Saturday, January 23, 2010

On the Spirituality of Giving

This post is a response to this blog/podcast post:

Thank you for bringing this up, Seth. I wanted to respond at length.

There was a time in my life when I scorned "beggars" as I passed them on the street. Couldn't wait to get as far away from them as fast as I possibly could, hoping that no particle of them would actually come in contact with my person. I, like many, judged these people, muttering inside about their possible alcoholism or other addictive problems that I didn't want to contribute to. And boy, wasn't I superior by just moving on?

Since those times, however, my spiritual practice has evolved quite a bit.

So, to answer your question, my response is: YES. When someone asks, I give.

But let's not look at this by the prism of money. Let us instead look at it from a more spiritual perspective. By passing that homeless person, I was essentially putting my spiritual money in the bank of the cynical and the jaded. The judging and the negative. The superior and the holier than thou.

By GIVING, it opens everything up. It opens ME up. It opens up the person asking. It makes everything right with the universe. It's the right thing to do. It is, then, putting my spiritual money in the bank of the "we are all in this together." The "we only care for each other" on this planet mindset.

Because here's the thing. It's tough to ask someone for money, or for anything. It's a blow to your pride, usually. And if you're in the position where you have to ask, you probably need it. So I no longer judge what they are going to be spending it on. Doesn't matter in the scheme of things. If they are asking, and I'm able to, I give.

Now, mind you, I wouldn't wanna be Oprah, who probably has all kinds of people asking her for all kinds of things. She probably has a team of folks fielding requests.

But my general spiritual principle is that if some person crosses my path, in whatever way: on the street, online, at a social event, whereever, and they ask me for something I'm able to give, I have to give. And usually, I give them exactly what they ask for. If they ask for 50 cents, that's what I give them. If they ask for $20, and I have it, I'll give it. If they are asking for my time, or a service I can provide, I give it.

Bragging about giving isn't why I'm writing this, though. I think it's a really fundamental mindset change that we all need to go through that is being discussed here. So much of the world is a cynical, mistrusting mess. Every single time each one of us chooses to give instead of walk away, I believe the world changes for the better.

We have spent many years being bitter and cynical and mistrusting. Let's all start building back up that reservoir of trust and love and community that this world needs again. What is $5, really, when you think of the spiritual foundation you are actually building with that (seemingly inconsequential) action? As the ad says; Priceless.

For me, the more I give, the more I feel connected to my community and to the world at large. And the more material wealth I attain, the more essential it is to give large parts of it away. I do believe with that one simple gesure, the flow begins. Money flows, spirit flows, love flows.

Maybe you were only seeing the joy in the man's face. For me, that is where my joy lives too. Let me give, freely, without any thought of reciprocation. That opens up great gushers of kindness inside me.

So many people are hurting right now, barely able to get by. Yes. If they ask you for it, GIVE. It's the right thing to do. Always.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ten Ways to Be Happy in 2010

Someone sparked this idea on Twitter (thank you, @gracekboyle!), and it inspired me to write a blog post about it.


This is really the core of any happiness that I've found. Whatever you have: not enough, enough, too much, way too much, be grateful for every last stitch of it. In my experience, if you can be grateful in a day, you're well on your way to happy already.


You're one of those people whose entire department got laid off, and you're stuck doing five people's jobs? Be glad you have a job. Think of ways you've always wanted to do things, and now that no one's there you can implement them.


If you're on the other end of that spectrum, and are feeling like you've been unemployed for too long, relish in all the free time that you have after being a hard-working slob for too many years. You can finally read those books you've set aside. Get some gardening in. Tackle that home improvement project that your wife/husband bugs you about. The world is your oyster, baby. It just, ahem, doesn't have a job in it at the moment.


OK, maybe you're like me and can just do one thing. So pick one thing and start it this year: yoga, meditation, long walks in the park, whatever. Put it in your day planner. Make it happen. You'll feel better, I swear.


At least an hour a week, turn off something that's distracting your attention: computer games, the evening news, Guitar Hero, afternoon soaps, whatever it is that's keeping you from becoming a better self. Turn it off. Keep it off. Commit to an hour. See how it feels. Go for longer.


Use that time to get intimate with yourself. For women, a long bubble bath usually works. Or a massage. Contemplating your chakras in meditation. Working out. Whatever it is that you do just for yourself. Do it.


Too many of us get bogged down in the judgments of others, trying to conform to society's standards. Practice this well, and you'll be much closer to that elusive happiness thing. Work consciously (daily if you have to) on self-acceptance. We are all at the ready with shame about those five extra pounds, or that bad skin, or those knock knees: whatever it is you really dislike about yourself. Look in the mirror and say (out loud is better): I LOVE MYSELF EXACTLY AS I AM. Mean it. Live it.


Yes, I know. Twitter is addicting. Internet porn is compelling. Put it down and spend a lunch with a friend you haven't seen for awhile. Or make some popcorn and let someone else share that TV you are so proud of. Reaching out to a friend will go a long way to paving your road with happiness.


Most Americans aren't getting enough sleep. Sleep restores and refreshes your natural body clock. Get more of it.


Everyone resolves to quit every heinous thing in their diet, gets overwhelmed and gives up. How about this. Pick ONE thing that is doing your body harm and skip it for a week. (Caffeine, sugar, fast food, sodas are just a few suggestions.) Notice how much better you feel without said item in your body. See if you can do it again the following week. Test, rinse, repeat.

Let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Radio Is Dead: Halloran No Longer On Air

2010 begins with sad radio news. Shakeups at morning shows all across the country, and radio legend Mike Halloran no longer on air at San Diego's 94.9 (where he had been for seven years). It is a sad and sorry day for terrestrial radio. If it wasn't dead before, it surely is now.

But what of the future? Wither radio?

Here's what I really wish: that these amazing radio talents (Halloran, Sovel, TK, Kurt St. Thomas, Angie C., the FNX crew, etc.) that are no longer appreciated by terrestrial as we know it, just take the bull by the horns and forge a REAL radio in the Internet space.

Suck it up about the salaries (yep, you're gonna make less initially), and just do Internet radio we can be passionate about. The money may not be there now, but it will be.

Do radio the way you always wanted to. Not crap dictated to you by consultants, where playlists rule the day; but music that makes you feel alive, music you are inspired by.

Like terrestrial Indie 103.1 was, but even freer and moreso. There has not YET been a station like that online. One with personalities that we love to listen to, and hear commentary from; one that is REALLY about the music, with a vast lack of bullshit.

Even Indie 103.1 dot com is too playlist oriented (for reasons that boggle my mind). Give us people talking, and music we love. How hard is that? Why hasn't anyone done this yet?

Like how Huffington Post reinvented newspapers for the web, and now it's the gold standard. We need that for radio on the Web. And boy, would I love Halloran to be masterminding something like that. Or the ones we loved at Indie. Or the ones we loved at FNX. Or all of the above.

Because otherwise, radio is going to die. I'm a hardcore radio addict, and I could honestly never listen to radio again, now that most of the folks from Indie and Halloran are no longer on air. What is the point?

Breaking bands? I get my new music online, in any of various sources.

The bands fan pages on MySpace or their own websites are more reliable sources of new music anyway, and you can interact with the bands you love there. All of that used to be the bastion of radio. No more.

What I wanted from my radio station was this: music I could just turn on, and listen to. Whatever was played. Listen because I enjoyed what the jocks had to say, because I liked the music, because interviews and banter was informative. I would still do that if there was a viable alternative. But, sadly, there isn't.

GIVE US ONE, OH GREAT RADIO GODS. Forge a real radio station on the Internet. One that everyone hears about and has to listen to. One that isn't constrained by ratings malarky. Or corporation dictatorship. One that bands love and come to (like they did to Indie 103). One that truly remembers and honors the music that matters.

Really? Is this so hard?