The Best of Both: Leading the Foundation into the New Frontier of Hybrid Training



The Wright Foundation completed its FIRST hybrid leadership training with this year’s Leadership Intensive Training. Both in-person and online students experienced a sense of wholeness and completeness through the curriculum and guidance.

Hybrid technology heightened the learning for both groups, bringing together leaders and students from many places. The growth and working teams featured in-person only, online-only, and hybrid teams. From the first day to the last, the cohesiveness and connection of the teams grew.

After two years of pandemic learning, many in-person students were able to see the campus for the first time! With the support of Senior Foundation leaders, in-person students could experience the benefits of being in the same room and sleeping on the land.

To get a sense of the technology and how it enhanced the in-person and online experiences, close your eyes and picture the Art Silver Center at the Wisconsin campus. Four cameras plus a Zoom camera set up in the room enabled the media director to select a view of the live training room for the online audience.

To get a sense of how the Zoom squares looked to the in-person audience, think of your Zoom square on a screen made up of nine 5-foot by 4-foot screens set up three high by three wide. That’s about the size of a typical SUV mounted on a stand! On the live audience’s left, a monster multiplex screen showed the online participants in gallery view.

The Wisconsin crew worked in sync with the Chicago media crew, which played videos and displayed presentations on cue for both the in-person and online audiences. Presenters in other cities took front-and-center on all screens as needed. When training Producer Kate Holmquest Sudarsan and Task Lynette Morris took over, they displayed larger than life on the in-person matrix monitor and in speaker view for the online audience. The media staff cued them in from Kate’s home in Florida and Lynette’s base at the Chicago campus.

To make this hybrid training work, and work seamlessly, the Foundation expanded its media and technology crew in April and May. Jay Hannah, Head of Educational Media Production, joined new media and IT staffers, Terry Lenihan, Caitlin Myers, and Seth Gordon. Jay handled most of the day-to-day live direction, working from the Wisconsin campus with the Chicago media team.

Kudos to Dr. Phil Blue, the Foundation’s head of operations, for leading the effort! We are also grateful to Foundation donors, who helped make possible the new staffing and equipment that created new ways to reach more students around the globe with a high-impact training experience.

What is the WIIN Contest?

This is a note from Jon Fieldman, a senior leader in the Wright Foundation community, about setting a context for our “4 WIINs” contest:

There’s a bigger context. Much, much bigger context.

The first context is our self.

We develop our capacities and our substance. We build our personal power.  We grow and transform. We harness our gifts and the dreams of what we were born to be.

But at Wright, we grow our responsibility in equal measure with our personal power. This is the second context. We grow in our contribution to others, to the people in our lives. We strive and succeed, to help to make our friends, families, companies, and organizations better. Better for everyone. We grow our power bounded by purpose. This is a huge statement.  Our power is not the end. It is the tool of our higher purpose, a higher purpose that is intrinsically about contributing to others.

In many ways, the trajectory of our growth is measured by the depth and scope of our growing impact.  We deepen inside of ourselves, deepen in our relationships, deepen in the depth of our meaning, deepen in our caring, deepen in our impact and influence, deepen in our contribution.  It is not a coincidence that the folks who have done the most work tend to have broader and deeper impact. They have deeper personal power with which to impact more people more deeply.

But there is yet a third context, one which is woven of all the organizations and relationships we navigate on a daily basis. We are part of a huge and hugely important, community that profoundly impacts every last one of the people we know in ways hard to fully comprehend and understand: our national community. Our national community is a group – a group of staggering complexity – – setting the fundamental context of every other group and organization we are part of: our families, our companies, our churches and synagogues and every other organization we are part of.

And our duty to contribute, our duty of responsibility to contribute our gifts, our power and our values —  all of this extends to this national community.

This third context is one that most of us do not engage with significantly as part of our daily lives.  But from the far wings of our daily lives, our national community is growing in its presence, moving  closer to the center, now coming into our own personal identities and values.  The national community is coming, coming to of each of us.

Now, our responsibility has become larger, much, much larger.

Our duty as citizens is upon us.

For more words and thoughts from our students: CLICK HERE.

Can We Agree to Disagree and Still Get Along?

Today, there’s a lack of dialogue and productive disagreement.

How do you agree to disagree on important topics (like politics) and still preserve a relationship with your family and friends?

Many people stick to the idea that we can’t find common ground on anything if we don’t agree on a topic. There’s no more agree to disagree consensus.

What is driving all this disagreement? Is conflict necessarily bad? And if we disagree, how do we express it openly and honestly without burning a bridge?

If you’re wondering how to agree to disagree (and still get along) with your friends and family, it’s important to get real with yourself first.

Are You Adding to the Problem?

We’re seeing a shift away from agreeing to disagree. The question is, can we disagree and still come to understand and respect each other?

What people tend to do when there’re an argument and oppositional culture is to become uninterested in nuance culture. Either the other person is good or bad; right or wrong.

Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory says we get stuck in an immature psychological development where we seek consistency among our beliefs on opinions. Whenever there’s a dissonance or inconsistency, we try to change our way of thinking back to this idea of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

When we look at disagreements, many people can’t see any angle to reach a consensus. We can’t accept there are kernels of truth within someone’s viewpoint, if it doesn’t align with our own.

To touch on the political topic of the day, look at the people who attack the president. While there are a great number of controversial actions he’s taken, there are some good, intelligent actions he’s taken too (albeit not so eloquently). But for most people who disagree with him, they refuse to even admit any positives.

The same goes for the other side, too. A student I was working with has a father who’s a big industrialist and he completely disagrees with anyone who has even a slightly liberal point-of-view. Instantly, those people are automatically discounted and dismissed.

Unfortunately, we’re living in a time when the United States, and the world as a whole, needs to engage in dialogue. Conflict is productive and positive. It moves us toward what we want and helps us to reach a mutually satisfactory state. The problem is, we’re in a situation now where many people completely refuse to get there.

Most issues aren’t simple. They’re nuanced and complex. There’s no simple black and white.

The idea in any disagreement, political or otherwise, is there are always two sides. As we discuss in our book The Heart of the Fight, it takes two to tango when it comes to disagreements. In each conflict, we must learn how to battle responsibly. This means obeying what we call the rules of engagement, including the rule no one gets more than 50% of the blame and everyone is 100% responsible for their own emotions (including happiness).

But what does this really mean? If your uncle brings up a topic you don’t agree with, you may know in your heart of hearts he’s wrong. In fact, you may disagree with everything he’s saying with every fiber in your body.

Here’s the deal, though. People don’t fight with their friends and loved ones simply because they want to be right. You may end up right and still walk away with a destroyed relationship, leaving you empty-handed with a shallow victory.

Instead, we should fight to find common ground. Will you convince your uncle the world is round, the sky is blue, or whatever else he’s disagreeing with you on? No, probably not. Is it worth winning the argument to burn the bridge and destroy your relationship?

In most cases, we would say no. Most of us want to preserve our relationships. This is often why it pisses us off so badly when someone we care about expresses a difference of opinion.

We WANT to find a way to get along, but we also can’t set aside our own thinking of right and wrong long enough to find consensus.

Of course, it also doesn’t mean we should lie about our position, concede, or acquiesce simply because we want to play the peacemaker. This isn’t an honest position and eventually our true feelings will bubble up and resurface.

Instead, it’s important we fight honestly and fight fair. We take responsibility for our role in the conflict. If it’s a debate, we lay out the ground rules before we start discussing the topic. Maybe it’s announcing we probably won’t come to a consensus, but it’s important to us the other party listens to us respectfully and we plan to do the same for them. We’ll consider their evidence thoughtfully and respectfully.

When Attacks Get Personal

What happens when attacks turn ad hominem and personal? There are many times when we’re debating someone on a topic and suddenly the conversation turns from, “I don’t agree with your statement because of X, Y, and Z,” to “You’re an idiot.”

As soon as attacks get personal, we may want to put up the stop sign. We can let the other party know we plan to listen to them with respect and in turn, we expect they will listen to us with the same consideration.

Then what do we do? We stick to our agreement. We may want to explain why this topic is so important to us, why it strikes a nerve; how we feel about the other person, including why we care about them and why it’s important to us we reach common ground.

Today, there’s a tendency to remove debate and dialogue from our discussion. As soon as there’s a point of contention or conflict, people are ready to flip the table and storm out of the room. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry or upset toward someone if you disagree with them on a topic, but it’s important we express our feelings honestly.

Always come back to the larger vision of your relationship. Do you want your mother, father, or brother to agree with you on the current political climate because you want their support? Is it because you love and respect them and therefore want them to acknowledge your point of view and validate it?

This may or may not happen. Unfortunately, in some cases, you may end up at a point where you simply agree to disagree and change the subject in order to preserve the relationship. As long as you’re honest and looking toward the larger vision of how you want your relationship to be, there’s no reason to beat a dead horse, especially if the other party shows no signs of coming around.

How to Agree to Disagree

If you’re ready to reach an agreement to let go of a topic, then it’s important both parties hold up their end of the agreement. When you say you’re going to agree to disagree, that means the little jabs and backbiting or passive-aggressive comments need to be checked at the door.

Many people say, “well, we’ll just have to move on,” but then continue to dwell on the subject at hand. If you are confronted by this type of person, don’t be afraid to pipe up and remind them of the agreement.

Say, “We agreed to put the topic to rest, because we can’t find common ground. When you continue to offer up passive-aggressive comments, I feel angry and I feel like you aren’t keeping with your side of the agreement. If we continue this way, we may damage our relationship, which isn’t something I want.”

Usually, when we lay out our feelings for the other person, it helps them regroup and check where they’re coming from. This type of honesty or “call out” is all we need to do to silence the passive-aggressive comments.

Now, what are the chances they will stop completely? Probably not likely, but as long as you’re holding up your end of the bargain and truly sticking to your word, then agreeing to disagree is a perfectly healthy way to deal with unresolvable conflict on certain topics, but it must be done in a respectful manner.

There has likely never been a time when dialogue has been more important. We see it in issues of race, economics, and especially politics. We need to actively engage on important topics like the environment, economic disparity, healthcare, and addressing issues of equality. Yet, we get so stuck in this state of expressing our opinions the conversation degrades and becomes a hot mess before we ever find a productive ground.

It’s important that we express our feelings openly and honestly in all interactions. Part of authenticity is being true to who we are and saying what we feel. When we try to hide our feelings or suppress anger, it will likely erupt at inopportune times and in other ways.

Instead, speak honestly and tell the truth. Let the other party know how you feel. If you face a difference of opinion and reach an impasse (but want to preserve the relationship), agree to disagree and move on.  Go into the conversation agreeing not to simply disagree, but to walk away with a greater understanding and respect for each other.

For more ways to express your feelings, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training weekend, where you’ll learn how to live a life of more purpose, personal power, and meaning. Go forth and ignite your world with truth.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Emotional Intelligence:
The Core of Our Humanity

Right in the center of your brain sits your amygdala. This small, almond-shaped set of neurons is one of the most important pieces of your brain.

Emotional Intelligence is the core of our humanity.


On first thought, we might wonder how something so small could be so important. The amygdala is part of your limbic system, which is responsible for what essentially amounts to our humanity—our emotions. This part of our brain controls our emotions, our long-term memories, our motivation and our behavior. This is literally the center or core of who we are.

Within this little almond structure is our sense of fear—our apprehensions, our foreboding and our concern. In fact, in studies, rats who had their amygdala removed or damaged no longer displayed any fear in laboratory settings, even among predators. Their fear instinct was gone. This didn’t work out very well for the rats, as you can imagine.

Fear, just like sadness, anger, joy and hurt is a vital emotion. Our fear protects us. The amygdala is responsible for much of our emotional response, but most importantly, it’s responsible for fear. It keeps us safe.

It also helps us read, connect, and engage with others.

In humans, this center of our brain controls our emotion intelligence or E.Q. We’ve all heard of I.Q.—we’ve all met the jerk who brags about his high I.Q. and how he’s a “borderline genius.” In truth, if his E.Q. were as high as his alleged I.Q. he wouldn’t be bragging because he would be sensitive to how off-putting bragging about your intelligence is to others.

Those with high E.Q.’s on the other hand are natural leaders. They are motivators and they’re sensitive to those around them. They understand what drives people and what speaks to them (and also what offends them). They’re “street smart” or “people smart.” They get it.

We’ve all met the classic “nerd” who was super brilliant, but socially awkward, right? These intellectual-types might be able to explain astrophysics, but they bore their audience or dinner companions to tears because they can’t pick up on the cues that others are putting out. They are often rigid—dispassionate, unemotional, even void. This is the typical sign of someone who is intellectually gifted, but emotionally stunted.

On the flip side, we’ve all known a boss, politician, coach or salesperson who was a great motivator but wasn’t getting into Mensa anytime soon. These guys are good because they know how to read people. In fact, many people with a high E.Q. are so good at reading people that they can gloss over and hide any of their intellectual shortcomings. In many ways, a high E.Q. will serve you better than a high I.Q. will.

The Power of Emotional Intelligence

So much of our focus in school, work and training is on building skill and intellect. We graduate students with 4.0 GPAs who don’t know how to engage with others, lead a team or be successful.

When Shell Oil wanted to increase their safety and productivity on their Ursa oil platform, they took an unconventional approach to training the roughnecks. Rather than the typical safety protocol training they went through, they instead brought in a leadership coach and consultant, Claire Nuer.

This consultant assessed that it wasn’t training that the men were lacking in—it was emotional connectedness. They weren’t safe, because they weren’t emotionally connected and invested in each other’s protection. They weren’t listening to each other and they weren’t engaging.

So instead of training these big tough guys on more safety, she got them to talk about their feelings. She got them to dredge up their personal pains and discuss their vulnerabilities. This intensive sharing and coaching went on for months. Now, some would look at this investment and wonder what on earth Shell was thinking, right?

After one year, they had experienced an 84% decline in accidents—across the board. This kind of reduction was unheard of! It was because the men increased their E.Q. and learned how to connect.


“And just what is emotional intelligence? We define it as emotional awareness and emotional facility—knowing what you are feeling and having the skills to read, utilize, manage and express your emotions. Emotional intelligence isn’t just relevant for new-agers or sensitive types. Daniel Goleman’s article on emotional intelligence has been the most requested article from the Harvard Business Review in the last ten years, leading HBR to conclude: ‘Emotional intelligence isn’t a luxury you can dispense with…It’s a basic tool that, deployed with finesse, is the key to professional success.’”
Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


We might be afraid of putting our emotions out there. We might be scared to engage. Emotions make us vulnerable and open. Emotions can be painful and tough to deal with. When wielded correctly and openly though, emotions unleash our own personal superpower.

Back to the Amygdala

So knowing what happens to rats when they have a damaged emotional center, does the same thing happen to humans?

In short, yes. In studies where humans have had tumors or damage to their amygdala they end up becoming so incapacitated by the lack of emotion that they cannot make even the most basic decisions.

For example, one man who had damage to his amygdala could spend literally 8-10 hours getting dressed. Why? Because when you lack an emotional response to things it’s impossible to choose. It’s impossible to make any decision or choice at all, in fact—what to wear, what to eat, whether to move, to get up, to function. Our emotions truly control everything we do, even if we feel they don’t.

The next time someone says, “You’re so emotional,” or “Stop getting upset about it,” tell them thank you. Being emotional is a great trait—it’s important because it means we’re engaged. We’re invested. We care and we listen to others.

As you strengthen and fortify your E.Q. you will learn how to be more aware of the emotions others are displaying. Emotionally intelligent people are great listeners and are sensitive to the reactions and feelings of those around them.

Emotionally intelligent people also know how to regulate their own emotional response and understand the effect of their emotions on others. They have the capacity to “up” or “down” regulate to meet the cues of those they interact with.

We’ve all been around the person who was way up or had a flat effect, even though others around them were the opposite. We might describe them as socially awkward or uncomfortable. Why? Because mirroring emotions is an important part of interaction. We don’t laugh when a friend says her dog died or she’s losing her job, right? But there are some people who do—people who have a difficult time with emotional regulation.

Emotional intelligence takes work to build, but it is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Emotionally intelligent leaders make for safer workplaces, more motivated employees, and a happier work environment. Emotionally intelligent people have wider social circles, but are more deeply connected to their good friends. They don’t need to be everybody’s best buddy, but they’re empathetic and caring.

For more on building your emotional intelligence, visit us at the Wright Foundation. Go forth and ignite your world, engage, and connect with those around you!

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Prepare for Summer Adventures… In Intimacy!

Summer is here, and as your thoughts turn to summer adventures, vacations and explorations, it’s time to consider taking your relationship on an adventure as well.

Get ready for a summer of adventures... in intimacy! Break down the barriers of communication and truly engage with your partner.


I’m not talking about hiking Machu Picchu or exploring the Australian Outback with your significant other (although it could be a wonderful experience).

No, I’m talking about adventures in intimacy!

Now, when we hear the word “intimacy” we often immediately think of the bedroom, of course, but there are plenty of ways to connect with our partner in an intimate way that’s not just S-E-X.

There’s holding hands, backrubs, spending time together—all wonderful ways to reinforce intimacy, but what about emotional intimacy? What about the closeness that comes from spending time together, letting your guard down, and really letting out your authentic self.

I’m guessing for many of us, a safari or a jungle adventure sounds preferable, and maybe even easier, right?

We get scared to let our guard down and be truly vulnerable. Rightly so—when we’re emotionally naked with another person they can see all of us. They can see the lumps and bumps and cellulite. It can be scary. We may want to turn those lights off and hide!

But if you really want to connect with a partner, you have to be willing to let your authentic self out.

The Ugly Truth

We spend years carefully honing and creating our persona. Think of all the things people said to you that you believed growing up. Maybe they said you were “too much” or “too emotional.” Maybe people told you that you weren’t smart enough or that you weren’t someone they wanted to be friends with.

What do those comments do? They build up in our minds. We repeat them to ourselves in our heads and replay them ad nauseam.

I’m guessing if twenty people paid you a compliment and one person said, “You’re ugly,” you would remember that one comment over the twenty.

We all focus on the hurtful comments and the things that bore a hole into our psyche. These comments and jabs reinforce our beliefs about ourselves—the beliefs that hold us back. We call those limiting beliefs.”

As we grow up, those limiting beliefs, likely reinforced by our parents, become instilled in us. We believe we aren’t enough. We believe we can’t do things as well as other people, that we don’t deserve love and success in our lives. We try to counteract those limiting beliefs by compensating.

We may have strong yearnings that drive us to counteract those beliefs, like a seesaw. We go back and forth. We yearn to be accepted and loved; we yearn to be respected. We yearn to have someone know us fully. These yearnings counteract those voices in our mind that say, “You’re not enough,” or “You don’t really know what you’re doing,” or “Someone else would do a better job.”

All of this stuff…this baggage, is what we carry with us into each relationship. We bring it along with our ideas of what the perfect relationship should look like, and we wonder why our romance doesn’t measure up to the fairytales. Is it because we don’t measure up?

Instead of standing up in our relationship and demanding what we really want and giving what we are capable of giving, we hold back. We might avoid conflict because we were raised in a house where conflict was “bad.” We might believe we always have to put on a happy front or pretend everything is fine while we seethe inside.

Or maybe that frustration is pushed so far down that you even believe you’re “pretty happy” but you’re wondering why the fire and passion aren’t there. You might be feeling like this is just “how it is” so you “may as well settle.”

Don’t Settle for Less

This summer, instead of settling for good enough, go for great! Jump in! Embrace the mess.

If you want a great relationship, you’re going to have to fight for it! It doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come quickly. It’s something that is built over time.


True love means you both dig in the dirt of the relationship and pull the weeds to create an ever-growing intimacy. It means kissing and yelling, playing and fighting, comforting and challenging each other. It means being real, not careful. If you want true love, you will need to feel everything: the fear, hurt, anger and sadness as well as joy and bliss.

So love is messy. Why are we telling you this? Because only when you wrap your head around the messiness that is at the heart of intimate relationships can you appreciate why conflict is necessary…having fights doesn’t guarantee a great marriage or partnership. You need to learn why, and how and when to fight and what to fight about. You need to figure out how to use everything from petty squabbles to big blow-out arguments to:

Be understood;
Understand your partner;
Get what you want;
Enjoy the adventure;
Learn and grow together;
Get closer and more intimate.

–excerpt from The Heart of the Fight



It may seem counterintuitive that fighting can bring you closer, but look at it this way—fighting arises from truth. We have to believe in something or the truth of something enough to rally ourselves and fight about it. It’s hard to fight for something you don’t believe in. But if you believe in something, you’ll fight to the bitter end.

The a-ha moment comes in when you realize that you need to fight FOR the relationship. Are you fighting just to fight? Are you arguing because you simply enjoy a debate or are you fighting because you want to understand your partner and be understood? Are you fighting for your truth?

This summer, embrace the opportunity to engage with your partner. Embrace the opportunity to explore our most exciting territory—our deeper selves. Discover what you want from yourself and your relationship and start fighting to get there.

Unlock the hard truths about yourself and what you yearn for. Ask what you need to be fulfilled within your relationship, and then GO FOR IT! Share that truth with your partner and be ready to reciprocate. Discover ways you can explore and learn together to move toward your best self—your most authentic, happiest and joyful self.

Have an adventure this summer—the adventure of intimate conflict!

For more on conflict and how it can stimulate and help (not hurt) your relationship, please visit The Heart of the Fight. Join us at the Wright Foundation for this and other ways you can discover your best, happiest self!


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How to Understand Your Emotions: What Am I Feeling & Why?

Fear. Hurt. Anger. Sadness. Joy. These core emotions are at the heart of our behavior. They drive us and they form the base of what we feel almost all the time.

Learning how to understand your emotions takes time, skill, and dedication to bringing out your best, most engaged self.


Even secondary emotions (like jealousy or guilt) are often based on some combination of those five core emotions.

So if we all feel them and we’ve all experienced them, why are so many of us so uncomfortable with fear, hurt, anger, sadness and joy? It can be hard to know how to understand your emotions, let alone deal with them and regulate them.

Emotions don’t have to be positive (and many aren’t) but they can be used to strengthen our positive outlook and our actions.

During our group classes and weekend retreats, we make it a policy that participants can shout out their emotions whenever they feel them. Yes, it feels awkward at first. (Believe me, I’m often speaking on stage and interrupting myself with “Fear!” or “Joy!”)

At first, participants usually wonder, Why on earth are they making us say our feelings out loud?? Is it just to make everyone else laugh or to make people think I have some sort of verbal tick?

No, of course not.

We do this exercise because the act of identifying our core emotions is at the core of transformational behavior. We cannot shift our beliefs and address our limiting mindsets if we don’t understand and fully allow ourselves to experience the emotions behind them.


Where Do Emotions Come From?

As babies and young children, we’re totally in touch with our emotional core. We know what we’re feeling…and it’s very transparent.

Think of a young child—their emotions are often raw, visceral, and obvious. Give a toddler candy and they experience joy! Take the candy away and they experience anger, hurt, or even fear.

Mothers of young infants know—babies can pick up on facial expressions and verbal tone right away. They are very intuitive when it comes to emotions because they’re just starting to grasp and understand them. They haven’t yet learned to “act” like adults.

In fact, in one Harvard study, mothers were given instructions to show no emotions or blankly stare at their baby for one minute. At first, the babies displayed confusion. They tried to mimic their mother’s face. They even smiled, laughed and cooed, trying to elicit a warm response from their mom. But quickly the babies sensed something was wrong and Mom’s lack of response caused them to experience fear. Unable to pick up on what Mom was communicating and feeling left them feeling very insecure and upset. Within just one minute or less, the babies in the study were all in full meltdown mode.

Then the researchers did the opposite. Mom was able to comfort the baby and the baby was quickly calmed and happy. As soon as mom could express emotion, the babies felt the connection and were sated.

Unfortunately, as we grow up, we learn to hold back our emotions. We learn that it’s not okay to be too emotional. How many of us have been told, “Don’t be so emotional” or “Don’t get so upset about it”?

This leads to the limiting belief that our emotions aren’t okay. That they’re too much. That we’re too much. That our emotions have made us hysterical or annoying. That we “need to calm down.”

You know what? Let it out!

It’s okay to feel! It’s okay to have emotions! Emotions are healthy and propel us forward. In fact, the Latin root of emotion is the same as motion and motivation—all meaning to move forward. Emotions spur us to action.

Researchers discovered that people who had tumors or damage to the emotional centers of their brain had trouble making even the simplest choices. What to eat? What to wear? Whether to turn left or right? They were paralyzed by the lack of a “gut instinct.” These choices—all choices—are fueled by our emotions.

At our very core, our emotions and emotional connections help us communicate and understand each other. Many of us have spent a lifetime trying to tamp down our emotions and limit our expression, while inside there’s this screaming baby who just wants to connect and understand.

Our emotions are at the heart of our truth. For others to see us for who we really are, we have to express our emotions and embrace them. We have to be real. That means it’s okay to say what we’re feeling. In fact, identifying and labeling our emotions can help us reach our authentic core. It gets us back to those feelings—hurt, anger, sadness, fear and joy.

Rational Thought and Emotion

Many of us think of emotion as the opposite of rationalism. Emotional people seem “flighty” or “flaky,” right? We think rational means stoic and deliberate. Really, the opposite is true.


Rather than being a mistake or leading us off-track, emotions are designed to keep us on track. Each emotion is evolutionarily dedicated to give the resources we need to contend with the very situation that evoked the emotion to begin with. How cool is that?
Neuroscience research shows that our emotions anticipate our needs and prepare us to act. As the arbiters of our pleasure-pain mechanism, emotions are designed to move us toward pleasure and away from unnecessary pain. For instance, fear warns us against the danger of an approaching saber-toothed tiger and triggers the body to respond appropriately—by running away. Anger lets us know that a given situation is violating our values or is wrong in some other way—a painful experience—and causes us to take action that leads to a more pleasurable outcome. And when these emotion-specific resources are unlocked, they are accompanied by a sense of energy and vitality, broader awareness, openness and a sense of well-being.
Emotions don’t “get in the way of” rational thinking—they are essential to rationality.”
–from Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


So the next time someone says “You’re too emotional” or “Why are you getting so upset?” Look them straight in the eye and thank them! They’re actually implying you are rational and in touch with your core emotions!

Drilling down to the core of what we’re feeling can help us learn to “up-regulate” or “down-regulate.” This is another way of saying that this process helps us “adjust our attitude.”

Order your copy of Transformed! today to learn other ways to use your emotional intelligence to achieve success. 

If we know we’re feeling fear, we can look at why we’re feeling it. What is causing the fear and is it propelling us forward or holding us back?

If we’re feeling sadness, we can discover where that sadness is coming from and how it might play into other secondary emotions like guilt, depression or frustration. By identifying the core emotions behind our feelings, we learn how to use them as a force for positive action.

Our emotions help us recognize what matters most to us. What ticks us off? What blisses us out? We can use that to drive us further toward our purpose and our happiness.

So go ahead—embrace your emotions! The next time you’re feeling fear or hurt or joy, blurt it out! Say, “I’m feeling joy!” or “I’m feeling fear!” and pat yourself on the back. Emotions are at the core of being a rational, developed human being!

For more on how you can learn to live your life fully and embrace all of your emotions, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us on the path to living your best life.

Discover more of yourself and your emotions at the next More Life Training!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How To Be Happy (Really!)


We all want things, and we all think things can make us happy. But the real truth behind how to be happy is to realize that you deserve happiness.

how to be happy

When I was younger, I was overweight. I longed to be thin. I thought that if I could just get skinnier, I’d be happy. If I could just get the body I wanted, I’d be desirable. I’d feel great and confident.

So I dieted. I lost the weight. I worked hard at it. I became thin and I looked hot! I was proud of my work and I felt good about it…but I STILL didn’t feel happy. I wasn’t “blissed out.” I wasn’t going around with a big grin on my face.

I was okay. My clothes fit better, but I didn’t feel like I got what I really wanted. I still felt unfulfilled.

Even after losing weight, I wasn’t truly happy because I didn’t address my underlying yearnings. Yes, I wanted to be skinny, but it wasn’t what I truly YEARNED for.

Why We Want the Wrong Things

We all want things: a bigger house, a newer car, thicker hair, or a better sex life.

Wanting fuels us and inspires us. We work for the things we want. We fantasize about our wants. We believe if we could only somehow obtain what we want, then we’d be happy, right?

Well, what’s stopping us?

If the only thing in life standing between you and happiness is a new car, better hair, or a roll in the hay, then go out right this minute and get what you want. Whip out your platinum card if you have to—go for it!

You know why you won’t?

Because you know it won’t really bring you happiness. It might bring you a temporary high. You might feel great when you get behind the wheel of the car or when you start turning heads, but it won’t lead to true happiness.

We might think we want something, but without addressing the underlying yearning, it’s a hollow victory. Weight loss, hair plugs, Viagra or a Lexus won’t fix the problem. We’re wanting the wrong things.

Identifying your yearnings can be challenging at first, but we all have them. They run much deeper than wants. These are the things at our very core that we NEED emotionally. They’re bigger than simple desires. It’s not something someone else can fulfill for us. It’s not about a car, or a house, or even a relationship. WE are the only ones who can reach our own happiness.

If you’re trying to unlock your yearnings, try applying the “so that” method. For example: I want to be skinny so that I feel sexier. I want to feel sexier so that I can go on more dates. I want to go on more dates so that I can fall in love. I want to fall in love BECAUSE I want to be loved and cared for. My yearning is to be loved and cared for.

We can yearn for many things—safety, respect, to be understood, or to be connected with others. We might yearn to be acknowledged or for validation. We may yearn to be heard or seen by others in a real, honest way.

Yearnings are what speak to our soul and the fiber of our being. When our yearnings are met, we feel warm and wonderful. We get a little tingle in our heart and butterflies in our stomach. We feel amazing when our yearnings are met. We get that “blissed out” feeling that doesn’t come from anything else.

Yet…for many of us, we have a hard time fulfilling our yearnings because we block our own way. We have that little voice inside our head—you know the one—it says, “You don’t deserve this. You always do this wrong. If you just X, THEN you could have Y.” It’s the little voice that instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” says “I’m stupid.”

That little voice is damaging. It’s harmful. It’s the voice of our limiting beliefs about ourselves and the things that hold us back. It’s our inner pessimist. It’s what we call Stinking Thinking.

Overcoming Stinking Thinking

Stinking Thinking comes in all kinds of formats, but most stinking thinking falls into six main categories:

  1. Overgeneralization
  2. Jumping to Conclusions
  3. Emotional Reasoning
  4. Should Statements
  5. Blame/Shame
  6. Looped Thinking

When we overgeneralize, we think things are ALWAYS going to be a certain way. We break things down into “all or nothing” statements, like when we’re dealing with a bad situation and we think, “That’s it. Everything is awful.” When we say we can’t do something, when we say we’ve lost all hope…that’s overgeneralization.

Jumping to conclusions is another rampant symptom of Stinking Thinking. It’s when you walk into a situation assuming people already think something about you. It’s prejudices. It’s magical thinking. It’s thinking you can somehow control or predict the future.

When we jump to negative conclusions, we falsely think we have a crystal ball or some psychic ability to foresee what’s coming before it happens. But guess what? None of us have that (and if you do, let’s go to Vegas)!

Another type of Stinking Thinking involves emotional reasoning, like “If I feel like a failure, I must be a failure.” If I feel stupid, I must be stupid. We are not what we feel. We all feel down sometimes or we get into a bad mood. That doesn’t mean it’s what we ARE. It’s just how we feel.

Other Stinking Thinking involves “should-ing” ourselves to death. It’s when we keep thinking about what we SHOULD have done, what we ought to do, or what we “have to do” out of some perceived obligation. We blame ourselves for things that aren’t entirely our fault or we blame others completely without acknowledging it takes two to tango. We might get stuck in looped thinking and ruminate endlessly on a situation. We become obsessed with a perceived “wrong” or misstep and we just can’t stop thinking about it.

If you find yourself engaging in this type of Stinking Thinking, give yourself a kick in the butt. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t start telling yourself, “Well great, I’m a stinky thinker and there’s no hope for me!” Just allow yourself to reset.

Say to yourself, “Nope—this is Stinking Thinking.” And stop.

Sound overly simplistic? Guess what? When we identify our Stinking Thinking and call ourselves out on our own B.S., we can stop it. Simply identifying it is the first step. Call it out and let it go.

Stinking Thinking prevents us from realizing our yearnings. We think we don’t deserve happiness. We think we don’t deserve to unlock our innermost desires. We think we’ll always be the way we are. We think life has dealt us an unfair hand.

How freeing is it to realize that YOU are the navigator of your own life! It’s like in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy realizes the answer was within her all along. She could get what she wanted the whole time…even though she was searching for other things and asking people to help her and rescue her. She didn’t believe in her own capacity to get home, yet it was right there in her hands (or rather, on her feet).

When we let go of our Stinking Thinking, the world is open to us. We can reach for our yearnings because we realize we deserve them. We deserve the things that make us happy—not on a superficial level, but deeply and within our hearts. We deserve the things that speak to our souls and nourish us as human beings.

Today, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you deserve happiness. You deserve to have your yearnings met. You’re not going to stand in your own way with stinky thoughts, but you’re going to get to the heart of what you really need.

Ready to ignite your world? Ready to live the life you WANT to live and find your own true happiness? To learn more about how to live your best life, please visit us at the Wright Foundation website.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.