Would You Take Relationship Advice from an Ancient Sage?

The ancient book of Proverbial wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures includes a surprising number of positive results when couples are securely attached. These include “blessed,” “consistent,” “content,” and 27 others. In this whimsical yet visually engaging poster, marriage therapist and cartoonist Erik Johnson provides an appealing info-graphic hoping to help couples know what to aim for in their relationship.

Here is a link to see the entire poster….

30 Proverbs on Love and Marriage Poster.


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.

Help A Loved One Learn About Sobriety

coverMy latest e-book, Another Drink: Experiments in Sobriety Based on Secular Proverbs went public on January 1, 2016 and initial interest is encouraging. It is available on Amazon in Kindle format. Click HEREThe chapters are short and intended for readers with zero religious affiliation. If you haven’t downloaded your $2.99 copy yet, here is a run down of the contents.


1. Disclosure: A Short History of My Stupidity
2. Ambivalence: I Am Many and So Am I
3. Conflicting Desires: If I Ran the Zoo
4. Negotiation: The Zookeeper’s Consultant
5. Curiosity: I Will Seek Understanding and Then Tame My Zoo
6. Symptoms: Booze Is a Many-Flavored Thing
7. Learning: I Fell in Love with Alcohol; I Can Fall Out
8. Moderation: Dr. Lemuel’s Tonic for What Ails You
9. Need: Desires Begin in the Crib
10. Attachment: I Want a Friend That Sticks
11. Subjectivity: Alcohol Does Not Stick to Me; I Stick to It
12. Hunger: I Am Annoyed by the Void I Want to Avoid
13. Tolerance: The Brawl Is in My Count
14. Dependence: I Have a Problem With Alcohol and Without It
15. Withdrawal: Cutting Back One Drop Is One Drop Too Many
16. Cravings: I Am a Craving Lunatic
17. Motivation: I’ll Take Action Before Hitting Bottom
18. Disease: Get a Disease and Manage It Well
19. Cognition: I Think Soberly
20. Emotion: I Silence the Squawks in My Head
21. Connection: I Get a Mission That Matters
22. Rewards: The Happiness of Pursuit
23. Self Control: It Takes Power to Say I Have No Power
24. Shame: Behavioral Chickens and Emotional Eggs
25. Stubbornness: I Get Off My Drunken Ass
26. Choice: Get Your Claws Off My Decider
27. Relapse: Sage Hints of Grace
28. Temptation: I Resist the Allure of Drink
29. Triggers: My Relapse Prevention Plan
30. Sober Companions: Friends Don’t Let Friends Go Friendless
Appendix 1: Is Sapiential Sobriety a Fool’s Errand?
Appendix 2: Where Does God Fit In?
Appendix 3: Booze, Food, and Sex
Appendix 4: Interview Questions for Party Animals
Appendix 5: Society’s Role in Fostering Sobriety
Appendix 6: The Proverbs Chronic Drinker Recovery Plan
Appendix 7: How Many of These Actions Can I Do Today?
Appendix 8: A Note to Loved Ones
Appendix 9: Resources
Index: Where Does It Say That in Proverbs?
Also by Erik Johnson


On an unrelated note, I recently told a woman client at the end of our session, “Hold on; I can’t process your credit card AND schedule our next appointment at the same time. I can’t multi-task.”

She said, “Of course you can’t; you’re a guy.”

I laughed and had to agree.

My attention the past few weeks has been focused on preparing upcoming public lectures; consequently this blog has been neglected. I’m not good at multi-tasking.

However, do not give up hope, loyal readers. Stay tuned. I’ll soon be posting new blog topics.

How To Build Trust After a Betrayal

Sage Wisdom for Family Harmony

How To Break An Addiction To A Person

When Love Intoxicates