A Graduation Speech

I received an invitation to my 5 year graduate school reunion. What I remember the most about my graduation is the graduation speech and not by some honorary guests, but by a student. I went to school part-time and at the graduation ceremony I hardly knew anyone because the majority of grads were from the full-time program. It was my first graduation in the States and I felt both excited and scared, because I had no idea about – what is next? Back then sitting among 900 graduates I had fear of not finding a job, never mind finding a great job. I still don’t know who that student was, but I remember what he said.

The speech was about some person: after the war he was a graduate student in anthropology and worked as a journalist at the city News Bureau of Chicago, then he worked in public relations and was a technical writer for General Electric, later a volunteer fire-fighter, teacher at the University of Iowa Writer’s workshop, and a manager at the first Saab dealership established in the US…  

I was thinking: “Who could be so scattered and unfocused?” To my amazement, it was my favorite writer Kurt Vonnegut, the author of one of the best American novels of the 20th century “Slaughterhouse Five”.

The speech continued and its main message was to not be afraid of not finding your passion, you just need to try different things and stay true to yourself, and then you will eventually find your calling, as Kurt Vonnegut did by becoming a writer.  That graduation speech gave me hope.  

Kurt Vonnegut passed away 10 months later at the age of 84. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.  Vonnegut considered humanism to be a modern-day form of free thought, and advocated it in various writings, speeches and interviews. In 1992, the American Humanist Association named him the Humanist of the Year. In a letter to AHA members, Vonnegut wrote: “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead.”

Kurt Vonnegut is my inspiration and his books helped me to stay positive even during difficult times in my life. His contagious black humor and compassion for imperfect humans made my life better. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his books:

“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as we all are”

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center”

“If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind”

“The bounties of space, of infinite outwardness, were three: empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death”

“When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everyone. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much”

“The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody would be to not be used for anything by anybody. Thank you for using me, even though I didn’t want to be used by anybody”

“I found me a place where I can do good without doing any harm, and I can see I’m doing good, and them I’m doing food for know I’m doing it, and they love me, Unk, as best they can. I found me a home”

“The Earthlings behaved at all times as though there were a big eye in the sky—as though that big eye were ravenous for entertainment”

“New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become”

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved”

International Happiness Day is on July 10

I just found out about this website and International Happiness Day, which was proposed back in 2008 by a person from Portugal. On the website you can find a letter to the UN to promote Happiness and Peace on Earth. They will need 50 mln signatures. It is a cool idea and I put my signature on it. Check it out for yourself.
Hello,  

My name is sign now! and I live in sign now!. I recently found out about International Happiness Day on July 10th. I am writing to you because I see the importance of commemorating this worthy cause world wide.
Over the years we have come to take cause in the fundamental human experiences beyond technology and economics and have noticed there was an overlooking of important concepts like the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. We have Dr. Robert Muller, Former Assistant Secretary General for the United Nations, who saw the importance of holding a worldwide environmental conference. We also so the with the UN supported universities of Peace.
As the environment becomes more of a concern and our need for peace on Earth starts getting attention, it is imperative for our world to embrace simple human experiences such as happiness and love.
By acknowledging and supporting the cause of International Happiness day, it would help me know that happiness is my birthright and I was born here, that happiness is a state of being that starts with a choice to be happy!
It is your duty as my UN representative to take my request serious and know that as other countries have forged forward with their own happiness emphasis, i.e. Bhutan and Gross National Happiness, other countries are making headway as well. The reason why happiness is so important to me and everyone I know is because of all of the great benefits that come with it, such as better health.
By commemorating this July 10th, 2011 as an International Happiness day, I as a global citizen will practice gratitude, love, joy, optimism and forgiveness at each and every opportunity. Please embrace and support this initiative, it could be the greatest day our planet has ever experienced!

All my best in happiness,

sign now!

Purpose+Passion=

Those, who don’t have the time for a whole week of audio course about Life of Purpose or don’t have the money to do Tony Robbins training, which I was told costs about 10K, but still want to learn about purpose and how to apply it to their lives, should try for free what I did last year at the Strategic Volunteering Workshop. It works!

It was one of those Mondays when you don’t want to get out of your bed, especially when you are not employed. I still made an effort and took the train to Downtown Crossing to attend Strategic Volunteering workshop at the Work Place.  I didn’t have any expectations, just signed up because I truly believe in volunteer work, to me  it means not giving something away but sharing and enriching ourselves and the world around us. I was curious to see what others have to say about strategic volunteering.

The instructor Mark McCurdy, also Founder and President of The Nonprofit Career Coach, delivered an interesting presentation to 10 participants. Main idea was to follow your heart, find what you love to do and focus on it… You would say that we all know this concept as it was mentioned in many philosophical schools, religions and books like The Alchemist and The Monk who sold his Ferrari, etc. True, but the twist is that you apply this concept to volunteering, meaning – not necessary leaving your current day-time job and switching to something else right away.

Volunteering is a way to connect you with your passion, which at the end may lead you to your perfect job you just don’t know how to find yet … As often we have one idea of what we want to do but in reality it may become  something different. As Tony Robbins said “Sometimes you need to lose your dreams to find your destiny”.

I also liked how Mark explained the process of finding what you love to do and implementing it, that is how to connect several elements which are  Passion+Purpose+Strategic Volunteering +Focus

Very often we only focus on passion or purpose but never connect both, never mind applying them to reality by doing volunteer work or seriously focusing on it. So here is what I got out of this workshop:

What is your passion/favorite hobby/interest or what are you good at? I like to ask questions and connect to people through conversation/story, also I’m interested in volunteering.

What community/population do you like to serve? To help unhappy lost people.  Because I was depressed myself in the past, I want to help unhappy people.

How do you think you combine the two into strategic volunteering?  Besides doing this blog and telling about volunteering, I may want to reach out to whole communities of depressed people and write newsletters for them about ways to get involved in volunteer work,  create workshops and events for them.

Focus on what you defined – narrow your goal and be consistent… I spoke to Mark that instead of general population I should focus on non-profits and groups that support communities of depressed people/victims of depression. Mark mentioned that “Collaboration is King” (not cash anymore). He also suggested doing video/audio interviews of volunteers/non-profits for http://nptimes.com/, which is almost like TV show about volunteering world. All I have to do is to focus on these ideas and act upon them – be proactive and reach out to those organizations/communities and create samples of my work.

Imagine that you were at the same workshop, what would you come up with? How many people do you know who decided to do something they are very passionate about even though it was not their profession and they became very successful by eventually pursuing it?

People Ask for Life Purpose

I just found this post Living Your Life Purpose from Steve Pavlina from June 2 and want to share it with you:

“You may recall that a few months ago I did a survey to see what kinds of products people would be interested in seeing me create. Among other insights this provided, it helped me see what the most requested topics are. Where do people need the most help?

One of the top requests in that survey was for a product on the topic of Life Purpose. In reading through the many hundreds of comments, it became clear that a lot of people still feel they’re drifting, and they need more help bringing a sense of purpose to their lives, so they can feel centered and at peace with themselves — and so they can feel they’re on a path to making a meaningful contribution instead of being stuck in unfulfilling situations.

Another thing that stood out was that people want more than how-to information. They need help motivating themselves to go through the process. So even though I’ve written a good deal about life purpose in the past, and many people have found it extremely helpful, it isn’t enough to get everyone to the place they’d like to be — the place of having a deep-rooted connection to one’s life purpose.

I started working on a product along those lines because it seemed like a good place to start. Many other aspects of self-development stem from clarifying your life purpose. I completed the product outline, which I expected would become a 6-10 hour audio program. But when I reviewed the outline, something didn’t feel quite right about it to me. It didn’t feel like this was really “my product.” I felt like I was using a semi-forced process that wasn’t my normal process for creating inspired content.

I acknowledged to myself that I was out of flow, so I put the product on hold for a while, worked on other projects, and took a weeklong road trip through California, intending to come back to the project a little later with a fresh perspective. I pondered whether I should take the product in a different direction. I didn’t want to scrap it because I know there’s a need for it, but I’ve learned over the years that it’s important to trust my intuition when it comes to such matters.

During this time I received an email from Dr. Brad Swift about a new product he was releasing on the subject of… you guessed it… life purpose. I was already familiar with Brad’s work because I reviewed his book Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life in 2007, and we’ve kept in touch over the years. Life on Purpose is simply the best book on life purpose I’ve ever read, and it deserves the rare honor of maintaining a solid 5-star average rating on Amazon.com.

There is also a series of 3 short videos that will introduce you to his Life on Purpose process. These videos are free to watch and don’t require signing up for anything. Watch the videos here: A Life That Matters

Once you’ve watched the first video, follow the link at the end of the text below the video to view the next video in the series. There are 3 videos in total, and each one is a little over 10 minutes long.

These videos will give you a good overview of the more detailed process you’ll experience in the Life on Purpose Virtual Video Coach program that helps you discover your life purpose and begin living in alignment with it.

If you feel you’ve been drifting lately and would like to have more meaning, focus, and centeredness in your life — or if you’ve been thinking about a career change to do work that’s more aligned with who you truly are — these videos are a good place to begin.”

Three Tips

I wrote this post for another blog 6 months ago, but I thought of it after reading this http://t.co/bxUKflG, a collection of good tips and ideas from bloggers. Below are three tips that helped me in 2010.

1. Create several social identities. Become a member of several groups, whether it is a book club, church meeting, basketball team at work, make your own beer crew, etc. This year I spent many months unemployed and trying to be very frugal while I was looking for a job.  I couldn’t go out much or go on vacation, etc. but I attended my Tuesday Writer’s Meet-up gatherings, met with my book club friends and volunteered with OLPC.  My social groups got me going and gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment especially during hard times.

Make friends with people from different walks of life, one day you’ll especially thank yourself for that, as those friendships will give you new perspective, make you wiser and more open-minded. This will also help you network and share hobbies with others.

2. Don’t be afraid to look or ask for help. At some points of our lives we all need either direct help or mentoring.  Sometimes we are debating between several options and can’t make up our mind. And then one small piece of advice from a total stranger could work as a moderator or catalyst for resolving our pending questions. When depressed, don’t assume you are alone and your condition will stay like that forever, everything passes especially bad things. “All inevitable things are temporary, only lessons from inevitable are eternal” Paolo Coelho. For any problem you have, there is someone who has the answer for you as there have been at least 12 billion people on Earth past and present (plus aliens) and someone for sure at least has thought about what you are pondering.

Ask for help, Google it, put it out there! And the answer will come to you, just believe in the abundance of the Universe, because for some magic reason there are people out there who have right answers. And if you are the one who has the solution, post it on your blog, some forum, etc… Your opinion is valuable for someone else on this planet.

3. Make new priorities this year. Find room for what you really want to do. Whether it is a long-desired hobby, more time spent with your friends and family or a simple vacation. My friend complained that he worked too much and had no time to rest, then I said “make it your priority, and then you will find time”.  When he focused on it, he managed to take time off work; months later I received beautiful pictures he sent from his big trip to Europe. He looked very happy and healthy. The same happened to me. A year ago I realized that I had other priorities in life besides corporate work, and I left my job and went to volunteer in Asia. I felt like I found something I lost many years ago – the  meaning and lightness of life. 

Make priorities this year for important things in you life that should not wait.

Inspired by Mark McCurdy and his Three awesome tips to start the New Year http://bit.ly/hxguEd

The Ups and Downs of Life

Recently I saw a Russian movie based on the book Eternal Call by Anatoliy Ivanov. My mother asked me if I knew biography of the actor Peter Velyaminov in that movie. I didn’t, so found his life story on Russian Wikipedia  and to say the least, I was shocked, but couldn’t help admire his attitude to life and happiness.

Peter Velyaminov was born on December 7, 1926, in Moscow, the son of a hereditary military from an ancient noble family. Among his ancestors listed as gentry many famous personalities. Most titled of them was the founder of the beginning of XI century who became at the head of three thousand militia to serve for Yaroslav the Wise. He was a nephew of King Norway – King Hakon II. Velyaminovs were among the contenders for the Zemsky Sobor in 1613 to the Russian throne, along with the Romanovs.

Peter’s father – Sergei Velyaminov was hereditary military. Before the revolution he graduated from Pavlovsk Military School in St. Petersburg in 1918, he joined the Red Army, was a member of the High Command of the Red Army. Was arrested in 1930 and held in camps for 17 years, mother lived in exile.

In March 1943, 16-year-old Peter was arrested on charges of “participating in anti-Soviet organization” Revival of Russia “, was sentenced to 10 years hard labor and sent to a transit camp in Kotlas. According to one source, who was under investigation in the Lubyanka prison, Peter was arrested in one case with his father – former tsarist officer.

In the camp Peter received the news of the arrest of his mother. He was so shocked by the news that cut his veins, but they saved him. In 1952 he was released (in the camp spent 9 years and 9 days). After the liberation of the camps Velyaminov three years he worked in Abakan Rafting.

He began playing in amateur theater, where he sang, recited poems and played his first role – Maxim Koshkin of “Spring Love.” From 1952 – Actor Drama Theatre inAbakan, 1955 – Tyumen Oblast Drama Theatre. He has also worked in theaters Dzerzhinsk, Novocherkassk, Cheboksary, Ivanovo, Perm and Sverdlovsk. It is in Sverdlovsk Theater Peter saw Valery Uskov and Vladimir Krasnopolsky and was invited to appear in multi-part film “Shadows at Noon”  in the role of the collective farmer Zahar Bolshakov.

In 1972, after the success of the film “Shadows at Noon”, Peter Velyaminov became famous nationwide and  moved to Moscow, where he joined the troupe of the Contemporary Theater. In the Contemporary Velyaminov played in the first directorial performance Galina Volchek “Climbing Mount Fuji”, and many other productions. In 1974 he joined the studio theater.

Despite the national recognition through the movie, the authorities did not forget about his past. So, in 1979, he was not allowed into France with the delegation, which carried the film “Shadows at Noon”. In 1983, actor was rehabilitated. In 1990, he became a full member of the Russian Nobility Assembly, receiving a diploma number 20. In 1994-1997 he was Vice-marshal of the St. Petersburg Assembly of the Noble, and in May 1995 led a delegation of St. Petersburg of the Noble Assembly of the IV All-Russian Congress of the nobility.

His own words:

“I am a happy man, because a difficult situation did not break me. Up to the 50s in the camps, there was no division on the criminals, deserters and political. But it so happened that next to me was always someone who helped me. When I got in the Urals for the construction of Hydrolyzed plant in juveniles, criminals, gang, I have finally exhausted – weighed 47 kilograms (103 lbs). With Dystrophy I was placed in the infirmary. Hospital boss, too, was a Muscovite, and as it turned out, her daughter was studying with me at the same school. Thanks to this woman I did and survived. I have worked on Rafting, foreman of carpenters, setter. Norm setter Karmazin, who “held” in the camp the entire mechanical plant, told me: “Well, then you go to this jazz? Songs to sing “Goodbye, Mama, Do not Cry”? Engaged in this profession, and thou shalt be fed and drunk. “But I went to the orchestra, which accompanied the prisoners to work, to play drums. Music education there – four years of musical school in violin.”

Since 1995 Velyaminov lived and worked in St. Petersburg, he died at the age of 82 a happy man.

Independent and Group Testers are in Action

The first version of the tool was sent to 20+ testers in 3 countries (the US, Canada and Singapore).

In the next 3 weeks 3 live testing sessions  will be held in 3 different cities, where anyone can try the tool and participate in the simulation of the happiness aggregator:

1. June 22, Wednesday, Boston, MA  http://meetu.ps/1QvjS at Boston Public Library

2. June 30, Thursday, San Francisco, CA http://meetu.ps/1VDg9 at the Epicenter Cafe

3. July 6, Wednesday, Los Angeles, CA  http://meetu.ps/1VJcL at the Urth Cafe in Santa Monica

And finally, check out this beautiful film HOME – The Adventure with Yann Arthus-Bertrand  http://bit.ly/kby5iD about us and our planet!

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