stop. breathe. look. be grateful. be a blessing.

TED = Inspiration.

Logo for TED conferenceOne of my favorite places to go on the internet for inspiration is the TED channel.

TED stands for Technology, Education, Design, and they host forums of presenters all over the world. These presenters give short (5-15 minute) lectures on almost any subject but mostly within the 3 core categories of Technology, Education and Design (which are very broad categories). These presentations are recorded and then broadcast to the world.

A few months ago I ran across a TED presentation by Louie Schwartzberg who is a time-lapse photographer in Northern California. He spoke for a few minutes, and then shared a video he made which featured the words of a Benedictine monk – David Steindi-Rast.

Read some of what Steindi-Rast shares in the video:

Today…is a gift. It’s the only gift you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

Begin by opening your eyes… Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment…

Look at the faces of the people whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face. A story that you could never fully fathom.

Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you, and then it will really be a good day.

I live in the world of portrait photography.

Though I am immersed in the universe of portrait photographers, I imagine the same problem holds true for wedding or commercial or editorial photographers.

Bondurant family picture in Colorado

We become so focused on our subject, our next job, our business, our debt, our kids, our activities, etc, etc, etc, that we lose sight of what is most important – being a blessing to those we come in contact with. It’s like we are stuck in some sort of nightmare (which used to be dream).

The way to break out of that cycle is simple, but as most simple things go – it’s not easy. The answer is to stop. Stop and breathe. Stop, breathe and look.

Look around at the world you live in – the sky, the trees, the buildings, the people – and connect with it. It’s where you began years ago. It’s where you started with your first camera in hand. You were mesmerized by light and color and design and pattern and personality.

The reason it is hard is because there is no external or immediate reward for stopping, looking and interacting, but don’t forget that there is value in the long run. The value is when you are so grateful for what you see around you, you become a blessing – blessing returns back to you.

Zig Ziglar says it like this:

You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

In other words: Stop. Breathe. Look. Be grateful. Be a blessing.

How to stop, breathe, look, and be grateful.

In 2011, I started a personal project I called my word for the year. I got the idea from my wife and her friend who were doing it themselves. It’s just as simple as it sounds; I chose one word to focus on for the year – something I wanted more of in my life

It was the most powerful thing I did last year. Choosing one word helped me to stop, breathe, look, be more grateful for today and to be a blessing.

The word itself was not the key (I chose freedom). The act of choosing the word, and continuing to meditate and act on that word is what caused growth in my life.

This year my word is RISK, and again I’m growing and being stretched. I’ve been forced to stop, breathe, look and be grateful. My 2012 word for the year is helping me to be a blessing.

I encourage you to join me.

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3 Responses to “stop. breathe. look. be grateful. be a blessing.”

  1. Linda August 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Thank you for this post Andy.  I got tears in my eyes b/c all too often I don’t stop and breathe and appreciate what I have.  That video was wonderful and I hope to watch many times.  It’s bookmarked when I need it!  My word, just decided, is Happiness.  Even though it’s Aug.  and not the beginning of a year, it’s not too late to pick a word.
    Thank you!
    Linda Dow Hayes

    • Andy Bondurant August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Linda –

      Congratulations on choosing your 2012 Word…it’s never too late!

      It’s so easy to get caught up in everything else in life – especially the 1, 2, 5, 10 year goals. We miss out on what’s happening now. I’m not cured, but I’m doing better.

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