“I am sick and tired…”

Typically we hear this expression when someone is voicing extreme frustration or disgust. People become fed up about one thing or another and on the verge of having a Howard Beale moment—”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Often there is good cause for their angst. Systems continually fail, organizations are dysfunctional, and people are, well, human.

Yet the reaction may be out of proportion to its true impact in our daily lives, especially when compared to being literally sick and tired.

Who Will Remember Your Name?

Recently, I was listening to Clifton Truman Daniel talk about his grandfather, President Harry S. Truman. He spun one charming tale after another of how his grandfather taught him lessons about humility, courage and education.

Perhaps my favorite was when he told how he didn’t even know of his grandfather’s past life until his 1st grade teacher asked:

“Didn’t your grandfather used to be President of the United States?”…

Who Takes Care of Mom?

Generally speaking, there is no person more responsible for who we are or become than our mothers.

There are the obvious reasons: they give us life, carry us for nine months, bring us into this world, and nurture and protect us throughout.

Now not all moms are perfect and many are far from it. They are, after all, human, with their own life story, full of their own hardships and challenges.…

Why Remember?

The late Elie Wiesel often wrote of the importance of memory. In this book, The Forgotten, he shows a father’s struggles with Alzheimer’s and his urgency to transfer his life story to his son. Explaining this in an interview with Charlie Rose, Wiesel said, “If the son does not truly know his father’s story, he can never truly know himself.”

In Michael Moore’s recent documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” he travels around the globe looking for ideas that he can bring back to America, only to realize in the end that many of these ideas originated here in the first place.…

So Beautiful And So Short

“I cry because life is so beautiful and so short.”

This quote ends the poem, “Bygones,” written by Marina Keegan, author of The Opposite of Loneliness, published posthumously.

At the young age of 22, Keegan died in a car crash on her way to her father’s birthday celebration, just days after graduation from Yale University — and weeks before she was to begin her dream job writing at The New Yorker.…

What’s Up With The Hate?

Recently as we sat down to a nice family dinner, my youngest daughter looked at her plate and declared, “I hate this food!”

In looking at her meal of grilled chicken, carrots and watermelon, I asked myself and then her, “What’s up with the hate?” She had eaten each of these items before and loved them.

Unable to explain her feelings (not uncommon for a 4-year-old), we launched into a family conversation about hate.…

Where Do Superheroes Come From?

Every summer, our movie theaters are a parade of one superhero movie after another. But for all the external explosions and special effects, what often draws us in initially is the internal origin stories of these fantastic characters.

In a clever Smithsonian article, psychologist and author Robin Rosenberg writes about the different kind of life-altering experiences that form the basis of superheroes’ origins (e.g., trauma — think Batman, destiny — think Superman, and chance — think Spiderman).…

How Much of Your Life Do You Remember?

Each month we will experience over 600,000 moments (as defined in three-second intervals). Over the course of our lives, we will have lived more than a half billion of them. Naturally, the vast majority is forgettable. But those we keep, we weave together, connecting them to form our own “life story.”

But as time passes, more and more of these memories and connections naturally weaken and fade away.…

What Is A Vacation?

We’ve heard the depressing numbers:

  • Americans on average only receive 10 paid vacation days a year compared to 20 to 30 days in many European countries.
  • Even with that number, we don’t even use the ones we get: over 55% of paid vacation days go unused each year.
  • That number is especially alarming to the 25% of working Americans who receive ZERO days of vacation.
  • And when we are on vacation, 30% of people say they still do a significant amount of work while away.

To Be Awesome, Feel Small

The bubbles and birds announced their presence and our anticipation mounted. The fins teased their magnificence, first the dorsal and then the tail. Then scores of humpback whales pierced the water’s surface, their heads rising high above the water to the pleasure of both the birds who shared in their feast and the viewers who shared in their glory.

And shortly after, one breached. Jumping fully out of the water to the shock and awe of all who watched.…

Are You Getting Better?

Someone once said, each day you either get a little better or a little worse. The choice is up to you. While it may not be that simple, it is an interesting question to ask ourselves: Today, did I become a better parent, husband, worker, runner, cook, and so on and so on?

When we think about “getting better” we often think it means working harder or practicing more and may even feel stressful.…

What is The Capital of Your Community?

Why does Canada produce so many great hockey players? Why doesn’t Compton produce more physicists?

In his recent podcast, Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of a boy named Carlos who, against all odds (poverty, abandonment), is able to get a world-class education not typically available to boys like him.

In this segment he introduces the listener to the idea of talent capitalization, a theory first put forth by James Flynn.…

I Never Met Someone Who Made It Out

I met a friend of a friend who, like me, was from the Boston area.

When I told him I was from Chelsea, his instant response both said it all and exposed a flaw in our collective thinking about moving up in life.

“I never met anyone who made it out of Chelsea.”

One on hand, it spoke to how intractable the poverty and challenges seem in this town just over the Tobin Bridge, which separates the prosperity and potential of Boston from this small area that generation after generation seems to be left behind.…

Born To Run…And Listen

There is no doubt that Bruce Springsteen is hard wired for hard work. This is a simple fact that anyone who has ever seen one of his concerts can attest to.

But there are plenty of musicians who practice and play often and they don’t become Bruce Springsteen.

In a recent review of Springsteen’s new autobiography, Born to Run, New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner, points out an interesting theory suggested by Springsteen about why his songs resonate.…

How Do You Picture Work?

Walking into the central gallery at the Detroit Institute of Art, you are struck by the majesty and magnitude of Diego Rivera’s largest mural, “Detroit Industry.” It envelops you as it spans floor to ceiling and wall to wall across this expansive room.

The mural was intended as an homage to the worker and industry. Rivera spent weeks at one of Ford’s plants, sketching those who toiled away at the height of the Depression.…

Will You Hear This Today?

From the earliest of ages, we teach our children to say “thank you” when someone does something nice for them. This is undoubtedly important, as it teaches respect, gratitude and appreciation. But what if we also taught them to try and “hear” thank you each day?

When we hear “thank you” it means that we or someone else nearby has done someone an act of kindness.…

See Something Bad, Do Something Good

Consider the following two situations:

  • Sitting outside enjoying a beautiful day, you overhear two people engaging in a political conversation filled with hate, offensive remarks and untruths.
  • Later that day, you are scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see a short video of a little girl, blood running down her face.  She is calling, “Baba”, “Baba”. Looking for her daddy after a missile has just ripped through her neighborhood in Syria.

Who Should Government Help?

Which do you believe?

A) Government should help all Americans equally.

B) Government should focus on those in most need.

Now consider this:

When we design for “A” we create things that we universally value (think Social Security, Medicare).

  • They are devoid of stigma because we know they are meant for all for us and we each expect at some point to use them.
  • They are generally easier to manage as they are centralized, simpler and the same rules apply to everyone.

Another Version Of You

This is the title of a brilliant new PBS documentary about television pioneer, Norman Lear.

It is also his philosophy for creating characters and for seeing “other” people. Whereas someone might look at his most famous creation, Archie Bunker, and see only a bigot, he instead sees a fellow American whose own life experiences have simply created a different version of himself.

In watching clips of All in the Family, it is hard to imagine these shows being able to air today.…

Let There Be Light!

A recent op-ed by The Dalai Lama and Arthur Brooks discussed the benefits of feeling needed. Studies show that Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives.

Yet their central argument was that the fear of being unneeded is driving much of the anger, fear and darkness that we see around us.

So what gives?…