The Greatest Invention Of All Time

Photo: Horia Varlan

The greatest invention of all time isn’t, as is sometimes argued, penicillin. Nor is it the computer. Nor is it running water, electricity, the automobile, or the airplane. Rather, it’s the thing that has made all of these things—and so many more—possible: the scientific method itself.

Many people don’t realize that […]

Where Does Wisdom Come From?

Photo: epSos .de

What, exactly, is wisdom, and where does it come from? As to the first question, I would argue this: wisdom is a belief that’s not only true but that in the fact of our believing it leads us to feel and act in such a way that makes us suffer less […]

How To Decide What Risks Are Worth Taking, Redux

Photo: nutmeg

Life continuously presents us with difficult choices. Do we start our own business or stay in our (relatively) safe job? Do we absorb the high cost of health insurance or risk going uncovered because we’re healthy now? Do we get the screening colonoscopy? Do we get married? Do we have children? Do […]

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 […]

In Search Of The Mythical Best, Redux

Photo: ogimogi

Mr. Sikes (not his real name) once came to me complaining of swelling of his ankles (worse as the day wore on), shortness of breath climbing half a flight of stairs, and sudden awakening in the middle of the night from shortness of breath that resolved after several minutes of sitting upright. […]

Time Anxiety

Photo: Rob and Stephanie Levy

Of all the things there are to be anxious about—of all the things I’ve ever been anxious about—time, in one way or another, has probably been the most pervasive. To start with, I hate being late. Whether to a party (who comes on time to a party?), a movie, […]

The Truth About Morality

Photo: Markus Lütkemeyer

Though philosophers and religious authorities have debated the question of morality (i.e., what constitutes good and evil) for centuries, Buddhism offers a relatively straightforward answer: good, or right, is that which increases the joy or decreases the suffering of conscious creatures and therefore a priori should always be done, and evil, […]

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 […]

The Problem With Reincarnation

Photo: Fenanov

In this post, I’d like to consider seriously the issue of reincarnation. Or perhaps I should say, the problem with reincarnation. Though I practice Buddhism, I don’t actually believe in reincarnation. I suspect that my saying this will irk many of my Buddhist friends, who rightly consider the tenet of reincarnation central […]

The Danger Of Keeping Secrets

Photo: LE▲H.nicor

“You’re only as sick as your secrets” goes a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous. And they should know: one of the hallmarks of alcoholism—of any addiction, really—is deception. Addicts deceive others to cover up their addiction and themselves to deny they have one. Which may explain why most of the sober alcoholics I […]