On Being Selfishly “Selfless”

10% Happier Dan HarrisEvery once in a while, I come across something that smacks me upside my head with a great big "Ah, ha!  I KNEW it."  Something so obvious, but I'd never heard it put that way before that it just leaves this lasting impression. Today, as I was finishing Dan Harris' book "10% Happier," I had just such a moment.

In the chapter entitled (I'm writing it as it reads folks) "The Self-Interested Case for Not Being a Dick," Harris recounts a story where he is interviewing the Dalai Lama. They are exploring the idea of self-cherishing and the link between that and the "development of concern for [the] well-being of others."  Harris himself has a huge lightbulb moment based on the revelations of the Dalai Lama and comes to the conclusion that "...there is a self-interested, or selfish, case for being compassionate?"  His Holiness responds, "Yes. Practice of compassion is ultimately benefit to you. So I usually describe: we are selfish, but be wise selfish rather than foolish selfish."

In the decade-plus timeframe that I've been coaching children, parents and professionals on the value of SocialSmarts, this is exactly a point I've been trying to make: Continue Reading »

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Missed Opportunity: “It’s How You Treat Them!”

It's funny where you pick up life lessons. In my case, it was this past weekend as my partner and I were out camping. While it's still early Spring and relatively chilly and damp in Western Washington, we thought we'd take advantage of a little "adult time" and head out into the wilderness for a little nature and relaxation.  Who would have thought we'd experience a lesson in "missed opportunity."

This time of year, most of the National Park campgrounds are active yet. We were aware that there might be issues with closed campsites, but my partner, being the son of a  renowned nature interpreter, author and long-time member of the Forest Service, decided he would call the National Park Service directly and inquire about the possibility of occupying a camp site in a closed campground.  You see, we didn't want to run afoul of the authorities...

Well, we were told that, while the campsites were closed, it is possible to "pack in" our gear and stay at the site, but that we might be subject to some questioning or even a potential fine, depending on our conduct, trash left behind, etc.  With that knowledge, we set out.  As luck would have it, we found a terrific campground we'd never visited, and while the road to the campground parking spaces was closed, there was no sign anywhere that said the campsite was off-limits. In fact, there were other people already there, having set up their campers and tents. We learned later that this was part of a "work party," and even offered to assist in the campground cleanup if help was needed, but the gal we spoke with was not the organizer of the work party. We were going to have the joy of meeting her later... Continue Reading »

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It all comes down to this: “Be nice and tell the truth all the time…”

Do you ever have one of those moments where someone says something in just a certain way, at a certain time, and you realize "That's IT! That's what it's all about!"  You have this incredible epiphany that you just don't need to say anything further, because the statement that was just made is so perfect it cannot be improved upon?

I had that moment yesterday. It has left me humbled and awed.

Yesterday, I was speaking at an assembly of 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Sultan Middle School. For the past 30 minutes, I was sharing with them the presentation "Street Smarts or SocialSmarts" and was explaining how being socially smart can get you more of what you want, more easily, and less of what you don't want.

I had been exploring with the students the concept of getting parents "off your case" and getting them to treat the middle schoolers more like adults.  I asked for some shared comments from the audience on how they thought they could accomplish this.  Some of the responses I got were, "Do what parents ask you to do," or "don't give them attitude when they talk to you," and other similar responses. I thought I had just exhausted the question when I noticed there was a young student in the middle of the bleachers to my left.  Continue Reading »

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