Meet the Sages (and Get A Free Poster!)

In recent years there’s been a surge of interest in ancient philosophers. Three of my favorite books in this vein are Expect the Unexpected Or You Won’t Find it: A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus by Roger Van Oech, Breakfast With Socrates: An Extraordinary (Philosophical) Journey Through Your Ordinary Day by Robert Rowland Smith, and The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I’m going to add to this growing body of literature by introducing the ancient writers of Hebrew wisdom literature. These sages said many interesting and often astonishing things, especially given how long ago they wrote. For example, two millennia before Freud and modern psychotherapy the sages wrote, “Many are the purposes of a person’s heart; one with wisdom draws them out.” There are things that go on in a person’s psyche about which we are simply unaware. In 2011 Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman wrote about this in Thinking Fast and Slow (read my summary here). Over one hundred years before that (1902 to be precise) William James said this about consciousness and perception, Our normal waking consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the flimsiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different, ” (Varieties of Religious Experience). These are all fancy ways of explaining what we mean when we say…
  • “Perception is reality”
  • “Appearances can be deceiving”
  • “My brain has a mind of it’s own”
  • “There are two sides to every story”
  • “Life is not always as it appears to be”
Woe to the person who doesn’t know that their consciousness can be altered an a variety of ways or that our minds can play weird tricks on us. Even neuro-scientists remind us that feelings of being right are not necessarily right. Click here to read an interview with Robert Burton, author of the fascinating book, On Being Certain. Which brings me to a free gift I have for you. The sages were preternaturally aware that things like emotions, health, hunger, sleep, and other factors trick us. I’ve collected (and drew faces for) thirty of their sage warnings that remind us that we can’t always trust our thoughts. You can download a free 8.5″ x 11″ color printout of this poster by clicking here. (Signed 13″x 19″ color posters are available for $30 (+$4.99 shipping in USA) on Amazon; small size posters are free to readers of this blog). The brilliance of these sage warnings is that being skeptical of our cherished beliefs will lead to open mindedness, mental flexibility, and a willingness to contemplate alternative ideas. This is often our focus when doing mediation or therapy–when emotions or other mood altering factors hi-jack our brains we don’t think rationally or clearly. I hope this handout (poster) will inspire careful self-reflection.

My Contribution to the War on Alcohol Abuse

coverI generally don’t care how much or even if a person drinks alcohol. But several things caused me to shift my attitude.

One of my kids is a cop and he tells harrowing tales of drunk drivers.

I’ve met people in agony over loved ones who risk job, health, and family harmony by excessive drinking.

I’ve met individuals who want to quit drinking but find it super difficult.

My zeal to be helpful also got supercharged when I realized how many chronic drinkers want to get sober but oppose religious Twelve Step groups. 

So…..I cooked up a plan. What if I gleaned wisdom from the Hebrew sages and wove their advice into “experiments in sobriety based on secular Proverbs?”  Only fifteen percent of the Proverbs mention God, religion, higher power, or spiritual things. The sages claimed their words–including the remaining eighty-five percent–were inspired and designed to foster self control. So I’ve written a Kindle ebook for secular drinkers based on that eighty-five percent. I hope that ancient wisdom will be helpful in these modern, boozy, secular times. 

You can buy a copy of ANOTHER DRINK: EXPERIMENTS IN SOBRIETY BASED ON SECULAR PROVERBS on Amazon by clicking here. $2.99. I’ll be discussing some of the contents of this book in the coming days.



My Partner Never Exercises (8 of 10)

sketch1444584559396Science proves that exercise is good for us. Science proves that nagging is bad for marriages. What a dilemma! If your partner never exercises here are some non-nagging coping skills.

  1. Get curious. Why do you think your partner is a couch potato? Come up with at least six possible explanations other than, “They are irresponsible.” Maybe they had a terrible PE teacher. Maybe they’re embarrassed. Maybe they’ve not yet found an exercise plan that fits their schedule and metabolism.
  2. Get sweaty. If you benefit from cardio maybe they’ll catch the exercise bug.
  3. Get separate. Who is ultimately responsible for your partner’s health? They are.
  4. Get tough (on yourself). All the benefits you get from exercising will be neutralized if you become anxious or controlling about their health.
  5. Get different. Your partner’s health and appearance are NOT reflections on how good a spouse you are. If people judge you for your partner’s health they are very shallow people.
  6. Get compassionate.  Judging, scolding, and nagging only makes people more resistant to suggestions.
  7. Get talking: Which of these comments might inspire them?
  • I want to grow old with you.
  • You’re overweight and that bugs me.
  • I look bad if you don’t look good.
  • If you die early I’ll be all alone.
  • I love you and am just trying to help.
  • It’ll be fun to get fresh air, go to a gym, or take an exercise class together.

NEXT: My Partner Never Relaxes