Archive for mindfulness

Winning with Joy: The Golden State Warriors

I don’t usually do this, but after a meeting last week with friend and colleague Diana Hartley, I was inspired. She told me about her love for the Golden State Warriors and how it came to be. This story resonated with me so strongly I had to share. Below is Diana’s article.

Note: This post was originally published at Diana Hartley Consulting. Thanks to Diana for allowing us to republish it here.

Sports has never been my thing. I was raised in New York City, which meant my family’s sports were shopping and going out to eat. As a child raised partially in Manhattan and West LA, I did attend a few Dodgers games and one or two evenings of Golden Gloves boxing (of all places for my dad to take us in our white gloves and Mary Janes!).

Sports was never encouraged, so after a few attempts at biking and roller skating and falling into rose bushes, I gave up in favor of indoor activities such as ballet, jazz, and tap. I was in LA, and that’s what young ladies did at the time. It took decades, but sports showed up big time last year, and I am thrilled it did.

Last year when my friend Jim started talking a mile a minute (not his normal speed) about Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, I listened. His nonstop enthusiasm brought me into his living room to watch Steph and the team do remarkable things night after night, game after game—all the way through the playoffs and their championship win. Wow, such happy energy, such honest victories. I was smitten.

I think what really made me fall in love, besides the high I always get from watching excellence, was how the team seemed to be coached. Something was different about the Warriors. I could feel it. Head Coach Steve Kerr stressed having fun while still being able to compete at the highest level.

“It’s a long season, this was meant to be fun,” he was quoted as saying in a CBS Bay Area article in 2015.

His style seemed down to earth, positive, and highly effective, with no BS and very little ego. In the same article, he described four important values from his coaching philosophy. They are joy, compassion, mindfulness, and competition. Who would have thought three of these values would be soft skills?

Even though the NBA basketball season is the longest in sports—with six more weeks of playoffs until the final championship game—the Warriors brought it with heart and savvy to each and every game. They had what it took to finish the season as champs. Steve’s humane coaching style, generally relaxed demeanor, and wry sense of humor kept everyone grounded and focused.

“When we hit those four things, we’re not only very tough to beat, but we’re very fun to watch, we’re very fun to coach, we’re very fun to be around,” he told the reporter.

How could these values be used to coach a sports team? How does Kerr use them to bring success to his team? Can joy, compassion, and mindfulness really be part of a winning strategy in the highly competitive world of professional basketball? We’re talking about an organization worth $3.1 billion. Do soft skills generate sports dominance and billions of dollars, too? It appears so for the Golden State Warriors organization.

I am not in the locker room or practice facility nor at courtside, but I intuit the word “joy” to mean a great, easy enjoyment for playing with teammates who love the game equally. The Warriors really seem to love what they do, and their enthusiasm is contagious. As their fans know, when the Warriors are on, you can feel the joy in your living room.

The team plays for the love of the game, and that’s joy. Kerr’s coaching style supports handpicked players who work hard for each other because they are all crazy about basketball. It gives them the juice to play a tough game night in and night out for months on end. I believe their natural exuberance comes from team pride and a desire to deliver victories to their huge fan base, both young and old.

Mindfulness, well, that’s another story. I don’t know what that means to Coach Kerr, but for me it is staying tuned to the present moment, acknowledging and respecting others. I see this presence and lack of negativity each time a player is interviewed, teaches their youngest fans the fundamentals of the game, or speaks lovingly about the charities they so generously donate time and money to. These individuals care about others a great deal.

Compassion is empathy at its best. I know that when I feel compassion, I extend my heart to others and am open to understanding them even when it’s hard, even when I don’t like them. It is a belief in people, fairness, and acceptance. Compassion means caring for others, sometimes more than yourself. I see this in the unselfish way the Warriors share the ball as they play. Kerr supports team victories, not star player victories.

And, of course, the last value—competition—must be present to be your best in the world. For the Warriors, I do not think competition means “winning at any cost” because the other three values make competition a game, not ego enhancement. They are great role models for fairness in sports and the many young people who look up to them. This means they competite to win, naturally, but they also compete with themselves to be better every day. All great athletes compete with themselves first.

Why did I share this blog on Coach Kerr and the Warriors (besides being a crazy fan)? Okay, so I wanted to write about them for a while, but I also wanted to show you a winning example of cooperation, teamwork, joy, mindfulness, and compassion, within a competitive business. I wanted you to see that a team, with fans throughout the world, can be role models for how we interact with others in everyday life and can create a win-win situation.

I know that if all of us can embody these values in our daily lives, we will find a way to create a world that works for us all. That is my hope for a brighter future.

So, go out there and be a warrior of joy.

Photo: Thanks to Ron Adams, Ray Rider, and Matt de Nesnera of the Golden State Warriors organization for this photo.

10 Ways to Practice the Negative Approach to Happiness: Part 1

Making Grass Angels


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” —Leo Tolstoy


Living the Negative Approach to Happiness

Our last post explored the counterintuitive notion that the path to happiness may be more circuitous than we think. As we try to grasp the vision of happiness before us, it vanishes before our eyes. According to Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, we may have better luck achieving happiness if we tiptoe up to it from behind.

Below are the first five of 10 ways you can begin to practice the negative approach to happiness in your everyday life.

1) Be Vulnerable

People who brace themselves against vulnerability not only shut off their painful emotions but also their joyful ones. To open ourselves to the possibility of happiness, we have to become vulnerable to the full spectrum of emotions.

Shame researcher Brené Brown writes, “In our culture, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity and love.”

In the course of her interviews with hundreds of subjects, Brown discovered one of the distinguishing characteristics of the happier people was their willingness to be vulnerable. Learn more about how to put this principle into practice in Brown’s audiobook The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage.

2) Humiliate Yourself

“Excuse me, I just got out of a lunatic asylum. Can you tell me what year this is?” This is one example of a shame-attacking exercise clinical psychologist Albert Ellis used to send his clients onto the streets of Manhattan to practice.

Ellis, voted the second-most influential psychotherapist in history (after Carl Rogers and ahead of Sigmund Freud), also proposed an exercise in which the subject would call out the names of each station as the subway passed through them.

People terrified of public humiliation (pretty much everyone) find these exercises frightful, but those who practice them come out feeling surprisingly liberated. What they discover is the reality isn’t nearly as awful as they expected, and this empowers them to overcome fear in other aspects of their lives.

3) Imagine the Worst-Case Scenario

Ellis contended that nothing could ever be absolutely terrible because it could always conceivably be worse. By encouraging his patients to imagine the worst possible scenario, he enabled them to transform infinite fears into finite ones.

This is precisely the sort of negative visualization that has been practiced by Stoics since the third century BC, when Zeno of Citium founded Stoicism in Athens shortly after Aristotle’s death.

Stoics call this act “the premeditation of evils.” By continually acknowledging the possibility that we may lose all that we cherish, we magnify our appreciation for those very people and things.

This practice reverses the hedonic adaptation effect that causes us to lose pleasure in things we have become acclimated to (one reason the wealthy are not as happy as we might think).

It makes us treasure our loved ones all the more deeply and buffers the shock should the terrible scenario we imagine come to pass. Negative visualization also induces calm and robs anxiety of its power over us.

4) Don’t Think Positively

We already know from the research presented in our last post that positive thinking can backfire and cause lower self-esteem.

Anxiously hoping for the best outcome also requires constant reassurance that this positive outcome will occur. It tells your subconscious that its failure to occur would be disastrous, thus intensifying your anxiety.

When you expect the positive, you are not prepared when bad things happen, and this makes a bad situation worse.

5) Give up Hope

When you hope, you cease to act. This is why environmental activist Derrick Jensen rails against hope. It wasn’t until he gave up false hopes of a magical cure for the impending destruction of the planet that he was finally freed from the paralyzing fear that prevented him from acting.

By accepting responsibility and taking action, we play a role in effecting the change we once hoped for. This is crucial to our sense of living authentic, happy lives.

Stay Tuned

In our next post, we will share five more secrets to practicing the negative approach to happiness.

As always, you can reach Chris at 541.601.0114 and chris@capiche.us.