It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Reduce Suffering and Confusion by Staying Focused

Reduce Suffering and Confusion by Staying Focused


All eyes are on “La La Land” heading into Oscars season. The film received a stunning 14 nominations, tying it for the all-time record.

“La La Land” is a beautiful, creative and magical movie with an ending that no one I know can agree on. As my friend John said to me the other day, “The end left me confused, but not in a bad way.”

Sunday Paper (23)I mention “La La Land” because everyone I seem to talk to feels like they are living in some version of a “La La Land” illusion. But unlike my friend John, they tell me they feel confused … but in a bad way.

I get it. We seem to be living in a world of alternative facts, which in turn makes one question any and all facts. When people want to confuse you — be it in your home, your place of work, the movies or in the world at large — they create alternate realities so convincing that you begin to doubt your own reality and, in turn, you feel like you’re starring in some strange film. You feel like your mind is in “La La Land.”

So, if you do feel like you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, might I suggest you stop and take a reality check.

Yes, there is such a thing as reality. It’s a place where facts are not alternate. Where life is really unfolding. Where people trying to come into our country really are being detained due to their ethnicity or country of origin. Where people do what they say and say what they do.

Now, when I’m in doubt or confused or suffering, I circle back to what I’m certain and clear about. I reach out to certain friends and family members that I know are grounded in truth and will tell me the truth, even if it’s unpleasant.

I go to church. I sit in silence. I breathe. I walk in nature. I read. (See the eight lifestyle choices that the Buddha instructed his followers to practice to alleviate suffering and confusion.) I write and I write and I write. I tune out the noise. I turn off shows where people scream at each other and throw out facts they can’t substantiate. I turn to my meditation practice.

When in doubt, I don’t ask other confused people what’s going on. I ask myself, what do I think is going on? What do I think is real? What do I trust? What do I observe? What do I feel?

I keep my focus there. I also reach out to people who can teach me a thing or two about mental focus and about how to keep my mind where I want to keep my mind, not where someone else wants to take it.

Enter Tom Brady. Yes, I said Tom Brady. This week, Tom Brady also made history (yes, so did Meryl Streep – if I were looking for acting lessons or lessons in courage, I would call her). Tom Brady is on his way to a record-setting 7th Super Bowl. Yes, he’s an incredible athlete, but he’s also an amazing student of mental fitness. Keeping his mind calm, clear and focused is just as important to him as keeping his body in peak physical shape. So, before you tell me you might not be a Patriots fan — actually don’t, cause I am, ? — please do yourself a favor and read the answers Tom wrote for you about how he’s learned to keep his mind focused — where it needs to be and not where others might want him to focus.

My fellow Architects of Change, this is a time to stay focused. Stay focused on what you know to be real and true. May we each be brave enough to challenge what is, imagine what can be and Move Humanity Forward. Challenging what is is the best way to make sure you don’t end up living in “La La Land.” Because unless you’re Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling, that’s not where we need to be.Maria Signature




Every week at The Sunday Paper, we want to go to a positive place. That is our mission. Every week, we also want to honor individuals who are using their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.

We call these individuals Architects of Change. They come from all areas of human endeavor and they make our world better, one idea and one person at a time. This week, we honor Andy Puddicombe as our Architect of Change of the Week. Andy is the visionary leader and voice behind Headspace, an app that is bringing guided meditations and mindfulness training to the masses. He is a man who is helping millions of people around the world achieve a clearer, calmer mind.

Andy and the folks at Headspace have a mission to improve the health and happiness of the world.

Andy AOC of Week

Andy Puddicombe
Mindfulness Expert · Entrepreneur  · Architect of Change

1. Why We Need Meditation Now:  “I think we feel such a sense of busy in our lives and in our minds,” Andy said. “So having a tool to unplug and become more aware of what is going on in the mind, I think it has huge implications. Not just for our own happiness, but for the happiness of those around us in our lives as well.”

2. What Andy Says We Can Do to Calm Down and Get Focused: 1) Meditate and be more mindful in life. 2) Reflect daily on how precious life is. 3) Know that everything is changing all of the time. 4) Think about cause and effect. Examine bad habits or mistakes and change the behavior. 5) Bring a greater sense of acceptance to life. Know that it’s not easy, but don’t resist it. Take away the layer of tension in the mind.

3. How Meditation Can Help Move Humanity Forward: “I think it always comes back to awareness and compassion. The more aware we become in our lives, hopefully, the more compassionate we become in our lives. Not only do we become happier as individuals, but also for the people around us.”

WATCH: Click here to view my Architects of Change conversation with Andy.

(Photo Credit: Chris Gash/
New Yorker)

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