Just One Thing

Beware Anger Have you been wronged? The Practice Beware anger. Why Anger is tricky. On the one hand, anger – feeling annoyed, irritated, resentful, fed up, mad, outraged, or enraged – alerts us to real threats, real injuries, and real wrongs that need correcting, and it energizes and fuels us...

What’s the spark and what’s the fuel? Welcome joy. Positive emotions – such as feelings of gratitude, love, and confidence – strengthen the immune system, protect the heart against loss and trauma, build relationships, increase resilience...

What can you do when you're shaken? Find your ground. It's clear that we all need a place to stand. A physical place to be sure - hearth and home, land and sea, a bed to curl up in - but also psychological or spiritual...

What's Your Heart Saying? The Practice: Speak from the heart. Why? One Christmas I hiked down into the Grand Canyon, whose bottom lay a vertical mile below the rim. Its walls were layered like a cake, and a foot-high stripe of red or gray rock indicated a...

What can you do when there’s nothing you can do? Love Someone. Sometimes something happens. Perhaps your cat takes a turn for the worse, there’s a money problem, or it’s on a larger scale: maybe there’s been an election and you’re grappling with its...

What do you do when the bottom falls out? Take heart. By "taking heart," I mean several related things: Sensing your heart and chest, finding encouragement in what is good both around you and inside you, resting in your own warmth, compassion, and ...

Who do you trust? The Practice: Trust yourself. Why? As I grew up, at home and school it felt dangerous to be myself - my whole self, including the parts that made mistakes, got rebellious and angry, goofed around too loudly, or were awkward and vulnerable. Not dangers of violence, as many have faced, but risks of being punished in other ways, or rejected, shunned, and shamed. So, as children understandably do, I put on a mask. Closed up, watching warily, managing the performance of "me." There was a valve in my throat: I knew what I thought and felt deep inside, but little of it came out into the world. From the outside, it looked like I didn't trust other people. Yes, I did need to be careful sometimes. But mainly, I didn't trust myself.

Are You Watering the Fruit Tree?

The Practice

Tend to the causes.

Why?

Let’s say you want to get apples from a tree of your own. So you go to a nursery and pick a good sapling, bring it home, and plant it carefully with lots of fertilizer in rich soil. Then you water it regularly, pick the bugs off, and prune it. If you keep tending to your tree, in a few years it will likely give you lots of delicious apples. But can you make it produce apples? Nope, you can’t. All you can do is tend to the causes – but you can’t control the results. No one can. The most powerful person in the world can’t make a tree hand over an apple! Similarly, a teacher cannot make his students learn long division, a business owner can’t make her employees invent great new products, and no one can make another person love him or her. All we can do is to nourish the causes that promote the results we want.