Monday, March 11, 2019

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

I could not bring myself to believe that if knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance. To me, it always seemed that the solution had to be wisdom. You did not refuse to look at danger, rather you learned how to handle it safely. 
---  Isaac Asimov

A HR director told me the other day, “The digital age is the wrong period for me, as I’m an empath—I love people.”

“Actually, the digital age may be the best possible period for you or anyone else who truly listens,” I responded, “as people like you are in such short supply that many others feel a gravitation pull to talk about their lives with you.”

She thought for a moment and then nodded, “Yes, I suppose that’s true.”

If you are visiting a family and they invite you to stay for dinner, instead of refusing as you usually do because you want to return home and check your online dating profiles and see who has swiped right on your profile, accept the invitation and hang out with them.

The conversation may open up avenues both cognitive (new ways of thinking about what you are looking for in a relationship) and social (you may become closer with them, and they may even have a friend to introduce you to at some point) in your life.

If you can do what your smartphone-addled peers are unable to do—stop and truly listen—the social opportunities available to you will be rich and unparalleled.

Make the decision to slow down to the speed of real, digitally-unmediated life and you will be joyfully surprised to find that your relationships become more vital and meaningful. The more you fill your life with the right people, the more likely you are to meet the right person.

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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, February 25, 2019

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

The Internet is one thing and its opposite. It could 
remedy the loneliness of many, but it turns out it has 
multiplied it; the Internet has allowed many to work 
from home, and that has increased their isolation. 
And it generates its own remedies to eliminate this 
isolation, Twitter, Facebook, which end up increasing it. 
---  Umberto Eco

Until we learn how to temper our insatiable lust for social recognition—which social media companies capitalize on—technology will continue to erode our experience of the real world. We will continue to experience less face-to-face interaction and an elusive inner craving for real people in our lives.

Face-to-face relationships are already becoming a nostalgic concept; many are unwilling to cede the convenience and cool detachment of their digital personas to recapture them. Yet, the craving remains.

For this reason, it is no coincidence that “reality shows” became popular after the advent of social media. Before the Internet, many would have responded to the concept of a reality TV show with “Why would I want to watch someone like me?” Now we watch because we are not viewing people like ourselves; rather, we are viewing people like who we once were.

A bi-product of our new affinity for viewing rather than experiencing life is that we are devastatingly lonely. According to a Cigna study based on the UCLA Revised Loneliness Scale released in April 2018, almost 50 percent of Americans are now lonely.

Make a commitment to rid yourself of the illusion that took root somewhere in the back of your mind over these past fifteen years that you are somewhat famous now that you have followers on social media. Much more important than their approval of you is your approval of yourself—an approval much, much harder to win. This week, take some time alone and start winning it.

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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, February 11, 2019

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

Most social media is neither. 
---  Anthony Silard

This is a bold statement. Please allow me to back it up. First of all, social media is often not social. Why? Because it doesn’t generate the fulfillment of a social life.

When you go to a party, or go on a hike with a friend, or eat lunch with someone you care about, these activities call upon your social abilities and fulfill a dimension of your life, the part of you that needs and desires to relate to other people. For these reasons, these activities are called “social.”

Social media, on the other hand, is a poor substitute: hunching over a screen typing in information about yourself and broadcasting it to others while reading the information they in turn type into their keypads or keyboards about themselves while hunched over their screens does not adequately fulfill our vital need to socialize.

Neither are most social media posts ‘media’ in the sense of reporters reporting the news. The viewing of vacation photos or a former classmate’s diatribe about politics is not exactly the news.

Such sharing of information is not the “news” in pure, distilled form, only contacts sharing unfiltered details of their lives 99+ percent of which are too trivial for any news outlet designated with the task of sifting through such submissions to print. In other words, Facebook is too much face and not enough book.

This week, design some strategies to spend less time on your phone and more time connecting with real people in real time.

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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, January 28, 2019

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

Experience is a comb which a man 
gets when he becomes bald. 
---  Emerson

Life is an intriguing paradox: you are the spectator during the most fragile, vulnerable periods of your life, and the player when you are the most able.

As an infant and small child, you are the spectator. You connect with everything around you and observe it all with wondrous curiosity.

Then you become the player for decades. You spin through life and act the days away.

Over time, as you become older and (physically) weaker, the spectator takes over again, looks back on your life, and considers the player’s moves.

Many people ignore the spectator’s values and allow the player to do whatever she or he feels like in the moment.

There’s tremendous irony in the human tendency to wait until the game is almost over to become the spectator and understand the player’s motivations.

You can short-circuit this natural human inclination: If you want to live a happy, successful, and meaningful life, you can make the decision to get off the field and talk to the spectator now, not after it’s too late to do anything about what she or he has to tell you.

This week, come up with a novel way to connect with the spectator. Design a unique strategy that will enable you to integrate some time alone into your busy schedule so you can renew this connection.

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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, 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.