12 Good Things

12 Good Things

Keeping with tradition, each year I offer a list of  Twelve Good Things. I’ve paired each good thing with a fundamental inner strength: Learning, Mindfulness, Love, Resilience, Contentment, Integrity, Self-Worth, Courage, Social Intelligence, Motivation, Wisdom, and Peace.

1: LearningHardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence tells you how to tap the hidden power of little positive experiences to change your brain for the better.

2: Mindfulness – The Mind and Life Institute is the legendary non-profit that brought together prominent scientists and contemplatives such as the Dalai Lama. It is nourishing a new generation of practitioners and scholars with first-rate conferences and research.

3: LovePlan International works in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas to lift millions of children out of poverty. My wife and I have been supporting Plan for over twenty years, with a long-time interest in Haiti.

4: ResilienceYour Skillful Means (sponsored by The Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom) freely offers nearly a hundred different methods for psychological or spiritual growth.

5: Contentment – Check out Awakening Joy, a five-month course by James Baraz to develop your natural capacity for happiness. Over 10,000 people have taken it worldwide, and it’s been featured in O Magazine. It’s starting in January 2014 and is available both live in the San Francisco Bay Area and on the internet.

6: IntegrityPariyatti sends me a short Buddhist quote each day – I love ’em – plus provides other free resources. Dharma Seed offers zillions of free talks from both monastics and householders.

7: Self-Worth – Personal practice is the foundation of confidence and self-worth, so check out these 52 short videos from me at Just One Minute. They’re based on the practices in my book, Just One Thing – and Wendy Sullivan, LMSW, generously developed wonderful written guides to each practice. Together, these free videos and written guides would set you up for a great year of practice.

8: Courage – My dear friend Tom Bowlin has been writing poems for many years, and he’s published a collection of them – titled Us – in an e-book available for both Kindle and Nook. Tom’s poetry is short but not always sweet. It comes raw from his own gritty life and cuts right to the bone – yet is still often funny, heart-opening, and inspiring. I love it!

9: Social Intelligence – The Greater Good Science Center is a world-class resource for compassion, empathy, parenting, and positive psychology. They offer a free newsletter and a phenomenal website full of useful articles, videos, podcasts, quizzes – with a unique combination of academic prowess, heart, and service. They rely on the help of their volunteers and donors, and you can offer support by becoming a member as I have or by gifting a membership to others.

10: MotivationRewire Leadership Institute integrates neuroscience, psychology, business savvy, and lots of heart to offer articles, programs, and consultations for transforming individuals and organizations, including NASA, ESPN, Adobe, P&G, and Bayer.

11: WisdomSpirit Rock Meditation Center. Check out the workshops and retreats from this peaceful, welcoming, world-renowned center. I love Spirit Rock, which has been my primary personal wellspring of spiritual practice. They’re building a new community hall and I hope you will join me in helping them; find out more here.

12: PeaceAmnesty International organization has worked for 50 years to put an end to human rights abuses, and to ensure a just and peaceful life for everyone. When I think about the political prisoners and activists they have gotten freed from horrific imprisonments, it makes me happy to know that our family has done its little bit to support their efforts – and I invite you to do the same.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.

She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.

Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.

He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.

Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.

Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.

Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.

Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.

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