Monday, January 14, 2019

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. 
We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness are at an all-time high. We must course-correct. 
---  Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey

Do you remember the expression, “Hang up and drive.” Here’s another that’s more appropriate for the digital era we live in, when very few people make phone calls anymore: “Stop texting and call.”

Make the decision to pick up the phone instead of engaging yet again in a textual exchange that does not make you feel very connected with the other person.

Why? Because 93 percent of communication has nothing to do with the words you write and send to someone, and everything to do with your and the other person’s nonverbal cues—smiling (or not), posture, gestures, tone of voice, and so on.

Without the social cue of our body language to either back up or contradict the words we share, you and the other person are biologically wired to distrust what is said.

Loneliness has a motivating aspect in that most people become more attentive to social opportunities in order to avoid it, a phenomenon called the “reaffiliation motive.”

In other words, we need people. Developing meaningful relationships is not “nice to do,” but “need to do.”

This week, pick up the phone and call someone who has that increasingly rare quality of being willing to answer or return your call promptly. Give them the social importance they merit in our increasingly disconnected society.

Let your phone call be but one step toward the renewal of your connections with others.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

The only journey
is the one within. 
---  Rainer Maria Rilke

There is a word in Swahili, kutoboa, which means ‘to unearth.’ East Africans use it to let you know they are about to go deep. To the core. To break it down. To explain what’s really going on.

You have to consistently place time with yourself as one of your priorities if you want to kutoboa and dis-cover (read: uncover) your vision, which is covered with layer upon layer of people, activities, appointments, attachments, ‘should’s’, concerns about deadlines, anxieties, fears, guilt about the past, and worries about the future.

You can make a concerted effort to remove these layers one at a time as you would peel an onion—until you uncover the core (ignore: an onion has no core).

You don’t have to go anywhere to rediscover yourself. Renewing your self-relationship does not involve seeking; it involves seeing.

Seeing what has caused you suffering in your life. Seeing how you’ve handled that suffering—including any dysfunctional habits you may have picked up along the way to avoid it, including constant texting, retail therapy, alcohol, emotionally shutting down, and so on.

This week, take some time to reflect on your life and what truly motivates you. Spend some time in reflection and you will feel more present and engaged with the people in your life.

You will begin to see them less as obstacles to pursuing your goals and more as opportunities to learn, share ideas, and form lasting connections.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Smile, It's Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Make a Difference in the World

I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere, 
I look out, and I am aware of the events, thoughts, 
and emotions that pass before me. 
--- Michael Singer

You have both a player within who takes action from day to day and a spectator within who observes the player and evaluates what she or he does.

The relationship between the player and the spectator is paradoxical: the player must leave the field to build their comfort with the spectator, yet if the player doesn’t have an initial faith in the spectator they won’t seek out this meeting.

In other words, you have to take time to dream to build your self-faith, yet you need self-faith to feel comfortable dreaming—and spending time with the spectator—in the first place.

Your success depends on your willingness to take a leap of faith and believe in the goodness and beauty within. This leap of faith builds your comfort with yourself, which enables you to dream and create a vision for your life.

To better understand the spectator, take some time this week to think about what you are content with in your life. Then reflect on what makes you feel uncomfortable – what makes you say to yourself, “This is not as it should be! The world simply should not be like this.”

Your discomfort will lead you to your passion and the discovery of what you want to change in the world.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

The only way to achieve quality time in any relationship, 
including your relationship with yourself, is through quantity time. 
--- Anthony Silard

Have you ever noticed that in the in-flight safety presentation, the flight attendant advises you to put the oxygen mask over your own mouth before helping even your own children?

Actually, in most cases we as parents put our children before ourselves. Their survival arguably depends on it.

Yet the in-flight presentation is a helpful reminder that taking care of yourself enables you to take care of others.

At any rate, the real problem is not that we offer to take our kids to swim practice before taking time to go for a walk and decompress—that and many other acts of self-sacrifice are an inextricable part of parenting that just about every parent understands.

The real problem is that we offer to do whatever it takes to maintain our status at the office. The real problem is that we return every last email before taking time to go for a walk and decompress.

The real problem is that we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves.

This week, try out a few new ways to take time to develop your relationship with the one person upon whom all your other relationships depend: yourself.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Live the Life You Have Imagined

To become the spectator of one’s own life …
is to escape the suffering of life. 
--- Oscar Wilde

Imagine a beautiful, crystalline alpine lake. When the water on the surface is agitated and rushing in different directions, you become like that water.

When you feel anxious, upset, depressed, or afraid, return to the bottom of the lake and let the water settle. Then you will see clearly again.

You will see others as they truly are—and yourself as you truly are. You will make decisions that emanate from your center.

You can think of your vision and higher self, which await you at the bottom of the lake, as the spectator. It observes the other part of you, the player, which coasts along the surface like a heron—acting and interacting its way through life.

You assume both roles simultaneously: you are both the player and the spectator watching yourself play. You are the actor on stage and the observer focused intently on the actor from the balcony.

When you take time out regularly to connect with your vision and deepest values, you strengthen the spectator. The player then learns to play smarter. He or she becomes more directed, consistent, and effective.

This week, take a single action to strengthen the spectator. Walk in nature. Meditate. Try yoga. Find a way to connect with your higher self, which sees beyond the here and now. Ask this deeper part of yourself how you should be living your life now. Then listen.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

What should young people do with their lives today? 
Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create
stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.
--- Kurt Vonnegut

In the digital age, many of us miss feeling connected with others.

We have a few hundred Facebook “Friends” that make us feel important and socially accepted. Yet we experience moments where we realize we are sitting alone at night in front of a machine looking at small digital photos of people we barely know anymore—if we ever did.

An internal Facebook study found that despite the high number of “Friends” amassed by the average Facebook user, they actually exchange messages with only seven of these people on a monthly basis.

This study is consistent with observations that individuals tend to define their social group around a small number of strong relationships.

In research I have conducted with Sarah Wright of the University of Canterbury, we have defined loneliness as a distressing emotional experience associated with the deficiencies a person perceives in their social relationships. 

Other research by social psychologist John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has found that loneliness tends to lead to counterproductive interpersonal behaviors such as increased hostility, negativity, depressed mood, anxiety, and decreased cooperativeness.

This week, take one or two small actions that will increase the quality of your connections with other people. Open yourself to joining groups of real people with similar interests who live nearby and are pursuing collective goals you find meaningful.

If you don’t find such groups near you, you are likely not alone. Consider forming one.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Create the Intimate Relationship You Desire

Going for what you really want, while a good principle to live by, in practice is scary as hell. One simple thought returns to your mind over and over again: “But what if I risk and fail?” 
The truth is you never fail. You learn. You grow.
If that’s failure, I’ll take it any day over its alternative: stagnation.
--- Anthony Silard

How has your track record been in terms of meeting the right person? When you go out, do you sometimes want to approach someone, but then stop dead in your tracks out of fear?

Success doesn’t smile on the bold only for large, cosmic reasons. There’s also a very logical explanation.

Taking small risks builds your self-esteem, which enables you to take larger risks.

Even a small risk such as walking up to someone and asking how they are doing expands your self-trust. This happens not because of the risk itself, but because the risk enables you to experience the wonderful feeling of alignment—of observing yourself commit an action, no matter how small, that’s consistent with what you value.

Feeling that alignment and the inner courage it took to make it happen will build your self-esteem and become the cornerstone of your success.

This week—whether it’s to hopefully make a new friend or meet the right person—go up to someone new and ask them how they are doing. If they are not responsive, reboot and try again with someone else.

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Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.