An Antidote to Uncertainty

In a recent conversation with friends and colleagues in the United States and Europe, Marilee Adams, author of an insightful best-seller—“Change Your Questions, Change Your Life”—said, “The antidote to uncertainty is inquiry.” Since then, I have been reflecting on the truth of this observation. “Antidote” usually refers to a medicine to counteract a particular poison. Although uncertainty is not a poison, the discomfort we feel with uncertainty can become one. So, although I like the … Read more…

Four Pillars of a Healthy Mind

In 1992, neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson met the Dalai Lama for the first time. Like many neuroscientists and psychologists, he had been studying what was wrong with human brains: anxiety, fear, depression, and stress. But his Holiness asked why he wasn’t using neuroscientific tools to study kindness and compassion.  At first, the question startled him, but it then led to nearly two decades of collaboration between them and the establishing the Center for Healthy Minds … Read more…

Break Apart or Build Bridges

john a. powell, professor of Law, African American and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, made the astute observation that in times of stress, societies either break apart or build bridges. In addition to the stress from accelerating changes in globalization, technology, environment, and demographics, we now add a global pandemic and an economic free fall. All of this is hard for the human brain to process. Because the brain evolved to keep us safe, it … Read more…

The Still Point

In the midst of the onslaught of emails, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn messages about all the do’s and don’ts during this exceptional time, I meditate. Each of us appears to be searching for inspiration. One morning, T.S. Eliot’s words about the still point floated into my mind from my years as an English literature major in college. I will not use his words to add to the list of tips flooding social media. I will, … Read more…

Taking Responsibility For Your Attention

There’s a lot to be worried about these days. Fires in the Amazon Forest, rising tensions in the Middle East, chaos in the leadership of two of the world’s oldest democracies, frequent mass shootings, rising numbers of hate crimes, lead in the water in Flint and now in Newark… Oh my. I have to stop. With all that is occurring in the world (to which we have access 24/7), it is no wonder there is … Read more…

Spaciousness of “Negative Capability”

John Keats, English Romantic Poet, wrote about “negative capability” in a letter to his brothers George and Thomas in 1871 when he was 22 years old. I read this letter nearly a century later when I was 22, an undergraduate majoring in English literature. I understand this oxymoronically-named ability today in ways I could not have then. As circumstances at work and in our lives become ever more complex, negative capability might be one of … Read more…

Are We Stuck at a Cognitive Threshold?

The complexity of issues facing us is outstripping our ability to understand and solve them. Governmental institutions spin on gerbil wheels of outmoded, linear processes and procedures, attempting to tackle issues with multiple, inter-connected parts one part at a time. This is as true in the United States Congress as it is in state legislatures and city councils. In the world of business, economic considerations (i.e., profit), trumps all other criteria in determining whether or … Read more…

Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

We keep makin’ the same mistakes Over and over and over and over again And then we wonder why We’re in the shape we’re in —From “Frail Grasp on the Big Picture” by The Eagles The lyrics of this 2007 Eagles song* remind me how quickly any one of us can get lost in the detail of a moment and lose sight of the big picture in which the detail is occurring.  For many it … Read more…

Patience Is a Virtue*

Imagine you are a four-year-old and a man places a marshmallow on a plate in front of you. He tells you that if you wait 15 minutes before eating that marshmallow you will be given one more. The man leaves and there you are, alone, with that marshmallow and 15 minutes of time. What do you do? If you waited 15 minutes not only did you get to eat two marshmallows, later in life you … Read more…