Minimize Painful Experiences

Are you feeling unneeded pain? The Practice: Minimize painful experiences. Why? Painful experiences range from subtle discomfort to extreme anguish – and there is a place for them. Sorrow can open the heart, anger can highlight injustices, fear can alert you to real threats, and remorse can help you take the high road next time. [...] [Read more...]

Don’t Be Intimidated

What makes you feel threatened? The Practice: Don’t be intimidated. Why? On a previous blog at the Huffington Post, I used the example of Stephen Colbert’s satirical “March to Keep Fear Alive” as a timely illustration of a larger point: humans evolved to be fearful – since that helped keep our ancestors alive – so [...] [Read more...]

Hold Wants Lightly

What do you want? The Practice: Hold wants lightly. Why? Getting caught up in wanting – wanting both to get what’s pleasant and to avoid what’s unpleasant – is a major source of suffering and harm for oneself and others. First, a lot of what we want to get comes with a big price tag [...] [Read more...]

Give No One Cause to Fear You

What puts people at ease? The Practice: Give no one cause to fear you. Why? We evolved to be afraid. The ancient ancestors that were casual and blithely hopeful, underestimating the risks around them – predators, loss of food, aggression from others of their kind – did not pass on their genes. But the ones [Read More...]

See the Good in Others

What do you notice in people? The Practice: See the good in others. Why? Many interactions these days have a kind of bumper-car quality to them. At work, at home, on the telephone, via email: we sort of bounce off of each other while we exchange information, smile or frown, and move on. How often [Read More...]

Ask Questions

What are you learning? The Practice: Ask questions. Why? My dad grew up on a ranch in North Dakota. He has a saying from his childhood – you may have heard it elsewhere – that’s: “You learn more by listening than by talking.” Sure, we often gain by thinking out loud, including discovering our truth [Read More...]

Stay Right When You’re Wronged

What happens after you’re mistreated? The Practice: Stay right when you’re wronged. Why? It’s easy to treat people well when they treat you well. The real test is when they treat you badly. Think of times you’ve been truly wronged, in small ways or big ones. Maybe someone stole something , turned others against you, [Read More...]

Hug the Monkey

Longing for love? The Practice: Hug the monkey. Why? Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process): Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us” The first JOT in this series – pet the lizard – was [Read More...]

Feed The Mouse

Got cheese? The Practice: Feed the mouse. Why? As the nervous system evolved, your brain developed in three stages: Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us” Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its [Read More...]

Pet the Lizard

Down deep, do you feel at ease? The Practice: Pet the lizard. Why? I’ve always liked lizards. Growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, I played in the foothills near our home. Sometimes I’d catch a lizard and stroke its belly, so it would relax in my hands, seeming to feel at ease. In [Read More...]


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