Saturday, December 29, 2018

What to Do on New Year's Day: Alternatives to football

On New Year’s Eve, you watched the ball drop or not, and now it’s New Year’s Day. Many people plant themselves in front of the TV to watch Neanderthals bash into each others for 3 1/2 hours, well, 1 hour plus 2 1/2 hours of commercials, time-outs, and half-time hoo-hah.

But what if that’s not your cup of chamomile, for example, you’re more psychologically than carnage oriented? For at least part of the day, you might invite people over for a New Year’s Circle. I describe it in my article today.

Identifying Your Guiding Principles: 3 questions toward a life well-led

Time management gurus urge that you first write your personal mission statement. I believe there’s an invaluable preceding step: getting clear on your guiding principles.

I hope that the three questions I offer in my article today will help you identify yours.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Hats and Horns? Alternatives to New Year's Eve manufactured frivolity

Have you ever gone to one of those big-bucks hats/horns/cheap champagne blowouts? Looking back, was it worth it?

Even if you thought it was less than ideal, maybe you’re thinking about doing it again, perhaps because you can’t think of something better.  Maybe you'll prefer one of the three alternatives I propose in my article today. Or even better, those ideas could trigger your own.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What If You Could Start Over? 8 Questions to Help Trigger Ideas

At this time of year, how-to articles may suggest you make New Year’s resolutions.  But they usually eliminate a preliminary step: How to decide what to resolve? My article today poses eight questions that may help.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Better than a Diet: Mini Tweaks work better

As you may know, Mensa is the organization for high IQ people. Recently I gave a talk at a Mensa convention and noticed that many attendees were overweight. Clearly, they know that broccoli good, Quadruple Bypass Burger bad. And if they’re like me, they have a full bag of tips and tricks for weight control: don’t use food as a reward, picture the benefits of losing weight,

use small plates, eat slowly, stay conscious so you only eat until you’re not hungry, at restaurants put a fraction of your food in a doggie bag as soon as it’s served, blah-blah-blah. Yet they stay fat.

Why? Because such efforts, let alone diets, don’t work well enough. After all, it’s well established that most people who lose weight gain it all back and more. And we all know that yo-yoing is bad for our health. 

So what to do?  I offer simple advice that distills the consensus of authoritative sources in my article today.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Feeling Useless: Remedies for an underdiscussed source of sadness

Children can feel useless, the product of their impotence in the adult-controlled world. Teens can feel even more impotent for they believe that, if they were allowed, they could be potent. 

Young adults, blessed (some would say saddled with) higher-education-inculcated big ideas too often find themselves pulling a beer or barista lever. Even many people who—to use the current argot—launch, by midlife see the dispiriting limitations of their influence, at work, in changing their spouse, even their kids. 

And of course, in old age, the decline in physical and mental capability often leads to the greatest dispiritedness because hope for a better future is gone—Their awareness grows of their ticking ever closer to the end of life’s conveyer belt.

What’s a mere mortal to do?  I offer suggestions in my article today.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Taking Inventory: A look at lessons learned in 2018 can yield a better 2019

In theory, we all agree that we learn from experience. Yet too often, those lessons go unnoticed or unremembered. Answering the questions about your 2018 that I pose in my article today might help.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Silent Night: A short-short story

It’s 4:43 PM. Normally, he’d still be badgering delinquent borrowers for another hour or two but today he couldn’t make himself. After all, it was Christmas Eve. Even at,  which expected long work hours for the cause--microloans to women--this day no one would look askance at him. So he craned his body out of his chair and was about to leave his office when his boss entered and asked if she could sit down.

She rarely came in, usually communicating by email. He thought, “Maybe it's to hand-deliver the usual "Year-End" gift card to Ben & Jerry’s, Seeds of Change, or some such?” But her face was too serious. Her usual workplace-pleasant demeanor was replaced by flatness: "I don't know how to say this but I'm laying you off."

He couldn’t bring himself to say anything. She waited, then murmured, “I’m so sorry. After all these years here, and especially as an older worker, I know this must be hard. You’ll get severance plus two weeks more pay, whether you leave today or in two weeks, your choice.” And she crept out.

He trudged toward BART vacant, then looked up at the swaddling skyscrapers, buildings he had rarely noticed or had viewed as monolith symbols of Financial America. Now
those buildings felt like symbols that he had been part of something big, appeasing his liberal values with the belief that was one of the few good guys, or should I say, "good gals?"

On BART, he noticed that he was the oldest passenger. “I’m old, face it, I’m old. Oh, what right to I have to keep working when millions of young people can’t find beyond barista work? Good socialist, it’s time to walk my redistributionist talk.”

Trying to savor his last walk from BART to home, he looked a bit longer at the leaves. “Hmpph, Californians fly back east for autumn color, yet just a month later, we too have yellows and reds. Look at that liquidambar—that's a great name--that Japanese maple, that ginkgo, the world’s oldest tree and it's as yellow as if hybridizers spent decades creating it.” 

Then, thoughts about his worklife intruded. “I was maybe eight when dad said, 'Work. That’s what matters. Work.' Odd I remember that. Then my first job: I came in right at 9 and was shocked that people were reading their newspapers—9:15, 9:30, they still hadn’t started?! My first job out of college was managing volunteers. I thought being a boss meant I was supposed to boss people. No wonder I got fired—College was not about job training; it was about liberal arts. Then there was the time I told my boss that I liked New Yorkers because they’re straight shooters. My boss unfortunately was from the tactful Midwest and I soon got laid off. Could that statement have contributed? Then I volunteered at FemLoan. It took months but finally got hired ‘even though you’re a guy.’ Somehow, that statement didn’t bother me; I had drunk the Kool-Aid. That was, let’s see, 23 years ago. Little by little, I lost some of the passion, maybe a lot. Maybe getting dumped is for the best.”

As usual, he passed the doughnut shop but this time, turned around, went in, and asked for a cinnamon roll. The clerk said, “They were made at 4 AM. They’re a little stale.”  He said, "It's okay. I'll take it anyway,."

When he got home, he made himself his usual green tea in a Japanese pot. He sprinkled a little water on the cinnamon roll, put it in the microwave, and it came out as moist as  if it were fresh. He settled into his easy chair and savored that rare treat, cutting the sweetness with the tea. “Now what? Retire? Volunteer for another nonprofit? Maybe it’s just that I’ve spent two decades phoning borrowers who tell me they can’t pay back their loan—Anyone would be burned out after that. Or do I do the standard retiree thing: sleep late, TV, movies, grandkids, doctor's appointments, read? I have this pile of books on my bed where a woman should be. I don’t really care to have a girlfriend but I can’t make myself read the books either. Should I write my memoir? That feels narcissistic. Get into shape? I’m just not motivated, and he took a bigger bite of the cinnamon roll.  I’ll think about this some other time.

He pulled out his laptop. “What should I listen to? There’s this guy Marty Nemko who, every year, on his radio show, which is about jobs, at Christmas plays Silent Night on the piano. I wonder if he ever recorded it? To find out, click HERE

I read this short-short story HERE

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Lesson from the Past Regarding Illegal Aliens?

When Columbus returned to Spain, he had heard that the Pacific Coast had  unlimited gold reserves that could easily be dug up with a shovel. Miscreants,  the unsuccessful, highway robbers, etc fought for a spot on the crew of the ship  that the Crown was sending to find it. On arrival, they found no gold awaiting and robbed and/or murdered the natives. 

I believe there's significant chance this will occur here. Well-meaning but foolish Americans will hand over California, maybe even the whole country (whose wealth and scientific discoveries have benefited the world) to the illegals and their advocates, as in the Columbian example, people who disproportionately were failures or criminals in their home country. 

When they take over, my intuition is that they'll treat us far less kindly than we've treated them. And a look at all the countries in Central and South America doesn't make me optimistic that a U.S. under the illegals' control will be a better America.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Small Talk For People Bad at It: A step-by-step approach

We’re going to a party, on a date, or to a workplace event. “After, ‘hi’,” what will we say? Silence would be embarrassing.

Some people are naturals at small talk, the usually necessary prerequisite to deeper conversation. My article today is for the rest of us.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Toward a Breakthrough Model of Counseling

If we’re being honest with ourselves, the counseling professions are less effective than we’d want them to be. It's hard to face that because it would cause too much dissonance: how can we continue to work so hard to address our clients’ pain if we faced the uncomfortable truth that our toolkits effectiveness was too-often limited.

But if we care about being helpful, we must face that and that our methods have changed little in decades, some would say a century: We ask questions about a person’s past and present, we listen, we reflect, we ask more questions, ideally leading a client to come up with their own insights and solutions, and if those are inadequate, tactfully proposing our own. We may superimpose a theoretical model but what we do in practice typically is the aforementioned.

So, there's a need for a breakthrough approach, but what? 
I propose one in my article today. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Giving a Persuasive Talk

I’ve written previously on public speaking: Good Public Speaking Without Fear  and interviewed one of the world’s most successful speakers, Tony Robbins, in which he outlined the key to an effective talk.

In my article today, I focus on a specify type of talk: the persuasive speech.  That can be as brief as a two-minute presentation at a staff meeting to a keynote speech at a convention.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Grieve Less: The case for moving on quickly

Conventional wisdom says that, after a significant loss, whether a job or loved one through breakup or death, we must grieve fully before moving forward. So the argument goes, unless we’ve fully processed the loss, the painful feelings are more likely to linger.

But my clients and I have generally found that the longer the grieving, the more top-of-mind the loss remains.  I explain why and offer examples for moving forward in my article today.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Later Relationships: Relationship tips for the 2nd half of your life

You want a relationship but, bearing scars from previous ones, you’re reluctant to sally forth yet again. One or more of the following ideas in my article today may help.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Relationships in 2019 and Beyond

Today, I was pre-interviewed for an hour-long appearance this coming Tuesday on the BBC World Service’s program, The Real Story. The topic is the future of relationships.
The BBC contacted me because I had written a Psychology Today article:  The Future of Relationships. That was written almost three years ago so I thought you might find it helpful if I described my current thinking as I presented it to the BBC today. It's my article today.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Next Generation of In-Vitro Fertilization, Gene Editing: A The Eminents interview with Stephen Hsu.

Today, Psychology Today published the latest of my The Eminents interviews. I interviewed Stephen Hsu, VP for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University. He is also a researcher in computational genomics and founder of several Silicon Valley startups, ranging from information security to biotech. Educated at Caltech and Berkeley, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and held faculty positions at Yale and the University of Oregon before joining MSU. He is a Founder of Genomic Prediction, a company that provides advanced genetic testing to IVF laboratories and clinics.

Because this is Psychology Today, I asked Steve about IQ, a measure of reasoning and problem-solving skill, commonly termed "intelligence", that is highly correlated with school and life success. But in light of the two gene-edited baby girls in China, I started there, regarding both the ethics and the science.