No Expectations

There’s a classic zen story that goes like this: A young man approached a great master and asked to become his student. The student asked the master: “How long will it take me to become a master?” “15 years,” replied the master. “So long?” asked the young man, looking disappointed. The master reconsidered. “Well, inContinue reading “No Expectations”

Separating the Normal from the Natural

I’m getting ready to head out on a 7-day silent meditation retreat, and I’ve been feeling a little weird about it. So I really appreciated coming across Paul Graham’s essay, The Acceleration of Addictiveness, which in large part explains why I’m doing this. A computer programmer and founder of the startup funder Y Combinator, GrahamContinue reading “Separating the Normal from the Natural”

Love and Activism

A few years ago I was on a nonprofit leadership training retreat, when everyone had to go around the circle and declare their “purpose.” This was the sort of exercise I dreaded, so I scrambled to come up with something plausible I could say that wouldn’t be too embarrassing. Then I heard one of theContinue reading “Love and Activism”

The Demoralizing Science of Success

One of the most interesting subjects in the field of Positive Psychology is the science of human motivation and success. Why are some people so motivated and so successful? Why do some people not even bother to try? And how does that correlate with human happiness? I find this all fascinating. But I also findContinue reading “The Demoralizing Science of Success”

It’s Not a Package Deal

One of the problems with being a cynic is that, when you’re trying to learn something new, it’s easy to focus on all the things that sound wrong or silly or otherwise questionable and to disregard the entire lesson or experience as a result. I was sitting in a meditation class recently, for example, whenContinue reading “It’s Not a Package Deal”

How to Help

It seems almost impossible these days to listen to the news without getting depressed.  Whether it’s the flood of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria or another idiotic inflammatory statement by Donald Trump, the deluge of information about the world’s disasters and our political system’s incapacity to respond effectively often leaves me feeling hopeless. What can anyContinue reading “How to Help”

You Can’t Own It All

When I go on vacation, I like to find a remote and quiet spot. In fact, much of the reason I go on vacation is to escape the sounds of sirens and jackhammers and car alarms and blaring music I confront on a daily basis in New York City. Inevitably, though, when I get toContinue reading “You Can’t Own It All”

You Are Not Who You Think You Are

When I was a child, I used to regularly freak myself out by the thought that one day I would no longer exist. How could I – my consciousness – simply disappear from the world, when to me, at least, it had always been there? Something about the disappearance of my self terrified me. LookingContinue reading “You Are Not Who You Think You Are”

The Neuroscience of Change: More Cause for Compassion

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to make lasting change, you may find comfort in knowing that one reason is human biology. Neurobiology, in particular. That’s not cause for despair: because with sustained effort and support, our brains are actually something we can change. Ever since participating in a retreat on the neurobiologyContinue reading “The Neuroscience of Change: More Cause for Compassion”

A Deceptively Simple Practice

I’ve written before about my difficulties with a daily meditation practice, but since I’m increasingly convinced of the benefits of mindfulness meditation and other forms of mind training on health and overall well-being, I was particularly pleased to come across a short meditation recently that’s both easy and effective. It’s also a great coaching tool.Continue reading “A Deceptively Simple Practice”