Want to Be Happier? Connect with Strangers!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may know that on many mornings I exercise in St. Mary's Park. This park is situated in a poor neighborhood in the South Bronx. It's about 3/4 of a mile from where I live. Walking to the park and exercising there makes me happy. Not just because the exercise feels good, but because I connect with people on my way to the park and while I'm exercising there. Connecting... with Strangers? Greeting strangers is a regular part … [Read more...]

What You Can Learn From Knowing How Other People See You

In last week's post, I suggested an exercise to develop a word portrait of yourself as seen through the eyes of your friends. All you had to do was to invite five friends to send you a quick list of six words that come to their mind when they think about you. I promised I'd let you know my results from this little exercise. So here goes--though I must confess that sharing it makes me feel exposed. Seeing Myself Through the Eyes of Others I found myself a bit anxious … [Read more...]

Imagine Being Homeless

Where do you store your precious items? Where's the old photo of your mother? Your social security card? A sweater your daughter gave you that you no longer wear? Or how about the diaries you wrote when you were a teenager? Do you have a box of precious things packed away in the back of your closet somewhere? What would you do with them if you were homeless?  What would you do if the only storage you had for your things was a shopping cart or two or three that you … [Read more...]

Together We Make a Real Difference in the World

Yesterday we honored Martin Luther King Jr here in the United States and it got me thinking about the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of others. Obviously Martin Luther King made an outsized difference. And most of us don’t have the ability, desire or opportunity for that. But the way each of us behaves influences others, sometimes in surprising ways. Inspired by a Performance My daughter Carla, a musician, once shared this story with me. She … [Read more...]

Ubuntu: I Am Because of You

Ubuntu is the African word that means "I am because of you." It captures the idea that we are inextricably bound together. I came across this word in a lovely TED talk by Boyd Varty, a South African whose family knew and housed Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison. By chance, Mr. Varty was scheduled to give his TED talk on the very day of Nelson Mandela's death. This talk expresses our interconnectedness so poignantly through simple stories that I'm happy to … [Read more...]

Asking for What You Want by Sarah Kathleen Peck

You probably know that I believe in the power of asking not just as a way of raising money, but as a way of living a full, generous, connected life. I've spent much of my long career writing about asking and teaching about asking. I've even written an entire book on Asking Styles and I cofounded Asking Matters. But today, after I read Sarah Kathleen Peck's post The Art of Asking: or how to ask and get what you want, I was in awe. Here, in a beautifully written piece by … [Read more...]

A Facilitator’s Tip: How to Encourage Discussion without Judgment

If you've ever led a discussion or taken questions after a presentation, you've probably used the phrase, "That's a great question," in an effort to give positive feedback to the person who asked the question. It seems like a normal response and facilitators use it again and again. Good (or Bad) Judgment has a Chilling Effect But if someone else in your audience is thinking about asking a question, your "that's a great question" response may actually discourage them from … [Read more...]

10 Letters to Live By

In the rush of your daily life, there are probably moments -- even days and weeks -- when you forget what's truly important. This ten letter alphabet list, developed by Dr. James R. Doty, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford, is a simple way to stay connected to what matters. C for Compassion. Open your heart for yourself and others. D for Dignity. Recognize the dignity of every human being. E for Equanimity. While acknowledging the ups and downs, try to … [Read more...]

If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?

Do you think that having lots of money leads to happiness? Think again! Study after study shows that more money’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Once our finances cover the basics, our happiness doesn't increase with our income. What Does Buy Happiness? According to Michael Norton in his TED talk, How Can I Buy Happiness?, your happiness is linked not to how much money you have, but rather how you choose to spend it. Simply put, when you spend money on someone … [Read more...]

A Little Bird Told Me…

I'm on vacation in the Berkshires, where my husband and I have rented a beautiful house overlooking the Housatonic River. Two days ago we filled a bird feeder with sunflower seeds, and I settled in and started waiting for the birds to come. Waiting... And waiting. Then, yesterday a little flapper (I'm really not a birder... apologies to those of you who are) made a quick stop at the feeder, grabbed a seed and flew away. Time passed and no more birds –- but, … [Read more...]