Oren Jay Sofer is a long-time mindfulness teacher, coach, and author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach To Nonviolent Communication. Oren has spent many years studying and practicing Buddhism, Yoga, and Mindfulness. He has since used those skills to lead trainings in various companies on a wide range of mindfulness topics.
Oren joins me today to discuss communication and the significant power that our words can have. We talk about the techniques we can use to keep our communication nonviolent and effective. We also touch on the obstacles and challenges that can make communication more difficult, and how to overcome them.
“Presence is our natural state.”
Oren Jay Sofer [00:00:00] Being present is not some kind of rare mystical state that we need to achieve, it’s actually just about putting down all of the stuff that keeps disconnecting us from presence, taking us out of presence, into the future, into the past, into craving, into fear, stress, anxiety and so forth.
Brilliant Miller [00:00:22] Hi, I’m brilliant. Your host for this show. I know that I’m incredibly blessed. As the son of self-made billionaires, I’ve seen the high price some people pay for success. And I’ve learned that money really can’t buy happiness. But I’ve also had the good fortune to learn directly from many of the world’s leading teachers. If you are ready to be, do have and give more. This podcast is for you. To a large degree, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships and the quality of our relationships is to a large degree determined by the quality of our communication. If you are interested to improve the quality of your life, quality of relationships, the quality of your communication, I think that you’ll like today’s guest. Today my guest is Oren Jay Sofer. He wrote a book called Say What You Mean A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. Warren has created mindfulness programs for organizations, companies and apps including Apple, Kaiser Permanente, Lumosity, calm, 10 percent happier, simple habit and more. In this interview, we explore so much of what makes communication work, what some of the challenges to it are, how we can do these things, how we can take it from the realm of theory and concept and put it into practice. I hope you enjoy and benefit from this conversation with my new friend, Oren Jay Sofer . And by the way, Oren does a lot of teaching. He does teaching online. If you’re watching this sometime before the summer of 2021, he will be running a free program or a donation based program that you can learn more about at his website, OrenJaySofer.com. You can find him on all the socials. And with that, please enjoy this conversation. Oren, welcome to the School for Good Living.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:02:11] Thanks. Brilliant. Happy to be here.
Brilliant Miller [00:02:14] Will you tell me, please, what is life about?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:02:18] Just a small question, huh? Yeah, well. I guess it depends who you ask. Probably the best answer would be that life is about asking that question and really listening to your own heart. To let your own curiosity and wisdom guide you. I know for me and for many of the people that I. Admire and respect in my life that. Life is about fulfilling our potential as human beings, which in my view includes deepening our own understanding of what it is to be human and deepening our embodiment of the beautiful qualities that are possible for us as human beings, things like kindness, compassion and generosity. So many philosophers and thinkers throughout time have often said, well, life is about making the world a better place for others. And I think that’s a pretty good way of summarizing it.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:35] Yeah, I think so, too. For people to get a better sense of who you are in the life journey you followed, in case they don’t know already, I thought it might be helpful to go back to a younger time. And now this is something I know you’ve written about, so. Back to a moment in your youth when you smashed a chair in your grandmother’s living room. What was going on and what happened subsequent to that?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:04:08] Yeah, so so that’s the moment I talk about in my book, where I had an argument with my older brother. And anyone who has a sibling knows the potential intensity of sibling rivalry. I had been meditating for a number of years already at that point and actually had had just finished a period of meditation. We were at my grandmother’s house, as you said, and I asked my brother if he would be willing to set the table and thus ensued an argument that touched on, like all of my suppressed anger and pain and frustration over the years of our relationship, I was probably, I don’t know, twenty one or twenty two. I was in my early twenties at that point. I had been meditating for a few years and we got into this argument and in desperation, in pain, I said to him, You’re the one person in this world who can make me so angry I want to kill. Wow. And he looked at me from across, he was sitting on a couch and he looked at me, look me in the eyes and said, Good. And it just put me over the edge, I the the impact of that in my pain, just like reaching for some kind of understanding or connection and hearing him say that I got so enraged, I lifted up this chair over my head and screamed, very dramatic. And there was this split second. Or I was like, wow, am I really about to do this? And then it’s like, yeah, I’m going to do this. And then proceeded to smash the chair and then stormed out of the house crying, went outside, cool down. So it was a really it was kind of a pivotal moment for me because it was it was a recognition of a lot of the pain and suppressed anger and emotions I had been carrying for so much of my life that I hadn’t dealt with. And it was also it was also revealing a lack of integration in my meditation practice at that point that I was very committed to and connected to values of patience and kindness and compassion and gentleness, clarity and so forth in my meditation. But that when it came to having arguments with others, in particular, those I’m close with, that I wasn’t able to sustain my connection with those values so that it also kind of increased my motivation not only in the meditation, but to look for other ways to bridge the gap between the internal silent meditation in my relationships in life.
Brilliant Miller [00:07:07] Now, I understand that one way perhaps you went about that was to take some vows and that you became an Anna Guereca, so not a very common thing for people here in the United States to do. But will you talk about what was that like? What does that even mean? What was it like and what’s it been like since?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:07:31] Sure. Yeah. So there was definitely a there’s a period of years between that moment and when I ordained as it’s kind of like a pre novice, the equivalent translation would be in sort of like a Christian monastic context would be a postulant or a neophyte. It’s like before you actually even can ordain as a monastic, you’ve expressed your interest in your beginning, the training in the tradition. And so the word is on Annaguereca and it’s a word that the Buddha himself used in the texts. It’s actually the word that he used to refer to all of his monastic followers. And literally it means homeless one one without a home. And the idea is that you leave the security and the familiarity of not only your home, but also your identity and all of the familiarity of your life as a lay person for pursuit of spiritual awakening, enlightenment, a deeper understanding of the contemplative path. So I ordained under my teacher, Ajon Cichito, and another teacher here in California, Ajon Postino, in this kind of pre training level. And I spent two and a half years living at Buddhist monasteries in the Western lineage of the Ajon-cha tradition. So what was that like? What did it entail and what’s it been like since? It was difficult. Incredibly freeing and inspiring and deeply beneficial training for understanding my own mind and for deepening the level of. Confidence and resource that I experience internally in relation to the challenges of life. So one lives with a very high level of renunciation or simplicity from wearing all white. So you don’t get to choose what clothes you wear, shaving your head and in that tradition, even your eyebrows. So you don’t look the same, not listening to music, not eating after the midday meal and being celibate. Of course, it’s a life devoted in part to service because you’re serving the monastic community and also to training, to training in Buddhist meditation and Buddhist teachings. So it is a very a very instructive period of intensive training to study the mind and to learn more about the Buddhist path in many ways. And it gave me a lot of perspective. It gave me a lot of perspective on what’s really important, the beauty and the freedom of living with very little. And it also gave me a different perspective on my own personality, and you could say my character ultimately, I obviously decided not to stay in the monastic form because I realized that it wasn’t what really called to me in this life that I part of my heart, a part of who I am in this life, is really wanting to be engaged in the world and to to teach and to help others to be in a primary relationship, which I am. And so there’s there’s a level of connection and engagement with the daily affairs of the world that’s actually quite nourishing and meaningful to me and being in monastic life. Part of that is about taking a step back from all of that so that you have more of your energy and time to devote to spiritual practice and study. And so ultimately, it was a very useful and powerful period of training to go deeper and then to bring those insights and gifts back into my life.
Brilliant Miller [00:11:50] That that’s wonderful. In some ways that sounds so liberating in other ways. To me, it sounds very terrifying, but what a wonderful what a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself and about Baynton and so forth. One of the ways that you have so you’ve been teaching for many years and many of the insights that you learn probably during that time and subsequent to it, you have included in your book say what you mean mindful approach to nonviolent communication. I recently finished this book. I took a lot from it. I think it’s the kind of book I’ll be digesting for a while. But will you tell me why did you why did you write this book? Who did you write it for? And how do you want the world to be different? Because it’s in it.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:12:35] I’m sure enjoying your questions. Why did I write the book? Who did I write it for? And what do I want the world to be different for having the book in it. So I wrote the book because I found that there wasn’t anything out there explaining how to communicate better by integrating mindfulness and awareness. There’s a lot about how to live a mindful life. There’s a lot about how to meditate. There’s even a good amount of information and books out there about how to communicate better. But to my knowledge, there wasn’t anything that brought the two together. And that’s essential. If we can’t communicate better, if we’re not aware and grounded in ourself, we can have the best intentions and all the skills and training in the world. But if we can’t stay aware and present, connected to ourself, connected to the other person, all that goes out the window as it did when I lifted up that chair. So. So wanting to wanting to offer something that was really practical, doable, and took people through a step by step approach to really understanding their communication habits and shifting them in concrete ways. So I wrote it for everyone. It’s really written for anyone who wants to have better conversations and more meaningful relationships in their life. And my hope is that it allows it allows us to, in our personal life, to have richer relationships, more meaningful conversations in our work, to be more effective by communicating more clearly and in our communities and society to have a deeper understanding of the role that communication can start to play in creating social change and to have some more skills to use as leverage in creating social change, whether we’re looking at a small local community, working for larger systemic change through organizing and beyond.
Brilliant Miller [00:14:43] This know, I’m committed that living is a skill, meaning is something which we can improve in that can. It sounds nice. I hope it’s true, that kind of thing. But then the question we’re still left with, how do we do it? Right. That’s one thing I appreciate about your book, is that it does give some very practical advice on being, I think, more effective in communication. And I want to ask you a few questions about that. But before I do, I want to go back to one thing that one of your teachers said. You wrote about this in a blog post when you were when you were at I believe it was at a monastery and you were you were crying. And your teacher saw you and said, when I see you suffering, I am so happy for you. You have to enjoy your suffering. What did he mean by that? Yeah.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:15:31] Yeah. So that was Annaguaraca Meningrigie, who was one of my first meditation teachers who had a huge impact on the insight meditation tradition here in the West. And this was at Goenka’s meditation center outside of outside of Mumbai in Igot Pourri and it was the end of a period of several months of traveling and training with Meningie. And I think it’s safe to say I was kind of on the edge of a nervous breakdown, just kind of pushed too hard. So this was a few years before that incident with my brother, actually, Checketts. It might not have been if it was around that time. It was a little before or a little after. And so a lot of the suppressed emotions were coming up, a lot of rage, anger, and I didn’t know how to handle it and. I thought I was failing at the meditation. It felt like everything was falling apart. And so, as you and probably some of your listeners know, the core teachings in the Buddhist tradition are about understanding the suffering that we experience in life as a doorway to freedom. The more we are able to acknowledge and understand and come into wise relationship with the pain and the difficulty and the distress that we experience in life, the freer we are because we’re no longer frightened by it, we’re no longer controlled by the difficulties and the hardships we experience, and we can have more space and freedom inside in relation to that. So his saying I’m so happy for you when I see you suffering was not masochistic, even though it sounds that way. What he was saying was. I’m happy for you that you’re finally getting in touch with the pain that you’ve been carrying for all these years because now you have a chance to understand it and to release it. And I hope you enjoy your suffering means you don’t have to be afraid of it, what you’re experiencing as part of a natural unfolding of healing and integration. And you can trust that. And if you allow yourself to trust it, even though it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, there can be a certain quality of joy in the process because you will know that you’re learning and growing and doing the hard, important work of freeing your heart.
Brilliant Miller [00:18:10] Wow, what a beautiful perspective. And, you know, in my in my limited years, I have been practicing making efforts at mindfulness meditation and what I would consider a serious way in the last 10 years. But I’ve already seen in that time in life and others that there does seem to be this this pattern maybe where when we begin, it’s like especially then a lot of pain comes up because we’re we’re getting in touch with things that we maybe were suppressing in other ways or we just weren’t aware of. And then all of a sudden, you know, that will drive us away from the practice of presence. It’s not pleasant.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:18:48] Right? Right. Yeah. One of the analogies I like to use for mindfulness practice is, you know, everyone says, oh, be mindful, be present, feel happy, feel calm. And just what you’re what you’re describing, there are some times being mindful feels like stepping on the wrong end of a rake. You just get hit in the face with all of the anxiety and the stress and the fear and the emotional pain that you’ve been carrying for years and suppressing and avoiding. And that’s it’s part of the process to open to that and to start to metabolize it. But ultimately, we end up feeling lighter and freer.
Brilliant Miller [00:19:24] Yeah, and I love the way you phrase this, where you you write that almost everything in our civilization points away from presence only. There are so many distractions and so many interesting and shiny things. And then internally, if there’s unpleasant things to face or truths we don’t want to acknowledge. So it seems that we’re beset from within and without a pushed from being present or being mindful. But as you write in this book, this is the starting point for this effective communication. So what do you see? Like, how can we how can we be present? Hmm.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:20:05] And how can we be present? Well, I think the first and most important point is that presence is our natural state. So by presence, I mean being aware, connected to our body and our physical senses in real time, in the present moment. And if you study animals and nature, if you if you look at little children who are not experiencing threat, fear or distress, they’re not hungry or tired. What’s our natural state as mammals, as human beings? It’s to be oriented to our environment, to be curious, to be self aware and connected. So the first and most important point is that being present is not some kind of rare mystical state that we need to achieve. It’s actually just about putting down all of the stuff that keeps disconnecting us from presence, taking us out of presence, into the future, into the past, into craving, into fear, stress, anxiety and so forth. So how do we do that? There are a range of techniques and practices from many different modalities and traditions. So some of the things that I have found most helpful in my life, one is having some sort of daily awareness practice. And now that could be formal mindfulness meditation. It could be another form of meditation, religious or spiritual practice. It could be dance, yoga, mindful movement like Tai Chi or Qigong, essentially anything where you are actively practicing being present and aware in your body. Then from that daily practice, I always recommend that people take on a daily routine of setting an intention. And I do this every day, so at the beginning of the day, even if your daily practice is like two minutes of reading a verse or a poem or taking a few mindful breaths at the end of that period, think about what’s important for you today. This is the only day you have to be alive. How do you want to live? What’s your intention? What are the qualities that you want to animate your own mind, your own heart and your interactions as you move through your day? Now, setting that intention doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but it makes it more likely so and then we can start to integrate various reminders throughout the day. So setting up little sometimes we call the mindfulness spells, like every time you eat before you eat, take a mindful breath and recall your intention for the day every time you walk out of your house. There’s all kinds of ways we can integrate these little reminders that become part of the routine of our day. So this is just sort of generally living with awareness. And then there are specific tools for bringing presence into our conversations, things like feeling your body while you’re talking or listening, just having a little bit of awareness with, say, your hands or the weight of your body resting on the chair or the floor, the ground if you’re standing, pausing. So just taking a short pause before you say something can give us enough space to contemplate. What am I about to say? Is this helpful? Do I want to listen instead? And one other tip that I often recommend to be more aware in our conversations is to experiment with the pace of your speech. So this has a very direct impact on our nervous system, since many of us, not all but many of us communicate with our breath. If you slow down the pace of your speech, even just a little bit, that slows your breathing, which affects the regulation of your nervous system. So experimenting with the pace of your speech is another way to bring more presence into your life and specifically into your conversations and relationships. Maybe the last thing I’ll say is just the recognition that even as presence is our natural state, all of these things I’ve mentioned take time, take practice. So it’s really just a day by day. We do the best we can and keep aiming in the right direction.
Brilliant Miller [00:24:29] Yeah, that thank you for for breaking that down, and I realize that, you know, although each year we can learn from others from their example or from their words and instruction, that ultimately, you know, we each have the opportunity or maybe we must we each must cultivate this for ourselves or not. We don’t get we don’t achieve that integration, even though I think we we want it or we know it would be good for us and this kind of thing. Well, one example that I really loved that you point out in this book, we use the same physiological process to speak as we do to sustain our life, energy, meaning breathing. And to me, that was just so powerful and so profound. Right. Because pretty much every mindfulness teacher talks about focus on the breath, this kind of thing. But then as you’ve talked about, you go beyond mindfulness. You’re not talking about it in communication. But I mean, what what I want to ask something about like how how profound did that occur for you when you learned that that is the same thing we used not only to live, but to communicate.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:25:37] Yeah, it’s interesting, I mean, it’s it’s been an ongoing. Exploration and. Like an ongoing. I don’t know, realization sounds like too fancy or big or something, but so like even right now there’s this beautiful line from Gary Snyder who says, I’m going to paraphrase that I might not get it right sort or poet and author Gary Snyder beat poet. He says something like language is fundamentally a curl of the breath. The language exists or initially language was all just spoken in event words are events, they don’t exist only as a concept or an idea. So the very process of speaking is it’s a living, literally breathing, changing process. So there’s movement of the muscles, there’s the flow of air, there’s the vibration. So to be mindful of speaking is like being mindful of moving. There’s change happening in real time. And as as we become more aware and more attuned moment to moment, to the felt experience of being alive, we can experience speaking itself as a physical event and the movement of the breath, the vibration of sound, and this is this in and of itself is very grounding. And so it’s fascinating, too, because the Buddha talked a lot about karma. Karma literally means action and it doesn’t mean destiny or fate. The way it get that word gets used in popular culture. It literally means the things that we do with intent is the intentional actions we take in life. And the understanding is that those intentional actions have a certain volitional push to them. When we do something and we’re conscious of it, it creates a certain kind of an imprint in the mind and in the world, and that the result of that imprint carries or bears the mark of the intention behind it. And he said, so this is what determines the tenor of our experience in life, both internally and eventually externally, in a way that’s more complicated than we can really fathom. So why am I talking about this? So the Buddha said there are three ways that we perform karma, that we essentially lay down the seeds and the conditions for our own existence and continued experience in this world. One is through the action of the body, two is through the action of speech, and three is through the action of the mind, through thoughts. So speech has a certain kind of action that carries an ethical dimension to it. And I think we see that very clearly in our own lives, whether it’s personally and when someone is kind and appreciative and says loving things to us, it feels good. And if someone is harsh or angry or bitter and says things to us, we feel it, it goes in and we see it on a collective level, we see the grip of the power that politicians or famous media stars have when saying things that are inspiring and encouraging, that invite people to see their shared humanity and bring us together or the opposite. When leaders use language to demonize and belittle people who look different, who come from a different place, who believe in different ideas, how it creates an enemy that can dehumanize others and lead to horrific acts. So this is the power of language and it rides on our breath. It rides on our life.
Brilliant Miller [00:29:47] Energy is so remarkable. And and you’ve talked about intention of the power of intention in this you right intention is the single most powerful and transformative ingredient in dialog. It’s a few things in that statement that are really interesting to me. One of them is dialog itself. This is something I’m all about. But I’ve been taught that dialog is not simply a conversation. It’s not just talking. It’s not discussion. But how do you understand dialog? What what is and how is it if it is, how is it different from those other things?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:30:20] Sure, sure. So it’s fascinating that the etymology of dialog, as I talk about in the book, usually we think, OK, Dai means to dialog, Logo’s is words, two people sharing words. But that’s one way of analyzing the etymology. But apparently the more accurate way is the the prefix Diaa literally means across. So it’s the sense of getting a message across. It’s that transfer of meaning from one to another or to more than more than another. So dialog is creating understanding and what I refer to as real dialog in the book. Is and this is comes from the theologian. Why am I blanking on his name? I can’t remember his name right now, but he says that. True dialog is a way of knowing the truth that neither party possesses beforehand. So there’s the sense if you and I are in dialog, not that you’re enlightening me or I’m enlightening you, but that we are together discovering something new that neither of us quite understood or viewed in the same way before. And this is this is the potential for community, for true communication, is that we learn from each other that through our differences, through the different perspectives and feelings and experiences we have, that we each receive something new and possibly together a new perspective is created.
Brilliant Miller [00:32:03] Yeah, that is remarkable to me. And. You know, to go back for a moment to the thing we were talking about, about presence and awarenesses, the ground, you know, in which upon which communication even takes place, and if it doesn’t exist, communication isn’t likely to occur, that kind of thing. Dialog won’t occur. I’m just I’m really struck by how challenging it is to be aware and to be present when I’m by myself. But add to it the complexity of another person or other people. And and there’s something that’s really magical about it. Right. And you use these metaphors in the book that I that I also appreciated. So you talk about writing this book for everyone to help them be better communicators, to be more effective in whatever they do. And now we get to this point about, OK, so we’re by ourselves. We’re faced with the challenge of being aware and now we’re with another person and we’re in communication. And now that challenge is taken to another level. Now, now, what do we do?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:33:08] Yeah, what do we do now? So it’s interesting. One thing I’ll say first is that what I’ve learned through teaching is that it’s actually different for different people, that for some of us it’s easier to be aware and present when we’re alone. And for others, it’s easier to be aware and present when they’re with someone else, so even that can be different based on our character and life experiences and so forth. So that’s that’s a very interesting phenomenon, just that we experience the supports for presidents differently, each of us. Now, that said, as you’re pointing to, when there is anything challenging or difficult in the relational field, it becomes that much harder to stay present. So what do we do in a dialog in order to navigate that space between us? So as you were referring to earlier, the first step is to show up. The first step is to just try to lead with presence. Let that be the first thing you do is can I just be here and can I continue showing up? Can I continue staying connected and grounded and aware of myself and the other person? What’s happening? The second thing we. Focus on and cultivate in the conversation and relationship is a clear and helpful intention, so knowing being aware of where I’m coming from, what’s my motivation? And one of the most powerful intentions that I encourage people to practice as a default, as the baseline to fall back on is the intention to understand. Curiosity is a remarkable. Force in life, it can transform so much, just the capacity to get curious, let me understand. Tell me more. I’m not sure I’m following. I think I see it a little bit differently. But I’d like to understand where you’re coming from. Can you explain it to me again? There’s so much that gets communicated when we are able to be curious, not as a communication technique, genuinely, to really be interested in understanding one another. So we practice coming from curiosity and care, really being connected to a genuine intention to understand. So this is the second thing that we do. The third thing in conversation is really training ourselves to identify and focus on specific areas of human experience that make it easier to understand each other and to express ourselves clearly. And this is where the system of training that was developed by a man named Marshall Rosenberg comes into my work, which is called nonviolent communication. And so we train our attention to focus on what matters, what’s actually important, what are we even talking about. And so Dr. Rosenberg and his research and his own work during his lifetime discovered that there are four things that tend to be the most important for human beings in our relationships that we can start to pay attention to. And just the process of doing this, this isn’t a script. It’s not about what you’re supposed to say. It’s a way of training ourselves to notice what’s actually happening. And how do we separate? Our projections, our interpretations, our past experiences, from the data, from what we’re experiencing in the present moment and what’s actually relevant, and so he said, pay attention to the observations, what’s occurring, what has occurred, the events, things that have been said or done specifically rather than our interpretations, our evaluations of the meaning of those. So we can focus on that. We can pay attention to the emotions, the feelings that are present in each of us, which is a huge area of experience for us as human beings. And then one of the key innovations in his work and in humanistic psychology of which his work grew out of, is not just stopping at the emotions, but going deeper. And really inquiring to say, OK, if we’re feeling something as a human being, it’s because there’s something we care about. If we didn’t care about something, we wouldn’t be feeling any emotions about it, so to look deeper and say, well, what matters, what matters to this person, what matters to me and this is getting out what are known as universal, fundamental human needs, the deeper values that drive and motivate our behavior as human beings. So these are things not just our material and basic needs, but relational needs for things like understanding, empathy, belonging, acceptance. Identity, a sense of identity, a sense of. Place in the world’s touch, play, love, all of these things are relational needs that we have as human beings and then what we could call higher needs, sometimes spiritual needs, needs for things like purpose, contribution, feeling connected to something larger than ourselves. So we listen for what matters in our self and others in the conversation and the the effect the impact of this. We can talk more about it if we want after this is can be profound. Yeah. And then the last piece, the fourth piece is having clear and specific ideas about where to go from here in the conversation, like what do we want to see happen next? What do we think would be useful? And so we make clear requests for how to move things forward.
Brilliant Miller [00:39:09] Yeah, this these four things and thank you for for breaking that down, and I find, you know, this thing about needs, about this I love the way you said this universal fundamental human needs are really remarkable because it’s easy to look at someone that we don’t agree with or we don’t understand and just think they’re an idiot or maybe they’re mentally ill. Like I hear people say that sometimes about other people, you know, they just don’t. But there is some kind of a logic motivating everyone, I think, or at least gives me some access point to compassion. I think if I go, OK, I might not understand it. I might not like it, might not support it. Like if I am willing to look beyond just the behavior that there’s something there that gives me an ability to relate with someone. I’ve heard Tony Robbins talk about this, and I know he has a tendency to simplify things and it’s one of his great strengths. But I know even with emotions, like some people say, there’s only four emotions. The mad, scared, glad and sad kind of thing. Big topics, right, that we’re doing our best to put labels on and understand. But when it comes to needs, like how how do you understand him? I mean, how many do you think there really are? And what is it that we can? When you talked about spiritual needs and basic basic needs, Maslow talks about this. But when it comes to the how do you really, like, grasp that?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:40:37] Oh, sure. So. So these are concepts we’re talking we’re using words to point to experience. I don’t think that there’s a set number of needs, you can look at all these different lists and some of them have 20 and some of them have 50 and some of them only have nine or some of them only have three, like Rick Hanson, author and Buddhist teacher, neuroscientist, who says we need safety, satisfaction and connection. That’s it. And everything else can fall into that. And there’s some utility to that. But really what this concept of needs is pointing to is it’s pointing to a level of knowing and a level of kind of awareness of what’s important. What is it that’s important to me? In life. Why? Why am I why are you and I hear. Not in the deep existential sense, but why are we doing this interview? There’s a reason we care about something. There’s something important to us. So the key here is most of us are not taught in the public education for sure, and even in our families and the socialization process to be aware of or honor our own needs or the needs of others. So the key is training ourself to listen and be aware of this deeper layer of our experience, because as you’re pointing to, it is inordinately empowering when we are aware of what matters to us more fundamentally. We have more energy, we have more clarity, we have more creativity. Because if I’m aware that I’m doing this podcast with you, because I want people to have more meaningful lives and have tools to make peace. If his podcast doesn’t go well, it’s not the end of the world, there are other ways that I can find to help people lead more meaningful lives and have tools to make peace. But if this is the only strategy, I have to do that. And this doesn’t go well, I’m crushed, yeah, not only that, as you were pointing to, when we’re aware of this deeper layer of why we do the things we do as human beings, it gives us a window into the shared humanity of others. We can see through that through eyes of compassion, beyond the harmful choices or the dangerous views that others may have to the deeper level of their heart in terms of why they’re reaching for that and what it is it might offer to them at a more fundamental level.
Brilliant Miller [00:43:36] And what you say about the strategies we use to get our needs met or to meet our needs, and that conflict often occurs at the level of strategy. If I’m locked into I’ve got to have this thing. It’s got to be this way. And somebody else in opposition to that. And they’re just an impediment or at worst, worst an adversary or something. But when we can look beyond that to get to the need of transformation, so much can open up. And one of the things. So we’re this then leads is this whole thing that you talk about, about conflict. This was so hard for me to understand myself, to start to kind of look at people that I relate to and see if I can just identify what’s the habitual conflict style conflict styles. You assert that there are four primary styles that we usually have, one that’s kind of our go to war. How do you how do you see that? And and how could this be useful for us?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:44:38] Sure. Yeah. So I would say there are four kind of habitual ones that often aren’t helpful, and we could say that they’re five because there’s also this approach which is more helpful. So and different people will categorize these differently. As some will say. They’re three, some will say. So this isn’t set in stone. This is as you’re pointing to, this is like just a way of understanding our habits and our conditioning to try to get clearer on what do I do when I’m in conflict, where does that come from and what’s it getting me and what’s the cost? What is it not getting me? So so these habitual conflict styles, one of the most common and the one I usually talk about the first is competitive confrontation. So this is the kind of type a dominate control get my way at all costs. And this is what we see plastered all over the media in Hollywood. Most politicians kind of. Playing this very sort of archetypical, overpowering, masculine control energy, so sometimes we get into a conflict and we just try to dominate. The benefit of that, of course, is that we’re clear about what matters to us and we’re committed to our own agenda or our own needs. There’s value in that, right? The cost, of course, is that we end up burning bridges. We lose a certain quality of intimacy and connection in our life, and that behavior can come back to haunt us later because we make enemies. The opposite of that is another very, very common approach, which is conflict avoidance, which is essentially just pretend it’s not there and it’ll go away like, no, there’s no problem over there. I’m just not going to look at that. I’m just going to pretend that everything’s OK. And I hope that it goes away and this approach and so each of these I want to be clear, like I want to demonize these these are often we do these because it’s the best we have. Yeah. All we know. So it’s important to recognize these are strategies. These are habits we’ve picked up along the way to get by. And they work to some degree and then until they don’t anymore. So conflict avoidance can go a long way to keep the peace. You know, we’re smoothing things over. We’re not kind of blowing things up. But of course, things fester underneath the surface. Problems sometimes don’t get resolved. Sometimes they get worse over time. If we avoid conflict, we can even get disconnected from ourself. We forget what’s important to us. The next style is passivity. So this one is sometimes gets confused with conflict avoidance. So what’s the difference between being passive and being conflict? So passivity sometimes called appeasing. This is actually we’re not avoiding the conflict. We’re actually trying to resolve it. And the method for resolving the conflict is to give up what matters to me. It’s to give in to the other person. It’s to say, oh, whatever you want, it’s fine. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s all my fault. Don’t worry about it. We’ll do what you want. And it’s continually kind of facing our own needs and feelings to try to keep harmony, to try to stay connected, to try to get the love that we want, perhaps. So, again, this can go a long way to have a certain quality of surface harmony in relationships. But ultimately, our needs don’t get met. Or or the rest of our needs don’t get met, and again, we can end up estranged from ourselves. We get so focused on other people’s needs that we actually forget how to be aware of our own needs. I think there’s something else I wanted to say here about passivity, so I’m just going to see if it comes back. The irony with passivity is that. That in the internal experience of people who use this as a default approach is often one of feeling very can be one of feeling powerless or weak. However, it actually takes a lot of strength and energy to keep suppressing your needs. So there’s a certain irony there. The last of these approaches is passive aggression. Which is pretending on the surface that everything is OK, but communicating in often subtle or indirect ways, that we are actually unhappy and have some contempt for the other person or for the situation. And so this often shows up when we don’t think that there are any options for addressing it. We don’t feel like we have enough power to make change, but we’re aware of what isn’t working for us and why we want it to change. We just don’t see any way to make it happen. So we end up finding a way to send the message. It’s the roommate who washes all of the dishes but but yours and leaves them on the counter or in the sink or it’s the coworker who says, oh, sure, I’ll do it and then doesn’t do it or does a really poor job on the project kind of intentionally to make things look bad. There’s another common. So these are the four habitual styles that can be the most destructive, competitive confrontation, conflict avoidance, passivity and passive aggression. When we look at collaboration, a fifth is compromise, which sometimes can be helpful. But with compromise, neither person actually gets their needs met. We get some of what we want and the other person gets some of what they want, but we don’t actually arrive at a solution that addresses everything. We each have to give something up. So what I what I advocate for and teach in the book in this whole field of conflict resolution and mediation is founded upon what’s known as the winwin, which was the idea that was created, I think, in the early 20th century by a woman thinker and managerial consultant named Mary Parker Follett. And it’s the idea of collaboration that there can be when we are able to understand the deeper needs and interests of all of the parties involved. We can work together to manage all of the resources that are available and come up with a more creative solution, essentially we’re shifting from having a conflict and a problem to having a puzzle. Once we get all of the needs clear and it’s all out on the table, OK, here are the considerations that we’re trying to resolve now. We can work together to think creatively about all the resources we have and see what can we do to try to resolve as many of these concerns in these as possible. And then we’re drawing on the ingenuity and the creativity and the synergy of as many people as our involved.
Brilliant Miller [00:52:01] Yeah, like I said this, thank you and thank you again for for breaking that down, too, because this was so Eye-Opening for me just to have this laid out this way and to be able to say, oh, I do that or, you know, there’s me. But then also to to be presented with this idea that conflict is only scary when we hold on to really our experience of it. So many of our experience from childhood about there’s a winner and there’s a loser. Right. If I’m weaker, I won’t get my needs met. So I’m going to adopt one of these styles to get as much of as many of my needs met as I can. But that there there is or there can be another way and that conflict can, in fact, be healthy. And this place from that, there is a puzzle, as you say, that if I’m willing to engage with it from the place of we can both get our needs met and there doesn’t have to be a winner or loser, beautiful place from which to address conflict.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:53:15] Yeah. Yeah. And that it’s one thing, as you’re pointing to, it’s one thing to understand that intellectually, it’s another thing to really be able to feel it and trust it in our body. And that’s and that’s where starting to understand and feel some of the way these patterns and past experiences get carried in our tissues and live in our body is important. And to start to focus on. The past experiences we’ve had where we have been able to navigate a conflict or a disagreement successfully and come through the other side closer. With new understandings and insights and creative solutions and also to focus on the areas and the relationships in our lives where that is possible so that we start to retrain our nervous system to actually relate to difference in conflict in a different way, so that instead of all of the alarm bells and sirens going off inside, any time there’s a disagreement or a conflict, we can we can relax into it and go like, oh, OK, interesting. Let’s see where we go from here. And there can actually be a felt experience of confidence and trust and interest in just what you say and in using conflict as an opportunity to learn to get closer and to to be involved in the sort of creative, messy experiment of being alive.
Brilliant Miller [00:54:41] And I love that. Well, and we’ve talked now for about an hour ever so much before. We transition to the next part of our interview. I just want to ask you if there’s anything that we haven’t covered, anything in the book or anything that you’ve learned since writing the book, anything at all that you you think would be of value to the reader or just that or the listener here?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:55:02] Sure. I mean, one thing we haven’t touched on yet is, is the way that power plays out in these dialogs and situations and conversations in our life and power is always present whether or not we’re conscious of it. We have more power, we have less power. We have the same power as others. And that could be social power. It could be positional power. It could be structural power. And so this adds a layer of complexity to conversation and to into dialog and relationship. And it’s one of the pieces with presence. As we become more aware of ourselves, as we become more aware of others, we become aware of the various factors in the context that we’re moving through in our life and how power factors in. And so we could have a whole another hour long conversation about this. But one of the gifts of this practice is that it puts us in touch with a deeper source of power in ourselves, our own personal power, through being aware and connected to our values. It puts us in touch with a deeper source of power in terms of knowing that regardless of the external circumstances, regardless of the constraints that our society or those around us may place on us in terms of the choices that we have externally, we always have a choice internally about how we will relate to others, about how we will relate to our life. And as we explore our relationships and conversations and the presence or absence of power when we have more power than others, socially positionally, structurally, we can bring a certain quality of awareness and sensitivity and skill to trying to be conscious of that power in a way that invites others to really step forward so that we’re sharing power. And when we have less power, we can use these skills to create more leverage to to advocate for ourselves, our families and our communities to meet more of the needs that are present. So the one thing I add, I would add that we haven’t touched on.
Brilliant Miller [00:57:28] Thank you for that. Very, very timely. OK, well, let’s go ahead and transition to the lightning lightning round. So again, this is a series of questions on a variety of topics. You’re welcome to answer as long as you want. But my aim for the most part is to simply ask the question and stand aside. OK, all right. Question number one, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a…
Oren Jay Sofer [00:58:00] Deep breath.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:03] OK, question two here, I’m borrowing the famous Technologist’s, an investor, Peter Tiel’s, question, what important truth do very few people agree with you on?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:58:16] One important truth that very few people agree with me on. Yes. The less you know, the more free you are.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:32] OK, question number three, if you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a T-shirt with a slogan on it or phrase or saying or quote or quip, what would the shirts say?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:58:42] Ask me for a hug.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:45] OK, question number four, what book other than one of your own have you gifted or recommended most often.
Oren Jay Sofer [00:58:54] Um. Let’s look at my bookshelf. There are a couple. I recommend very frequently probably the Dow of Pooh that was a big one in my in my life, the Dow of pooh. There’s another wonderful book also by I came called Being Nobody Going Nowhere Anyone Who Wants to Learn About Buddhism. It’s a great book as well
Brilliant Miller [00:59:22] and a great title. OK, what are you currently reading?
Oren Jay Sofer [00:59:28] I’m currently reading a few different books, I’m reading a book called. I think it’s called Boundless Heart by Christina Feldman. It’s a book about the four immeasurable, the Four Brummer, the horrors and Buddhist practice. I’m reading a book called Heart of Hope by Kay Prentis and others. It’s a professional development textbook about peacemaking circles and conflict resolution. And then I’m halfway through Victor Lulus book, Reinventing Organizations, but I’ve kind of been stalled on that for a few weeks now.
Brilliant Miller [01:00:10] OK, thank you. So question number five, in your life of your work, you have traveled a lot. What’s one travel hack meaning something you do or something you take with you and you travel to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:00:24] Oh. Um. And. Well, when I can, I like to take a tennis ball in a sock to roll around on my back or put it against the wall and roll around, it’s a good way to massage the muscles and it’s relatively small and lightweight.
Brilliant Miller [01:00:50] All right. Question number six, what is one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live your age? Well.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:00:59] Um. I do I do some form of a form of movement called Qigong almost every day and helps keep my body relaxed and the tissues kind of open keeps things flowing.
Brilliant Miller [01:01:20] Yeah, awesome. Question number seven. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:01:29] Hmmm, I wish that every American knew how many services people in other developed nations in the world receive from their government, things like free health care, college education, guaranteed support for the elderly and so forth. We have a revolution in this country. If people actually knew and recognized the benefit of having more support and services from our government in terms of the social safety net. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:02:10] Thank you. Yeah. Question number eight, what is the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about making relationships work? Hmm.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:02:33] Don’t be afraid of your own mistakes or your own pain. A lot of relationships, I think that where they break down is our inability to take responsibility for the places that we are blocked. Or are contributing to the disconnect in the relationship and the more what I’ve seen in my life is, the more I’m able to be humble and take responsibility for my own limitations. The ways in which I’m not showing up fully are living up to my intentions or values, the easier it is to deepen in the relationship and actually keep learning and growing together.
Brilliant Miller [01:03:34] Thank you, yeah. Question number nine, aside from compound interest, what’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about money or what’s something you’re always sure to do with it or you never do with it?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:03:48] Has learned about money. Money was meant to be shared and exchanged. The most important thing I’ve ever learned about money,
Brilliant Miller [01:04:07] I think that’s why they call it currency flow, right? That’s what exactly my guest told me. Yeah, I agree. Beautiful. OK, and question number 10. So if people want to learn more from you or they want to connect with you, what would you have them do?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:04:25] Thanks. I’m going to go back to question number. Was it six? What’s one thing you would like every American to know?
Brilliant Miller [01:04:32] Question Seven.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:04:33] Seven. I just going to add another one. So there’s two. And I’m not speaking to every American. I’m speaking to some of them. And I think this is something that most of us have. Most of us who who are who are not aware of this before have become painfully aware of it in the last year, which is some of the very painful history of our country. I would want every American to be aware of the mythology that many of us were taught growing up about the founding of this nation and the painful history in terms of land theft, genocide, enslavement that played an essential role in creating creating the country and the way the legacy of that history to this day, the the way it continues to influence our society. Yeah. Yeah. So as far as how people can find me or stay in touch, my website’s probably the best place or in orenjaysofer.com, I have an email list. I send out a short teaching or reflection every other week and you get some guided meditations and a free ebook and so forth when you join the newsletter. And then I’m also on social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook at @orenjaysofer.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:01] Awesome. And we’re recording this here in May of twenty twenty one. And I know you teach regularly, but a special program where you have a program coming up this summer. Will you tell me about that.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:06:14] Sure. Yeah. So every year I teach a few different online courses based on the book Say What You Mean and this summer is free, a six week course through the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, integrating the Buddhist teachings on right speech with nonviolent communication. And it’s open to everyone. It’s based on donations. So everyone’s welcome. And there’s an invitation to contribute to support the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and and my work and all the information for that’s on my website.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:45] That is awesome with our last few minutes. I want to ask some questions about writing and the creative process. If you’re. How you doing? OK.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:06:56] Yeah, yeah, I’ve got a whole glass of water left.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:59] OK. All right. So again, an audience for this podcast is those who want to write their own books or people who are currently writers. And again, I know writing is a very individual practice, but in some ways it’s very collaborative and and we can learn from others. One. One thing I’d love to start by asking you is when did you first know that you were a writer?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:07:29] Probably not until I mean, I’ve been writing all of my life, my mother taught me to write and but it probably wasn’t until my thirties when I was writing regularly blogging that I would maybe have thought of myself as a writer. But it’s ironic, actually. My my last name, Sofer in Hebrew, literally means a scribe, one who writes so, Sofer in the Jewish tradition is the person who copies over the Torah. So somewhere in my lineage there was someone who was a who was a scribe. So it’s it’s there in the in the genes, some somewhere
Brilliant Miller [01:08:10] but somewhere in the lineage. Right. Who has been influential in your development as a writer and what have you learned from them?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:08:18] Interesting. I mean, as I said, my mom really taught me to write. If you and if you look at say what you mean, you’ll see she’s there in the beginning of the dedication. She really, really she would edit my papers in school growing up. And she was an editor and a writer. So she taught me a tremendous amount about how to write. I read a lot of poetry in college, and I think I learned something from that Gary Snyder being one of my favorite poets, but also the Japanese and Chinese poets. Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones was I read that at some point, and that was helpful. It’s hard to say I don’t I don’t have like other than that, there’s no one comes to mind, sort of like as an ideal writer. But one of the things that I remember learning along the way that was really helpful that to this day is still very helpful is. Simplicity like there’s something about saying something with fewer words can often be really powerful. Writing doesn’t have to be really flowery and long and complex for it to be meaningful or good. In fact, some of the best writing, whether it’s like Steinbeck or is just very simple, clear and direct. And so that’s a value that I picked up somewhere along the way that I like to stay connected to. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:10:08] You know, something that you you say in your book that I thought was really awesome and I don’t know if it connects directly to this, but as you said, it comes up for me because you share what you just shared. Are we back as is it’s about this thing of asking myself rather than what do I want to say? What do I want this person to understand? Right. Right, that’s powerful.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:10:36] Yeah, yeah, as as we’re talking about it, I’m remembering a few different things. I mean, I could just kind of riff on this a little bit here, please. So one of the first things I remember, one of the things I remember my mom saying to me early on about writing as a writer was the joke that apparently came into being somewhere along the way that I can’t remember who said it. But oh, yeah, writing is easy. Sit at the typewriter, stare at a blank sheet of paper and sweat blood. So it just that acknowledgment of how difficult it can be, some of the things that I’ve found helpful. So one is if you’re having trouble writing, talk. Particularly if you’re like trying to get something out or explain something and you can’t find the words like explain it to someone else and then record it or have them write it down. Similarly, you know, taking ideas, particularly for nonfiction writing, but even for fiction telling the story, just doing it verbally often takes a lot of the pressure off. And there’s a certain kind of creativity that can come. And then and then from that writing down the transcripts. And then there was I had a teacher, another teacher at in college at Columbia Literary. Theory historian named Gayatri Spivack, and we read some literary criticism in her class. I only took one class with her, but she had a real impact on me because she was so. Clear. About. What is this author saying, and she would take a text literally line by line, word by word and say, what does this mean down to the word to say, what does that word mean and not what you think it means or your interpretation? But but just what you’re pointing to, which is what is this author trying to communicate? What is the message? What’s the point they’re making in this sentence? In this sentence? And it it taught me it taught me two things. It taught me one, a certain level of rigor and myself around just that. Like, what is it I’m wanting to say? Like, what is it? I want this person to know if I’m not clear about it, they’re certainly not going to be clear about it. And too, in building an argument and this is again, this tends to be more for nonfiction writing than for fiction, where with fiction and poetry, it’s it’s it’s a different art form in terms of the writing, but with nonfiction that each sentence in each paragraph is serving a purpose and being clear about what is it and am I moving forward the meaning, am I actually communicating a different point here and deepening or developing the message and the meaning that I’m wanting to get across.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:13:41] When I was writing my book and when I have worked on larger projects, I tend to what I will do is carve out a period of the day, usually in the morning, just because that’s when I’m fresher. Some people it’s more like late at night. So you just have to know your own energy pattern, your own cycles. But I’ll carve out a period of anywhere from two to four hours. I’ll do clear the schedule. Turn off the phones and devote that time to writing regardless of how much I write. The agreement I would make with myself is. Just sit down at the computer for two hours, if you write one sentence, that’s enough. It’s great if you write 10 pages also fine, but put in the time, just sit down and write. Doesn’t have to be perfect. Your first draft is is fine. And I like to drink tea, so I would always have have a cup of green tea or oolong or black teas or some kind of tea. And so that was my routine and I would do that three to four days a week. It was important to take breaks and not try to be writing every day. And it’s the it was the hardest at the beginning. And often, like with the new chapter, sometimes it would be hard to get into it, but really giving myself a lot of permission, like you don’t have to write Chapter one from the beginning, like just start writing and you don’t know what’s going to come out and where it’s going to fit, but doesn’t matter. Just start writing and sit there for as long as you need to, for as long as you’ve committed to whether it’s one hour, two hours, three or four hours. I found for me, even when I was in a flow that more than four hours my brain just started to get fried, you know.
Brilliant Miller [01:16:13] Yeah, I’ve definitely had that experience. And more than one late night writing session or reread a sentence, I think. Does this even mean anything? Yeah, definitely. What how do you stay organized as it is? You get into these longer writing projects and you’re saying, like, don’t worry about where it’s going to fit and so forth. How do you take what might some people have described as kind of a soup or a stew or the sausage and so forth? How do you take that large mass of material and shape it into something? How do you mentally or or literally organize it either as you go or after the fact?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:16:51] So so something my mom taught me, which I’m sure many of your listeners already are aware of and use, but there’s the benefit of outlining and then that you can do that in either direction. So like for the book, for say what you mean, I did have an outline that I worked from. So, you know, coming up with some sort of loose structure beforehand can be very helpful. And again, more for nonfiction than for fiction. But if you are writing nonfiction, having an outline or some structure can be so helpful. So as much as possible to think through the arc of your arguments or your thesis or whatever you’re developing and try to come up with some structure that can hold the ideas and then that gives you something to work from. The other thing is then for specific chapters where it was like, well, where how does this all fit together? And so too complicated. The two things that were helpful for me, one was after writing it, then take whatever it is, ten the ten pages or fifteen pages and make an outline from what you’ve written. And then it’s often it’s easier to see the ideas and to rearrange them once you’ve got that outline working with an editor. So like from my book, I had an editor at Shambhala that I was working with who was great. But I also one day and I would I take I would take walks every day when I can. And on the writing project, I was taking a walk every day just to clear my mind. And I bumped into my neighbor just over there and it turns and we were just chatting and it turned out that he’s a freelance editor. So I hired him for one or two chapters to just help go through the difficulty that I was having. So getting someone else’s input is often helpful. And the last thing that my mom taught me that has been really helpful is she said that sometimes what you think is your best sentence or your best paragraph ends. Paragraph and. The piece as a whole and so that like having heard that since I was, I don’t know, 13 or whatever, helped me to feel less of a sense of attachment to certain things that I might write or say and recognize. It’s not about one sentence or paragraph. It’s really about the whole piece and really trusting that many times less is more and being willing to cut things. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:19:27] What another great benefit of practicing non attachment like you. Wonderful. Well, what’s so final question here is what advice or encouragement would you leave anyone here listening with when it comes to their own writing project?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:19:51] Don’t wait. It’s so easy to procrastinate and, yeah, don’t wait. Just start setting aside time every day, even if it’s half an hour. Choose the number of days a week you want to do it. And just just just start.
Brilliant Miller [01:20:09] Awesome. OK, as an expression of gratitude to you or something I’ve done is I’ve got online to a dog the microlensing site, and I’ve made one hundred dollar microloan to a group of women, a group of entrepreneurs in Senegal. My work mainly as vendors in their community. But at least one of them will use some of this money to grow rice in a two and a half acre field she has. So in this way, I like to think that this conversation has benefited people that will probably never meet. But thank you for giving me a reason to to do that.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:20:45] Thank you. I’m really touched by that. Brilliant. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:20:49] OK, well, the final thing then is just a final thought. And what we’ve had a great conversation. I am grateful to you. What would you say just in closing, what do you want to leave our listeners with?
Oren Jay Sofer [01:21:05] One of the things that I’ve been thinking about and saying a lot recently is that transformation is possible. And I think that’s a. A message that I don’t think any of us can hear enough just in our own life and our relationships and in our world, and there’s so many disheartening and dire challenges that we’re facing today that we need to remember that and to keep that sense of hope alive, that the things that we say and do today matter and make a difference for tomorrow.
Brilliant Miller [01:21:38] Yeah, well said. Thank you for that. Yeah. All right. My guest Oren Jay Sofer. You can find him online at Orenjaysofer.com, all the Socials. His book Say What You Mean, a mindfull approach to nonviolent communication. I hope you pick it up, you integrate it, you live it, have more fulfilling life in a more peaceful world. So thank you for listening and thank you again.
Oren Jay Sofer [01:22:00] Great. Thank you. A brilliant pleasure to be here now.
Brilliant Miller [01:22:05] Hey, thanks so much for listening to this episode of the School for the Living podcast before you take off. Just want to extend an invitation to you despite living in an age where we have more comforts than ever before, life still isn’t working for many people. Whether it’s here in the developed world where we deal with depression, anxiety, lonliness, addiction, divorce, unfulfilling jobs, relationships that dont work. Or in the developing world where so many people still dont have access to basic things like clean water or sanitation or healthcare or education or or live in conflict zones. There are lots of people on this planet that life isn’t working very well for. If you’re one of those people, or if your life is working, but you have a sense that it could be better. Consider signing up for the school for good living’s Transformation Coaching Program. Whether you just graduated, got through a divorce, got married, headed into retirement, starting a business, been married for a long time, whatever. No matter where you are in life, this nine month program will give you the opportunity to go deep in every area of your life to explore life’s big questions to creates answers for yourself in a community of other growth-minded individuals. I can help you get clarity and keep you accountable to realize more of your unrealized potential. It can also help you find and maintain motivation. In short, it’s designed to help you live with happiness and meaning. So that you can be, do, have and give more. Visit goodliving.com to learn more or to sign up today.