Friday, December 30, 2016

The Most Emotional Events of 2016

Cancer Research UK., CC 4.0Life brings enough emotional challenges. But in 2016, society added mightily to our emotional burdens.
 
In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I remind us of 2016's most emotional events and offer a suggestion for coping with 2017's.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Counseling Ethically

A fellow career coach hired me to pick my brain about how I run my practice. We ended up talking a lot about ethics and he suggested I write an article on the topic. So I did so as my PsychologyToday.com article today. 


Core Ideas from 50 Self-Help Classics

In some fields, it's worth focusing on the new. For example, we buy a smartphone rather than a flip phone.

But in self-help, things don't change as rapidly. People are people. And so today's latest and greatest is often tomorrow's abandoned fad.

So it makes sense to note self-help ideas have stood the test of time. To that end, PsychCentral.com has selected "50 Self-Help Classics." There, they are unannotated. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, for each, I very briefly state on or two of its recommendations.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

An Atheist in Praise of Bible Stories

As my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer my reaction to this edited excerpt from a Christmas Day editorial in the Berkeley Daily Planet:

Wouldn't it be great if we all loved our neighbor because of the metaphor of Jesus rather than because we believed Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, could walk on water, and was resurrected after he died?

After all, once we're educated, we realize that no one comes back from the dead except in horror films; no one rises into the sky except in sci-fi. We wouldn’t have to be good for fear of not getting a reward and for fear that Santa  (shorthand for a Big Brother God,) is monitoring us when we are sleeping and when we are awake. We could be good for goodness' sake.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

YOUR Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future

Howard Lake, CC 2.0
Why is A Christmas Carol a foolproof Holiday favorite? Because we all can relate to seeing the light, redemption for past errors, and the promise of a better tomorrow that can start right now.

But as with all lessons, A Christmas Carol’s too quickly fades from our memories. In an attempt to increase its longevity, My PsychologyToday.com article today offers a few questions that may help.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Inventorying Your 2017 to Help Ensure a Good 2017

Kai Stachowiak, Public Domain
Some people and organizations spend large amounts of time analyzing and planning. 

That’s often ill-advised---too many things can change.  But a brief annual personal self-inventory is probably worth the time. 

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I ask you questions about your 2016 and the implications for what you want to do in 2017.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Reactions to Some Not-Sappy Christmas Quotations

This Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, I reviewed a few hundred quotations about Christmas to identify some non-sappy ones with psychological relevance. After each, I comment. That's my PsychologyToday.com article today.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Making the Most of GoogleSearch

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer tips on how to make the most of GoogleSearch.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Managers' Real-World Problems

I'll soon be speaking at the Silicon Valley Engineering Leadership Community--a group of managers and executives.

They've asked me to address four questions. The answers are broadly applicable so I thought I’d share my planned answers as my PsychologyToday.com article today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dating Smart

JD Hancock, Flickr, CC 2.0
My PsychologyToday.com article today offers my best advice on how to meet Mr. or Ms. Right.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas for Atheists and Agnostics (updated )

American Humanist Association ad

Between now and Dec. 25, life seems to center around Christmas. An agnostic, let alone an atheist can feel like an outsider.

Some atheists don’t mind that, even welcome it. They prefer to be far from the madding crowd.

But for the atheist and agnostic who want to feel included and to experience Christmas’s benefits (described in the article I reference below) without having to feign allegiance to some omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent deity and his purported son, my PsychologyToday.com article today offers some thoughts.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Putting Philosophy to Work: An Interview with Susan Haack

These days, much philosophy is esoteric, with limited practical applicability. 

We could use philosophers willing to apply their expertise to real-world matters and be willing to speak candidly on sensitive issues.

My The Eminents interview in PsychologyToday today is with such a person Susan Haack, who is among tiny number of living philosophers included in Peter J. King’s book, 100 Philosophers: The Life and Times of the World’s Greatest Thinkers

23 Gift Ideas for the Psychologically Attuned

In previous years, I have posted 40 gift ideas for  psychologically attuned. My PsychologyToday.com article today offers the best of those plus new ones.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Hollowing-Out Middle Class...and How to Avoid Being a Victim of It

The middle class is hollowing out. 

Real median household income is lower today than in 1999. Today, in our supposed recovery, more than 44 million Americans are on food stamps.

Another measure of how bad the job situation really is is the Labor Participation Rate—the percentage of Americans 18-64 who are working—62.7%, is the lowest since 1978. 

The government trumpets and the media parrots the so-called “unemployment rate” of 4.6%.That statistic doesn’t include the short- and long-term discouraged workers, which when added equals, according to ShadowStats.com, 22%

Alas, the decline in the number of good jobs, those paying a stable, middle-class income plus benefits is worsening.

I document that in my PsychologyToday.com article today and propose ways to maximize your chances of thriving despite it.
 

When You Don't Want to Go to That Party But Should

You've probably gotten an invitation or five to holiday parties. Let's say there's at least one you'd rather not go to. 

My PsychologyToday.com article today offers tips for making the most of a party you'd rather not attend but should.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Creating Connection in Conversation

A career counseling client of mine lamented that he never seems to make that seemingly magical connection that gets him the job. 

He mentioned that his wife does make such connection and got a job she thought she wouldn't get.
I explained that many factors could be at play and that some are out of his control but there are three things that may help. 

He found my describing them of value and so I wrote about them in my PsychologyToday.com article today.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Best Christmas Music on YouTube


In preparing my PsychologyToday.com article today, I reviewed over 100 YouTube videos of the most popular Christmas music performed by beloved artists, and selected eight that I think are just wonderful.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Buying a Car: Lessons in being a savvy consumer in all large purchases.

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I describe how I just bought a new car. It offers lessons not just on buying a car but on making any large purchase.


Monday, December 12, 2016

A Christmas Story With a Message for Parents

As my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer a short-short story that while Christmas-themed has implications for parents and their children's education. 


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Good and Bad Sounds

We honor thinking more than sensing. And to the extent we value sensing, we mainly think of seeing. 
But sounds also can affect us, for good and for bad.

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer sampling of sounds that may help you savor the good and be alert to the bad so you can more easily escape or distract yourself from it.

For each of the good sounds, I include a link to that sound.


The Dog Sweater


Crafty Uploader, CC 2.0I had an interesting encounter about a dog sweater. Appropriate as you decide how much to spend on Christmas gifts. I tell the tale in my PsychologyToday.com article today.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Shutting the Shades: A reclusive person tells his story.

I've been publishing a series of PsychologyToday.com articles on people who prefer to mainly be alone, for example, The Recluse Option and Alone Malone.

Today, here is how Dennis Goodrum described himself.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Parent’s Guide to Educationese

Education is jargon-larded and parents need to know a fair amount of it. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer definitions of 35 common pieces of educationese.

To mitigate some of the boredom of learning jargon, I embed critiques of today's education enterprise. Those critiques are more justified than ever in light of the just-released PISA results. They are U.S. education’s latest embarrassment in its unbroken string of poor performance compared with other countries even though the U.S. spends #1 per capita in the world on education.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How Gender-Fair Are You, Really?

A panoply of laws, policies, and targets are aimed at making us gender-fair. But government’s long arm can extend only so far. How gender-fair are we when there’s no law to strike fear into our hearts?

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I put you in scenarios to help you self-appraise.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Recluse's Tale: Jamie Baier's candid story

On PsychologyToday.com, I've been publishing a series of articles on people who prefer to mainly be alone, for example, The Recluse Option and Alone Malone.

Today, I present Jamie Baier's candid description of himself and his reclusive life. 


Monday, December 5, 2016

So You’d Like to Make Big Money in Sales

As my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer an edited exchange with a caller to my radio program who wanted advice about how to make big money in sales.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Alone Malone:" Story of a reclusive person

On PsychologyToday.com, I've written a number of pieces on reclusivity as a lifestyle choice, not a pathology, For example, there's The Recluse Option. Today, I offer an interview with Douglas Malone. 

A Voice of Moderation in the Time of Trump

Courtesy, Washington Post
We live in polarized times. Perhaps more than ever, we could benefit--psychologically as well as practically--from the perspective of an eminent moderate.

So my PsychologyToday.com The Eminents interview today is with a self-described “messy moderate." Robert Samuelson has won numerous national awards including, four times, The National Headliner Award “for consistently outstanding columns.” For 27 years, he was Contributing Editor at Newsweek and now writes a weekly, nationally syndicated column in the Washington Post. He is the author of The Good Life and Its Discontents and The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Better Informational Interviewing

Career seekers are advised to use informational interviews to help pick a career. Alas, they rarely work as well as is touted.

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer an improved approach to learning about a career, including a better approach to informational interviewing. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Favorite Recent Tweets

The longer I’ve tried to be a change agent, the more I’ve become convinced that brevity yields readers the most benefit per minute.

Hence I tweet a lot. I’ve posted about 250 tweets in the past six months. As my PsychologyToday.com article today, I post my favorite 39.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What Would You Do, Really? 12 dilemmas that may give you clarity about who you really are.

In the abstract, we all claim, even to ourselves, to be wise and upstanding. Yet, even our nation's leaders don't always pass the test.

If you'd like to put yourself to the test without any real-world consequences, answer 12 questions in my PsychologyToday.com article today as honestly as you can. Some of the questions aren't right-or-wrong, but merely designed to help you understand yourself better.

The Big Three: A key to rewarding life is to surround yourself with people who are intelligent, driven, and ethical.

A key to rewarding life is to surround yourself with people who are intelligent, driven, and ethical. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I explain why and how to make it happen.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Staying Calm

Some people seem to be able to stay calm in the face of life's annoyances. My PsychologyToday.com article today is for the rest of us.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Talking as a Tool for Growth

Talking-out your ideas and dilemmas has advantages but risks. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I suggest ways to maximize the benefits and minimize the liabilities.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Should Assisted Suicide Be Available To Everyone?

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I argue that everyone, including healthy adults should have the right to assisted suicide.


Friday, November 25, 2016

The Upsides of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often deemed a liability. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I discuss its upsides.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Uneventful Thanksgiving Trip

Many people love going long distances for family get-togethers, for example, for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
But others do it out of duty.  

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer a description of the events of my cross-country trip to be with the family on Thanksgiving. You might find it instructive and at least, entertaining.
 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Creating a Psychologically Attuned Holiday Party

There's something to be said for the standard holiday party--lots of libation-lubricated good cheer.. 
But some more psychologically oriented people might welcome a more, well, psychologically attuned holiday party. 
As my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer some ways to do that:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Feeling Good After Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Millions of Americans overeat on Thanksgiving and overspend on Black Friday. Come Saturday, it's regrets time.

How might you feel good on Saturday? I’m under no delusion that a how-to article can outweigh years of bad habits, peer pressure, and the desire for instant gratification. But perhaps one or more of the tactics I offer in my PsychologyToday.com article today might be of value.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Why Even Some Smart People Are Superstitious


Today, when science and rational thought are extolled, why are many people still superstitious? 

And as University of Chicago behavioral scientist Jane Risen documents, 

Superstitions are not limited to individuals with mental deficits. More than half of surveyed Americans, for example, admit to knocking on wood and almost one in four avoid walking under ladders. Approximately one-third of surveyed college students regularly engage in exam-related superstitions.

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer a number of possible explanations. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Toward Constructive Conversation with The Other Side

In the abstract, everyone asserts belief in constructive dialogue, in the free marketplace of ideas. But the nation has become very polarized. We are doing a poor job of talking with people across the aisle.

Our best chance at societal improvement may be through respectful dialogue with people who hold views different from our own. In the aftermath of the Trump election, I’ve written two articles in an attempt to encourage that:

Communication Lessons from the Trump Win: and Ten Questions in the Time of Trump.

In the final article in this PsychologyToday.com series, I offer an activity designed to get people to better understand perspectives other than their own on four contentious issues: climate change, affirmative action, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and illegal immigration.



Saturday, November 19, 2016

When You Feel Powerless: 11 ways to get more powerful

Many people go through life wishing they had more power. For example, in the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential election, many people wish they could wave a magic wand and change the results. So they protest but quietly believe their impact will be too small.  And they may be right.

What can we do to make a difference despite a macro lack of power?

As is my wont of late, I like to propose a buffet of ideas---My sense is that an article that presents a list of options may yield greater benefit than would a comprehensive exploration of a single one. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer 11 options for getting more powerful.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting Deep Fast: Key to effective networking

Everyone knows they should network, especially if they are or could be looking for work.

Key is to get deep with a number of people quickly, which boosts your odds that one of the people will care enough about you and have the power to help you get good work.

Some people are naturals at getting deep fast. My PsychologyToday.com article today is for everyone else.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

40 Words to Move You To Action

Sometimes, years of psychotherapy and other major interventions are required to move a person to action.

But occasionally, all that’s required to get you unstuck is a trigger word, something that lights a fire under you

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer 40 such words.

Your Board of Advisors: why monthly teleconferences with friends enrich your life.

For the past three years now, every month, I meet for an hour by teleconference or Google Hangout with my Board of Advisors. 

It sounds fancier than it is. I simply chose the half-dozen people whom I most respect and who would be respectful participants in a group.

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I describe how it works.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Even the Brainiest May Need Help... And Maybe You Can Help

The Society for Neuroscience is a prestigious organization for scientists studying the brain. More than 30,000 people from 80 countries, mainly hard-science PhDs. attend its annual conference, which will end tomorrow morning. 

Yesterday and today, I was privileged to do 15-minute one-on-one career coaching with attendees.  

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer summaries of some of the sessions. It should offer career lessons for a broader audience as well to remind us that if even top scientists can benefit from help from not-technical people, perhaps you can too. It also suggests that you may be able to help technical people even if you're not technical.

What's Behind Our Snap Judgments

Malcolm Gladwell wrote of the power of snap judgments in his book, Blink. Jon Freeman’s research is identifying the physiological underpinnings. He is my PsychologyToday.com Up-and-Comer interview today. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ten Questions in a Time of Trump

The election of Donald Trump has evoked more emotion than in any election in my lifetime. While sometimes violence and revolution yields net good---witness the Revolutionary War or the war against the Nazis--more often, violence and even verbal violence yields a net negative.

That was Nelson Mandela's conclusion in, after apartheid, calling not for retaliation but reconciliation.

In a small effort to encourage more light than heat, my PsychologyToday.com article today offers ten questions aimed at encouraging the inclusive, full-dimensioned, truly diverse thinking so often extolled but too rarely followed when passions are high, when zeal (ahem) trumps statespersonhood.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Creating Ads We'd Be Glad to See

We might tolerate or even like ads more if they were well matched to what we’d actually buy and love--Not everyone needs to see a Viagra ad.

Cambridge psychology PhD student Sandra Matz attempts to infer your personality from your digital footprint, for example, your Facebook Likes, and then create ads for products and services likely to make you happy.

Sandra was named one of Pacific Standard's 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 and one of DataIQ's 100 most influential people in data driven marketing. She is my Up-and-Comer interview today on PsychologyToday.com.

Friday, November 11, 2016

"I Can't Make Myself Stop the Train?" When You're Having Second Thoughts About Marrying

I had a client today whose wedding day is in a month and he's scared. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I paraphrase what he said and asked me, and my response.


A Formula for Actually “Making America Great Again.”

No matter your political leanings, all people of good will hope that President-elect Trump will grow into the job and be a person who indeed will “make America great again." To do that, I believe he must trade the black-white thinking of his campaign for a measured conservatism, one that recognizes that wisdom exists on both sides of center and thus mends our so divided nation. 

If I were advising him, here are what I’d recommend be his guiding principles: 
 

1. Focus on excellence, not just on the “vulnerable.” Politicians of both parties are falling over themselves to say who’s better for the poor, the disabled, and otherwise vulnerable. Unless we at least equally focus on maximizing the potential of our best and brightest as we did in the Sputnik era, we are devolving the U.S. to its lowest common denominator. That is not a formula for a happy citizenry, let alone one that can compete with China and India.

2. Politicians must steward tax dollars like it was their own. Liberals and conservatives alike mouthe agreement with that but under the pressures of polling, activist groups, and the media, it’s too tempting to say yes to every spending bill. After all, isn’t it tempting to vote for a candidate who promises you stuff rather than one who cuts stuff. Wise stewardship would make cuts in conservative darlings such as defense and liberal darlings such as education, which is so bloated with administrators and labyrinthine rules. 

 3. Ethics must be top priority. America has become a land of deception, with politicians leading the pack. Conservatives always talk about values, yet are they hard enough on unethical businesses? Do they allow money to influence their votes? Nothing is more important than integrity. Neither party has a monopoly on ethical behavior. Conservatives can and should fill the vacuum. A country that isn’t built on a foundation of ethics will likely collapse. 

 4. Leave intimate decisions in the hands of the people. Conservatives often wrap themselves in rhetoric extolling freedom. Well, nothing could be more restrictive of freedom than telling a woman when she can have an abortion, whether a gay person should be allowed to marry, or to tell a doctor that s/he can’t assist a person who feels it’s time to end his or her life. 

 5. Work toward equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. The benefits of trying to redress past and lingering discrimination with affirmative action are outweighed by the liabilities. Too often, affirmative action in practice is reverse discrimination, resulting in a less meritorious person selected. Not only is that unfair to the not-selected person, it’s unfair to the classmates and professors at a college, to the coworkers, bosses, and customers of a business. 

 6. Exercise restraint. Intrinsic to conservatism is restraint. Indeed, it was liberals in the 60s who encouraged the drugs, sex, and rock’n’roll lifestyle. But those are inimical to the life well-led. A life is meaningful mainly to the extent it is ethically productive and contributory. Today, the Left is making all efforts to legalize marijuana, creating a second alcohol despite strong evidence it damages motivation, memory, mental health, and increases car accidents, heart disease, and cancer risk. Conservatism implies conservative behavior. Conservatives should themselves pull on ropes of restraint and, from its bully pulpit, encourage the productive work life and a recreational life of pleasures that don’t damage individuals and the nation. 

The big picture.  Mr. Trump, you need to be aware that not all good ideas come from right of center. For example, the Left is cosmically correct in ensuring a basic safety net for all people, even, where possible, to facilitate that outside our borders. The Left is also correct that left to their own devices, businesses will too often be unfair to workers, customers, and the environment--Moderate regulation is a good thing. But I believe that the best America, the one that can indeed “Make America Great Again” is the one that incorporates good ideas from both sides of center.