I just completed the fifth week of Arianna Huffington’s 6-week Thrive OCourse, an online course based on her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. Taking an extended course like this one requires a fair amount of commitment and there have been times when I’ve fallen behind schedule. What I love about Arianna’s approach is that she continually reminds us that there should be no self judgment, no beating ourselves up. So instead of feeling guilty, when I can, I just pick up where I left off and continue. It totally takes the pressure off and makes me feel better.

Lesson’s intention: We should take the time to wonder like when we were children and make personal connections.

Reading assignments: primary reading 174-188; supplemental reading 194-202, 202-221, 247-250

Life audit: Give my full attention to something or someone, to an everyday task or routine, and reflect on how it feels. The purpose of this exercise is to be present and mindful in everything we do, no matter how routine or mundane.

Keystone habits: Two new habits that we’re encouraged to start practicing.

Image of wonder: Choose an image that helps inspire and ignite a sense of wonder and joy in me. Images of nature such as gardens, oceans, mountains, deserts, and forests always inspire a sense of awe in me. They also instill a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Make a personal connection: Connect with someone I would normally pass by or take for granted. It can be the cashier at the register at the supermarket, or the housekeeper at my office, or anyone else I come in regular contact with. Offer a compliment or start a conversation. Make that person feel noticed.

Trackers: These are the tools that help us track our progress and stay on course.

Guest teacher: Happiness expert Shawn Achor, is the author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, and other books. He talks with Arianna about the similarities between his research on happiness and hers on thriving. He also suggests two exercises to do for three consecutive days: (1) scan the world for a moment of wonder and record why it’s meaningful, (2) write a two-minute email/text first thing in the morning to three people telling them why they’re meaningful in your life. Arianna also invited her daughter Isabella, who is an artist, to talk about how shutting out distractions helps her in the creative process.

Community board: A place to communicate with our thrive tribe, or community of supporters.

Live “office hours”: This is a time when Arianna is available to answer our questions. I asked a question about releasing resentments. Arianna suggested that I think about whether it will matter to me many years from now. If not, it was not worth holding onto.

This week’s key points: Multitasking is the enemy of mindfulness. When we give our full attention to what we’re doing, we’re able to experience it fully. Some people call it being “in the zone”. Divided attention dilutes it. Try to recapture that feeling of awe and wonder we had as children where everything was fresh and new. Go beyond our comfort zone and make a personal connection with someone we may only interact with briefly or occasionally.

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Lite Event: BookCon 2015

Now in it’s second year, BookCon is an annual event for book-loving consumers. It took place on May 30-31st at the Javits Center and is part of Book Expo America, which is the publishing industry event that immediately precedes it. It’s organized by ReedPOP, who also runs ComicCon and other events. Because of the volume of activities this year, the event was expanded from one day to two days. I attended on Sunday.

BookCon is fun, exciting, big and diverse. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t plan ahead. A good strategy is to check the agenda the day before and select the events you’re interested in. What kinds of things are there to choose from? Here’s a sample of what was offered:

  • panel discussions
  • autographing sessions
  • opportunities to interact with authors, publishers and celebrities
  • over 200 exhibitors to visit
  • tons of giveaways (books and swag)
  • children’s programs

004There were so many interesting panels, it was difficult to choose. The first one I attended was “Telling Women’s Stories”. The discussion was led by Lily Koppel, New York Times bestselling author of The Astronaut Wives Club, which is being made into a TV series this summer. The other three panelists were Candace Bushnell, author of Killing Monica, Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Rumor, and Emily Holleman, author of Cleopatra’s Shadows. Bushnell is well-known for her first book, Sex and the City and if you haven’t heard her speak, you really should. She’s the real deal. She talked about her latest book and shared her personal experiences as a writer. The other two panelists, Hilderbrand and Holleman, also talked about how they got their ideas for the female characters in their books and their journeys from conception to publication. It was all very interesting.

025The second panel I attended was “BookTube 101”. It was moderated by Lainey Kress and Monica Watson. The panelists included Christine Riccio of PolandbananasBooks, Jesse George of JesseTheReader, and Kat O’Keeffe of Katytastic, all stars of the YouTube book community called BookTube. I must confess that I had not heard of BookTube, but it’s something I’m definitely going to check out further. They all shared their experiences with books, reading and creating their YouTube channels. They also talked about the future of the medium and how publishers are gradually starting to notice and embrace it. I visited each of their channels after I got home and they all share a fun and lighthearted approach to books and reading that seems to appeal to young people especially, judging from the audience members at their session. They took questions from the audience and were available for photo ops at the end.

006There were also, of course, lots of opportunities to purchase books at BookCon. I had to practice some self control and limit myself to buying just two books, Feel Good Every Day: Let Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Mikael von Matern and The Core Teachings: Essays in Basic Buddhism by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun. I’m really looking forward to reading these books.

It always feels good to be a community of people that love books as much as I do. If you’re a fellow book lover, BookCon is an event you don’t want to miss. It’s the ultimate celebration of books!

Here are a few tips for attending next year’s event:

  • check the agenda the day before and pick the events you want to attend
  • get a good night’s sleep the day before
  • eat a good breakfast the morning of
  • get there as early as possible
  • wear comfortable shoes
  • bring your camera
  • bring a backpack (the swag gets heavy)
  • bring water and snacks
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I just completed the fourth week of Arianna Huffington’s 6-week Thrive OCourse, an online course based on her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. I feel so grateful that Arianna is offering this extended class and that I signed up for it! It’s loaded with so much wisdom.

Lesson’s intention: This week’s first intention is to forgive myself for any judgments I’m holding against myself. Then forgive my judgment of others. The second intention is to start a gratitude list.

Reading assignments: primary reading: pages 116-130; supplemental reading: pages 155-157

Life audit: Think about the biggest fears holding me back. They could be fears about my health, family, work, money, or possessions. Use methods I’ve used in the past to overcome fears and apply them to current fears.

Keystone habits: Two new habits that we’re encouraged to start practicing.

Self forgiveness: Forgive myself of judgments and then forgive others. Arianna calls our negative self talk the “obnoxious roommate”. One exercise she recommends for evicting the roommate and silencing the voice is to write him/her a letter and then burn it.

Gratitude: Start a daily gratitude list and share it with others. A 10-finger diagram is provided where on each finger we write something we’re grateful for that day. Arianna suggests sharing this list with others and having them share their list with you. She also asks us to expand on the gratitude exercise by including things that didn’t happen that we’re grateful for, and bad things that happened that we learned from.

Trackers: These are the tools that help us track our progress and stay on course.

Guest teacher: Arianna’s daughter, Christina joins her and they go through all the exercises together. Arianna is candid about her daughter’s former drug addiction and how the tools in Thrive have helped her recover and stay sober.

Community board: A place to communicate with our thrive tribe, or community of supporters.

Live “office hours”: I’ve really enjoyed the office hours where Arianna is available to answer our questions.

This week’s key points: Silencing our negative self talk and practicing forgiveness are essential to thriving. Expressing gratitude on a regular basis reminds us of the abundance that is all around us. Arianna suggests identifying joy triggers that can be either images and/or quotes. One of my favorite quotes is: “The universe is for me and I expect miracles.” The three things I’m grateful for today are:

  1. Enjoying a delicious cup of Nespresso coffee this morning
  2. A compliment from a customer at work
  3. The fact that there were no fatalities or serious injuries when a heavy object being lifted into a building fell onto the street below it in New York City

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Lite Inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh

VincentVanGogh

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I just completed the third week of Arianna Huffington’s 6-week Thrive OCourse, an online course based on her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. Are we really half way through the course already?! I like that she keeps reminding us that we don’t have to do it perfectly, and that there should be no judgment when we get off course. We just need to course correct as quickly as possible.

Lesson’s intention: This week’s intention is to evaluate our priorities and let go of what we no longer need.

Reading assignments: primary reading 143-155; supplemental reading 130-139

Life audit: Identify 3-5 key priorities. List all of the other priorities that I’m obligated to deal with on a daily basis.

Keystone habits: Two new habits that we’re encouraged to start practicing.

Set priorities: Let go of something I no longer need, something that is draining my energy without benefiting me. It could be resentments, negative self talk, or a project I know I’m not going to complete. It could also be toxic people in my life.

Breathe: Be mindful of my breathing. Focus on the rising and falling of my breath for 10 seconds whenever I’m feeling tense, rushed or distracted. Breathing coach Joan Witkowski took us through a breathing exercise.

Trackers: This week’s tool was a 24-hour pie chart where I indicated how I spent an entire day. The purpose is to see how my time is being spent.

Guest teacher: Arianna interviews Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, an eyewear company. Both he and Arianna share their priorities, how they spend their time, and how they manage people who don’t fit into their core value system.

Community board: A place to communicate with our thrive tribe, or community of supporters.

Live “office hours”: I’ve really enjoyed the office hours where Arianna is available to answer our questions.

This week’s key points: It’s important to identify the priorities in our lives so that we can give them the time and energy they require. These should be the things that are important to us and that give our life joy, meaning and purpose. We should try to drop as many things as possible that drain our energy and don’t add value. This includes people that don’t support our priorities and core values. Adrianna calls this “Letting people off the train.”

This was a great exercise for me and helped me focus. I identified my top five priorities and dropped a membership that I wasn’t really using. I had been thinking of doing it for awhile and felt a sense of relief when I finally did.

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Lite Inspiration from Mikhail Baryshnikov

MikhailBaryshnikov

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I just completed the second week of Arianna Huffington’s 6-week Thrive OCourse, an online course based on her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. It was loaded with ideas for ways we can start to decrease our dependence on our electronic devices and tools to help us increase our energy by moving our bodies. What I like about her approach is that she starts with small, manageable steps and asks us to gradually build on them.

Lesson’s intention: This week’s intention is to disconnect from our devices at set times on a regular basis and to move our bodies.

Reading assignments: primary reading 62-67, 94-102; supplemental reading 28-34, 139-142

Life audit: Identify 3 digital triggers and set 3 movement goals.

Keystone habits: Two new habits that we’re encouraged to start practicing.

Create a digital detox plan: Disconnect from social media and electronic devices on a regular basis so that we can reconnect with ourselves, and with those around us. Turn off notifications (pings and vibrations) and remove devices from the bedroom at night. Gradually increase the amount of time we turn off our phone/device and/or limit the number of times we check them.

Get moving: Move our bodies for at least 15 minutes daily to increase our energy and improve our health.

Trackers: Tools to help us implement new habits and track our progress. They help increase awareness and mindfulness.

Guest teacher: Rudy Mettia is Arianna’s yoga instructor and he guides her through several simple exercises that can be done anywhere. He also provides two guided body scan meditations that I really like. They’re both short and simple, and can be done anywhere as well. The purpose of the scans is to locate any tension, relax and release it. He’s also created supplemental yoga lessons to enhance and build on the basics.

Community board: A place to communicate with our thrive tribe, or community of supporters.

Live “office hours”: I’ve really enjoyed the office hours where Arianna is available to answer our questions. I’m amazed at how well she’s able to “think on her feet” and respond thoughtfully to whatever is asked of her.

This week’s key points: I was surprised to learn from Arianna that the average person checks their electronic device every six and a half minutes (approximately 150 times per day)! Checking that many times seems almost like an obsession or addiction. Technology has many great benefits, but if used excessively, it can be detrimental. I don’t check nearly that often, only about 10x per day. My movement goal is to go to the gym 3x per week. I’ve noticed that when I exercise regularly, it has psychological, as well as physical benefits. Exercise unleashes my creativity and I get new ideas, which makes me feel great.

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After the paperback edition of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating A Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder came out, I saw the author being interviewed on OWN, public television and in person at a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

Arianna Huffington is the President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post. As a successful businesswoman, who experienced a wake-up call several years ago, she explained that she now believes the traditional metrics of success – money and power – no longer serve us. Stress, exhaustion and burnout should no longer be the price we have to pay to be successful. She asserts that we need to redefine success and add a third metric that includes: health, meaning, purpose, mindfulness and meditation, optimum sleep and rest, joy, and giving.

She invited us to enroll in her 6-week Thrive OCourse (in collaboration with Oprah Winfrey) that started on May 3rd. Her talk was intriguing and I wanted to learn more, so I signed up for the class. I received a copy of the book as part of the registration and finished it just before the first week’s lesson ended. The book is loaded with nuggets of wisdom, backed by lots of scientific research.

Week one just ended, and there was much to do. The class is organized into the following sections:

Lesson’s intention: The focus and goals of the week are outlined.

Reading assignments: Selections from the book relevant to the topics covered.

Life audit: Exercises to help us reflect on our lives.

Keystone habits: Two new habits that we’re encouraged to start practicing.

Sleep: add 30 additional minutes of sleep every night

Meditation: meditate for 5 minutes daily

Trackers: Tools to help us implement new habits and track our progress

Guest teachers: NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant shared how meditation and sleep have improved his life. He says that “Sleep is the best performance enhancer there is.”

Community board: A place to communicate with our thrive tribe, or community of supporters

Live “office hours”: Arianna is available to answer any questions we may have.

The key points for me this week were that we don’t have to wait until we have a “wake-up call” to start implementing the habits and behaviors that are going to add value, meaning and purpose to our lives. There is no trade off for being successful and taking care of ourselves. The two keystone habits were, fortunately, not too difficult for me. I regularly get 7-8 hours of sleep, and I really feel the difference when I don’t. Meditating for 5 minutes is doable, but not always easy. My mind would wander to the hundred things on my to-do list and other things going on in my life. The life audit exercise was especially helpful at this time. After my mother’s recent passing, it seemed like a good time to re-examine my life and ask myself “What’s really important to me now?”

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MayDay2015Last night I attended a performance of the New York City-based hula group Nā Lehua Melemele. This annual event was held at The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA. Also performing as special guests were members of Hālau Nā Pua Mai Ka Lani Nuioka. My friend Adrienne has been taking hula for several years and invited me and other friends to the show.

edited 013The group was celebrating “May Day is Lei Day” and all the attendees were given either a green ti leaf lei or a white plumeria flower lei to wear when they checked in. The lei were lovely and fragrant and set the mood for the evening’s performance. A lei (garlands or wreaths that can be made of many different materials such as flowers, leaves, shells, etc.) is a traditional Hawaiian symbol and expression of hospitality and welcome. Another special touch were the multicolored balloons that were shaped into flowers and used to decorate the seats of the auditorium.

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The theme of this year’s show was water. The inspiration came from singer/musician Jason Poole who composed a song called “Healing Waters,” which was performed at the show. Most of the stories behind the dances had to do with water and this was reflected in the flowing and graceful movements of the dancers. The ancient (or kahiko) dances were accompanied by chanting by both the dancers and musicians playing the hollow gourd or ipu, something which I found unique. Other instruments such as the ukulele, slack guitar, lap steel guitar and steel guitar accompanied the dancers when they performed hula auana or modern hulas.

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Towards the end of the show, audience members were invited to the stage to join in the dancing. Several did participate and they all seemed to have a really good time. It was a fun and entertaining event suitable for the entire family.

edited 119For the first time in several years, Nā Lehua Melemele is offering beginning classes on Monday evenings starting May 11th, in the O’ahu-based Maiku Aiu Lake style of hula dancing. To sign up or get more information, send an email to nlmhula@gmail.com.

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Lite Inspiration from Don Miguel Ruiz

DonMiguelRuiz

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