Jack Canfield Jack Canfield author. speaker. motivator.

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 Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

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 Seth Godin author. speaker. linchpin.

Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]

 
Krishna Kaur Krishna Kaur yogi. philanthropist. dynamic teacher.

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 Norman Lear producer. philanthropist. tv legend.

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 Leilani Münter race car driver. activist. carbon free girl.

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]

 
Kevin Bales Kevin Bales Freedom Fighter. Philanthropist. Game Changer.

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 Sophie Chiche mom. big dreamer. lady in red.

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]

 
Mastin Kipp Mastin Kipp Writer. Entrepreneur. Daily Lover.

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 Liz Phair singer. musician. crier.

Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]

 
Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu archbishop. author. peaceful leader.

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 Zainab Salbi author. ceo. humanitarian.

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]

 
Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

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 Kia Miller yogi. meditator. teacher.

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 Simon Mainwaring creator. writer. idea geek.

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 Shannon Bindler Strategist. Writer. Life Coach.

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]

 
Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

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]

 
Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

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

 

learn love

Mary Jane Ryan Mary Jane Ryan Author. Speaker. Professional Thinker.

Mary Jane Ryan is one of the creators of the bestselling Random Acts of Kindness series. She specializes in coaching high-performance entrepreneurs and leadership teams around the world. [www.mj-ryan.com]

One of the greatest inspirational writers of the 19th century was a man named Henry Drummond. He wrote a best-selling little book called The Greatest Thing In the World. In it, he said, “The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal question for us all is how better can we love.”

Learning and teaching in that schoolroom of love is what inspires me in my personal life and in my work. For me and for many of us, learning to love better begins with the self. Loving ourselves is no small thing. We are each called upon to love ourselves in all our brokenness and beauty, when we stumble as well as when we soar. If we expect perfection from ourselves, we’re rigid, inflexible, judgmental – any mistake is unacceptable, so we push it away and pretend it never happened. We don’t learn from our errors and we are, therefore, condemned to repeat them. If, however, we treat ourselves in a tender, patient manner, as a loving mother would treat her newborn child, it’s possible to acknowledge our mistakes and make wiser choices in the future.

As we cultivate true love for ourselves, we deserve our own mercy. Mercy is an old-fashioned word. You don’t hear it much these days. I love the word mercy because one of its meanings is compassionate treatment of those in distress. When we show ourselves mercy, we cradle our distress, our irritation, and our anger. We hold it close, allow it to touch us and, therefore, transform it. Even if we haven’t lived up to our own standards, we love and care for ourselves anyway – in our woundedness, with our strength. And the more love and mercy we shower on ourselves, the more will flow over onto the rest of the imperfect people who populate this less than perfect world.

The desire to grow in love allows me to listen when I’d rather speak, to serve when I’d rather sleep. It calls me to be my best self more often, and to develop my love in many forms – as a friend, a spouse, a parent, a colleague, a guide.

If life is a schoolroom of love, what are you here to learn? What are you here to teach?

– Mary Jane Ryan

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