Just One Thing

How do you talk to people? The Practice: Try a softer tone. Why? When our kids were little, I’d come home from work wanting some peace after the daily roller-coaster and often walk into a living room full of stuff – toy trucks, tennis shoes, bags of chips, etc....

What's up with these people? The Practice: Give them what they want. Why? Research shows that relationships are built from interactions, and interactions are built from moments. A critical moment in an interaction is when one person wants something from the other one. ("Wants" include wishes, needs,...

What's to like? The Practice: See what's likable. Why? Liking feels good, plus it encourages us to approach and engage the world rather than withdraw from it. Your brain continually tracks whether something is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. In essence, is it a carrot, a stick, or safely ignored?...

Do people ever make you mad? The Practice: Cultivate goodwill. Why? As the most social and loving species on the planet, we have the wonderful ability and inclination to connect with others, be empathic, cooperate, care, and love. On the other hand, we also have the capacity and inclination...

What do you need? The Practice: Grow a key inner strength. Why? We all have issues - including demands upon us, stresses, illnesses, losses, vulnerabilities, and pain. (As Alan Watts put it: "Life is wiggly.") Of course, many of our issues - in the broad sense I'm using the...

Feeling a little sour? The Practice: Drop tart tone. Why? Tone matters. I remember times I felt frazzled or aggravated and then said something with an edge to it that just wasn't necessary or useful. Sometimes it was the words themselves: such as absolutes like "never" or always," or...

Who are you resisting? The Practice: Accept them as they are. Why? I admit it: whether close to home or far away, I wish some people were different. Depending on who they are, I wish they'd stop doing things like leaving cabinet doors open in our kitchen, sending me...

Who are you prosecuting? The Practice: Drop the case. Why? Lately I've been thinking about a kind of "case" that's been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with...

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