Monthly Archives: November 2013

Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving is just two days away! It’s time to brace yourself for the holiday traffic, prepare the turkey, set the table for 12, and start writing those wish lists. But it is also time to share what you’ve been most grateful for this last year… and perhaps indulge in some pumpkin pie.

Sharing our gratitude doesn’t have to be–and shouldn’t be–an event that is confined to forced conversation over turkey once a year. Showing gratitude is something that we should continuously practice day in and day out. Gratitude is a hobby that travels far beyond the remnants of the turkey coma after your Thanksgiving feast.

So rather than share ten hobbies that might be fun to try this Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to share ten ways to “cultivate the habit of being grateful” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)–not just on Thanksgiving but in all the days that follow.

1. Go outside and breathe the fresh air. Not everyone is lucky enough to have clean lungs or the ability to walk outside on two feet. Show your thanks for both by taking a step outside and really taking the time to breathe—inhale, exhale.

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2. Say thanks for the little things—If your loved one made the bed this morning, text him thank you in the afternoon with a little smiley face. If your friend or roommate did your dishes—especially if it happens regularly: say thanks. It’s the little things that sometimes mean the most.

3. Write thank you notes. Write them to everyone: to good friends, mentors, acquaintances, people you’ve lost touch with.. Be sure to let people know that even if they were in your life only briefly, their impact has mattered.

4. Pay it forward. Drop a couple coins in a parking meter that is about to expire; pay the toll for the car behind you on the highway; cover the coffee for the next person on line next to you in café. By doing this we can start something pretty amazing: A chain of gratitude—or something as amazing as a kindness boomerang:

 

5. Go out of your way for people for the heck of it. Similar to paying it forward: Offer to clean out someone’s closet, mow their lawn, or rake their leaves without an alternative motive.

6. Start a gratitude journal: Write down 5-10 things you are grateful for or 5-10 things that make you happy each day—or each week. Maybe 10 isn’t enough. Try 20. Once you start writing down what your grateful for/what makes you happy—you find out there’s a lot out there that goes beyond the surface. In 2010, my good friend Hannah challenged me to come up with 30 things that I was grateful for/that made me happy. I ended up making an entire day out of it in Rome:

7. Give thanks to the negative aspects of life—not just the positive. Remember, it’s easy to say thank you when all things are going right. But it’s just as important to say thank you when things aren’t going right, or when you’re stumbling, or when life puts up hurdles on the race track. It is in the moments of struggle that we build strength, and in the moments of adversity that we build character. We cannot be grateful for the happy moments without being grateful for the difficult moments as well. Make sure in that gratitude journal you share the negative things you are grateful for too.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

8. Write it in Stone. Okay I don’t mean deface property. But perhaps take a piece of sidewalk chalk and put just how grateful you are right there for everyone to see. Last winter, my goal was to spread happiness by chalking the word happiness into all five boroughs on one of the coldest days of the year. Why not take the time to chalk thank you as well? My good friend, travel mate, and editor Kim did just that in Raleigh, NC:

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9. Try something new. I clearly can’t preach this enough (ha). But remember (as with #1), not everyone has the chance each and every day to walk outside and breathe the air, to make use of the legs they’ve been given, the arms, the hands—the heart. Some people are born without legs and ski mountains, some people are given one arm and discover how to climb Everest. And some of us are given two legs, two feet, two arms, and two hands—and we often forget to believe in ourselves with our one and only heart. Show your gratitude for what you’ve been given, by using it. I don’t mean flaunt it—just use it.

10. Give yourself a day. Give yourself a day to just be. Don’t schedule a single thing. It’s your day. You’ve earned it. I mean this. As important as it is to show gratitude for the air you breathe, the people you spend time with, the roof over your head, and the health you’ve been blessed with—it’s equally as important that you show gratitude towards yourself—for the hard work you’ve put toward the happy, healthy, filled life you are living. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s next–To forget to embrace the moment. But embrace the moment—be grateful for the moment. Be grateful for yourself.

You Can’t Sleep on Your Talents

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It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to audition for a TV Talent show, so when I discovered that America’s Got Talent would  be holding auditions on the west side of Manhattan, I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to head to the audition and at least give myself a shot. So on Saturday night and Sunday morning, I prepared 90 seconds of stand up comedy material,  set my alarm for 6:30am, woke up, signed my electronic release and made my way over to the Mercedes complex where 90 people were already in front of me. I could FEEL positive energy swirling everywhere. People were singing, taking photos with impersonators, doing magic tricks, playing their guitars and chatting amongst one another about the day ahead. I sipped calmly on my coffee and struck up a conversation with a couple of people standing around me. We went back and forth quizzing each other on what one our talents were and how we thought we’d do. Then someone who was auditioning asked me why I love stand up comedy. And I said that’s easy:

“I love stand up comedy because I just really enjoy having the opportunity to bring joy to the lives of others. If I can make other people laugh, then I’ve had a good–no–great day.”

The person smiled at me and we continued chatting a bit before the line was eventually released to check-in.

Due to a confidentiality clause in the paperwork that I signed, THAT’s about all I can share with you about the audition process–that and of course the fact that 

On Sunday, November 17, I auditioned for America’s Got Talent.

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So rather than detail what happened after I got through the registration line, I thought I’d share SIX positive life lessons I took away from auditioning for a TV Talent Show.

1. Show up.
You can’t sleep on your talents, your dreams, your aspirations or your opportunities. The biggest mistake you can make when it comes down to giving yourself a shot, going on stage and performing, trying something new or going to an audition is physically not being there.  AND no matter the way the performance went, audition or first time trying something went–OR no matter the way you think the performance, audition, or activity went, be proud of yourself for giving it a shot, for maybe stepping out of your comfort zone–but especially for just stepping out of bed to get wherever you are going. Because let’s be honest, getting out of bed to be somewhere can often be the hardest part. 

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2. Cockiness vs Confidence vs Positive Thinking
Cockiness is bad.
Confidence is good.
And Positive Thinking is better.
And there is absolutely a difference between having confidence and staying positive. Positivity will attract other positive people to you. If you stay bright and you keep a smile on your face–other positive people will flock to you. Trust me, you don’t want to be waiting for an audition (for anything) with an orb of negative energies surrounding you the entire time.

3. Passionate people are just more interesting.
Having passion is more interesting than having experience. Being a passionate person about life and the joys of your hobby or your talent is much more interesting that simply a resume of experiences. You can have a lot of experience in something, but if if you don’t come off as interested and passionate about your craft–then it just won’t matter. Through auditioning for the show I had the opportunity to meet a mix of both experienced and passionate people. I got bored very quickly with people just rattling off their resume of comedy clubs they’ve performed at, but felt very enthralled in the conversations where people spoke with an excitement–a drive–a passion.

The experienced people might get jobs or interviews–but the passionate ones change the world.

4. Be the best you that you can be.
Whether it’s five people you are up against or 1 million people you are up against whether it be in an audition or for a job opportunity–the ONLY thing that matters in the audition room or in the application process is how you do–not them. You can’t control how someone else will perform under pressure. You can ONLY be the best version of yourself when it’s time to step up to the plate.

5. Know yourself better than anyone else.
At the audition, after someone overheard me say I did comedy, he asked if I could do any impressions. I said I can do one impression pretty perfectly–myself. The more I’ve thought about that statement, the more meaning it has taken on. Be sure that before you try to do the impression of someone else in order to impress others–that you know one person better than anyone else in this world–and so that if anyone asks you who you can act most like–you can be honest and proud to say the best impression you can do–and the person you know better than anyone in this world is…yourself.

6. Let others inspire you.
Share your stories and your talents with others–and also let others share their stories and talents with you.
You never know–Someone might just inspire you.

 

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