I had the opportunity to attend S.O.A.R – a student leadership conference – this past weekend at Carleton University.
The conference was aimed at undergraduate students from first year through fourth. I spent the morning there; attended the keynote and two seminars; spoke to some of the students and organizers and found the experience completely motivating and uplifting.
At this stage of my life – in the trenches of my late 30s, where the expectations of my early 20s have firmly met my current reality – attending a conference that covered issues like “achieving work-life balance” and “how to live by your own vision of success” aimed at an undergraduate audience with ensuing debate from that perspective, was exactly what I needed.
As a representative of the Alumni Association Executive, I had the honour of introducing Neil Pasricha – the keynote speaker.
For those unfamiliar with him, he is the author of the blog 1000 Awesome Things.
One day when he was at a low point in his life, he started a blog.
To celebrate life’s awesome – and often overlooked – little moments.
You know: popping bubble wrap; sneaking naps; high-fiving babies; and neighbours’ with pools.
He then did that thing bloggers dream of: Had an outrageously successful blog – like “reached over 50 million people and won a Webby” successful blog – that he turned into a book.
A book that spent two straight years at #1 and has been translated into dozens of languages and optioned for a movie.
He’s appeared on television, speaks around the world and has a Ted Talk that has gone viral.
His talk on Saturday touched on the same issues he discusses there. He talks about what he calls his Three A’s of Awesome:
Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity.
Regarding Attitude, he talked about how society teaches us that to be happy, we need to work hard, in order to be successful … and then we’ll be happy.
He argued that that’s backwards and said that instead, if you are happy and have a positive attitude about life, you will be more likely to do great work and be successful.
He provided some examples and stories (a study involving an analysis of the diaries of nuns all at the same convent in the early 1900s was one: finding was the happy nuns lived longer) to back up this argument, but the following video is what drove it home for me:
I blogged about it over a year ago, and needed the reminder to follow my own advice. Choose to be happy. Because, in large part – and with some important exceptions where violence and abuse are involved – you choose how you let other people’s attitudes and behaviours affect you.
Regarding Awareness, he talked about loving to hang out with 3-year-olds, because they are seeing the world for the first time.
As the mother of young kids, that immediately resonated. Seeing my kids see things for the first time – how mesmerized they are by the smallest thing? The absolute pleasure they take in simple things I’ve long since taken for granted? Reminds me to appreciate many parts of life and to look at and again consider things I haven’t for a long time.
His last A was for Authenticity. The example he began with was Rosey Grier, who played pro-football in the 1950s-1960s, and also had a passion for needlepoint. He apparently told people that needlepoint relaxed him, that it calmed him down, took away his fear of flying, and helped him meet chicks.
After leaving the NFL he released a book about needlepoint for men.
Neil’s point here is that Grier is the perfect example of a wonderfully authentic person. Okay with himself in every way. And that we should strive to be our own authentic selves.
Given that is pretty much the thesis statement for my blog – and why I’m blogging – I couldn’t agree more.
The video he showed drove home the point about how you can be creative in your environment in a way that lets you be you while still doing your job AND bringing a little joy into the world:
I think in future when I feel the urge to conform – or be embarrassed about some aspect of who I am – I’m going to ask myself what would Rosie Grier do? He was an NFL star who guarded RFK and proudly published needlepoint books. Wikipedia tells me he’s still alive and has met with nothing bad worth reporting. Given that, in my small sphere of concern, I figure I should be okay blogging about being a mom while having a professional career.
As a note to end this post – this isn’t strictly a #1000Speak related post, but my frame of mind was very much influenced by all that has been happening with that movement and I couldn’t help thinking this falls very much into the “importance of self-love”, both for ourselves and for our impact on others.
If you aren’t yet familiar with #1000Speak, my intro post with information on how to join is here.
For those who are already part of the movement – I can’t wait to read your words one month from today!