Holiday Mastery from Mehrad and Michele:
We’re very pleased to share with you a few secrets to Holiday Season Mastery.
What to Wear
What Makeup to Use
What Gift to Give
The perennial questions:
- What to wear?
The most attractive appearance is your posture. It is your posture that brings out the beauty of the garment and not the other way.
Your posture represents your consciousness. On the journey of the evolution towards higher humanity where are you? How do you embody that posture?
- What makeup to use?
The most beautifying makeup is your smile.
- What gift to give?
The most precious gift to others is your own inner peace. Your vibration will radiates out and bring out the same feeling in others. A much needed commodity for our unprecedented times.
Even better, make these permanent.
Mehrad and Michele
Christmas is LOVE in Action
We live in an age of extremes. Most of us are a bit hypnotized by our smart phones overflowing with the stream of urgent trivia as well as vital information that impacts our work, our families and our lives. Our brains and emotions were not designed for this constant onslaught of stimulation.
At the same time, personal meditation has gone mainstream. More and more business organizations are teaching their employees the disciplines of mindfulness and encouraging them to meditate, even at work. Yoga has never been so popular.
Extremes also dominate our inner life of meaning. Religions struggle to resolve their old doctrines that create tribal beliefs while the world culture simplifies spirituality into universal love.
Humans are designed
to wrestle with the big questions.
We seek certainty in an uncertain world. We want the light of unchanging truth as we try to make good decisions in the dark.
There are many big thinkers who believe that we are transitioning from a religious age through a secular age to a spiritual age. Time will tell. But I believe what really matters is that each of us wrestle with our theory of life until we arrive at a world that helps us to be the best person we can imagine becoming.
There is nothing more personal than our inner theory of the meaning of life. Even in the most ‘doctrinaire’ religions each individual creates their own personal theology.
It is inescapable. According to Gallup surveys a large percentage of avowed atheists sincerely pursue humanitarian ideals because they believe in a vague but real source of empathy-based morality…”The Golden Rule.”
So what is your theory of life? How do you derive meaning? Research suggests that there are three main theories:
- I can control the events of my life through perfect obedience to moral rules. (This is the common belief that if you say your prayers and eat your Wheaties that bad things won’t happen.) Although this mindset is obviously flawed, millions of people hang onto it as their only strategy to control things that evidently can’t be controlled. This is very stressful and creates a crisis of faith. After all, when a loving God allows really bad things to happen to really good people it makes you wonder, “What the hell is going on?” Psychological research tells us that this theory of life creates a lot of inner fears and anxiety.
- Life happens…deal with it. This theory suggests that life is ultimately meaningless and random. Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is the only rational approach. The problem with this theory is that seeking pleasure does not fill the hole in our hearts that can only be filled with deeper meaning. Most often when we see people who have lived their lives on the pleasure maximization principle, those like Hugh Hefner, and we feel sad for them or disgusted.
- Life is for learning. End-of-life research reveals that people who have this life theory are most satisfied. This mindset allows for life’s undeserved ups and downs as a means to personally grow into a better person. Again, at the end of our lives what most happy people have wished for is that they have become wiser and more loving. (Not richer or more famous.) This theory of life is very optimistic and robust because it trains our inner voice to tell us that we can learn something beneficial from everything that happens to us. It infuses meaning into everyday life. It makes our setbacks sacred. And it makes us grateful for our successes. When people say everything happens for a reason what they are acknowledging is that we can benefit from all of life’s experiences… if we choose to. That’s the inner story that will make you the most stress resilient and satisfied.
So now some thoughts on the meaning of Christmas…
For a minute let me separate the message of Christ from Christian religions. But before I do, let me give you a few thoughts on religion. Contrary to popular belief most wars have been fought over land and money not religious ideology. Much, much good has been done by both individuals who are devoutly religious and by religions themselves.
However, when hard power, competitive people, who are almost always men, claim to have an exclusive relationship with God it brings out the worst in them. It legitimizes mind control, bigotry, slavery, holy war and terrorism. So, its also true that lots of very terrible things happen in the name of religion.
Religion can also serve a great human purpose by helping people gain impulse control and self-discipline, which are vital tools on the path to personal fulfillment. And it also turns out that people who worship together are psychologically happier and live longer. This is true even if they don’t believe exactly the same things. There is something potent about communal celebration of a belief that life has purpose, love is the supreme value, and that our choices and actions matter.
Today there are thousands of Christian sects so Christianity is more of a tapestry of beliefs with thousands of individual threads. Some Christians try to strip away the centuries of added dogmas and doctrines that obscure the message of Jesus. Sometimes these are called “Red Letter Christians” because in many New Testaments the words that are attributed to Christ are printed in red. These folks tend to downplay the words of Paul in his epistles as well as theologians, founders of religions and others who claim a special power to speak in the name of God. (Or for that matter to speak for the universe… or the force…)
The reason that Red Letter Christians like to focus on the words of Christ is because they are almost universally words of inclusion, non-judgment and forgiveness, even for big whopping moral flaws. Instead of commandments Christ gives us the Beatitudes. In fact, he says the whole moral law can be reduced to one big idea.
We need to actively love each other.
Complicating things more than that destroys the power of universal compassion.
Of course, we need to love each other wisely. Love does not mean co-dependence or allowing selfish, evil-acting people to cause suffering for the rest of us. Real love is not weak… it is strong. Christ did not hesitate to condemn the religious establishment of his time as being power-mad, greedy and mean.
My point in all this is that it doesn’t matter if someone says
Merry Christmas, or
or nothing at all.
The spirit of Christ’s message is that loving-kindness really matters. When our personal characters are drenched in loving-kindness guided by wisdom we are becoming the best person we can imagine.
I don’t pretend to know what I don’t know. And I don’t know a lot of things.
But what I do know is that loving others wisely has been my path to meaningful happiness.
Loving makes me a better person.
I like to think about that at Christmas time.
Be happy, and love others wisely.
I’VE BEEN THINKING
This week, I’ve been thinking, feeling, watching, listening, and taking stock of my life. It’s been hard not to do this, as I’ve spent time unpacking all of the items that I packed up while preparing to evacuate from the wildfires.
I’ve been taking stock not just of the “stuff” in my life, but of what’s really important to me these days. On Monday, I sat down with my friend Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, who has devoted his life to studying the places on earth where people are healthiest and happiest. Our conversation really got me thinking deeper about what I value and whether I’m really leading a life where my values line up with my actions. (You can watch our conversation below.)
The news of this week also got me feeling and thinking about my values, and about what we value as a country. On Wednesday, I felt joyful when I heard about the large turnout of voters in Alabama, and about the powerful impact that black voters had, in particular. The people are awake! What a powerful reminder that a vote can disrupt the status quo. It’s also a reminder that the people have a voice, and that they want to be heard. As Kaushana Cauley wrote in the NY Times this week, if the Democrats want to win more elections like this one, then “they have to integrate black voters into the heart and soul of the party.”
Speaking of status quo, on Thursday I was saddened to think about how we haven’t been able to disrupt the status quo when it comes to gun violence in this country. As we observed the 5-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, I thought about the grief those families still deal with on a daily (if not hourly) basis. It must be so overwhelming. Then, for them to see us as a nation still deadlocked when it comes to sensible gun reform…it just breaks my heart and enrages me all at the same time. I also thought this week about the parents of Sandy Hook who took this tragedy and used it as a call to action to try and do something to stop this senseless violence. Mothers like Nicole Hockley, Alissa Parker and Scarlett Lewis, all whose voices we’ve shared in The Sunday Paper with you before. Their strength and determination give me hope for the future.
On any given day or week, joy, grief, sadness, anger, and reflection can all go hand in hand. Such is life, I tell my children. I counsel them to understand that they must be adept at these emotions if they expect to live a full life and/or get anything done in life.
This is also is one of the reasons that every year during the holiday season, I make it one of my traditions to sit down with my kids and our friend, pastor Chad Veach, to connect and take stock. I’ll be speaking with him again on Monday, and will share our conversation with you in next week’s Sunday Paper.
We all need to take stock of our lives, our priorities, our goals, our dreams, and of who and what we value. As we enter this season, it’s a way for us to connect and, I hope, focus on what’s important to one another.
It’s also a chance for us to listen. It’s a chance for us to hear, in a safe environment, about the struggles, the triumphs, the anger, the joy, and the grief that we may be feeling. It’s a moment for us to talk about what’s working and what’s not, and about how we might each connect better to one another.
This is what I’m hoping all of us might be able to think about doing over this holiday season. How might we do a better job connecting to one another? How might we all pull up a chair, like Joe Biden did this week when Megan McCain was overcome with emotion regarding her father? Joe Biden pulled up a chair and he connected. He moved in with compassion and strength. What a powerful move it was.
So, as we move into the holidays and into a new year, I’m going to be thinking about where I can use my voice to upend the status quo. I’m going to be thinking about when and where I can pull up a chair. I’m going to be thinking about where I can move in to listen, to comfort, and to connect with another.
At the end of the day, these are the moves that Move Humanity Forward.
P.S. For more of what “I’ve Been Thinking,” I hope you’ll check out my upcoming book, “I’ve Been Thinking…: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” It’s available for pre-order now. I was inspired to write it thanks to all of the positive feedback I receive from you, readers of The Sunday Paper. So, thank you. I love being in community with you.
VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. A VIEW TO LIFT YOUR HOLIDAY SPIRIT
HOW TO CONNECT TO YOUR INNER PEACE AMIDST THE HOLIDAY MADNESS: My dear friend, Architect of Change Elizabeth Lesser, understands the pressures many of us experience during the holidays. That’s why I was thrilled when she offered us her insight on how we can all find calm during this often stressful time. [READ MORE]
2. A VIEW TO MAKE YOU THINK
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE HAPPIEST PLACES ON EARTH: I always learn something new and fascinating from my friend, Architect of Change Dan Buettner. This week he stopped by to discuss his latest book, The Blue Zones of Happiness, and what he’s learned by studying the regions of the world that have been measured to have the most enduring happiness. [WATCH OUR CONVERSATION HERE]
3. A VIEW TO DISCUSS AT YOUR DINNER TABLE
KINDNESS IS NOT A SEASONAL BRAND: This week, my friend Patti Peterson writes a timely and insightful observation about why it’s problematic that we only seem to emphasize kindness as a virtue during the holidays. She offers guidance on how we can practice compassion year-round. [READ MORE]
4. VIEWS TO SUPPORT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
A HOLIDAY GUIDE FOR A GOOD CAUSE: If you’ve been touched by the Architects of Change we’ve featured in The Sunday Paper this year, then may we encourage you to consider them when making your charitable giving this holiday season. We’ve certainly met some extraordinary individuals this year who have devoted their lives to moving humanity forward. Here are 10 for you to consider this season. [READ MORE]
5. MAKING A DIFFERENCE & MOVING HUMANITY FORWARD
CONNECTING YOUR KIDS TO THE SPIRIT OF KINDNESS THIS SEASON: Architect of Change Tyler Knott has made a special connection to his legions of loyal followers on Instagram through his creative poetry, haiku, and photography. He and his partner, Sarah Linden, recently co-authored a holiday book entitled, “North Pole Ninja: Mission Christmas,” which serves to inspire kids to perform daily acts of kindness. Today, he shares a powerful, exclusive essay about how he hopes to use his voice to try and restructure the way kids and their parents look at the holiday season. [READ MORE]
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. FORMER FACEBOOK EXEC: SITE IS “RIPPING APART THE SOCIAL FABRIC OF HOW SOCIETY WORKS:” As we talk about how we connect to one another, I think it’s worth considering how social media is playing a role in the matter. I thought it was incredibly bold this week for former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya to admit that he feels “tremendous guilt” about what he helped create. [READ MORE]
2. FCC REPEALS NET NEUTRALITY, WHICH MADE WEB EQUAL FOR ALL:
I was disappointed that the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to repeal net neutrality protections. No matter how you feel about the Internet, the bottom line is that it’s a powerful tool and we should make all content of equal access to everyone. This decision puts that at risk. [READ MORE]
3. MERRIAM-WEBSTER NAMES ‘FEMINISM’ THE WORD OF THE YEAR: I think it’s cool that this year, when more and more women are speaking up and taking a stand, the famed dictionary has recognized the power of the word “feminism” to our cultural vernacular. [READ MORE]
4. ERASING THE STIGMA OF TEENAGE DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY: A disturbing statistic has emerged to the forefront. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in five kids has a mental disorder ranging from ADHD to severe depression to anxiety. The Today Show reported this week on how one family dealt with their own child’s anxiety and how they hope to help others like them. [READ MORE]
5. YOUNG BOY COLLECTS 1,000 TOYS FOR KIDS IN PUERTO RICO: Talk about reaching out and connecting with those who need it. I was so touched by the selfless act accomplished by Jayden Perez of New Jersey, who took it upon himself to collect toys to make sure that children in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico had toys for Christmas this year. [WATCH THE HEARTFELT APPEAL HE POSTED TO FACEBOOK]
Click the FaceBook link above this image.
A SUNDAY REFLECTION
I love the words of Pema Chodron, an ordained nun and an American Tibetan Buddhist. In this excerpt from her book, “The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving Kindness,” she reminds us that to truly connect with others and accept them for who they are, we must learn to connect with the present moment and accept what is.
JOIN US IN CONVERSATION
A THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SHOP OUR STORE: SEE OUR COLLECTION
We’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a few new items to our shop! Check out our stylish apparel to fight Alzheimer’s, created in partnership with Art With a Purpose. You can also order our newest product, the “Maria” candle – the same scent used in her office and home. And now, through the end of December, every purchase you make from Rivet Revolution’s “WAM Band” bracelet collection will also mean a $20 donated to The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to find out about these products and more!
PASS IT FORWARD
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Rangers’ Cole Hamels Donates $10 Million Mansion to Charity for Special-needs Children:
By Des Bieler
Dec. 19 (Washington Post) — In August, Cole Hamels put
a mansion he had been building in southwest Missouri on the
market, at an asking price of almost $10 million. However, the
Texas Rangers pitcher recently announced that he and his wife,
Heidi, gave away the property, which includes over 100 acres of
land and 1,700 feet of shoreline along a lake, to a charity that
helps children with special needs and chronic illnesses.
Camp Barnabas has two locations in the Missouri Ozarks, one
of which is at Table Rock Lake, where Hamels’s former property is
located. Now the organization, which says its goal is to “meet
the needs of people with disabilities so they can have an
incredible camp experience and learn more about Christ,” has much
more space in which to do so.
“There are tons of amazing charities in southwest Missouri.
Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings,”
Hamels, who turns 34 later this month, said in a statement.
“Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of
the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas
makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big
“This is so much more than a beautiful property,” a Camp
Barnabas official said. “This incredible gift allows us to
further our ministry and truly change thousands of lives for
years to come.”
The 32,000-square foot home includes 10 bedrooms, 13
bathrooms, six half-baths, a second kitchen, exercise room, wine
cellar, elevator and three-car garage (per NBC DFW). Its interior
was reportedly not completely finished, with Hamels having begun
construction in 2012, then deciding to live full-time in Texas
after being traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Rangers
Cole Hamels and his wife are giving their 32,000-square-foot
mansion away for a great cause pic.twitter.com/obpJTeT64E
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 19, 2017
Aerial views of the mansion and land Cole Hamels is donating
to a camp for kids with special needs https://t.co/oT7YDOVMrM
— Landon Haaf (@LandonHaaf) December 19, 2017
Hamels’s donation came just after a gift to Camp Barnabas
from golfer Jordan Spieth, which was described (via the
Springfield News-Leader) as allowing 100 children to spend a week
at the camp. A Barnabas official said Spieth’s donation was
“life-changing,” adding that it would also help “the parents who
champion for their kids tirelessly throughout the year, but for
one single week they get a chance to just breathe.”
A four-time all-star and the MVP of the 2008 World Series,
Hamels is looking to rebound next year after a 2017 season in
which he posted his highest ERA (4.20) since 2009. In 12 MLB
seasons, he has a 147-102 record, with a 3.37 career ERA and
2,227 strikeouts to 645 walks.
Thanks this week go to Tom S, Mehrad and Michele, Will M, Maria S, Cole H, and all of you that model Soul-Filled Living
Happy New Year Everyone!
Pay it Forward in the New Year!
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“Out of all-inclusive, unconditional compassion comes the healing of all mankind.”— Dr. David Hawkins