The Sunday Paper, January 29: This Is the Time to Stay Focused

(Photo Credit: Chris Gash/New Yorker)

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All eyes are on “La La Land” heading into Oscars season. The film received a stunning 14 nominations, tying it for the all-time record.

“La La Land” is a beautiful, creative and magical movie with an ending that no one I know can agree on. As my friend John said to me the other day, “The end left me confused, but not in a bad way.”

I mention “La La Land” because everyone I seem to talk to feels like they are living in some version of a “La La Land” illusion. But unlike my friend John, they tell me they feel confused … but in a bad way.

I get it. We seem to be living in a world of alternative facts, which in turn makes one question any and all facts. When people want to confuse you — be it in your home, your place of work, the movies or in the world at large — they create alternate realities so convincing that you begin to doubt your own reality and, in turn, you feel like you’re starring in some strange film. You feel like your mind is in “La La Land.”

So, if you do feel like you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, might I suggest you stop and take a reality check.

Yes, there is such a thing as reality. It’s a place where facts are not alternate. Where life is really unfolding. Where people trying to come into our country really are being detained due to their ethnicity or country of origin. Where people do what they say and say what they do.

Now, when I’m in doubt or confused or suffering, I circle back to what I’m certain and clear about. I reach out to certain friends and family members that I know are grounded in truth and will tell me the truth, even if it’s unpleasant.

I go to church. I sit in silence. I breathe. I walk in nature. I read. (See the eight lifestyle choices that the Buddha instructed his followers to practice to alleviate suffering and confusion.) I write and I write and I write. I tune out the noise. I turn off shows where people scream at each other and throw out facts they can’t substantiate. I turn to my meditation practice.

When in doubt, I don’t ask other confused people what’s going on. I ask myself, what do I think is going on? What do I think is real? What do I trust? What do I observe? What do I feel?

I keep my focus there. I also reach out to people who can teach me a thing or two about mental focus and about how to keep my mind where I want to keep my mind, not where someone else wants to take it.

Enter Tom Brady. Yes, I said Tom Brady. This week, Tom Brady also made history (yes, so did Meryl Streep – if I were looking for acting lessons or lessons in courage, I would call her). Tom Brady is on his way to a record-setting 7th Super Bowl. Yes, he’s an incredible athlete, but he’s also an amazing student of mental fitness. Keeping his mind calm, clear and focused is just as important to him as keeping his body in peak physical shape. So, before you tell me you might not be a Patriots fan — actually don’t, cause I am, 😉 — please do yourself a favor and read the answers Tom wrote for you about how he’s learned to keep his mind focused — where it needs to be and not where others might want him to focus.

My fellow Architects of Change, this is a time to stay focused. Stay focused on what you know to be real and true. May we each be brave enough to challenge what is, imagine what can be and Move Humanity Forward. Challenging what is is the best way to make sure you don’t end up living in “La La Land.” Because unless you’re Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling, that’s not where we need to be.Maria Signature




Every week at The Sunday Paper, we want to go to a positive place. That is our mission. Every week, we also want to honor individuals who are using their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.

We call these individuals Architects of Change. They come from all areas of human endeavor and they make our world better, one idea and one person at a time. This week, we honor Andy Puddicombe as our Architect of Change of the Week. Andy is the visionary leader and voice behind Headspace, an app that is bringing guided meditations and mindfulness training to the masses. He is a man who is helping millions of people around the world achieve a clearer, calmer mind.

Andy and the folks at Headspace have a mission to improve the health and happiness of the world.

Andy AOC of Week

Andy Puddicombe
Mindfulness Expert · Entrepreneur  · Architect of Change

1. Why We Need Meditation Now:  “I think we feel such a sense of busy in our lives and in our minds,” Andy said. “So having a tool to unplug and become more aware of what is going on in the mind, I think it has huge implications. Not just for our own happiness, but for the happiness of those around us in our lives as well.”

2. What Andy Says We Can Do to Calm Down and Get Focused: 1) Meditate and be more mindful in life. 2) Reflect daily on how precious life is. 3) Know that everything is changing all of the time. 4) Think about cause and effect. Examine bad habits or mistakes and change the behavior. 5) Bring a greater sense of acceptance to life. Know that it’s not easy, but don’t resist it. Take away the layer of tension in the mind.

3. How Meditation Can Help Move Humanity Forward: “I think it always comes back to awareness and compassion. The more aware we become in our lives, hopefully, the more compassionate we become in our lives. Not only do we become happier as individuals, but also for the people around us.”

WATCH: Click here to view my Architects of Change conversation with Andy.

Headspace Offer 2


Tom Brady 2

All eyes are on Tom Brady this week as we countdown to Super Bowl Sunday.

Next Sunday, he will lead the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl for a record seventh time. What people may not realize is that he spends as much time training his mind as he does his body. (He has also raised millions of dollars for Best Buddies, but I’ll talk about that another time.)

Together with his trainer Alex Guerrero, he has built the TB12 Sports Therapy Center ( We reached out to Tom to find out how he keeps his mind focused and what we can all learn from his regimen. He took his mind off Super Bowl preparation for a few moments to answer these questions for you, readers of The Sunday Paper.

1) You are going to the Super Bowl for a record 7th time. Getting there is as much a mental feat as it is a physical one. What is your secret for staying mentally fit? 

Tom Brady: I feel the mind and body must work together. I believe just as strongly in the importance of mental fitness as I do about physical fitness. For me, mental fitness comes from a combination of activities and choices. I perform cognitive exercises (which are available to anyone at that help me stay sharp and make better split-second decisions on the field. And I prioritize getting enough rest to allow my body to recover. And I strive to keep a positive mental attitude at all times.

2) There is so much noise going into a football season. Double that for a Super Bowl. How do you maintain a focused mind when the world is trying to distract you? 

Brady: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a big game or event — after these many years I’ve learned to ignore the noise! For me, having a regular routine is very helpful. That means establishing a consistent bedtime and getting an adequate amount of good-quality sleep every night, and carving out time for the TB12 BrainHQ cognitive exercises that help me focus my mind on the most critical information and disregard the rest.

3) How important is the food you eat, the people around you and the environment that you exist in? 

Brady: I believe that what we get out of our bodies is a direct result of what we put in. I (mostly) follow a plant-based diet of whole foods that helps my body stay in balance and limits additional inflammation. I try to surround myself with positive people, and I work to minimize distractions whenever possible. My lifestyle has helped me stay physically and mentally fit.

4) Most people never make it to a Super Bowl but many want a clearer, calmer mind. What is one thing that people can do to get there? 

Brady: That’s a great question. I think it’s tempting to want to find a quick fix and “one thing” you can do — but I think sustained peak performance can really only be achieved through a combination of things… there’s no silver bullet. The “TB12 Method” I’ve developed in partnership with my body coach brings together the right exercise, nutrition, supplementation, and mental elements into a comprehensive lifestyle that I think can help people of all ages and all levels be their best.






This week, we asked our Facebook community the question: How Do You Want to Move Humanity Forward in 2017? Here is what some of you had to say…




Below is a picture of where I spend my Sundays. It’s a spot at my home where I find peace and calm. We recognize that Sunday is a special day of the week — one that is unlike any others. We want to see where you spend your time on Sundays, so send your pictures to and we’ll share them here in the weeks ahead.

Maria's Space 1




And since there is so much talk about journalism these days, I recommend watching “Tom Brokaw at NBC News, The First 50 Years” tonight with your family. I, along with many others, had the chance to interview Tom for the special. It’s a great opportunity to see journalism at its finest — how it was done in the past and how it’s still done today.



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The Sunday Paper is a product of Shriver Media © 2017. Shriver Media is a For-Benefit Media Enterprise that believes media can be used as a Force for Good in the World.  We Ignite Hearts and Minds.


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