The Biggest Happiness Mistake & Getting Apolitical rather than Apoplectic

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change”—Carl Rogers

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The Biggest Happiness Mistake:


WHAT IF . . . the best person you can be is you?

RESEARCH SAYS:  The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to happiness in lifestyle, career, and relationships is not being yourself.  Here are some guidelines to help you be your authentic, genuine, awesome self from the folks at Pick The Brain:

  1. If you have positive intentions, don’t apologize for yourself.  If you do people will think you’re at fault when you’re not.
  2. Focus on being fully present in your external environment (rather than in your own internal world); react and create without over-analyzing.
  3. Quit worrying about how others see you, or it will unnaturally alter your behavior and probably make you seem insecure.
  4. Get to know yourself. Take time daily to reflect on your values and how you really want to live.
  5. Learn to appreciate who you are now – faults and merits – and others will too.

TRY THIS: Make a list of the top three personality traits that make you . . . you.  How can you use these three things to strengthen your lifestyle, career, and relationships?

Also this week:

With all the political divisiveness in the country, as the Obama Presidency comes to a close, here are some apolitical opportunities to applaud the twin pillars of honor and humility with the Office of the President and First Lady

President Obama Awards the Arts and Humanities Medals:

The National Humanities Medal is awarded to individuals or organizations whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizen engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.

A real feel good experience as we celebrate artists and humanitarians that really make our souls sing!

Awards begin at around the 9-minute mark with Mel Brooks for making us all laugh and setting the tone and tenor for the event.

My favorite interviewer EVER, Terri Gross is honored around the 24-minute mark for her artful probing of the American experience for over 4 decades…

National Humanities Medal and National Medal of Arts awardees include actors Mel Brooks and Morgan Freeman, composer and musician Wynton Marsalis, record producer and songwriter Berry Gordy, and two New Jersey residents acclaimed writer James McBride and religion scholar Elaine Pagels.

Ellen and First Lady Michelle Obama Go to CVS:

This is hysterically funny and shows you why we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously especially as leaders…

If You Are Local:
A 30-Day COMPASSION IT Challenge

Finally, Some Good Apolitical Posters to Keep Us On Track:

Thanks, this week go to Will M, NPR, Aysha S-B, Larry H and YOU for staying soulful!

Pay it forward


“Teach thy tongue to say ‘I do not know,’ and thou shalt progress” –Maimonides

World Gratitude Day, Character Day, the Autumnal Equinox and the National Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Soul Food Friday!

As we celebrate more than 5 years of this blog, longer if you count our email beginnings, enjoy our new look and feel and do add your comments so we know what you care about most!


This week:

World Gratitude Day Sept 21st
The awareness of the benefits of having time in one’s life for gratitude, appreciation and positive reflection have become increasingly apparent. The hope of the founders of Gratitude Day is that by taking time, one day a year, to reflect on the many amazing things we have in our lives, it would positively impact our well-being and make us happier, more contented people.

Character Day September 22nd  and the Periodic Table of Character Strengths:
What kind of person am I and who do I want to be in the world?
A global movement we can all be part of…

The Science of Character:
What are YOUR Top 5 Strengths?

“The Science of Character” – new 8 min film from The Moxie Institute on Vimeo.

Teachers need to attend to creating a sense of community in the classroom, where mutually respectful relationships are nurtured and prosocial behaviors are welcomed and rewarded.”

-DeRoche & Williams, Educating Hearts and Minds.

In the Character ED Business? The Purpose of Education in the U.S.
Americans do not agree. Academics? Work ? Citizenship?

  • Less than half say “academics” (45%)
  • Preparing students for work (25%)
  • For citizenship? (26%)

Here is a caveat from the PDK Poll  (2016)–68% of Americans polled say local schools should focus on career-technical or skilled–based classes rather than more honors or advanced academic classes. What say you?

News You Can Use
News & Notes for those who Care and Share!

  • References   •Resources   •Research  •Ramblings

September 2016 – Issue 1. Editor: Ed DeRoche. Co-Editor: Serena Pariser

21st Century Skills

More than 250 researchers across 60 institutions worldwide categorized these skills into four broad categories:

  • Ways of thinking: creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and learning;
  • Ways of working: communication and collaboration;
  • Tools for working: information and communications technology and information literacy; and
  • Skills for living in the world: citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility.                                                                                                                                     21st century skills require 21st century people of “character.”

Class Culture
Excerpt from

We all want to build a positive classroom culture. But sometimes it can seem so elusive! This Deep Dive is here to help you consider how you can build a class culture that promotes academic achievement and social and emotional literacy.  Class culture is the foundation of a successful classroom, setting the tone while communicating and maintaining clear expectations. It also sets students up to hold each other accountable in reaching the classroom expectation and their shared goals.

As you begin this school year ask yourself:

Goal Setting                                                                

As you begin a new school year take note of these recommendations.

ASCD Smartbrief (5-26-09) reports that teaching middle school students WHY doing well in school is important and then helping them develop EFFECTIVE WAYS TO STUDY may do more to improve their grades than homework help.

Researcher Nancy Hill says, ” PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING SKILLS can make middle school an especially effective time to use such strategies to overcome students’ decreasing interest in school.” is where we found this useful acronym:
SMART—which should be useful to your students.

S = Specific  M = Measurable       A = Attainable               R = Realistic      T = Timely

Have you considered goal setting using social systems for support in your classroom? Read about it here:

Narnia Virtues Project
The Center staff is pleased to connect you with a new educational project from our colleagues at the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs and the University of Leeds, UK.

The Narnia Virtues Project is a literature-based character education curriculum for students ages 11 to 13.   If you are an educator who teaches students in the 11 to 13 age -group, then you are eligible to join the Narnia Virtues project.  All teacher and student materials are free.  The project that will begin a pilot launch of its curriculum in fall 2016, and are looking for participants.

If interested, visit their website,, for further information on this year’s pilot project, short videos, and sample project materials.

Celebrate Character Day
The Center staff  invite you to join us in celebrating Character Day on Thursday, September, 22nd.

Check out Let It Ripple’s website, where you can find suggestions for activities, discussion kits, free materials, and videos for all ages.

September Freebie Caring Teacher Inventory

This inventory can be used in staff development or to have students assess their teachers’ caring behaviors, but the primary intent is for teachers to use it as a self-evaluation instrument

Why take the inventory? Teachers need to attend to creating a sense of community in the classroom, where mutually respectful relationships are nurtured and prosocial behaviors are welcomed and rewarded.”-DeRoche & Williams, Educating Hearts and Minds.

A Fulbright Scholarship
Have you ever consider applying for a Fulbright Scholarship? Now is the time. Applications are currently open for 2017-2018. Read about one of our staff member’s insider perspective with Fulbright in Africa here:’s-perspective

Something to LINK To
Noisy Class =

How San Diego Is Teaching the Next Generation of Innovators:
“Our vision for leading the innovation economy leverages our unique competitive advantage rather than replicating what has been done elsewhere…”

National Hispanic Heritage Month:
Paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society!

Practicing Focus in a World of Relentless Demands: The Energy Project

Thanks, this week go to Ed DeR, Serena P, Laura K, David L, Tony S, Meg M and Grateful Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Characters Everywhere!

Teach AND LEARN for America and our WORLD
Pay it forward, please…


In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then… they came for me. ..And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
–Rev Martin Niemoller, January 1946


People & Pets Are Awesome, Love on a Leash, Empathy-the Most Important Back to School Supply & Some Giggles For You

Happy Soul Food Friday!

People are Awesome:

Dogs are Awesome:

Love On A Leash:

You might say these dogs are in the love business. They give it, and they get it in return.

Empathy- The Most Important Back to School Supply:

“Absent empathy, sincere kindness and unity, how useful are passing test scores for changing communities and an ailing world?”

Giggles for You:


Thanks, this week go to the Eric K, the EdTrans team & Larry H!

Please Pay it Forward…


LOVE is our Soul Purpose

The Labor of Love of Sport & Laboring with Meaning & Emotion

Happy Soul Food Friday for Labor Day Week 2016!

Human Potential Through the Labor Of Sport:

  • We’re The Superhumans | Rio Paralympics 2016 Trailer:This is fantastic!
  • Kids Show Us How To Have Compassion in Victory:

The Lesser Known 4th Olympic Medal:
A medal named after the International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin is a rare award given to those athletes which display exceptional sportsmanship.

Laboring with Meaning and Emotion:
The capacity to process meaning and emotion in different parts of the brain and tie them together is not uniquely human.

This ability had already evolved in non-primates long before humans began to talk.


If this doesn’t make you smile, your smiler must be broken…


Local Events:
You are invited to the San Diego Nonprofit Association & TriNet “Access to Expert” Series on Wednesday, September 21, 2016
This event series has been designed in response to requests to help nonprofits navigate complex issues, share useful information and gain insights and access to experts.

National Philanthropy Day 2016: A Symphony of Philanthropy November 16, 2016


Supporting our Boys and Girls in our community: Back to school shopping event for children in need sff9-9-gs.

Thanks, this week go to Anu T, Isa A, Ralph S, Vicente R, Ron A, Larry H, Nonprofit Igniters and Philanthropists (lovers of humanity) Everywhere!

Pay it forward


“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”- Carl Jung


Your Soul Food for Friday, September 2nd: Nurture Your Nature, Love & Education, Compassion Training and Leadership

Happy Soul Food Friday!

This week:

Heroic Labrador Rescues Two Dogs Trapped in Canoe:
When two dogs trapped in a canoe, begin heading downstream, an unexpected friend rushes out to save them. See what happens…

The National Parks Celebrate its 100th Anniversary:

What Jesus Would Do: Love Donald Trump

Tips for Students and Their Parents Navigating the Start of College
This is not a Hollywood experience here…Coach don’t Rescue

Wake up to the benefits of a later school day…

One Answer to School Attendance…Washing Machines:

If you are local:

Compassion Cultivation Training:

My friend Sara Schairer is leading a course developed by Stanford University, and its purpose is to help people cultivate compassion for themselves and others.

The course, Compassion Cultivation Training, is a mindfulness-based and science-backed approach to practicing compassion, and it’s great for anyone who feels stressed and overwhelmed or is interested in developing more self-compassion and compassion for others.  Many participants have said it is life-changing!

The 8-week course meets each Wednesday from 6-8pm, and it begins on Sept. 7.

Bring a friend, and you each get $50 off registration! Use the code CCTFRIEND16 at checkout.

YOU CAN REGISTER HERE – or check out their Facebook site:

Save the Date for MANA’s Latina Success Conference Saturday, Oct 15th, 2016
Workshops on Leadership, Business, Finance and Health that are transforming! Download the pdf to learn more ESTD.MANALSC_English2016.

Thanks, this week go to Vinny R, Sara S, the team at MANA, and everyone nurturing their inner nature through love and education!

Pay it Forward Compassion It-ly,


LOVE is our Soul Purpose”

Your Soul Food for Friday, August 26th: Don’t Believe Everything You THINK!

Happy Soul Food Friday!

“Let one who would enjoy a good future waste none of their present.”
– Roger Babson

People have personalities & Companies, and Countries have cultures

Our shared beliefs, values, mores and memes shape how we see and experience the world, suggesting that while we think the world is out there, and the mind is in here, it is actually the opposite! The world is within, and one of our making and the mind is out there shaped and influenced by our social systems.

How hard it is to own your mind…
Don’t believe everything you THINK!

This week’s submissions reveal some of our social conditioning/hypnosis and invite us, in Bob Marley’s words -in my opinion still a bigger legend than Usain Bolt- to “emancipate yourself from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds”.

If I have been “down so long it looks like up to me”, I am liable to make poor decisions and behave into personal, professional and even political decisions that may not be in my/our best interest…

This week:

Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid”

Of Airports, Kit Kats and Brainlessness:
A great story with a surprise ending!

Who Controls Your Moods?
When you are with positive, supportive, and loving people, you feel happier and more content, and you live longer.

This is not only intuitively true but research has demonstrated it again and again…

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds”:
Bob Marley- Redemption song

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones
are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without alcohol,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

And you thought I was going to get all spiritual on you…

Thanks, this week go to Alexis C, Steve F, Daniel A, Bob M & Larry H.

Pay it forward!


“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” ~ Hafiz


Your Soul Food for Friday August 19 2016: A Request for YOUR Gems for Back to School Season to Share: + Energy, Empathy, Compassion and More…

Happy Soul Food Friday!

It is back to school season and with a son off to college and a daughter off to high school I could sure use YOUR help…

What soul-filled pearls of wisdom would you have for all these young people starting new chapters (or for us parents for that matter)?

Send us your GEMs (genuine encounter moments) and we will aggregate and post them in a subsequent Soul Food so we can all benefit from the collective wisdom of this ecosystem.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of related links to energize you and keep you smiling…

Can’t Stop the Feeling:

It’s back to school time and our friends in Cajon Valley Union School District made a welcome back video that is going viral with almost 17,000 views in 3 days!

Check it out here:

Why Kids Need More Empathy:

If you are greatly concerned about our kid’s emotional and moral health…

Back to School: 4 Ways to Prepare for Your Child’s School Year:

Is the back to school frenzy making you feel a bit stressed?

Here is something for kids, parents and educators alike…

If you are local:

Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American:

Dear friends and colleagues,

As a San Diego Grantmakers Board member and co-chair of its Social Equity Funders collaboration, I wanted to personally reach out and ask you to attend The Equity Event on September 9.

Equity is embedded in all of our philanthropy – whether you focus on education, homelessness, foster youth, workforce and the economy, health, the environment…need I go on? So it is critical that we all pause to consider our own role in improving equity – or said another way, eliminating inequity – through our grantmaking. How can you increase participation and leadership by people of color in the projects and programs that you support? Who are you listening to and are you acting on the feedback you’re given? Can your organization’s internal policies and practices on equity be improved?

These are just some of the ideas we’ll tackle at this half-day event featuring local and national experts in preparation for going deeper next year on issues like intersectionality, structural racism, implicit bias, gender discrimination, mass incarceration, and more.

And to kick off the event and get us thinking about one group’s perspective on equity, we’ll be hosting a special evening reception and screening of “Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American” on September 8.

Please join me at one or both of these important events.

Kind Regards,


P.S. Early bird registration ends this Friday, August 19


Black Girlz

Dear Friends & Family,
I’m excited to be a featured performer for San Diego’s 1st Black Girlz
Rock Concert!

The details are below, & I hope to see your beautiful face in the
audience when I’m on stage singing my heart out!

When: Saturday August 20, 2016

Time: 8PM (Doors 7PM)

Where: Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier 1000 North Harbor Drive SD, CA 92101


Scroll down to where it says: BLACK GIRLZ ROCK CONCERT TICKETS


If you are National…

National Center

Thanks this week go to:

  • Cajon Valley Union School District & Meg M for forwarding the link
  • Sara S and Compassion IT
  • Steve E and the San Diego Grantmakers team
  • Starla and Ishe
  • Dean Johnson at SDSU and the team at the National Excellence in Urban Education
  • and Andrea M for helping with Soul Food Friday for many years!

Don’t forget to send us your GEMS so we can pay it forward, backward and sideways!




“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…

But how much love we put in that action”

–Mother Teresa