Life and Living

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 Voting Should Be Part of Our Daily Lives

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

 

Every time I vote, as I hope we all did last Tuesday, I get a little misty-eyed. For most of history, most people haven’t had voting rights. Feudal systems, slavery, dictatorships, colonialism—so many structures suppressed so many people for so long. When my father was born, American women still didn’t have this basic right. I’m so grateful to everyone who has fought to let my voice be heard.

That said, I sometimes fret that my one little vote may be too little, too late, to change the world in [...]

Finding Silence in a Storm

“Hey, everyone,” I said to my family. “Listen.”

We all stopped talking, and quiet wrapped around us like a warm blanket. A light breeze rustled the oak leaves above us. Bees and hummingbird murmured in a patch of wildflowers.

“Do you hear that?” I said. “Wherever we end up going, I need that.”

We were enjoying a cool summer sunset on the porch of our little house at the edge of a national forest in California, planning where to go next. For six years we’d been saturated with the awesome beauty of nature. Now we hankered to be near the awesome beauty [...]

The Holiday Hurricane: Finding Shelter

December is a month of intense psychological ambivalence. On one hand, there’s a lot to love about songs and sweets, parties and presents. On the other hand, the holidays present us with a host of stressors. I’m not just talking about vague malaise. This season forces our brains to face challenges that, at any time of year, can push them into confusion, anxiety, even panic.

Understanding what our brains undergo during this month can help us deal with the season more easily. So here’s some information that may help you weather the hurricane of mental pressures you’ll almost certainly encounter [...]

To Stay Present, We Must Accept Change

A couple of weeks ago I boarded a plane from London to Philadelphia and immediately sensed something weird was going on. Our flight had been delayed for hours by mechanical problems, and I expected everyone, including the crew, to be tired and grumpy. Instead, the flight attendants appeared to have been drinking some sort of love potion. They practically leaped to assist us passengers as we arrived. They smiled into our eyes, joked with us, said things like, “Honestly, if there is anything I can do to make this flight more comfortable, please please let me know!” I’ve always experienced flight attendants as [...]

How to Succeed in 2021: Do Less, Fail More

Wait, is it over? I think it’s over. Let me check … yes, 2020 has officially left the building! We’re free to plan something better!! 

Of course, nature doesn’t care that we humans think of January as the beginning of a new year. COVID-19, climate change, systemic racism, and other deplorable realities aren’t going to check their calendars and stop in their tracks. 

Nevertheless, just the idea of a fresh slate is psychologically powerful. Making New Year’s resolutions is a great way to reset our minds and hearts—especially after a year like the one we’ve just had.

I’ve spent most of my [...]

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