day, another amazing internet video. Sometimes it seems like the Internet is just filled with crazy people saying hurtful idiotic things, and other days you find videos like the series from “Kid President” and you are once again glad you live in 2013. Even though too much of our time is spent hunched over tiny glowing screens looking at pointless shit, we are still pretty lucky to live in an age that can bring this kid to our browsers.
This is my favorite one so far: Kid President’s “Pep Talk.” So many great gems: “Stop being boring–boring is easy–anyone can be boring, but you are good-er than that” and “You got air coming through your nose! You got a heartbeat! That means it time to do something!”
Also, the “Not cool Robert Frost!” and the Space Jam bit and Journey bit made me LOL for real. Plus his love of dance — done deal. Happy Monday.
Last year I wrote about my love of commencement addresses, and gathered a few of my favorites. And while J.K. Rowling’s speech is still high on my list. I mean, this is just fantastic:
“I was set free because my greatest fear was realized. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all, in which case you fail by default. “
This graduation season, I’m putting together a lot of great inspirational advice for entrepreneurs (more on that later). And so while I’m neck deep in hopeful platitudes, I came across this beautiful short film that was created from part of David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College.
I stumbled upon it randomly while doing research and within less than a day it’s gone viral, and rightfully so – as Wallace says, it covers “the large parts of parts of adult life that no one talks about in commencement speeches, the parts filled with boredom and petty frustrations.”
The film beautifully illustrates his speech and how, “The most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and watch it now.
You hear all the time about the power of positive thinking, it’s the stuff of countless “inspirational” quotes cluttering Pinterest boards more that crockpot recipes and wedding hair-dos. And while the “when life gives you lemons” platitudes sound good, how much do any of us really believe them?
I’m a life-long hardcore pessimist, I can dependably see how something might (and probably will) turn out for the worst. And like most people I’m hardest on myself, I could give you a long list of my shortcomings.
It’s not that I want to see the dark side of life, it is in a way a defense mechanism. By preparing for the worst, I’m trying to guard my heart so that if something turns out good I’m pleasantly surprised and if it doesn’t well–that’s what I expected anyways.
And I’m not alone (especially in New York) finding what’s wrong with any given situation is almost effortless. Complaining is as natural as breathing–it’s one of the very first things we do when we are born–cry and scream and complain.
Complaining is just easier than finding the good: “It’s easy to be heavy, it’s hard to be light.”
(see my post on this from two years ago: Hard to Be Light)
But what if there’s something to all this positive thinking talk? Could changing your life be as simple as just changing your attitude? Well…no probably not. But looking for the bright side in situations, assuming the best. And trying, really trying, not to complain could bring a sea change to your day-to-day.
So, after reading this article about five reasons why you should go on a complaint-free diet (it will make you smarter, have more energy, and improve your relationships, for starters), I decided to give myself a complaint audit for one day this week. My total:16. I squeezed four were before I left for work a 8:30am. I only counted verbal (or electronic) complaints, not the ones I silently made to myself (which I did quite frequently because as I was consciously trying not to complain to other people the complaints would rack up and repeat in my head).
I’m not sure if 16 complaints in one day is a lot of not. Being conscious of it certainly reined it in. The other sad thing I noticed is that (probably unsurprisingly) my poor loving husband bore the brunt of hearing my complaints– so there probably is truth to that whole “improve your relationships” thing.
The other element is how much other people complain–how social complaining is: gossiping, commiserating. How will I communicate with others if I can’t complain with them?
Well, we’ll see. Starting tomorrow when I wake up: I’m quitting complaining cold turkey–verbally, electronically, and mentally. We’ll see how long I last and I’ll report back to you with a smile (hopefully).
With my wedding less than a week away, things are getting stressful around these parts. But even without planning a wedding, life gives all of us many moments where we want to scream, or run and hide.
The “close your eyes and count to 10” advice is pretty common, but learning to integrate meditation into small moments of your everyday life is likely more effective. This method that teaches you to start with one minute meditation and work your down to one moment (which can be practiced anywhere!) . Sounds so much more accessible for distracted busy Westerners than the conventional meditation advice about starting with 5 minutes sitting in a quiet place and work your way up to 30 minutes (not that that kind of meditation isn’t beneficial, it’s just intimidating and impractical for many people).
Here’s the video from www.onemomentmeditation.com, created by Martin Boroson author of One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go
I know I’ll be using this method a lot in the next few days…
The next time you hit snooze and look for a way to justify skipping exersice think of Tao Porchon-Lynch, Guinness Book’s “World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher.” She’s 93 (the previous title was held by 91 year old Bernice Bates)
Porchon-Lynch teaches yoga four days a week, does ballroom dancing and guides wine tours in New York State (sounds like my kind of lady). And as if that’s not inspiring enough, she’s a great example that you can start any age and no matter what state your body is in. While she’s been practicing yoga since she was 8 years old, she didn’t start teaching until she was 73! Further, at 87, she had hip surgery but a month later she started dance lessons.
I believe that we can always reach just a little bit further,” said Porchon-Lynch. “I’m inspired to bring yoga into others’ lives along with helping people unearth new talents.
Now get moving whippersnappers!
It’s easy to feel like you make no real difference in the world, especially if your are a doctor, teacher, or humanitarian. But this story helped to remind me of the little acts of humanity that affect individual’s lives that stay with them sometimes more than the big gestures.
When my dad died 10 years ago I was a college student working in Yellowstone for the summer. I got the news from my mom as I stood at a pay phone. A man, on vacation with his family, walked by and noticed me crying, a minute later he returned alone with a handful of tissues and wordlessly handed them to me. In the following hours and days many of my friends and aquiantances reached out to me in big and small ways that were very appreciated and meaningful. But that stranger’s compassion, in that tiny gesture remains in my mind a decade later. This taxi driver’s compassion for a old woman reminded me of those little gestures that really define who a person is. And it made me want to go visit my elderly upstairs neighbor.
Get your tissues ready:
(Taken from Yoga Dork)
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut.It was the sound of the closing of a life..
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a partner/family/friends as support, you still are mostly alone in your endeavors. And you are probably receiving more rejections (or worse no response at all) than you are paycheck and praise.
So with that in mind I’ll share with you an affirmation/self pep-talk I wrote for myself a few months ago:
I won’t waste my time being a victim. I won’t let negative people or thoughts distract me or hold me back. I know my worth and I won’t let myself or anyone else convince me I’m worth less. I won’t dwell in setbacks or let them slow me down. I’ll remember always who I am, what’s valuable in me. I’ll remember who I wanted to be, and work to become that person. I’ll be flexible in my expectations.
I am smart, I am kind, I am compassionate, I am talented, I am anything but average, I am stronger than most people. I have done things in my life so far that most people will only dream of, and the best is yet to come. I have within myself everything I’ll ever need.
A bad day is just that, one bad day. And when they add up to bad months and bad years, they won’t define my life, they will simply stand as markers for how much better things will be, and how sweet that will taste. I will have the capacity to truly appreciate my life because of my struggles.