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Who Do You Think You Are? is a daily podcast featuring a challenging or inspiring quote, a thought about the quote, the transformative book from which the quote came, and a question for reflection. Every single day Chad Prevost takes you on an adventure in thought leaders. From psychology and philosophy to poetry, essays, biographies and autobiographies, memoirs, dictionaries, treatises, and great literature, we want you to learn from, or just be reminded by, what others have already spent l ...
 
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“Don’t just put in your time. That is not enough. You have to make great effort.” When the shine wears off the habits we’re trying to form, when we begin to merely show up rather than put in the hard work of consistent, effortful focus, we lose hold of the very skill we’re trying to develop. Trusting the process implies patience and that you’re awa…
 
“Normally a job, fortune, or reputation has to be lost, a death has to be suffered, a house has to be flooded, or a disease has to be endured.” Rohr is pointing out a clear pattern that one of the primary ways we are ushered into the second half of life, of falling upward, is to experience failure or setback. It’s a part of life, and it is good to …
 
“I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” The quote speaks for itself, but the book it comes from is an allegory for the breakdown of society, which is fueled in large part to our failure to “see” each other. The year 2020 has seen a global pandemic, and calls for increased at…
 
“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” Our meditation focus is often on the self, and that is no doubt where the work begins. But a huge follow-up step is naturally how we engage and work with others. We all want to succeed and we can’t…
 
“The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.” Knowing my Enneagram number has deepened my self-awareness, and given me practical and specific tools for growth. It has also helped me better understand people who are wired entirely differen…
 
“In the morning he would sit down to work, finish his allotted task, then take the little lamp from the hook, put it on the table, get his book from the shelf, open it, and sit down to read. And the more he read, the more he understood, and the brighter and happier it grew in his heart.” There is a quiet simplicity in the life of the cobbler. He wo…
 
“Care of the soul is a fundamentally different way of regarding daily life and the quest for happiness.” Recognizing the soul within us helps us connect the spiritual with the material, the ineffable with concrete striving for the bottom line, it helps us examine our motives, and find joy in the ordinariness of our moments. Care means cultivating. …
 
"The most apparent thing that I noticed was how most of the people in this study derive their sense of identity and well-being from their immediate surroundings rather than from within themselves, and that’s why they broke down — just couldn’t stand the pressure — they had nothing within them to hold up against all of this.” This study revealed tha…
 
“With lovingkindness for myself I allow all the feelings of the irrational, perplexing, agonizing relationship to wash over me. Suddenly, I see it clearly: my whining, my sense that I’m trapped by this relationship, my seeming powerlessness over the irrationality of the Other are reenactments. And with that observation I’m suddenly free from the bu…
 
“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency.” We explore hope as optimism, as necessity, as beacon shining a light forward. One thing it should not function as is an “opiate for the masses.” Hope, like love and faith, is not a passive condition. I love the i…
 
“What I know now is that when we derive our worth from the relationships in our lives — the intimate ones, the social circles we belong to, the companies we work for — we give away our power and become dependent upon external validation. When that is taken away, our sense of value, and identity, goes with it.” This reaffirms a theme we explore from…
 
“Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy.” The mindset that life is supposed to be easy gets a lot of us in trouble. We want to avoid pain and struggle and as a result (pe…
 
“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” Sometimes our struggles transcend words, or our ability to articulate what is going on inside ourselves, whether or not we’re having a good day. Go to Big Self School.com and take the stress test to find out just how stre…
 
“The technocratic illusion is that poverty results from a shortage of expertise, whereas poverty is really about a shortage of rights. The emphasis on the problem of expertise makes the problem of rights worse. The technical problems of the poor (and the absence of technical solutions for those problems) are a symptom of poverty, not a cause of pov…
 
“You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are.” Pretend this book is a map, and you are looking at the point that says: You are here. That’s where you’re starting really all the time, from where you are. It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you think you are going, what job or career you have had or think you should have. …
 
“We are triggered not by their behavior, but by our own unresolved emotional issues.” “Do you see me?” This is the big question your child is asking every day. “Can you recognize me for who I am, different from your dreams and expectations for me, separate from your agenda for me?” Go to Big Self School.com and take the stress test to find out just…
 
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” This book teaches the powerful and resonating lesson that our perceptions create our reality. There are external events outside of our control that happen all the time. We can do not…
 
“Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: ’Leave behind all hope, you who enter here’.” There is a lot of darkness in our current historical moment, but there remains tremendous goodness. We live with the hope o…
 
“It is by tracing things to their origin, that we learn to understand them; and it is by keeping that line and that origin always in view, that we never forget them.” Paine had a provocative and idealistic sense of what we often should see as “self-evident” truths. It seems he was already tracing things to their origins, such as the basic rights of…
 
“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” The emphasis is on feelings. Grief involves emotions, however intense the grief may be. Six common responses to loss that completely ignore emotional needs: (1) Don’t feel bad; (2) Replace the loss; (3) Grieve alone; (4) Just give it time; (5) Be s…
 
“With every breath, the old moment is lost; a new moment arrives. We exhale and we let go of the old moment. It is lost to us. In doing so, we let go of the person we used to be. We inhale and breathe in the moment that is becoming. In doing so, we welcome the person we are becoming. We repeat the process. This is meditation. This is renewal. This …
 
“Addictive behavior is often a search for safety rather than an attempt to rebel or a selfish turn inward.” This is a good reminder, especially when we see it manifesting in our children’s behaviors. Of course, it doesn’t take long for addiction to manifest in rebellion or a self-interested turn inward, but that often has as much to do with the pun…
 
“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it — through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are a one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be acc…
 
“Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” This qu…
 
“A stationary body will stay stationary unless an external force is applied to it.” Force is equal to mass times acceleration, and a change in motion (change in speed) is proportional to the force applied. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Think about these laws in relation to your own life. Go to Big Self School.com and ta…
 
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” When you come across this quote at the right time it can be such an encouragement. It’s true…
 
“The wonderful paradox about the truth of suffering is that the more we open to it and understand it, the lighter and freer our mind becomes. Our mind becomes more spacious, more open, and happier as we move past our avoidance and denial to see what is true. We become less driven by compulsive desires and addictions, because we see clearly the natu…
 
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.” The biggest regrets the…
 
“Like lost children we live our unfinished adventures.” In the ways that we don’t know ourselves, you could say we haven’t grown up. We haven’t grown into the mature self we can be, who we, in fact, are. And so we are like children, and in that way we relive and reenact the parts of ourselves that are unfinished. When our unconscious minds go unexp…
 
“The happiness which comes from long practice, which leads to the end of suffering, which at first is like poison, but at last like nectar — this kind of happiness arises from the serenity of one’s own mind.” While we’re tackling one buried treasure after another, here is more ancient wisdom. For as much disdain as we have for the past, the past ha…
 
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” I especially love this quote because it captures so much in such an aphoristic statement. To move a mountain may be a miracle, but it’s a miracle that comes through incredibly hard and persistent labor and (self) belief. It’s a lesson on habits. It’s a lesson in persistence. Go to…
 
“The praise of the wise few is more important than the mockery of the foolish many.” I suppose also the praise of the wise few is more important than the praise of the foolish many. The mockery of the foolish many would still hurt, even if we knew they were foolish. The thing about the foolish is they don’t usually understand that they’re foolish, …
 
“The great affair, we always find, is to get money.” We’ve explored this concept before in our readings, but it bears a point of return from time to time. There is the self-interested part of our lives that is focused on what we can get for ourselves and our families. To some extent, of course, it’s required. We have to earn our way, and to some ex…
 
“If you’ve never done anything wrong it’s probably because you have never tried anything new.” You learn to walk by falling. You become a better mountain biker by crashing (within reason). You could even go so far as to say you literally learn by failing. It is the curious minds who pursue answers for themselves that come back with valuable finding…
 
“I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious views of anyone.” Darwin amended his original 1859 text in a previous edition in response to religious critics who believed that the Creator had an intentional and guided hand in the development of all creation. He turned to a famous author and clergyman, Charles K…
 
“It is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not.” I read this as there are lots of ways to be imprisoned. It’s also a matter of perspective. You can be imprisoned by the beliefs you are chained to, as well as by fear and anger. Any recurring pain or emo…
 
“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” This is a quote from the protagonist doctor in the novel, and it sounds almost exactly like so many of the healthcare workers we hear from today regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knows how long i…
 
“One of the things that you realize when you see the nature of the self is that what you do and what happens to you are the same thing. Realizing that you do not exist separately from everything else, you realize responsibility.” If we do not recognize our role in our misfortune, we are unable to change the conduct that led to it, which almost guar…
 
“Mindful breathing is the vehicle that you use to go back to your true home.” Mindful breathing is a meditation technique that seeks to reduce the size of the emotion or thought in the brain. The idea is to get perspective, to listen to your body, and to let the experience of conscious breathwork do its work to calm. In a calm state you can make be…
 
“One of the most surprising things I’ve noticed during my experiments in productive disagreement is how quickly things go off the rails precisely when people stop speaking from their own perspective and try to speculate about other people’s perspectives.” There are some interesting takeaways from this research. It seems a large part of disagreement…
 
“Rarely in our life is money a place of genuine freedom, joy, or clarity, yet we routinely allow it to dictate the terms of our lives and often to be the single most important factor in the decisions we make about work, love, family, and friendship.” There are a lot of unconscious obligations we experience as a result of money. Rarely do people fee…
 
“People who have recently lost someone have a certain look, recognizable maybe only to those who have seen that look on their own faces. I have noticed it on my face and I notice it now on others. The look is one of extreme vulnerability, nakedness, openness. It is the look of someone who walks from the ophthalmologist’s office into the bright dayl…
 
“We know, if only vaguely and inchoately, that our finest and most memorable experiences may never, and indeed, ultimately will never, happen again. That is why we cherish them so.” Emily Dickinson said the same thing in her distinctive way. We focus on death like we should focus on any reality in our life, with clarity. It doesn’t mean you have a …
 
“Isn’t it important for your friends close by and far away to know the high cost of these insights? Wouldn’t they find it a source of consolation to see that light and darkness, hope and despair, love and fear are never very far from each other, and that spiritual freedom often requires a fierce spiritual battle?” I think that’s the motivation behi…
 
“We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge — and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves — how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves? It has rightly been said: ’Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’; our treasure is where the beehives of our knowledge are.” Merely knowing a lot does not help you to know…
 
“Dissatisfaction and discomfort dominate our brain’s default state, but we can use them to motivate us instead of defeat us.” That’s the very challenge, though, isn’t it? We can choose to make this default state of our brain’s into something motivating. Step one is a mindset shift, which tends to be a process, and is a skill that can be developed. …
 
“Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” Research has been showing for quite some time now how important emotional intelligence is in the workplace. Really, it’s important in all social aspects of our lives,…
 
“So much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with feeling compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up scars as if they are literally repulsive. But why hide? What’s so shameful about wanting, about desire, about having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness? Why this need to constantl…
 
“If you care about something you have to protect it – If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” Owen Meaning has so many wise sayings, and all in that irritating but endearing voice in ALL CAPS throughout the entire book. One of the more memorable characters in modern literature. He says this t…
 
“But those things aren’t you. They are just things about you, not the real, the core you. Look at the center of you. What do you want to change there?” It’s not easy to just “look at the center of you,” much less to see yourself so clearly without blindspots so that you can answer the question of what you would change once you do. That is why this …
 
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