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01 Jul

eGod — when God gets eGo’d

“God alone is real, the world is false; and the individual being is none other than God.”

“God misunderstood is the world; the world properly understood is God.”

“It’s not that there is one god or many gods, there is only God.”

The term God is widely misunderstood to be referring to a supernatural anthropomorphic being in the heavens. Instead it refers to the one and only Reality that actually exists — the ultimate formless partless unchanging infinite Reality which is the ground of all existence, the most fundamental substratum of this universe, the underlying basis and the very essence of everything, the highest Truth beyond which there is nothing more to be known. The various gods represented in different religions are symbolisms pointing to the same Reality. It is what we all are seeking — knowingly or unknowingly — either through externally-focused science or through internally-focused spirituality or just through life itself. The universe with all its living and non-living constituents is nothing but a virtual reality manifesting within God alone. Hence the universe can very well be termed eGod (as adding the prefix “e” to something “real” refers to its “virtual” incarnation e.g. e + mail = email, e + commerce = ecommerce, and the likes).

Why does God manifest as eGod?

It’s because God gets eGo’d. This is not a play on words. It’s the truth. The reason why God manifests as eGod is because of a false individual ego i.e. a wrong identification with a body-mind complex. This ego segregates the world into “I” and “not I”, “mine” and “not mine”, “I like” and “I dislike”, “I want” and “I don’t want”, etc. making the one undivided Reality manifest as a world of multiplicity. It’s very much like a dream. The whole dream world is none other than the mind itself but since we assume a false identification with a particular body in the dream, the dream world seems to be divided into multiplicity. The same thing happens in a virtual reality simulation. It’s uncanny how quickly we take ourselves to be a fake body within a simulation and start behaving as if that is what we actually are!

eGod is a collection of countless such dream-like simulations manifesting within God with each simulation representing an individual being with a false ego and a private little world. In other words, God is the “hardware” — the real stuff — and eGod is a bunch of “software” simulations — virtual fluff. The intricate nature of each simulation is such that it’s able to superimpose a false ego on God and also feel very real (just like a dream feels real while we are in the dream). The moment one drops this false ego and knows oneself to be none other than the ultimate Reality, the whole world collapses (not literally but in understanding) into oneness. That is when one starts seeing everything as a virtual manifestation of God alone. It’s like a mind dreaming while also knowing that it’s its own dream.

But don’t mistake this simulation to be a dream of your mind. What you call as “your mind” is just a part of a dream-like simulation manifesting within the underlying Reality. And since the Reality is infinite, the dream-like simulations within it are infinitely more sophisticated, complex and long-lasting than the dreams of our infinitesimally small minds. Moreover, these countless simulations share common objects/events and are so inter-connected that it all seems to be one coherent universe. It’s somewhat like a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) in which the players have a separate simulation going on on their respective computers and they see the game only from their individual perspective but at the same time show up in each other’s simulations as well as share common objects/events giving rise to the feeling that it’s one coherent virtual reality. The key difference is that in a MMORPG each player is a separate individual where as in eGod, God alone is assuming different identities and playing with Itself!

Each individual simulation turns off and back on every time that individual goes into deep dreamless sleep and comes out of it. The whole eGod virtual reality also shuts down after a while and restarts again later. This cycle of eGod or the universe manifesting and unmanifesting in God is beginningless and endless. Each eGod instance could be different from the previous one and it won’t be a surprise if multiple eGods (i.e. multiple universes) manifest within God simultaneously with each eGod being a separate MMORPG-like virtual reality having it’s own collection of individual simulations.

But why should an eGod be manifesting within God at all?

It’s due to the very nature of God which is existence-consciousness-bliss. The nature of consciousness is to experience, so it tries to experience the one and only Reality that actually exists which is itself. But the Reality is infinite and not experienceable in entirety. When there is an attempt to experience the inexperienceable, an illusion is generated in the form of countless dream-like simulations called eGod. For better clarity, take the case of the eyes as an illustration. The nature of the eyes is to see but when they try to see the sky which is so vast that it cannot be seen by them in entirety, an illusion is generated and the sky looks like a hemispherical dome (which it is not).

Hence, eGod manifests within God due to the very nature of the infinite Reality trying to experience itself. The existence-consciousness-bliss nature of God manifests in all the living and non-living constituents of eGod with varying degrees. The consciousness nature manifests more prominently as countless experiencers, the existence nature manifests more prominently as the various experienced objects, and the bliss nature manifests more prominently as the corresponding experiences. Since existence-consciousness-bliss is one inseparable Reality and not three separate things, the experiencers along with their respective experienced objects and the corresponding experiences are also inseparable. And since infinite consciousness also implies infinite intelligence, these simulations are of very high quality with lot of systematism, complexity and inter-connectedness. All of it is so flawless and intricate that it feels very real.

Please note that God doesn’t do this deliberately. It’s the very nature of God. Just like it’s the nature of fire to burn, water to wet, sun to illumine, etc. Fire cannot be said to be doing anything specifically when it burns something. It burns as that’s its very nature of being hot (there is no such thing as a cold fire). Similarly, God cannot be said to be doing anything specifically. It’s the very nature of God to manifest as eGod.

It’s also important to note that eGod is not a problem in itself. The actual problem begins only when it gets eGo’d. With ego, eGod is full of conflicts; without ego, it’s full of harmony and peace!

Why and how to drop this false ego?

This understanding of the Reality is not just for intellectual entertainment. It is to help us realize that we are actually one infinite undivided Reality and that we are only mistaking ourselves to be little creatures of flesh and blood. All problems in life sprout from this misunderstanding as we keep worrying about the survival and safety of something we are not. It’s ok to continue to play our role in this virtual simulation but there is no point worrying about anything as none of it is actually real. This feels quite liberating as it takes away a huge burden off our shoulders. And it’s only possible when we drop the false ego by knowing that we are not this body-mind complex we mistake ourselves to be. We are the one and only formless partless unchanging infinite Reality which cannot be touched or affected by a virtual simulation in any way. Since there is nothing else apart from the Reality there is no conflict of any sorts — just peace and harmony. This realization does not solve all the artificial problems of life, it dissolves them! It’s like we don’t have to solve each and every petty problem in a dream. We just have to know it’s a dream and all the problems lose their grip on us.

In order to drop the false ego, one should systematically learn about the Reality and sincerely contemplate upon it to be convinced. There will be many doubts that have to be resolved through proper reasoning and inquiry into one’s own experience. After intellectual conviction, one can start assimilating it in the mind by living life accordingly. Even though it might take time for it to stabilize, the practice gets validated and starts benefiting every step of the way by dissolving more and more problems of life and bringing more and more peace and joy as one progresses. The final realization will only come by God’s grace though as it’s God’s nature that gives rise to eGod and the false ego. The puny little mind cannot overcome God’s natural power. But the practice will surely prepare the mind to receive and recognize the grace when it comes. The best place to start is to explore the teachings of Advaita (Nondual) Vedanta which is the highest and deepest exposition of the Reality. My recent articles are also on this subject. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions (npabuwal gmail).

Once the realization dawns, life could be like watching a movie. You can enjoy the movie through its good parts and whenever it gets ugly, like if you get too scared or sad, you can simply remind yourself that you are falsely identifying with a character in the movie and you are actually unscathed. You can just relax by sinking back into your real nature of being God, smile, and then jump back in when ready. Moreover, your life will be full of love for everyone as you will know you are not just one of the characters in the movie but the whole movie along with all its characters is within God — the real you — and you alone are manifesting as everything. That’s why love, grace, compassion, kindness, mercy, and all the wonderful qualities come very naturally to God as there is nothing apart from God. And remember, this realization is also at the level of the mind and part of the simulation itself. As God, you were, are and will always be free!

“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

“We are not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience. We are a spiritual Being having human experiences”

“Whether you know or not, whether you agree or not, you are none other than God.”

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/622649780649312256/egod-when-god-gets-egod)

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30 Jan

A Bigger Yes

We are the luckiest.An excerpt from We Are the Luckiest by Laura McKowen

Before Laura McKowen got sober, she had a long, successful career in public relations in the Mad Men-esque drinking culture of the advertising industry, where “liquid lunches were frequent and drinking at your desk in the late afternoon was perfectly normal.” In the five years since she stopped drinking, she has become one of the foremost voices in the modern recovery movement.

In her new memoir We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life (New World Library, January 7, 2020), McKowen flips the script on how we talk about addiction and encourages readers not to ask, “Is this bad enough that I have to change?” but rather, “Is this good enough for me to stay the same?”

We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

For so long, all I could see was what I would be losing by giving up drinking — love being only one representation of many. Despite all the aphorisms and positive thinking and stories I’d heard from other sober people promising me otherwise, all I could feel was the loss. Augusten Burroughs, in his book This Is How, said that what worked for him in getting sober was to find something he loved more than drinking. I understood that intellectually, and it sounded awfully catchy and inspiring, but it just didn’t feel true for me.

Being in that room with Seane, feeling whatever had been sparking up in me — even in the midst of all the emotional angst and discomfort — I started to get it. For the first time, I could imagine chasing something bigger.

# # #

Here’s what is true, for you and for me: the grief and the sadness are real. When you give up something you’ve relied on as heavily as I relied on alcohol, even when that something is actively destroying your life, it is a true loss. You can’t deny that, and more importantly, you don’t have to.

I thought there was something wrong with me for feeling so heartbroken. How could I actively miss a thing that had nearly cost me everything, including Alma?

There was nothing wrong with me, though. Alcohol had been my friend. It had carried me through a lot of pain I might have otherwise not been able to withstand. It had softened experiences that needed to be softened. It had been there for me always, without question. My drinking — and whatever it is you do to feel better — was born of a natural impulse to soothe, to connect, to feel love. And although alcohol hadn’t actually delivered those things, it was absolutely yoked to them in my mind. In my heart and body, too. It was just what I knew.

So of course I was terrified without it. Of course I missed it. The absence of it was terrible. And necessary. Maybe it’s helpful to linger there for a minute, in the terrible and the necessary. To start to see them as the same. Maybe in this way, pain is not such a problem.

When I saw Seane up there, doing what she did, I realized it wasn’t in spite of her pain that she was doing these things but because of it. She knew exactly what it took to walk through the fire. That is what I recognized in her. That was why I believed her.

Because that strength was in me, too.

I had always quashed my pain and cut it off before it could burn all the way through. I drank it away or ate it away or disappeared into another person or work. Being there over those four days, without contact with Jon or Alma or the comforts of home, had given me a taste of what it was like to just let it burn. I felt it. I felt it all over my body. And although it was excruciating most of the time, there were a few moments when I surrendered the fight and simply allowed everything to wash over me. In those moments, I found that right alongside the sharp intensity and unease, there was some small part of me willing to stay, another voice softly saying, I am willing to be here.

Behind all those nos and never-agains is a much bigger yes. It might not seem clear now, but it will be clear soon. Listen to the voice. Listen to your body. This is in you already.

There is a life that is calling you forward, begging you to meet its eye, to glimpse its vision for you. You can get only so far by running away from what you do not want. Eventually you will have to turn toward what you do. You will have to run toward a bigger yes.

# # #

 

Laura McKowen is the author of We Are the Luckiest. She is a former public relations executive who has become recognized as a fresh voice in the recovery movement. Beloved for her soulful and irreverent writing, she leads sold-out yoga-based retreats and other courses that teach people how to say yes to a bigger life. Visit her online at http://www.lauramckowen.com.

Excerpted from the book We Are the Luckiest. Copyright ©2020 by Laura McKowen. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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28 Jan

What I Am (and You Are Too!)

I feel I am a conscious entity in which a simulation, constituting of gross and subtle objects/things, is appearing. The gross (aka physical) objects include a body and a world entering through the sense organs, in the form of gross sights, sounds and sensations. The subtle objects include thoughts and emotions (that are also just thoughts loaded with feelings) in the form of subtle sights, sounds and sensations. These objects are appearing directly in me, otherwise I would not have been able to know/experience them. It’s important to note that even though I experience a body and a world directly, I do not experience a so-called mind (which is actually a composite term used for the mind-intellect-memory-ego combo) directly. The mind-composite is only implied by the type of thoughts that appear in me. To clarify, I do not experience any specific object that I can point to and say that is the mind or the intellect or the memory or the ego. The mind is implied due to some of the thoughts being reactionary and habitual, the intellect is implied due to some of the thoughts being intelligent and analytical, the memory is implied due to some of the thoughts being of past remembrances, and the ego is implied due to some of the thoughts containing an “I” or “my” identity. I only experience these thoughts directly, along with the corresponding parts of the brain that feel active or affected during those thoughts, and never the mind-composite directly.

I further feel that the simulation that is appearing in me is just that – an appearance. I am actually untouched and unaffected by it. Even though I experience certain sensations that can be labeled as pleasant or unpleasant, they are just gross objects appearing in me but they do not affect me. Certain sensations are felt in the body like the feelings of hunger, thirst, itch, ache, etc.. And what we call mental feelings are also nothing but physical sensations felt in the brain tissues. E.g. the feeling of stress is just some brain tissues getting overly strained due to lot of thinking and the feeling of anger is just some brain tissues getting overly heated. So all mental feelings are nothing but physical sensations of brain tissues which are also sometimes accompanied with certain bodily sensations like palpitations, sweating, shallow/rapid breathing, etc. All these sensations just appear in me as gross objects and I am untouched by them. I am just a witness of them. I am like a screen that is unaffected by the movie playing on it, irrespective of how pleasant or unpleasant the movie might be.

When the objective appearances vanish and the simulation stops in deep absorption, I experience my real nature as pure existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda). I do not feel any limitation of time, space, object, etc. in that state. This makes me believe that I am actually unlimited and formless but the simulation imposes an artificial feeling of being contained within a body form with all corresponding limitations. Other people also report similar simulatory experiences, but these simulations are not completely independent. They seem to share common gross objects and events which leads to the conclusion there is just one underlying reality. You, I and others are actually that one reality and not separate entities.

So, even though I am one infinite partless reality, I somehow seem to experience countless parallel simulations simultaneously as separate individuals – each forming a different viewpoint of one big simulation called the universe. It seems like the universe is one gigantic stream of events flowing constantly from one moment to another, and that I know everything that is to be known in this universe from different viewpoints. The individual simulations seem to represent different cross-sections of the universe as experienced from the viewpoints of different individuals. Or maybe there are only these individual simulations and the feeling of one universe is only incidental as these simulations seem to be interconnected sharing common gross objects and events. In either case, I am one reality of the nature of existence-consciousness-bliss with an uncanny ability of generating and focusing at countless simulations and experiencing them simultaneously and separately.

But why should I be doing this? Why can I not just remain as pure existence-consciousness-bliss without generating and experiencing these simulations within me?

Here’s the best explanation I have found:

Take the case of the eyes as an illustration. Their nature is to see. Now consider the sky. It’s so vast it cannot be seen in entirety by these tiny eyes. But when you turn your head upwards, the eyes try to see that which cannot be seen in entirety. The result is an error and the sky looks like a hemispherical dome (which it is not) to the eyes. In the same way, the nature of consciousness is to experience, so it tries to experience the one and only reality that actually exists which is itself. But the reality is infinite and not experiencable in entirety. When there is an attempt to experience the inexperiencable, an error is generated in the form of countless interconnected simulations – each with an experiencer, various experienced objects and their corresponding experiences. The consciousness aspect of the reality appears more prominently as the experiencers, the existence aspect appears more prominently as the experienced objects, and the bliss aspect appears more prominently as the corresponding experiences. So all these countless simulations are just an error produced by the very nature of the infinite reality trying to experience itself. These simulations manifest the infinite reality in a finite way so the consciousness of the experiencers, the existence of the experienced objects, and the bliss in the experiences are all finite, of varying degrees and transient instead of being infinite and permanent. Moreover, since infinite consciousness also implies infinite intelligence, these simulations are of very high quality following various types of laws both at micro and macro cosmic levels with lot of systematism and interconnectedness. They are so flawless and well-structured that they appear to be very real. But it’s important to note that these simulations are absolutely harmless as they are not actually real and are just appearances in the one unblemished reality that I am (and everyone is)!

Another question that might arise is that once this understanding of being the one infinite reality dawns upon a particular individual, what makes him/her continue to experience the simulation and act through a body?

The answer is quite simple. The appearance of experience and action is just part of the simulation and going on of its own accord. The infinite reality is not actually doing anything deliberately. The simulations simply appear in it by its very nature and keep going, irrespective of whether the understanding of being the one underlying reality has dawned upon a particular individual or not. The only difference it would make is that the actions of an individual after this understanding has dawned would appear to be in accordance with that understanding.

Note: You can replace all the occurrences of words “I” & “me” with “you” and “my” with “your” in the above article and it will still be true! I am just trying to take a step back from the apparent simulation and revel in the underlying reality which you, I and everyone actually is. I would highly encourage you to try it too. Its extremely liberating!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/190519907835/what-i-am-and-you-are-too)

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19 Nov

Authenticity

BOOKcover-LiveTrue-hiResCHAPTER 21: Authenticity

But above all, in order to be, never try to seem.

—Albert Camus

 

This above all:

To thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

—Shakespeare

 

Who are you really, if not who you really are? That may sound like some kind of Zen koan, which is a paradox, or a puzzle for Zen Buddhist monks to meditate on to gain enlightenment. Perhaps we won’t reach enlightenment by contemplating that question, but we can certainly find out who we are by knowing who we’re not. If we ask ourselves, “Who am I?” we will automatically answer with our name, or what it is we do for a living, our role, or our persona, such as “I’m a mother,” “I’m a doctor,” “I’m an actor,” “I’m a carpenter,” or even, “I’m an addict.” We may be any one of those things, or a combination of them. But unless we know who we are other than just our “identity,” or what we do, we might not know whether we’re

being true to ourselves, or authentic in whatever identity we’ve taken on. Maybe somewhere in your role as a mother, you’re conflicted about having given up a career to be a parent, or maybe torn about working and leaving your children at home or daycare. Or, maybe if you were/are an addict, you were once on top of the world but lost confidence in yourself at one point in your life, and couldn’t handle failure so you numbed yourself with drugs or alcohol. Or maybe you became a doctor because it was expected of you to be one since you come from generations of physicians, as I spoke about in the previous chapter on honesty. Who we are might not be what we wanted, or intended to be at all, but we’ve been that person for so long, who would we be otherwise? Some people just fall into being who they are, or inherit being who they are, or are told to be who they are. Others knew who they wanted to be when

they spoke their first words. But whether you announced your identity at your first dance recital, or you smiled compliantly when your father announced at your Bar Mitzvah that you were going to be a lawyer just like him, somewhere on the “Who am I?” train, you woke up and realized that you got on the wrong one, became inauthentic to yourself, and don’t know how that happened. There’s a great song by The Talking Heads, called “Once in a Lifetime,” which really sums it up:

 

And you may find yourself

Living in a shotgun shack

And you may find yourself

In another part of the world

And you may find yourself

Behind the wheel of a large automobile

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house

With a beautiful wife

And you may ask yourself, well

How did I get here?

 

It’s very conceivable that you can wake up one day and ask yourself, “How did I get here?” A good way to avoid that from happening is to ask yourself, “Who am I?” long before

you end up somewhere you really don’t want to be, or flummoxed by how the hell you let yourself get there. Mindfulness helps us not forget who we are. It keeps us present and aware, and if, or when we might feel an impulse to be inauthentic, it reminds us immediately that falseness of any kind feels wrong with every fiber of our being. When we’re mindful, we have heightened awareness, and with heightened awareness, it’s hard to be dishonest with ourselves. It’s like having an inner lie detector, as I’ve spoken of, or truth barometer that goes off inside us, and makes it almost impossible not to pay attention to it. Even if someone is suggesting what we should do, or who we should be, as I mentioned, we get a signal loud and clear that no one can decide who we are, and only we can determine our authenticity.  But whether you decided who your authentic self was long ago, somewhere on the life path you can either forget it, doubt it, turn away from it, give it away, or even make a decision that you dislike or hate who you really are, and deny ever being that person. It’s like an identity swap, only instead of taking on a role that isn’t you because you felt you had to, you gave your authentic self away gladly, and after living so long as someone you’re not, you’re now desperately looking for who you are, like a mother trying to find the baby she gave up for adoption. The good news is you can always find that person you once were, and when

you become reunited with your authentic self, it can be the greatest and most freeing day of your life. it’s not easy living a life trapped in inauthenticity, and it takes work to pretend to be someone we’re not. It can also be very painful to be seen, liked, or even loved for a false self, and terrifying that if, or when you’re found out that you’ve lived dishonestly, not only can you be met with tremendous anger and resentment, but you can also be blamed or accused for harming others in some type of way, be it emotionally or psychologically.

Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity. A certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, she specializes in transformational thinking, self-discovery, and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers. Learn more at theiftt.org and OraNadrich.com.

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21 Oct

“You Are What You Read”

An excerpt by Jodie Jackson from her book, “You Are What You Read”.

In the early stages of my research into the psychological impact of the news, I went to a constructive journalism workshop. At the beginning, the course director asked all the journalists in attendance why they had decided on their chosen career.

My scepticism about the creators of the news was suspended as I heard the participants’ answers: to make the world a better place, to hold power to account, to inspire, to educate, to give a voice to the voiceless, to expose wrongdoing, to stimulate debate, to challenge the status quo. I was in admiration of their intentions.

I later found that these journalists’ answers were incredibly common through research that showed that the journalists interviewed shared a common characteristic: the desire to contribute to the improvement of the human condition and make the world a better place. They then went on to say that they achieved this by reporting suffering as a way to counteract ignorance and stimulate empathy. This strategy can be very effective. But while it’s true that the news of others’ suffering can conjure empathetic concern and can lead to altruistic behaviour, which may reduce that suffering, it can also lead to personal distress. And those who experience such distress will not be concerned with the needs of others. Instead they will seek to reduce their own suffering by withdrawing or avoiding the news.

The initial buzz that had been created by these noble and inspired answers was quickly dulled as I began researching how people feel when they watch or read the news. Their dispirited answers included comments like depressed, paranoid, hopeless, insignificant and scared about our future.

The news is supposed to empower people by enlightening them with information that they otherwise may not have known. It should also help them zoom out of their personal lives and allow them to feel connected to the world around them. But it seems that when some people lift their head above their personal horizon, they immediately want to retreat to the safety of their own surroundings. They may even decide to put their head in the sand and ignore the wider world for the sake of their sanity; deciding to remain unaware of the daily disasters and instead choose the more comforting thought that ‘ignorance is bliss’.

People that avoid the news are often judged because of the enormous social pressure to be well informed. If you don’t know the detail of global policies, domestic issues and the latest corruption, you are often tarnished with the disapproving titles of ill-educated, naïve, lazy, self-involved or shallow. However, having spoken to some wildly intelligent, caring, benevolent and creative individuals who have chosen not to expose themselves to the news regularly, I can say that this is not always the case.

Although it is common for journalists to want to believe the stories they tell make the world a better place, it is more difficult to digest the idea that the news they are creating can actually cause harm. But it is time we publicly acknowledge that good intentions can have unintended consequences, and the stories we are told about in the news do not always have the positive impact that was intended by their writers.

We know that the news predominantly reports the problems of the world, from systemic social issues of poverty and inequality to individual petty crime, with very little to comfort the reader. We accept that these are the types of stories we expect to hear from the news. This expectation has become so entrenched in the news industry that a television news programme can have ‘more images of violence, suffering and death in a half hour than most people would normally view in a lifetime’.

So what effect does all this bad news have on us?

It is important that we ask this because the subtle potency of the news appears largely unquestioned by the very consumers who are affected by its content. Instead of questioning it, many routinely defend its position. But with the average American spending seventy minutes a day absorbing news content, it is important that we ask what are the psychological effects that the news has on us. It is time we, the consumers, turn the investigative lens on the news industry to expose the effects of the negativity bias on our mental health, the health of our democracy and our society. Once people begin to ask questions, it may be that people do not so quickly defend the incessant negativity of the news.

 

Jodie Jackson is an author, researcher and campaigner. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of East London (UK) where she investigated the psychological impact of the news. As she discovered evidence of the beneficial effects of solutions-focused news on our wellbeing, she grew convinced of the need to spread consumer awareness. She is a regular speaker at media conferences and universities. Her new book is You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change the World(Unbound, September 3, 2019). See more at www.jodiejackson.com, and find her on twitter at @jacksonjodie21

 

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15 Oct

AVOIDING YOUR BEST WORK LEADS TO CREATIVE CONSTIPATION

The following is a modified excerpt from Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done.

***

There’s a big difference between what your best work and all the other work you do. Doing your best work is fulfilling while you’re doing it and also creates a bridges the gap between the life you live today and the life your soul yearns to be in. And your best work isn’t just about work you get paid for — it could be playing in your hobby band, raising your kids, being the church secretary, or community volunteer projects.

Your best work is always going to be challenging because it’s the work that matters to you. And because it matters to you, you’re going to be thrashing — that is flailing, having mini identity crises, “researching”, and all the other kinds of meta-work that doesn’t actually push the work forward — along the way. Best work is starting to look suspiciously like hard work, and our natural reaction is to avoid doing hard work and to instead find something easier to do.

When it comes to your best work, not doing it comes with two major costs: (1) you won’t be able to thrive, and (2) you’ll be stricken with creative constipation. Since I’ve already discussed the link between thriving and your best work, let’s talk about creative constipation, or the pain of not doing your best work.

Creative constipation is exactly what it sounds like. We take in ideas and inspiration that get converted into aspirations, goals, and projects, and at a certain point, if we’re not pushing them out in the form of finished projects, they start to back up on us.

And like physical constipation, at a certain point, we get toxic. We don’t want to take in any more ideas. We don’t want to do any more projects. We don’t want to set any more goals or plans. We’re full and fed up.

That inner toxicity becomes the broth that flavors all our stories about ourselves and the world; our head trash gets more pronounced and intense, and what we see in the world goes from bright to dark. Creative constipation leads to behaviors in which we lash out at the world—and sometimes even more intensely at ourselves. We become resentful of others—even people we love—who are doing their best work.

Our ability to feel positive emotional peaks is diminished at the same time that our ability to feel negative emotional troughs is amplified. You’ve no doubt encountered the tortured, depressed soul who’s creatively constipated—and you may have been there yourself.

There’s a reason that nearly every spiritual tradition links creativity and destruction: the same energy that fuels creation also fuels destruction. The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim God creates and destroys; “beating swords into plowshares” works equally in reverse. The Hindu god Shiva is seen as

a destroyer who makes way for creativity. Creativity and destruction are seen as a continual loop in the Taoist concept of yin and yang.

Spiritual insights such as these also show up in our everyday lives. Think about how often you’ve engaged in retail therapy—and thus destroyed your time and resources—because you’re unsatisfied about something in your life. Think about how often you’ve indulged in emotional eating because you’re not creating the change you want to see in your life. Think about how many people blow up their lives in a midlife crisis because the career and life they’ve made haven’t satisfied their deep needs.

Now think about the people you know or have read about who are doing their best work. Notice how they’re healthier, happier, (usually) more financially comfortable, and in good relationships with others? Doing their best work creates meaning for them at the same time that it cocreates who they want to be in the world. And these folks know that doing their work in the world is the wheel of change, meaning, and growth, more so than merely being stuck in their heads.

So at both deep and practical levels, we can choose to channel our energy to do our best work and thrive, or we can choose to leave it unharnessed to gradually destroy ourselves, our relationships, our resources, and the world around us.

Better to do the hard work of creation than the hard work of repairing the destruction we’ve wrought.

 

Charlie Gilkey is an author, entrepreneur, philosopher, Army veteran, and renowned productivity expert. Founder of Productive Flourishing, Gilkey helps professional creatives, leaders, and changemakers take meaningful action on work that matters. His new book is Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done. Learn more at productiveflourishing.com.

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31 Oct

How to Have a Daring Conversation

An excerpt from Step into Your Moxie by Alexia Vernon

The word moxie has become synonymous with vigor, verve, pep, courage, nerve, aggressiveness, skill, and know-how, and the new book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World by speaking and leadership coach Alexia Vernon presents a soul-stirring call to action for women to speak up for themselves and the ideas and issues that matter most to them. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

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The key to having a daring conversation is giving yourself enough time to properly prepare for one — but not so much time that you never have it, or that by the time you have it, the person you are speaking with either has no idea what you are talking about or the situation that was such a big deal to us didn’t even register on her Richter scale. While time is subjective, and the ten to twenty minutes of sensation I feel before I speak may feel like twenty eternities in purgatory for someone who is brand-new to speaking, when it comes to a daring conversation, as a rule it’s best to have it within a week of deciding your organs could finally unstick themselves if you said something. And before you do, here is how you can set up yourself, and the other parties involved, for success.

 

The words that we use, from moment to moment, in a conversation where conflict could transpire (or has transpired) often determine whether things go difficult or daring. I recommend using the following words as often as possible:

Yes. My favorite agreement word. Ever. It makes someone instantly feel seen and heard. You can say “yes” after someone shares an idea, an opinion, or a feeling, but do refrain from saying “yes and” and then redirecting the conversation back to you. “Yes and” works great in comedy, but “yes” as a complete sentence usually works better in daring conversations.

Thank you. You can say “thank you” to someone for sharing where she is coming from, for being vulnerable, for telling you the truth, for helping you understand her perspective, or for acknowledging wrongdoing or committing to better behavior in the future.

What I want for us is… These words work great for communicating what you want from the conversation. Try not to use them to linguistically wrestle for power over someone but rather to propose something that the other person, no matter his or her perspective, likely wants too.

Tell me more. This phrase works whenever people are dropping into vulnerability and you want them to know you really want to hear what’s going on, even if it’s uncomfortable. Or, on the flip side, this short phrase is effective when you want to nudge people beyond surface talk so they can go to the source of what’s truly going on.

I’m sorry. This is a very appropriate response when you have truly done something wrong, you want to take responsibility for it, and even more important, you want to communicate what you will do differently moving forward. Sometimes you may be sorry for the way someone is feeling, or the way you unintentionally made her or him feel — even if you haven’t done anything super sorry-
worthy. Be clear on what you are sorry for, and state that. (Again, please don’t think I’m giving you a hall pass for giving your power away. The kind of “I’m sorry” I’m recommending here is different from the “I’m sorry” you use when you feel insecure or actually want someone else to apologize to you. “I’m sorry” must not be a quid pro quo.)

What do you need (from me) in order to move forward? When you brainstorm creative ways to play nicely together in the future, the ultimate expression of compassionate (and super vulnerable) power is to ask what someone else would like to see from you now and in the future. This question alone can resurrect a relationship from collapse, if and when safety has been created in a conversation and everyone is fully committed to a mutually beneficial outcome.

 

Words and Phrases That Keep Conversations Difficult

On the flip side, I recommend avoiding, at all costs, the following words and phrases, regardless of how entitled you feel to use them or how hooked into them you have been in the past. Why? Because they build a wall between you and the other party — and they are a direct flight back from the land of daring to the land of difficult:

A lot of yous (especially when the conversation is past-oriented). The word you often lands as an accusation and can trigger defensive and blaming behavior. Instead, strive to use the word we. Collective language, whether it’s about what’s happened in the past or what you are committing to in the future, keeps conversations daring.

That’s not what I… It’s easy to go all antagonized attack dog when someone misuses or misinterprets what you have said. Should this happen, calmly (and silently) note the misunderstanding to yourself. Somebody is not receiving the message you are intending to send. Instead of pulling out the claws and taking a bite, take a breath, and then use appropriate words and phrases from the preceding section to explain yourself again. The more uncomplicated you make your second attempt, the more likely it is that your message will be interpreted correctly.

That’s not my problem/responsibility (or that’s your problem/responsibility). Though this is an ugly cousin of the last phrase, I’m calling this one out separately. Because no matter whose problem or responsibility something is (or isn’t), stating this (even if you are entitled to), is like lighting a match by a gas line outside your house and wondering why you burned your entire neighborhood down.

[Something conciliatory] but… No more buts in high-stakes conversations! As we explored in chapter 4, a but negates everything that has come before it. And when you have one foot in a difficult conversation and the other in a daring one, this word can pull you back into the former faster than a preschooler can get her entire family sick during cold and flu season. (I may be wearing a face mask as I write this chapter. Trust the analogy. It’s as tight as my mask.)

[So-and-so] said… Please avoid gossip and triangulation. Leave third and fourth parties out. All that matters is what’s transpiring right now, between you and the other person or parties before you. If you need to address somebody else’s role in a situation, set up a separate time and a separate daring conversation for that.

 

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Alexia Vernon is the author of Step into Your Moxie. Branded a “Moxie Maven” by President Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement, she is a sought-after speaking and leadership coach who delivers transformational keynotes and corporate trainings for Fortune 500 companies and other professional groups and organizations, including the United Nations and TEDx. Visit her online at www.alexiavernon.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World. Copyright ©2018 by Alexia Vernon. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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29 Sep

“WHICH GOD IS WHICH?”

“God has no religion.”

         ~Mahatma Gandhi

When most people think of God, they think of religion. But really, can God have a religion? Did God create religion? No…man did.

There are over 4,000 religions in the world today, according to Adherents an independent, non-religiously affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world’s religions. Adherents divides religions into churches, denominations, congregations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures and movements.

Nearly 75 percent of the world’s population practices one of the five most influential religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

If non-religious people were classified as a group, they would be the world’s third largest group.

It’s human nature to believe that a chosen religion is superior because it’s, well, chosen. But lets think about who’s doing the choosing.

Most of us are born into a religion through a familial lineage. Some stay with the beliefs they are taught growing up and others either convert to another religion or drop out all together.

But why do we have religions in the first place? There are a lot of thoughts on that subject. Some feel that religion is a way to control large groups of people; others feel religion helps shape character and teaches morality. And then there are those that see religion as a path to God, Heaven, Eternal life etc.

If you study the early writings and philosophies of all religions, you find common themes. They all acknowledge that there is a creative, divine force of some sort. They all seem to have the goal of getting back to that divine place with The Divine Creator.

There’s a common rule across the board:

“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” – CHRISTIANITY

 

 

 

 

 

“This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” HINDUISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.”  CONFUCIANISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” BUDDHISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” ISLAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” JUDAISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” TAOISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.” ZOROASTRIANISM

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a religious person. I know that the path I have chosen to follow is sacred for me. It teaches and inspires me. It also tells me that I may not try to convert others away from their paths and on to mine. I must honor the walk and the dreams and the aspirations of my fellow brothers and sisters.

There is as much brilliance and vibrancy in religious traditions worldwide as there is in world music, art and literature. It’s fascinating to learn what inspires greatness in others.

So if you believe that your religion makes you a better person and I believe that my religion makes me a better person, why would either of us want to change the other?

 

 

 

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28 Aug

CONQUER CHANGE & WIN IN A NUTSHELL

conquer change and win bookGuest Post By Ralph Masengill
Want to be very successful? Here is a simple secret few take advantage of in their personal or business life. You will be a true winner only if you are:

1. Willing to take a calculated risk and endorse positive change on a regular basis.
2. Learning how change affects our emotions and our feelings.

Let’s take a short journey together.

What we are talking about is understanding the risk of change. Why is it so important that we know about and understand change? We humans, and there are no exceptions, are constantly involved in change. Change never stops. It is always constantly going on in us and around us. The truly successful men and women of the world have a good understanding of change and how you can manipulate change to your advantage. You cannot stop it, but you can control most change. You can always control the emotions that change causes in all of us.

Are you in a personal or business rut? In a rut, you have no control where that rut will take you. You have lost your freedom to act. To not change is to lose control of your future. To be in a rut is losing your freedom to control your life, business or both. Laurence J. Peter states that “A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out.” He is talking about life without understanding the importance of the affects that change has on all humans.

Mark Twain put it his way “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.” Many good people refuse to accept the risk and uncertainty that change always brings with it. They stay in a self-imposed rut. They force themselves to live in a stagnant prison of their own making. They have part of it right. There can be some security in a prison. I would name that prison Opportunity Lost. When it comes to change we really only have two choices. One is to embrace change with gusto. The second is to stay in a rut by refusing to admit that all change is constant, live in denial and because they made a bad choice end up losing their freedom to act. The solution is to simply agree to devote time and effort to understanding change and how it makes us feel.

Someone said, “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain”. I believe the happiest and most successful people do not necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have. Choose Change. It is the path to true happiness and business success.

You and I are always undergoing continuous change intended or not. The exciting truth is the more we know about change, both positive and negative change, the more we can profit from change. If you want a more enjoyable and profitable personal and business life, you must have a solid understanding of what change is and how it makes us and the people we deal with feel. In other words, understanding change and how it makes all people feel will put you in a winning position in your life and your business.

If that is true and it is, what is change and how does it affect all of us on a continuous basis? After 40 years of study and research here is my definition of change:

All men and women regard all change both good and bad change with a feeling of loss (examples would be remorse or that pit of the stomach feeling) and that feeling of loss always creates some form of anger, anxiety or fear.

Understanding how change works can change your life for the better and give you a solid advantage. That is a guarantee. Here are some amazing facts about continuous change.

1. Most of us will not change until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.

2. You and I often prefer the security of known misery, to the supposed misery of unfamiliar insecurity.

3. Change is consistent, intended or not.

Number one on the list above was true for me in a big way. Until I learned how to handle continuous change and the feelings change had on my personality nothing seemed to get better. I seemed to be stuck in a continuous rut. Understanding continuous change turned my humdrum life around. Understanding change is not hard but you must work at it on a regular basis. Understanding change can be the one thing that can put you in the winner’s circle often. It did just that for me.

What do others say about change?

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” Carol Burnett

“Change your thoughts and you change your world”, Norman Vincent Peale

“Nothing endures but change.” Heraclitus (540BC – 480BC)

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending if you are willing to change.” Maria Robinson

On the Oprah Winfrey Show I heard an interview where Oprah was sharing with a guest about a dream she had where the children in her dream were asking her, “What can you teach me?” She said what she learned from that was, to look at every event in her life from that perspective. Then I realized as she was sharing, that is exactly what has made the difference in my own life in dealing with change. Now I welcome it knowing it leads to a greater understanding of my purpose on this planet. Dealing with both positive and negative change is a learning process that allows you and I to know what kind of emotions (feelings) continuous change will cause.

No one really likes dealing with change, no one. However we all like the results of positive change. We are never in pain because of change, only our resistance to change can cause us pain. Once you stop resisting what happens in your life and accept it the sooner you have the opportunity to feel less stress and set your business and your life up for even more success. For me it was one of those amazing “ah ha” moments where you are never the same after that. To truly be successful in any undertaking you must embrace positive change and the pain the resistance brings willingly and often.

We all take risk every day when we embrace positive change. Do we take a calculated risk or do we sometimes just roll the dice and just hope for the best? The former is not acting on opportunity; it is acting out of ignorance. I admit that in my younger days, I did more rolling of the dice than I want to talk about and I had to pay the price. I paid the price by losing time, money and happiness many times out of my own ignorance about change. One time I almost lost my business. All of us can and should learn from our mistakes. Mistakes can be a teacher. However, it is a very expensive and painful way to learn.

Charles Tremper puts it this way: “The first step in the calculated risk process is to acknowledge the reality of the risk. Denial is a common tactic that substitutes deliberate ignorance for thoughtful planning.” Executing a plan will involve change. Being willing to change is always a calculated risk that should be encouraged. For one thing it is where most business and personal success comes from in today’s world.

Many successful people have something to say about risk taking. Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is the right direction.” Author and lecturer Earl Nightingale stated, “You can measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved. They go together.” I believe it is clear that all positive change requires calculated risk taking. Do your homework and success can be yours.

Is the opposite of risk, security? Some say it is. I believe those people are in error. Here is what Helen Keller had to say about security. “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Former President Eisenhower said, “One can find outright security only in a prison. In order to be absolutely secure you must give up your individual freedoms.” Dennis Waitley in one of this lectures said, “Life is inherently risky. To become the success you want to be there is only one big risk you should avoid at all cost. That is the risk of doing nothing.” I personally believe total security is a myth. Understanding how change makes all of us feel makes the task less stressful and more fulfilling.

Without calculated risk and positive change there would be no United States of America and no free enterprise system. Our free enterprise system is based on planned change that requires risk that then creates an opportunity that can lead to a solid reward. Risk and change are things we should get up with gladly every morning. In order to succeed beyond even our most daring dreams we must be willing to accept calculated risk and change as a way of life.

We have all seen or read about a business that does well in a certain market while their competitor offering the same product or service flounders. Ms. Wilcox with her short poem tells us why. She nails it in two sentences. Please take a moment right now and re-read her poem.

First make sure you know how the market “winds” are blowing and then and only then set your business “sails” accordingly using positive change and taking the calculated risk that is always part of the package. Do that correctly and you can, with assurance reach your destination of enhanced sales and profit and/or a better life. You can then taste sweet success.

The first step is to know the direction of the market “winds”. Get this wrong and all your other efforts do not matter. Over the years I have been amazed how little time and money many spend on effective market research. Hunches do have their place in the business “sea”, but this first step is not one of them. Solid accurate market research is the capstone of any good business arch. You must react to the market. You must change in order to win. Get the market “winds” right and make the correct changes and you will take home the profit trophy.

Change is something you must do on a regular basis if you want to be successful in life or business. Resistance to change has always been a part of the human psyche. We must work hard not to resist positive change even though it is not our nature. The solution is simple but not easy. Learn all you can about change and how it makes us all feel and be willing to take a calculated risk. Knowing what to expect when you need to change will help you be all that you want be in this world. Work hard to see positive change as a friend and do not resist this widely misunderstood process. Positive change is just that, a positive. Embrace it and you have a great opportunity to succeed in your personal and business life above your present goals and dreams. Understanding change is well worth the effort required.

View Ralph Masengill’s website at www.masengill.com 

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27 Aug

1 Simple Key To Creating Influence

When I was the lead trainer of an organisation called Speak To Influence, we traveled the country, delivering staff training to medium/large companies.

We taught the attendees of our training sessions how to be influential while communicating (be it one-to-one communication or one-to-many).

While there are many experts on communication out there (and they all specialise in their unique messages), there is one common denominator when it comes to creating influence.

Many sales trainers will talk about this common denominator, and suggest that it be used in the sales process.

In delivering staff training on effective communication, we were very emphatic on this common denominator.

And here it is – share a story!

Why? It is part of human nature to hear stories and to share stories. Most of us loved hearing stories when we were kids. Story sharing is a big part of many indigenous cultures in the world eg. the Aboriginal culture in Australia.

International speaker and best-selling author, Sam Cawthorn calls it “Story Showing”, not “story telling”. He makes a very emphatic point that you must show how a story goes.

Stories make it realistic. You are more likely to be influential when you share a story that resonates with the person or the audience that you are connecting with.

Many memorable speeches in history have had stories in them. It is said that Barack Obama’s infamous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention brought him to the spotlight. Political allegiance aside, let’s briefly look at that speech. He started with a story about his Kenyan goat herder father’s journey to a better life (coming to America). Then he said “My story is part of the larger American story”.  

While it is not expected of everyone reading this article to become a polished speaker like Mr Obama, there are several keys to sharing a story in order to be influential.

Here are 5 steps to effectively sharing stories and being influential:

  1. Set the scene – a story will be more impactful if you set the scene for what is to follow, and build anticipation for the listener(s). For example, instead of saying “I was once taking my son to a football game……”  you should say “In October, 2016, my  ten year old son and I were driving to a football game on a sunny Sunday morning”. Do you see how descriptive the second sentence is compared to the first one? Chances are, the listener(s) will start to imagine you and your ten year old son in the car on a sunny Sunday morning. Once they start imagining, they will pay more attention.
  2. Condense – you will make a greater impact with your story if you condense time, events, and conversations. For example, if you are telling the story about a challenging client with whom you had six meetings before he agreed to invest in your service, you should avoid saying “During our first meeting…….”, “Then, in our second meeting……” and so on. It is far more impactful to condense those events with “Over the course of six separate meetings, he asked numerous questions…..”  In doing so, you are maintaining the attention of your listener(s). Remember, the story is a support tool, not the entire content of your conversation/presentation.
  3. Be in it, don’t just narrate – including dialogue in your personal story is effective, easy, and gives you the opportunity to incorporate emotion in your communication. For example, instead of saying “When I told her that she had been recognised for her dedication, and had received a pay rise, she became emotional”, you should say “I looked at her in the eye, and said (pause) “Jenny, you have worked extremely passionately for this organisation. Here is your pay rise”.  By including dialogue your story becomes more realistic. If you ever read a kid’s story book, it is full of dialogue eg. “The elephant said to the deer “Come with me to the river for a drink””. Including dialogue personalises the story.
  4. Ask for their experience – this is when you bring them into your story. Whether you are communication one-on-one or one-to-many, asking them for their experience will help them make an emotional connection with you. A very effective question that Craig Valentine (World Champion Of Public Speaking) asks his audience is “Have you ever….” This question will make the listener(s) think about their life/experience. It makes them connect with your story, is very likely to help them put themselves into the situation that the story is describing.
  5. Call to action – at the end of the story, give a call to action to the listener(s). If your story was based on “How you can lose 5 kg in 10 weeks”, now is the time to give a call to action. The key here is to use a positive action-oriented statement. Negative-generating questions such as “You don’t want to be overweight for the rest of your life, do you?” should be kept out of your communication. A positive-generating question would be “Just like Rodney lost 5 kg in 10 weeks, what would it mean for you to do the same and enjoy a healthier, fitter, and active life?”  (Rodney in this case would have been someone you shared a story about).

As an anti-bullying campaigner, I deliver one hour presentations in front of up to 1,000 school kids. As the old adage in professional speaking goes – “If you can hold the attention of an audience full of kids, you can handle any audience”. How do I effectively engage with kids for that long? By sharing stories! Every five to ten minutes, I will share a real and applicable (to them) story.

Quote: “Give people a fact or an idea and you enlighten their minds; tell them a story and you touch their souls.”  Hasidic Proverb

I sincerely hope that you have gained insights into how you can improve your influence by sharing stories.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses – “Another Tip For Kids Who Change Schools” – https://youtu.be/Iw2PLRTvQc4

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