My Favorite Books

  1. Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz / Purchase

  2. The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld / Purchase

  3. Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World by Rutger Bregman / Purchase

  4. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio / Purchase

  5. A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh / Purchase

  6. The One Year Heaven on Earth Devotional: 365 Daily Invitations to Experience God's Kingdom Here and Now by Chris Tiegreen / Purchase

  7. Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare / Purchase

  8. The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur by Jonathan C Lewis / Purchase


My Favorite Movies

I have a number of friends that make films and documentaries. I have a question that I have asked each of them: “DOES AWARENESS cause any change – in other words, do you think your movies/documentaries make a difference or just entertain?”

I meet lots of people who are so aware of the world’s issues about justice, pollution, resource distribution, ethics, happiness, guns, inequality, war, peace and such but just talk about them as if talking will make a difference. It’s almost as if they watch the movie or go to a peace conference, not to be informed so they understand better so they can make better choices to help “BE the Change” as Mohandas K. Gandhi has often been quoted. Rather, it seems they watch, or participate so they can chat about it, feel informed or just be entertained. Some very engaged “save the world” friends call watching documentaries about the world’s ill’s “poverty porn.” But it is nice to be informed so you can chat with knowledge, understanding and relevance.

I spoke at a peace conference in Nairobi in 2016 and I made this postcard to help motivate the participants to do more than just be informed and enjoy good food and air conditioning; I think it sums up my feelings on this subject.


So here are some films with which I think we all should be familiar.

They are all fun to watch and enjoy with some popcorn…

  • Avatar

  • Poverty, Inc.

  • Gandhi

  • Why We Fight

  • Mulan

  • Mary Poppins

  • Amazing Grace

  • Joan of Arc

  • How to Train Your Dragon

  • Free Willy

  • Up

  • Facing the Giants

  • Shrek (was Hanley Denning’s favorite movie)

  • The Karate Kid

  • The Blind Side

  • The Pursuit of Happiness

  • A Beautiful Mind

  • Life is Beautiful (Turn it off 2 minutes before the end)

  • American Beauty

  • Wonder Woman

  • Divergent


I like others and will add them over time; e-mail me your favorite movie and after I watch it I might add it to my list.


My Favorite Videos


First, I am on the Board of Gaia. I have been on the board of Gaia/GAIAM for around 5 years (it was GAIAM until a few years ago). If you want to feed your brain and soul healthy, positive, transformative, and thought-provoking information, then it is worth skipping a couple of double organic, free range, ethically sourced, chai lattes each month to pay for this great product. What is especially grand about this is that no matter where you are in the world, you can watch and new stuff is added weekly.

Here is how Gaia's site introduces their content and community: Intuition tells you there’s more to our story, something you’re not finding in your current paradigm. You can feel it in your bones. We are all connected, we’re part of something greater, and there is something more meaningful in this life that’s not present in our daily routines.

Your intuition is right. 

Gaia is here with some new ideas and the world’s largest resource of conscious media to – well – empower the evolution of consciousness. That’s a rather massive vision, but truthfully, it’s why we do what we do at Gaia. We want to create a new reality, one of mindful people living in harmony with our environment and each other.

BTW: I would love any feedback on Gaia films, the interface with the Gaia site, or app. I promise I will forward your comment on to Gaia's team. ‪


Films for Action

Like GAIA’s site, I find Films for Action a bit like going to a vegetarian buffet with a 100 great choices. It is hard to figure out what to grab first. Films For Action has been cataloging an online library of the best social change films that can be watched free online. Opting for quality over quantity, the site has grown slowly to include 500 documentaries and 900 short films, trailers and presentations indexed into 40 subjects to make it easy to discover content about specific slices of the social change pie. I also like the links to articles and commentaries. We can read about 4 times faster than people talk so I often enjoy reading over wading thru a 382 minute film on Humanity (Humanity – the movie is a 382-minute marathon).


Additional Video Links

  1. MC YOGI - Be the Change (Official Video) / Watch Now

  2. Renee Fleming - Oxygen (dark hope) / Watch Now

  3. Michael Jackson - Man In The Mirror (Official Video) / Watch Now

  4. Matthieu Ricard - How to Let Altruism Be Your Guide (TED Talk) /

  5. Meghan Markle/Goalcast - Be Your True Self /

  6. Robbyn Peters Bennett/TEDxBellingham - Violence, A Family Tradition.

    If you are a parent, grandparent, caregiver or just concerned about why our society seems so violent, why drugs and alcohol abuse is out of control and why violence against women and children is a GLOBAL epidemic just watch this video. I wish every parent, teacher, child caregiver could watch it each morning before they got out of bed. Those simple twelve minutes would transform our world. Please right now watch

  7. This is a very good visual tool if you're trying to understand the education systems' shortcomings today. Take a few minutes and enjoy it. 

  8. Parenting For A Peaceworld World - Robin Grille: This is a great video if you like history and want to understand how we got to where we are in the world of childcare and parenting. It is a bit long, so grab a cup of tea, put your laptop on a pillow and sit back and watch it with it friend. I am sure you and your friend will want to pause the video to discuss its content along the way.


My Favorite Articles

1. Kids, Would You Please Start Fighting? - Lead in creativity doesn’t come from agreement, it comes from good-natured quarreling. It’s time we teach our children that.

2. If you're an educator or fascinated by education, motivation, and practical philosophy then you might like this simple site. Uky is a fantastic resource of quotes by educators and I like to read a series of quotes and contemplate them. Give it a test drive by clicking on this link

3. With 48,000 + SlideShare views, I am not the first one to find this 61 page PowerPoint presentation fascinating, thought-provoking and educational. If you are an educator or a parent that wants a useful framework of the questions and concepts you could be struggling with, this is a great place to start. Check out SAMR as a Framework for Moving Towards Education 3.0.

4. Change Your Mind, Change the World. This website highlights the work of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded by Richard Davidson. link.

5. Meditation will change your life for the better. It is healthy with the side effects of longer life, healthy heart, happiness, optimism, better relationships, ability to concentrate that is helpful for students, business people, and athletes wishing to be “successful”. I have meditated from age 18, and have followed various methods. I have had many teachers, and some of you might have sat with me in meditation classes at churches or yen yoga. The book Mindfulness in Plain English is the “text book” I hand out in my classes. It is by an incredible teacher, Henepola Gunaratana. Here is a PDF by Master Henepola Gunaratana that in simple language quickly gives you a road map to start a meditation practice. It is good to eventually join a mediation group or find an experienced meditation teacher to help you along. Sometime people will think they are in meditation but really are not. The best analogy I know is one I use in class, which is about the person that milks a cow’s horn. No matter how hard you rub the horn you are not going to get milk. The teacher can help make sure you get benefits from the time you commit to Meditation. There is also some good Mediation guidance at GAIATV. (Full disclosure – I am on the Board of GAIA, and a shareholder of GAIA.) Download this free PDF and get started; give it 20 minutes a day for a few weeks and you will be hooked. 

6. If i say to you “DID YOU EAT THAT BISCUIT? If you did, I will beat you!” Do you think you are going to get a “yes” from a 3-year-old? Do you think you are going to get a “yes” from a 30-year-old? How we parents can set our children up to be liars. This article on parenting is a great read for all parents who wish to raise successful, loving, virtuous, happy kids. Link. Kids who know how to deceive are smarter and better adjusted.

7. Peace and nonviolent conversation gets “lost in translation,” so to speak. This is an essay that really communicates how I feel about nonviolence and peace as a spiritual practice (although as a SPIRITUAL PRACTICE is not how the author explains it). He calls it a principled approach. A highlight of the essay is: So, violence can be an effective tool to protect yourself and others against a threat, and it can be used to express outrage about injustice. There is great value in both.Yet violence is also limited in one very important way, and that is that violence can never create relationships.

Violence can never get you closer to reconciliation, closer to King’s “beloved community,” the reconciled world with justice for all people. And that is perhaps the most significant difference between a principled nonviolent approach and an approach using violence or nonviolence that is strictly strategic. The goals are different. Why the Moral Argument for Non-Violence Matters. Link.

8. What’s the worst kind of praise you can give? Years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Excellence is not Competitive,” after watching some 4-H girls on our humble, very low budget, 4-H team cry when they lost in horse competitions. The girls had fun, they loved the tournaments, they loved sharing their love of all things horses, so who cares if the girl whose rich parents bought her a beautiful $10,000 horse, a personal [horse] trainer and installed a indoor arena on their estate won over the bow legged glue factory mare, borrowed tack, and rummage sale saddle that the girls on my 4-H team used. It’s about doing your best with what you have, friendship, enjoying your horse and each other.

There’s a wise old saying: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

If we really want to help our children succeed, grow into emotionally intelligent, wonderfully happy, inner-directed adults we must praise the activity, and identify and reinforce what we want to continue in our children, and not say, “Wow, that is the best crayon art I have ever seen!!!!!” While this article is about how praise hurts business it is a must read for every parent, caregiver, teacher, coach or individual who wants to use science, research, and common sense to guide her or his actions. Bottom line: We must stop comparisons....

9. Reading aloud, play, and social-emotional development. Introduction to this study: This is a bit dense for the reader, but is important stuff if you find yourself in an argument with someone about the importance of reading, being connected to, and enjoying time with very young children even for 5 minutes a day. It shows that the connecting with children thru story, reading, experiencing a book together helps to develop the child's brain and emotional intelligence, even helping the child build better self control and focus. I have also placed below this posting an article from the NYT that cites this study.

10. Reading aloud, spending story reading time with a child, having fun, and playing imaginative games helps children developed their minds, emotional intelligence and also [not surprisingly] helps them deal with emotions like anger and sadness. This is a great article that every caring person that has children in their lives should read. Seems that spending time is the key with helping young children and even for 5 minutes a day it appears there is a benefit.