How To Tear Up The Good Guy Contract

Photo: Mike George

In a previous post, The Good Guy Contract, I wrote about the particular challenges faced by people dominated by their need to be liked by others. In that post I recounted my own inability to say “no” and then went on to describe my discovery of the reason for it: I’d […]

The Obstacle Is The Way


Photo: the_tahoe_guy

What’s the worst problem you have right now? Have you lost your home? Your job? Are you worried you might? Or are you facing a terrible illness?

Long-time readers of this blog know much of my philosophy has been shaped by my study and practice of Buddhism. One of the most […]

Do Liberal Policies Make People Happier?

Photo: DonkeyHotey

Though I’m loathe to wade into any discussion of politics in a public forum—and at the risk of earning the ire of conservatives—I want to explore in this post an argument put forth by Professor Benjamin Radcliff in his new book The Political Economy of Human Happiness that policies typically associated with […]

How To Find Your Mission

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In my book The Undefeated Mind I make the argument that articulating to ourselves and living by a personal mission statement describing the broadest type of value, or contribution, we want to make to the world will increase not only our happiness but also our resilience (for evidence […]

The Secret To Achieving Anything You Want

Photo: Nickolai Kashirin

Evolution may have been wise in programming us all to avoid pain (given the survival advantage it clearly provides), but one important “unintended” consequence of that programming is that we tend to view pain in general—psychological and physical both—as experiences to be avoided at all costs. This shunning of all pain, […]

How To Reset Your Happiness Set Point

Photo: puuikibeach

The set-point theory of happiness suggests that our level of subjective well-being is determined primarily by heredity and by personality traits ingrained in us early in life and as a result remains relatively constant throughout our lives. Our level of happiness may change transiently in response to life events, but then almost […]

The Double-Edged Sword Of Attachment, Redux

Photo: Snake3yes

Several years ago, my then 15-month-old son developed a fever to 103.5 F. Usually a champion sleeper, that night he woke several times with a frenetic look in his eyes and a jerkiness to his movements that unnerved me. The heat coming off his little febrile body almost made me start sweating […]

Magical Thinking, Redux

Photo: Bohman

One of my patients suffers from chronic constipation due to irritable bowel syndrome. During the twenty years since she was first diagnosed, her symptom pattern has remained remarkably consistent: she has perhaps 1-2 bowel movements per week, occasionally accompanied by some mild cramping. Even she admits the symptoms are more a bother […]

What Compassion Is, Redux

Photo: pedrosimoes7

Several years ago, I was out walking my son in his stroller (he was somewhere around six months old) when a homeless woman approached me asking for money. I’d seen her before in the neighborhood many times, including behind our condominium using drugs. So I turned down her request and continued walking […]

How To Ensure You’re (Almost) Always Right

Photo: TRF_Mr_Hyde

“Facts that challenge basic assumptions—and thereby threaten people’s livelihood and self-esteem—are simply not absorbed. The mind does not digest them.”

—Daniel Kahneman

There are numerous cognitive biases that threaten to lead us to incorrect conclusions as we reason our way through problems: confirmation bias (where we selectively pay attention only to […]