Mindfulness Meditation

Conversations with Sam

I have known Sam Beard since Labor Day 2016. The previous June, shortly before having my left hip replaced, I went to a meeting he had organized in downtown Wilmington DE. There were about 40 or 50 people in the meeting room, which was in a high-rise corporate office space. All of the people in the room purported to be mindfulness meditation teachers; I only recognized about 10 of them. It was a fascinating hour as Sam told us that he intended to find a way to teach mindfulness to over a billion people around the world. I concluded he was pretty crazy and went home.

A few months later I got an email from Sam’s assistant soliciting donations for the Global Investment Foundation for Tomorrow (GIFT), a 501c3 non-profit corporation Sam had started a few years earlier. Concluding that the meeting was only a way to build a mailing list, I sent a somewhat cynical email back and asked to be taken off the list. To my surprise Sam called me a few days later and asked to meet me. The only day available to both of us was Labor Day, so I trekked into his office on that morning. The next two hours were life changing for me.

I learned that Sam had a long career finding ways to make life better for people. One of his first jobs after graduating from Yale in the early 1960’s was as an aid to Robert F. Kennedy. When Senator Kennedy was assassinated Sam fell into a depression that lasted a few years. He looks back at that period as the most painful in his life. In the early 1970’s Senator Kennedy’s sister-in-law, Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of President Kennedy, suggested to Sam that he should start something that would recognize the good that people do in the world. Out of this conversation came the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which was co-founded by Sam, Jackie Kennedy, and Senator Robert Taft, Jr. If you’d like to learn more about the Jefferson Awards go to this link; you’ll be amazed at how powerfully this organization has made a change for good in the world:

Sam retired in his mid-70’s from the Jefferson Awards (he still serves on its Board of Governors) but he wasn’t through yet. He started GIFT with the intention to multiply philanthropy throughout the world, but then shifted, shortly before I met him, to his mission to spread mindfulness throughout the world. At that Labor Day meeting I realized that Sam was “the real deal” and signed on, starting on January 1, 2017, as the Delaware Director of Operations, a post I held for 2.5 years. During that time GIFT trained over 1,000 public school teachers in mindfulness, along with hundreds of mental health professionals and all sorts of helping people throughout Delaware. Our intention was to train people who could then share their mindfulness practice with the people they help. It was a resounding success.

I left GIFT in mid-2019 as Sam had decided to shift its emphasis from mindfulness to what he calls “0 to 5,” an outreach to find ways to have a positive impact on early childhood development. As usual, Sam is thinking big! And meeting with many successes. You can read about it at this link: https//

In early 2022 Sam called me and asked me to help him out again. He wanted to interview me for a series of videos to be called “Ask Jim.” I was skeptical of course. But Sam was certain that these videos would have something to say that might be helpful to people. So in March of 2022 Sam and I sat down for four and a half hours to record a wide ranging conversation, that has since been edited into several video vignettes. I am posting the first of those, which concerns “Happiness.” I would be honored if you would watch it, and very happy if you would post in the Comments any Questions, Concerns, Observations, Complaints….anything at all to initiate a conversation about this topic. The video is posted below; I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think!

Thanks in advance! And looking forward to hearing your thoughts.



By Jim Walsh

I am a Pastoral Counselor in private practice in Wilmington DE. I teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction as part of my work as a therapist.

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