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The Transformative Power of Practicing Gratitude

By May 11, 2014September 12th, 20239 Comments

Unless you are a new listener to the show, then you very well may be fatigued by my show opening mantra.  If so, you’re out of luck, because I’m going to repeat it here anyway:

Each week I bring you the best most forward thinking, paradigm busting minds in health, fitness, athleticism, creativity, diet, nutrition, art, entrepreneurship, personal growth & spirituality….

The goal is simple: to empower YOU with the tools, the knowledge, the inspiration and motivation to take your life to the next level. To help you discover, unlock and unleash your BEST most AUTHENTIC self.

I repeat it here because it’s particularly relevant to today’s guest and topic.

I repeat it here because I need to remind myself that in order to make that leap to so unlock and unleash, I must say yes to experiences outside my comfort zone.  I must be and remain open to new ideas that are unfamiliar. I must continue to be willing to risk.  And I must be willing to experience things that still scare me.

There is a truism I find myself repeating under my breath: you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

In other words, if I hope to so transmit, by way of this podcast, the inspiration and tools I profess to offer, then I must walk that talk. Otherwise I strike a false chord – my words become inauthentic. And this house I bled to build becomes a mere house of cards, soon to fall in upon itself.

After a rewarding 7 days in Ontario with Julie, I’m now traveling alone — in the midst of this extraordinary speaking tour across the Middle East — Beirut, Lebanon and three cities across Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar.

Traveling to this part of the world intimidates me. Is it safe? Can I go outside and run without negative repercussion? And how will I and my message be received by cultures so different from my own?

I love traveling. I can think of few things that excite me more than getting on a plane for a very long flight to some exotic place I have never before seen.  And yet, I am definitely well outside my comfort zone. These are not places that I would ordinarily choose to visit. But that’s what makes it so enthralling. I am wide open to the multitude of opportunities they potentially offer.

It’s about practicing “yes” to the new experiences that present themselves, irrespective of whatever feelings of fear, insecurity, doubt and anxiety that creep up and strive to keep my life small for the sake of comfort and security — emotions I know are underpinned by illusion – what the Hindus call Maya.

For me, the practice of saying yes in the face of such fear and doubt has been paying dividends of late.

I can’t tell you what an incredible experience Beirut has been the last few days. A place in so many ways vastly different from what I expected. Imagine a mashup of old and new. Cote D’Azur meets Arabia. Parts almost indistinguishable from Milan or Paris or Tuscany – très chic European, sophisticated and urban teeming with beautiful, intelligent, curious people I had the privilege of spending time with. There’s a reason it’s called The Paris of the Middle East.

But turn your head to peer behind my lovely hotel on the waterfront and you will see the unmistakable scars of war. The scaffold of the towering old Holiday Inn hotel – once the pride and pearl of the city — looms high yet decimated and rife with bullet indentations and gaping holes from shell fire artillery blasts. Demolished just after construction was completed when the civil war broke out on 1975, the scaffold still stands in a state of utter disreapir as a constant reminder of a different time, and the ever-present instability that underpins the city’s elegant, cosmopolitan veneer.

As I sit here tonight finishing up this post, I am now writing from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. More on this city in a later post, but for now I will just say that I spent an evening in a beautiful private home delivering my message to a small group of 15 Saudi businessmen dressed in traditional thobe attire, some accompanied by their wives. The cultural divide at first struck me as almost impenetrable. I am not well versed in the cultural etiquette. I don’t know the rules here! Can I address the women or must I not make eye contact? Will I offend them with my message? There is no way these people are going to be even the slightest bit interested in what I have to offer.

For a moment I was terrified. I have never before felt further from home — and I’ve been to Pakistan! Then I closed my eyes. Took a breath. Consciously surrendered to the moment. Asked to be simply a channel for service.  Nothing more, nothing less. And then let it all go.


Now in the moment, the cultural divide vanished. And by the end of the evening, I felt completely at home — because I was.

It was an incredible experience.  And one I will not soon forget.

As I sit here tonight, I am in touch with the miraculous and impossibly beautiful turns my life has taken.

How did this happen? By learning how to say yes — not just to opportunities that once would have scared me, but to myself — my higher self. To the inner, instinctual voice I have — through years of inside work — come to trust as my ultimate life navigator.  Because the voice does not divine from what I think of as me, but from something higher.  What Julie would call Divine Consciousness.

How did this happen? By choosing above all — to echo a mantra evoked by filmmaker Casey Neistat in a previous episode to invest in experience.

Reflecting on all of this, I am enriched — for these experiences have made me better, broader, more expanded and compassionate.

But most of all, I am grateful.


It’s been a while, but Julie is now back in the copilot seat for today’s show, and gratitude is the subject of the hour.

This is a good one people. Be open. Choose to invest in this experience. And say yes to receiving information that might be new to you.

And stick around through the end — you won’t want to miss Julie’s beautiful rendition of her song Cry.

I hope you enjoy the offering.



  • Ann says:

    Great discussion. I finally started meditating daily this year after years of reading about the benefits and taking different classes. Things that made me finally start:

    1) The DECISION: it’s just like deciding to quit drinking, or to start exercising or eating right. You have to make that commitment, because otherwise you will be faced with the daily struggle with only your puny willpower, which we know is like showing up to a house fire with a garden hose.

    2) Some impetus: I have struggled with depression (negative thinking patterns) my whole life. I read “The Mindful Way Through Depression” and it just sunk in, all the stuff about the chosen story line, the ego, the survival mind eating its own tail. I came to the realization that this was the only way out, to STOP THINKING.

    3) Getting the right support that worked for me, which turned out to be taking an 8-week MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) class. It gave me instant community, a solid no-fuss teacher, daily and weekly structure, and accountability to others. It also gave me simple steps appropriate for a “householder” (a regular job-holding jane who is not a monk), with minimal religious hoo-ha. No chanting, no secret mantra, no swami, just generic release-from-thinking PRACTICE.

    After 4 months, daily meditation hasn’t fixed my life, or created miraculous change. But now I find myself DOING the things that are in line with my most hopeful desires without my having to think my way there, getting stuck in my resistance sandpit. I am a little more peaceful, and my “watcher” capacity gets continually stronger. Even if I only have time for 10 minutes, or spend 29 minutes of 30 reeling my brain back in to my breathing, I believe it makes my brain stronger and more resilient at least a teeny bit every time I do it. I feel like I’ve been handed a golden key.

  • Sarah B Lewis says:

    This is such a refreshing and humbling episode. I love the symbiosis and thankfulness that ya’ll share with me.

    Thank you for speaking truth and giving love.

  • nandasmom says:

    Another great podcast! Julie is so insightful and I love when she is on. Her quote: “From a logical standpoint, if you know everything else is fleeting, the body, the houses, the wealth, everything in this world is going to die at some point so why wouldn’t you spend time cultivating the spiritual connection.” Love that. 🙂

  • Stirling says:

    (here’s my 2nd shot at posting cause I am a tech wiz)

    Awesome podcast, gratitude is a fantastic topic! The very word shines, there are no strings attached and holds no ownership. It just…is, if I let it.

    It was truly an honour to meet you in Burlington, I still can’t wipe the smile off my face! Rich, your purposeful determination bounds from you and Julie you absolutely radiate warmth and life. The two of you are both physical and spiritual inspirations. I look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.

  • Monique says:

    Thank you for imparting your wisdom, Julie! Lovely as always. <3

  • Jess says:

    Beautiful. Your podcast has changed my life. More to come on that. 🙂

  • Jan says:

    Ok, I am one of the guys who got to know Rich in 2012 through his book and were stoked when he started the podcast. I am also one of the guys who quickly left comments on iTunes saying “more Rich, less Julie”. But, I must give it to you guys that this episode rules. And it rules because of Julie! Thank you!

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