Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]
Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]
By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]
Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]
Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]
Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]
Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]
Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]
Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]
Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]
Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]
Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com
What I look for, in myself, in my teaching, and in my learning, is integrity – the integration of all the parts of myself. In the spiritual world, the focus is often on positivity, but it can sometimes be hard to integrate our shadow sides and to understand why painful things happen to us.
It’s important to be self-expressed, to come onto the planet and be whoever we are, even with all our conflicts. My whole life has been an incredible combination of painful loss and manifested dreams. My mother was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany. Her parents survived the Holocaust then came to the U.S. I wanted to become an actress, so I studied and ended up in a Tony Award-winning Neil Simon play on Broadway when I was 15. My father taught me yoga, but he was also verbally abusive. I had a lot of pain because of him, but he also gave me so much. I’ve always tried to understand how I can love someone who hurt me so much.
It’s important to acknowledge the struggles inside myself, in part because then I can accept more of what’s happening outside myself. For instance, if there’s a war somewhere, I can understand it better if I can relate it to the war going on inside me. I can remind myself that there are parts of me that rise up and overthrow other parts of me that are very restrictive. I can relate the world to myself and try to work with it – inside and out – as peacefully as possible. In this way, I’m an internal activist.
How can I integrate the conflicting feelings and experiences within myself? How can I make the highs and lows make sense with each other? What’s the lesson here? How can something intense and tragic actually be a blessing? How can I use this experience as a mirror to see myself better? How can I be grateful? By exploring in these ways, I don’t necessarily get rid of the pain, but I learn to embrace it.
Whenever something apparently bad happens to me – a breakup, a loss, a death – I try to get on my knees and thank the universe, right away, before I even understand it, rather than running away. A saying came to me once: “Pain is God’s hand in my heart.” Sometimes I imagine that hand reaching into the center of my chest. If it’s God’s hand, then the pain is OK. It’s trying to help me.
- Mandy Ingber
Explore More Meaning
appreciative son. moment cogitator. lesson learner.
Jeff Semigran is a senior at UC Berkeley studying environmental and civil engineering. He is an alumnus of the Teen Insight Seminars and Leadership series. This piece is part of the Insight University and Life By Me week of giving back. www.givingtuesday.org/insight-university
loss educator. transition encourager. hope infuser.
Carole Brody Fleet is a popular motivational speaker, helping people touched by the pain and challenge of loss, regardless of age. She's been a regular guest on local, regional, national, and international media programs. [www.widowswearstilettos.com]