Sunday, January 27, 2013

Peter Buffett Interview

Today I am pleased to present my interview with Peter Buffett, a man of many talents with an important message for the world.

About Peter Buffett

Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician, author and philanthropist. As Co-chair of the NoVo Foundation with his wife, Jennifer, he has become a well-known activist for social concerns. His projects include his facebook community, Change Our Story, which aims to help individuals, nations, and ultimately our world reframe the past to live a better present and future. He has collaborated with Grammy-nominated recording artist Akon and Grammy-winning artist Angelique Kidjo on human rights inspired songs. And he is currently performing his “Life is What You Make It: A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett” series around the world to support his New York Times best-selling book, Life Is What You Make It.
Welcome to my blog, Peter. I’m honored to participate in this interview with you. You’re living a most extraordinary life helping to bring forth a better future for the world. Could you share what growing up was like for you, and what messages and lessons you brought with you from those formative years that help you now in your mission to promote positive change?

Life was surprisingly normal. Of course, it's only a surprise because of who my father became. No one would be surprised at the simplicity and "normalcy" of growing up in a midwestern town if it wasn't for my father's wealth and success. From the "positive change" perspective, my parents were both very equality minded. I grew up in the Civil Rights era and I saw my parents actively do things that made me aware that there was a lot of inequality in the world and it had no basis in fact.... people were people. Everyone has hopes and dreams and they deserve the same possibility of achieving those things.

We humans seem to have forgotten who we truly are, and we’ve created much conflict and sorrow in our world. What are your thoughts on how we drifted away from manifesting our beautiful essence, and what do you think it will take, now and in the future, to bring us into the light of truth?

Wow! okay... big question. I'm writing a weekly blog that tackles some of this.

The short answer, I think, is believing that we live in scarcity. This started way back when agriculture began. When there began to be a surplus - and then it had to be defended.
People started to prey on fear and control through the concept of scarcity. Living in a relationship world as opposed to a transactional world will bring us back. But it's no small thing to change the system that we're in. Culture wants to survive at any cost. And we are in a world where control is king. And "progress" and "growth" mean a return on investment as opposed to living in more healthy relationships - with each other and the environment we live in. I think the wake up call will have to be massive. I don't think it has to be destructive.. but people don't change easily. So it will take something that jolts us back to some fundamental understandings about community and our relationships to each other.

I’m fascinated with the various avenues you’ve chosen in which to share your message—in your music, your writing, your facebook project, and others. I hear heartfelt stories of the human journey in each one. How were you led to speak through these methods of expression, and is there more in the future?

I certainly don't think I could ever stop! So there will be more. I've always been driven to have whatever I'm doing contribute to something larger. I think it probably came from growing up at the time I did. I was so moved by how the music and other art at the time was informed by and helped drive the '60's. I've always felt that art was supposed to help evolve the culture that we're in.

What message do you hope to convey through your book, Life Is What You Make It, and in what ways will this message help us move into a more loving and peaceful world?

I hope that the book helps people connect to their authentic selves. And I think if we live more authentically, we will be connected to each other in real ways - which will definitely lead to a more loving world

In my lifetime I’ve seen great changes in the world, and I see much suffering. But I believe the world has entered an important time of transition and rebirth. What is your dream for our human existence in the future, and how can each of us participate in this time of change?

I do think living authentically is so much of the key. And that comes in many flavors, of course. I hope that we can understand that real relationships are critical. And that we can live in abundance as opposed to scarcity... that more stuff isn't the key to more happiness. Consumer culture has become a religion. Making choices that bring us closer to opening our hearts as opposed to shutting down our connection to ourselves and each other. My blog talks more about this in depth. I think there are many paths...

Thank you, Peter, for sharing with me and my readers. I so appreciate your message and the work you’re doing to bring your vision for humanity to reality with positive changes in our world. I wish you continued success on your journey.

I would like to conclude with an excerpt from your book, Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment. This passage touched me deeply, and I would like for my readers to also find meaning in your message.

 What are you waiting for?…
This is a very personal book, so let me end it on a personal note.
As I’ve said from the start, I make no claim of special expertise in the conduct of life, still less in the mystery of life’s meaning. It is not my ambition to be seen as a counselor. Here and there in these pages, I do presume to offer advice, and I make no apology for that. There are certain things I passionately believe to be true. Where I can make a case for those truths, where I think I can provide some clarity and perspective, I have not been shy about doing so.
But, from my own point of view, offering advice to you, the reader, is only a small part of what this book has been about. First and foremost, this book has been a way for me to think out loud.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato wrote that, and it’s only become more true in the two and a half millennia between his time and ours. Life moves faster and faster; it grows more and more filled with distractions. As clutter builds up at the periphery—cell phones, instant messages, the unremitting bombardment of the media—it becomes ever more challenging to filter out the noise, to remember where the center is. This book has given me the opportunity to sit quietly and enjoy the great luxury of some quality time in and around that center.
What have I found there?
Most basically of all, I’ve found gratitude.
Gratitude to my mother, for her life lessons in tolerance, trust, and boundless curiosity about other human beings. Gratitude to my father, for his example of self discipline, hard work, and tireless pursuit of a destiny chosen by himself. Gratitude to my wife, for her true partnership in all the things that matter to us as we continue to grow as individuals. I’ve discovered a heightened gratitude, too, for music. I’ve always loved music, of course; now I see it as nothing short of a miracle. That certain tones and rhythms can provide solace and joy, can break down barriers between people and say things that words cannot—this is amazing! To participate in the miracle of music as a composer and performer has been, and remains, an enormous privilege. Not everything I’ve discovered at the center of my thoughts has been quite so pleasant, of course. Looking back at my younger self, I’ve found much to scratch my head about.
Might I have made more of my opportunities in formal education? Why did it take me as long as it did to embrace my musical calling? Why did I let my insecurities control me at this or that juncture? Why, even as a so-called adult, did I make certain blunders that, in retrospect, seem obvious and avoidable?
I have no airtight answers to these questions. But the writing of this book has provided me with a useful framework for considering them. Considering them calmly, without excuses or embarrassment, without the corrosive residue of guilt that often attaches to mistakes we don’t admit. I can’t undo my errors; I can’t disown them. What I have been able to do is learn from them, to accept them as part of the mix of things that have made my life uniquely my own.
But mistakes are one thing; regrets are another. Mistakes happen and generally are over with. Regrets linger. A mistake is an event. Regret is atmospheric.
It’s fashionable, I think, to deny having any regrets, to claim that, if one could live life over again, one wouldn’t change a thing. Frankly, I think this is boastful nonsense, or maybe just symptomatic of a life that hasn’t been examined. Over the course of years and decades, regrets both small and large tend to accumulate. How could they not, given how many choices we face each day, how many times we are challenged to rise to an occasion? Regrets are nothing more or less than evidence of having lived; they’re like the little scrapes and scars that line our knees and elbows. The good news is that after a while they don’t hurt anymore; but it’s dishonest to pretend they aren’t there.
When I think about my own regrets, a subtle but persistent pattern emerges: My regrets cluster around those moments when I failed to heed the advice of the Goethe quote with which I began this epilogue.
I regret my hesitations.
I regret the times I sold short the mysterious power of commitment itself.
Commitment moves the world. It both powers and heals us; it’s fuel and medicine together. It’s the antidote to regret, to apathy, to lack of self-belief. Commitment batters down closed doors and levels bumpy roads. Commitment begets confidence and also justifies confidence.
Commitment enlarges our efforts by drawing on those deep-down resources that lie fallow until we determine to discover them and use them.
So, in closing, I will say to you the same thing I have said to myself a thousand times: Your life is yours to create. Be grateful for the opportunity. Seize it with passion and boldness. Whatever you decide to do, commit to it with all your strength . . . and begin it now.
What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How Valid Are Your Assumptions?

You don't know what's in the package until you open it.  Unknown

As we move into each new year, new situations appear in our lives. And as we encounter each one, we sometimes make a quick judgment and assume it's not what we want, so we discard it without looking past appearances. It's like allowing the wrapping on a package to affect our attitude about the contents, and then not bothering to take a second look to see what's really inside. It might be wise to give it some time and look again.

Many years ago, I searched for a job in my field, but the only one I could find was with a mental health team in a county jail setting--definitely not what I had in mind. But I took the job intending to continue looking until I found what I wanted. I performed as required, but my attitude was not productive until I began to open the package and notice the many unexpected challenges and rewards in my work. I gradually realized I was  in the right place. And I stayed in a job I loved for 10 years. I would have missed this rewarding experience if I had clung to my assumptions and left for something else.

I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.  Abraham Lincoln

Putting too much faith in our assumptions also happens when we encounter new people in our life. Many first impressions are not at all what's inside the person we're judging. While working in the jail, I noticed that one of the officers was always uncooperative and rude to the mental health team, and at first, I assumed that's the kind of person he was. But after a while I suspected he felt that his authority was threatened by our presence there. So I talked to him about my suspicions and assured him we respected his authority and would never overstep our boundaries. During the following years, we functioned well together as a team with no animosity between us. Had I not gone past my assumptions, I may have had to leave the job I loved. 

As this year unfolds, we have new opportunities to create more of what we want in our lives. And the way in which we meet each new encounter will determine the kind of year we create. Look past the wrapping, and take time to see what's in the package before you decide what to do with it.

What are you looking at now that may hold a blessing for you?

I wish you exciting discoveries.


Friday, January 18, 2013

You're Not Done Yet

On our journey through life, we don't function on the same track all the time. For a while everything moves along at a steady predictable pace, and then one of those bumps in the road projects us into a state of chaos, or at least to a point where we need to resurrect our problem-solving gear and get busy reducing its influence on our nervous system. That's okay if it doesn't last too long. But what happens when it lasts for days, months, even years, and there's no end in sight? We think, there's no way out, I can't deal with this anymore, I feel like giving up.

There are 2 ways to deal with a challenge in life. Either resolve it or accept it. Some challenges are temporary, and some are chronic with no way to resolve them. And all may be difficult to accept. But giving up is not resolving them or accepting them. Giving up gives the challenge tremendous power over you, and accentuates the painful influence it has on your well being.

When you've tried every way you know to resolve a challenge, and it's still there, accepting it means making peace with it, letting go of the way you feel about it, and the way you respond to it. And yes, this will take some inner work. But that's where you create everything anyway. So that's where you can un-create something. Talk to your challenge with denials and affirmations; "I deny you have any power over me, and I affirm peace in my heart as I release any painful response or feelings about you." Repeat every time the challenge comes to mind. And be patient. Challenges are stubborn.

Each of us is blessed with everything we need to survive, and even thrive, on our journey, and we have more powerful strength within us than we ever imagined. What we need will come when we get quiet and receptive, and allow it to emerge. Don't force. Even if you don't believe it now, allow whatever you need to emerge anyway, and know that it will.

Giving up means you think you're done. But you're still here, so you must not be done yet. There's more for you to do in your life. And getting past your latest challenge can get you back up on track to move forward again. Think about all the challenges you've come through in the past. Some were pretty difficult and painful. But you got through them. And you can get through every single one.

Make a list of things you have yet to do. You think there's nothing there? Back up and think again. Of course there are things waiting for you, things that no one else can do. Sometimes my prayer is, "Lord, please tell me what is mine to do, and give me the strength and wisdom to do it." I do get answers. And I know I'm not done. In all of my tomorrows I can begin again. And so can you.

Wishing you many happy tomorrows

PS. I wrote this post for anyone in need of the message. And for me too. Sometimes I need a reminder. Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Treasure Hunt

Sometimes being on the back end of the holiday season leaves me in a slump, like my feet are stuck in mud. I'm supposed to be moving forward. So I tell myself to get up and move on, walk your talk. And that takes some figuring where I want to go and how to get there.

 Today we're so busy solving problems and meeting challenges, it's easy to push through each day not noticing the mud on our shoes. But now I see the mud on mine, so I've been looking for ways to recapture some of that inner spark that will move me on. Where I want to go is back to a joyful attitude about my life in spite of the challenges life brings. And in order to get there, I think I need to give that inner child part of me some playtime from the heart. So I've come up with 2 ideas that might work well.

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.  Chinese Proverb

Next to love, gratitude is one of the most powerful healers, but as time passes I forget to use it. Sometimes I don't see what I have in my life that deserves gratitude. It's just taken for granted. And when that awareness is missing, a sense of joy gets lost. To regain a joyful attitude, I need to get back into my habit of feeling grateful for the good stuff that helps lift my spirit when a challenge hits. And I need reminders.

Every day my inner child can show me what I do not see.  Anonymous

I don't know if children today go on treasure hunts, but I remember experiencing my own when I was a child. I remember my exciting anticipation when I went out searching for the treasures on my list, and then the thrill of finding a treasure, putting it in my bag, and going off looking for another one until my bag was as full as I could get it. Later, I had fun hiding treasures for my own children. I felt their joy with each successful discovery. A simple activity, but our hearts got a good workout.

So recapturing an attitude of gratitude doesn't have to be a chore. I can make it fun. Each morning I'll invite my inner child to join me on a treasure hunt to find things in my life for which I can be grateful. However, there's another step to forming this habit of gratitude. Every Thanksgiving my church hands out a booklet in which, for 40 days, we record 10 things each day for which we're grateful. (Yes, I would have formed the habit by now if I had done the work. But I didn't do it. So now I'll do it) There's power in commitment, but also power in what we think, and more in what we write down. So I'm covering all angles.

Each morning my child can re-experience the exciting anticipation of the hunt and then the thrill of finding a treasure. And we can both have a happy heart. Sounds like fun to me.

I wish everyone a happy hunt.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Time To Embrace Your True Self

Last week I talked about our transition into a new consciousness of love and peace, and our choice to either stay stuck in our old ways or go forward in a new way of life. Now in this transition cycle, we have the opportunity and power to diminish the darkness and express more light in our lives and in the world. Sometimes it's hard to see the beauty that's in each of us, and that we're all part of a universal family, but each time we release something that doesn't serve us in a positive way, more of our true self emerges, we become more aware of our connection with others, and we become more receptive to blessings the Universe has for us. We are quite remarkable beings.

As you work each day releasing negative issues from your life, it's important to also concentrate on positive change. To release the old and bring in the new, some of the same techniques will apply to both.
Embrace the new:
1. Go within and ask for insight and guidance to discover and experience positive change in your life. Listen for appropriate thoughts and ideas. Your inner Voice will be talking to you.
2. Make a list of positive changes you want to see in your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. List changes you want to have and do in your outer life.
3. Make a list of your intentions, and write a commitment statement. Include your intention to greet each day with an open heart and mind, receptive to each opportunity that comes to you. Read these every day and add to them as new ideas come to mind.
4. Create a happier environment--music, plants, colors, aromas, positive people. Get a dog. :)
5. Notice your thoughts and actions as you go through each day. Create new ways that work better than the old ones.
6. Keep a list handy to jot down thoughts, feelings and actions that you're pleased with, that make you feel happy, that make you smile. These represent your real self. This is what you want to see emerge and expand in your life.
7. Make a point every day to share some love and light with others. Maybe a loved one, a friend, a store clerk, someone you pass on the street. Just let your light shine.
8. Praise yourself for every success. You're discovering the hidden parts of yourself that have always been there, and you deserve praise.
9. Each night review progress and express gratitude.

As you work each day releasing the old and embracing the new, your life will become more clear to you, and you'll see yourself and your life in a new way. You will see yourself as a beautiful  individual and also part of a universal family. We belong to ourself, but we also belong to each other. And this belonging can bring much happiness. 

Transition takes time. Stay focused, be patient with yourself, and allow the process to unfold. And when you feel like giving up, take a rest and start over. But don't give up. Go with the universal flow, and open your arms to a new loving and peaceful world.

I wish you beautiful discoveries.