My WDS Experience and Some Questions To Ask Yourself

In last month’s review post, I wrote about taking some time about for rest and creativity. Well I did do just that. I had an amazing time in Portland, Oregan, USA attending the World Domination Summit.

I had the chance to do some sightseeing before the summit began and I did things a little differently than when I have traveled before. In the past I have tried to meet up with people in the days prior and attend event related activities. This time though, I was content to spend some time on my own and explore some more peaceful and meditative attractions.

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden
The first highlight for me was the Portland Japanese Garden. I walked from the heart of Portland to the gardens and while it was a longish walk, it was beautiful and the scenery was so dramatically different from what I usually see, I think I may have taken 100s of photos of trees.

Portland Japanese Garden
At the Japanese Garden you needed to turn your mobile to silent which I thought was fantastic. You were encourage to enjoy the garden in quiet and a slow pace. From the minute I entered I felt calmer. The gardens were beautiful and there was just this atmosphere of calm that I adored.

Portland Japanese Garden
I wandered slowly around the gardens and while they are obviously a recreation of a Japanese garden, they made every attempt to make it as authentic as possible.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto

The Grotto was my second and favourite highlight. I had to catch a cab to get there, but it was worth it. The Grotto is a Catholic shrine, botanical garden, a spiritual and peaceful retreat for all faiths and all walks of life.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto
I attended mass and as it was 4th July which was a lovely experience.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto
The heart of the shrine is Our Lady’s Grotto, a rock cave carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff. A life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà is featured in its center.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto
The Upper level at The Grotto has the most stunning Meditation Chapel. It is built on the side of a cliff and provides panoramic views via its floor to ceiling glass walls.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto
I think I sat for over 30 minutes reflecting and simply enjoying the serenity.

The Grotto
The Grotto Labyrinth is a replica of the medieval labyrinth in Charles Cathedral in France. There is a stone there with words engraved to encourage visitors to use the labyrinth as a meditative walk, a spiritual pilgrimage or a healing journey. I have never walked a labyrinth before and was pleased that with the exception of the first few minutes, I had the opportunity to walk it on my own.

I followed the path in silence and walked slowly. It was one of the best things I have done in terms of centring myself and contemplating deeply the direction I want to head.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto
Upon reaching the centre, I did in the strangest of ways feel quite centred myself.

World Domination Summit and Some Questions To Ask Yourself

The calm and meditative lead up to the World Domination Summit was just what I needed, for what I knew would be an intensive few days. WDS isn’t a blogging conference – it is more of a lifestyle conference, which is about an immersive experience in life, work, and travel.

I could go on and on about all the things I learnt and what I am going to do as a result, but what I wanted to do today was to share some questions some of the speakers challenged us to ask ourselves and thus challenge you to ask yourself!

WDS 2013
Nancy Duarte‘s presentation was mesmerising. And given that she has a book titled Slideology and writing presentations is her business, I should not have been surprised. Nancy analysed a number of historical speeches, one of which was Eva Peron’s. She talked about how the people of Argentina wanted Eva to run as vice president with her husband, but Eva responded with “But I am just…”. Nancy challenged us to rise up and make a difference, challenged us to think about what are we really saying when say:

“But I am just…”

WDS 2013
Darren Rowse, (who I work for in organising the Problogger Event coming up soon) also had a keynote at WDS. His presentation focused on following your dreams and ended the session asking the question while dressed in a superman suit – it was his dream as a child to be superman:

What kind of future will you create?

WDS 2013
Danielle La Porte was a dynamic speaker in one of the breakout workshops. Danielle gave a short presentation and then turned it over to the audience to ask questions on pretty much anything.

So much of what Danielle said resonated me, like her view that “Sustainable success comes from making consistent choices that make you feel free.” She talked about how often we feel compelled or obliged to do things and we do stuff that doesn’t make us happy. We shouldn’t make decisions based on fear. Danielle’s approach to decisions is

“Is it hell yes or no?”

I am now asking myself this question every time I need to make a decision that is going to take up a significant amount of my time and have found I am saying no a lot more. I am trying to move on from the fear of disappointing people and putting mine and my family’s needs first.

WDS 2013
Gretchen Rubin is the author of New York Times Best Seller, The Happiness Project and writes the blog of the same name.

I have been a fan of Gretchen’s for some time so was thrilled when I was able to sit next to her at dinner at talk about a how whole range of topics.

In her presentation Gretchen talked about how she is often asked what is the secret to happiness. To this she doesn’t respond with an answer but a series of questions:

  • Whom do you envy and why? Envy is helpful as it can let you know what it is you want.

  • What do you lie about? Do you exaggerate about how much sleep you are getting or how many books you are reading? Then these things are important to your happiness.

  • What do you like to do for fun? Sometimes adults find this hard to answer, so Gretchen suggests looking back and searching for what did you do for fun when you were 10.

  • Are you an abstainer or a moderator? Knowing this can help better organise yourself.

WDS 2013
I had not heard of Donald Miller prior to knowing he was going to be speaking at WDS. Donald is the founder of Storyline which is a book that helps people plan their lives like a story. It focuses on people having a meaningful life rather than just a productive life.

The process is based on the elements of story and was developed combining the principles of screenwriting and storytelling with the principles of time and life management.

To this end Donald spoke about if you want to have a good life, it is very similar if you want to write a good memoir. And to write a good memoir there are three questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Who are you?

  • What do you want?

  • What happened when you went for it?

Thanks to Darren Rowse for giving me the opportunity to attend WDS. I feel very lucky that I have work that allows to me experience such events and think more broadly about my life, my work and my happiness.

Have you asked yourself some tough questions lately?