Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What Would You Do, Really? 12 dilemmas that may give you clarity about who you really are.

In the abstract, we all claim, even to ourselves, to be wise and upstanding. Yet, even our nation's leaders don't always pass the test.

If you'd like to put yourself to the test without any real-world consequences, answer 12 questions in my article today as honestly as you can. Some of the questions aren't right-or-wrong, but merely designed to help you understand yourself better.

The Big Three: A key to rewarding life is to surround yourself with people who are intelligent, driven, and ethical.

A key to rewarding life is to surround yourself with people who are intelligent, driven, and ethical. In my article today, I explain why and how to make it happen.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Staying Calm

Some people seem to be able to stay calm in the face of life's annoyances. My article today is for the rest of us.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Talking as a Tool for Growth

Talking-out your ideas and dilemmas has advantages but risks. In my article today, I suggest ways to maximize the benefits and minimize the liabilities.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Should Assisted Suicide Be Available To Everyone?

In my article today, I argue that everyone, including healthy adults should have the right to assisted suicide.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Upsides of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often deemed a liability. In my article today, I discuss its upsides.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Uneventful Thanksgiving Trip

Many people love going long distances for family get-togethers, for example, for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
But others do it out of duty.  

In my article today, I offer a description of the events of my cross-country trip to be with the family on Thanksgiving. You might find it instructive and at least, entertaining.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Creating a Psychologically Attuned Holiday Party

There's something to be said for the standard holiday party--lots of libation-lubricated good cheer.. 
But some more psychologically oriented people might welcome a more, well, psychologically attuned holiday party. 
As my article today, I offer some ways to do that:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Feeling Good After Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Millions of Americans overeat on Thanksgiving and overspend on Black Friday. Come Saturday, it's regrets time.

How might you feel good on Saturday? I’m under no delusion that a how-to article can outweigh years of bad habits, peer pressure, and the desire for instant gratification. But perhaps one or more of the tactics I offer in my article today might be of value.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Why Even Some Smart People Are Superstitious

Today, when science and rational thought are extolled, why are many people still superstitious? 

And as University of Chicago behavioral scientist Jane Risen documents, 

Superstitions are not limited to individuals with mental deficits. More than half of surveyed Americans, for example, admit to knocking on wood and almost one in four avoid walking under ladders. Approximately one-third of surveyed college students regularly engage in exam-related superstitions.

In my article today, I offer a number of possible explanations. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Toward Constructive Conversation with The Other Side

In the abstract, everyone asserts belief in constructive dialogue, in the free marketplace of ideas. But the nation has become very polarized. We are doing a poor job of talking with people across the aisle.

Our best chance at societal improvement may be through respectful dialogue with people who hold views different from our own. In the aftermath of the Trump election, I’ve written two articles in an attempt to encourage that:

Communication Lessons from the Trump Win: and Ten Questions in the Time of Trump.

In the final article in this series, I offer an activity designed to get people to better understand perspectives other than their own on four contentious issues: climate change, affirmative action, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and illegal immigration.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

When You Feel Powerless: 11 ways to get more powerful

Many people go through life wishing they had more power. For example, in the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential election, many people wish they could wave a magic wand and change the results. So they protest but quietly believe their impact will be too small.  And they may be right.

What can we do to make a difference despite a macro lack of power?

As is my wont of late, I like to propose a buffet of ideas---My sense is that an article that presents a list of options may yield greater benefit than would a comprehensive exploration of a single one. In my article today, I offer 11 options for getting more powerful.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting Deep Fast: Key to effective networking

Everyone knows they should network, especially if they are or could be looking for work.

Key is to get deep with a number of people quickly, which boosts your odds that one of the people will care enough about you and have the power to help you get good work.

Some people are naturals at getting deep fast. My article today is for everyone else.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

40 Words to Move You To Action

Sometimes, years of psychotherapy and other major interventions are required to move a person to action.

But occasionally, all that’s required to get you unstuck is a trigger word, something that lights a fire under you

In my article today, I offer 40 such words.

Your Board of Advisors: why monthly teleconferences with friends enrich your life.

For the past three years now, every month, I meet for an hour by teleconference or Google Hangout with my Board of Advisors. 

It sounds fancier than it is. I simply chose the half-dozen people whom I most respect and who would be respectful participants in a group.

In my article today, I describe how it works.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Even the Brainiest May Need Help... And Maybe You Can Help

The Society for Neuroscience is a prestigious organization for scientists studying the brain. More than 30,000 people from 80 countries, mainly hard-science PhDs. attend its annual conference, which will end tomorrow morning. 

Yesterday and today, I was privileged to do 15-minute one-on-one career coaching with attendees.  

In my article today, I offer summaries of some of the sessions. It should offer career lessons for a broader audience as well to remind us that if even top scientists can benefit from help from not-technical people, perhaps you can too. It also suggests that you may be able to help technical people even if you're not technical.

What's Behind Our Snap Judgments

Malcolm Gladwell wrote of the power of snap judgments in his book, Blink. Jon Freeman’s research is identifying the physiological underpinnings. He is my Up-and-Comer interview today. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ten Questions in a Time of Trump

The election of Donald Trump has evoked more emotion than in any election in my lifetime. While sometimes violence and revolution yields net good---witness the Revolutionary War or the war against the Nazis--more often, violence and even verbal violence yields a net negative.

That was Nelson Mandela's conclusion in, after apartheid, calling not for retaliation but reconciliation.

In a small effort to encourage more light than heat, my article today offers ten questions aimed at encouraging the inclusive, full-dimensioned, truly diverse thinking so often extolled but too rarely followed when passions are high, when zeal (ahem) trumps statespersonhood.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Creating Ads We'd Be Glad to See

We might tolerate or even like ads more if they were well matched to what we’d actually buy and love--Not everyone needs to see a Viagra ad.

Cambridge psychology PhD student Sandra Matz attempts to infer your personality from your digital footprint, for example, your Facebook Likes, and then create ads for products and services likely to make you happy.

Sandra was named one of Pacific Standard's 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 and one of DataIQ's 100 most influential people in data driven marketing. She is my Up-and-Comer interview today on

Friday, November 11, 2016

"I Can't Make Myself Stop the Train?" When You're Having Second Thoughts About Marrying

I had a client today whose wedding day is in a month and he's scared. In my article today, I paraphrase what he said and asked me, and my response.

A Formula for Actually “Making America Great Again.”

No matter your political leanings, all people of good will hope that President-elect Trump will grow into the job and be a person who indeed will “make America great again." To do that, I believe he must trade the black-white thinking of his campaign for a measured conservatism, one that recognizes that wisdom exists on both sides of center and thus mends our so divided nation. 

If I were advising him, here are what I’d recommend be his guiding principles: 

1. Focus on excellence, not just on the “vulnerable.” Politicians of both parties are falling over themselves to say who’s better for the poor, the disabled, and otherwise vulnerable. Unless we at least equally focus on maximizing the potential of our best and brightest as we did in the Sputnik era, we are devolving the U.S. to its lowest common denominator. That is not a formula for a happy citizenry, let alone one that can compete with China and India.

2. Politicians must steward tax dollars like it was their own. Liberals and conservatives alike mouthe agreement with that but under the pressures of polling, activist groups, and the media, it’s too tempting to say yes to every spending bill. After all, isn’t it tempting to vote for a candidate who promises you stuff rather than one who cuts stuff. Wise stewardship would make cuts in conservative darlings such as defense and liberal darlings such as education, which is so bloated with administrators and labyrinthine rules. 

 3. Ethics must be top priority. America has become a land of deception, with politicians leading the pack. Conservatives always talk about values, yet are they hard enough on unethical businesses? Do they allow money to influence their votes? Nothing is more important than integrity. Neither party has a monopoly on ethical behavior. Conservatives can and should fill the vacuum. A country that isn’t built on a foundation of ethics will likely collapse. 

 4. Leave intimate decisions in the hands of the people. Conservatives often wrap themselves in rhetoric extolling freedom. Well, nothing could be more restrictive of freedom than telling a woman when she can have an abortion, whether a gay person should be allowed to marry, or to tell a doctor that s/he can’t assist a person who feels it’s time to end his or her life. 

 5. Work toward equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. The benefits of trying to redress past and lingering discrimination with affirmative action are outweighed by the liabilities. Too often, affirmative action in practice is reverse discrimination, resulting in a less meritorious person selected. Not only is that unfair to the not-selected person, it’s unfair to the classmates and professors at a college, to the coworkers, bosses, and customers of a business. 

 6. Exercise restraint. Intrinsic to conservatism is restraint. Indeed, it was liberals in the 60s who encouraged the drugs, sex, and rock’n’roll lifestyle. But those are inimical to the life well-led. A life is meaningful mainly to the extent it is ethically productive and contributory. Today, the Left is making all efforts to legalize marijuana, creating a second alcohol despite strong evidence it damages motivation, memory, mental health, and increases car accidents, heart disease, and cancer risk. Conservatism implies conservative behavior. Conservatives should themselves pull on ropes of restraint and, from its bully pulpit, encourage the productive work life and a recreational life of pleasures that don’t damage individuals and the nation. 

The big picture.  Mr. Trump, you need to be aware that not all good ideas come from right of center. For example, the Left is cosmically correct in ensuring a basic safety net for all people, even, where possible, to facilitate that outside our borders. The Left is also correct that left to their own devices, businesses will too often be unfair to workers, customers, and the environment--Moderate regulation is a good thing. But I believe that the best America, the one that can indeed “Make America Great Again” is the one that incorporates good ideas from both sides of center.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Head Transplantation: What Makes Us Who We Are?

The Atlantic and the BBC report that 31-year old Valery Spiridonov has a disease that is wasting away his body.   As a last-ditch effort to save his life, he has agreed to a first-of-its-kind surgery that would attach his head to a healthy body that had just died, for example, from a gunshot to the brain.

Whether or not it works (and the quoted mainstream experts predict it won't,) it raises an interesting ethical issue and asks us to consider our identity: What makes us who we are?  
I explore those questions in my article today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Communication Lessons from the Trump Win

No matter how you feel about the outcome of the presidential election, it certainly can’t hurt to try to derive lessons from it, including those we can apply to our own lives. In my article today, I offer communication lessons I have derived.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Living with Your Parents

Despite the supposed recovery, Pew Research reports that for the first time in 130 years, more 18-to-34-year-olds live with their parents than in any other living arrangement. 
Of course, that can be a source of tension if not misery. A number of my Millennial clients say their main reason to work is to afford their own apartment.

As my article today, I offer a contract between parent(s) and child that may make back-at-home living more pleasant for all concerned. It may, with adaptation, also be useful in negotiating an agreement with roommates.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Becoming a Better Judge

University of Chicago Assistant Professor Ed O’Brien studies how accurately we appraise ourselves. For example, are we, overall, better people than we used to be? And how accurate are our specific predictions, for example, how likely we are to lose weight? O’Brien also looks at what affects our recommendations’ accuracy, for example, what movie to see? Finally, he goes beyond description and opines on how we might actually improve rather than just think we’re improving.

Pacific Standard named Ed O’Brien one of the Top 30 Thinkers Under 30.  His research has been profiled on NPR, The Atlantic, TIME, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.  He is my Up-and-Comer interview today.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Creating Your Physical Image

Our choices of clothes, makeup, even dog affect how we're perceived. In my article today, I offer ideas and questions to help you decide what you want.

We ARE World Citizens

Both presidential candidates have succumbed to divisiveness at a time in history that I believe we’d be better served by efforts to find common ground as world citizens.

In my article today, I describe how I’ve dealt with being a member of an identity group that has often stressed its victimhood and how I resisted. It may offer lessons not only for people in identity groups but how we might better address our internal demons, and more constructively come together to work for a better world.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Search for Peace of Mind

Some people naturally have peace of mind. Without effort, they walk the earth with a sense of contentment. 

I don’t. My parents said I cried a lot as a newborn, was a colicky baby, in school was ever worried I was a bad boy or not smart enough, and from my earliest memory, feared death and dying. At age 10, I'd lie in bed calculating the percentage of my life I probably had left---in terror, unable to sleep.

So, clearly I've been motivated to try to find more peace of mind. And if you are not naturally blissful, perhaps the report on my attempts may be of use to you. It's my article today.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Red Pill: Why many men are dispirited

Last night, I saw a pre-release screening of the movie, The Red Pill. It was created by self-described fervent feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye, who planned on it being a hit piece on the men's movement. The film and the audience's reactions afterwards made it one of my life's more memorable experiences. I describe it in my article today.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Relationships Can Reduce Stress’s Effects

It’s long been argued that good relationships can buffer stress and facilitate physical health. U.S.C. Ph.D. student Kelly Miller’s research is strengthening that case.

She’s the winner of the 2016 Davison Award for Excellence in Science-Based Clinical Practice and recipient of a five-year National Science Foundation Fellowship. Pacific Standard named her one of “Thirty Top Thinkers Under 30.”

She is the first of my Up-and-Comer interviews.

Supporting a "Loser"

The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and I imagine more people are rooting for them in Game 7 because of that. 

In my article today, I explore why we do, should, and shouldn't support the Cubs, Woody Allens, etc. in our real lives.