What chance will you take today?

This morning I was lucky enough to give a talk as part of Creative Mornings, right here in Boston. Creative Mornings is a lecture series for the creative community and I had a chance to talk to a few hundred of them bright at the coolest venue I’ve ever spoken in — a climbing gym.

IMG_9334The topic of my talk was chance: the chances I’ve taken that got me where I am, the chances I missed, the chances I gave to others as part of my journey.

One of the things I talked about was this idea that with every chance you take you increase the surface area for luck to hit. I think of luck as timing — timing of meeting the right person, the right trend, the right dynamic, being in the right place, at the right time. The more chances you take the more opportunities you create for luck to intersect with you.

The more people you connect with, the more likely you are to meet someone who can lead you to your next opportunity or help you make another connection that you need. The more new things you try the more likely you are to find something that makes your life more awesome. There are no guarantees but I guarantee that nothing awesome will happen if you don’t take a chance.

So my Friday challenge to you is to take one chance today.

Do something you’ve been putting off. Do something you’re nervous to do. Do something you’ve not done before. It doesn’t have to be huge or epic, but you do have to do it. (I’d love to know what chance you are taking – please share in the comments!)

Oh, and if you need a little something extra, here’s some musical inspiration.

Happier Science: Gratitude is as powerful in children as adults

As a mom of a 10 year-old, this is awesome to read. Actually, it’s just awesome:

According to new research, kids and teens experience the same benefits of expressing gratitude as studies have shown in adults.

Kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don’t.

In one study mentioned in the article, sixth- and seventh-graders were divided into three groups. One group recorded five things each week they appreciated, second group recorded five things that annoyed them, and the third wrote down five events that occurred. Kids in the gratitude group reported higher satisfaction with school and more optimism.

Awesome!

 

Awesome Humans: Daan Roosegaarde Modernizes Van Gogh

awesome-humans-bikepath-111914Ever been to Eindhoven? It’s a city in the Netherlands, and its main claim to fame is that this artist named Vincent Van Gogh used to live there. Perhaps you’ve heard of him…?

The city is about to embark on a Van Gogh theme year for 2015 (the 125th anniversary of the artist’s death will be in March), and to kick it off in the most appropriate way possible, artist Daan Roosegaarde designed the Van Gogh Bicycle Path, which opened to the public last week. Together with Heijmans Infrastructure, this Smart Highway path (which utilizes solar energy and other technology to operate) illuminates the night in a beautiful and modern homage to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

I never cycle at night, but I would if I had a path like this to ride along. What a lovely treasure for the city, and a perfect nod to an artistic master. Roosegarde’s design is amazing!

Mindful Break: Why He’s The Hottest Artist In The World

Screen_Shot_2013_11_12_at_9.46.34_AM

Last year, legendary street artist Banksy set up a stand in Central Park selling his stencil art for $60 a piece.

(See pic of the man that Banksy posted at the stand to handle the transactions)

Only three people bought Bansky’s art, with one bargaining for a 2-for-1 deal.

Note: these were original Banksy pieces that you could have picked up for sixty bucks! A mere print of Banksy’s “Love in the Air” recently sold for $249,000.  

The same type of experiment was performed in 2007 when the Washington Post placed legendary, world famous violinist Joshua Bell in a DC subway stop during rush hour.

Of the 1,000 people who raced by Joshua Bell on their way to work, only 1 person stopped to listen.

I don’t think I would have stopped to buy a Banksy or listen to Joshua Bell. Would you?

What does this say about our culture?

Good art makes us feel and good artists have bleeding souls, they are gushing with passion.

But if you aren’t living with passion, you probably won’t recognize passion in art, people, or life.

So here’s a challenge for you today: More feeling, less thinking.

The world will respond to what you are selling, teaching, living, buying… if they feel your passion. That is Universal Law.

What gets you going these days? What song, what painting, what food makes you stand up and pump your fists and say “I’M FREAKIN’ ALIVE!”

I don’t know about you, but I am a passionate being living an increasingly dispassionate life.

What we stand up for, what we shout about, what makes us cry… those are the footprints we leave behind.

When our souls bleed with feeling, we become the Banksys and Joshua Bells…

… we become the souls knocking at the doorways of our minds, saying, “LET ME LEAD US. LET ME HEAL US. LET ME SAVE US. NOW!”

5 Inspiring Quotations To Get You Through A Rough Day

Quote

These few weeks are kicking my butt, if you’ll excuse my French. All the shoes seem to be falling at once, it’s raining cats, dogs, and elephants, and I seem to be running marathons to stand in place. I’m tired, cranky a lot, and yes, pretty stressed out. (Yes, if you’re wondering, even as the CEO of a company that helps people celebrate small daily joys I don’t always have the easiest time finding my own.)

So I wanted to share five of my favorite quotes for getting through a rough day. Of course just reading a quote won’t change anything, but I find that if I really let the meaning of the words sink in, I do shift my perspective just a bit — and that’s worthwhile.

This is probably my favorite one and it’s by one of my absolute favorite authors of all time:

quotes-change-storm-haruki-murakami-480x480

Image source: oprah.com

All great changes are preceded by chaos. - Deepak Chopra

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what matters is what you choose to do from here. – Anonymous

The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up. – Mark Twain

Accept, then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. – Anonymous

If you have a favorite quote to get through a rough day, please share!

Awesome Humans: Carlos Perez Naval, Wildlife Wunderkind

awesome-humans-carlospereznaval-111214Awwww, look. It’s a cute kid with a camera. That’s nice, right? Actually, it’s way more awesome than just “nice”—Carlos Perez Naval is just nine years old, and a couple of weeks ago, he was named the Natural History Museum of London’s 2014 Grand Title Wildlife Photographer of the Year (for the youth division). This means he beat out an entire field of competitors from around the world, many of them nearly twice his age.

See more of Carlos’ work on his site, or read more about him here. Sure, he’s lucky enough to be the child of regular travelers, but peruse some of his amazing pictures and you’ll see that he has an extraordinary eye and passion for capturing the wonder around him.

I bet this young man can always find something to make himself (and others) smile. Can you imagine what his work might look like by the time he’s an adult? Mind-blowing.

Mindful Break: Last Second Survival Story (That Nobody Heard About)

hi_852_luca_parmitano_1st_spacewalk_esaI recently taught a workshop in Houston. Many of those in attendance worked at NASA as flight directors and operation specialists for the International Space Station.

After the workshop, I asked them,  “What did you think of the movie Gravity?”

Surely you saw Gravity, but in case you didn’t… it’s the story of 3 astronauts on a spacewalk that goes terribly wrong.

One NASA specialist told me, “I couldn’t watch. So stressful. My worst nightmare. Why would I want to see that on my free time?”

Another told me, “Meh, too much of it was unbelievable. But they did a good job recreating the interior of the space station. That was cool!”

The reviews were mixed, but the conversation led to them telling me about a true and horrifying event that took place this past summer. Oddly enough, almost nobody in America heard about it.

In August of 2013, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano was on a spacewalk outside the Space Station.

He suddenly felt a liquid leaking into his space suit.

A few moments later, the liquid began to engulf his helmet. Then, it got into his ears making it impossible to hear.

And just as the sun dropped beyond the earth’s horizon, the liquid covered his eyes effectively blinding Parmitano.

Parmitano didn’t know if his next breath would be his last. With just seconds remaining, he remembered that his safety cable had a recoil mechanism.

He yanked hard on the safety cable, and it dragged him back to the Space Station’s airlock.

Another astronaut frantically helped Parmitano into the space station where he removed his helmet and gasped for oxygen.

George Clooney could not have done it any better than Luca Parmitano.

Maybe you can relate to this sense of crisis.

So many of us live each day feeling health, money, and stress closing in on us.

This is just the moment when we need to remember our recoil mechanism. We all have one.

But most of us, myself included, forget.

And we keep going, grinding, wondering… what can I do to get out of this mess?

******

There is a word floating out there, and for certain Type A personalities, just saying this word can cause shakes and convulsions.

This word evokes feelings of mental anguish.

This word has been known to cause children to hide and grown men to run when asked by the lady of the house:

“Will you MEDITATE with me?”

Yes, that’s the word: MEDITATION.

Many are interested, curious about it. But it’s something for the future. Not today.

If you could make love today, would you? If you could have indulge in gnocchi pomodoro today, would you? If you could eat a buttermilk banana pudding chocolate truffle today, would you?

Meditation is making love, eating gnocchi, and savoring chocolate on a black sand beach while watching the sunset and getting a foot massage.

YES, ONCE YOU BREAK THROUGH, MEDITATION IS THAT AMAZING!

But more importantly, meditation is the ultimate recoil mechanism, and no matter how bad your day, how achey your body, how stressful your job…

… when you learn how to yank on that “safety cable” and drop into the lush landscape of your inner world, everything changes.

You become the wisdom beyond thought…

… you seek freedom for life (not from it)…

you flow with the changes, make peace with the weather, awaken to the miracles.

***I invite you to enjoy my latest meditation series on Happier: 7 Meditations: The Next Step.