Hidden Gems

Posted on September 26, 2015 by Dr. Lynda
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    Thought Leaders


Here are 4 articles that have not seen a lot of traffic here on EWC because people take a quick glance at the title or photo tile, and don’t think they’ll be interested. It’s such a shame because all four of these will leave you a little transformed by a lot of wonder.

I know, I know,.. how can an article titled “Gulp” or anything to do with Justin Bieber be interesting. (That article is NOT about Justin Bieber, but the guy who discovered Justin has a lot to teach us.) Trust me. Suspend your usual web-search habits this time and wade in to this circle of thought.

And that brings me to a tip for using everwideningcircles.com in the best possible way. Always try to suspend your normal web-searching routines when visiting everwideningcircles.com. Here’s the thing: we all have trained our minds to glance at a photo or title, and then in a split second, decide to dive in or not. I totally get that this is a way to zoom through BuzzFeed, Reddit or Huffington Post, where there is so much meritocracy and shallowness.

But that’s where EWC is different. We are curating the best of the best for you. We keep it positive, and insightful. There’s no fluff here. We try to feature people who are asking fresh questions and doing some amazing things with the answers they find. You could theoretically jump in anywhere in this website, follow related article by related article, and come out transformed and refreshed about this world.

Have fun with this. It is still an amazing world (our motto).

Denali: A Dog’s Perspective on Life and Death

Posted on August 6, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

“When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should jump up and totally go insane with joy.” That’s a quote from Denali the dog, who’s 14 years old and could teach us all a lot about life.

Image: Ben and his dog Denali in his hospital bed cuddling on the left and Ben with Denali both of them have their eyes closed on the right
Source: BEN MOON

Fortunately, we have a video he made for us just before he passed and we are sharing it today on EWC (everwideningcircles.com), thanks to our frequent Guest Curator, Kelly Leroux Christie, who sent us the link.

If you are new to this website then Welcome! I’m Dr. Lynda Ulrich and I created EWC about a year ago to feature fact-checked stories that demonstrate this is still an amazing world; despite what the negative 24-hour news cycle is telling us.

Now 600+ articles later, we have regular visitors from 190+ countries and 500 new Facebook fans per day! Turns out I wasn’t the only one looking for credible, good news without an agenda.

Denali’s story is one of so many that our community is sharing. Take a look at some pics from other articles:

Image: Ever Widening Circles article thumbnail collage

After this video, I’ll tell you more about Denali’s friend Ben, and point you to a few more recommended articles that will brighten your world view. Now here’s what a great friendship looks like from a dog’s perspective:

What a gorgeous expression of love, gratitude, and friendship. Special thanks to Denali’s owner, surfer/photographer Ben Moon, for helping Denali put that all together for us.

Here’s what we found about Ben:

In June 2004, tragedy struck. Ben was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. Denali stood faithfully by his side, refusing to leave the hospital room. Throughout the surgeries, treatments, and procedures, there was Denali, resting gently beside Ben. The dog’s healing power played a huge role in Ben’s recovery.

Denali had been a big part of Ben’s photography, even taking his rightful place on magazine covers throughout the years. In early 2014, Denali himself endured cancer, and Ben promised to never let him suffer. According to Ruffwear, he told him it was okay to let go. But after production began for the “Denali” film a week later — the very video you saw — Ben asked Denali if he could stick around for another month. Exactly one month later, at midnight, Denali developed a bad cough. Moon and Denali played on the beach the next day. The following morning he gave Ben the look — it was time to go. 2

Image: a small Butterfly on a yellow and orange flower

Beauty comes in so many packages on this planet.

This reminds me of a great piece of advice I heard recently:

“Always have one very clear image of something beautiful in the back of your mind, so you can focus on that the moment you are faced with ugliness.”


I tried this strategy recently when a relative (who had too much to drink) said something very unkind to me. It worked!

Now go out an hug your kid, hug a friend, hug a good dog, and be extra kind to a stranger. And for gosh sakes, jump up and go wild with joy when someone you love walks in the room.


Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few more incredible articles like this one!

Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda



“GULP”: The World’s Largest Stop-Motion Animation

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

Those of you who frequent EWC know that we generally post one article a day to remind our readers and their friends that the world is still an incredible, amazing place.

We have so much in our article “bullpen” to show you, so we keep a very organized schedule. But once in a while, we run across something so full of wonder that it seems to demand a quick turnaround: Gulp came to us from an avid fan (thank you to Sherry K. from Toronto) and it’s just such unique fun that we had to bump it up in our schedule.

Image: Gulp Sand Art

The amazing thing about this video – well there are many amazing things – is that it’s the culmination of a group of creative people coming together to make something HUGE, using an often-used method (stop-motion animation), and if the video wasn’t great enough, we found another that explains how in the heck they pulled this off. Everyday technology in the hands of creative people can produce some wonderful things that would seem impossible.

Since launching this new version of our website a few weeks ago, we are getting more and more “shares” of our positive content, so thank you ahead of time for spreading the word about EWC with your friends who might also want some good news for a change!

Now let’s have some fun with an amazing little four-minute video! It’s called Gulp, which was actually shot – get this – on nothing more than a Nokia N8 smartphone! See what you think:


Bonus video – Gulp, The Making-of!
Lovely fun!? And just when we thought that was the extent of it, we found an incredible follow-up: Gulp: The Making-of.

Here’s the amazing story of how some folks (hundreds of people!) from Sand In Your Eye Art and the Sumo Science at Aardman group made the Gulp video:


Learn About the Artists and Equipment of Gulp

Before we close out today’s feature article, we need to give a few shouts out to the folks who made Gulp possible.

First up we have the artist group Sand in Your Eye from the U.K., dozens of whom were responsible for painstakingly crafting each scene as the stop-motion animation unfolded. Bravo to Sand in Your Eye! As for the stop-motion aspect and video setup, the group Aardman is to thank. Aardman is one of the early pioneers in stop-motion, with projects like the well-known Wallace and Gromit in their back catalog. And finally, at the risk of giving a conglomerate free advertising, we have to give props to Nokia, the Swedish cell phone company that provided the Nokia N8,  with a 12-megapixel camera, used to make this video.

Lovely stuff here today. There are so many people doing this kind of positive, creative work. Never forget that. You’ll find lots more of these “thought leaders” (from any field you can imagine) here among our articles at everwideningcircles.com.

I’ve almost completely tuned out the news these days. How about you?

It’s all just too negative. Especially disappointing because after writing 650+ articles to prove it’s still an amazing world (our motto), we know there’s just so much wonder and innovation to celebrate.


Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few more incredible articles from like this one!

Send us your ideas for articles too, and meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful.

~ Dr. Lynda



“What I’ve Learned” by Justin Bieber’s 33 year old discoverer

Posted on July 23, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

Where do we go as we head out into the unknown?

I’m sorry to say I don’t understand Justin Bieber’s magic, but so many other people do that it makes a story from the guy who “discovered” Justin all the more compelling. He’s since gone on to represent Ariana Grande, Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, and several other pop culture phenomena, so when I came across a story on Medium.com titled “What I’ve Learned”, I had to take a peek.

I hoped it would give us all some insights into following our instincts, ignoring the crowd, and it surely does! It’s very interesting!

Image: Dr. Chuck starting to walk into the desert
Source: Dr. Lynda Ulrich

Here’s what Scooter Braun had to say about his journey to Justin.

I’d love to tell you that there are all these lessons and that a lot of my success was based on things that I learned and how I was able to move forward. But really it’s just being stupid enough to think you can do it.

I was too dumb to think about all the conservative reasons why me achieving the things I wanted to achieve were very close to impossible.

It started in first grade. I went to a party and the clown-magician guy was like, “What’s your name? Scott? Scooter!” and I was like, “Shut up, clown-magician guy, my name is Scott!” And my brother, Adam, saw this, and anything that pissed me off, he loved. I had very big lips growing up, so my brother started to call me Scooter Fish because he decided a scooter fish has big lips. So it was, “Scooter Fish this,” “Scooter Fish that.” And I’d chase him around the house and beat the shit out of him.

My dad was a refugee from Hungary, the child of Holocaust survivors, so it was always very important for him to give back. And my mom lost her father when she was eleven and grew up with very little. So there was always an extra bedroom with someone in it in our home.

One day my dad got a phone call from a buddy of his in Philadelphia, saying, “Two kids, good kids, they’re living in an abandoned tenement in Philadelphia, very bad situation, the guy who brought them over from Africa had the wrong intentions. Could you help them out and put them on your AAU basketball team, maybe find them a prep school?”

The kids were from Mozambique. Really good kids. After a week, one of them, Cornelio, in his broken English, said: “Can we stay?” And my dad said: “A couple more weeks until we figure this out? Yeah, sure.” Cornelio said: “No, forever.”

We had one family meeting, and they were adopted.

People hear this story about your family adopting kids and they think, “Oh my God, it’s so amazing for those kids!” But they don’t realize it was just as amazing for us.

I remember watching Cornelio come home from school for the first day. He was very upset because they kept giving him books in every classroom, putting them in his backpack, and sending him to the next room. He kept trying to communicate, but in Portuguese — his English wasn’t good enough, and he didn’t know how to ask what he wanted to ask. He was upset because where he comes from there aren’t enough books for all kids to take home. You have to keep the books at school. And he thought he was going to get in trouble for bringing the books home. When you hear a story like that, you start to realize how much you take for granted in your everyday life.

Every night before we went to sleep — every night — my dad would walk in the room, and he’d say, “Brauns are different. You’re special.” We’d say: “What does that mean, Dad?” And he’d say: “You’re not better than anybody, but you’re different, and you’re not going to be held to the normal standards that other kids are going to be held to, because if you want to be extraordinary, you’ve got to be held to extraordinary standards.” Every night. After a while, you start to believe that shit.

If you really love someone, you push them.

If it’s achievable, there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t be doing it.

If you’re not going to do it to the best of your ability, then don’t do it at all.

There’s been a lot of studies on children of the Holocaust, descendants of the Holocaust. They look at the world very differently. You grow up with these stories that my grandparents told me. As good as your life is today, you have to plan for the worst tomorrow, constantly. And you also have to try to achieve as much as you can because you don’t know if tomorrow is going to be there. Tomorrow is not promised.

To me, surprising my dad meant impressing him. Even in small ways. I’d get a fast break on the basketball court but pull up for a three-pointer. And you’d hear my dad, who was coaching, go: “SCOTT! NO, NO, NO!!!” And then when the ball went through the net, he’d be: “Okay!”

Ball is life, man. You never heard that?

You can’t have five point guards on the floor. You’ve got to have your roles, and you’re going to have to depend on each other, because no one can win on their own.

What I really love about Phil Jackson is how he got guys like Michael Jordan to listen. This wasn’t the bull-in-the-china-shop approach that I’d known my entire life. He was able to get other great people to listen to him so he could shape them.

You have to speak to very talented and very opinionated people in a way that keeps them in a mindset where they’re not threatened and they’re willing to listen to you and trust you so you can grow with them.

I never had the privilege of being the big kid who walks in the park with the attitude that says: I’m going to pummel you guys. I was the tiny kid. In seventh grade, a girl called me a shrimp and I cried the entire night. What a bitch! But it gave me this sensitivity . . . you just don’t treat people poorly. Because I know what it’s like to be that person.

I was four eleven as a freshman. I grew twelve inches in high school — four inches every year. So at the start I was the short kid who was friends with all the girls but not big enough to date them, right? I had to be a very good listener. It was the only way they would talk to me. And it actually served me when I grew. I had heard them vent to me about all the guys who disrespected the girls and were rude. So I never became that dude.

When you’re that small, you find yourself observing a lot because you’re physically not able to compete. You have to use your mind in a different way.

Understand the little man and show respect. And understand that the little man today might not be the little man tomorrow.

Treat the janitor like the CEO.

I wanted my own story. I wanted not to be Ervin and Susan’s kid. Here I was hearing the story of my grandpa and the Holocaust and what he did to get our family out after the Hungarian Revolution . . . and then hearing about my father, you know, coming from Queens and getting us to Greenwich, Connecticut. I didn’t want to be that first kid to grow up with means. I wanted to do it on my own, the same way my father did it, the same way his father did it. So I wanted to go far away so I could make my own story.

In high school, people called me Scott. Scooter was a name only close, close friends called me. My buddy made me a bet that I couldn’t introduce myself to everyone at Emory as Scooter. Hundred bucks. Orientation starts and they say, “Scott Braun” and I say, “I’m sorry, but my name is Scooter.” When I threw the first party and put Scooter Braun on the flyer, that was it. I was in. I was Scooter to everyone who came, and it became this thing.

No one remembers Scott. But it’s really easy to remember Scooter.

Sometimes having your name shift allows you to feel like you’re getting to recreate your story.

I used to not listen.

I was the kid who always said, “I’m going to do this!” and then six months later, even though I gave it the best effort, it didn’t work out. And someone would say, “Hey, what happened with that?” and I’d be like, “Well it didn’t work out” and they’d be like, “You’re full of shit. You talk so much bullshit, you say you’re going to do this, you say you’re going to do that. . . .” Scott did that. Scooter didn’t talk. Scooter would tell you, “I just did this. It’s over, it’s done.” He learned that lesson. He got to start over.

Sometimes the smartest person for the job is the wrong person for the job because they’re just negative. When you have negative people around you, doesn’t matter how capable or intelligent they are, they will hurt the culture of what you’re doing. What they do is they project their negativity onto you. And you start to look in the mirror and say: Do I even like myself? And you realize it isn’t even you. It’s them. They’re putting that shit on you.

Happiness is understanding it’s about the journey.

Risk is being stupid enough to walk around a corner where you don’t know what’s there.

Courage is doing what’s right in every single moment no matter what it means to you.

Sometimes situations change, and it’s not the right deal for you. But it’s important if you gave someone your word, you stick to your word. Even if it’s not the best deal. Even if you know you would have negotiated it differently because circumstances have changed. Unless the other side is doing something malicious or spiteful, when you give somebody your word, stick to it. That’s real courage.

I don’t look at money as success. I look at it as an avenue to freedom.

When I was about ten years old, a Greenpeace worker knocked on the door to our house in Connecticut. It’s a defining moment of my life. I run over, open the door, and he starts telling me the whole Greenpeace thing. Good salesman. I’m pumped. Let’s save the ocean. Let’s save the whales. Mom! Come here. Greenpeace guy! You’re always saying give back. We should do this. “Scott,” she says, “we give to a lot of charities. We can’t just give money to everyone who shows up at the door.” Mom . . . I begged her, and I think she wrote a seventy-five-dollar check. He was super grateful, and he left. I watch him walk out of our driveway and I’m thinking: Where’s his car? And my mom says he doesn’t have a car. That he’s walking from house to house as part of his mission to show people he supports the environment. It’s part of him showing his devotion and his dedication to the cause. And I thought: Okay, cool, but there’s no train station close to here. There’s no cabs. That’s a long walk. And in that moment he was like a hero. To be that dedicated and that passionate to his cause. In that exact same moment, I realized without my mom writing him that check, he was just a guy walking door to door. That’s when I decided I would never, ever have to rely on a little kid begging his mom to give me a check to make a difference in the world. So I ran for class president. And I wanted to be successful. So when my brother says, Hey, I want to do this charity to build schools for children, I can write him a check. I wanted to be in a place of influence because I never wanted to rely on anybody. The lesson I learned was to skip a step.

My first memory is of my Uncle Will coming to visit me when I was born. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. They say: “That’s impossible. Babies can’t see distance when they’re born.” But I remember my Uncle Will wearing suspenders and I was completely fascinated with those things he was wearing. No one believes me. But Uncle Will says he was wearing suspenders. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

It’s this weird thing that happens. I get a gut check in this way I can’t explain. It kinda feels like, Oh, I know what this is. It’s like something else is telling me.

I saw the video of Justin. It had sixty thousand views. My gut went: That’s the kid you’re looking for. And I knew, as I watched those videos, what to do. I had the whole plan in my head. I knew the next four years. Done.

I compare it to falling in love. I told my wife on the first date I was gonna marry her.

She freaked out. Completely freaked out.

But at the same time, she was freaked out that she wasn’t more freaked out.

Just because you know doesn’t mean they know.

Same thing with Justin and his mother. Found him, give them this idea, sounds crazy, but something in their gut is saying this guy is telling the truth. Then I have to show them it’s real.

At some point you gotta believe in a higher power and some mysterious plan that we don’t understand, that we can’t even fathom, because we’re just too small to fathom. Certain things happen and you just get gut feelings and intuition that simply doesn’t make sense. And you go against every logical thought in your head and it works out because something inside you tells you to do it.

This gut feeling is like that with all the artists. Same thing with Ariana Grande. I called her up and I said: Can I meet with you? And they were like, Sure. I went to the house, gave this whole pitch, and they’re like, We believe you. Let’s give it a try. I could just see it. I knew what to do with her. You know, with Martin Garrix, you heard Animals, you just kinda know. “Gangnam Style.” I saw the video, it had under a hundred thousand views. My COO sent it to me as a joke. Ha ha isn’t this funny? You should tweet it. He’s silly. And I said: “FIND THIS GUY.” What do you mean? “This is gonna be the number-one song in the world.” In the office, it’s like a running joke. People always ask me: Is your gut saying anything? Most of the time I’m getting nothing. But if I say to them, “My gut went off,” everybody runs with me.

At the same time, I’m the idiot who will go and give free hugs to people on a sidewalk.

Go with your gut no matter what. Because when you go with the logical thing and you go against your gut and you’re wrong, it haunts you. I knew it. Knew it. When you go with your gut and you’re wrong, you say: Ah, I went with my gut. No problem.

I wasn’t fully prepared for the transformation from young man to young adult, and seeing Justin struggle with that. And that’s where my father came in handy: Being that rock for me; I had to be that rock for him. And we got through that.

Mistakes are lessons. Cherish your mistakes. Learn from them. And by the way, cherish other people’s mistakes. Learn from them without taking the hit.

When I die, if people say, Man, he was an incredible entrepreneur . . . but my kids are thinking, He was a piece-of-shit dad, then I failed. But if I lost everything, and my kids felt, He lost everything but he was still a good dad to us, then I succeeded.

When you have a kid, this shift takes place. When you’re young, even though you know you’re gonna die, you feel kind of invincible. But all of a sudden you’re holding your kid and you’re like, Okay, this is weird. I’ve worked thirty-three years hard as hell to be the man I am in the world today, and you don’t even know anything about it nor do you care. In fact, you didn’t even fucking exist, and I love you more than anyone I’ve ever met. I don’t even know you, but I love you. And you have this weird moment where you realize that you don’t really know you’re gonna die until you make life. Because the moment you make life and you’re looking at your child, you realize, You never existed. All the things that I’ve done in thirty-three years, all the experiences, all the feelings, all the things I’ve seen, I didn’t even exist to my child. And someday my child will continue to exist, and I won’t.

And when that happens, you realize that you have to do as much as you possibly can while you have time on this earth to make a difference and impact this world and at the same time pass as much of that knowledge that you have to this little person before you die.

When you’re a young kid, you’re like, I wanna be a millionaire! I wanna be a billionaire! And then you realize, making five grand is really fucking hard. And your perspective on making millions to billions of dollars is completely changed. So you start to reevaluate and set new goals. What number is enough for me? I was very lucky to start passing those numbers when I was twenty-seven. At thirty, you start seeking people out that have so much more than you financially. All right, when do I stop being hungry for this? Because I’m confused now. I didn’t get any of the satisfaction when I hit my number. I thought when I hit my number, I’d feel something. And I felt nothing, and that was depressing. My life didn’t change. I just had more in my bank account. What the fuck? That’s when David Geffen told me to read that poem “Ithaka,” which is about the journey. It’s always about the journey. And he said something to me I’ll never forget. He said: “Hundred years from now, no one’s gonna remember me, and sure as hell no one’s gonna remember you.” And I realized, he’s right. No one’s gonna remember me. But they’ll feel my impact, and that’s good enough for me. 1

Lovely! So much in that piece! I was just blown away.

You might get even more out of it if you are more familiar with pop culture than I am. I just loved his rational and his common sense.

Now as for that poem he mentioned at the end… (I had to find it for us.)


When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don’t in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn’t anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn’t deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you’ll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

by Constantine P. Cavafy

Wow!  Now that’s a pearl for us all.
I’ll leave you with that to mull over folks!
If you’d like more insight and positive possibility, scroll down to the bottom of this page for three suggestions.
Stay open, curious and hopeful.
~ Dr. Lynda




The Boy Who Lifted 33,000 Spirits

Posted on August 20, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

“I’m just try’in to make people smile. And I’m count’in on it be’in 33,000.” – Jayden Hayes

Now try saying that through four missing teeth, at age six, after the loss of both your father and your mother.

The CBS Evening news aired a positive, amazing story recently and we had to share it. I could not embed it like most of our videos, but this one is worth going to some trouble to watch. Click on the following photo, and you will be introduced to a startlingly remarkable little soul. (Suffer through the 30 second advertisement that opens that video. It’s really worth it!) If only we could all be as positive as young Jayden in tough situations.

Image: Jayden hayes pushing the corners of his mouth up into a smile

Via: CBS News 1


In fact, this one is so magical, we’ll leave it there and let Jayden’s energy remind us all to stay open, curious and hopeful.


Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few more incredible articles like this one!

~ Dr. Lynda




Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.