Words can never hurt me

How to build a thick skin around verbal abuse

Imagine someone walks up to you in the street and begins shouting in a language you don’t understand. The person clearly intends to tear you down, but you cannot guess what he’s saying. Would you feel offended in such a situation? Do his words harm you? Research shows that areas of the brain that experience […]

An attack on individualism

I was standing at the train station on a cold morning near my home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The train to the city was running a few minutes late and I was nervous about the final exam waiting for me in the city at 11 am. The question then came to me, “Are you […]

Why ‘what they don’t know’ hurts everyone

Remember what it feels like to get away with something? To fool someone with a well-crafted lie? To take from another without notice or punishment? Is it a mixture of guilt and power? Perhaps it is a feeling of relief that you escaped the immediate consequences mixed with anxiety of a future reckoning. I once […]

How the laws we make for ourselves make us miserable

The movie begins five minutes from now, and the theater is 20 minutes away. I’m pacing by the front door. After looking at my watch, I rub my eyes with the palms of my hands. Then I look at my watch again. I call upstairs to my date, “Are you almost ready? It’s time to […]

When life is charmed but unsatisfactory

We take the children out for ice cream at Baskin Robbins every once and again. On a couple of occasions, one of the younger kids chose a clown-flavor – something like cotton candy, pink bubblegum, or rainbow sherbet. I tried to convince her that she was making a mistake. “What about Oreo or Rocky Road? […]

Self-reliance versus reliance on others

A group of friends once debated whether we should rely on ourselves or on others. One of them said, “If I don’t look out for myself, no one will. And I want to progress to the point where I am independent.” Then came the rebuttal. “No one on the planet has all the skills required […]

The values we are losing as a people

During a summer evening in 1948, a woman worked quietly in a paddy near Fukui Japan. She was likely checking that the water levels were adequate for the growing rice. Suddenly, a magnitude seven earthquake shook the muddy ground. According to reports, soldiers witnessed a four-foot-wide fissure open at the woman’s feet. She grasped at […]

Attributes of an ideal companion

I just returned from a white-water rafting trip in the Appalachian Mountains with my father and brothers. The river was at times swift and treacherous. At others it was slow and scenic but always breezy and cold. Even though we were wearing full-length wetsuits, booties and rain jackets, my younger brother said he had never […]

The hidden key to forgiveness

The purpose of this article is not to convince you to forgive. You already know you should. One Gallup study found that 94% of respondents believed it was important to forgive others, but 85% said they needed outside help to do so.1 So today we will focus on how. Forgiveness on the parkway In Boston, […]

Why experiments are preferable to goals

We are taught that the relentless pursuit of big hairy audacious goals is a path toward a meaningful life… but is it really? For every Oprah, there are a million who never take a step toward their goals, who are derailed somewhere along the way or who persist but sadly never reached the finish line. […]