Monthly Archives: April 2015

The kindness of strangers and the possibilities for new connections this opens

It is with deep gratitude I write this post to the people I met in California during my time there from February to March 2015.  Most of us only appreciate people when it is too late.  At funerals, I wish people would have said how great someone was to them and not afterwards.  In this vain I want to mention quite a few people for their kindness and generosity, especially in offering me a place to sleep during my trip.

I travelled with my friend Shamash Alidina for the second time to California, to attend the Wisdom 2.0 Conference.  During our visit he met up with his friends from Awesomeness Fest, Mark Duncan was one of them.

IMG_3027-MOTIONHe invited us to a Oneness Blessing somewhere close to San Jose I think, we went to a beautiful house, where Olga Llerena leads a weekly meditation group on a Monday evening.  While we were meditating there was a film crew filming us for a documentary they were making on meditation in California around the bay area. IMG_6362








While I was there I encouraged Olga and her daughter to go to the Wisdom 2.0 conference as they knew one of the organisers and lived so close by to it.  To my surprise during one of the Wisdom 2.0 pre parties Olga’s daughter Mali came up to me to say hi, I was like hi and surprised to see her.  She asked me:  “where are you staying tonight?” I said: “I don’t know, probably in the car.” I checked with my friend Shamash and we did not have a plan of where we were sleeping on that night.  I was amazed by the kindness of Mali Llerena someone I had met 3 days before offering us a place to stay.  We ended up sleeping on 2 of the sofa’s, a little bit like coach surfing I think which I have not done yet.  We also got to hang out a little during the conference, where she gave her time to volunteer at the conference.


Another friend Nathanael Wolfe who I met at the party during Wisdom Week at Happy hour at Zynga  who is co-founder of an app called Mindfulness Daily and randomly friends and co-founder with Walter, who I met the year before and who was a regular at my google mediation hangout.  He offered us a place to stay at his place in Oakland.  On the news in the US Oakland is portrayed negatively and shown as a place not to visit.  I was surprised by the beauty of Oakland when I visited and the diversity of the people that live in Oakland (which locals are proud about), plus the beautiful lake and architecture.  I am grateful for Nathanael taking the time to show us around his neighbourhood and we also visited the Oakland Art Murmur, a collection of galleries and mixed-use venues displaying art, music and spoken word on the first friday evening of the month.

We also got to meet Nathanael’s roommate Jared Peters co-founder of Origami Robotics.  This blew me a way, the creativity of two app guy’s sharing the same space. The robot had been designed to help therapists/educators with Autism therapy and language learning.  We watched this video below together:


Jared in his role as an educator working with Autistic kids realised there was a gap in the market for usable, friendly, affordable robots to help kids learn how to develop human relationships.  He showed us the robot and shared with us that is hand-made and he is currently raising funding while doing a million other things, so if you work with Autistic kids or know of anyone that does please share his work with them and help more kids have access to this robot technology that can change a child and their families lives for the better.

I hope this shows you how being open to new possibilities and saying yes can bring you a lot more knowledge, wisdom and love into your life.

If you want to increase your giving skills you can watch Professor Adam Grant’s talk on his book ‘Give and Take’ where he shares what successful givers do from his research:

One thing I took away when I attended his talk was the Recipriciocity Ring Exercise.  I have used this a few times when I have facilitated groups and seen the power that it can create, when we give and share.  Thank you also to Evelyn Sabino from Catylst Creativ who shared her template with me on how to do this in large groups, which she uses in the events she runs in downtown Las Vegas.  Yesterday during the London Wisdompreneur meetup that I lead we used this exercise towards the end of the meetup and it created new connections and possibilities, where we have committed to helping each other succeed. 11156245_10153104223001141_7337800368597149681_n So I encourage you to think about what you can give to others, be it your time listening to them with your heart, a skill or strength that you are good at, a book, the list is endless.

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Week of the 6th April- Suicide and the Compassion Research day at Facebook

glow logoharpal

Before starting my second weekly blog, I want to thank you if you read my previous blog – I appreciate that.  Also, some of you have emailed me feedback on the blog which I value and thank you for taking the time to do that.  I mentioned the topic of this week’s blog to a few people and they used the word “depressing” to describe it.  However, even if suicide is viewed by some people as a depressing topic, I think it is important to raise awareness of suicide and death.  It does not have to be depressing for us to talk about this and share our experiences.

This week was the week that my friend Justin Broglie died of suicide last year.  I met him at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco last year.  I only knew him for 5 weeks before he died, however he left an impact with me and connected deeply in the short time that I knew him.  Below is a picture of Justin teaching some local Philadelphia kids how to meditate.


We were both actually at the Compassion Research day at Facebook in 2014 during wisdom week, just before the Wisdom 2.0 conference.  This year it was sad for me when I went to the Compassion Research day at Facebook and he was no longer with us.  Equally I was sad and pleased with the topic of discussion during the day which was the work that Facebook have been doing on suicide prevention.

It’s estimated that around one million people will die by suicide worldwide each year 

(UK mental health foundation).

•Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 (Five Years On, Department Of Health, 2005).

•More than 5700 people in the UK died by suicide in 2010 (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2012).

•British men are three times as likely as British women to die by suicide (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).

•The suicide rate among people over 65 has fallen by 24% in recent years, but is still high compared to the population overall. (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).

Suicide is something that we as a society are not comfortable with discussing and can bring pain to even bring it up.  Death is going to come to all of us.  Yet we spend most our lives trying to live longer and avoiding the subject.  I have thought that it would make it easier if we learnt about death and how to prepare for it at an early age, even at school, it would be more sensible than the stress encountered of when it happens and not being prepared with how to handle it.

Facebook can be seen in lots of ways; a social media giant, a place where you appear to have so many friends yet can feel depressed and alone.  I saw another side of Facebook that surprised me, as it is not something most people are aware of.  What happens at Facebook behind the scenes that I got to experience two years in a row is the work of the Compassion team at Facebook led by Arturo Bejar.  This is where they share their latest research related to helping make technology more compassionate.  In this blog I will be sharing their work on Suicide and in a future blog I will share the work they are doing with the Greater Good Science Centre.

11071145_10153081821327415_4285278657027288661_oIt is pretty shocking that 41,000 deaths in the US are from suicide, more people use guns to kill themselves than breast cancer or homicide.  Although from watching the media during my time in the US you would think differently and think that homicides were more prevalent.  Suicide is happening although, hidden and not really discussed in the media.  I was reassured by the work that Facebook are doing to care for people using Facebook and using it as a platform to connect with others and get help and support.  They have  three leads across the world covering  three time zones  that are on alert to help anyone that raises a concern and may need help.  Initially they encourage friends to help friends by putting together a suggested email that they can amend and add to or send as it is.  They have worked with researchers at the University of Washington, and two organisations that help to prevent suicide called Forefront and Now Matters Now to develop the content and resources available to help people in pain and suffering.  The responses link to a number of positive options, including videos from Now Matters Now, an online program started by Forefront research scientist Ursula Whiteside that uses real-life accounts of people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts to provide research-based coping strategies.


The two presenters, one from Now Matters Now called Ursula and from Forefront Dr Stuber, were truly courageous and inspirational.  They shared very deep and personal stories about suicide and have started the two organisations now partnering with Facebook.  When I sometimes ask people what they want to do, myself included, the answer is to help people, but help people do what?  These two ladies are helping to destigmatise suicide and show there is a way to help people suffering, by sharing their story, providing information and resources about suicide.

Ursula Whiteside is suicide prevention researcher, developer of this #NowMattersNow, and one of the first psychologists to publicly disclose that she has experienced suicide ideation. She thinks that lots of people have suicidal thoughts and yet it does not define them – or limit what they can achieve #ZeroSuicide

Dr. Stuber from the University of Washington, who lost her husband to suicide in 2011, has conducted research and informed advocacy work to improve Washington States readiness to address the public health problem of suicide. In 2013, she co-founded the UW-affiliated organization Forefront, which focuses on innovations in suicide prevention policy, education, outreach and research.

Information is out there, however, I do not think everyone knows about it unless they really need to know.  For example, while watching the recent BBC1 programme ‘Life After Suicide’ I became aware of a place in London to help people called ‘Maytree’ a Sanctuary for the Suicidal.  They provide people in the midst of a suicidal crisis with the opportunity for rest and reflection, and give them the opportunity to stay in a calm, safe and relaxed environment. They can support four “guests” at a time. The service runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The volunteers and staff team spend up to 77 hours with each guest over their stay, giving them the opportunity to talk through their fears, thoughts and troubles. On leaving, each guest receives a goodbye letter. This is a personal record written by a member of Maytree’s staff team which reflects their stay, validates their struggles and honours their achievements.  Maybe we need more places like this in the UK and the rest of the world.

On Facebook I shared the remembrance of Justin and I think most people do not know the best way to respond.  The more we can talk about suicide I think the more people will respond to others experiencing suicidal thoughts and friends and family of people after suicide.  Although one of my friends Lincoln did share more with me following the post:

“I saw your post re your friend that committed suicide. And whilst listening to a Buddhist talk on non-self I thought of a poem I wrote that you might like and get comfort from. To me depression can be a door to dispassion and enlightenment and I think this was the thread of the poem.”

Once I laid asleep and woke,                                                                                                                                                                  To beauty all around,                                                                                                                                                                      Sun rays, softness, warmth and peace,                                                                                                                                             A couch, a room, a window I’d found.

13 years of age,                                                                                                                                                                                  A transforming stage,                                                                                                                                                                Looking out on the world around,                                                                                                                                                  And as I did, it bit by bit,                                                                                                                                                                Came crashing,tumbling down.

Sun rays darkened to thoughts I’d left, behind before I slept,                                                                                                 Softness hardened to thoughts I’d had,  of passed and so inside I wept,                                                                                  Warmth turned cold to thoughts I’d need, for future plans iI’d kept,                                                                                             And peace oh peace, such sweet release turned to hatred and contempt.

Let me sleep some more I thought,                                                                                                                                                  13 but lives so old,                                                                                                                                                                            Its hard to bare the load out there,                                                                                                                                                 When so much beauties sold.

To thoughts of goals and dos and don’t,                                                                                                                                            To thoughts of then and when,                                                                                                                                                            To thoughts of making sense,                                                                                                                                                             Of senseless everything.

But this tangled mess of thoughts to digest,                                                                                                                                  Will always be out there,                                                                                                                                                                     So I awoke,                                                                                                                                                                                      but kept a piece of peace,                                                                                                                                                                To a world less hard to bare.

Lincoln Mitchell 2012-

Facebook has 1.393 billion monthly active users (Craig Smith, 28/1/15) spending an average of 21 minutes a day.  Whatever we may think of this growth in social media –  be it good for us or bad for us, or both good and bad –and using it in this way to help people when they are suffering most and feeling alone to feel they are not alone, and letting them know that help is available is definitely great work by Facebook – so gratitude and compassion to the team at Facebook working on this for us all.


To close this week’s blog, a lesson I learnt from meeting Justin is the importance of how we engage with others when we meet them: are we present, are we listening to them?  We will never have the chance to have the same interaction again.  Remember a kind word, a gentle smile, listening with your heart can make your day and someone else’s a day to remember.

More information-

* Life After Suicide

* Panorama – a Suicide in the Family-

* Suicide respite centre in London-

* Now matters now-

* Forefront-

* Recordings of the presentations from the Facebook Compassion Research Day: and slides from the presentations:

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A day in the life of Harpal Dhatt founder of Glow at Work- 24th March 2015

A day in the life of Harpal Dhatt, founder of Glow at Work, is a new weekly blog on a particular day in the week or exploration of an area of interest.

Tuesday 24th March 2015-

This was the day when I had the inspiration to start a weekly blog, capturing one of my days each week.  It was a busy day with 3 meetings, volunteering and an evening Google Hangout.  On days like these I begin the day thinking about an intention for the day.  On this day I chose to practice being present with all the people I was meeting.

My first meeting was with Eamon Tuhami, founder of an app called ‘Motivii’ that quantifies motivation at work.  I was sharing with him some of my highlights from my San Francisco and Las Vegas trip.  He asked me what was the best thing from my trip and I said I did not know there were so many things.  He pushed me to choose one.  I recalled my day in downtown Las Vegas as my most recent wow day (to be shared in a separate blog).  I visited Catalyst Events, met the CEO of the downtown project, went on a tour of Zappos and Turntable health, followed by a Design & Dine workshop.  Eamon said what are you going to do with all this information, again I was not sure.  He looks at me and see so much potential and thinks I could be doing a lot more than I am.  He gave me a well deserved push into some action.  I recall him saying “you have done enough consuming, now you need to produce.”  This sentence remained with me as something to focus on. Going forward I wanted to think each week about 3 things I am going to focus on and use a timer to work 90 minutes a day on this.  I am grateful to Eamon taking the time to challenge me and be honest with me and give me some guidance.  I last met with him early January and since this time he has produced lots of things, a prototype app and short video on the app.  Just before I met him in the toilet in the cafe I got a lot of inspiration from the pictures on the wall and wanted to take a photo.  This gave me the idea for my first idea of starting to produce.  I wanted to take 1 photo a day for a year on what inspired me and what I am grateful for. Hence #365insgrat was born and started on instagram @HarpalDhatt.

On my way to my next meeting reflecting on what my purpose is and what I should be doing or am doing, I checked my email and saw this message –

“ How are you? You came through my mind so thought Id drop you a line. I just wanted to thank you again for really changing my life the skills you taught on the course were beyond invaluable.”

This brought joy to me and was very nice to receive from someone on the LEAP programme I deliver in the National Health Service (NHS).  I thought yes this is one of the highlights of the work I do.  I get to enable people to make real changes in their life and this is something that is satisfying to me and gives me job satisfaction.  I want to be able to help lots more people realise their potential by delivering the LEAP programme in a lot more NHS organisations.


My next visit was to the Canvas cafe, London’s first happy cafe.  I had arranged an impromptu meetup with Kay Gillard as part of my role as the London Liaison lead for Wisdompreneurs.  Wisdompreneurs is a global organisation of transformational leaders that are co-creating a new economy and creating vibrant lives through the power of combining wisdom with entrepreneurship.  We discussed the Facebook group for Wisdompreneurs which has 5,000 members and started about 2 years ago.  The group is a place that some people use for support in their work, to ask questions, give advice and share their offerings.  We both discussed the London meetup group and explored how to shape it going forward.  Together we created a new idea for the meetup around a monthly co-working meetup where we could be productive alone and together.   London Wisdompreneur Meetup

Rushing from this meeting to mindfully make my way to my weekly volunteering at the Terrence Higgins Charity Shop in Pimlico called ‘Boutique’.  I have been volunteering for nearly a year, once a week for half a day.   I started to do this because I had time to offer and I wanted to engage with a cross section of people and reduce my ego and develop humility.  This is one way I get to do this.  Over the time I have been there I feel like the shop offers a community to the local residents, where you see regular faces and build relationships.  In some ways I find that when you give to others, you actually end up receiving so much more.

10498595_384841935029601_976962041739695659_oAfter this I had arranged my second impromptu meeting for Wisdompreneuers with Elmar Kruithoff from Denmark who was in London on a training course on conflict.  He is founder of the Focusing Centre, where he helps people to deal with conflicts in their relationships and with themselves.  Again we discussed the Wisdompreneur Facebook group and our work, and we explored how to develop the products we offer and how to market them.  I encouraged Elmar to think about how he can maybe be a Wisdompreneur lead in Denmark and we discussed ways to use technology to stay connected and support each other.

By the time we had finished our dinner meeting it was too late for me to get home for my 8pm Wisdom 2.0 Global meditation Hangout.  So I decided it was best to find a place with good wi-fi instead so that I could participate.  I prefer to be at home and comfortable in my own space.  However, on this occasion I went to a Pret cafe in Victoria and struggled to get online to join the Hangout in time.  I made it ten minutes later and had to accept the situation and go with the flow.  Now I can say I have meditated in a Pret.  Oskar Fassler was guiding the meditation from Berlin for all of us.  I had the idea after the Wisdom 2.0 conference in Feb 2014 to start an online community where we could stay connected globally and practice together for an hour of meditation once a month.  The first Hangout was in June 2014 and there have been seven more since then.  At this Hangout we had 2 people in San Francisco, one in LA, Berlin and 2 people from England.


It is lovely to be able to engage globally in this way and develop our practice together, and have confidence to guide the meditations.  The next one is on the 21st April if you want to join us Google Hangout  Afterwards some of us ended up having an informal chat about our work and it was 10pm and I was ready to go home.  What a day!  A great day.

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