Tickets

I was interviewed recently for this article that appeared in the New York Times.

It was a vivid and important look at how young people around the world assess their potential for success in life and what they think is necessary for achieving it.

Perhaps surprisingly, young people in poorer countries were generally more optimistic about their chances of future success than those in more economically developed countries like the United States.…


Blessed

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as blessed as I did this Thanksgiving. It was a day of almost complete harmony among my wife and I and our three daughters.  

Our day began with a simple exercise of writing down the many people and things we were grateful for this year, in spite of all that has engulfed our nation and impaired our daily lives.

Under different circumstances, this request could have been met with eye rolls and pleas to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.…


Humility

Consider this. If you voted in the Presidential election, then regardless of its outcome, there would be 70 million people who disagreed with you. These are not 70 million idiots, socialists, extremists, racists, or rioters. They are your fellow Americans who have different lived experiences, concerns and priorities than you. People who receive their information from different sources than you and are often surrounded by similar folks that reinforce their opinions, knowledge and biases.…


Smile

I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, my mind struggling to process the hour of bad news I had just watched.  At a loss, I wondered what would happen if I just forced myself to smile. I imagine if anyone had seen me, it would have looked quite ridiculous, as I stared at the ceiling trying to hold a forced smile as long as I could.

The first five seconds were legitimately challenging, perhaps evidence that these muscles had atrophied a bit during these last several months. Eventually, as…


Complementary

To hear this term is to presume something positive. It implies that things fit with one another, get along, are nice.

Yet in the field of psychology, complementary behavior may not always be as helpful as it sounds.  It means you respond back to someone in the same way they did to you.  For example, if someone yells at you, you yell at them.

By comparison, non-complementary behavior is responding to someone in a different way from which they acted towards you. …


mom

Yesterday was a mother’s day unlike any other. Under normal circumstances this would be a day where mothers would either be lavished with gifts, taken out to dinner, or maybe just given a break.

No doubt children and families did their best to try and cobble something together along those lines despite our current limitations. 

To repeat a well-worn cliche, now more than ever, mom’s deserve the recognition that too often gets taken for granted.…


Public

One of the defining American debates is the ongoing question of Public vs. Private.  Another way to think of it is — what is mine vs. what is ours?  This question runs through issues related to economics, rights, education, health, property and so on.

Some see these ideas of public and private mostly at odds.  An example of zero-sum thinking (see here for a great summary of research on how this thinking plays out politically). 


Insufficient?

In the face of our current challenges, I’ve heard many echo my own feelings that our personal actions have been insufficient. This is especially true when we compare ourselves to others whose roles are deemed essential and actions heroic.

This sentiment at times comes when people reflect on their relative good fortune or privilege. But it is not limited to the lucky.

I’ve also spoken to those directly impacted by events.…


“A true genius….”

In the the film, And Justice for All, Al Pacino gives an impassioned speech about the meaning of justice and its pursuit. He is defending a judge he knows to be guilty of a heinous crime and is part of a system he knows to be imperfect if not corrupt.  He laments that justice is not the aim of a court proceeding, winning is.  

Ultimately he must choose whether to pursue this objective or to sacrifice ego and reward. …


Let’s see how your mind works

In this interview, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, recounted what attributes are common among musicians. One that resonated was the idea of musicians having especially patterned minds. The term refers to the ability to remember and think in patterns. In music this comes in especially handy in remembering chord progressions, lyrics etc. For an average person, we might be able to recite the words to a song we know only if we begin at a familiar place, like the beginning or at the chorus.…