Chuck the lies.


Lie? Why not? Everyone does it, don’t they?

We have many words for lies: white lies, fudging, fibs, whoppers, but what is at the heart of each is knowingly substituting a different version of the facts for what we know is the truth. Sometimes, like with Wells Fargo and Bernie Madoff, the lies result in substantial financial gain for the liar and substantial loss for the victim.

What propels someone to lie so extravagantly or, even, at all?

Studies show that the big whoppers evolve from the littlest of lies: our brain changes as we lie, making us more and more willing to tell bigger and bigger lies:

A new study claims to provide the first empirical evidence showing that dishonesty gradually increases over time. By using scans that measured the brain’s response to lying, researchers saw that each new lie resulted in smaller and smaller neurological reactions ― especially in the amygdala, which is the brain’s emotional core.

In effect, each new fib appeared to desensitize the brain, making it easier and easier to tell more lies.

This is alarming, not just because it can lead to widespread fraud but also because a liar begins to live in an alternate reality. Over time, people can begin to believe the lies they tell themselves and others, putting them in a position where their beliefs just don’t square with the world they’re living in. They are constantly confronted with the disconnect between their altered reality and reality itself, leading to greater and greater anger and frustration. Sometimes those lies are self-delusional, leading people to never adequately address and progress beyond their own problems. In short, lies lead to fragmentation, discord, breach of trust, chaos.

Now, truth doesn’t always lead to harmony. Some truths lead to a road of very hard work, reconciliation, and compromise. But at the heart of telling the truth is an increase in trust which is the glue that binds a couple, a family, a community, a country, and is necessary for any true progress.


Color your world!


Are you having a basic beige day? A blue day? A red explosion day? Color is surprisingly important behind the scenes to our mood and can affect how you feel.

Some studies have shown that color can have dramatic consequences on behavior:

  • One study found that warm-colored placebo pills were reported as more effective than cool-colored placebo pills.

  • Anecdotal evidence has suggested that installing blue-colored streetlights can lead to reduced crime in those areas.

  • The temperature of the environment might play a role in color preference. People who are warm tend to list cool colors as their favorites, while people who are cold prefer warmer colors.

  • More recently, researchers discovered that the color red causes people to react with greater speed and force, something that might prove useful during athletic activities.

  • One study that looked at historical data found that sports teams dressed in mostly black uniforms are more likely to receive penalties and that students were more likely to associate negative qualities with a player wearing a black uniform.

One study suggests that placing misbehaving children in a pink room can calm them down better than anything else! And that calming effect has been employed in visiting team’s locker room to mellow them out and make them less likely to win a game.  Many things have been written about the use of color in decorating in creating a home that reflects the mood you are after.

So what to make of these interesting tidbits? First, there is so much more going on in our brains with respect to our moods and behaviors than we realize. But, second, why not try a bit of a color experiment on yourself? If you are feeling blue, dress in yellow. If you want some comfort, how about a nurturing tan? If nothing else, it will feel a lot like playing dress up, and we all know how good play is for even the most serious among us.



Laughter is good for what ails you. Studies show it improves your immune system, relieves pain, helps you connect with others, and improves your mood. In stressful times, laughter can cut the tension and increase cooperation.

But, make sure what you’re laughing at is good, clean fun. If someone is the butt of the joke, you might just be adding to the stress rather than getting a much-needed break. There is a line where funny videos inspire more concern for a victim than laughter. Racist or sexist jokes may well feel more like a weapon wielded than a funny bone tickled.

So, start with a smile and then, let her rip. Laughing at jokes, a situation, yourself… may just well be what the doctor ordered

Fail again. Fail better.


Fear of failure can keep us from trying something we really, really want to try. And it can keep us from admitting that we have taken a wrong turn and need to reevaluate things. But, at some point, we have to ask ourselves, why? What is so bad about failure?

Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Each experiment that did not succeed helped him move forward on the one path that would ultimately succeed by ruling out the other paths. That attitude helped spur him on because each failed experiment was itself a discovery and taught him something he didn’t know before.

In this remarkable TED talk, Kathryn Schulz, a self-proclaimed wrong-ologist, talks about failure and our responses to it and suggests that it is in these moments of failure, or, as she sees it, moments when reality does not align with our expectations, that the moments of growth, creativity, expansion happen:

So effectively, we all kind of wind up traveling through life, trapped in this little bubble of feeling very right about everything.

I think this is a problem. I think it’s a problem for each of us as individuals, in our personal and professional lives, and I think it’s a problem for all of us collectively as a culture. So what I want to do today is, first of all, talk about why we get stuck inside this feeling of being right. And second, why it’s such a problem. And finally, I want to convince you that it is possible to step outside of that feeling and that if you can do so, it is the single greatest moral, intellectual and creative leap you can make.

So why do we get stuck in this feeling of being right? One reason, actually, has to do with a feeling of being wrong. So let me ask you guys something — or actually, let me ask you guys something, because you’re right here: How does it feel — emotionally — how does it feel to be wrong? Dreadful. Thumbs down. Embarrassing. Okay, wonderful, great. Dreadful, thumbs down, embarrassing — thank you, these are great answers, but they’re answers to a different question. You guys are answering the question: How does it feel to realize you’re wrong? (Laughter) Realizing you’re wrong can feel like all of that and a lot of other things, right? I mean it can be devastating, it can be revelatory, it can actually be quite funny, like my stupid Chinese character mistake. But just being wrong doesn’t feel like anything.

I’ll give you an analogy. Do you remember that Loony Tunes cartoon where there’s this pathetic coyote who’s always chasing and never catching a roadrunner? In pretty much every episode of this cartoon,there’s a moment where the coyote is chasing the roadrunner and the roadrunner runs off a cliff, which is fine — he’s a bird, he can fly. But the thing is, the coyote runs off the cliff right after him. And what’s funny — at least if you’re six years old — is that the coyote’s totally fine too. He just keeps running — right up until the moment that he looks down and realizes that he’s in mid-air. That’s when he falls. When we’re wrong about something — not when we realize it, but before that — we’re like that coyote after he’s gone off the cliff and before he looks down. You know, we’re already wrong, we’re already in trouble, but we feel like we’re on solid ground. So I should actually correct something I said a moment ago. It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right.

We have all been raised to get the right answers on the test, to score a winning shot, to achieve. But reality is more complex than a true-false quiz. No one of us has all the answers. And yet it feels like we do.

Schulz thinks this can be dangerous:

Think for a moment about what it means to feel right. It means that you think that your beliefs just perfectly reflect reality. And when you feel that way, you’ve got a problem to solve, which is, how are you going to explain all of those people who disagree with you? It turns out, most of us explain those people the same way, by resorting to a series of unfortunate assumptions. The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is we just assume they’re ignorant. They don’t have access to the same information that we do, and when we generously share that information with them, they’re going to see the light and come on over to our team. When that doesn’t work, when it turns out those people have all the same facts that we do and they still disagree with us, then we move on to a second assumption,which is that they’re idiots. (Laughter) They have all the right pieces of the puzzle, and they are too moronic to put them together correctly. And when that doesn’t work, when it turns out that people who disagree with us have all the same facts we do and are actually pretty smart, then we move on to a third assumption: they know the truth, and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes. So this is a catastrophe.

This attachment to our own rightness keeps us from preventing mistakes when we absolutely need to and causes us to treat each other terribly. But to me, what’s most baffling and most tragic about this is that it misses the whole point of being human. It’s like we want to imagine that our minds are just these perfectly translucent windows and we just gaze out of them and describe the world as it unfolds. And we want everybody else to gaze out of the same window and see the exact same thing. That is not true, and if it were, life would be incredibly boring. The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is.It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t. We can remember the past, and we can think about the future,and we can imagine what it’s like to be some other person in some other place. And we all do this a little differently, which is why we can all look up at the same night sky and see this and also this and also this.And yeah, it is also why we get things wrong.

We are fallible. We make mistakes, constantly even, and no amount of convincing ourselves otherwise changes this particular reality. Once we accept this, we can soften our edges in the ways we treat each other and ourselves. We can jump into an uncertain future, not knowing what can happen because we realize we ACTUALLY DO NOT KNOW what will happen. That lack of knowledge isn’t something to be ashamed of or to pretend isn’t there like Wile E. Coyote who has just run off a cliff: it’s part of the human condition. We simply do not have all the answers.

Today, embrace the moment and consider each experience a learning opportunity to grow and stretch and learn. To maybe, even, discover you’ve been wrong and to incorporate that new knowledge into your choices going forward.

Shine your light.


You were born to be a blessing to others. To shine your light where there is dark. To sing songs of praise. To give of yourself without holding back.

That’s kind of out there, isn’t it? Scary. Who are you to be shining a light in the dark places of the world, after all?

Marianne Williamson answers this question brilliantly:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Shine, Baby, Shine!

Come home.


Something there is in each of us that yearns for home.  Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a physical place. We travel back to that place and wonder why it feels different. What has changed? Why doesn’t it still feel like home? Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular time, a past perhaps that wasn’t complicated with today’s troubles, and lose ourselves in nostalgia. Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular person and, if we lose that person, wonder if we will ever feel at home again.

But what if home is not a particular place in time but a feeling we can take steps to cultivate? Here are some suggestions that might bring that feeling of home into your life:

Embrace the Now

Think about those times when you felt a deep sense of belonging and contentedness. Chances are, it was when you were lost in some sort of activity, maybe with people you love, and you lost all sense of time. No checklists, no to-dos, no schedule. Just falling into the moment and letting it lift you out of the day into something bigger.

Welcome Others

Remember that old TV show, Cheers, when everyone shouted “Norm” when he came in? A place where “everyone knows your name?” That sense of welcome is something we can offer others. Greeting them, smiling, welcoming them into the conversation or community. That is a profound thing we can do, and that sense of home that we give to them will undoubtedly rebound to us and make that place in time feel more homey for everybody.

Lay Down Your Weapons

It is hard to enjoy someone else’s company when you’re disagreeing with them. Sure, some conflict is necessary and even healthy to life together, but set aside time to come together in harmony with people. Search for the common elements you agree on. Abandon the judgment and criticism. Enjoy a game or activity that deemphasizes competition. Savor the time together.

Use Your Own Definitions

It’s easy in a social media culture to look at other people’s homey pictures and events and think you need to duplicate those exact things if you want to feel the sense of home they’re experiencing. In fact, that’s one of the strategies behind advertising: “Look at these happy people. Don’t you want to be just like them? If you buy our product, you will be!’ But that comparative decision-making is a set up for disappointment. Instead, look at your people and experiences and find ways to enjoy them that are uniquely your own. And then maybe consider holding those moments a bit sacred, away from the instinct to share. Savoring your home life beats bragging about it every day.

Realize Life is Difficult

For many people, that feeling of home doesn’t include suffering or loss or heartbreak, but is this the way it should be? Isn’t that comforting of each other through the ups and downs of life exactly what home should feel like? We don’t need to run from the hardships in life, we just need to be there with each other through them. Everyone’s life has bumps and bruises. We are all vulnerable.  Pretending we aren’t and that we have the perfect home life is just a set-up for disappointment. For those of us who have weathered storms, having a friend or family member down in the trenches with us has made all the difference and made even the horrible experience feel like home.

Make Time for Your People

Who are the people you love and make you feel at home? Are you finding time to spend with them? Sometimes, even when we love people and hold them close to our hearts, we need to schedule time to spend together. It’s a fast-paced world, finding an opportunity to slow it down to spend time with your loved ones is important, even if you have to pencil it in on your schedule.

Your Roots are Global

The connections between you and anyone else in this world exist, no matter how far removed. For an eye-opening experiment into just this theory exactly, take a look at this DNA experiment.  That knowledge of connection to others, even those seemingly nothing like you or even those you hate, can ground you to see others as yourself, to greet others, to befriend others, to join into a global community where you can feel at home wherever you go.

Today, come home.


Take a walk.


There is something magical about walking at sunrise. The world is waking up, the day is brand new, the possibilities seem endless. When that sky begins to light up, it’s like you are present for a secret fireworks display or an unveiling of a masterpiece. It is hard not to gape in awe, frankly. And that experience– awe– is powerful.

Awe can make us at once feel very small in the enormity of the universe,


but also as if we are very special and uniquely privileged to be let in on a secret. We are part of something beautiful and mysterious and far greater than our own worries and concerns.

In fact, experiencing awe changes us, making us more generous and, maybe, even, more, ethical. That sense of being part of something far larger than ourselves is therapeutic:

Participants consistently reported that awe produced “a reduced sense of self importance relative to something larger and more powerful that they felt connected to,” says Piff. And subsequent analysis confirmed that this feeling of the “small self” was responsible for their ethical behavior. This seems to suggest that experiencing awe prompts people to help others.

And there is something pretty magical about walking, too, especially in nature. Undoubtedly, the physical benefits of walking are many. But the psychological benefits can’t be denied either.

And then there are the benefits to our creative lives. Beethoven was known for his long walks, often incorporating the sounds he heard in the woods into his compositions. In fact, many musicians, artists and philosophers swore by the benefits of walking to their creative lives.

So maybe today, the answer to the stresses facing you, the tumult of disagreement, the anxiety over the future, is to open the front door and hit the pavement or, better yet, the open trail.


What do you know for sure? Are you sure?


As you get older, do you think you know a lot or do you believe there is a lot that you don’t yet know? As young men and women, we think we have all the answers. But as we age, our experience shows us that there are many valid perspectives to something we thought was established. We learn that there is value in the multiple points of view in arriving at a more nuanced version of the truth. We realize that people can look at the same thing, but, because they are coming at the issue with different life experiences, they may see it differently and that both of those opinions may be true. In fact, it may well be that we have no hope of getting close to the concept of truth without the benefit of many points of view. We may be limited by the fetters of our own perceptions and filters.


In this very insightful TED talk, Pico Iyer shares his creeping realization that the more we know, the more we see we don’t know:

I don’t believe that ignorance is bliss. Science has unquestionably made our lives brighter and longer and healthier. And I am forever grateful to the teachers who showed me the laws of physics and pointed out that three times three makes nine. I can count that out on my fingers any time of night or day. But when a mathematician tells me that minus three times minus three makes nine, that’s a kind of logic that almost feels like trust.

The opposite of knowledge, in other words, isn’t always ignorance. It can be wonder. Or mystery. Possibility. And in my life, I’ve found it’s the things I don’t know that have lifted me up and pushed me forwards much more than the things I do know. It’s also the things I don’t know that have often brought me closer to everybody around me.

For eight straight Novembers, recently, I traveled every year across Japan with the Dalai Lama. And the one thing he said every day that most seemed to give people reassurance and confidence was, “I don’t know.”

“What’s going to happen to Tibet?” “When are we ever going to get world peace?” “What’s the best way to raise children?”

“Frankly,” says this very wise man, “I don’t know.”

It’s scary to admit we don’t know. We want to know. We want to believe that we are safe and that our futures are secure. We want to believe that if we behave in a certain way, it will result in predictable results.

The truth is harder. Honest people can be accused of deceit. Innocent people can die. Tragedy can strike. Relationships can fracture. But embracing uncertainty as the only truly certain thing in life can, in fact, be surprisingly grounding. Iyer continues:

Knowledge is a priceless gift. But the illusion of knowledge can be more dangerous than ignorance.

Thinking that you know your lover or your enemy can be more treacherous than acknowledging you’ll never know them. Every morning in Japan, as the sun is flooding into our little apartment, I take great pains not to consult the weather forecast, because if I do, my mind will be overclouded, distracted, even when the day is bright.

I’ve been a full-time writer now for 34 years. And the one thing that I have learned is that transformation comes when I’m not in charge, when I don’t know what’s coming next, when I can’t assume I am bigger than everything around me. And the same is true in love or in moments of crisis. Suddenly, we’re back in that trishaw again and we’re bumping off the broad, well-lit streets; and we’re reminded, really, of the first law of travel and, therefore, of life: you’re only as strong as your readiness to surrender.

In the end, perhaps, being human is much more important than being fully in the know.

Today embrace the uncertainty of life and enjoy the present moment right here in front of you. Around the corner, there may well be a surprise insight waiting to stretch you and challenge the very things you think you know. Embrace that, too.