Life and Living

Gratitude and the Life Abundant

So here I am, getting ready to celebrate the holidays in Pennsylvania, of all places. After a rush of magic convinced me to buy a ranch in California, I never thought I would move again. Why did I?

First, because as we all know, God finds our plans hilarious. Second, because the river of mystery that moves us through life doesn’t stop moving. I’ll tell you the whole story sometime, but for now, I want to talk about how to stay in the center of that river. It has everything to do with Thanksgiving, with gratitude, [...]

What You Need to Know to Age Beautifully

I was lying on the floor with my eyes closed, diligently practicing a yoga posture called shivasana (“corpse pose”). Some say that this is the hardest to master, but I thought I was doing pretty well. Not to boast, but yoga teachers often take me for dead no matter what pose I’m attempting.

Anyway, as I lay there a random idea came to me. “How strange,” I thought, “that this body had three children.” Then I realized that it actually hadn’t. Since all our atoms are replaced every seven years, not an atom of the body I have now was present when [...]

Like Violets in Early Spring

So in spite of everything, violets are blooming in the forest around my house. One day there were none, the next day, they’re everywhere.

I’ve been chatting about this with Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book BIG MAGIC, Liz cites a mathematician whose father told him to publish his ideas quickly, because “When the time is right for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”

In science this is called “multiple discovery.” It happens a lot: calculus, oxygen, and evolution were discovered at the same time by different scientists.

Well, last week, [...]

The Two Angers

There are two ways to be angry. One can ruin your life. The other can save it. During these difficult months and years, we’ve all probably felt both kinds of anger—which is fine, but not if we can’t tell one from the other. We may mistake destructive anger for constructive anger and end up creating a world of hurt for ourselves and others. 

I learned this recently from an old friend of mine. I mean an oooooolllld friend. Like, he recently turned 756. But for someone so aged, not to mention so dead, he’s been a vibrant source of guidance [...]

4 Key Elements of Resilience and How to Master Them

When I talk to people whose lives have been upended by the global pandemic, it’s almost like watching some massive, monstrous bully beating on them. The disease itself can be horrifically damaging, even for those who survive it. Sheltering in place has created more unemployment than the Great Depression. Almost a third of a million people have lost family members. All of us have lost the familiar rhythms of activity that once filled our time and lifted our spirits.

And we have no idea how long it will last.

Blow after blow, the punches just keep coming.

Pondering all this, I recently [...]

Why It’s Okay to Change Up Family Traditions

This article was first published in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper

Holiday traditions have always made my heart beat a little faster—not with excitement, but with stress. Growing up as the seventh of eight children, I spent every December struggling to find gifts and make treats for everyone in the family. Things got easier when I started my own small, nuclear family. But our numbers are growing, and in recent years I’d begun to feel a touch of the old anxiety. Still, I was a bit shocked when someone suggested that we switch up our traditions by assigning each [...]

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