Nov 29 / Simcha

Hope for Our Species

Harvard evolutionary psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker has always been deeply curious about how humans work. In a series of best-selling books, he has argued that our mental faculties — from emotions to decision-making to visual cognition — were forged by natural selection.

In his newest book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker investigates one of the most primal apects of life: Violence. He argues that violence has fallen drastically over thousands of years — whether one considers homicide rates, war casualties as a percentage of national populations, or other measures.

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Oct 11 / Simcha

Just a Lovely Poem… (by Mary Oliver)

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

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Oct 11 / Simcha

ENVY: Sharpen the Mind, Deplete the Ego

Envy, detail from Table of the Seven Deadly Sins, c.1485, Hieronymus Bosch (click on image to view enlarged detail)

In today’s New York Times (Envy May Bear Fruit, but It Also Has an Aftertaste), John Tierney takes a look at Envy, seemingly “the most useless of the deadly sins: excruciating to experience, shameful to admit, bereft of immediate pleasure or long-term benefits.” After reviewing the research, he suggests that coveting may actually have an upside — alongside one new reason to uphold the commandment against it.

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Oct 08 / Simcha

Waiting for the Moment (Poetry by Transtromer)

Tranströmer in Stockholm, Sweden (AP Photo/Jessica Gow, File)

This week, the Swedish Academy selected Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer  as the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. Considered one of Scandinavia’s most important poets, Tranströmer has published in more than 60 languages and has been championed in the U.S. by the poet Robert Bly.  Tranströmer has been partially paralyzed and unable to speak since he suffered a stroke in 1990, but he has continued to write.

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Oct 04 / Simcha

Exploding those SDBs (David Burns)

Dr. David Burns suggests that many of our fears are based on self-defeating beliefs (SDBs), false perceptions about ourselves that make us vulnerable to painful mood swings, insecurities, anxiety and depression. Unlike negative thoughts, SDBs are always present, and sabotage our persistent attempts at joy and peace of mind.

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Oct 03 / Simcha

Tips for Effective Conflict Resolution

Are you in the middle of a dispute – personal or professional?

Be aware that if your main goal is to win, blame or change the other party, the conflict will probably escalate, no matter what skills you use. Only begin a conversation about a conflict if you are truly open to learning something new and to problem-solving.

The irony of resolving conflicts or disputes is that the greatest leverage for change comes from listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, NOT from convincing them you are right.  When people feel listened to, they are more likely to try to understand you and your stance.

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Oct 01 / Simcha

You are Enough (Says Brene Brown)

The one thing that separates those of us who feel a strong sense of belonging and connection from those of us who don’t is the ability to be authentic, to stop pretending, to accept uncertainty, and to allow ourselves to be deeply seen — with all our imperfections.

This is the conclusion reached by Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.

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Aug 30 / Simcha

Gauzy Slogans Without the Steel

Open, N.Y. / © 2011 The New York Times Co.

In today’s New York Times editorial (Falser Words Were Never Spoken), Professor Brian Morton*, director of the graduate program in fiction at Sarah Lawrence College, tells us we can’t have it all.  We are misled, he claims, by the “shiny, fabulous, gorgeous makeover” of the teachings of our  great thinkers, a makeover that strips their wisdom of its subtlety and  complexity, leaving us with only illusion and fantasy.  Three examples:

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