Our Most Valuable Resource

If I were to ask you what our most valuable resource is, what would you say? Money, gold, jewels, oil? Actually, it none of these things. In fact, the answer may surprise you.

It’s water. Water is our most valuable resource—all life depends upon it. Many of the world’s deepest problems (poverty, disease, conflicts over land) can be traced back to the lack of water.

Today is World Water Day, an initiative led by the United Nations to promote awareness about those who lack an adequate supply of clean water. Furthermore, a recent report warns that the world’s water supply could dip sharply in the next fifteen years.

To me, this is all very troubling news. While working at a wilderness therapy program in the wilderness of Arizona I learned, first hand, the importance of water. Before we set out for the day, we planned our whole hike around water—knowing that we couldn’t survive without it. Water is everything.

I can’t describe to you how wonderful it was, after a long and grueling day of hiking, to put our hands in cold, fresh, running water, and take a drink. Water would wash away the dirt and grime and begin to heal our bodies.

But why am I telling you things about water that you probably already know? Because I’m not just talking about water—not really.

I’m currently in Ghana, Africa, filming several non-profit projects throughout the country. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to visit a village that had recently received a water pump that could pull clean water from the ground. I watched in amazement as the children gathered around the pump and played in the water. I pulled out my camera and filmed this:

Watching their excitement, I was suddenly struck by something spoken by a man who sat at a well over two thousand years ago: “[W]hosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

Angela Johnson's sculpture of the woman at the well.

Angela Johnson’s sculpture of the woman at the well.

So I’m not just talking about water—not really.

I’m someone who believes that a spiritual world works in harmony with our physical world. I believe that just as we need water to keep our physical bodies clean and healthy, we also need something to heal our souls. And I firmly believe in the healing power of Christ’s teachings—that it is living water.

Who among us would not be a better if we truly “loved one another”? If we forgave more freely? If we loved our spouses more fully? If we rendered greater service to mankind? Or if we loved our enemies? Whose life would not be better if it were drained of fear and filled with faith? Those are things of the spirit, and they are given life through living water.

In that sense, I believe that living water is our most valuable resource—all life depends upon it. Many of the world’s deepest problems can be traced back to the lack of living water.

Living water is everything.

Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk and The Scarlet Letter

This may be the best TED talk I’ve ever heard—and that’s not an exaggeration…

Between 1995-1997, Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, had an affair with President Bill Clinton. When the relationship became public, Monica Lewinsky was made the center of a political scandal that rocked the United States.

Some people have very negative opinions about Monica Lewinsky, but given the potency of her message I politely ask you to suspend those opinions.

In a recent TED talk, Monica admits to making mistakes but then takes a stand against cyberbullying. Drawing upon her own experiences in the 1990s, she makes a powerful case against public shaming and the people who capitalize from the pain of others.

The whole speech reminded me of my favorite book, The Scarlet Letter. Set in seventeenth century Puritan Boston, a young woman—Hester Prynne—is found guilty of adultery, the act of which produced a child.

As punishment, Hester is made an object of public shame and told to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ for the rest of her life. The father of Hester’s child is undiscovered and subsequently unpunished. In fact, throughout the book he is reverenced and revered in their community.

But one of the reasons I like The Scarlet Letter so much is because of Hester’s ability to transform her “mark of shame,” into something that helps others. Outcast from society, Hester learns poignant lessons about human suffering and labors to alleviate the pain of those who are struggling.

At one point in the book, the people she is helping begin to believe that the scarlet letter actually stands for ‘Able’ or ‘Angel.’

If you hadn’t already noticed, one of the main themes of my life has been Keep Moving Forward. I am constantly inspired by people that can endure challenging times and turn their most difficult experiences into something that can help others.

Listening to Monica Lewinsky’s speech was very inspiring. Truthfully, I had never considered the amount of suffering she must have endured these past ten years. I marvel at how she is taking something that was so painful for her and using it to bring peace to others. When asked why is she doing this, Monica replied:

“Because it’s time—time to stop tip-toeing around my past, time to stop living a life of opprobrium, and time to take back my narrative. It’s also not just about saving myself. Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: you can survive it. I know it’s hard. It may not be painless, quick, or easy, but you can insist on a different ending to your story.”

One of the most telling parts about her talk was the very end: When Monica concluded her speech she immediately walked off the stage, without waiting for applause. Given all of the negative experiences she’s had with the media, I’m not sure if she’s used to applause. But as she stepped back on the stage she was greeted with a standing ovation.

And after all that she’s been through (and the message she stands for), I think she deserves a standing ovation.

Please watch her talk and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Click here to sign up for my free, biweekly newsletter! In each issue I will share the northern lights of life—inspirational and uplifting material from across the web (and I might even offer you some free books—no joke).

Music That Can Heal the Depressed Heart

“Music has the ability to reach someone’s soul.” -Jhonny K

Although I’ve never seen Him, I firmly believe that God exists. For me, one of the most compelling evidences for divinity is music. There is something about music that seems to transcend mortality; it expresses the inexpressible. And I have long held the belief that God speaks to us through music.

In reference to my struggle with depression, inspirational and uplifting music has been one of the keys to my recovery. When the storms of life became tempestuous—threatening to dash me to pieces—music stepped in and soothed my soul (for example, I don’t think I could’ve made it through some of life’s challenges without the Legends of the Fall soundtrack).

Scientists have long understood the power of music in healing and recovery. In an article published on The American Psychological Association website, an author described a music therapy study led by researcher Joanne Loewy:

“There’s just something about music — particularly live music — that excites and activates the body,” says Loewy, whose work is part of a growing movement of music therapists and psychologists who are investigating the use of music in medicine to help patients dealing with pain, depression and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. “Music very much has a way of enhancing quality of life and can, in addition, promote recovery.”

Knowing the healing power of music, one of my friends recently released an album titled ARISE. The purpose of this album is to give hope and inspiration to those that are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. 100% of the proceeds go to organizations and non-profits that assist those who are struggling to move forward.

Truthfully, I’m always a bit skeptical about endorsing any particular project (it never hurts to be cautious), but after listening to the album I must admit that it’s quite inspirational (my favorite song is “Today” by Mallory Ownbey—I must’ve listened to it over 100 times! I might even use it some future videos).

While watching to an interview with the album’s producer, I was moved by this line: “Our message is not to focus on the darkness but to say ‘we get the darkness, but there’s a way out of it.'”

If you’re searching for hope, please check out the album ARISE and keep an ear out for inspirational music.

Speaking of music, if you have any songs that you think are particularly inspirational please feel free to post them in the comments below! I’d love to see your suggestions!

The Journey Home

It’s amazing how paintings and poems can speak to our hearts. I recently read the poem “Ithaka” by C. P. Cavafy and was struck by the symbolic meaning of “Ithaka.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word, Ithaka is the home of the legendary Odysseus, the hero of the Odyssey.

Throughout the Odyssey, Odysseus is trying to find his way home to Ithaka. Here is the text of C. P. Cavafy’s poem. What does it mean to you?

By C. P. Cavafy
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard 

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

(Source: PoetryFoundation.org)

Lift Another, Lift Yourself

Today’s episode of Keep Moving Forward was inspired by the biography of Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson.

Franklin once said that to serve man is to serve God—and it’s so true! But this timeless truth goes even deeper than that, because I’ve learned that as we labor to lift other people, we also lift ourselves…

The Man in the Maze and Moving Forward

An ancient Native American symbol is a powerful reminder to keep moving forward…

I just got back from a trip to Arizona. While there, I was given a gift of the “The Man in the Maze,” an ancient Native American symbol for life. I talk about it in more detail in the video below.

This video is the first part of a YouTube series called “Keep Moving Forward.” My goal in this series is to produce daily videos that are inspirational and uplifting. This year, I will travel to numerous places, meet a lot of incredible people, and document my travels and insights through video. Naturally, I will post a lot of those videos to my blog, but if you want to stay up-to-date, then please feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Thanks for all of your support and keep moving forward!

VIDEO – A Literal Interview with Author Jason F. Wright

A Literal Interview Jason F. Wright

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Jason F. Wright, the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Jars and The Wednesday Letters. In this interview video, he shares some of his experiences and insight into writing.

Before you get intimidated by the length of the video, I want you to know that I divided it into individual chapters. So if you’d rather skip ahead to his advice for aspiring authors, or jump to ahead to a different section, you can click on the link in the video to see that part of the interview (it’s a neat little feature that YouTube has).

After the interview, I drop a few hints about one of my secret projects…

Is It Possible to Fall UP?

Falling down is part of life.
Getting back up is part of living.

Falling Up

The inspiring story of Meg Johnson.

In 2004, Meg Johnson accidentally jumped off a 40-foot cliff and was paralyzed. Her recovery became a journey of discovery into the true nature of happiness.

Please take six and a half minutes to watch her incredible story in the video below. You won’t regret it! Below the video are some of my thoughts and some behind-the-scenes info…

In the summer of 2014, I was introduced to Scott Wilhite, the producer of this film. He had seen an interview I had conducted of Meg Johnson and was inspired by her story. I sent an email to Meg and he immediately began writing the script. What they have created is an elevating work of art. I am truly in awe of the meaning and message of this film.

Furthermore, I am so proud of Meg and all of her accomplishments! She’s a beautiful soul with an indomitable will to keep moving forward. If you’d like to learn more about her or even schedule a speaking event, please visit www.MegJohnsonSpeaks.com

Since producing this film, Scott has created an incredible app that gameifies positive psychology. He’s also planning on releasing several other inspiring films. Check out more of his work at www.nCOURAGE.tv

You, Unstuck – My NEW eBook!

After nearly two months of complete radio silence, I am happy to announce my triumphant return—and I come bearing gifts!!

First of all, why the silence? Well, my wife and I had to work through a couple of heavy things and it took up a lot of our time and energy. (Don’t worry, we are fine—no marital drama. Just outside pressures.)

Also, I’ve been working on three top secret projects. These projects are so top secret that only a handful of people know about them! It would take too long for me to tell you about them here and now, but you’ll find out more about them by the end of this month (and trust me, you don’t want to miss this!)

But here’s the BIG news: my new ebook is out!! Huzzah! Let us bask in the glorious cover of my new ebook:

My former boss, Jeevan, did the illustration. Isn't it awesomeness?!

My former boss, Jeevan, did the illustration. Isn’t it awesomeness?!

A little background: This was originally intended to go into my first book, Your Life Isn’t For You, but there wasn’t enough room for it (I was contracted for a specific amount of words.) So, I published an extremely watered-down version of this idea and published it as The Most Damning Belief of All Time.

The article did so well that my publisher approached me and asked about experimenting with a short ebook. After one year (and many, many rewrites), the ebook has been published!

Here is the publisher’s summary:

All of us feel trapped, stuck, or unable to move forward in life at some point. What is it that’s holding us back? According to Seth Adam Smith, it’s who, not what. Ultimately, the greatest obstacle to achieving your full potential is you.

But you are also the solution to your greatest problem.

This book combats a destructive mind-set that we all sometimes fall into: I can’t change. I am the victim of my circumstances, and I am confined by my personal limitations. This philosophy, though intangible, destroys more dreams and limits more lives than any actual, physical obstacle. To show us how to overcome this philosophy of fear, Smith draws on literature, history, and his personal experiences with chronic depression, as well as on encounters with remarkable “ordinary” people who’ve embraced a different philosophy: the belief that we possess the power to lift ourselves out of the abyss and into the light.

Smith inspires us to see that no matter how dire our circumstances may be, there is always a positive step you can take, however small it might be. He doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties or offer promises of overnight success. But he does promise that if you continue to see yourself as a victim you’ll remain frozen and fearful. We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react.

But I don’t want to give any more of it away. Click on this link and buy a copy for yourself! I dare ya. :)