Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is your EQ higher than a 7-year-olds? Get inspired by Jesus Portillo and his Magic Marbles

Have you ever noticed there are a lot of awards out there that honor grown-up humans? My guess is they created formal recognition systems to make themselves feel good or important or both. And that's OK, but if you ask me, I think there's a major segment of the population that is overlooked during award season for the difference they make.

I'm talking about kids. In my book, they have a pretty well developed EQ and we can learn a lot from them, especially those in the single digits.

Case in point: Today, I met 7-year-old Jesus Portillo from Bakersfield. I was just hanging out in my office when this cheerful ray of sunshine came looking for a playmate. Eager to distract myself from the barrage of emails I've been receiving (thank you all for sharing the love!), I welcomed him in my usual way – rapid-fire tail wagging followed by uncontrollable wheezing followed by spastic jumping up and down followed by moi executing a top to bottom tongue bath on the wee lad. Lather. Rinse. Repeat!

I consistently unleash this patented, 4-point strategic welcoming system to ensure new friends feel loved and accepted. I hear humans can be arrested for similar behavior. Silly humans. When are you going to learn to let love rule?

But I digress ... after composing myself following this initial seizure of excitement meeting a new friend, I connected with Jesus, eager to learn what put such a big smile on his adorable little face.

As he pulled some treats for me out of his shorts pocket, I noticed several shiny, yellow marbles emerge. I asked him why he would have marbles in his pocket – especially on a travel day from California to Las Vegas. He humbly replied: "They remind me to make a difference."

OK. I can't be the only one who would be curious at this point, right??

Upon deeper conversation, Jesus revealed that every morning he puts 3 marbles in his right pants pocket. As he finds opportunities to perform random acts of kindness throughout the day, he moves one marble to the left pocket for each good deed completed. His goal is to move all three marbles each day from one cozy confine to the other. The marbles are merely a reminder to do good in the world.

When I asked him what he did the last few days to warrant the movement of marbles, he had a laundry list of difference-making to share. For example, he had:
  • Surprised his sisters by making their beds (when was the last time you did that just because!)
  • Gone out in his neighborhood and picked up trash (hello! how often do you talk about greening the earth without doing anything about it!)
  • Helped his mom clean the house (without her asking, mind you. Selfless!)
  • Taken bread to some firemen (and thanked them for the work they do)
  • And opened the door for customers at a local business (when was the last time you looked up from texting long enough to even notice there was someone behind you going through the same entrance).
I mean, come on. Aren't you impressed by this kid?? I bet those middle-aged humans haven't come up with an award for any of that, but gosh is it worthy of someone out there taking notice. Jesus is 7-years-old for goodness sake! That's like a 10-month old puppy in dog years. Bravo, Jesus. Bravo.

The Wisdom I'm Unleashing
Grown-up people often talk about changing the world, but how many take action – and "just because." Little Jesus isn't looking for any recognition, he told me he goes out and supports others simply because it makes him feel good.

If 3 marbles a day will put that kind of smile on a person's face, we ought to buy stock and fill our pockets full. Imagine the exponential difference Jesus makes. I'm sure every person he touches is inspired, as I was, to go out and pay the random acts forward, and to share his story with at least 3 others. If you do the math, that is what, like several dozen people he touches in one day. Amazing.

In honor of what I am dubbing the first annual Jesus Portillo Make a Difference Day, I challenge you to fill your pants with marbles tomorrow and go unleash as many random acts of kindness as you can throughout your day. Not only will it put some much needed love and compassion out in the world, I bet it lands a big ole smile on your face.

Win win. Live in pawssibilites, and don't forget to look for wisdom in the single digits of the world. Magic is all around us.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Flirt with Magic: Interrupt Your Routine

You may not know, but I have AMAZING grandparents. They send me packages at Easter and Valentine's Day and 4th of July and just because. Along with a very thoughtful card addressed to moi, they always include a new squeaky toy (I have a thing for monkeys – fyi) and typically a gift card for PetSmart or the Apple store. Tell me they don't know the way to a puppy's heart!

Anywho, one of the characteristics of a highly developed EQ is being a saver – someone who is responsible with their finances. That's soooo me. I don't just blow my gift cards on the first milk bones available, I save up those suckers and pool them all together to buy myself dozens of homemade, faux chocolate-dipped dog-friendly, bacon-infused culinary masterpieces worthy of Top Chef or Cupcake Wars.

That strategy is also how I got the iPad I write this blog on, as well as the iCanine Keyboard attachment that fits my paw print perfectly – saved up my Apple gifts for three years! When you don't impulse buy, you can make much grander purchases over the long run.

One of my favorite apps on my iPad is "TED: Ideas Worth Spreading." If you've never gone there, it's a collection of short (3 to 10 minute) talks from experts in various fields that inspire you with ideas and innovative concepts.

Today, I watched a flashback presentation – 3 minutes delivered in 2005 about how a 50-year-old man discovered he has been tying his shoes the wrong way since he was a boy. I guarantee when you watch it, you'll conclude you tie them the wrong way as well.

What's important about this video isn't the realization about our laces (tied correctly, they'll stop coming undone!), it's about humbling ourselves to the realization that if we're willing to be wrong and to make small adjustments in our routines, we can create bigger results.

The wisdom I'm unleashing:
I have a challenge for all of you: Interrupt your routine today. Start small – brush your teeth and squeeze out the toothpaste with the opposite hand (a challenge without opposable thumbs, thank you!). Wear your watch on the other arm. Drive a new route to the office. Choose a lunch item you'd never think of ordering on the menu. Part your hair on the opposite side. Use the restroom farthest away from your desk. Type text replies on your Blackberry with one hand. Carpool. Park in a different location. Go see a friend instead of driving straight home.

Try it all on, then share your experience with me. What'd you notice? What'd you learn? How did it feel physically to do something new, and when was the last time you felt those feelings? What inspired you?

I imagine it will give you a new perspective and inspire some fresh ideas like TED does for me.

When life becomes routine, we lose the magic and that sense of discovery that's so exhilarating.

Live in pawssibilities. Grab life by the collar.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are you committed to awareness or results?

Based on all the goofy outfits and exotic toys and organic dog food my mom buys me, I've always assumed the pet industry was one of the highest grossing. But it turns out that self-help tops it, and has been growing for decades.

That got me thinking today, as I napped in my new Martha Stewart Pets memory foam bed. How many people do you know who take course after course, go on retreat after retreat, read every new book that comes out, but don't seem to actually TRANSFORM their habits or the results they are creating in life?

How can this be when so many people are investing in themselves? I've got a theory I'd like to share with you. It's kind of high level, but that's how the canine brain works. So stick with me, human.

My theory is that the majority of self-help pursuers are addicted to the "aha" moments that are awakened for them, and not to breaking thru the limiting beliefs and walls those moments spotlight.

Let me give you an example. We all know someone who has spent years looking into their past to uncover why they aren't creating the relationship they desire. They may discover its because of an experience they had with their first love, or because of how relationships were role modeled by their parents, or because a teacher or a coach or their babysitter told them they would never amount to anything.

And after digging into their psyche for one or two or 20 years, they discover the answer. And for a week or so, they feel pretty good about the light bulb that came on for them. But then what? That euphoria wears off and they jump back into answering another question about why they are who they are and why they make the decisions they make. It becomes a cycle, and ultimately an addiction. But nothing really changes.

My take? Who cares about discovering the reasons why if you're not going to use the information to breakthru and create something different? That's where most people stop – when life confronts them with the choice to live in awareness or live in commitment to a new result.

Most self-help books and seminars are about just that – awareness. But awareness without action leaves you exactly where you are. The only reason to look to your past is to let it inform you for a brief moment about what works or doesn't work for you. Once you've got that, it's time to create a vision for the future you DO want, and immediately get into action creating it.

That's what I love about the ChoiceCenter leadership curriculum my mom took and so many others have too. It's not just about awareness, it's about BREAKING THROUGH your limiting and disempowering beliefs to author the life you love. It's got a 100-day follow-through structure that pairs you with a personal coach to hold you accountable to what you say you want. And yet, even in that structure, you still have choice.

The wisdom I'm unleashing:
If you're not creating the results you desire – even and perhaps especially because you're a self-help junkie – it's time to check what you're committed to: awareness or a new result. Get committed to the second one and you will transform your life. As often as you want. In any area you desire.

Maybe dogs get this at a faster rate because we have less time on the planet than you do. I'm aging at 5.5 times what my mom is, so I can't let myself get distracted by answers to all the questions. The reasons why aren't important. What matters is right now and the future. Every moment I can choose to take action and create the life, the love, the bank account, the day, I desire. What are you choosing today?

Live in pawssibilities.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Study Shows Couples Get their Highs off Each Other - Literally

Read an interesting story in Science Daily yesterday – you understand that as a puppy it's a must to have an RSS feed that sends me alerts on articles containing the phrase "animal study," right? Where do you think they get the term "watch dog?" I am on it, people!

Anyway, what the Journal of Neuroscience found in research performed on prairie voles (they look a lot like chipmunks) is that long-term relationships reduce the propensity for drug abuse. When bonds are formed in adulthood they lead to changes in the brain that make using drugs less appealing. Relationships, in fact, actually change the chemicals in the brain that affect our reward system.

In a nutshell, being in love creates a bigger euphoric reward than its chemical imposter, so much so that if a vole were to take a drug while in a long-term relationship, it wouldn't offer the same satisfying effects that it does for singles. Couples get their highs off each other. Literally.

Of course, conversely it found that repeated exposure to drugs in singles actually throws off their drive to form lifelong partnerships. I think this means its time to update Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign and those "this is your brain on drugs" commercials. Why not hit where the heart is: "This is your love life on drugs – alone." Would scare me!

The research is being used to create therapies for addiction. I say let's use it to inspire us to elevate our relationship EQ. Fostering long-term relationships with partners, family and friends takes a high level of emotional intelligence.

Here's the Wisdom I'm Unleashing:
These are my principles for developing a High Relationship EQ to sustain long-term partnerships.

1. Master the Art of Forgiveness – None of us is perfect. True love leaves room for mistakes. What's the longest time you've ever see a dog stay angry? We are masters of the art of letting go.

2. Stay Positive - We are all going to have a bad day now and then, but if one person can always stay positive and encouraging, it will shift the other. How many times have you had a bad day and come home to your puppy's jubilation to see you? Kind of hard to stay pissed at the world, right? It works.

3. Accept People as they Are – It makes them feel safe to love, to communicate, to share – key factors for long-term relationshipping. Have you ever noticed your dog gives love unconditionally? We love children, adults, grandmas, cats, people in wheelchairs, the blind, big ones, skinny ones, attractive ones, homely ones, Republicans, Democrats, vegans and carnivores all the same. We love you for you! Imagine the whole world with that outlook.

4. Play often – Don't let your partner get sucked into taking the world, or work, too seriously. As pups, we don't spend hours uninterrupted on our iPads and Blackberries and we are quick to interrupt those in our life who do. Heck, I have taken 5 breaks just writing this entry! When we see you distracted from relationshipping, we come and get you to play with us, go for a walk outside, come inspect something interesting beyond the digital world of your computer screen. If you and your partner can commit to doing the same – to paying attention to each other and having fun – you'll make it long term.

So, what do you say? In the interest of our health, living addiction free and letting love keep us high on life, let's you and me commit to a long-term relationship with each other. We'll call it puppy love.

Live in pawssibilities.