“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Get Ready to Grow with ZorBuddha

It’s the New Year and you may be thinking, how can I transform my life into something different, something better? More importantly, how can I define that better life so that I can start to live it with passion and purpose?

Envisioning our goals, putting them down on paper, and reviewing them regularly is one of the most powerful exercises we can do to get us moving in the right direction and to keep us going that way. Whether they’re long-term or day-to-day goals, having a plan and sticking to it reinforces our intentions and ensures that every action we take is relevant.

I would like to introduce to you a dear friend of mine, Vasco Gaspar, who has developed a tool that helps the user to define, track, and follow through on goals. I met Vasco when we were both members of an online community called The Monthly Coach where we interacted with almost 400 additional individuals from around the world who, like us, were interested in personal development.

During that time, Vasco developed the tool he calls ZorBuddha that served as a stepping stone for his own life. After working as an organizational consultant in Portugal, Vasco’s own personal growth led him to his current life as an author, trainer, public speaker, and an innovation consultant and writer. Zorbuddha is such a neat tool that I’ve decided to give it as gifts to some of my clients. I also wanted you all to meet Vasco and to have him tell us a little bit about ZorBuddha.

Firstly, thank you so much Vasco for taking the time for this interview! I was fortunate to be present (virtually) for the creation of ZorBuddha and I’m excited that I can share it with everyone here.

What is ZorBuddha and what was your inspiration for creating it?

Vasco: ZorBuddha began as a free tool aimed at contributing to increased awareness and positive focus on the part of whoever uses it.

The inspiration came from the need to create something for my own personal use that would help me to be more structured and disciplined. Because I had been reading books from several authors, mainly from the fields of psychology and personal development, I began to notice common patterns in the various currents. I then decided to combine, in the same tool, those that seemed the best practices in terms of personal development.

Who are the authors/visionaries whose work is reflected in ZorBuddha and why did you choose them?

Vasco: I researched more than 100 authors whose ideas have contributed to the development of ZorBuddha. One author who perhaps had a significant impact was Robin Sharma. But there were others, like Stephen R. Covey, Richard Boyatzis, Eckhart Tolle, etc., whose ideas seemed more solid, credible, and balanced.

What benefits can people expect to gain by using ZorBuddha?

Vasco: There are several potential benefits. At the end of ninety days it is expected, above all, that a person becomes more aware of:

- the people he/she cares about;

- the activities that makes him/her happy;

- the things in life that he/she takes pride in;

- the positive things that happen to him/her every day;

- that each day is different and unique;

- what he/she is grateful for in life;

- the activities that he/she can do in order to develop overall wellness.

In addition, it is expected that the person becomes more disciplined and better able to put into practice their ideas and goals, as well as more "liberated" from some mental conditions.

We are of course talking about ideal situations, where people do actually apply all the tools and practices. It is important to emphasize that this is a process that takes effort and requires dedication and discipline. Its goal is not to perform miracles or to be a path to eternal happiness. It is, above all, like a "balance bar" that helps people to stay more centered as they walk their own path.

In fact, a graduate student in Psychology from Lisbon University reported in her thesis the following after studying Zorbuddha’s impact on a teenage population:

"The daily use of this instrument [ZorBuddha], even for a short period of time, seems to promote a greater self-knowledge, a greater sense of what is really important in life, improved problem solving capabilities, an increase in self-esteem, appreciation of the important people in one’s life and the positive aspects of life experiences, and finally, an openness to a variety of experiences."

How has ZorBuddha changed your life (both as a tool and perhaps during the process of its creation)?

Vasco: My life actually changed a lot! At first, in seeking information, I sensed that I was growing but, above all, I realized that there is still a long way to go. With the use of this tool (I used it for more than 400 days) I became more centered, focused, and disciplined.

Today I have made this a journey in itself, drawing tools and other methods around the theme, such as workshops, development programs, articles, music, videos, etc. Above all, I try to find tools and resources that help people and organizations change the world by changing themselves.

What do you hope to accomplish with ZorBuddha?

Vasco: So many amazing things have happened since this "adventure” began, for example, ZorBuddha is already in over 50 countries, that I confess sincerely, I don't know. One year ago I couldn't predict that I would be "interviewed" here, or that I would quit a secure job to chase my dream. So, who knows the future? Anything can happen!

My personal commitment is to continue to follow my intuition and to alert people's consciousness through the sharing of knowledge, methods and tools that are valid, secure and solid. ~

To learn more about ZorBuddha and to get the free online version, please visit the website and blog. Watch the video!! You can also purchase ZorBuddha on Amazon.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Letting Go of Expectations

During a packed class the other day, our yoga instructor, Jen, said this: “Let go of any expectations. You have no idea what your best looks like.” What a powerful statement that was. Is it not true that if we think we know our best then we might unconsciously slam into a brick wall when we get there?

I’ve experienced this in yoga class before, although there are certainly postures that I have yet to close the gap between where I am and where I imagine my best to be. This is one of the primary reasons that I continue with my practice–I’m not there yet and I hope to never actually get there. For this to hold true, though, I need to let go of expectations.

This concept also rang very true for me this week. For years, celebrating the holiday in my family has followed tradition and so I have the habit of forming in my mind, my idea of how I would like the events to unfold. Naturally, it never turns out quite how I had envisioned and this year was no exception.

Several days before Christmas, my mom came down with a stomach flu that left her unable to keep down food or water. And then other family members got sick. Long story short, we decided to postpone our family gathering until next week. Since my dad’s birthday falls on Christmas day, I spent the day with my parents cooking for my dad.

So here I was, first time cooking a 7-lb beef tenderloin that had been waiting in the fridge for Christmas and that had to be cooked. Several hours later, I served my dad the most tender meat he had ever eaten with some sweet potato fries, cauliflower a la Alice Waters, and a nice pinot noir.

By this time, my mom was able to hold down vegetable broth with rice for the first time in days, so we enjoyed a meal together watching Ben Hur. My mom was happy that my dad had a delicious birthday meal; my dad and I were happy (and grateful) that mom could finally keep something in her stomach, and we all had a relaxing day.

I could have easily been disappointed about Christmas. But because I let go of expectations, it turned out perfect for the circumstances we had. Even better than I had imagined since I now know how to cook a perfect beef tenderloin. : )

The entire family is getting together next weekend to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. How will it go? Don’t know and I’m not going to think about it. I’m just going to let it happen and maybe be pleasantly surprised.

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday and I hope it's been better than ever imagined : )

Friday, December 3, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

Not long ago, I was waiting at the pharmacy when a woman walked up to the counter. She seemed a bit frazzled as she put down on the counter a 12-pack of ginger ale and a box of saltine crackers. After paying for her prescription, she picked up her things and went on her way. I noticed, though, that she forgot her soda. I turned around to stop her but she was already coming back up the aisle. She could see that I was going to say something to her so she smiled and commented that her mind was elsewhere at the moment.

When I finished in the store, I walked outside and met up with her again. She went on to explain that she was a little anxious because she was bringing her husband home from the hospital. He had been in a car accident and had broken his neck. She went on to say that he had saved his whole life for a fancy Corvette and his first time out in the car he was going too fast, lost control, and crashed.

This is a very extreme example of the point here but makes it just the same: do you spend your life reaching for a goal, only to find that it wasn’t the best thing for you or not exactly what you were expecting?

It is a common belief that once we set our sights on something, everything will be wonderful once we reach the summit. Yet, from my own experience, there are lots of reasons why this may not be true:

1. Along the way, life happens. We hopefully don’t become unconscious while reaching for our goal, but experience life. People, relationships, and events rewire our brains, often in subtle ways that we’re not even aware of, and what we once thought was important or wonderful, becomes less so when we get there.

2. Our goals change. Again, as we experience life, we discover our true passions and interests emerge and may not agree with what we originally believed. I spent over a decade working on my degree, thinking I would run a research lab. But I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. The education is invaluable and something I am undoubtedly grateful for, but it’s not where my true passion lies.

3. Goals never end. As Nelson Mandela said: After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. Reaching a goal is a great accomplishment and something to be very proud of, but we don’t stop living when we get there and it doesn’t mean we should shift into neutral. As humans, I believe one of our main objectives is to continuously grow–as long as we are alive. Reaching a goal actually provides us with a stepping stone on which to begin our next climb.

4. We believe happiness lies in achieving the goal. How many of us have said, “When I get ______, I’ll be happy”? We postpone our happiness, thinking that we need to become “someone” or acquire “something” to be fulfilled. Through my own life, I’ve realized that this simple yet profound cliché is really is true: It’s the journey, not the destination, for a few reasons:

- Being happy and passionate during the journey makes it more likely that we will reach our goals. A positive attitude and gratitude for what we do have at any given moment are the keys to attracting more good things into our lives. While striving for something, this mindset will clear the way and allow us to accept and appreciate more of the same. Therefore, be patient and enjoy the ride.

- When we get there, our happiness won’t be temporary. It’s true that the new car, the bigger home, and the new job will give us happiness, but only for a short time. Our levels of happiness will return to their set points. If the dial was on lukewarm before reaching our goals, after a few days, weeks, or even months, we’ll naturally return there. But if we’re happy along the way, we’ll remain that way even after the novelty and excitement wear off.

- Think about the time spent on the road to achieving a goal. Often it can be many years. When we get there, we are likely not the same people we were when we began doing the work. Life during this journey has offered us a wealth of experiences, opportunities, choices, and lessons that influence the end result. The goal is really just a culmination of the journey and the better the journey, the better the destination. In other words, the destination may actually change along the way into something even better than originally planned for or imagined.

Whatever it is that you’re working, striving, or reaching for, consider it a beacon, guiding you in the right direction. It’s a reason to reach in the first place and something that creates focus. Honor each step along the way as vital to your success. And while you’re moving forward, enjoy and be thankful for the ride. When you get to the top, it may not look exactly as you imagined, and that may be a good thing. : )