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Quality of Life Perspectives: Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz about Openness to Others

Quality of Life Perspectives:  Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz about Openness to Others

Quality of Life Perspectives

    Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of The Acumen Fund. She is one of the most innovative and interesting philanthropists in the world today. Her non profit has taken on the world’s poverty problem by directly investing capital in developing world businesses that have the potential to deliver critical goods and services like health, water, housing and energy.

    Jacqueline Novogratz
      Jacqueline Novogratz

      More than anything, Jacqueline is a very likable person. She’s funny and light and her self deprecation is genuine.  We had a great conversation and I gathered some great quality of life practices for my book and site.

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      One of the most interesting areas she went into was the enrichment and quality of life factor of being open to others.

      Here is a 90 second excerpt in which Jacqueline discusses this perspective:

      novogratz-open-to-others (MP3 download)

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      I think the first takeaway is simply that arrogance is anti-life. When we are shut off from people because we think we are better in some way, or we just don’t think they are worth our time, we miss out on all that life has to offer.  When you realize that you are no better than anyone else (and of course the flip side that no one is better than you), a world of enriching experiences and opportunities opens up.

      As Jacqueline put it, “Every person out there has a story.” And when you are open to others, life becomes richer.  [Look, it goes without saying that there are nuances and exceptions with anything.  And in this case one can still have boundaries in life while being “open to others.”]

      I also like how Jacqueline mentions it’s not just about opening up to the man in the mud hut but also the king.  Oftentimes, we become overly judgmental of those “above us”, whether leadership wise or socio economic wise.  And she points out the folly in this mindset.  That there is also a trove of learning experiences from these types if we open up.

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      It seems it’s not just about being open but also pro actively seeking to learn from the many people around us that have wisdom and experience to impart.  I was getting my haircut a few weeks ago and was talking with my barber Bill.  We were talking about having kids and he talked  about his challenges in raising a teenage daughter.  I remember my instinct, which was to relate it to me and say something in response.  And then I had this thought…  “Why don’t I just ask him open-endedly what he has learned on the parenting front.”  When I did, he gave me a great wisdom bit that I was able to chew on.  He said, “Now is the time to nip negative behaviors in the bud.  If you have a four year old that has a complaining habit, do not think you can teach him out of it later.  Now is the time to deal with it.”

      Three weeks later over another haircut, Bill was telling me how he is divorced and now back in the dating scene.  I asked him, “What is something you learned along the way with marriage?”  Bill took a few seconds, then said, “A husband might think there is a better someone out there when the going gets tough.  But if you have someone you love, and they love you, stick with it.  Because I can tell you, I’ve been single for ten years and I haven’t found anyone close to measuring up to my ex-wife.”

      Man, those were two pretty good life bites, no?

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      I guess the point is how much upside there is to taking advantage of learning opportunities out there, as well as the general enjoyment of hearing other people’s stories.  And that a precursor for all of this is an understanding that while you might be good at something, or accomplished in some way, or have amassed some material gain  — that does not make you better than anyone else, or is anyone else better than you.

      It also seems clear from this interview the relation between openness to others and an ability to connect with people in general.  When you have the qualities that Jacqueline is talking about, people notice the way you carry yourself, that look in your eyes.   The two qualities go hand in hand it seems.

      I guess the main point is that getting away from arrogance is an important step in getting the most that life has to offer.

      What are your thoughts on this subject?  Are there other ways we should look at this?

      More by this author

      Quality of Life Perspectives: Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz about Openness to Others Assuming Positive Intent: The Ultimate Productivity Driver

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      Last Updated on January 17, 2019

      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

      In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

      Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

      Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

      Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

      Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

      The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

      There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

      How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

      According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

      Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

      Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

      The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

      Listen carefully:

      We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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      The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

      Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

      8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

      There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

      Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

      1. Pray Daily

      You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

      When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

      Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

      Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

      2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

      A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

      By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

      Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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      If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

      This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

      How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

      3. Smile Often

      Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

      Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

      Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

      The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

      4. Organize Your Working Desk

      A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

      When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

      Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

      Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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      5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

      I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

      Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

      What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

      6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

      God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

      I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

      I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

      7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

      You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

      How do you do that? This is my formula:

      First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

      If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

      If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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      If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

      Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

      8. Go Exercise

      Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

      The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

      You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

      12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

      The Bottom Line

      It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

      It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

      Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

      More Resources About Mindfulness

      Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

      Reference

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