Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness

How to Live Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness is a phrase we use to express doing what you love and making a difference at the same time. I was privileged to listen to Rob Dyke share his epic story of adventure last night in my hometown of Powell River. He is an individual who epitomizes the spirit of Extreme Kindness.


I first learned of Rob at university when I read about his adventures in a health and human potential course. Rob has a very invigorating perspective on life one grounded belief our ability to,

“Just say Yes!”

Rob’s life pursuits have included swimming through the graveyard of the Pacific – a treacherous stretch of coastline which has claimed many ships and climbing to the North Col on Mount Everest.

What has separated Rob from so many adventurers is his commitment to helping others through his epic exploits. On Everest, he supported two separate teams, cooking for them, and worked supported both the Red Cross and Vancouver Children’s Hospital by swimming the 56 km from Vancouver to Victoria and later swimming 1400 km around Vancouver Island.


Rob’s message is one of commitment to something big in your own life, and doing the lonely work – taking the simple daily steps needs to complete a larger journey. For myself and many others,

“Rob is the big engine that could – he is an ordinary man that consistently does extraordinary things.”

Rob’s ultra-marathon swim took him over three months to complete. On his trip he was joined by dolphins, porpoises, sea lions and cruise ships.

Rob introduces a way of approaching problems and situations with a positive perspective. Rob explores how each seeming failure can be turned into a success by keeping a ‘yes’ outlook.

Rob is now a partner in a successful speakers bureau and wellness company, Speakwell, and he continues to share his optimistic message of personal commitment and potential.header-left


Can your company catch a boomerang?

A culture of kindness keeps employees coming back…


Can your company catch a boomerang? If it can, it will open itself to an incredible source of skilled and trustworthy employees. Boomerang employees – a phrase coined by workplace experts after the Australian, Aboriginal hunting tool – are returning top performers and high achievers who left the workplace to advance careers, increase wages or pursue independent work.

The challenge in today’s shifting marketplace is retaining talent. However, there is an increasing stream of employees who are coming back to the workplace because of the benefits of working for their former employer. If the fit is right for the employee to return, there are substantial reciprocal benefits.

Workplace researchers have found that returning employees bring new skills, insights and perspectives developed during the in-between period. This includes having an intimate knowledge of the culture, market vertical and business operations. The increased value may also be found in the employees’ enhanced problem solving and creative abilities. There is also a direct financial benefit to hiring boomerang employees: the cost of hiring, recruiting and training new employees, is substantial. Hiring a Boomerang employee eliminates the majority of this cost.

How can a company ensure they attract boomerang employees? Organizations can build an unforgettable culture emphasizing positive relationships, balance, leadership and kindness. Corporate social responsibility and internal culture are increasingly values that attract and retain employees. When these values are extended to co-workers, customers, and the community, employees develop a deep connection and bond with the organization.

The Kindness Crew specializes in building healthy, connected and productive workplaces that are certain to attract boomerang employees and other top performers. Their presentation, the Kindness Injection delivers the four basic steps to building a culture of kindness. The Kindness Crew has worked with a range of organizations, including Investors Group, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, SAS, Columbia Sportswear, University of British Columbia and Tourism BC. If you are interested in having the Kindness Crew speak at your next workshop or keynote please contact the National Speakers Bureau.


We remember again: change is possible!


Generation We!

America moves from Me to We!


Can a kind life make you happier?

Yes! According to Harvard educator, Tal Ben-Shahar. Dr. Shahar has done something I thought to be impossible and many academics probably thought absurd to teach a course on happiness! The course has become the most popular class at the ivy-league school, highlighting an overwhelming need to teach people how to live well.


Dr. Shahar is part of an ever-growing body of researchers, scientists and professionals, who are moving away from asking the question of what makes us sick and replacing this with what make a person happy? The movement is grounded in the new research of positive psychology which is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

One of the more remarkable books I devoured in the past year was his book Happier.

In this easy to read to guide of the new science of positive psychology, he explores the research illuminating how a person can increase their happiness. One topic addressed is how cultivating feelings of being kind can help a person feel better.

Tal walks the reader through an exercise called, Meditating on Benevolence. Without even needing to go out and connect with someone, you can reflect on a time when you acted with kindness towards another. He asks you to remember how you felt appreciated for this kind act. Next, you visualize what the person’s response was. Also, you can focus on your own feelings during this exchange and allow them to fill you. As you bring into your awareness both your own positive feelings and the person served you can dissolve the division between helper and the person being helped. By doing this you begin to realize in every exchange of love both people are able to experience more positive feelings. Finally, you can imagine future acts of generosity in the future and feel the benefits spilling over to everyone.

This simple exercise can help you to experience a greater sense of calm, connection and happiness. In practicing this meditation, I am reminded again, Happiness comes from within.

In this video, a broad overview of the work being done by Tal is given.


How do you connect an entire continent through kindness?

You get on your bike and cycle through as many communities in the USA and Canada as possible spreading the kind-word! Yes, he has done it again: Brock Tully a.k.a, the Brock-Star has embarked on another life-changing, road-grinding 18,000 km, 9 month solo journey to change the world!


Brock’s mission is titled, KINDNESS…Cycle it Forward, and he is working to raise awareness for a kinder world.


His mission is to:

  • To create a Culture of Kindness that inspires each of us to be kind and to
  • become the change we wish to see in the world.

Certainly Brock is doing this one pedal push and kind word at a time. Brock, is a veritable Ghandi – a man who has given his life in pursuit of spreading the simple but power message of kindness.

I may not be able to change the world I see around me but I can change the way I see the world, within me.
- Brock Tully

When ever I think of Brock, for some strange, tangential reason I remember the I want to be like Mike commercials. I can’t help but think what humans could do if they could just Be like Brock!

5 top ways to be like Brock

  1. Grow an incredible mustache!
  2. Live you message: get off the couch, away from the computer (yes me!) and out into the world to help!
  3. Be well, make sure you make ample time for your health. Brock’s journey is a testimant to his commitment to his own physical wellness.
  4. Get outside, run, cycle, hike or plain walk your walk your way to a kinder world. Each moment you spend outside and out of your car will be a moment not wasted!
  5. Take risk: Brock is always ready to drop everything for a cause he believes in! How many of us can say the same?

If you want to see Brock in action watch this powerful video compilation.

Want to have Brock rock your next presentation? Visit his website: www.brocktully.com


Just Connect with nature

In my search to understand how better to use the internet as both and educational and proactive medium, I stumbled upon an another profound presentation series called tries to bring together people and inspire them to go do something!


The Do Lectures is an antidote to the collective apathy of our generation and another bold step to providing information to get people off the couch and out connecting with people and nature. Speakers at the gathering offered tools and insights into how they take action in their own life. Lifestyle design expert Timothy Ferris of the The Four Hour Work Week presented, along with ever-intriguing Yun Hider, a professional forager, who in his own words has spent the last thirteen years foraging.

In his talk he shares simple strategies to help people reconnect to the land and use local plant to provide sustenance. Yun is a connector par-excellence and he pulls at the sense of the audience, giving them a chance to taste his foraged foods. Audience members immediately are able to experience the culinary potential of their back woods!

Yun praises the art of pausing in nature. He explains how foraging takes time and this helps to forge a new relationship to the land. His simple tools include guide books, medicinal books, wild food books which he is constantly refers to on his sojourns.

Yun currently has a few projects including Mountain Food a business which distributes foraged food Mountain Food and another, titled Precious Planet. Precious planet is a: non profit-making organisation committed to preserving areas of vital biodiversity. In order to do this, Precious Planet carries out specific projects aimed at protecting and regenerating marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Our Precious Planet project is based on a simple concept of connecting students and linking schools by having students map out their local environment to help them understand the natural environment and their impact on this space.

  1. Mapping their local Area: people, plants and pollution.
  2. Calculate their ecological footprint.
  3. Plant a tree.

My big do inspired from the conference, include:

  1. to connect my local school with the Precious Planet project
  2. spend time looking over guidebooks before and during my time in nature
  3. research what I can start to forage for food in my local environment
  4. connect with the Do conference as a participant or speaker.

What you can do:

  1. Stage your own Do it Lecture Series.
  2. Take the ideas from their lectures and spread them through action or in the form of stories.
  3. Do it: think of your own small ways to take action.

Everyone knows they should take action, the smaller and more manageable the better to begin with. Once you feel with the small stuff, you won’t sweat the big actions in your life.


Why Good Things Happen to Good People

We all have wondered by good things happen to bad people, but Stephen Post has revealed in his new book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, the science supporting the benefits of being good.

Stephen is the head of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, an organization dedicating to advancing research connected to love. Stephen outlines, several ways to give in your life including, Celebration, Generativity, Forgiveness, Courage, Humor, Respect, Compassion, Loyalty, Listening and Creativity. Stephen has used this platform of good to look at the connection between being good and being healthy.


Celebration, as defined in the book, is an acknowledgement of shared joy that positively affects people around us, and reflects gratitude. Celebration is understood as a giving action, which can be practiced and enhanced.

This virtue can take the form of gratitude and nurtured daily through rituals and actions.

Everyone has something to celebrate in their lives, no matter how clouded they are from the challenges of life. Celebration ultimately is a choice to perceive the events of your life and the world, in an empowering way. Too often we overlook the actions, events and people in our life that add beauty, joy and wonder.

There are many ways to celebrate our life, one of the easiest I can recommend – which takes very little time – is to write down beautiful quotes that remind you of the magnificence of life. The prominent psychologist, Abraham Maslow (who developed the hierarch of needs) reflected on the importance of gratitude saying we must,

appreciate again and again freshly and naively, the basic goods of life with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. -Abraham Maslow

I have developed the ritual of writing down and reflecting daily on a least one thing in my life I am grateful for. At first, I found this process easy to do, but it did not have the emotional impact I was hoping or expecting. However, as I have continued to practice this daily, I now look forward to and get excited about this simple reflective process. I needed to overcome the inertia of my current state of awareness, to connect the events of my life with a feeling of deep gratitude.

The big question is how do we celebrate in healthy ways?
We must learn to Celebrate Good times and the Bad.

Here are 5 simple ways to celebrate your life:

  1. Take time to write an email to a family member to thank them for the help they have given you.
  2. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in years and let them know how they have influenced your life.
  3. Write down a list of ten characteristics you believe are your strongest.
  4. Make celebration a ritual: choose at least one day a week, to do something you know makes you feel celebrated.
  5. Nurture through Nature: make time each week to get out into the green and reconnect with Nature.

Hike, Bike or Walk!
Make a gratitude list. Here is a list I made over the past week of things I was grateful for in my life:

  • Consistency with my goals setting
  • Having a loving partner who always supports me.
  • Taking the time Daily to Exercise
  • Educating students
  • The Blazing sunsets in front of my house


What is your gratitude list?


Just Breathe

This past weekend Brad and I spoke to a group of volunteers at the 2008 Vitalize conference in Edmonton. One of the topics we addressed with the enthusiastic group was health. For anyone in the world of service, learning how to find balance and restore energy is imperative. Essentially, a person must learn to be well to ensure they are able to function properly and to serve others in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Every time I step onto a plane, I am reminded of the necessity of taking care of self before others. At the beginning of the flight the steward announced the safety instructions of the airplane including, in the event of an emergency, and a loss of oxygen in the cabin, an clear mask will drop from the ceiling. If you are with a small child, please remember to place the mask on yourself first. A Simple message, that transfers into the rest of our lives. When we experience stress, or challenges in our life and we always do, we must remember to take care of ourselves, or our stress, like having no oxygen will incapacitate us.

A simple tool to help release stress and calm the body is called, diaphragmatic breathing. Complicate name, simple technique! This exercise involves breathing deeply from our belly, instead of our chest, where we tend breath from to as a result of stress. The miracle of this method is that where the breath goes, the body follows. During stress, our sympathetic nervous system is over-stimulated producing an increased heart rate, perspiration, muscle tension and breathing. As we slow down the breath and take in more oxygen, all of these stress responses decrease and we begin to feel calmer and more relaxed.

The next time you feel overwhelmed or stresses, just breath deeply.

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Conversation about Michael Moore’s SICKO
between Patch Adams, M.D. and Susan Parenti, Ph.D.
July 12, 2007


Susan Parenti: What do you think of the film, SICKO?

Patch Adams: WOW–I’m juiced! The film is terrific. Bravo, Michael Moore!!

Susan: I feel that way too. I highly recommend the film, especially to people who say, “Oh, I don’t like Michael Moore’s films”. This is not about liking Michael Moore; this is about seeing our own muddled thinking on the US health care system, and why we Americans tolerate the intolerable.

Patch: Moore does an incredible new thing: he focuses on people in the US who already have insurance, people who say, “No problem, I’m covered”—rather than focus on the uninsured.

Susan: But lack of health insurance is a huge problem in the US. Why do you think he does this?

Patch: By now we’ve heard about the 50 million uninsured Americans and what happens to them. But in the present socio-political environment, people don’t care about the poor, the uninsured—they’re just the disenfranchised, the “losers”. By Moore deciding to focus on the 250 million Americans who DO have insurance, he’s talking to a much bigger group of people. That’s smart.

Susan: I guess by Moore’s focusing on the insured—who are supposed to have access to the medical system—he’s able to show that having insurance doesn’t mean having access to health care. In the US, insurance is NOT equivalent to health care. That’s the SICKO part. It’s a condemnation of the whole system, not only a condemnation of lack of access to it by some people.

Patch: True. The film is about the greed and the inexcusability that we are not taking care of everyone in this country. How in the US do we tolerate that restoring a person’s ring finger costs $12,000, and the middle finger, $60,000? How can anyone contemplate that and not feel damaged by the vulgarity of the greed? And Moore shows that the insurance companies HUNT for ways not to give you care. They HUNT.

What did you think of the comparison with other countries’ health care systems?

Susan: It’s a great jolt: by the film going back and forth between what we Americans tolerate and what citizens of other countries enjoy–it’s jolting. So while I cried for the people whose husband or child died because of lack of care in the US, I then was gladdened by the health care provided in other places, and THEN became furious at what we put up with here. Tears, gladness, and fury: all three are needed. We could live differently–the film shows this, again and again, by pointing at other countries.

Patch: I liked the hint for us to re-consider Cuba and France as countries to admire and take a look at.

Susan: What do you think the title SICKO refers to?

Patch: I think it refers to the US health care delivery system AND to the fact that we Americans tolerate it. The system is SICKO and–we’re SICKO. I thought it really smart the film didn’t show anything that would be refuted–though I’m sure the insurance companies are seeking examples of mistakes in order to discredit this film.

Susan: One of the ways of discrediting the film that I’ve recently read is to say that it doesn’t “offer any solutions”, i.e., it doesn’t talk about the current health care reforms happening in the US. Would you share that criticism?

Patch: Absolutely not. The film IS offering something: it’s painting a portrait of greed, as it works systematically. And by showing how other countries have solutions, it’s indicating that we don’t have to put up with this. The film is raising the level of discontent–that’s a positive direction.

Susan: Yes. It’s showing what we tolerate as intolerable. I think of SICKO more as a “think-u-ment-ary” than a “documentary”: it creates a pathway of thinking, where we can see that we’re putting up with something that is fundamentally undesirable, and that we don’t have to put up with it.

Patch: Maybe it’s a “think-you-meant-ary”, or a “think-I-meant-ary”?

Susan: Right, and leaving for us to create the “act-on-what-I-think-I-meant-ary”.

Patch: One more thing: I loved how Michael Moore treated the person who writes the “I-hate-Michael-Moore” blogs. The Moore-hater initially had to close his website because his wife had become ill and the man didn’t have money/time to keep up the Moore-hating blog—so Moore sends the guy an anonymous check for his wife’s care, so that the Moore-hater can continue his Moore-hating work! Now, that’s a love strategy–to keep your adversary healthy. It’s funny, ironic, and caring.


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