8 tips to make your life more surprising

Check these out – eight brilliant tips from Tania Luna, Suprisologist. I particularly love the second one.  Paul T

Commit to the mindset and process of surprise. Decide to be a surprisologist, and explore the world through this lens. Ask yourself, “What would a surprisologist do?” Create systems to reinforce surprise in your life. Counterintuitive though it sounds, schedule time to wander, and set up reminders using FollowUpThen.com. Even the most exciting people need to be plucked out of their routines sometimes.

Get to the pot of gold on the other side of awkward. Remind yourself that all the good stuff in life lies behind a sticky clump of discomfort and uncertainty. Few people follow their dreams or take positive risks — not because it’s difficult or even scary, but because we avoid that sensation of uncertainty that we call awkwardness. Learn to love it. Remind yourself that discomfort means you are growing AND reaching someplace special that few people dare to go. Try a hobby that looks awful. Talk to a stranger. Or spend some alone time if you tend to avoid your own company.

Stop Googling away delight. I love instant information, but I also know that seeing photos of my hotel room before I get there and using Yelp to pick out the best dish on the menu strips my life of surprise, discovery and serendipity. Let yourself imagine and then get surprised.

Turn your social circle into a different shape. Go way off the grid when it comes to meeting new people. Being surrounded by people like us is comforting, but it also stops us from growing and learning. Go out of your way to speak with and empathize with people who don’t share your norms. Ask friends to introduce you to the most unlike-you person they know.

Collect sensations. When was the last time you smelled, tasted or touched something new? Every week give yourself the assignment to explore and experience the world through one primary sense.

Get lost. If you always know where you’re going, you’ll never get someplace new. Let yourself wander, mapless, in an unfamiliar park or neighborhood. Try playing the Left, Left, Right game — keep turning left, left, then right until you discover something surprising. (I learned this one from my fellow Surprisologist, LeeAnn Renninger.) Or simplest of all, set aside free wander and wonder time.

Schedule a Yes Day. Saying “yes” to new things can be overwhelming, so I like to dedicate one day every week to saying “yes” to all new opportunities. FYI: my Yes Day is Wednesday 🙂

Keep a Surprise Opportunity Log. Anytime someone mentions something they love or have always wanted to try, jot it down and put to good use in the future. Surprising others is as much fun as surprising yourself.

Original post: http://blog.ted.com/2013/07/26/8-tips-to-make-your-life-more-surprising-from-a-surprisologist/

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Which bitch are you?

By Paul T

Sometimes when I’m at Indigo I wander the aisles and pick up books that I’m drawn to. Yesterday, as I walked through the career section, the book that leapt out at me was Working with Bitches by Meredith Fuller. At certain points in my career I have worked with men and women that I would classify as ‘bitch’, so the title spoke to me.

After scanning the book, the thought that crossed my mind was surprisingly not of a specific bitch from my past, but rather the question ‘Which bitch am I?’ I am all too ready to point out examples of others, but it’s not often that I stop to assess my own behaviour. I mean, aren’t we all bitches to someone given the right circumstances?

Ms. Fuller believes there are 8 types of bitches:


This list encouraged me to do some productive navel-gazing. I know I am guilty of being an Excluder at times. If someone upsets me, my knee-jerk reaction is to ignore and avoid them. While this does get me out of some uncomfortable situations, I imagine it might be hurtful to the unwitting recipient of this behaviour. Does this make me a bad person? I don’t think so. Flawed maybe, but aren’t we all?

I think the key is being aware of which bitch(es) we are. If we are aware we can learn to manage these behaviours and possibly spare our friends, colleagues and acquaintances some grief.

So I ask you – which bitch are you?

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What I talk about when I talk about… decisions

by Carolina

I’m not a book devourer but there is a writer that I love and admire that makes me buy his most recent recent book every time and devour it fiercely. Haruki Murakami is a Japanese novelist and reading him brings me to nice places despite of the nature of his novels. He wrote a book (not a novel but more like an essay) called “What I talk about when I talk about running”. The quote I remember the most is something like “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

That’s probably the quote I like to remember when I’m going through difficult times. For example, having been away from my home country, my family and friends for many years, sometimes gives me a heavy feeling in my heart. It’s the kind of feeling that makes me doubt my vocation and passion for my profession. And then I remember why I’m doing what I’m doing… it is painful to be far from the people you love but if that feeling gets repetitive and blinds your judgment, it becomes a suffering. It is then that I ask myself: should I stay or should I go (like the song).

Making decisions has become a very tough task as years go by. When I decided to leave my country and migrate to Canada, I did it in a blink. I didn’t hesitate once I got the opportunity even though I couldn’t speak English, I knew no one and I was not confident enough of my skills. But I felt young, I had no social pressure to fit into any role (as a woman) and I wanted to explore the world.

Now, if I had to make that decision I know it wouldn’t come that easy. I now feel the need to settle down whatever it means and I’m over-thinking the future…

Not sure what point I want to make here, I guess I just want to share it to see if it helps me out into making a decision soon…

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Resolution Hacks

By Paul T

Unlike most people I know, I got a head start on my resolutions this year. After settling into my new place in October I decided to get serious about making some changes.  I have learned some things over the last few months that I will share below, in hopes that you might have increased chances of succeeding in any resolutions you may have for the new year.

My philosophy is this: making conscious change requires self awareness. In my case, I know that I am lazy when left to my own devices and that any roadblock or hurdle could prevent me from making the changes that I want to make. So it’s important to make things so easy for myself that I have absolutely no excuse for reverting back to old behaviours. I’m also busy, so I need to make changes that will make efficient use of my time. Can you relate?

I present to you my resolution hacks…


1. Buy a veggie steamer.

Seriously, do it. I’m talking about a $30 Black & Decker veggie steamer – Canadian Tire sells them. This appliance has made healthy eating a snap for me. I pick up fresh organic veggies from the store each week, bring them home, cut them up and toss them in the steamer. It took a little while to learn the different timing required to steam specific types of veggie and plan out when to add each one to end up with a nice mix of veggies. But once I did it was smooth sailing. I took a look at the groceries I purchased recently and it’s incredible to see the changes I’ve made since buying the steamer. I have minimized the amount of processed and packaged foods that I bring into my home.

2. Prepare one new healthy recipe a week.

A good friend and I have teamed up on this. One week I will find one healthy vegan recipe with no more than 6 simple ingredients (it has to be easy or I might come up with excuses not to prepare it). The next week she finds a recipe. We try out the recipe and share feedback. We then each decide if we will add it to our regular meal rotation. I am gradually building an arsenal of healthy/tasty/simple recipes, and changing my diet in the process.

3. Do not bring junk food into your house.

I don’t know about you, but if I have chocolate in my house it’s all.that.I.can.think.about. O.O So I just don’t bring it into my house. No cookies, chocolate, chips etc have graced my cupboards for ages. It’s much easier to exhibit self control when at the grocery store than when you are watching re-runs of Mad Men in your jammies.


1. Use Fitness Blenders

Just one tip for exercise: try out Fitness Blenders. I bought a month-long workout program from them recently and have modified my exercise habits. Never in my life have I worked out five times in one week, but I did it three weeks in a row in December. This shizz is real. I won’t say more as I already spoke of Fitness Blenders at length here.


1. Make SMART goals.

I think this is common knowledge by now. Check this out for guidelines on how to make SMART goals.

2. Track your progress.

A wise mentor once told me that ‘what gets measured gets done.’ It’s easy to rationalize and convince yourself that you are making progress even when you are not. It’s a different story when you look at a tracking sheet that shows you what you have actually been doing. If you track your progress and check it regularly there will be less room for rationalization. Either you have done what you committed to do, or you haven’t. Simple as that. Here’s a tracking sheet that I use.


3. Pair up with a friend.

Personally, I have done this in 3 areas and found it to be an effective motivator. I have teamed up with one friend to try out new yoga classes, with another to improve my diet and exercise routines, and with a third to work on studying for my first level project management certification. Working with a friend adds accountability, and makes it more fun. For example, taking a weekly/biweekly yoga class with my good friend means that I have an excuse to spend time with her regularly. And if I flake out on attending a class it not only impacts me, but her as well. I’m on the hook. In short, we grow and improve together and it’s a blast.

To truly make conscious change you have to change your mind, your approach. I think a lot of people fail to make change because they look at it as a chore. Change your perception of it and you’ve won the battle (against yourself and your limiting thoughts).

I hope these tips help. If you know of any others please leave them in the comments section below.

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Dream Realized: Fitness for All

by Paul T

It’s always inspiring to come across examples of people taking risks, and making the effort to take control of their lives and follow their hearts.

Assuming the ‘About‘ page is true (and not manufactured by their PR staff), the husband and wife team behind Fitness Blender has done just that. Apparently, a couple years back the two founders of Fitness Blender, a married couple, decided that they wanted to find a way to make the means to become fit available to all, regardless of income. A noble goal in my opinion.

They got serious. They started working on structured workout routines in their free time and amassed video & written content. When they finally had enough, they quit their jobs and launched the Fitness Blender website http://www.fitnessblender.com/. Since then, they have become quite successful, delivering a quality product.

How many of us do this? Take a chance and really invest in the thing that drives us and makes us happy. Isn’t this what life is about? Of course not everyone will have this kind of success, but some of us will. And even is we aren’t ‘successful’ in the end there is so much to gain in the way of experience, and that feeling of accomplishment in doing something that we feel we need to do.

And now a quick plug for Fitness Blender. I’ve been doing their workouts on and off for a couple months now. Most recently I have committed to doing one of their low impact workouts (I have creaky floors and want to avoid upsetting my downstairs neighbour…) 5 days a week. I have never had energy levels like this – I feel great. I highly recommend these workouts.

And consider what success would look like if you, like the founders of Fitness Blender, took a chance and committed to manifesting your dream.

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Escaping the Comparison Loop

I came across this blog post while spending some quality time on LinkedIn. Lauren makes a strong case for evaluating our tendency to compare ourselves to others. This is something I catch myself doing from time to time – I agree that it not the most constructive thing one can do. Rather than compare ourselves to others, wouldn’t it be better to take some time to reflect and figure out what we really need/want (and take action as appropriate)?

Paul T

Original post: http://www.laurenbacon.com/escaping-the-comparison-loop/#!

Escaping the Comparison Loop

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” –Iyanla Vanzant

As a recovering perfectionist, and self-confessed personal development aficionado, there is perhaps no mental habit that has proven more stubborn than my compulsion to compare. I notice myself doing it unconsciously, all the time:

Announcements of respected colleagues’ launches and successes fill my social media stream. When will it be my turn? 

Over lunch with an entrepreneur friend, he shares that his multi-million dollar company has never carried any debt (not even a line of credit!). Wow–I must’ve done it all wrong. 

I see a mom pushing a stroller wearing a wicked leather jacket, boots, and aviator sunglasses. I could do better in the style department.

Some brilliant, better-known writer pens a blog post on a topic I’ve been thinking about. Well, guess there’s no point in me writing about that now–it’s been done (and probably better than I could do).

It doesn’t stop with the negative self-talk, though. I compare down, too–embarrassed though I am to admit it. Compassion and empathy feel out of reach, and I catch myself doubling down on negativity: one harsh thought for the person I’m judging, and one for me, when I judge myself for what I’ve just done.

Ugh, that person is so [insert judgment here]. And I’m a terrible person for thinking that. 

What bugs me about this habit is that it’s not just a shame spiral on auto-repeat – it also has several impacts I’ve only recently become aware of:

  • When I’m comparing myself to others, I completely lose sight of my priorities, my values, my purpose here on earth. I’m caught up in their story (or rather, my interpretation of their story–how pointless is that?) and comparing myself against whatever I’ve decided matters to them. For instance, take my fabulous friend with the debt-free business: I never took on debt I wasn’t confident I could repay. So why was I suddenly questioning my judgment retroactively? Suddenly I was setting standards for my past actions that I didn’t have at the time. Talk about your unhelpful thought patterns.
  • When I get caught in the “better than me / worse than me” perspective, there’s no productive way forward. All my energy is flowing into thoughts about wishing I were better, or asserting my superiority – rather than doing my work.
  • It’s a false zero-sum game. My comparison thoughts paint a picture of a world where if one person is an amazing writer, there’s no room for another, differently great writer. Even if intellectually, I know that’s not true, my mind falls into an irrational belief system where one person’s success is another’s failure.
  • It contradicts my values of equality and diversity. I’m passionate about the value of diversity, and the fundamental equality of all people. And yet, when I get into a comparison loop, there’s a profound disconnect between how I look at the world in general – seeing what gifts difference and complexity bring – and how I look at my place in the world, where I can easily get trapped into thinking that because I do something differently from those I admire, that I don’t belong.
  • It puts an unfair weight on the shoulders of those I look up to. When I hand over the mantle of “expert,” “celebrity” or “guru” to the people I admire, it creates distance between us that’s alienating – for both of us. How can I be compassionate towards someone who I’ve decided is perfect? How can they risk being vulnerable, or just plain human, with me? I see this in the eyes of friends who have experienced success; suddenly, they have a role foisted on them that asks them to perform success for the world – and it doesn’t leave room for human foibles. Do we want a world where our leaders feel they have to hide their vulnerabilities (and thereby layer shame and secrecy over their real lives)? I sure don’t.

This is deep shadow stuff. When we look down on others, we’re disowning aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to admit to.

Here’s an example. I used to obsess over a colleague whom I found overly self-promotional. I say I obsessed, because every time he tweeted or spoke about a success he’d had, I flew into a quiet, internalized rage about how gross he was, how sleazy, how unlikeable, and so on.

The aha moment came when I asked myself – thanks to some self-help book or other – what it was about him that I disliked, and then asked myself, What about this am I not claiming for myself? 

It was instantly clear to me that I felt deeply uncomfortable touting my own victories, putting a positive spin on work I had done, or – god forbid – taking credit for a group effort. (Even taking credit for my contribution in a group could be a challenge.)

It took time, but eventually I came to realize that my problem was not him. My problem was that I had disowned my own desire to shine. It was too loaded (Does wanting credit mean I’m greedy? Selfish? A blowhard?), too risky (What if someone else thinks I’m obnoxious?), and too much (Who needs another person talking about themselves?).

I was projecting my shame and vulnerability onto that person, rather than face it within myself.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize. Looking up to people – following a guru, obsessing over celebrities, idolizing a mentor – is just a twist on the habit of judging or “comparing down.” Sure, you get to drop the self-loathing that accompanies trash-talking other people, but you’re still disowning parts of yourself.

I’m not beautiful; __________ is beautiful.

I’m not a great writer; __________ is a great writer.

I don’t know much about [area of expertise]; __________ is an expert.

Ranking our qualities not only affects our self-confidence (hello, impostor syndrome!), but it is also an abdication of responsibility. When we hand over the power of greatness to someone else, we don’t have to own it ourselves. It’s a nice, tidy way of excusing yourself from being a bright light. It’s that whole Marianne Williamson thing:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

Carl Jung called this impulse to project our aspirations onto others our golden shadow. It’s still shadow stuff – just easier to admit to, because we don’t feel the same kind of guilt and shame when we experience it. Admiring other people is a nice thing to do, isn’t it? We’re seeing the good in them, aren’t we?

Well, yes – but often, we’re not seeing our own goodness; we’re beating ourselves up for not meeting our ideals. And it’s a false comparison, because we’re comparing our insides to others’ outsides. We forget all about whatever struggles they may have, and focus relentlessly on the parts we see – often, the parts they let us see – which embody the values we hold dear.

We lose our way in our admiration and idol-worship, just as we do when we judge others’ perceived missteps.

What’s the way forward? How do we move away from the compulsion to compare? I have been pondering this question a lot, because I see this pattern playing out in all kinds of ways, both with individual people I talk to, and at the broader cultural level. And I think we could collectively use a healthy dose of compassionate self-reflection, to escape the comparison loop and transform the way we approach the differences we see between ourselves and others.

I’ll be writing more on this topic. And I also have some big news that I’m excited to share: I’m teaming up with the brilliant Tanya Geisler – she of the wonderful TEDx talk on impostor syndrome – to create a set of resources for people who are ready to transform their relationship to comparison. It starts with a gorgeous starter kit you can use to explore and journal your own experiences with comparison. (The starter kit is free to everyone who joins the email list.)

And in the new year, we’ll be offering a program that will explore these questions. It’s called Worship Wisely. Registration opens in January.

Does this pattern sound familiar to you? Would you love to shift it? Get on the list, and let’s start this conversation that’s aching to happen.

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How to Create Peace in Stress

Hoo boy. I had lofty goals for blogging this fall but it seems that real life has kept me nice and busy. Thankfully things are going well – I just haven’t time to collect my thoughts into coherent blog posts. A big thanks to Cinova and Irshad for contributing material over the last month or so. Anybody out there – if you would like to contribute a blog post (yours or someone else’s) please let me know by leaving a comment.

This week I figured I would share a blog post by Claire Diaz Ortiz (http://clairediazortiz.com). In this post she gives some tips for finding peace in your daily routine. I am a big fan of taking time out to do nothing, personally 🙂
Paul T


By Claire Diaz Ortiz

Usually, we don’t see the peace around us.

Instead, we bury our heads in work and play and family and life-life-life and sometimes – only sometimes – do we raise our head and really see the world around us for the calm that it really offers. We may know that living in the present is key to health and happiness, but it’s hard to remember that in the midst of our eternal days of moving parts and stressful overwhelm.

But we can try.

Here are three ways to see the peace around you. Today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.

  • First Thing in the Morning, Do Nothing: I’m a big fan of having a morning routine (see my ebook about how to create one), and one of the key steps in the seven step routine I go through every morning is a moment of pause, wherein I try to do nothing. Nothing. I look at the wall, I drink my tea, and I let the thoughts flow in. There are other ways to do this to achieve peace – meditation and prayer, for example – but I find that actually having a moment of nothing is effective all on its own. Meditation and/or prayer can come later.
  • Take Mini Breaks Throughout the Day to Breathe: One of the best ways to bring yourself back to the moment in a day of stress or overwhelm is just to pull your hands away from the keyboard, move your eyes to the window, and breathe. Let the thoughts come in, and let the thoughts flow out. And breathe all the while. I’ve heard meditation practitioners say that making sure your feet are on the floor at key moments of grounding can also help you feel more connected to what’s going on around you as well. So try that as well as you breathe.
  • Find a Moment of Stop in Your Day: Mini breathing breaks are great, but what’s even better is a 10 or 15 minute period of time where you can take a stop and do nothing, all for yourself. I find that the best way to do this – especially in a corporate environment where it’s not necessarily possible to stare at the wall for 15 minutes while others look on in wonder (!) – is to take a short break to go on a walk. Outside. Combine it with a trip to get a coffee, say, or to run an errand you need to do. But in those 10 minutes of walking, don’t make phone calls. Don’t listen to podcasts. Just walk and breathe and wait as the thoughts jamming your mind slowly rearrange themselves into calm.

These tips aren’t revolutionary, and they also aren’t incredibly different from one another. They follow a key theme of taking time out – in small and smaller doses. But they are powerful. They are all about finding moments to disconnect from the speeding train of your life to bring your mind and heart back to calm. They are things I try to remember to do daily, and things that may help you as well.

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