My dad grew up on a ranch in North Dakota. He has a saying from his childhood - you may have heard it elsewhere - that's: "You learn more by listening than by talking."
Sure, we often gain by thinking out loud, including discovering our truth by speaking it. But on the whole, listening brings ... Views: 11
Everyone knows what it's like to care about someone. Remember being with a friend, a mate, a pet: you feel warmly connected, and want him or her not to suffer and to be happy.
On the other hand, you've probably had the sense, one time or another, of not being cared about. That you didn't ... Views: 16
Imagine a world in which people interacted with each other like ants or fish. Imagine a day at work like this, or in your family, aware of the surface behavior of the people around you but oblivious to their inner life while they remain unmoved by your own.
That's a world without empathy. To ... Views: 27
Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer - from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish - combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.
You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), ... Views: 49
We're usually aware of our own suffering, which - broadly defined - includes the whole range of physical and mental discomfort, from mild headache or anxiety to the agony of bone cancer or the anguish of losing a child. (Certainly, there is more to life than suffering, including great joy and ... Views: 57
[Note: This JOT is adapted from Mother Nurture.]
The easiest and usually most effective way to replenish your body is through good nutrition.
Most of us have a diet that is very different from the one that we are adapted to through millions of years of evolution - a diet of mainly ... Views: 101
[Note: This JOT is adapted from Mother Nurture, a book written for mothers - focusing on typical parenting situations and gender differences that are experienced by many, though not all, mothers and fathers, and by parents in same sex relationships. Parenting is a complex subject, plus it ... Views: 107
[Note: This JOT is adapted from Mother Nurture, a book written for mothers - focusing on typical parenting situations and gender differences that are experienced by many, though not all, mothers and fathers, and by parents in same sex relationships. Parenting is a complex subject, plus it ... Views: 108
Humans are an empathic, compassionate, and loving species, so it is natural to feel sad, worried, or fiery about the troubles and pain of other people. (And about those of cats and dogs and other animals, but I'll focus on human beings here.)
Long ago, the Buddha spoke of the "first dart" of ... Views: 107
[Note: This is adapted from Mother Nurture, a book written for mothers - focusing on typical parenting situations and gender differences that are experienced by many, though not all, mothers and fathers, and by parents in same sex relationships. Parenting is a complex subject, plus it ... Views: 97
[Note: This JOT is adapted from Mother Nurture, a book written for mothers - focusing on typical parenting situations and gender differences that are experienced by many, though not all, mothers and fathers, and by parents in same sex relationships. Parenting is a complex subject, plus it ... Views: 100
[Note: This JOT is adapted from Mother Nurture - a book written for mothers - focusing on typical situations that are experienced by many, though not all, mothers during the years before their children enter grade school. These are most commonly the years when mothers (biological and adoptive) ... Views: 109
Last night, stressing about undone tasks, I glanced in a mirror and saw my t-shirt, with its picture of a galaxy and a little sign sticking up out of its outer swirls, saying "you are here." A joke gift from my wife, I've worn this shirt many times - yet for once it stopped me in my tracks. In ... Views: 109
It's kind of amazing: right now, what you think and feel, enjoy and suffer, is changing your brain. The brain is the organ that learns, designed by evolution to be changed by our experiences: what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity.
Neurons that fire together, wire together. ... Views: 107
I usually describe a practice as something to do: get on your own side, see the being behind the eyes, take in the good, etc. This practice is different: it's something to recognize. From this recognition, appropriate action will follow. Let me explain.
Some years ago I was invited to give a ... Views: 99
We all have issues - including demands upon us, stresses, illnesses, losses, vulnerabilities, and pain. (As Alan Watts put it: "Life is wiggly.") Of course, many of our issues - in the broad sense I'm using the word here - are related to important sources of fulfillment, such as starting a ... Views: 137
When I look back on mistakes I've made - like dumping my anger on someone, making assumptions in haste, partying too much, losing my nerve, being afraid to speak from my heart - in all cases a part of me had taken over. You know what I mean. The parts of us that have a partial view, are driven ... Views: 115
In my early 20's, I went through Rolfing, a form of deep-tissue bodywork, and I nervously anticipated the 5th session, the one that goes deep into the belly. But instead of gobs of repressed emotional pain, what poured out was love - waves and waves of love that I'd pushed down due to ... Views: 117
Most people spend most minutes of most days doing one thing after another. I sure do. Typing these words is a kind of doing, as is driving to work, making dinner, brushing one's teeth, or putting the kids to bed. For all the "labor-saving" devices of the past 50 years - dishwashers, phone ... Views: 124
We all know this fear. You're walking down a street, someone you don't know comes toward you, and there's a second or more of wariness, scanning, apprehension, and tension or bracing in the body: a barely conscious assessment of possible threat. Or you step into a meeting with people you know ... Views: 121
Many years ago, I was in a significant relationship in which the other person started doing things that surprised and hurt me. I'll preserve the privacy here so I won't be concrete, but it was pretty intense. After going through the first wave of reactions - What?! How could you? Are you kidding ... Views: 112
My wife and kids tease me that the title of this practice is corny - and it is. Still, I like it. If you don't nourish the things that nourish you, they wither away like a plant in dry stony ground.
I'm writing this on New Year's Eve. Looking to the year ahead for you - a year that can begin ... Views: 116
Do you got to?
Enjoy the freedom not to.
We're pulled and prodded by financial pressures, commuter traffic, corporate policies, technology, advertising, politics, and the people we work with and live with. As well, internal forces yank the proverbial chains, ... Views: 111
By "sobriety," I mean healthy self-control, a centered enjoyment of life, and an inner freedom from drivenness. We typically apply this sense of balance and self-care to things like food, drugs and alcohol, sexuality, money, and risky behaviors. And if you like, you could bring sobriety to other ... Views: 100
Gravity and entropy are powerful processes in the natural world. Gravity draws things together, toward a center, while entropy scatters them into disorder. In much the same way, in our own lives, some things bring us to center, while others disturb and disperse us.
In terms of centering, be ... Views: 122
Sometimes things are difficult. Your legs are tired and you still have to stay on your feet another hour at work. You love a child who's finding her independence through emotional distance from you. A long-term relationship could be losing its spark. It's finals week in college. You're trying to ... Views: 119
We're all carrying a load, including tasks, challenges, worries, inner criticism, mistreatment from others, physical and emotional pain, loss and illness now or later, and everyday stresses and frustrations.
Take a moment to get a sense of your own load. It's very real, isn't it? Recognizing ... Views: 118
Lately I've been writing about the fifth of my personal Top 5 practices (all tied for first place): open out, by which I mean relaxing into a growing sense of connection, even oneness, with all things. (The other four are be mindful, love, take in the good, and go green.)
"Opening out" can ... Views: 129
I admit it: whether close to home or far away, I wish some people were different. Depending on who they are, I wish they'd stop doing things like leaving cabinet doors open in our kitchen, sending me spam emails, or turning a blind eye to global warming. And I wish they'd start doing things like ... Views: 143
As general categories that each include a number of specific methods, my Top 5 practices (all tied for first place) are:
* Be mindful
* Take in the good
* Go green
* Open out
So far, I've written about the first four of these, and you can click the links just above for some ... Views: 121
"Peace" can sound merely sentimental or clichéd ("visualize whirled peas"). But deep down, it's what most of us long for. Consider the proverb: The highest happiness is peace.
Not a peace inside that ignores pain in oneself or others, or is acquired by shutting down. This is a durable peace, ... Views: 137
The title of this practice is a little tongue-in-cheek. What I mean is, most of us - me included - spend time worrying about criticism: past, present, and even future. Yes, try hard, keep agreements, "don't be evil," etc. But sooner or later - usually sooner - someone is going to point out the ... Views: 135
You may have seen the old Mickey Mouse movie in which he is working at a conveyor belt in a factory. More and more widgets come at him that he has to handle, and he gets increasingly frazzled as he struggles to keep up.
Do you ever feel the same way? Think about all the dishes, emails, ... Views: 132
[Note: This JOT is adapted from the first chapter of my book, Hardwiring Happiness.]
I've hiked a lot and have often had to depend on what was in my pack. Inner strengths are the supplies you've got in your pack as you make your way down the twisting and often hard road of life. They include ... Views: 146
By "war" I mean here a mindset, not combat between nations with tanks and bombs. The "war" I'm referring to is an attitude of conflict and animosity toward a person, object, or condition. Parents can feel at war with a misbehaving teenager, and certainly vice versa. Neighbors quarreling over a ... Views: 157
Want to try a little experiment?
Stop breathing. Really. For a few seconds, maybe a few dozen seconds, and see how it feels.
For me, this experiment is an intimate way to experience a deep truth, that we live dependently, relying on 10,000 things for physical survival, happiness, love, and ... Views: 130
Research shows that relationships are built from interactions, and interactions are built from moments. A critical moment in an interaction is when one person wants something from the other one. ("Wants" include wishes, needs, desires, hopes, and longings.) The want could be simple and concrete, ... Views: 146
Goodwill and ill will are about intention: the will is for good or ill. These intentions are expressed through action and inaction, word and deed, and-especially-thoughts. How do you feel when you sense another person taking potshots at you in her mind? What does it feel like to take potshots of ... Views: 165
As the most social and loving species on the planet, we have the wonderful ability and inclination to connect with others, be empathic, cooperate, care, and love. On the other hand, we also have the capacity and inclination to be fearfully aggressive toward any individual or group we regard as ... Views: 157
I'm old enough to remember a time when people usually answered "good" when you asked them the standard, "How are you?" (often said "harya?"). These days the answer is commonly "busy."
In the last few months I've been very busy myself and starting to feel dispersed: juggling a dozen priorities ... Views: 171
I'm doing a series on my personal top five practices (all tied for first place), and have so far named three: meditate (including mindfulness, self-awareness, and, if you like, prayer), take in the good, and bless (including compassion, generosity, and love).
I saw one way to bless on a ... Views: 179
Lately, I've been wondering what would be on my personal list of top five practices (all tied for first place). You might ask yourself the same question, knowing that you can cluster related practices under a single umbrella, your list may differ from mine, and your practices may change over ... Views: 165
Meditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body. Like exercise, there are many good ways to do it and you can find the one that suits you best.
Studies have shown that regular meditation promotes mindfulness (sustained observing awareness), whose benefits include decreased ... Views: 177
Feeling both the world and myself these days, one phrase keeps calling: lived by love.
Explicitly, this means coming from love in a broad sense, from compassion, good intentions, self-control, warmth, finding what's to like, caring, connecting, and kindness.
Implicitly, and more ... Views: 199
One slice of the pie of life feels relaxed and contented. And then there is that other slice, in which we feel driven and stressed. Trying to get pleasures, avoid pains, pile up accomplishments and recognitions, be loved by more people. Lose more weight, try to fill the hole in the heart. Slake ... Views: 172
[If for you the breath is associated with trauma and discomfort, you probably shouldn't try this practice in its form below. But you might adapt it to something that is more nurturing for you, such as a saying or image.]
Breathing brings you home. Body and mind twine together in the breath. ... Views: 162
Waking up is like the sun rising. At first it's mostly dark, as glimmers of consciousness begin to light the shadows. Emerging into full wakefulness, the fogs and veils dissolve and the whole plain of your mind comes into view. It's quiet: a restedness in the body, sleepy still, not yet much ... Views: 200
I did my Ph.D. dissertation by videotaping 20 mother-toddler pairs and analyzing what happened when the mom offered an alternative to a problematic want ("not the chainsaw, sweetie, how about this red truck"). Hundreds of bleary eyed hours later, I found that offering alternatives reduced child ... Views: 176
Hustling through an airport, I stopped to buy some water. At the shop's refrigerator, a man was bent over, loading bottles into it. I reached past him and pulled out one he'd put in. He looked up, stopped working, got a bottle from another shelf, and held it out to me, saying "This one is cold." ... Views: 169
One time I watched a three-year-old at her birthday party. Her friends were there from preschool, and she received lots of presents. The cake came out, she admired the pink frosting rose at its center, and everyone sang. One of the moms cut pieces and without thinking sliced right through the ... Views: 176