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”

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”

Bernie Sanders, the Optimist

One of the most common criticisms I hear of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is that he’s too angry. Americans are famous for being upbeat and optimistic. We’re raised to believe in “the American Dream” in which anyone can rise up from poverty to be a huge success. Anger –- particularly about the reality that lotsContinue reading “Bernie Sanders, the Optimist”

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”

Don’t Tell Me What To Do

Since starting my training in Positive Psychology, I’ve been bombarded with all sorts of helpful suggestions about what I ought to do to make myself happier. “Make a daily list of five things you’re grateful for,” or “meditate every day,” or “exercise regularly,” or “clean your closets.” All good ideas, and I’m sure if IContinue reading “Don’t Tell Me What To Do”

The Power of Positive Psychology

I’m taking a certification course in “positive psychology,” and I’ve realized lately that I feel a little sheepish telling people about it. There’s something about the idea of studying something so unabashedly “positive” that sounds a little silly, fake, Pollyannaish. It also sounds very corporate, like the kind of thing they’d teach in business schoolContinue reading “The Power of Positive Psychology”