Category Archives: change

How to Achieve Heaven on Earth


This book is pretty straightforward. The title, “How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers” pretty much says it all. It’s a great compilation and one of those books you will probably walk away from feeling a little more enlightened.

The essays seem to have been carefully chosen and it only takes about 5 minutes to read each one, so it’s a nice book to pick up in between tasks during the day, (this is a nice way of saying, it makes good bathroom reading.)

You may find yourself dog ear-ing your favorite essays to refer back to later. (For those who use only book marks and get angry with people like me, my apologies for the bent triangles in the corners of your pages.)

Here is an excerpt I have been authorized to share. Enjoy!

American Ingenuity in the Innovation Age
by John E. Wade II,
Editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

We are currently in the innovation age as demonstrated by the fact that humankind’s knowledge is doubling every ten years, and probably more so in technology.  America can thrive in an age like this. Why? Let me give you ten good reasons.

America is a nation of immigrants who came here for a better life for the most part. Therefore they have the genes to initiate changes in business, education, computers, the Internet and practically all the fields of human endeavor that require reason.

America has a wonderful system of secondary education which can hatch ideas of all sorts from biochemistry to ecological science to anthropology. You name it and somewhere in the country there is a secondary school or schools that can make you proud.

Social entrepreneurs are a new area catching on as demonstrated by Nicholas Kristof’s wonderful article, “The Age of Ambition.” Kristof writes about how the young people who are engaging in start-up enterprises like Teach America are revolutionizing whole industries, not just teaching people to fish.  He calls this phenomenon “the 21st-century answer to the student protestors of the 1960s.” He writes about colleges who are now offering classes in social entrepreneurship.  It is my ambition that Soldiers of Love, which will receive half my royalties from How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth, will become a leading charity within the age of ambition.

While I hesitate to point to our government as a leader in innovation, our democracy does have a resilience and ability to change without violating our basic formula of capitalism tempered with democracy.

We are in tough economic times but we have the ability to innovate, worker by worker, company by company, and ultimately even within local, state and federal government. Thus, I believe we will prosper in this age of new ideas. If times were really good, we would not have to change careers or search for new jobs or endeavors. In my own case, I am much happier and fulfilled as a self-employed author, investor and philanthropist than the later part of my career as a certified public accountant with the government. During my 29-year career as a CPA in public accounting, private accounting and government accounting I lost my job a number of times and had to come up fighting for another job, at times within bad economic surroundings. Now I am in a life fulfilling career that only became my calling a few years ago. I am now 64. Life is a pursuit that requires continual growth, especially in the Innovation Age.

Wisdom is something that can be gained through reacting to negative life experiences in a positive manner. There are two essays in the book related to
wisdom, “The Centrality of Wisdom” and “We Urgently Need an Academic Revolution.” These explain the nature of wisdom and how it can and should be taught.  Wisdom is the combination of knowledge, values, problem solving, imagination and resilience that can make a real difference in how one approaches adversity in times such as this.

While it might not come to mind right away, we are all made up of mind, body and spirit and it is important to change and innovate in all these areas over time as situations evolve slowly or overnight such as a job loss. Healthy diet and exercise are to a great degree within our own control. In almost everything we do, self discipline is a given for the optimum result. That’s a tough call when you loose your job, your spouse, anything or anybody that’s important to you. But we must cope regardless of the challenge. Story after story in this book tells of successes such as “With Sobriety Anything is Possible” by Todd Crandell who went from a thirteen year struggle with drugs and alcohol to founding a nonprofit foundation to cure or prevent addiction through a lifestyle of fitness and health.

We can even innovate in sex. Stella Resnick writes about how ” . . . lack of sex in marriage is a reliable measure of whether or not the relationship will last.” She says the lack of desire among both men and women in sex is the most important sexual problem in America. This is where couples can innovate on their own and improve their lives whether they are employed or not. It may be more difficult, or it may provide a diversion from the other difficult circumstances faced.

We can innovate with expanding our horizons in racial attitudes, both emotional and intellectual bias. Just look at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech abstract dated August 16, 1967 (“Where Do We Go From Here?”)and you will be amazed how far America has traveled along the road to racial harmony. We have elected an African American president. But we must continue to innovate, and I’m speaking about racial attitudes in all directions from all sources.

We can innovate in our own personal fiscal habits. This means such things as knowing what you own and financial literacy in general. I prepare a brief net worth statement practically every day. Perhaps that’s obsessive, but my father, who was a superb investor, followed his stock, AFLAC, and a few other much smaller holdings on a daily basis. I find this distressing at times and sometimes I outsmart myself. But investing is a growing, lifelong pursuit which I would encourage in so many people who are not in poverty and have sufficient monetary assets (generally 4 to 6 months of expenses) and have maximized there tax deferred (401(k) or IRA) plans. I must explain that I am an independent investor, not a trader.

Follow your dreams, but don’t quit your day job until you can really plan a prudent way to navigate your way to fulfillment of your next niche, a niche that will probably evolve in fits and starts over time.

Copyright © 2010 John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

Author Bio
John E. Wade II
, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers, is an author, investor, philanthropist, and founder of the nonprofit organization Soldiers of Love. An active member of his church and civic organizations in his area, Wade holds an M.A. from the University of Georgia and has worked in a range of fields. His extensive travels, including visits to China, India, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Brazil, inspired him to collect the essays in this work. Wade lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For more information, please visit www.HeavenOnEarth.org

I just wanted to point out a great quote from this essay. (You might want to keep a highlighter with you while reading this book, too.)

“Wisdom is something that can be gained through reacting to negative life experiences in a positive manner.” – John E. Wade II

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Eating Animals

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a thoughtful examination of where food, (meat and meat products specifically), come from. Most Americans are quite divorced from the fact that the “meat” in their sandwich, was once an animal. Most of the meat we eat doesn’t even resemble or remind us of its origins. Cold cuts, nuggets, hot dogs, individually frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It’s easy to eat it and forget, but when what we eat affects our health, the environment, other living creatures, and probably grossly contradicts our beliefs, shouldn’t we take the time to remember?

I have been a meat eater all my life, but I still remember the reluctance I felt as a child, seeing the red juices of a medium rare steak on my plate. “Is it blood?” I asked my mother.
“It’s a steak. It’s meat – just eat it,” she answered, waving a hand in the air.
“But, what animal does it come from?”
My mother’s fork and knife clink loudly against her plate. “We don’t need to discuss THAT at the table. Just eat!”

I’m sure many children have similar memories of the first time they realized that “meat” meant “animal”, and feeling revulsion. But like me, most children are told, “just eat”, and we do.

After reading this book, I don’t think I can “just eat” anymore. If the animals we call food were raised and slaughtered humanely, I think my love of meat would win at the end of the day — but in today’s world of “factory farming” and “agribusiness”, animals are raised not as living creatures, but as a commodity. Little thought is given to the miserable lives and deaths they face. Not to mention how the unnatural hormones and antibiotics the animals are pumped full of, end up in our bodies, adversely affecting our health.

Despite my strong feelings after reading it, Eating Animals is not an outright case for vegetarianism. The author takes pains to represent and research every imaginable aspect of the topic, and fairly so. This book is without a doubt, one of the most important books of the year, and a necessary read for all consumers.

I can’t tell you if a week from now I will conveniently “forget” what I have read, if I will file it away in a quiet part of my mind where I can ignore it so I can enjoy the food I love without guilt – but at this moment in time, I see the book as life changing and it’s hard for me to imagine anyone being able to read the book and continue eating mindlessly, with no thought as to where their food came from, and wrestling with that knowledge.

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Evenings at the Argentine Club

evenings-at-the-argentine-club Victoria Torres is an Argentine American woman who still lives at home. A slightly over-weight college drop out, Victoria works at her father’s restaurant – a gathering place for the Argentine community in Burbank, California. Lacking direction in life and self esteem, she’s shocked when a fellow Argentine American boy she grew up with comes back to town and takes an interest in her. Eric is handsome, successful and they share a common history, but what is he doing back in town, will he stay, and what does he see in Victoria that she can’t see in herself?

Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante brings something unique to a genre saturated with stories of Mexicans and Cubans, (not that I don’t enjoy those stories as well!)  The first few chapters were a little slow going, but it soon becomes an unpredictable page turner as one becomes emotionally invested in Victoria and Eric’s turbulent but passionate courtship. (Some scenes are borderline Romance novel material but she pulls it off leaving the reader wanting more.)

The story of Victoria and Eric’s budding romance is contrasted by the crumbling marriage of Victoria’s parents, Victor and Jacqueline. Amante is successful at weaving the two together and demonstrates a superb ability of being able to get into each character’s heart and show us what they’re feeling – from a stubborn, overly macho father and husband, to his lonely heart-broken wife who struggles with his infidelities, empty nest syndrome, and her stifled dreams.

I found myself identifying equally with young, insecure Victoria as she falls in love as well as her wise mother Jacqueline who mourns her grown children and is frequently a victim of nostalgia and loneliness.  Emotions are so well described in this book that I will admit to shedding a few tears.

This is a really beautiful story that touches on many common themes such as sacrifice, marriage, love, confidence, family, and  independence. But what I found most interesting in Evenings at the Argentine Club were the more unique thoughts on how different people define success,  and how immigrant families with American-born children can achieve the American Dream while still remembering who they are.

Non-Spanish speakers will appreciate that Amante uses Spanish words judiciously throughout and always in a context that is easily understood, making Evenings at the Argentine Club accessible to everyone.

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A library without books

A Massachusetts prep school, Cushing Academy, has decided that paper and hardback books are outdated. They’re removing them and “upgrading” to digital books.

The headmaster, James Tracy says, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.”

What do you think? Is this cutting edge, or just sad? Will this help students learn by giving them access to all the latest technology as well as millions of books – or will they be distracted by E-mail, chat, and other online socializing?

Source: Boston.com

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Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction (Giveaway!)

****CONTEST CLOSED****

The winner of the book, 90 Days to a New Life Direction by Laura Berman Fortgang was chosen by Random.org. And the winner is…

Ruth!

Congratulations and thanks to all who entered.

****CONTEST CLOSED****

now_what

In Now What? pioneering life coach Laura Berman Fortgang shares the process that she has used so successfully with hundreds of clients to help them make major changes in their lives. Whether it’s moving on from a dead-end job, discovering an entirely new creative outlet, or answering the age-old question “What am I meant to do with my life?” this book provides a clear and infinitely practical ninety-day program to discover a new direction for your life.

Readers will learn from the success stories of Berman Fortgang’s clients, including:

  • A woman who left her unfulfilling job to discover the rewards of doing motivational work with professional athletes.
  • A high-fashion shoe executive who found more gratifying work helping adoption agencies around the world place children in permanent homes.
  • A highly paid corporate consultant who became a minister.

Full of inspiring and empowering exercises and tools, Now What? guides readers — day by day and step by step — through a process that will lead to true life satisfaction and fulfillment.

Win a copy of this book by simply leaving a comment with a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field. (So you can be contacted if you’re the winner.)

If you are the winner you will need to provide a shipping address within the US or Canada. (P.O. Boxes are not accepted.)

One winner will be announced here, (and contacted via E-mail), on August 15th, 2009.

Good luck!

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Get Off Your “But”

getoffbut Get Off Your “But” by Sean Stephenson is a self help book that teaches you multiple techniques to stop making excuses and start living the life you want and deserve.

What is most inspiring about this book is the fact that the author was born with a genetic disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta which causes the bones to be extremely brittle. Just the pressure of labor alone when he was born broke nearly every little bone in his body. The doctors didn’t think he would live, but he survived. He grew to only 3 feet tall and is confined to a wheelchair. Throughout his life he has suffered more than 200 bone fractures, (and “No,” he says, you never “get used to” the physical pain of it.)

Despite the challenges he never makes excuses for himself and instead has achieved a level of success and (more importantly) happiness most able bodied people never reach.

No matter what you’re needing motivation for, this book has it all. The life changing lessons can be applied to any and all aspects of your life from health and finances, to career and relationships and beyond.

Below is an excerpt I’ve been authorized to share.

Slowwwwww . . . Downnnnnn . . .
by Sean Stephenson,
Author of Get Off YourBut“: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself

One thing I hear over and over from clients is that they just don’t have enough time. That’s kind of funny, because our world moves fast, and we move fast — you’d think we’d have plenty of time. But moving fast makes us feel as if we can’t catch up. Rushing certainly doesn’t give us physical confidence. When we’re running at top speed all the time, we can’t relax, and others can’t relax around us.

The solution is easy: Slow. Down.Your. Movements.

I’m not talking about moving as if you were running in slow motion; I am simply suggesting that you be more aware of how your body is moving. If you want to be more comfortable with yourself and make others feel comfortable when they are around you, pay attention to the following areas:
  • Relax. Keep your entire body loose. If your fists are clenched, release them. Let go of any tension you’re harboring anywhere in your body.
  • Breathe. if you’re taking shallow breaths, begin taking slower and deeper breaths. Be sure to exhale completely! If you find yourself fidgeting (for example, dipping your hands in and out of your pockets; fiddling with any object obsessively; chewing your nails; playing with your hair; tapping your feet, hands, or fingers), take a deep breath in, smile, gently place your body in a comfortable position — and leave it there.
  • Slow down your blinking. Be aware of your blinking rate. If it’s too fast, slow it down.
  • Bring your head up. Keep your shoulders back and your head up. This will almost automatically keep your optimism up. When we look out at the world, we think about things outside ourselves. When we look down, we tend to go inward. Our mind accesses self-talk and emotions, and that can disconnect us from the present moment. Keeping your shoulders back will also open up your heart chakra and show others that you’re open to giving and receiving love.
  • Adopt good posture. Keep your body relaxed and slightly asymmetric. No sitting or standing at attention, with, shoulders squared and feet together, like a soldier. This symmetric posture conveys the message that you’re ready to attack, whereas holding your body slightly (yet consciously) off kilter conveys you have no intention to cause harm. You’re just there to relax and have a good time.
  • Use a strong tone of voice. Keep your voice under conscious control. if you listen to any good radio DJ, you’ll notice that he never speaks in a slow, boring monotone. He keeps the volume, tempo, and pitch of his voice smooth and controlled. When he takes breaths, he makes the sound intentional.
  • Smile! Please don’t force a big, scary, stiff smile that stays plastered on your face no matter what. Make it a gentle, subtle smile that comes from your open heart and feels comfortable.
  • Be peaceful. The more still and calm you are, the better. Our eyes and ears catch sudden or awkward changes in movements and sounds, and automatically register them as potential threats. The more you can keep your body still and your voice controlled and relaxed, the better equipped you’ll be to keep the peace around you and certainly within you.
Sensory Acuity

If you pay close attention to microchanges in physiology, you can tell when your feelings (or someone else’s feelings) are shifting. Our awareness of these details is referred to as sensory acuity. The following physical cues telegraph your internal emotional condition:
  • Pupil dilation: The larger the pupils, the more open and connected we feel (if not influenced by direct light or drugs, that is).
  • Flushed skin: The more red the skin (specifically in the face), the more uncomfortable, fearful, embarrassed, or sexually nervous we feel.
  • Muscle tension: The tenser the facial muscles, specifically around the eyes, the more uncomfortable we are. Neck tension is a very good indicator of feeling overwhelmed.
  • Quick breathing: The more quickly we breathe (unless we have just done some physical activity), the shallower the
    breaths we take, and the higher in the lungs our breath comes from, the more constricted we feel (and probably are) overall. If we take slow, deep, and fully belly breaths, we’re likely to be more comfortable in the moment.
  • Lip configuration: if our lips are unnaturally pursed and slightly white, we’re likely to be upset or extremely displeased. If the lips are full, smooth, and a deep shade of red, we may be feeling sexually aroused, emotionally excited, or at total peace.

The above is an excerpt from the book Get Off YourBut“: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself by Sean Stephenson. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Excerpted from Get Off YourBut by Sean Stephenson. Copyright © 2009 by Sean Stephenson. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Author Bio
Sean Clinch Stephenson, author of Get Off YourBut“: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself, is one of the leading authorities on the deconstruction of self-sabotage (what he calls getting people off their BUTs). A psychotherapist and internationally known professional speaker, he publishes the international men’s online magazine InnerGameMagazine.com and has a private psychotherapy practice.

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The Global Achievement Gap

08_global_achievement_gap The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner brings attention to a problem that will greatly affect future generations of Americans, and has already begun to affect us now. That problem is that our children are not being prepared to compete in the global market. Jobs are being shipped overseas, and not just blue collar jobs such as manufacturing, but at a staggering rate we are seeing our white collar jobs disappear, too.

This is because our children, from low income school districts to the top schools in the nation, are being taught to the test as a result of No Child Left Behind. There is no room in the curriculum for teaching students how to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. Our children will not learn how to lead by influence, they will not learn adaptability. Their oral and written skills will be sub par and their curiosity, creativity and imagination will not be encouraged. They will learn about government but not how to be a good citizen. Instead, they are rewarded for memorizing facts to be regurgitated on multiple choice standardized tests. No wonder we’re falling behind.

The next President has a great challenge ahead. Tossing NCLB into the rubbish bin will not suffice. This is a must read for educators, government officials and parents.

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