Just Breathe!

Abundance Happiness Well-being


Key Point: I’m using this very cool brainwave headband/application brain technology (I ran into at Singularity University,) called Muse! Why? Keep reading.

We are progressing way beyond the idea that meditation is new age hocus pocus. I don’t know one serious leader who isn’t at least thinking about mindfulness/meditation/breathing, and most likely at the very minimum, experimenting. As I’ve written before, this must be humorously entertaining to those of traditional cultures who have been practicing meditation for eons. Now, new research regarding the benefits of breathing/meditation is plentiful. And a recent article by Moran Cerf reports that breathing actuality changes the brain:

“Breathing is traditionally thought of as an automatic process driven by the brainstem—the part of the brain controlling such life-sustaining functions as heartbeat and sleeping patterns. But new and unique research, involving recordings made directly from within the brains of humans undergoing neurosurgery, shows that breathing can also change your brain. Simply put, changes in breathing—for example, breathing at different paces or paying careful attention to the breaths—were shown to engage different parts of the brain…

The research findings show that the advice to ‘take a deep breath’ may not just be a cliché. Exercises involving volitional breathing appear to alter the connectivity between parts of the brain.”

Holotropic Breathwork is also gaining traction. It is an approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, and transpersonal psychology. It’s a combination of meditation and breathing techniques and something interesting is emerging in this category.

Of course, some fitness gurus also rely on breathing techniques to contribute to their fitness strategy and overall promotion of well being. Wim Hof is one guy getting a lot of attention in this area, and getting amazing results with people by applying a very unique breathing/meditation practice integral to his fitness framework. Learn more about the “Iceman” from a previous blog I wrote.

Back to the Muse. I have tried to do meditation on my own, and discovered that I could benefit from a personal meditation assistant to keep me motivated and disciplined. I found that assistant in this brain technology. It guides one to a calm mind. My readers know that I am not in the business of promoting any product, and I have no commercial arrangements with any. However, the Muse is so helpful because it uses brain sensing technology to measure whether your mind is calm or active and translates those signals into guiding sounds. I will keep you posted on the personal results I’m getting. I’m also looking into applying Wim Hof’s breathing/cold/fitness program.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Everyone of us (scientifically proven), can benefit from calming the mind through meditation/breathing techniques. Start your meditation/breathing practice ASAP. If you need a little help, try an app like Headspace, or perhaps if you need a little more assistance, try Muse. 
  2. Explore the benefit of various breathing techniques as they relate to fitness including the Wim Hof method. It’s more than a bunch of bologna.
  3. Also explore the use of “cold” therapy, highly touted by smart and impactful people like Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss, who plunge into very cold pools with regularity. So do world class athletes. (Geez, for those of us that are Canadians this seems like psychological terrorism, haha).

Just breathe (perhaps in the cold) in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: Yeah, “brain stacks” are certainly hot (and cold) right now. I’ve heard all about Bulletproof coffee, MCT oil, Alphabrain, probiotics, cryotherapy, Wim Hof’s cold breathing methods and some of these other methods that might have some real merit… Some others (like micro-dosing), could be problematic. One thing’s for sure, meditation is by far the most cost friendly.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Hiking Through the Happiness Fog

Accountability Happiness Well-being


Key Point: “Mood drives performance.” That’s the deep belief of Jim Moss, a Hall of Fame, gold medal-winning, pro athlete who in 2009 was suddenly rendered acutely paralyzed from a rare autoimmune disease. It is a well-documented story, recounted in numerous publications. With the possibility of living the rest of life in a vegetative state, Jim hacked his own healing, focused on being grateful and learning the science of mood and performance (neuroplasticity). He walked out of the hospital six weeks later. Inspired and profoundly motivated by this experience, Moss went on with his partner Jennifer to co-found Plasticity Labs. Their Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) is to give one billion people the tools to live a happier, healthier and high-performing life; to scale happiness globally, by building the first ever, mental health and happiness platform

So what is happiness? As Jennifer Moss, co-founder of Plasticity notes in a recent blog: “I still don’t know. But I believe it can be experienced. Like fog, it’s around us. We can see it. But, when we try to hold on to it – it slips through our fingers. Happiness is about a continued investment in building hope, efficacy, resilience, optimism (HERO), along with gratitude, mindfulness, and empathy. As we dig deeper into the ways we can build up more psychological fitness, we’ll analyze how to build up these traits in ourselves and inspire them in others. For many, happiness means the absence of negative emotions, but in the article, I wrote for Harvard Business Review, ‘Happiness Isn’t the Absence of Negative Emotions;’ I vehemently counteract the belief that being happy is only to feel joy, every minute, every day, all the time. I wrote the article to share my frustrations with the backlash on the Positive Psychology movement. After reading one too many articles about why happiness is harmful, I decided it was time to confront the naysayers. But what I believe about this brief history of happiness, is that it’s not about chasing pleasure, but rather, actively engaging in long-term, sustainable life goals that include daily investments in positive work, activities and relationships. However, I liken models to recipes – it’s subjective and rife with human variables built on strongly held biases, genetics and personal experience. Just like a recipe can’t guarantee your bread will rise, a happiness theory can’t guarantee you will be happy.”

So what? I work for a company that believes “good things happen when you pursue happiness.” It is an essential part of our purpose: To create happiness. So, I’m deeply interested in how the happiness science and research is evolving. I do like the way Jennifer Moss and Plasticity Labs are focusing on the HERO model; Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism; connected to gratitude, mindfulness, and empathy. Their view is that by concentrating on the traits of the model versus happiness itself, it results in the state of happiness being more present and accessible in our lives.

Character Moves:

1. Check out Plasticity Labs (note: I currently have no personal contacts or financial involvement with Plasticity Labs). I’m just very curious and supportive of their MTP; and perhaps you are too? They have great resources and research literature on happiness. And their research reinforces that measurably happy, high-performing workplace cultures earn up to 50 percent more revenue, and have the uppermost levels of both employee and customer satisfaction.

2. Happiness is elusive. We are very early days in the science, although in 425 B.C., the Greek philosopher, Socrates, famously made a statement about happiness: “Strive for honesty, be your best self and have emotional control.” Socrates was one of the first to openly debate that happiness is in our control. Of course, he was also sentenced to death for corrupting the youth with this belief. So the pursuit of happiness has its detractors. How genuinely happy are you? I’m honestly not sure how happy I truly am, and am working to better understand the meaning both as a noun and verb.

Happy Fog in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I wasn’t positive about this, but yup, one little Google search reveals that us Millennials know a whole lot about antidepressants. This Fortune article suggests we may be the “least stable generation on record.” Great! But it’s not hard to check Facebook and realize it’s a world where micro aggressions cause daily outrage, and some of our highest satisfaction comes from a “like” button after sharing topics that get us up in arms. Uh oh. (Meanwhile, it’s the safest, most free and best time to be alive in history) and we have things like Plasticity Labs to assist our happiness. It might be complicated, but in 2017 I think happiness has never been more achievable with the right mindset. As Jocko Willink would say, “get it.”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Spiders, Pain and Happiness

Accountability Books Happiness


Key Point: We can learn so much from spiders. Our chief economist, Todd Hirsch, wrote a new book entitled “Spiders in Space,” (which will officially be released at the end of April). The author tells a story about NASA taking spiders into space to see how they would react to zero gravity. Of course, spinning a web is based on gravity and spiders have been doing that the same way for more than 200,000 years! So, these unsuspecting spiders now find their home on the international space station and there is NO gravity. Now THAT’S disruption. For a while, they are disoriented and have a heck of time. The webs are a mess and the spiders are struggling. Then, one day they seem to regroup and amazingly learn to spin their webs in zero gravity. As Todd tells the story, they teach themselves to web from the corners out in windshield wiper fashion. They transform and invent a new web spinning process. Todd points out under similar circumstances, we humans would have likely formed a task force, eventually insisting the astronauts take us back home. 

I am really enjoying Mark Manson‘s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k.” He points out that “happiness” is a verb more than a state of being. I agree with that. It comes essentially from the satisfaction of moving forward by solving problems. His view includes the premise that instead of asking ourselves what we want in life, we might be better off asking ourselves the question: “What pain are you willing to experience in your life?” “What are you willing to struggle for?” That will tell you more about what you really care about, and are willing to do. Happiness comes from struggling and resolving challenges or problems. Many of us desire all kinds of things, and frankly have no real commitment to do what it takes to get there. Our hopeful “what if?” eventually becomes “what else?” In the end, we really don’t want the “what if?” very much. Joy comes from the continual struggle to get to some desired future state and so do results. How much pain do you want to sustain? Really? Then do something about it NOW. 

Manson has another very practical tenet I really like. He calls it the “Do Something” principle. If you’re stuck or in a rut, do something; almost anything. That will often propel you. Start moving. If you wait for inspiration and motivation to act, inertia may very well win out. Forward action leads to inspiration, and then motivation. The spiders did not wait to be inspired or motivated. They just started spinning, one failure after another, and then one time – bingo, real progress! That’s inspirational and the motivation to keep acting. Spin!

Character Moves: 

  1. If you feel like you’re entering “zero gravity,” stop hoping to return to the past. It will not happen. Go forward and enjoy fighting through it. Why would you rob yourself of happiness? 
  1. Do something… Keep spinning… One day, voila! And you get to do it again. How fortunate we are to have these problems? Like the lesson from the Pixar movie “Inside Out,” joy and sad go together. So do problems and happiness. 

Spinning happy webs in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Ha, when people say they’re afraid of spiders, the last thing you’d think they’d be most intimidated of is their tenacity… But unfortunately for many, forcing oneself to actually “do something” is scarier than eight legs and a little venom. If you’re stuck, I bet your “spidey senses” are already tingling and you already know that you need to figure out how to spin that web again.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Retire ‘Retirement?’

Abundance Happiness Purpose


Key Point: Retirement may need to be “retired.” When life expectancy was averaging about 70 years in the western world, somebody came up with the idea of retirement at age 65; even early retirement. Of course, defined benefit pension plans that were common until the last decade (when you’re guaranteed a certain percentage of your best income when you qualify), helped with the process. Also, the middle working-class often had jobs that involved a fair amount of manual labor. After 65, there is no doubt that the body just isn’t the same. However, the concept of retirement today may be a misguided idea for many of us? I’m at a chronological age where people ask me “when?” quite often. My response usually includes the following: 

  1. In my current work I get to live my life’s purpose to lead, teach, coach, love and transform everyday.
  2. I deeply believe in the purpose of the company I work for and am able to contribute to that in a meaningful way. 
  3. I work with people I genuinely love. They stimulate my personal growth, make me laugh, and just invigorate the heck out of me.
  4. I make darn good money that I use to mostly invest in other people and purposes I deeply care about.

So, I ask people if retirement means I have to find new channels for my life’s purpose, seek out new people to thrive with, and make no money for investing in others; well why would I want to intentionally do that? Yes, I would like to be in fewer meetings, travel a little less, spend more time with my family/friends and maybe read a few more fiction books. I think I can do that while I’m “working” if I prioritize better. However, the idea of getting up and primarily self-indulging is not appealing. In my framework, that means I’m “unemployed” not retired. And I believe my life’s very best work and contribution is still well out in front of me. My fondest wish is to have all my loves around me when I die (ideally at age 100+) AND earlier in that day (with all my loved ones joining in), I would have had rich conversations, written a blog, read some cool stuff on Flipboard, ate a filet with a great red Zin, a Titos martini with three giant olives as an appetizer, and belly laughed many times… Oh, and sent out two invoices for work I recently completed for a customer.

A friend of mine sent me this the other day. I thinks it’s simple and profound. It was written by Neil Pasricha, for quietrev.com.

“Never retire.

There’s a big reason the healthiest societies in the world have no word for retirement. I believe retirement is a false concept based on assumptions no longer true. Age 65 retirement was invented when average lifespan was 70. What’s the solution? Keep working. And make sure whatever you’re doing includes the 4 S’s of meaningful work:

S – Social

 We are the most social mammals on the planet for a reason, and it’s not just the extroverts who can master this. Look, according to Stumbling on Happiness by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, our social relationships have a greater effect on our happiness than our income, religion, gender, or even health. What does a good workplace foster? Small team dinners. CEO AMAs. Lunch walking groups. Work sports leagues. If these are missing, start one. 

S – Structure

There are 168 hours in a week. Fifty-six are for sleep (eight hours a night if you can get it), 56 for work (including things like commuting and extra work at home), and 56 for your passion. On structure, there are two things to point out. One, work helps create and pay for your third bucket—the fun bucket, the passion bucket. And two, if everyone in this structure has a third bucket, what can each person bring in from outside of work? Can the word nerd start a book club? Can the hospital volunteer start a company volunteer program? Can the late night DJ plan the Christmas party? Work structure should allow outside work passions to be big parts of our lives. 

S – Stimulation 

Always be on the lookout to learn something new. In every job you have, ensure the steepest possible learning curves are between ‘value giving’ and ‘value getting.’ Examples to make sure this happens are things such as staying a maximum of two years in roles, initiating job sharing or job trades, planning regular development sessions, and scheduling quarterly growth meetings with one and two-up managers. Make sure you can always say yes to the question ‘Am I learning a lot and adding a lot?’ If your answer is tilted one way, it means you’re giving something else up. 

S – Story 

‘Story; is all about feeling that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about first ensuring the company’s mission and higher-level purpose capture the heart and then bringing the mission to life by regularly sharing customer stories, hanging anecdotal posters on walls, and talking about it at open or closed meetings. …What’s your company story?”

Character Moves:

  1. Forget thinking about the day you’re going to retire. Live the perpetually imperfect life you love and appreciate NOW. (Although financially, plan for a time when for some reason you can’t work). There is NO guaranteed happiness in retirement. 
  1. Focus on making your work/life more meaningful by progressing on the 4 S’s! And then one day, you die happy knowing that you were still moving for most of the day.

Meaningful in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Heck! Yes! As we approach The Masters next week, this gets me thinking about the life of a professional golfer. To me, these players have it figured out… They are professional athletes who get to make an incredible living, and travel to the nicest courses in the most beautiful places on the planet, playing the game they love. Unlike other pro athletes, it’s low impact and they can potentially swing clubs forever. (Of course, golf is also a very charitable oriented game as well). We are probably not going to be pro golfers, but with whatever you’re most passionate about, it would be great to approach it like a golfer instead of, say, a pro football player who maxes out earnings and retires with a mangled body by age 30. Keep walking that course as long as you can.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

‘I Reset My Life’

Happiness Respect Well-being


Key Point: Most of my readers understand (or have at least heard) about the scientifically proven benefits of meditation. And in previous blogs, I’ve written about the value of mindfulness and various aspects relative to improving life at work. However, I found the following story a bit of a meditation “WOW” and worth sharing with you. 

I still have a hard time sitting still for 10 minutes let alone 10 days. Chris Reining is a personal finance expert whose advice has been featured in The New York Times, TODAY, CNN, CBS, and Lifehacker. He meditated for 10 days along with a former Hollywood actor and stuntman, a software developer for hedge funds, a CEO of a publicly traded company, and a few other interesting folks. According to Reining, the daily schedule included the following: “Under a vow of silence and no eye contact, you wake up at 4:00 a.m. and sit for two hours, eat breakfast, sit for three hours, eat lunch, sit for four hours, eat dinner, sit for one hour, watch some video instruction, and sit for one more hour before sleep.” At day five, the cohort had to sit without moving anything, including embracing any related pain. The Groundhog Day experience, as one might expect, took Reining and others through an emotional roller coaster ride. It was “like being a prisoner; only more difficult.” The conclusion for Reining after the journey: “It reset my life.” And the following is a summary of what Chris deeply learned: 

1. You don’t need much money to be happy. Everyone thinks more stuff will make you more happy. But after you get what you want and realize it didn’t make you as happy as you thought, you start over.

For 10 days I ate oatmeal for breakfast, maybe chili and a salad for lunch, an apple or banana for dinner. I slept on a cot in a dorm divided by sheets. And I loved it. It was a reminder I don’t need much.

Studies show a family of four needs $75,000 to be happy. So, after food, shelter, clothes, and healthcare, you can decide if you want to waste your life chasing something money can’t buy.

2. Change is the one constant in life. This year my cat died, I quit my job, and I went through a break up. To be honest, it’s been a struggle.

But if there’s one thing the instructor S.N. Goenka drilled in my head, it’s that everything is continuously changing. And I’ve been learning that this idea of impermanence is central to Buddhism.

When you start framing things that happen to you as change, instead of loss, you turn something negative into a positive.

3. Know who you are to get what you want. I thought I knew myself, because how would you not? I mean, it’s you.

But spend 12 hours a day for 10 days with yourself, because you will figure out who you are. And when you know who you are it makes you more successful in life. Why? Because you need to understand who you are, and how people see you, so you can change the things that need to change to become the person who can get what they want to get.”

Most of us will likely never make the choice to meditate and spend 240 hours in “solitary confinement” with ourselves. However, there is much for each of us to absorb from Chris’ experience.

Character Moves:

  1. Relax a little more about your career. After you get to where you want, trust me, it doesn’t make you as happy as you might think. Enjoy the journey and contribution rather than wringing your hands over whether you are where you or others think you should be.
  1. The idea of change and impermanence is truer than ever in today’s work place (and life). As Reining emphasizes, framing up change as a way of life rather than a loss, moves the experience much more towards the positive rather than negative. 
  1. We can never know ourselves too much. Self-awareness is vital to understand what we really want from the work we do. Maybe try meditating for 10 minutes. One never knows.  It may take us to 10 days? Only if we want a reset in life.

Reframing in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: I haven’t meditated for 240 hours, but I think I know myself well enough where I’d rather choose 10 days in Gitmo than be quiet and alone for that long. This Millennial thinks that the “silent retreat” is a little bit of snake oil, however, his findings are thought provoking and seemingly valid. I guess my point is, I appreciate Reining’s experiment, but on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m even more thankful that we can all get the CliffsNotes without having to actually test it. 

– Garrett

You and the Ice Cream ‘Man’

Abundance Happiness Purpose


Key Point: What if we all thought of our jobs as if we were selling ice cream? I remember growing up as a kid and hearing the chimes of the ice cream truck. As the music came closer, every child scrambled home to beg for enough coin to buy a cone or other frozen delight before the truck left the area. Happiness was getting to the ice cream truck, fully out of breath but in time to make that big decision. In your mind’s eye can you visualize the happy smiles in line, arms and legs flailing in gleeful anticipation of that first bite?

“I love it as a career – it’s great seeing the kids so happy.” That’s a quote from Britain’s longest serving ice cream man. And according to the May 25 issue of the Mirror, he plans to carry on dishing out cones until he reaches the age of 99. Sandro Foldi, 86, got his first van 54 years ago and has sold over 1,350,000 ice creams. He also likes to talk to people… “It’s a very social job, and I’ve served customers who come from all over the world.”

Imagine loving something so much that doing it until the age of 99 is a treat. Maybe Sandro isn’t using the “retirement” word, because he is in the happiness business? And why would one retire from dishing out continuous cones of joy, while chatting up people everyday? Everybody who comes to see you wants to buy a little bit of bliss. How cool is that? 

As the Chief People Officer, my job is to make our organization “The Place to Work,” and it is a little like being the ice cream man. Everything my team and I try and do is to make the “people journey” better, work environment more nourishing, and work-life richer in every way. I feel like the company’s ice cream man. So Sandro, I get your vibe, man. I really do. (Although I am likely making people at work nervous regarding the “99-years-old” commitment part of the story, haha).

Character Moves:

  1. Find the “ice cream ‘man’” in yourself. Every job is different, and for many, it would be silly or trite to compare their responsibilities to the life of someone who serves frozen desserts from a van. However, almost all positions have some redeeming purpose that makes things better for others. Even people who work in tough areas like debt collections can help make peoples’ lives less miserable or give them hope. Our mission is to find ourselves in those roles and deliver as much happiness and good will as we can. It most often begins by simply acknowledging another’s presence. Being seen and heard by someone who genuinely cares is often even better than eating ice cream. We ALL can do that. 

Being the “ice cream man” in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Guys like Sandro have it figured out in a lot of ways that most of us probably don’t think about. If you click on the link, you’ll notice Sandro doesn’t look too shabby for 86. He’s wearing a slightly torn hat he’s probably put on with pride each day since the 60’s (but certainly doesn’t have to anymore), and in one of his quotes from the article; he says “everyone knows me around here.” You can imagine the relationships with all his distributors are as seamless as the ones he develops with his customers… His van probably hums along with a million stories earned from his decades of sales. He must notice something new every time he drives the same monotonous routes. As far as I’m concerned, if a man can tolerate listening to constant Ice Cream Truck music for 54 years, you know he doesn’t let a lot of nonsense get stuck in his head.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis