Thursday, July 20, 2017

Creating A Thriving Culture

In 1998, a huge study of current American culture showed that there was a new and growing segment of society that has been moving in a new direction since the 1960's. In the direction of increasing equality,  racial and spiritual diversity,  and more concern about our environment. The authors of this study, Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, labeled this new piece of the cultural pie Cultural Creatives(CC's) and published their findings and commentary in a 2000 book called, simply: "The Cultural Creatives."

These CC's have views that are in contrast to other parts of our culture that the authors called Moderns(the largest segment of the population who get the most attention in the media) and Traditionals (with more conservative, "fundamental" values). Since this blog is mostly about CC's, I won't go into a description of the other groups. Cultural Creatives are not some fringe of society. Ray and Anderson found CC's in all economic groups, all racial and age groups, and in countries around the world!

CC's want authenticity in their interactions, like a holistic/systems overview, are "foodies,"
use alternative health care and appreciate established neighborhoods "with a lot of trees and privacy."
There is a general view of "think globally, act locally" to make the world a better place.
Recently retired President Obama and  First Lady Michelle can be listed as maybe the most famous and influential Cultural Creatives. They worked hard to enhance the health and well being of Americans over their 8 years in the White House. Especially by supporting health, environmental, equality and family issues.

The proportion of Cultural Creatives in American society has grown rapidly since the 1970's. It is close to 30% of adults and still growing. The odd thing about this group is that it is largely unaware of itself!! Since there is only minor media attention payed to the activities and philosophies of this group, they think that they are alone or in a minority of their own culture. I believe this is changing with the wide use of the Internet, but it still is true in large part. So, if you see yourself as a Cultural Creative or would like to move in that direction, join in on some of the activities is your local area that seem to help move your community in the direction that I've described. Reach out to other CC's to make sure to make connections and get creative!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Featured Quality Website:

NEW ROAD MAP FOUNDATION - Building your financial foundation

The New Roadmap(NRM) Foundation was created in 1984 and came out of insights about taking control of your money that became the book "You Money Or Your Life," co-authored by Joe Dominguez and Vikki Robin in 1992. It centers around values of frugality and financial integrity that led both of the authors to financial independence at an early age. The book was a New York Times bestseller and continues to sell well and inspire new generations.  At the core of New Road Map's educational work is a nine step program for financial intelligence, integrity and independence created by Dominguez.

NRM has developed a guide to the core of the nine step program that can be used for both individual self-guided learning as well as in educational settings. Program adherents who wish to teach others this rewarding practice of personal economics have access to a professionally developed curriculum to do so. This suite of products is the Financial Integrity Program.

NRM has dedicated its resources to making this core material available free of charge to individuals and to organizations who are dedicated to spreading the Financial Integrity approach far and wide.

As a financial foundation to work from and build your personal financial integrity, these materials are excellent AND they are, amazingly, free! Please visit their website:

Monday, September 12, 2016

GETTING REAL                                                                                                   Summer 2016                                                              
     Living an "authentic life" has been getting more and more press and attention as the New Millennium moves forward. But just what does it mean to lead a life of authenticity? Aren't we all doing our best to be who we think we are? Possibly not. As one of the women interviewed for my "Quality of Life Workbook" stated: " I never felt I was doing MY work---the work for which I was born. I always felt that I was fulfilling someone else's agenda. Getting real is following your OWN path and not allowing anyone else's agenda to get in your way! There is a fine line between fear and truth....when you are living your truth, you have NOTHING to fear."
     One of the more eloquent and deep thinkers on the topic of authenticity and "getting real" is author Charlene Stretnak. She is author of the acclaimed book "Resurgence Of The Real."
Her assessment of our modern life is insightful: "We are told that the world is shrinking, that vast distance has been conquered by computer and fax, and that the earth is now a "global village" in which all of us are connected as never before. It feels, however, quite the opposite. It feels as if distancing and disconnection are shaping modern life. If anything is shrinking, it is the fullness of being now experienced by the modern self." This is a sad but realistic commentary on what many of us have accepted as "how it should be."
     In survey after survey, we are shown that Americans are working more but enjoying it less --- even those at the top of the financial ladder. Current political and economic policy seem to be taking note of this. Achieving some kind of improvement in working conditions and wages is on the agenda of both parties in 2016. Being allowed to work less, as it appears most people would like to do,  would give us more time for quality of life (qol) pursuits. Many people across the globe are saying that top of this list is more time with friends and family and more depth in these relationships gives a much higher life quality!
     In the best book I've found on how to achieve more depth in relationships and LIFE is Susan Campbell, Ph.D.'s "Getting Real." She goes through 10 truth skills you need to live an authentic life.
Chief among them are:

1. Experiencing "what is."
Being in the moment. Feeling what is going on in BOTH body and mind to make up an emotion and then expressing it honestly so that you and the other person have a clear understanding of what makes us tick.

2. Being transparent.
Self-disclosure. Telling the truth about who you are. Campbell states: "When you share your thoughts, sensations, feelings, even your judgements "in the interest of transparency," you are less apt to get caught up in the illusion of control." Trying to control the conversation or anothers' actions is one of the big downfalls in relationships. Transparency can be scary, but ultimately rewarding in added depth.

3. Noticing your intention.
Do you REALLY want to communicate or control? Generally intention should be to get clearer, get closer, and be more effective. Unfortunately there are often hidden agendas. Clarity of purpose and honesty are essential.

4. Welcoming feedback.
Getting feedback keeps the two way flow of communication going. Feedback should be given in as kind a manner as possible. Unfortunately most feedback seems to be negative. Try hard to add in some positive feedback with the negative. Let people regularly know what you LIKED about what they did or said!

These are the top 4 of Dr. Campbell's skills to get real. Start with these and get a copy of her book to go deeper into these important life skills.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


   Later in September there is a dynamic day where an International Day of Peace comes on the same day as World Gratitude Day. Sounds like a great time to get together and talk about creating a world where there's lots more of both of these! Unfortunately it's a Monday: September 21st. But let's not let this be an impediment. I plan to do something to celebrate both of these important holidays on Sunday the 20th. Get a head start on peaceful gratitude!!
   I've regularly ended the day by myself or with my young son by thinking/talking about what we were most grateful for that particular day or week. Living with a sense of gratitude is one of the most life affirming ways to happiness that I've ever found. Even when I didn't have much material wealth or much to be grateful for. I could always find something that would give me some joy or hope.
   The idea of World Gratitude Day is to foster “an attitude of gratitude” in people so that they appreciate and return all the favors and good deeds that people have done for them.  It could be something as simple as a thank you note or a certificate for people’s contributions.
   If you haven't seen the movie "Pay It Forward" starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, please do, as it's a beautiful concept and is VERY appropriate to an attitude of gratitude. In the film, Helen Hunt's character's son is Trevor, a junior high school student. He thought up a social studies project where he teaches people the gratitude concept to "pay it forward." If someone does a favor that really helps you, you are supposed to ask them not to pay it BACK, but to pay it FORWARD to three more people, thus exponentially spreading kindness and decency out into the world in a tidal wave. A beautiful idea and one to emulate if we can keep it in the forefront of our regular routines!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Distractions, distractions, they're not constructive actions
Some can be fun, like opposite attractions,
but most are a waste like TV and addictions,
leading us to a world of living major fictions.

The distractions of life in the 21st Century are endless…We are ALL attention deficit !! Having a phone/computer in our pocket 24/7 doesn't help, and add to this the fact that many of these "phones" can receive and deliver mail, play movies and video games, send us the news updates to the second, etc., etc. it's amazing that we do anything but stare at our "smart" phone all day.

They ARE an amazing tool. But only a tool and should be thought of as helpful and enjoyable but not ESSENTIAL  to life. There is a point where they detract from life.  As the Buddhists say about life in general, our "attachment" is the problem. When we can take it or leave it, we can be in the present moment and have freedom. If we are strongly attached to it, we are being controlled by something other than ourselves. Add to this the general distractions of life: commuting, working, children, ACTUAL phone calls, emails, etc., it is overwhelming and it is making many of us ill. My previous articles mention ideas for slowing down and paying more attention to the IMPORTANT stuff. It isn't easy to do, but it will be rewarding.

As our world speeds up and (believe me) more distractions are added, we need to prepare ourselves. After we DO sort through to the important stuff, we need to keep it in the forefront of our lives so the distractions just pass us by like fog in the night. We need distraction safeguards. I believe that one core safeguard is having a deep understanding of what things in life are most important to us; add the most quality. Take the time to dig deep and find these gems and hold them close. They are the treasures that make life worth living and the MUST shine through the distractions!

5 suggestions to keep distractions to a minimum (no electronic devices allowed):

1. Learn to be still. Take 15 minutes to sit in a park or in nature somewhere and just focus on your breathing. If real nature is unavailable, keep a photo or painting of a nature spot that is special to you and focus on that. You will return to your "busy" tasks refreshed.

2. Take a walk or do some stretching and work on positive thoughts if thoughts come up. Breath in deeply on a positive thought and blow out deeply all stress, tension and negativity you were holding onto. 15 to 30 minutes per day decreases your stress and will add to your longevity --- at work and long term.

3. Use the Pomodoro Method. The Pomodoro Method basically requires you work in sessions and then rest. Choose one task you really need to get done, like making a set of reports. Set a timer for 25 minutes and completely immerse yourself in the task. Once it dings take a short break and grab some coffee(or do one of the above).

Why it works?
The reason this technique works is because working hard eventually leads to massive burnout. What the technique does is allow you to stay productive without losing too much energy. You may discover that some activities require more 25 minute sessions than others and have a simple visual display of the work involved in a project. It also forces you to cut down on interruptions and be more firm about ignoring distractions. Most importantly it helps us better project outcomes and project timelines off the top of our head as opposed to poor estimates.

4. Family time: Have a rule of no electronics and no responding to rings, bells or buzzes (SO Pavlovian!) during dinner time. This includes having the TV off. It appears that a majority of American households have the Boob Tube on during dinner. Let's turn this trend around! And dinner time should be a minimum of 30 minutes. No rushing through meals. Have a nightly topic of conversation picked out so family members are prepared to converse.

5. Have a solid foundation. Understand what is Quality of Life bedrock for you. Then learn to say NO to all that doesn't support this. My workbook is a great start to define this. There is no substitute for knowing yourself and being true to yourself!

Thursday, July 31, 2014



Duane Elgin is a hero of mine. He is a pioneer of the Simplicity Movement which encourages the people of the more developed world to seek more depth in their lives and remove more of the distractions and the clutter. He is featured in this video which is well worth watching for a good overview. (Also see my launch day post of 9/6/13 for additional comments on slowing down).

From the arrival of the first Europeans, America has attracted people looking for a better life. Many of them felt that the way to achieve this goal was through a simple and spiritual way of living.

From the Puritans of Massachusetts and the Quakers in Pennsylvania in the 1600's, to the rural based Republicanism of Thomas Jefferson's followers in the 1700's, to the nature respecting Transcendentalists of the 1800's, each century has had a social movement that sought better living through simplicity.

The 20th and 21st century movements have been under way since the 1960's and were refined in the 1990's and into the new millennium, so we have some amazing guides and examples to go by to make OUR lives more manageable. Across the nation, groups of concerned citizens are gathering together to learn from and with each other about alternatives to destructive busy lifestyles.

As one of the early teachers of the movement, Cecile Andrews puts it:

"The concept of Simplicity is not, as some might think, a life of "self deprivation." It is a turning away from activities that have failed to deliver satisfaction— activities such as shopping and scrambling up the career ladder — in order to embrace activities that bring true joy and meaning — creativity, community, and the celebration of daily life.
Simplicity is "the examined life" in which we explore not only what creates fulfillment in our personal lives, but we ask which public policies create societies of justice and environmental well-being. Simplicity touches all aspects of our lives, including the issues of time, work, vocation, community, spending, consuming, health, social justice, and spirituality."

I couldn't have said it better myself! Simplifying is a wholistic idea which should pervade our lives and give us more joy and meaning. It's what Americans are saying they are yearning for but somehow lack the focus or will to move towards. Please check out the resources below this article,  FOCUS, AND SIMPLIFY. It could save the rest of your life!


An excellent article on the power of Simplicity Circles:

"Circle of Simplicity - Return To The Good Life", by Cecile Andrews. A manual to creating your own study circles and examining issues over a 10 week course outlined by the master.

"The Simple Living Guide", by Janet Luhrs. Janet is the founder and editor of the Simple Living Journal which bills itself as "a sourcebook for less stressful, more joyful living" and lives up to it's billing! Chock full of great ideas and advice.

"Simplify Your Life - 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter", Elaine St. James. Some real life examples of how one couple have made the move to a life that is "outwardly simple and inwardly rich." Lots of good ideas here!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Center for a New American Dream


Center for a New American Dream

Once a month I will feature another amazing group that is making a real difference in the quality of life of people around the world. The Center for a New American Dream (CNAD) is a group of brilliant people in Maryland that formed in 1997. CNAD's founding belief is that trying to live out the "American Dream" as it is defined in the media today is killing us! We work more, enjoy it less and have less time for many of the important things in life: friends, family, community and some leisure time to enjoy ourselves and our loved ones.

CNAD wants to cultivate a NEW American dream, one that emphasizes community, ecological sustainability, and a celebration of non-material values, while upholding the spirit of the traditional American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

From biographical videos of actual people who are making the change in their lives, to reporting on "collaborative communities" and how to raise children in a consumer culture, CNAD is helping people look to a kinder, gentler "America the Possible".

Below is an important video which details the high cost of striving to have more consumer goods when then don't really bring us long term happiness:

Check out this wonderful groups website and join in the crucial change process!