The Antidote to Stress - A Q&A With Gale Thompson

I had the opportunity to interview Gale Thompson, a Leadership Coach and Founding Partner with The Decency Group, who is offering an upcoming workshop to share more about why she thinks this content and these practices are valuable and worth dedicating some time both in the workshop and then as practices to weave into daily life. The workshop is taking place LIVE on June 10th in the Philadelphia area and is called "Building Resiliency - The Antidote to Stress and its Indecency."

To register for Gale's workshop, please click the link below.

REGISTER

Why is it worth spending time learning the biology and skills to managing stress?

GT: Stress is literally killing many of us slowly or keeping us from being our whole selves at work and at home. Most of us aren’t even aware of it until much of the damage has been done – to the way we show up, to important relationships, and to our bodies. 

I muddled through my life and work with pretty high levels of stress and anxiety until they grabbed my attention and brought me to my knees. As I made my way back, I also learned a lot about how our bodies and emotions work and what we can do to work with them more effectively.  One of the most effective sets of content and tools I have run across are from Heartmath – whose science creates an understanding and rationale for doing something about the stress and whose tools are accessible and effective enough for me to use in daily living.  

The tools are helpful not only in dealing with stress but the bonus is that they’re also really helpful for creating a gateway and conditions for connecting more effectively with one’s inner wisdom.  Couldn’t we all use more of that?  I think so, which is why I’m so passionate about sharing this content with others who are willing to commit some time and energy to their own well-being.

 

What are some common misconceptions about anxiety and stress?

GT: I think in our culture we’ve normalized and acclimated to stress so much that we take it for granted as just a fact of life.  We’re not aware of the negative impact that chronic stress hormones have on our body, which was never designed to experience them on a consistent basis.  A little bit of temporary stress can heighten our awareness but chronic stress degrades our body and cognitive abilities.  This prevents us from being our best at work, with our families, or for ourselves.

 

What insights have you gained about your stress through Heartmath?

GT: Heartmath science helps me better understand why the body responds as it does.  It also helped me understand how to bring awareness into what is otherwise an unconscious and uncontrolled set of processes.  It really helped me understand how to intervene in those processes and mobilize healthier pathways that exist but are not as honed as my body’s responses to perceived threats.  The practices are all about strengthening those other pathways.

 

How did you discover Heartmath?

GT: Heartmath knocked three times before I started to consistently use it.  I’d read about it somewhere but I decided not to pursue it at the time. Instead, I tried to develop a meditative practice, but I wasn’t able to achieve real results or reliably incorporate it into my life.  I ran into Heartmath again at a therapy conference and bought the Heartmath feedback device but I put it on a shelf. Finally, I was once again reintroduced to it during my coaching training and, after trying it, I was able to see the profound difference it made in my clients’ lives.  That motivated me to incorporate it into my life and into my coaching.  I’ve been using it since 2012 and the results have been great!

 

How do you teach those techniques? How long does it take before people can use them effectively in their own lives?

GT: The techniques are easy to learn. With just a few practice sessions, you can really notice the immediate impact different thoughts have on your Heart Rate Variability.  It’s kind of amazing.  From there, you can notice the patterns of thoughts and focus that enable you to enter and stay in coherence. To gain the most ongoing value, it takes some commitment to practice.  For Heartmath, unlike meditation and other techniques, just 6 or 7 minutes a day has an impact.

 

What is your wiser Self?

GT: Within each of us is a larger, wiser Self who is not infused with fear, stress, or confusion.  I know when a client has reached their wise Self or Inner Leader because the feedback is invariably clear, compassionate, grounded, authentic, and full of integrity.  I didn’t know that I and others had this capacity until I started working with Heartmath.  Since then, I have sought to tap into that Inner Leader for myself and my clients.

 

To register for Gale's workshop, please click the link below.

LINK

Reflection 27: The Case for Radical Decency

I came of age in the Civil Rights era, a time when people of dignity and vision set an agenda of greater decency, fairness and justice – and perceptibly moved the needle of public policy in that direction. An abiding gift from those years is my passion to contribute to a better world; a passion that has persisted through 25 years as a community minded attorney and another 15 as a psychotherapist and coach.

Along the way I have been involved in many creative and inspiring initiatives. But my sense throughout has been that I was dealing with symptoms –“this” injustice or “that” place of unnecessary pain and suffering – and not with the underlying cause of what ails us. The question that, for me, remained stubbornly unanswered was this:

How can we craft strategies that meaningfully challenge the seemingly out of control cultural forces that – year by year, decade by decade – create an ever coarsening, unjust, and inequitable world.

What came to me about 15 years ago was that, at its core, the problem we face is values based. There is a specific set of values that drives decision-making in virtually every area of our lives and, so long as they predominate, we will never meaningfully diverge from our current course.

The sensible response? To embrace a very different set of values that I call “decency”: Respect; understanding and empathy; acceptance and appreciation; fairness and justice. And to practice them “radically”: At all times and in every area of living.

In this Reflection I make the case for Radical Decency as an approach to living that speaks with special force to the central challenge we face – in this time and place – as we seek to create better lives and a better world.

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We live in world that is driven by a very specific set of values: Compete and win, dominate and control. And these values – while not inherently bad – are wildly over-emphasized in our culture, infiltrating virtually every area for living, causing incalculable damage our selves and others.

Living this way, the evidence is irrefutable: We have created a failed culture.

How can I say this with such certainty? Because, starting a culture from scratch, we would want it to support us in pursuing at least one of the following goals:

  • Being decent to our selves; or
  • Being decent to others; or
  • Being decent to the world.

Sadly – remarkably – our world fails to support us in any of these purposes.

Consider, for example, these questions:

With regard to how we treat our selves: Does the culture support us in doing the things that truly nourish and satisfy us? Or do we feel compelled to devote our most productive hours of the great majority of our days to making money, and to jobs that drain our energy and distract us from our deepest longings?

With regard to how we treat others: Does the culture make concern for others a priority? Or is the operating rule of thumb to focus on how other people’s actions affect us; or, even more narrowly, on what they can do for us? Does the culture model and reinforce curiosity about other people’s ideas and opinions? Or does it teach us to judge and dismiss people who are different? Does the culture encourage us to treat people in need with respect and generosity? Or does it condone and implicitly encourage half measures and outright indifference?

With regard to how we treat the world: Does the culture encourage us to marshal the environment’s resources with caution and care? Or does it place primary emphasis on their unrestrained exploitation for our material advantage? Does the mainstream culture provide any significant support for life choices that actively consider the fate of other living things?

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Operating in an environment that is saturated with cues, incentive and sanctions that push us toward indecent behaviors, the compelling question before us is this: What can we do to reverse this dismal equation? How can we craft ways of living that are more decent to our self, to others, and to the world?

This is the question Radical Decency seeks to address.

Doing so, we first need to deal with the realities of our biology. We humans are profoundly creatures of habit; wired to do in the future what we did in the past. And far more than we care to acknowledge, the culture’s predominant values are woven into the very fabric of our taken-for-granted, habitual ways of living. In large ways and small, they pull us toward the “safe,” “smart,” and “obvious” choices that, in the end, root us in indecent ways of operating that, being borne into this culture, are our unfortunate birthright.

Given this reality, the process of diverging from our mainstream ways cannot operate solely or predominantly at a cognitive/logical level: Identify the problem, craft a solution, implement. Instead, what is called for is a re-habituation process. We need to systematically cultivate new habits of living that can, with practice and persistence, replace our status quo ways of operating.

Working from these premises, Radical Decency invites us to be decent to our self, to others, and to the world and – crucially – to do it on an across-the-board basis: At all times, in every context, and without exception.

At its core, Radical Decency grows out of this simple premise: If we whole-heartedly commit to this different way of living, allowing it to guide our day-by-day, moment-by-moment choices, we have a fighter’s chance of leading a better life and more effectively contributing to a better world.

The reverse is also true. If we adopt a pick and chose approach to decency – with family and friends but not at work; in our self-care but only in half-hearted ways in our politics – we will fail. Given the pervasiveness of the mainstream culture’s predominant values, if we continue to practice them – out there, in the real world – they will inevitably invade and compromise the small, private islands of decency we seek to create.

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By focusing on our day-by-day choices, Radical Decency expands our vision, pointing to ways in which we can more effectively deploy our reform energies. So, for example, it highlights the extent to which work and business dominate our lives, and is an uncomfortable reminder of our complicity with the culture’s indecent values when we succumb to the workplace’s bottom-line oriented, “do what you have to do” ways of operating.

On the positive side of the equation, Radical Decency highlights the importance of change in this crucial area of living. Imagine how different the world would be if business’ were routinely committed to quality products at a fair price, worker welfare, truth in marketing, socially conscious purchasing and investing, environmental prudence, and so on – and, if business’ profits and accumulated capital funded a decency agenda rather than the self-aggrandizing policies that currently dominate its public agenda?

Radical Decency’s operative principles also lead to an analogous shift in focus in the political arena. Living in a compete and win, dominate and control culture – in which money and power are the coin of the realm – the political system is fixed. While elections and legislative battles are unquestionably important, the likelihood of ever electing a critical mass of good-hearted politicians, interested in putting a priority on decency, is surpassingly small.

Radical Decency, however, with its focus on the underlying values that drive our public policy choices, seeks to change the rules of the game – a daunting but, ultimately, more promising avenue of attack. Thus, by way of example, the logic of the approach invites:

  • Major initiatives to redirect our public discourse away from its current adversarial, win/lose mindset toward one marked by respect, understanding, and reasoned compromise; and
  • A far deeper commitment to collaborative efforts that bring people together, from across the political spectrum, who share an underlying commitment to decency.

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A very good piece of additional news about Radical Decency is that a committed practice can have a dramatic, positive impact on our personal lives as well.

Here’s how it works.

Seeking to harmonize and balance decency to self, others, and the world, we are confronted with a seemingly endless series of difficult choices. When, for example, does self-care take precedence over the needs of others – and vice versa? And when we truly face up to our responsibility to people who are socially or economically disenfranchised, what is an appropriate allocation of time and money to their needs?

With these challenges, however, come a whole series of life changing benefits. When grappling with these “wisdom stretching” dilemmas becomes our habitual way of operating, there is a perceptible shift in outlook and approach. We instinctually reach for a richer understanding of the diverse needs, motives and feelings that we, and others, experience – and need to be dealt with in our ongoing effort to be more and more decent. And with that, we become more open, curious, thoughtful, and reflective.

As we settle into these new habitual mindsets, increased emotional awareness and analytic acuity are inevitable byproducts. We also develop an increased ability to act, even in uncomfortable situations; the patience and self-control to forbear when that is the better choice; and the wisdom to know the difference.

The endpoint? When all that we do is approached with these new habits of openness, curiosity and a growing sense of discernment, we wind up with an increased sense of:

Living in the present, which leads to less shame, guilt, and remorse about the past, and fear and anxiety about the future;

Appreciation, empathy, acceptance, and love for our self and others, which leads to less judgment, jealousy, possessiveness, greed, and need to control;

Clarity and coherence about our priorities and choices, which leads to less anxiety and an increased sense of ease in life; and

An ennobling sense of purpose, which leads to less hopelessness and mistrust and an increased sense of vibrancy, aliveness, and pleasure in living.

These are, it seems to me, the attributes of a vibrant and nourishing life. And a committed Radical Decency practice is a vital pathway toward their realization.

In my view, Radical Decency works. If the goal is to create a better world, it is the strong medicine we need to deal with the virulent, values-based cultural disease that ails us. But, happily, the argument for adopting a committed Radical Decency practice does not rest solely on my analysis being correct. In the end, a radically decent life is its own reward.

An Exciting New Direction: Membership Now Available in The Decency Group

We are embarking on an exciting new direction for the new season!

Spring of 2016 is the start of a very special year at The Decency Group – and we hope you will be a part of it!

We have expanded our mission to becoming a member-based organization, even as we continue to offer our uniquely integrated consulting services. Our new, more robust TDG is now offering a rich and growing stable of member-oriented initiatives – all designed to explore the implications of Radical Decency, and to make it a growing reality in our lives and in the world.

There are so many reasons to become a member We have something to offer everyone:

Are you a devoted reader of our founder, Jeff Garson’s Radical Decency Reflections?
Jeff is offering a members-only Monday afternoon webcast to discuss the week’s Reflection.

Are you hungering for intelligent discussion and ongoing support, as you strive to live differently and better?
Become a regular participant in TDG’s Membership Connection, our members-only Facebook Group.

Are you looking for other like-minded business people, as serious as you are in wanting to bring decency to the workplace?
Join our Members’ Business Affinity Group.

And this is just the beginning! 

As we go forward, we will be creating an ever-expanding roster of member programs. Check us out – and explore our complete list of programs – and become a member today! Check out our membership informational page.

We are confident all of the benefits that come with our $100/year membership will, in short order, make that investment a distant afterthought.

To learn more, please feel free to contact us at info@thedecencygroup.com. Or give Tisha Palmer, our Membership/Communications Coordinator a call, at 215-550-6776.

Or simply sign up today!

Reducing Stress and Increasing Enjoyment of the Upcoming Holiday Season

tdg-holidays.png

As we approach the holiday season, The Decency Group would like to provide you with a gift that will help you manage stress and enjoy yourself more over the holidays. Three of us, Mike Brady, Tisha Palmer, and Gale Thompson - have collaborated on this reflection to provide you with tips on relationships as well as personal and financial health just in time to welcome the holidays.


How to shift from stressful to meaningful time with family and friends

Holidays are meant to be joyous opportunities to get together with family and friends to connect and appreciate each other and our many blessings. There's so much positive glow to appreciate although sometimes we can get distracted or overwhelmed so emerge needing a holiday from the holidays. Here are some ways we can do the internal work to get clear about what's important to us and develop strategies for increasing the likelihood of experiencing meaning and following through on positive intention.

1.      Decide what is most important to you about the upcoming holidays.
What are the 1-3 things you seek to emerge from the holidays with beyond or in addition to the aspects that everyone enjoys? Examples: I'd like to spend some really quality time with my niece and find out what's going on in her life. Or, I'd like to take the opportunity of Thanksgiving dinner to foster a spirit of appreciation for the many blessings each of us experiences but often takes for granted. Once you have your short list, it will help you focus.

2.      What actions/intentions can you set for each of these that will increase the likelihood of their happening for you?
Be very specific about what the action will be: timing, participation, how you will help to make it happen, who you wish to collaborate with to make it happen etc. Examples: I'm going to email my niece today and suggest we go holiday shopping together and go out to tea afterwards to catch up. Or, I'm going to open the conversation about blessings right before dessert on Thanksgiving and suggest we go around the table and each say something we're grateful for that happened this past year.

3.      Now that you're clear on what's important, look at the other side what's energy draining that you can seek to reduce?
Again, be clear and specific with some action steps you can take. Maybe buying gifts for the 20 people on your list is no longer fun and is just draining. Might you propose a secret Santa or grab bag approach to gift giving this year? Maybe hosting the Thanksgiving dinner used to be a source of pride and now it just feels overwhelming. Might you ask each guest to bring their favorite dish so that everyone has a sense of ownership?

4.      What are ways you can support yourself during the approach and duration of the holiday season?
Again, try to be actionable and specific. For example, maybe you need a break from the relatives, so you'll commit to taking a walk each day to get away and clear your head. Maybe you want to be less reactive with a challenging relative (e.g. cousin Ralph's political views always send you into orbit). So, you commit to setting a positive intention prior to seeing Ralph and remember all the things you like about him. Maybe you also commit to taking a breath when he starts talking politics or have a topic to change the conversation to, or ask your spouse to jump in and remind you of something you two need to do together. Or, maybe in order to take care of yourself this holiday season, you need to make sure that you manage your budget, your food intake, or the amount of sleep you get during the holidays.

5.     Finally, identify for yourself all the things you have to be grateful for.
Gratitude is a wonderful practice in general and has proven to lift the spirits and help shift the focus to what's working well in your life. So often we have a laser focus on all the things that aren't working the way we'd like them to. Maybe you could make a list today of all the things you have to be grateful for, tape it up somewhere, and then add something new and special each day between here and December 31<sup>st</sup>. That way you'll tangibly see all the good things there are to celebrate during the holidays and beyond.


Set Yourself Up for Healthy Holiday Success
Tisha Palmer, Nutrition and Health Coach

The holiday season is fast approaching. For many of us the holidays bring good cheer and celebration; but for some, it also brings over-eating, imbalance and weight gain. By implementing these simple tips and strategies you can reach the New Year feeling lighter!

1.      Don't Skip Meals or Skimp on Sleep:
You stayed up late and skipped breakfast. No big deal, right? That's actually a bigger problem than you think! Loss of sleep stimulates your appetite and increases cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Then, because you haven't eaten for 10 or more hours, your body goes into survival mode and holds on to fat for dear life! Then, when it's you versus the box of Dunkin Donuts your colleague brought to the office? Not a fair fight. Get to bed on time and eat regularly to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels balanced. Try combining a lean protein with a whole carbohydrate and a little healthy fat at every meal to assure that you feel full longer (one of my favorite mini meals is spaghetti squash topped with tomato marinara, oregano, and a dash of olive oil).

2.     Slow Down and Seek Out the Real Sweetness in Your Life:
Feeling frantic and eating mindlessly? Put down the brownie, take some deep breaths and ask yourself: What kind of sweetness do I really want right now? There could be a sweetness void in your life that needs filling from something other than food. Can you call a friend? Hug your kid? Walk the dog in the snow while enjoying the neighborhood lights? If you're feeling low at a social event, challenge yourself to converse with someone new instead of making a trip to the dessert table.

3.      Stay Hydrated and Sip Wisely:
We often think we're hungry when we're in fact dehydrated. So, place a bottle of water on your nightstand and drink 16oz before your feet hit the ground each morning. Buy a cheerful new water bottle (BPA free plastic or glass/stainless) and make it your constant companion. Think water is boring? Treat yourself to some of what I call "Homemade FOO FOO Water." Infuse water overnight with fruits and veggies (dark cherry/lime and cucumber/mint are my two current faves). Add sliced citrus fruits for a burst of flavor anytime, and to help flush out excess sugar. Freeze berries or mint sprigs into ice cubes to add for a festive calorie-free flourish. Do you treat shopping as a sport? Then you know this typical mall danger: THIRST! Eschew heavy sugar and caffeine-laden drinks in favor of holiday herbal tea. Tip: Stock your pocketbook with some yummy flavored tea bags (My favorites are Numi's Organic and Trader Joe's Candy Cane). Starbucks will give you a cup of hot water, just remember to tip the barista!

4.        Savor the "Real Deal"
I give you permission to be a diva (a food snob) this holiday season. If you don't LOVE it, don't eat it. Scan the buffet for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes. It's not your responsibility to sample everything on the table. Make a pretty plate (no piling!), and then slowly and mindfully savor every mouthful. Don't eat the gunk‚ hold out for the genuine gem. No Chips Ahoy when your grandma's homemade chocolate chip cookies are on their way with love.

5.      Stay Prepared with Staples on Hand:
It's common to eat whatever is on hand when you feel lonely, tired, or hungry. To make this season different, plan ahead. Stock your fridge with clear containers of cut up veggies and hearty bean or lentil salads. Make a big batch of soup on Sunday that you can simply pull out and heat up whenever the need arises. Cook up some high protein quinoa, hard-boiled eggs or grilled chicken breast so you have some protein ready for whenever. Put together a "travel pack" so you have healthy options available when on-the-go. Fruit (nature's fast food), high quality nuts, raw or real food bars, and nitrate-free jerky and bottled water all travel well. 


How to Thrive Financially During the Holiday Season
Mike Brady, Financial Advisor

The holidays offer some unique opportunities for proper spending and saving. Taking the right financial steps can help reduce your stress and also position you to start the following year on solid financial footing. Remember, working with your financial advisor throughout the year on spending/savings goals is a smart way to avoid common financial mistakes. Here are some spending tips that can help keep your holiday season merry and bright:

 

·       Make a Spending Budget:
Knowing who you are buying for and how much you should realistically spend on each person will help manage the amount spent on gifts. That budget is your playbook for holiday spending. It will keep you focused during a time where confusion and impulse buying is at its height.

·      Become an Informed & Smart Shopper:
Visit consumer reports for product advice. You will be able to compare prices of products and any potential problems other buyers have experienced. When you have your gift buying list complete, search around for department stores who are discounting that particular item. It may take a little extra time to get your holiday shopping done, but your bank account will thank you.

·       Don't be "The Host That Gives Away The Most":
Hosting a holiday event can be expensive. Just like the buying exercise explained above, it is smart to prepare a budget for the event. If you are stressing over the cost of pulling this off; ask your guests to pitch in by bringing a dish. It will not only cut down on the amount you spend but will also reduce another great holiday stress point; running out of time!

·      Know the Interest Rate Associated with Your Credit Cards: 
Avoid the high interest credit cards, including store cards. If you must use credit to buy things, review the interest rate on the card and build into your plan a way to pay it off with as little interest and finance charges accruing. Keep special watch on the store cards; their interest rate in most cases is excessively high causing that gift you purchased to actually cost double!

·       Spend Their Money, Save Yours, but Be Careful:
Take advantage of 0% interest on large purchases. If you are offered the option of financing over a period of time, take it but be careful. The small print in that deal will show you a very high interest rate on the entire purchase amount if there is a remaining balance following the term. Build that monthly payment into your monthly budget and make sure to have the entire amount paid off in time.


We hope you have enjoyed this reflection offering you valuable information about reducing stress and increasing your enjoyment during the holidays. Please feel free to visit other parts of The Decency Group site and contact us if we can assist you in any way. Please take the time to Like The Decency Group Facebook page and join our email list for future tips.

Happy Holidays from the Decency Group!

Pope Francis Decreed Humanity's Need for Decency, Was Criticized for His View

Pope Francis believes that technology and greed will cause a disaster.

Pope Francis believes that technology and greed will cause a disaster.

The Decency Group generally doesn’t view the world through the lens of religion. But we see the value in the important humanitarian messages that can come from religion, in all its forms.

In fact, recent news from Pope Francis got our attention.

In his Papal encyclical*, Francis lamented that "(Human) technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibilities, values and conscience".

*encyclical |enˈsiklikəl| noun, a papal letter sent to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

"The goal of technology," he argues, "should not be to increasingly replace human work with machines in order to save money and make more profit." From National Catholic Reporter

Francis sees what we see: people's jobs being sourced to places for cheaper and cheaper labor, folks in 1st world countries not able to afford to live on a 40 hour per week job, the ability we all have sometimes to turn a blind eye to it all.

"Technology must serve humanity, not the market."

And he spoke his mind about it. As a person with as much influence, both in religious and political groups, it was sure to be a cry to arms. Certainly THIS message, coming from THIS man, would finally grab the world's attention, and would unite us in a common cause.

But that's not what happened. The exact opposite occurred. Francis was criticized for "meddling" in world affairs, and for daring to wax scientific.

The indecency that occurred when Francis attempted to correctly tap the world on its shoulder is no surprise. We live in a world that not only accepts this indecency – it encourages and rewards it. We're told to work harder, we're told to come home to our families later and buy expensive things with the money we earn, to invest where the market is hot and undercut prices when we shop, giving our dollars to cheap labor and materials. We, too, perpetuate this system.

When we understand highly ingrained, human evolutionary mechanisms, the world's reaction to Francis is precisely what we can expect.

Indecency is not our fault, and we should not waste time on blame. Humans are being pushed around by 300,000 years of evolution. When someone honks their horn at us, we still see a saber-tooth tiger.

When someone honks their horn at us, we still see a saber tooth tiger

When someone honks their horn at us, we still see a saber tooth tiger

We therefore cannot expect, and won't attempt, to flick off the switch of indecency. It simply won't work. The benefits of relentlessly layering in acts of decency, however, will enrich all of us in ways that are too many to count.

We invite you to join us on our journey, in our community of Radical Decency - to ourselves, each other and the world around us. For a special invitation to become a member, sign up for our email list, or leave a comment below.

New Things on the Way for The Decency Group

New things ahead for TDG!

New things ahead for TDG!

Here at The Decency Group, we are all about teaching the philosophy we seek to live, adding, in the last year, webinars and workshops, workbooks and videos – all about making Radical Decency a reality in every area of living.

In the coming year, we will be inviting you to join us in this journey!

TDG is becoming a membership organization: a collaborative community, bringing together people from all walks of life who, like us, see the enormous, spirit-affirming pay-offs that result as we more fully bring Radical Decency into every aspect of our lives.

Stay tuned for further details.

One lesson we learn – over and over – is that, while Radical Decency is a difficult, wisdom-stretching discipline, it is – truly – its own reward. In this brief video, Jeff Garson, our founding partner, explains why. We would love your reaction.

Religion - Debasement, Inspiration, Lessons Learned

Radical Decency is an approach to living that touches on all aspects of living. A recent Radical Decency blog, entitled Religion, Debasement, Inspiration, Lessons Learned, included this quote:

"Fully committed to Radical Decency's values, our hope is this: Each of us will embody the best in our chosen religious tradition and, crucially, be a clear voice, within that tradition, for resisting the ever present temptation to compromise these ideals for the sake of money, members, and power. Then (to complete our dream), these like-minded religious people, and their secular sisters and brothers, with a growing recognition of their common purposes, will knit together into a powerful, perhaps even irresistible force for creating better lives and a more humane and decent world. One can only hope . . . and have faith."

To learn more about our weekly Radical Decency Reflections, go to radicaldecency.com.

How do innovators think?

We came across the following in Nate Silver's The Signal and Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, But Some Don't (2012.)

Good innovators typically think very big and very small. New ideas are sometimes found in the most granular details of a problem where few others bother to look. And, sometimes, they are found when you are doing your most abstract and philosophical thinking, considering why the world is the way it is and whether there might be an alternative to the dominant paradigm. Rarely can they be found in the temperate latitudes between these two spaces, where we spend 99% of our lives.

These thoughts really make sense when we think about the vital how-to aspects of creating better lives. To be successful, we need to really dig into the day-by-day, moment-by-moment habits that keep us rooted in the status quo. At the same time, we need to stay open to "big" ideas; ideas that have the potential to fundamental change our perspective on who we are and how we can be in the world.

We can't say it better than Gandhi

Gandhi's efforts to convince the British to end their colonial rule of India began in 1915. But before that, starting in 1893, he fought for the rights of Indians in South Africa. This brought him straight to the head of the Traansval government, General Jan Smuts. The story goes that when they met he quietly told the General, "I've come to tell you that I am going to fight against your government."

Laughing, Smuts said, "Oh, really? Do you have anything else to tell me?"

"Yes," says Gandhi, "I'm going to prevail."

Smuts is astonished. "How are you going to do that?"

Gandhi smiles "With your help."

Years later Smuts admitted that this is exactly what happened. "Gandhi," he said, "appealed to what was best and most noble in me, and he never took advantage of me."

This is at the heart of our methodology: Sticking to the truth and delivering it with respect and appreciation for the best in the other person.

Life is an impossible deal

We arrive here - and leave - through no choice of our own. While we are here, there is no roadmap for what to do, or, if there is, we have no idea what the right one is out of all the ones being proposed. And, to seal this (impossible) deal, we know all this.

Oh to be a dog! At 12, they never brood over the fact that their best years are behind them. And at the moment of death, all they know is the comfort of their beloved owner's arms and the pinch of the vet's needle.

But while self-awareness is our greatest burden, it also creates life's most redemptive possibilities.

Central to Radical Decency is a forthright acceptance of this unforgiving equation. Instead of ignoring life's fundamental mysteries, or presuming to answer to them, we seek to more deeply understand the inherent limitations of our biology and neurobiology, as well as its intricacies, contradictions, and potentialities. Then, working with our flawed humanity, with all of its demoralizing shortcomings and equally stunning moments of transcendence, we seek to create lives that are more loving and decent to ourselves, others and the world.