Rituals and Routines

Rituals was the theme for one of our recent conscious conversation circles on Zoom. Our conversation starter reminded us about the celebratory rituals we often associate with the religious ceremonies for weddings, births, and deaths, or ancient sacred ceremonies such as rites of passage, dedications, atonement and purification, oaths of allegiance, coronations, presidential inaugurations, and much more. Also, the personal preparatory rituals relating to our waking practices, bedtime practices, and so much more.

For our annual family holiday, we rent a big house for children, grandchildren and other family members to gather and spend a week together as a family. Although we create a relaxed atmosphere with very few rules, we require everyone to gather together for dinner each evening to enjoy the meal prepared by the family members responsible for that evening’s meal. One of our rituals is the moment before we begin eating where one of the children read words of gratitude for this precious family time, the meal and all those involved in its preparation, and to express hope for all members of the human family around the world. The children compete to be the day’s reader and all take their turn during the week.

Routines are not the same as rituals. Routines are regularly repeated actions like brushing teeth or eating dinner, whereas rituals often embrace a specific sense of meaning or purpose, and clearly establish valued membership of a group or circle. Gratitude, kindness, and generosity are often part of the ritual, demonstrating the caring and compassionate nature of those involved. Convening our conversation circles involves rituals and agreements that allow for deep meaningful conversations. If you would like to learn more about experiencing the rituals in our conversation circles, please reach out via the contact page on this web site.

Originally published on the Dr. Paul Ward Blog.

Harmony Image


Harmony is my word for the new year. The inspiration for selecting harmony as my word of the year has been the study of nonviolence with Michael Nagler, narrator of the film and author of the book The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature. I had considered nonviolence as my word of the year. Much has been written and spoken about the nonviolence inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, often focused on non-violent resistance, rejecting the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Nonviolence is much more than the absence of violence, it is more of a way of being. I am more of a writer and philosopher than an activist, and my desire this year is to be more conscious and purposeful about bringing harmony to every situation.

Tom Eddington, the executive producer of the film, The Third Harmony, joined Michael Nagler to host a wonderfully insightful ten-day program on nonviolence for Humanity Rising, an initiative of Ubiquity University. Founded in its original iteration by Matthew Fox, Ubiquity University has flourished under the leadership of Jim Garrison who launched Humanity Rising at the beginning of the pandemic to represent a global movement of people and organizations coming together to take counsel on how to start shaping the world beyond the pandemic through conversations that matter. A library of the recordings of the daily broadcasts that began during the  early days of the pandemic is an important component of a multitude of freely available resources and includes the ten-day program on nonviolence.

Now back to harmony. The three harmonies described by Michael Nagler in The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature are:

  • The First Harmony: Harmony with the cosmos and outer world.
  • The Second Harmony: Harmony with one another and with the environment.
  • The Third Harmony: Harmony within, radiating outward with the force of love.

Harmony within ourselves is where nonviolence begins. This aligns well with my own thinking on Conscious Leadership and the practice of leading consciously from the inside out. Imagining inner harmony brings to mind harmonious music, where different notes from different instruments are played together to create a beautiful sound. In my recent blog post, I wrote about Finding your Voice. Harmony is the word that will guide the finding of my voice, getting my outer voice in tune with my inner voice, and inspiring responsible action.

My commitment this year is to bring harmony into every situation I encounter.  As theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” What is bringing us alive? What is the music inside of each of us this year?

Evoking the words of Paul McCartney in the song, Ebony and Ivory, let’s aspire to live together in perfect harmony. Whether our attention this year is on nonviolent activism for the greater good of humanity or creating greater harmony in our families, workplaces, or communities, I invite us all to start with creating harmony within ourselves and then using the force of love to truly make a difference in the world. Let us all live in harmony within ourselves, with others, and with the world around us. Don’t die with the music still in you!

Originally published on the Dr. Paul Ward Blog.

Finding Your Voice

Finding Your Voice

Finding Your Voice was one of many themes we explored in our conversation circles this year. In these conversation circles, we discussed our physical voice, the outer voice we use for speaking, singing, and perhaps chanting; our inner voice, the internal monologue in our head that provides the words and images that reflect our thoughts and imaginings; and our figurative voice, our authentic voice, what we believe and what we truly stand for, the voice that is manifesting in our speaking and writing.

Thinking about the singing voice brings to mind my mother. As a teenager, long before I was born, she sang in the church choir. At home, while I was growing up, she was always singing. Singing while cooking or doing the dishes, or at anytime while working around the house or in the garden. She had a beautiful voice. I wonder now why we never recorded her singing. A missed opportunity!

As we come to the end of the year, many of us take time to reflect, celebrating our accomplishments, noting what went well and maybe what didn’t go as planned, thinking about what we learned, remembering the people who came into our lives and those who departed. Then, looking forward to the new year, thinking about our aspirations and setting intentions.

As readers of my blog posts may know, I select and share my word of the year. A word that represents my area of focus, a touchstone for my thinking, writing, and speaking in the year ahead. Emergence, surrender, and hope were the words of recent years. I am now in the process of selecting my word for the upcoming year, a word that may guide the finding of my voice, and inspire responsible action. I am reflecting on the following questions and invite us all to do the same: What do we stand for? Who will we be and how will we show up in the world? How will we find and use our individual voice and our collective voices in the coming year? I wish you success with finding your voice.

Originally published on the Dr. Paul Ward Blog.

Longing for Belonging Article Image

Longing for Belonging

The desire to belong is something we all experience. Beyond the use of the word belonging connected to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the desire for a greater sense of belonging is widespread and is a driver of our thoughts and actions. Are you longing for belonging?

In a recently published article, I focused on belonging with: belonging with ourselves, belonging with others, and belonging with our environments, rather than belonging to something. I identified five ways to satisfy our longing for belonging.

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Seeds of Consciousness

Seeds of Consciousness

Our conscious mind is small in comparison to our vast unconscious mind. This unconscious mind is part of what Thich Nhat Hanh referred to as store consciousness. Describing consciousness as like a house, Thich Nhat Hanh suggested that store consciousness is the basement and mind consciousness is our living room. Mind consciousness is our active awareness, our conscious mind. Store consciousness, sometimes called root consciousness, is in the lower levels of our consciousness. This is where all our past experiences are stored along with the seeds of our reactions to the triggers we experience every day. Although we may not be fully aware of what is in our store consciousness, we can influence the manifestation of its contents in the conscious mind.

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Hope Blog Post Image


Hope is my word for the new year. I am sometimes weighed down by pessimistic perspectives on life’s challenges. This year I want to turn this pessimism around, going beyond simple optimism, to real hope for the possibilities of the future. This hope is defined as the belief that our future will be better than today and we have the power to make it so. Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy uses the phrase active hope.

In research studies of hope by Charles Snyder (author of the compelling book, The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get There from Here, 1994) and more recently by Casey Gwinn and Chan Hellman (authors of Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change your Life, 2021), three components of hope have been revealed: goals, willpower, and waypower. Goals need to be aspirational and realistic, built on imagination and possibility, and a belief that the goals are achievable. We need multiple pathways to follow from the present time to the desired future, with alternatives for when the inevitable obstacles impede our progress. And we need confidence, energy, and willpower, sometimes referred to as agency, to sustain us as we move along these pathways towards our goals.

We may also need help and collaboration from others rather than trying to go it alone. “Together we can; together we will” is Dr. Jane Goodall’s rallying cry in her new book, The Book of Hope, written with Douglas Abrams. In her invitation to hope, Jane acknowledges that we are going through dark times but believes the hope for our world is much more than wishful thinking. My invitation is to begin a new journey of hope, or reinvigorate an existing journey, with two or three aspirational yet believable goals to make our future better than the present, and a belief that we have the pathways of possibility and the energy and willpower to make it so. I invite you to take positive steps on your journey of hope today.

Hope Blog Post originally published on DrPaulWard.com website.

Is Buying A Home The Right Move Entering Your Golden Years?

After years of hard work, you’re finally at the time in your life when you can seriously start planning for what will happen when you can reduce the time spent working for a living. Every year, millions of people face the question of how to start planning for their later years. However, these years look different for everyone. Some may see themselves living in a vacation home. Others may choose to spend this time doing things they’ve always wanted to, such as traveling the world, climbing Kilimanjaro or motor racing. For those who never got to experience the lifestyle of being a homeowner, the golden years of their life may feel like the last chance before missing out on the experience altogether. But is buying a home as you enter your golden years actually a wise decision to make?

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Vocational Arousal

Vocational Arousal

I first heard the phrase vocational arousal from inspirational teacher Barbara Marx Hubbard. This is about emotional arousal not sexual arousal. In my book, The Inner Journey to Conscious Leadership, I talked about combining our avocation (our personal purpose, what we want to do) with our vocation (what we are paid to do). Robert Frost, in his poem, Two Tramps in Mud Time, put it this way: “My object in living is to unite, my avocation and my vocation, as my two eyes make one in sight.” Identity, purpose, and calling are all important aspects to consider when combining our avocation with our vocation.

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Extreme E Off Road Motor Racing

Off road motor racing may at first glance appear to be a surprising topic for this 2Young2Retire blog page but read on and find out why it may be more relevant than you might think. In our new book about conscious living in the second half of life, we are exploring opportunities to make a contribution to saving the world. Environmental sustainability and social responsibility will be featured in a chapter on saving and savoring the world and the philosophy of Extreme E racing is perfectly aligned to this message.    

Extreme E is motor racing for a purpose. Founder and CEO, Alejandro Agag and motor racing legend, Gil de Ferran dreamt up the idea of using the power of motor sport to raise awareness of climate change, electrification, and equality. Revolutionary all-electric off road SUVs use emission free energy from batteries charged with hydrogen fuel cells. Each of Extreme E’s nine racing teams line up with one male and one female driver, all champions from different forms of motor sport, sharing the driving equally.

Leaving no trace left behind after the event is over, races are being held in stunning, remote locations around the world representing five endangered ecosystems: the deserts of the Middle East, the coastal regions of West Africa, the rainforests of the Amazon, the glaciers of the Arctic, and the glacier mountains of South America.

Extreme E off road motor racing is supporting environmental awareness, promoting electric mobility, and affirming gender quality. At 2Young2Retire, we are completely aligned with this philosophy. Even if you are not a motor racing enthusiast, visit the Extreme E website to be inspired and learn more about their contribution to efforts aimed at saving the world.

Image source: Sky Sports


Surrender is my word for the year 2021. Rather than new year’s resolutions which frequently get diluted within the first few days of January, I advocate setting clear intentions. Not so much specific goals or outcomes, but intentions for how we wish to show up in the world. So, my intention this year is to surrender to life as it unfolds.

During the past year, I read The Surrender Experiment written by Michael Singer, the creator of a thriving meditation center and founder of a highly successful medical practice management software company. Singer’s philosophy of “surrendering yourself to Life itself” was an inspiration to me during the early days of the pandemic where the uncertainty about the future and loss of control of the present was paralyzing for a time.

According to Michael Singer, “The practice of surrender is actually done in two very distinct steps: first you let go of the personal reactions of like and dislike that form inside your mind and heart; and second, with the resultant sense of clarity, you simply look to see what is being asked of you by the situation unfolding in front of you. What would you be doing if you weren’t being influenced by the reactions of like or dislike? Following that deeper guidance will take your life in a very different direction from where your preferences would have led you.”

My intention is to surrender, devoting myself to the present moment, allowing life to unfold and not trying to force things to happen. Surrender doesn’t mean we won’t have to make decisions or chose between different options but, with clarity of intention, we can, in the words of Christina Baldwin, move at the pace of guidance.

Article previously posted on the Dr. Paul Ward Blog