Changing Poison Into Medicine, Redux

iwo-jima

Photo: Beverly and Pack

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?

From the Buddhist perspective, all people are endowed with the innate ability to create value out of any situation, no matter how awful or tragic. Continue reading…

When Everything Seems To Be Going Wrong, Redux

plate

Photo: Robert S. Donovan

In a previous post, The True Cause Of Depression, I discussed how having multiple problems at once seems to cause more stress than having only one or two. I likened the handling of challenges to balancing a “plate” of a certain size and suggested if we pile too many problems onto it, not only do we risk having it topple over, we often find ourselves wanting to pitch the whole thing on purpose. Continue reading…

Becoming A Citizen

Photo: greg westfall

Approximately 2 million Americans are members of the armed forces. And each and every one of them volunteered. Whether because they felt forced to by economic, social, or philosophical reasons, each one of them did so knowing it might mean they would one day be called upon to risk their lives in defense of their country and its interests. Continue reading…

Why We Must Actively Pursue Happiness

Photo: AMagill

Recently, I’ve come across a number of articles—both online and off—warning of the dangers of deliberately aiming to become happy. In Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, for example, he argues that “happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.” Though I consider Frankl a great thinker and his book a masterwork, on this point I wholeheartedly disagree. Continue reading…

The Undefeated Mind

Over the last twenty years, I’ve watched thousands of patients struggle with a variety of ailments, from minor colds to life-threatening cancers. And though the majority of them eventually found relief from their suffering, the suffering of some of them left me breathless: the pilot who became so vertiginous he couldn’t sit up for two years without vomiting; the mother who died of a rare cardiac tumor knowing she was leaving three small children behind with no relatives to care for them; the elderly man who donated a kidney to his son only then to watch him die of AIDS. Continue reading…

Learning To Enjoy Things

Photo: Ryhmäteatteri

According to Nichiren Buddhism, the reason we’re all here is to enjoy ourselves, to be “happy and at ease.” Though this may sound like a license for lasciviousness and hedonism, in reality it’s far from it: enjoying ourselves, as most of us know from experience, is far harder than it sounds. To develop lives in which we can freely enjoy each moment requires far more work—far more self-development—than many would believe. Just what, then, does it actually take? Continue reading…

Win An Autographed Copy Of The Undefeated Mind

Photo: skippyjon

THIS CONTEST IS NOW OVER. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED.

This post is going to be a little different from my usual fare and quite brief. My book The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self is set to hit bookstores on November 6th, and today I’m announcing a contest for readers who want to win an autographed copy. Continue reading…

What Do You Want?

Photo: David Berkowitz

“What do you want?”

What question could be more basic—or more imperative—to answer? From publishing a bestselling book to getting married to taking our next breath, the narratives of our lives are driven ultimately by the desires we feel. But as simple as the question may be, identifying the answer is often anything but. Continue reading…

The Power Of Delaying Gratification

Photo: Jayneandd

In 1970 psychologist Walter Mischel famously placed a cookie in front of a group of children and gave them a choice: they could eat the cookie immediately, or they could wait until he returned from a brief errand and then be rewarded with a second. If they didn’t wait, however, they’d be allowed to eat only the first one. Not surprisingly, once he left the room, many children ate the cookie almost immediately. A few, though, resisted eating the first cookie long enough to receive the second. Mischel termed these children high-delay children. Continue reading…

That For Which I’m Grateful

Photo: Jesslee Cuizon

Having recently finished my first book, The Undefeated Mind (due out November 6th), I find myself now feeling something I didn’t expect: gratitude. I say I didn’t expect it because what I thought I would feel at this point is more a grand sense of accomplishment, a magnified version of what I’ve felt after a vigorous workout at the gym or after making a particularly difficult diagnosis. Continue reading…