Browsing: Human Nature

What are your greatest character strengths? Take this quiz to find out:

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Here’s a great tool for assessing your strengths — and then creating a life that draws on them:


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Should you ‘fake it til you make it’?



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The Dark Side Of Emotional Intelligence | Via @AdamMGrant

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30 Days After You Die So, Too, Will Everyone You Love

Image source: Shutterstock

This is one of the most interesting ideas I’ve come across in a long time, from a New York Times piece by Samuel Scheffler:


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How Your Facebook Posts Reflect Your Personality Style

Wow. This is an incredible study of personality styles, based on the language that people with different personality traits use in their Facebook posts.


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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Updated: Security, Health, Growth & Purpose

Abraham Maslow
In 1943 Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation“, proposing what he thought to be the most necessary elements humans needed in order to lead successful, healthy, happy lives.

A lot has changed in the world since 1943. So Charlie Kim, Founder and CEO at Next Jump, took it upon himself to modernize Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Here is Charlie’s version:


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I don’t fear death (except when I do)

Here’s a brief musing I tapped out on my phone last night while reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes: I don’t know why everyone talks about the fear of death. I love life, but I don’t fear death. What I fear is the deaths of the people I love best — because I fear the […]


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Could You Love Your Neighbor As Much As You Love Your Kids?

“Donovan Campbell is a decorated military officer and a young Fortune 500 executive whose lessons about leadership and teamwork came the hard way, through three combat deployments—two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.” ~RHSpeakers.com I recently had the privilege of sharing the stage with Donovan Campbell. And I was struck by his description of true […]


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Are Social Rituals Necessary? Thoughts on Super Bowl Sunday

Oh, the Super Bowl. I am always bemused by Super Bowl Sunday, and not just because I’m indifferent (yes, it’s true, I’m afraid I am) to football. It’s the social ritual of the event that gets me thinking. This past New Year’s Eve I spent the evening curled up on the sofa with my husband. […]


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No Solitude, No Revelation

I met some really incredible people at last week’s TED conference, and Rabbi David Wolpe was one of them. Here he is on the power of solitude: “When he was a child, the Seer of Lublin (later a famous Hasidic master) used to go off into the woods by himself. When his father, worried, asked him […]


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The Alchemy of Happiness

One of the pieces of my recent TED talk that has attracted the most interest is the idea that the world’s major religions feature stories of seekers (Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Jesus…) who go off, by themselves, to the wilderness, where they have revelations that they then bring back to the community. No solitude, no revelations. […]


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Question of the Week: Do Atheists and Believers Need Each Other?

Here’s the question that comes up every holiday season, sometimes explicitly, often not: “Is there a God?” You already know the answers. Some say yes, others say no, and then we argue about it ceaselessly. But here’s a different way to look at it: through the lens of “basic beliefs.” A basic belief is one […]


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Question of the Week: Do You Play to an Inner or Outer Audience?

Do you find it easy to mimic other people? Do you ever act friendly to people you dislike? When you’re uncertain how to act in a social situation, do you look to the behavior of others for cues? Do you often seek the advice of your friends to choose movies, books, or music? If you […]


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Silence is Golden (courtesy of Maureen Dowd)

  “Nothing has changed the nature of man so much as the loss of silence.” The Swiss philosopher Max Picard said that, and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd repeated it yesterday in a much-discussed column on the power of silence. She also shares this quote, which I love, from Michel Haznavicius, the director of […]


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What to Read This Weekend: Five Quotes to Make You Think

Hi everyone, for this weekend’s reading selection, here are five mind-expanding quotes from the great mythologist Joseph Campbell: 1. “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” 2. “Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that […]


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“Always wanted to be the quiet girl. Probably precisely because I’m not.”

In lieu of reading recommendations this weekend, I want to share the following passage and ask for your reactions. It’s from Eat Pray Love, the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I’ve just started reading five years after everyone else (I do that with TV shows, too. In this case, I loved Gilbert’s TED talk so […]


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Are You More of a Social Psychologist or a Personality Psychologist?

I never cease to be amazed by how different people are. We’re all human. We all rejoice when troubadors come calling, love our children desperately, and secretly believe we’re going to live forever. But then we’re all so different.


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If You Could Go Back and Change One Decision in Your Life, What Would It Be?

Recently, I had the chance to participate in an intimate salon for 65 women leaders of different ages, hosted by the inimitable Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of the Acumen Fund, and Batool Hassan, a Business Development Manager at Acumen. (This is a photo of Jacqueline, and that’s my left shoulder on the bottom right…) The evening […]


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Three Steps to a Rich Inner Life — at Work

Would you like to read a business book that focuses on the inner life? Then take a look at THE PROGRESS PRINCIPLE: Using Small Wins To Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, by Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, who is herself an introvert, and known for her pathbreaking work on creativity. Amabile and […]


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Do Introverts and Extroverts See Reality Differently? (And What Does This Question Have to Do With Your Relationships?)

“Are Extroverts Ruining Psychologists’ Surveys?” So read the LiveScience headline, in an article describing research findings that extroverts answer survey questions with more extreme responses than introverts do. It doesn’t matter what type of question it is. Whether asked to rate how much they liked a photo of a nature scene, or how disgusted they’d […]


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Words to Live By — Courtesy of Lady Gaga

“When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year old girl. Then I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.’” (This quote was passed on by the incomparable Debbie Stier, of The Perfect Score Project.)


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“We’ve Always Known That One-on-One is the Best Way to Learn”

“…but we’ve never been able to figure out how to do it.” Until now. So says Salman Khan, the lovable math nerd behind the much celebrated Khan Academy, in which students teach themselves math and other subjects via online videos, then work with their teachers individually on the bits they’re struggling with.  Khan Academy has […]


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“Do Not the Most Moving Moments of Our Lives Find Us Without Words?”

So asked Marcel Marceau. The following story of his life was sent to me via e-mail: “He was born Marcel Mangel on March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg, Alsace. His father Charles, was a kosher butcher who loved the arts. Marcel’s mother Anne nee Werzberger, took him to a Chaplin movie when her son was five. He was entranced. […]


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Why Creative People Are Rarely Seen as Leaders

We are in love with the word “Eureka,” and for good reason.  Creativity is magic: the ability to create something out of nothing, to make connections that others don’t see. Everyone wants to work for, or invest in, the world’s most creative companies. Especially today. CEOs rank creativity as the most important leadership skill for successful […]


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Are You Shy, Introverted, Both, or Neither (and Why Does it Matter)?

Bill Gates is quiet and bookish, but apparently unfazed by others’ opinions of him: he’s an introvert, but not shy.

Barbra Streisand has an outgoing, larger than life personality, but a paralyzing case of stage fright: she’s a shy extrovert.

Shyness and introversion are not the same thing.


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My Mother’s Lover: Reading Ideas for the Weekend

Hi everyone. Here’s a must-read for the weekend: “My Mother’s Lover,” by David Dobbs. It’s the true story of a World War II love affair that Dobbs’ mother kept secret, until she left her kids a puzzle on her deathbed. This is a short e-book/long story, and you have to buy it via Kindle or […]


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Seven Ideas on How to Overcome Fear and Become More Creative

When I was researching my upcoming book, QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I met a scientist performing groundbreaking work on the neurobiology of social anxiety. An articulate and seemingly confident man, he confided that his interest in the subject came from his own struggles with shyness. When I asked […]


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“Shyness — An Evolutionary Tactic?” Read the New York Times Article, and Join the Conversation Here!

Today, the New York Times debuts the inaugural issue of a new section called The Sunday Review — including a piece  I wrote on the importance of shyness and introversion. It’s available here. I’m optimistic that the Times‘ interest in this subject signals a turning point in our culture — that people are ready to […]


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“Some People Are More Certain of Everything Than I Am Of Anything.”

I love this quote from Robert Rubin, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton, because it states so cleverly something I often feel. If you say “X,” I automatically think, “But what about Y?” and “Is X always X”? Aside from driving my husband occasionally bonkers, this thought pattern also feels at odds with […]


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Introvert vs. Extrovert Survival Strategies

Two little boys played at a lakeside beach. The water was cold and reached their waists, in some places their chests.

One boy plunged right in. He didn’t know how to swim, but that didn’t stop him.

The second boy stuck by the shore. He didn’t know how to swim, so he built elaborate sand piles from the safety of the shallows…


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What Kind of Workplace Culture Works For You?

Back when I was a lawyer, I worked for a firm whose culture I loved – it was a quirky and intellectual place, as law firms go. I stayed years longer than I should have, because I liked the culture so much. I thought about this today, when I attended the World Innovation Forum (#WIF11), […]


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When Epicurus Spoke of Pleasure, He Really Meant Introspection

“When we say…that pleasure is the end and aim of life, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the […]


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How Creative Are You, Compared to When You Were a Child?

How creative are you now, compared to when you were a child? A) More creative B) About as creative C) Less creative For most people, the answer is (sadly) C. Children are famously more creative than grown-ups, more engaged in the world of imagination and in making connections where none existed before. But what if […]


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The Importance of Being in Your Own Head (Courtesy of Filmmaker Tim Burton)

“I don’t sit down and try to draw a character. I attempt to reserve some time each day for myself to sit and do nothing—stare off into space or doodle or whatever–just be in my own head. That time is very precious for me, and sometimes the characters will strike me in these quiet moments.” […]


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“Everyone in the Room Isn’t Looking at You, Unless You Are Jennifer Aniston or Charlie Sheen.”

This honest and funny guest post was written by Jane London, co-host of the Dom and Jane Show on Mix 100 in Denver — www.mix100.com. Jane also writes  a blog, Present Tense: www.janelondon.wordpress.com: I am an introvert.  According to Myers-Briggs testing, an INTJ.  I’ve also been a morning radio host for over 25 years.  In […]


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What Does This Photo Mean?

I came across this photo the other day and was immediately taken with it. Besides being visually striking, it seems like a Rorshach test. There are so many different possible interpretations, and the one that comes to mind first probably reflects a lot about who you are, or where you are in life.


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Sixteen Things I Believe

I updated my “Things I Believe” list recently. There are now sixteen of them — see below. Which beliefs do you agree or disagree with? What things do you believe? I would love to hear. 1. Introverts are to extroverts what women once were to men: second-class citizens whose time has come. 2. There’s a […]


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Where You Stumble Is Where Your Treasure Lies

When you look back at your life to date, do you tend to assemble the events, and your reactions to them, into a cohesive narrative? Is it a cheerful tale, or a wistful one, or are you living an adventure story with hairpin plot twists and an unguessable ending?


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Question of the Week: How Confrontational Are You?

Are you conflict-averse and, if so, do you associate this with introversion/extroversion? A reader on my Psychology Today blog posted a comment describing himself as a strong introvert, but a confrontational, challenging, and highly verbal one. He wonders how unusual it is for these traits to go together. Here’s the comment: “Test after test places […]


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Inspiration, Leadership, and the Souls of Others

“He who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from travelling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson What do you think of this idea? I disagree with the notion that we should avoid traveling with the souls of […]


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How Botox Can Screw Up Your Social Life

OK, this is some of the most interesting research I’ve come across in a long time, reported in Medical News Today. A brand new study out of USC and Duke University suggests that Botox impairs our ability to read other people’s emotions. According to the lead authors, “one way we read the feelings of others […]


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The Moral Lives of Animals, and What It Means For Us

Here’s a provocative theory that I hope turns out to be true: “In the summer of 2000 scientists saw a young elephant collapse and die on a trail in the African forest. In the following hours, elephants passing by attempted to help and revive her by lifting her dead body off the ground. In [a […]


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QUIZ: Discover Your Signature Strengths

Do you wake up in the morning excited to start your day – or do you feel dread, avoidance, apathy? We tend to think of these reactions as fixed personality styles, but that’s wrong.  The emotions you experience as you get out of bed are often a function of whether you spend your days using […]


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How to be Lucky

Interesting advice from renowned psychologist Richard Wiseman, via Erik Calonius and my friend Jonathan Fields (whose excellent blog you’ll want to check out). Lucky people are blessed not by good fortune per se, but by a sense of possibility: Wiseman surveyed a number of people and, through a series of questionnaires and interviews, determined which […]


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How to Parent Sensitive (Orchid) Children

Last week, I fervently recommended this groundbreaking Atlantic magazine article, in which author David Dobbs explains a bold new theory of genetics — that “most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and […]


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How To Achieve Inner Peace (Courtesy of Pema Chodron)

Here’s a really interesting idea from Buddhist nun Pema Chodron: You can train yourself to cope with adversity by working with small grievances. When you get stuck with the middle seat on the airplane, for example, it’s so tempting to devolve into a blue funk of frustration. It feels good to feel aggrieved. Chodron calls […]


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How Your Personality Matures with Time

Readers often ask me: “Is it possible for my personality to change over time? I seem to be getting more introverted as I get older.” I’ve asked myself the same question. I was always an introvert, but my social needs used to be much more intense than they are today. When I was in high […]


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“The People Who Are Crazy Enough to Think They Can Change the World, Are the Ones Who Do.”

This is probably the first and last time you’ll find me quoting an advertisement as inspiration.  But I love this 1997 ad from Apple. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they […]


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Why You Dislike Multi-Tasking

I often wish that I could live in what I like to call “Wardrobe Time.” In C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” four schoolchildren disappear through a wardrobe into the magical land of Narnia…for decades. They grow into adults there, ascend to Narnian thrones, and reign for many years. But when they […]


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Introverts at the Pajama Hop

This past Saturday morning, my son’s nursery school — which is probably the most progressive, thoughtfully-run institution on earth — held a “pajama hop” fundraiser.  It was a family affair.  At ten in the morning, we parents and offspring crowded into the gym, decked out in our PJs, while a local band performed children’s music […]


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The Overflowing Brain

A thoughtful reader just sent this in, in response to the post and discussion on meditation vs. deep thinking: “There is general concern about what the fast pace of society is doing to our mental well-being. Books and magazines are full of advice on how we can learn to be less stressed, lower the demands […]


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Why Aren’t the Japanese Looting?

In tones of awe, many news outlets are starting to raise this question. Also: why are supermarkets cutting prices, and vending machine owners handing out free soft drinks? Why haven’t the Japanese devolved into a brute “every person for himself” mentality? Where did this breathtaking display of social unity come from? But we shouldn’t be […]


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Is Deep Thinking Better Than Meditation?

Here’s a confession: To me, meditation seems great in principle, but it appeals to me not at all.  I don’t actually want my mind to be still.  I love the feeling of constant mental engagement. This is heresy, I know, but here’s the truth: meditation seems boring, and boredom is stressful. The picture above appears […]


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The Myth of the Killer Introvert

Introversion does not equal psychosis or a propensity to violence. This really shouldn’t need to be said, of course. Except that it does. On Monday, The Daily Mail reported a tragically familiar story. A 23 year old named Joseph McAndrew stabbed his parents and twin brother to death in the kitchen of their family home. […]


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The Charlie Sheen Debacle: Why Are Narcissists So Charismatic (At First)?

In today’s post, I’m going to veer away from the usual introversion/extroversion axis, to talk about a different but equally fascinating phenomenon: narcissism. The latest Charlie Sheen mess (in which the astronomically paid TV actor with a history of domestic violence ranted on syndicated radio against everyone from his boss to Thomas Jefferson) has to […]


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“A Different Kind of Celebrity”: Why TED is The Single Greatest Thing on the Internet Today

I think that TED is the single greatest thing available on the Internet today. For those of you not familiar with TED, this post is about to change your life. TED is a small and wildly popular nonprofit dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It gathers thinkers and visionaries from every field — anyone who’s passionate […]


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The Happiness Project, For Introverts (Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin)

Today I want to share some of my favorite insights from my friend Gretchen Rubin’s inspiring blog and book, The Happiness Project. (The occasion of this post is today’s release of the paperback; the hardcover was a #1 New York Times bestseller and is being translated into 31 languages. Very proud of her!) The Happiness […]


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How to Find the Holy Grail (Courtesy of Joseph Campbell)

“As in the novels of Joyce, so in those of Mann, the key to the progression lies in the stress on what is inward… I can feel that I’m in the Grail Castle when I’m living with people I love, doing what I love. I get that sense of being fulfilled. But, by god, it […]


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Why Nerds Are Unpopular (Courtesy of Paul Graham)

Upon entering middle school,  my once-sensible friend Amy suddenly wanted us to spend our time sifting through teen magazines and deciding which models were pretty. I was utterly perplexed as to why this was interesting, but I tried to offer insightful comments on the Bonne Bell lip gloss model’s peaches-and-cream complexion. As the school year […]


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Introverts as Revolutionaries?

“SHY U.S. INTELLECTUAL CREATED PLAYBOOK USED IN A REVOLUTION.” This sounds like a headline that I might have dreamed up, but it comes from a recent New York Times article on Gene Sharp, an “exceedingly shy” 83 year old man who grows orchids, eschews the Internet, and writes influential papers like “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” […]


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“Some People Are More Certain of Everything Than I Am of Anything”

I love this quote from Robert Rubin, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton, because it states so cleverly something I often feel. If you say “X,” I automatically think, “But what about Y?” and “Is X always X”? Aside from driving my husband occasionally bonkers, this thought pattern also feels inappropriate in […]


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Why You Read So Much (Courtesy of Orhan Pamuk)

“To become a writer, patience and toil are not enough: we must first feel compelled to escape crowds, company, the stuff of ordinary, everyday life, and shut ourselves up in a room…But once we shut ourselves away, we soon discover that we are not as alone as we thought. We are in the company of […]


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Love, Work, and Friends: You Actually Can Have it All, WITH ONE CAVEAT

Back when I was a corporate lawyer working 70+ hours a week, I came across this poem: You Want a Social Life, With Friends You want a social life, with friends. A passionate love life and as well To work hard every day. What’s true Is of these three you may have two And two […]


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The “Last Blog Post”: Decision-Making for Cerebral People

NO, THIS IS NOT MY LAST BLOG POST! I’m only just getting started! A few days ago, a group of bloggers decided to write their “last post.” The premise was, if you had one last blog post to make before you died, what would you say? The inspiration for this project was The Last Lecture, […]


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If You’re Not Excited to Get to Work Every Morning, Try This

“Imagine, for a moment, that you could wave a magic wand to ensure the approval and admiration of everyone on the planet, forever. In that case, what would you choose to do with your life?” –Todd Kashdan


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QUIZ: Are You an Approacher, an Avoider — or Both? And Why Does it Matter?

Yesterday I posted about approach-avoidance conflicts, especially in the context of public speaking. If you feel anxious about speaking (or anything else), there’s a good chance that some of your discomfort can be traced to your ambivalent feelings about it. For example, public speaking feels inherently dangerous to me (avoidance), and yet I want to […]


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How to Be Creative (Courtesy of Albert Einstein)

Albert Einstein:  “I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork; for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding.” I understand precious little of Einstein’s theory of relativity, but I’ve learned a lot […]


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When Does Socializing Make You Happier?

You’re standing at the checkout line at the grocery store, pondering tomorrow’s to-do list. The cashier greets you with a grin.  You’re not in the mood to chit-chat, but out of politeness you do anyway – and feel curiously happy afterwards.  A big smile plays across your face as you leave the store. What just […]


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How to Feel Awestruck (Courtesy of Allen Shawn)

You know the feeling you get when you read a passage, and you’re just so happy that the author is alive (or once was) and put into words something you’ve groped towards but never quite articulated? I feel that way about this quote from Allen Shawn’s book, Wish I Could Be There: “We are born […]


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Why You Don’t Like Being Teased

I tend to avoid people who favor barbed, teasing modes of interacting, even when I know they’re well-meaning.  Not only do their teases feel hurtful, but I’m not good at the snappy come-backs that teasing seems to call for. I find myself smiling as a way to cover up my hurt feelings (not an unusual […]


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Quiet: The Book

- Wall Street Journal

Wow!
Best Nonfiction Book of 2012

QUIET has been voted the best nonfiction book of 2012
by Goodreads.com

Manifesto

1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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