Twelve Good Things 2020

Twelve Good Things 2020

Each year I use an issue of the Just One Thing newsletter to offer Twelve Good Things that I think are really wonderful and worth your attention.

May you and those you love and in fact the whole wide world be truly well, truly happy, and truly at peace

  1. UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center is a world-class resource for compassion, parenting, and positive psychology – including their Greater Good Magazine.
  2. Two causes that are near and dear to me are aided by Amnesty International and the International Campaign for Tibet, and I invite you to join me in supporting them. Also, Spirit Rock Meditation Center has been my primary personal wellspring of contemplative practice, and it offers many high-quality workshops, retreats, and online courses.
  3. Human activity dumps about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each day into the air, and the terrible consequences we’re already seeing are just the beginning of what our children and grandchildren will inherit. While reducing emissions at all levels is hugely important, meanwhile individuals can support projects that compensate for their own carbon footprint each year. The EPA, Nature Conservancy, and WWF all have good carbon calculators, and Carbon Footprint, Terrapass, and Native Energy offer a variety of “offsets.”
  4. The Foundations of Well-Being is my online program for growing an unshakable core of resilient happiness in a changing world. It’s super practical, you can go at your own pace, and there’s a money-back guarantee. You’ll get the tools you need to develop more calm, contentment, and confidence each week – and there’s a 40% discount if you sign up by December 22.
  5. An organization close to my heart – the BRITE Initiative – has a school in Haiti for children in kindergarten through 9th grade who would not otherwise get a decent education. They have almost 200 students who still need support for this school year, and you might like to join me in sponsoring one of them. Also check out to support the work of educators and advocates for girls’ secondary education around the world.
  6. One of the brightest, coolest, deepest people I know  Michael Taft  has a wonderful website and podcast where he explores meditation, radical non-ordinary experiences, secular mindfulness, genuine awakening, and much more. Michael also offers personal instruction in meditation; he is someone I turn to when I want to deepen my practice.
  7. I’ve been reading a number of wonderful books and can heartily recommend One Blade of Grass by Henry Shukman (a Zen memoir) and The First Free Women by Matty Weingast (“awakening poems” from the earliest Buddhist nuns, speaking to us from over 2000 years ago. I’ve also enjoyed the haunting detective novel (and vastly more), Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, from the Nobel Prize-winning Olga Tokarczukm, as well as the stunning Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel about Thomas Cromwell in the time of Henry VIII of England. And Caste by Isabel Wilkerson should be on everyone’s must-read list, a deeply researched and powerful exploration of the centuries-old structure of racial inequity in America.
  8. As the climate emergency worsens, the World Wildlife Fund has emergency support for those harmed by wildfires. Also, check out the film 2040, the education of girls, and real energy revolutions.  Charity:Water brings clean water to people in need, and Rainforest Alliance is protecting our forests.
  9. Some creators adding joy to the world are Branden Harvey of the Good Good GoodBrad Montague (who’s backpack illustration can be seen in the background of many of my recent online videos), and the Joyful Mind Project.
  10. Some of the best TedTalks of 2020 include the 3 secrets of resilient peopleHow racial bias works – and how to disrupt it, and To overcome challenges, stop comparing yourself to others.
  11. I find a lot of wonder in space, which is why I love checking out the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and the Astrum channel‘s eye-popping images of space. And if you want to spot the International Space Station passing overhead, you can use NASA’s Spot the Station alert.
  12. Tastes vary, but here are some of the movies I’ve really liked recently (some are a few years old; I won’t try to describe their plots): ArrivalLong ShotBombshellKnives OutMy Octopus Teacher, and of course Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold climbing the Nose of El Capitan in under two hours. For TV series, my wife and I have had fun watching AloneThe Queen’s GambitA Place to Call HomeMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and White Collar.

Twelve times warm wishes to you,


P.S. For a baker’s dozen, I highly highly recommend the Being Well podcast  hosted by Forrest Hanson with a recurring mystery guest (me!). We’ve had more than 1.5 million downloads already this year, and our guests have included Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach, Dan Goleman, Lori Gottlieb, Charles Duhigg, Angela Duckworth, Jack Kornfield, Rhonda Freeman, Steve Porges, Shauna Shapiro, Daniel Ellenberg, Kristin Neff, and many many many other wonderful teachers and scholars. And Forrest and I regularly go on deep dives of our own into topics like dealing with anxiety and loss during crazy times. I know you’ll like it!

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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