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Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: The Power of the Pause

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  — Winston Churchill

Back in 2012, I gave a commencement speech called “The Power of the Pause” in which I spoke about the value of pausing before one reacts, comments or speaks out. At the time, I thought things were bad and that we could all really use the reminder. Well, back then doesn’t have anything on today.

Today, it feels as though people react, comment and post within seconds of seeing a story or a tweet or a video. We feel pressure to respond immediately and fret that if we don’t post or add our voice to the fray immediately, then people will rail at us for staying silent or being complicit in the problem.

All I’ve got to say is, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

Can we not pause, for just a moment, anymore? Can we not pause long enough to learn the whole story before forming an opinion and commenting publicly? Can we not take time to really reflect on what we think or how we feel about a story, and only then decide if it’s necessary for us to jump into the fray?

If you ask me, it’s unnecessary for all of us to jump in and comment on everything that is happening in our politics and culture today. To be fair, there is a lot to be upset about and to speak up about. But there is also a lot of room for us to pause, learn and listen before we cast judgments or make declarative statements.

These days, we’re too quick to disparage, vilify, or attack the messenger. More often than not, we don’t even stop to think about what we don’t know or what details might be missing.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we really seem to have lost the “art of conversation” and the ability to listen, to hear out the other, and to refrain from bringing our pre-existing judgments into every situation. This is part of the reason why I wanted to create my podcast “Meaningful Conversations” — so that I had the opportunity to have longer, deeper conversations with people from all walks of life. I hope to use the podcast as a vehicle to better understanding a number of different topics, opinions and voices. In doing so, I hope it inspires you to do the same.

After all, if we don’t put an end to this madness and seek another way, then we will never find our way and get closer to one another.

I believe in my soul that the vast majority of us are yearning to find our way forward. We are yearning to unite our country. I believe that we can’t be proud of who we are or where we are today. Think about it: we wouldn’t tolerate the screaming we do online in our own homes. Yet, in our virtual homes, we let that stuff in by the minute.

This year, I promised myself to engage in more thoughtful and meaningful conversations with all kinds of people, including those who have different opinions than my own. I think it’s the only way I can truly learn, grow, evolve and get clear about what I think and how I want to use my voice.

The truth is, we don’t have to use our voices to respond to every single story or every single issue in our society. Let’s remember that how we use our voices has a huge impact — on others and on our own inner well-being.

So this morning ask yourself these questions: Are you using your voice to give hope, to inspire and to move humanity forward? Or are you using it to disparage, threaten and shame?

Perhaps the best way to answer is to pause and take a breath. Maybe take two or three.

I don’t think that any of us want to live in a country where someone receives death threats for speaking up. None of us want to live in a country where journalists are maliciously attacked simply because they are doing their job and interviewing two sides of the same story. It’s not a journalist’s job to take sides. It’s their job to ask questions, to listen and to present the story in an objective way.

That’s also our job as individuals. Before we pounce, let’s pause. Let’s listen. Let’s learn. Let’s figure out a way to use our words to educate and enlighten one another.

Pause, breathe, reflect and use your words in the way that you would like words to be used with you.


Dear God, please help me know when to speak up and when to stay quiet. Give me the power to use my voice when I feel I need to be heard, but also give me the patience to pause and realize that sometimes, all I really need to do is listen. Amen.

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This Week’s “Meaningful Conversations” Podcast Features Bestselling Spiritual Author Marianne Williamson

In episode two of my new podcast “Meaningful Conversations” I sit down with spiritual activist and bestselling author Marianne Williamson to discuss her path to a meaningful life and her quest to always grow, evolve and challenge herself to move humanity forward.

How Boomers Are Changing the Conversation About Sex in America Today

This week for the TODAY show, I sat down with a group of people aged 50 and older for a fascinating discussion about how the generation behind the sexual revolution of the 1960s is transforming the way people perceive sex and aging. 

17-Year-Old Somalia Refugee Saida Dahir Is Using Poetry to Change the World

Architect of Change Saida Dahir is a Somali youth activist and poet who spent the first three years of her life in a Kenya refugee camp before fleeing to the U.S. Our SP youth columnist Amelie Zilber recently spoke with Dahir about her award-winning poetry and community activism against intolerance and racism. 

Author Jean Case Says We Must ‘Be Fearless’ in Order to Live Extraordinary Lives

Philanthropist Jean Case’s new book “Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose” is a call to action for those seeking to live extraordinary lives and bring about transformational change.

CEO Hattie Hill Explains Why Moving Forward Sometimes Requires Bold Action 

In this exclusive essay for The Sunday Paper, Architect of Change Hattie Hill, President & CEO of the non-profit Women’s Foodservice Forum, says we need not be afraid to be bold to move forward when progress stalls. 

SP Reader Lillian Gatzman Tells Us What Can Be Gained if We Learn to Pause and Savor Life 

I love this piece, which was written by SP reader Lillian Gatzby. Lillian reminds us that life goes by so quickly and that we must stop to enjoy the journey.

P.S. Those of you who are writing your stories in I’ve Been Thinking…The Journal are encouraged to submit your writing as well!


1. President Trump Agrees to Re-Open the Federal Government As Border Wall Negotiations Continue: I’m happy that the government is re-opening so that the federal workers impacted can be paid and get some much-needed financial relief. I hope for their sake and ours that it will stay open. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE

2. Why We Shouldn’t Rush to Judgment: This piece from The New York Times echoes the sentiments of my essay today. Columnist David Brooks writes that we are all too quick to form judgments and make accusations before getting all of the facts.

3. Ideas for the 2020s from World Changemakers: I love this piece from TIME magazine, which features global changemakers offering up ideas that they believe we should be pursuing for the next decade. 

4. The American Workforce Is Experiencing a “Caregiving Crisis”: This is a very sobering report that sheds light on what life is like for women juggling caregiving and careers. 

5. Students Learn From the People They Love: This is another fascinating read from one of my favorite New York Times columnists David Brooks, in which he references the Aspen Insitute report we shared last week and illustrates why there is a strong correlation between emotion and learning.

6. This New Personality Quiz Is Backed By Science:  Most personality quizzes put people into neat personality “types,” but according to this trending piece from the Five Thirty Eight Blog, that’s not how personalities really work. That’s why they released “The Big Five” quiz this week, which they say uses the technique most psychologists use to measure and test personalities.

7. Yippee Moment of the Week! I love this sweet video of a dad playing dress-up with his child and dancing to Frozen’s popular song “Let It Go.” It’s a quintessential YIPPEE moment! 


New Research Claims a Blood Test May Detect Alzheimer’s 16 Years Before Symptoms Appear

This week, my “Today” show colleagues and I discussed what this newly released research could mean for the future of Alzheimer’s. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE

THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT is a global movement of game changers, groundbreakers, and cultivators of hope. We’re working to wipe out Alzheimer’s and change the future for all minds


This recipe for Sockeye Salmon Avocado Salad was created by my friend Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo, founder and president of HealthCare Insights LLC and the Brain Health and Wellness Center. Serve it with a slice of whole grain bread and a cup of hot green tea with a lemon wedge and you have the perfect brain-healthy lunch! 

We hope you’ll keep sending along photos of your family dinners inspired by The Sunday Paper. E-mail us here and we’ll share them in upcoming editions of The Sunday Paper.


SHOP, SHOP SHOP! AThe Maria Shriver Collection: Good for You, Your Mind, & the World 

Visit the shop on to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!


Do you have feedback on how we can improve The Sunday Paper? Do you have ideas for content or changemakers that we should include? If so…