I hear some lawyers say, “I don’t like other lawyers. They’re money hungry and unscrupulous.” I hear some police officers say, “I can’t stand other cops. The job is the center of their life and identity. Not me.” I hear some psychologists say, “Psychologists are crazy. I stay away from them in my personal life.” I hear some teachers say, “Keep me away from other teachers. They’re bossy … Continue reading Bias Against Our Own Kind
I was so terrified about speaking up in school that if I had to give a presentation, I’d spend the whole class thinking of what I had to say. I’d become deaf to what everyone else was saying. After I spoke, my deafness persisted. My heart pounded as I numbly replayed my mistakes, and I shuddered at the memory of my faltering voice. People sometimes say, “I have low self-esteem.” Does that mean they don’t like … Continue reading Self-Esteem is Overrated
I met a man, I’ll call him Martin, who was devastated about how his marriage had ended. “After 30 years and 2 kids,” he said, looking baffled, “my wife left me for another woman. How could I not know she was gay?” “What’s the worst thing about this loss for you?” I asked. “It’s bad enough that my marriage is over. We never had a close physical relationship anyway. I … Continue reading When You Lose Faith in Yourself
I used to teach a night class at the local college about the history of social welfare in America. One of the evenings was devoted to Social Justice and Discrimination. We discussed prejudice and stereotypes. Students seemed to think that while negative stereotypes were evil, positive stereotypes were a good thing. Jews are smart. Black people are great musicians and athletes. Asians are math geniuses (even though they are abysmal … Continue reading Positive Stereotypes are Negative
I spent my entire education, including high school, university, and graduate school, as the quietest student in history. In 4th grade I stopped ever raising my hand, and did not once answer a question for the next 20 years in any classroom. But I longed to speak in public. Years ago, I was introduced to the non-profit organization, Toastmasters International, where I met the kindest group … Continue reading Are You a Natural?
This is a story of how I changed the lives of 8 people for 10 days in a trifling way. But mostly, it’s about how I changed myself. Many years ago I was a shy social worker at a small, non-profit agency helping runaway kids by giving them shelter, advocacy, and counseling. We were housed in an old building undergoing renovation during the hottest July I can … Continue reading Doing the Impossible
We may think that our experience of happiness is objective, but it’s not. We all carry an unconscious frame of reference in our heads that filters how we feel about our lives. Everything – our relationships, our beliefs about our own success, our friends, family, and wealth, are perceived through this filter. Since we’re always comparing ourselves to the people around us, we need to discover … Continue reading Am I Happy, Compared to You?
I was listening today to an interview of the soon-to-be 94 year old Norman Lear, the creator of such innovative American TV shows as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, and One Day at a Time. His career spans over 50 years and he’s still going strong. When asked for his secret to happiness and success, he said, “Two words. Over and next. When … Continue reading Over and Next
At a workshop many years ago, I learned a communication technique that felt like a gimmick. The object was to respond to someone who was insulting you by agreeing with them. It was important to sound sincere, not sarcastic. No — it was important to be sincere and find a way to agree with some part of the insult that your tormentor was throwing at you. … Continue reading Mind Games for Relationship Change
Now that I’ve trashed positive thinking in The Dark Side of Positive Thinking, it’s time to set the record straight. Our beliefs and thoughts have a real, physical effect on our bodies, our brains, and our world. Take the placebo effect. When I was in college, there was a time I had a headache every evening at 9 pm. My routine was to walk into the bathroom and take … Continue reading The Sunny Side of Positive Thinking