Walt Whitman On Why Nature Brings Out Our Best

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons.  It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”

– Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road.”

This passage is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  The poem is called “Song of the Open Road.”

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Strong and content, I travel the open road.

The earth—that is sufficient;

I do not want the constellations any nearer;

I know they are very well where they are;

I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

Read the rest of this page »

The Wisdom of Dichotomies: The World is a Mess and Life Optimism Reconciled

Photograph by eNil via Flickr

Photograph by eNil via Flickr

I was talking with our housekeeper Fany this morning about an earthquake that hit Honduras the day before.

In non-negative way, she was saying how this is just another example of all that is happening in the world today.  I made a joke, something to the effect of “El fin del mundo esta muy cerca!”  She sort of shrugged and mentioned that she does think the end of the world may be not too far out.

The next thing she said was what struck me.  She said this belief makes it easier for her to live each day to the fullest.  The feeling that the world is a crazy, unstable place meant for her a greater sense of calm and day-to-day optimism.

While I don’t agree about a pending cataclysmic event, it does make sense why these two seeming opposite mindsets actually interplay so well.    I can see how a doomsday philosophy could simultaneously someone a more passionate, optimistic person.

This exchange is also a perfect illustration of the power of an optimistic mindset.  A negative person would let a doomsday belief translate to apathy and cynicism, while an optimistic person works off of the belief to introduce more passion into each day.

All of this (both the “world is in constant flux” theme and the dichotomy concept) reminds me of a Joseph Cambell quote:

“When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree.  The world is perfect.  It’s a mess.  It has always been a mess.  We are not going to change it.  Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”

The more I experience life the more I come across the wisdom of dichotomies.

Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Avil Beckford


Quality of life for me is doing the things that bring joy. Over the past five years I have learned a lot about what does not work for me and I have turned over a new leaf.

1.  Reading

I am an avid reader, and reading is one of the simple pleasures in my life. I go through phases where I will focus on one genre until I am ready for a change. Right now, I am reading books across genres, and one of the unique things is that I have the ability to make connections among disparate pieces of information. I am an active reader so I get emotionally caught up with the words on the pages as I interact with them.

2.  Meditation

Twice a day I meditate, which helps to bring peace to my life. I retreat to the quiet place within, where I listen to hear what my inner voice is trying to tell me. This practice helps me to become the person I was meant to be.

3.  Raja Yoga

I recently discovered Raja Yoga, the highest form of yoga and it has made such a difference in my life. I have received tools to help me to achieve self-mastery. I see simple yet profound changes in myself. Things that used to bother me no longer do, and I view difficult people as my “Tests.”

4.  Flourishing

I have been in many situations, both personal and professional where I felt a piece of me wither and die each day. Now I know how to quickly identify situations where I flourish and blossom. This allows me to be my best self, which contributes to contentment and happiness.

Read the rest of this page »

Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Cynthia Chin

rWe live in a time when more and more people realize that life is not just about existing but absolutely be about living to the fullest. Most of us perceive ourselves to be stuck in whatever rut that we cannot possibly get out of at the moment, for whatever reasons. I’d like to think otherwise. Quality of life is something that I experience, pursue and maintain at all costs because I believe that if we don’t love, enjoy and LIVE life, than our short time on earth will be sadly wasted.

So, what drives me? These are 10 contributors to what I especially love about my life, in no particular order. I’m working on all of them. Doesn’t mean I don’t fall off the wagon. But as with all things, we need to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and jump on again. Enjoy!

1. Discovering and Rediscovering Passions

When I was 14, all I wanted to do was to study abroad, get a degree in something wildlife or environmental related, and save the world. I did that (not the save the world bit, but I’m still in the wildlife conservation industry). I’m 36 and I’ve realized it’s time for me to discover, rediscover and pursue other passions in my life. I’m in the process of doing this, and I’m excited about it. I thrive on the process of discovery. I have a lot of things I can be passionate about. I just haven’t found one I want to pursue just yet.

2. Exercise and Keeping Healthy

I don’t look super fit. I’m not in great physical shape and I certainly am not drop-dead gorgeous Miss Athlete. But I tell ya, I looove working out, I loooove getting out in the jungle and trekking around, I loooove swimming, and I loooove sharing these activities with my friends. Exercise and activity keep me focused; eating well (as much as possible, anyway) makes me feel good about myself. I come to a place of quiet and inner reflection during a trek in the forest, on the treadmill, with every stroke of my swim. My focus is always on the exercise and fitness. Whether I lose weight or anything else is never the goal. I believe that’s the key philosophy on exercise.

Read the rest of this page »

Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Paul Mallory

Hi Everyone, this is the first of many future submittals.  This one comes from Paul Mallory, a fan of the site for some time.   We were introduced through Arvind Devalia a few months back and Paul is now doing some volunteer work for Quality of Life Project as well.  We will be publishing submittals from friends of the organization every two weeks going forward.  If you haven’t sent yours yet, we would love to receive it.


By Paul Mallory

People often talk about work/life balance. I realized one day (in middle age) that my work life is a huge percentage of my time on earth, and that I wanted my life to be as meaningful, contributory and joyful as I could make it. The key for me is to have work that feels like I am using my gifts to the full, and making a difference. That’s when I formed my company, Soul Work, to coach people on finding more fulfillment at work.


I have four beautiful, bright, happy and hilarious children, ranging from a school leaver to a middle-school starter. These are my favorite people in the world, and they are the people who bring joy to my weekends and through their aspirations and achievements, some huge, some tiny. They come before everything else for me, but I also realized that to support, mentor and make them happy, I needed to be happy in myself and that I therefore needed to feel good about myself and find fulfilment in my work.


I am happiest when I feel ‘on-purpose’, i.e. that my daily work is me being who I authentically am, at my core, and using my unique strengths for the benefit of others. When we’re lost in our work, we are ‘in flow’, and that’s a great feeling. I formed my company ‘Soul Work’ to research the question of how we can increase our fulfilment at work, by either changing our mindset around our current role, or by finding a new role that allows the possibility of alignment to our life purpose.

Read the rest of this page »

Quality of Life Perspectives: Ariane de Bonvoisin Talks about the Little Things

Ariane de Bonvoisin

Ariane de Bonvoisin

I had the opportunity to interview Ariane de Bonvoisin this summer.  We met last year and I have quickly become a fan of her endeavors.

Ariane is the author of First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier and has built a media company around her desire to help people enjoy life more.  Ariane embodies this Quality of Life Project purpose:

-  Contributing to the growing worldwide movement in which individuals are increasingly measuring success based on quality of life over other pursuits and are increasingly drawn to authenticity over pretense.

Ariane’s independent approach to life is truly inspiring. She lives like an explorer constantly finding new and interesting experiences to enrich her life. And her path through life is a great indicator. She grew up living in six countries, was an internationally competitive swimmer and graduated London School of Economics at 19 and Stanford Business School at 24. She went on to leadership positions in the venture capital world, at one time overseeing Time Warner’s venture fund. But she felt out of synch and saw how her personal life was suffering through by not being in tune with her true inner voice. She was always a spiritual person but felt she needed to regroup. Ariane ended up taking a new path. In 2005, she decided to become a media entrepreneur, which led to her First 30 Days book and the launching of www.first30days.com and soon www.arianestudio.com.

You can view the VIDEO of our interview with Ariane HERE.

Within the video there are index tags so you can navigate per your preferences.

There are some outstanding takes on big picture life perspectives that have helped Ariane enjoy her life.  You should not miss out on these.  But the best part of the interview in my opinion are the little things we unearthed that any of us can immediately try out.

-  Trampoline in office (“What brings you joy” section)

-  Five year journal.  (“What brings you joy” section)

-  Wheatgrass (“Diet or health practices” section)

I hope you enjoy the video!  Ariane is doing great work so if you like her book, definitely help get the word out…

Excellent WSJ Article on Sarkozy's Support for Quality of Life Index

WALL STREET JOURNAL, September 16, 2009

For France, a Joie de Vivre Index

Sarkozy to Add New Indicators, Such as Well-Being, to Measure Economic Health


PARIS — Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president two years ago on a pledge to boost France’s economic prosperity. Now he is suggesting a different way to measure that prosperity — one that includes factors such as vacation time, health care and family relationships.

From now on, to gauge the economy’s health, France will consider well-being in addition to the classic measure of gross domestic product, Mr. Sarkozy said Monday in a speech at the Sorbonne, part of the University of Paris.

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Monday.  In the speech presenting the findings of a committee headed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, the president said new measures are needed in the wake of the financial crisis, which was triggered by an overreliance on free-market principles. “If the market was the solution to all problems and was never wrong, then why are we in such a situation?” asked Mr. Sarkozy. “We need to change criteria.”

Read the rest of this page »

Write a blog post for the Quality of Life Project!!

I am taking my blog in a new direction by having people I know and fans of the site submit posts on what are the ten main contributors to their quality of life.  Perspectives you have and the practices you do that contribute to your enjoyment of life.  Click here to view a sample of what we are looking for from you.

The blog readership has responded very positively in the past when we provide this type of content.  When we did a similar post for Keith Ferrazzi’s blog, it received more comments than any post they had this year.  And people’s comments were actually their own top ten lists.

If you’d be willing to throw something together to support the project, that would be great.  I know the rest of the readers would find it to be interesting material.  It’s a cool exercise as well as it forces you to lay out the things that matter.  Please email us at contact@qualityoflifeproject.org if you’ll do it.  Thank you!

All best, Kit

Free report: Ten Tips to Greater Quality of Life

Ten Tips to Greater Quality of Life

Ten Tips to Greater Quality of Life

The most frequent question we get from people is, “So, with all the interviews  you’ve done, what are the commonalities that you’ve seen?”

We are now ready to report back to you the common practices that have emerged through all our interviews.

We aren’t offering a road map; but rather a simple recap of what practices and perspectives we have encountered the most, as well as some links to interview excerpts that expand on the particular quality of life driver.

We hope you like it.

You can get a free copy at our home page, www.qualityoflifeproject.org.

When should you get involved in an unjust situation?

Capt. Augustus McRae, (Duvall, "Lonesome Dove")

Capt. Augustus McRae, "Lonesome Dove"

If someone is being extremely rude to a counter person at the airport, should you say something?

If you’re at a football game and someone is standing up and blocking another person’s view despite his requests to sit down, should you say something?

It’s an interesting dilemma, as it treads upon a very fine line. And I know I’m not the only person to have ever been in this kind of situation.

The thought process goes as follows:

•    By confronting the aggressor, would my involvement actually influence their future behavior?

•    If I were to step in, would the victim actually feel that much better?

•    And what about me? How could my potential involvement affect my own sense of well being? Am I getting all worked up for nothing?

Here’s a personal story I dealt with.  Some time ago, I was at a dog park with my wife and some friends, when we noticed a nine-year-old boy wreaking havoc on the park. He was squirting strangers with his water gun and seemed to enjoy it. His parents didn’t seem to notice, but again, he was nine years old and it wasn’t that out of control.

Read the rest of this page »