How Shall We Argue?

The nature of human relationships will always involve some level of conflict or disagreement. To eliminate it completely is not realistic. But it is possible to use our relationships with others as a vehicle for growth and character development. The arguments, and emotions that accompany them, become part of the course work. Stay alert! Classes can begin at anytime.
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Getting on Track: Setting Goals for the Year that Aren't Totally Self-Centered

Most of us would like to finish the year with some sense, in concrete terms, that we're further along the "road to a meaningful life" than we were last January. But what does that road look like and where is it headed? If we don't give some thought to that question at the beginning of the trip, we're likely to end up at some random destination (including one which is not very far from where we started) and then, after the fact, we find ourselves dissatisfied with the direction we've taken. Though we're already checking days off our... calendar, it's not too late to step back and reflect on where you've been and where you're headed.
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Eight Tips for Getting Your Kids Back to School

by Linda Anderson Krech and Gregg Krech For many families the start of the school year has a more noticeable impact on day to day life than the start of the calendar year. This is certainly true in our family....
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Commencement Mashup

A collection of notable and profound excerpts from graduation speeches by J.K. Rowling, Stephen Colbert, David Foster Wallace, Adrian Tan, and David McCullough Jr. "The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will...
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Thanking Mom

by Peter Smith In 1999, Peter participated in a course on Naikan reflection with the ToDo Institute. During that time he reflected on a number of his relationships, including his relationship with his mother. He wrote the following essay, describing...
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The Heart of Healing: Naikan as Applied Benevolence

by Dr. Henry McCann In the Huang Di Nei Jing, the core text of Chinese medicine that was written about 2000 years ago, there is a key chapter that describes the functions of the internal organs. In this chapter (Su...
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A Reflective Approach to Bringing in the New Year

by Gregg Krech The end of the year is a wonderful time to reflect back on our lives and see how we've been living. When we reflect on the year we step back and get perspective -- perspective that can...
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The State of Play

By Linda Anderson Krech We just returned from a family camping trip. On the way home we were thinking about the highlights of the experience. There was the hike that provided enough challenge for all of us (even our bouncy...
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My Father and the Gift of Kindness

Illusionist David Copperfield has made the Statue of Liberty disappear and walked through the Great Wall of China. He founded Project Magic, a program using magic as occupational therapy. The U.S. Library of Congress named Copperfield a "Living Legend." In...
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Counseling in a Crisis

by Gregg Krech Ten years ago, my colleague Lenn Murphy was asked to be on a crisis counseling team to assist families in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster. Lenn had trained at the ToDo Institute and I...
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Marriage Research You Can Use

Three studies offer practical advice for creating a healthy marriage 1. Constructive Conflict Resolution The Early Years of Marriage Study, is one of the largest and longest research projects to look at patterns of marital conflict, with 373 couples...
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Raising Grateful Children Starts with You

By Vicki Hoefle As nice as it is to think about having a five-year-old who appreciates and shows gratitude for everything, the truth is, parents can feel successful if they raise a thirty-five-year-old who embodies that grateful spirit. As with...
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A Win/Win Holiday

by Ken Potts It seems to me that people tend to display two extremes of behavior about this time of year. A good many of us, not able to deal with the increasing stress we feel preparing for the holiday...
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Twelve Ideas for a Thankful Thanksgiving

by Gregg Krech For many people Thanksgiving has ceased to be a celebration of thankfulness. Too often it is dominated by the pressures of family reconnecting, the worries over the meal, the seduction of football games and the overindulgence in...
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Thanksgiving Graces and Poems

Here's a lovely collection of graces and poems that are suitable for the Thanksgiving holiday (really for any day). May We Be Restored May this food restore our strength, giving new energy to tired limbs, new wisdom to weary minds....
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Minding our Minds

by Linda Anderson Krech Aging is real. Let’s start there. Our skin and our joints drive the point home, lest we forget that we will not live forever. These reminders, though unpleasant and even painful at times, can help...
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Graduation: Living a Life on Purpose

by Heather Peters After all the running around you did this morning, stop for a second. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath . . . and let this moment sink in. Just breathe. Here you sit on the verge...
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Honoring Your Mother After She's Died

by Gregg Krech For the past twenty years I have been conducting retreats in which a person spends a week reflecting on his or her entire life (Naikan retreat). A participant always begins with her mother and a central part...
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Fresh Eyes and Assumptions

Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes. - Thomas Wentworth Higginson Oxford University recently published research indicating that in certain circumstances people don't notice if the room they are in grows to four times its original size. Researchers used...
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A Thank You Letter to My Mother . . . Finally

The following letter was inspired by reflections during a two-week Naikan Retreat in Japan. During the retreat the author was deeply struck by the depth and breadth of the care he had received throughout his childhood. He felt compelled...
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Violinist in the Subway

by John Kain The Washington Post decided to do an experiment. Put Joshua Bell, one of the world’s best violinists (literally a child prodigy and a modern virtuoso) underground at a DC Metro station dressed as a street musician and...
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To Merely Want To Do Something is Not Enough

by Shinichi Suzuki Shinichi Suzuki is the founder of the Suzuki Method of Music Education. This method is now popular throughout the world as an approach to the musical training of children studying violin, piano, cello, flute and other instruments....
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Your Wish for the New Year

Issa wishes for life to unfold as a mystery, and so he will get his wish, for there is no other possibility. We don't know what will happen this coming year. We don't know what will happen this next moment. We try to assert control over our destiny, but our future lies outside our control. We may get some satisfaction, some comfort, from accomplishing our goals, but the real challenge is to be comfortable with mystery.
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Seven Strategies for Taking Action When You Don't Feel Like It

Usually getting stuck involves a set of feelings which acts like mud locked around our [automobiles'] wheels. Such feelings include confusion, boredom, fear, anxiety, depression, dislike of the task, or laziness. When we find that we're stuck, we're faced with the challenge of getting unstuck and taking action. Morita Therapy and Naikan are two methods of Japanese psychology which offer specific methods and strategies for getting out of the mud.... Here are seven strategies that might help you take action the next time you find yourself stuck....
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Rx for Holiday Blues: Coping with the Ups and Downs of the Holiday Season

Ideally, the holiday season should be a time for good cheer. But for many, they are also a time for loneliness, sadness, anxiety, depression, and family conflict. Frequently people feel a profound sense of relief once the holidays are over. It's a bit ironic that we should look forward to the end of this season, when it could be a time for celebration, thanksgiving, and family reunion. Here are seven things you can do to make this a better holiday season for you and those around you:
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Mental Health Research - Update

1. Depression Risk Higher with Diet of High Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio 2. Folic Acid Supplementation May Reduce Depression Risk 3. Antidepressants Become the Most Highly-Prescribed Drug in America Depression Risk Higher with Diet of High Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio Two common essential...
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A Daughter's Love for Her Father

During our annual self-reflection course, we were fortunate to have a father enrolled along with his two adult daughters who now had their own families. One of them, Alexandra, was living in Argentina. During the course, each of the...
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Mother's Day: The Memories We Forget

by Gregg Krech Imagine spending several days in quiet reflection, facing a wall, and making a list of all the specific things your mother did for you as a child -- thinking about the lunches she made for you to...
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Mastering the Skills of Attention - Audio Part I

An radio interview with Gregg Krech on the theme of the Skillful Use of Attention conducted by Pilar Gerasimo, editor of Experience Life magazine. (Approximate Length = 8 min.)...
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I Get To . . .

by Kate Manahan Do you ever have to interrupt what you are focused on to go pick your kids up at school? Do you ever put dinner together for the family because you should, not because you are inspired to...
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Predicting Divorce

John Gottman is a psychologist researcher that claims he can predict whether people will divorce with 91% accuracy. What do you think? Gottman begins the book with a bold and unsettling assertion: He can predict in five minutes -- with...
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New Mental Health Research

The Research Front Reprinted from Vol. 12, No 3, Thirty Thousand Days Journal The Journal of Psychiatry reported on a study of 133 patients with atypical depression. In the double-blind, placebo controlled study, two thirds of patients with symptoms that...
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Beyond Fireworks: Celebrating our Interdependence

by Gregg Krech "If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees,...
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Stay Active and Connected and Keep Your Mind Sharp

According to an ongoing study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, having close friends and staying in contact with family members offers a protective effect against the damaging effects of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. David Bennett, one of the researchers heading the study, concluded: "Many elderly people who have the tangles and plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease don't clinically experience cognitive impairment or dementia. Our findings suggest that social networks are related to something that offers a 'protective reserve' capacity that spares them the clinical manifestations of Alzheimer's disease."
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Naikan As Preparation For Marriage in the Christian Tradition: A Case Study

by Rev. Denise Mosher The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself. ~Victor Hugo~ The goal of marriage preparation within the Christian tradition is to help...
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Presence of Mind

(In our Winter issue of Thirty Thousand Days we printed an essay from the book Strength in the Storm by Eknath Easwaran. Here is an excerpt from that essay) Most of us live very little in the present. If we...
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Living on Purpose

Many of us desire to live a more purposeful life. We want to use our time well, to put our energy towards that which truly matters, to leave behind a positive legacy. But when we step back and take...
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Hurricane Relief

We'd like to offer our sympathy and support to those of you whose homes and lives may have been disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. We want you to know that our prayers and thoughts are with you and furthermore, we'd like to offer you any practical support we can in helping you get your life back in order. First, if you just need somebody to talk with, you are welcome to call the ToDo Institute on our toll free line: 800-950-6034 and we'll be glad to listen and help you sort out the "next steps" necessary to regroup. You can call us anytime between 7:30am-9pm. If you are without housing at this point, we are able to make some temporary space available to you here at the ToDo Institute. Because we have no programs scheduled until the end of the month, we have two adjoining rooms available, from Sept 6 - Sept 24....
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Coexisting with an Emotional Charge

A brief discussion by Linda Anderson Krech on how we can continue to handle the requirements of daily life while we are also dealing with an issue that carries a strong emotional charge. (3 min)...
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Guide to Navigating Through Crisis - Audio Excerpt

An excerpt from the ToDo Institute's Guide to Navigating Through Crisis by Gregg Krech...
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Five Elements of Spiritual & Psychological Health

A discussion of five elements thet contribute to spiritual and psychological health by author Gregg Krech....
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Noonday Devil

by Father Ron Rollheiser In Morita Therapy we consider depression, and all feelings, something which is uncontrollable by our will. In this article, Fr. Rolheiser describes the kind of depression which has no apparent connection to one's circumstances - acedia....
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I Didn't Do It Alone

Just over four years ago, I participated in a weeklong Naikan retreat in Japan. There, I had a unique opportunity to review my entire life with a new perspective. "What have others given me? What have I given others? What troubles have I caused others?" With these three simple questions, for about 15 hours a day, I examined in painful detail the immeasurable support that surrounded me from the day I entered the world screaming to that week of sitting quietly behind a shoji screen. It did not take very long for me to realize...
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I Didn't Do It Alone

Just over four years ago, I participated in a weeklong Naikan retreat in Japan. There, I had a unique opportunity to review my entire life with a new perspective. "What have others given me? What have I given others? What troubles have I caused others?" With these three simple questions, for about 15 hours a day, I examined in painful detail the immeasurable support that surrounded me from the day I entered the world screaming to that week of sitting quietly behind a shoji screen. It did not take very long for me to realize...
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Beyond Fireworks: Celebrating our Interdependence

The birth of our nation is an important date to remember. But let's also acknowledge the birth of our awareness -- an awareness that our freedom is a gift. A gift that's available to us thanks to the efforts and work of countless people, past and present. Self-reflection and gratitude may not be as spectacular as fireworks. But they offer human beings a better chance at transforming our relationship with one another. And we need that now -- more than ever.
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Purpose and Meaning

By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system.... What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.
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I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods.
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Junk Food and Violence

Japanese children "consume incredible amounts of soft drinks and junk food," says Hiroshi Osawa, a retired psychology professor at Iwate University. According to Iwate, the consequences go beyond poor nutrition and expanding waistlines. This junk food diet may be contributing to Japan's alarming juvenile crime wave. According to Osawa, "There is a connection between diet and violence."
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Life Purpose Questions

What are you good at? What are your skills, gifts and abilities? If you could do anything, regardless of the need for income or other limitations, what would you do? If you could make a particular contribution to the world, what would it be? Consider your family, community, society, planet. What is it that needs doing? Consider how you actually spend your time. What would you like to do more of? What would you like to do less of? What would you like to leave behind as your legacy when you die? If you could take some risk that might change your life, what would it be? "For years I questioned what the meaning for my life was... why was I here? I could think of a number of reasons to live, and could imagine more that one purpose to devote my life to, but ultimately I never felt that I was clear about the meaning of my life...."
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Hotel Rwanda directed by Terry George

This film is a testimony to what a film can do. You may have vague memories of the Rwandan genocide eleven years ago, but once you see this film the story will pierce your heart in a way that is unforgettable. Yet how many people will be willing to see this film? A decade ago we ignored the reality of this tragic event so will we now ignore the replaying of history as well? I saw the film at 9pm on a Saturday night and the theater was half-empty. We ponder the Nazi-perpetrated holocaust, but we too easily forget the Armenians and the Cambodians. The Rwandan genocide is only a decade past and now we're faced with the tragic situation in Darfur. In ten years will we be reviewing "Hotel Darfur?" What will it take for the world to learn to prevent such tragedies? What will it take for us to step forward, sacrifice some of our comfort and tend to the suffering of our fellow man?
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Attention, Obstacles and Gratitude

An excerpt from a public radio interview with author Gregg Krech about attention , obstacles and the experience of gratitude. Approximately 2 1/2 minutes....
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It Takes a Dream to Make a Village

Don and Carolyn wanted to create a microcosm of what the world could be, one that would reflect the principles of their Bahai faith. Children from around the globe living together in the woods of Vermont. Cultures colliding and merging within tents, under stars and around fires, night after night. Fears forgotten while hauling water, paddling canoes, and sharing meals prepared over an open fire. Friendships sprouting in all colors and fellowship blossoming in the glorious and diverse face of nature. Unity within diversity was the opportunity and the lesson. They wanted to create a microcosm of what the world could be. And they did.
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Simplicity: Navigating the Maze to a Simpler Life

And what does one do with the free time that results from stepping out of the hamster wheel? Again, according to Mark Burch the possibilities are limitless, "Like freeing time to spend with a lover, lovers of simplicity free their lives of everything that might draw down their energy or obstruct the way toward their highest goals. For Jesus, that goal was proclaiming his Father's kingdom; for Socrates, it was the pursuit of the Truth; for Thoreau, self-reliance and spiritual communion with his beloved New England; for Buddha, it was self-liberation. Though most of us keep less exalted company, we still know the pleasure of time with our children, our spouses, our craft or our art form, the calling of our work, or contributions we wish to make to our communities..."
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Walls Separate Us, But They Also Connect Us

by Les MacFarlane "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein The process of reflecting on our lives known as...
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Flexibility to Adapt to Reality

Essentially, having a neurotic personality is not a bad thing. Neurotics have a desire to improve, and their wills are not weak. However, they expend much of their energy protecting themselves, and they are oversensitive. If they develop an attitude toward life that emphasizes managing outside matter instead of paying so much attention to their own feelings, then they become free from their obsession.
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Cultivating Gratitude: An Interview with Robert Emmons, Ph.D.

Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is one of the foremost authorities on the topic of gratitude in North America. He is the author of more than sixty research articles and two books, Words of Gratitude: For Mind, Body & Soul (Templeton Foundation Press 2001 - co-authored with Joanna Hill) and, The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford University Press, 2004). He has been studying what makes people happy for nearly twenty years and in this interview, conducted by Thirty Th ousand Days Ass't Editor Trudy Boyle, Emmons reveals some of his conclusions about the practice and importance of cultivating gratitude.
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The Beautiful Trap

I think of how different this process is from Zen meditation--one looking inward, one looking outward--yet how they both ultimately point to the emptiness of self. I find that Naikan repopulates my Zen practice, which has a tendency to drift into abstraction, with the specificity of my personal relationships. The treasure of sangha (one of the more difficult--because least controllable--aspects of my Buddhist practice) is revealed. Community nourishes humility, a trait that I tend to forget in my recurring myopic vision of enlightenment. Which is to say, Naikan makes me a better Zen student. Most importantly it helps me (as does Zen) to forget myself by shifting focus onto others. This makes me more aware of how I treat the people I love, and more aware of how much grace is involved in my existence. On my return I express my newfound appreciation to my mother, and it opens a door that had been shut for years. We still have our usual problems, but there's more trust involved, more honesty. I also tell Kathryn how bad I've felt about being so distant. She smiles and says I should go on more of these retreats.
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Giving Children Smiles: Dr. William Magee

I think it's fair to say that plastic surgery is an outcropping of a privileged culture. But Magee has found a way to use his privilege to help others, transforming first-world-guilt into compassionate action. Perhaps there is an opportunity for service in any situation and all we have to do is look for it.
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So what is a sensible strategy concerning stagefright and its corollaries? I suggest that the real problem is not these feelings in and of themselves; it is that we are letting this particular group of feelings "push us around." I mean by that: that we misplace our attention. We focus our energies on developing confidence as a speaker rather than on the effortful work of preparing the speech or rehearsing the presentation. I tell performers/speakers to pay attention to the audience. Notice if they appear to be hearing and understanding what you are saying. Handling performance anxiety is really about redirecting ones attention. It's about noticing that I feel anxious and then turning my mind and body to the act of doing the performance with full attention. It is about remembering my purpose and acting accordingly.
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Being in Love

by C.S. Lewis Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole...
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Perfectionism and the Fear of Making Mistakes

Making a mistake implies humiliation; it lowers one's social status, as being right increases it and this is at the root of our concern with goodness and righteousness. We are interested in it primarily because we are interested in our own prestige and status. Once we free ourselves from our fear of being inferior and recognize our worth and dignity, we no longer fear making mistakes--and, therefore make fewer. Our educational institutions are not yet prepared to teach this new social value of the courage to be imperfect. The ability to make mistakes graciously and to accept the ensuing predicament in the same spirit as if it had occurred without our fault is essential for functioning as a free person, as an equal amongst equals.
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Making a Difference: Two Departed Heroes

Oseola McCarty, age 88, gave herself a promotion--from laundrywoman to philanthropist. She did this by giving $150,000--the bulk of her life savings--to charity. You may wonder how a laundrywoman saves $150,000. When she was a child, she dreamed of becoming a nurse. But she had to leave school after the sixth grade to care for a sick aunt and she never returned. Instead she took in laundry, initially charging $1.50 a bundle, then raising her price as time went on. When she had a little extra money, she saved it. She lived a very frugal life, walking everywhere rather than buying a car and using a black and white TV with only one working channel. Oh well, she didn't watch much TV anyway. She opened a savings account in First Mississippi National Bank. It grew with a little money her mother, aunt and grandmother left her when they died. The bank merged and changed names and McCarty expanded her investments to CD's and a few conservative mutual funds. By the time she was in her 80's, she had built up a nice little nest egg. She decided to give it away.
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Post Office Rose

Curious, I introduced myself, and asked her if she grew the roses as well as arranged them. Yes, she replied smiling, she was also the president, vice president and secretary of this endeavor: Her name is Miriam C. Spaulding and she has brought her own homegrown roses to the post office for twelve years. She is known locally as The Rose Lady. Shyly she mentions that other people have told her that they go out of their way to visit this branch because of the flowers. She views her service to the community as nothing special, just a habit she began when she worked nearby. I ask her if she has other habits like this. Yes, she also likes to send what she calls "rosey notes." These are cards she sends to thank people who have done their jobs well. She considers gratitude the "most needed" of human feelings.
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A Place Called Home

... [Debrah Constance] ... opened A Place Called Home in three rooms of a church, with one volunteer and a few hundred dollars. "Twelve children showed up and agreed to the terms of our contract: no weapons, no drugs, no graffiti." Today they have their own 10,000 square foot building, with more than 300 kids stopping by every day. The facility now includes its own school, in addition to a library, computer lab, recording studio and a small staff of devoted workers and volunteers. There are opportunities for doll-making, poetry, kick boxing and yoga.
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The Old and the Young

Kozol advocates for a cross-generational alliance, played out in schools, church basements and Head Start centers. He urges us to "seize golden moments" with these children, who still have sparks of innocence, who in the midst of ugliness and danger still have the magic of childhood within. "When I was younger, I thought the problem was lack of information: if the nation knew, it would act. Now I believe it's more a lack of moral will to act on what we know already. I try to write as a witness: This is how it is. This is how innocent children are forced to live."
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A Clean Shawsheen

"If I spend $70 on cleaning up the river, many people think it's such a big deal. But if I spend $70 to play 18 holes of golf, no one would blink an eye." And Bob's point is well taken. We tend to think about work and play as separate animals altogether. To spend one's leisure time hauling trash from a river does not fit with the common image of recreation or hobby. But what makes work and play so distinguishable? Is play pure fun? For even the most avid gardener, there can be scorching heat, black flies and mosquitos, disappointments, frustrations, and sore muscles. For Bob this hobby makes sense. He loves canoeing and rivers, the beauty and fresh air, the sun and the shade, the exercise, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and the sense of camaraderie. One of the main differences between this and serious gardening, for example, is that there are no visible, tangible improvements in Bob's own life. His yard looks the same and he has nothing to actually show for his time and efforts. Just that the river is running healthier and freer.
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The Friendly Flash

It takes a presence of mind to flash those beams at a moment's notice. It takes an immediate shift of attention to the needs of approaching strangers and away from one's own private and personal experience. It takes a willingness to help a fellow traveler, with no reward or recognition. Thanks for averting a possible disaster, whoever you are. And for reminding us opportunities to make a difference may arise in an instant. Then they're gone. In a flash.
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The Taking of Life and the Giving of Life

Meghan's organs have saved the lives of five people. Kristin Gabrielson, now 29, left that hospital room and has never felt healthier in her life. With Meghan's lungs, she has been able to resume a full life, and is now a medical secretary, building her life with a special man, Chris Nelson, who was also at death's door several years earlier. In a coma for eight days, expected to die within 24 hours, he instead woke up with Meghan's liver. The couple met at an organ donation symposium and are bonded together in a special way by Meghan and her parents. "Chris and I believe there has to be a reason why we survived and finally came together."
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Healthful Meals Aim to Restore Health

If you'd like to sample some of the east coast's best vegetarian fare you might try Angelica's Kitchen, the famous vegan restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village. The menu might include broccoli soup with roasted red pepper sauce, millet tempeh croquettes, coleslaw with horseradish dressing and maybe poached pears in raspberry sauce for dessert. Coincidentally you might find the same meal being prepared in the kitchen of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side by a group of gourmet chefs. The recipients of these culinary delicacies have something in commoncompromised immune systems threatened by illnesses like AIDS, Cancer and Heart Disease.
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Nothing But Nets

Willie Naulls seems to have found the common ground between attention, kids, basketball and God. Naulls grew up in a section of LA. known as Watts and while many of those around him succumbed to drugs or crime, he went on to become an All American Basketball player at UCLA and later an all-star forward with the New York Knicks from 1956-1962. When he retired from basketball he purchased an auto dealership in LA, married a gynecologist and had four kids. He could have spent the rest of his life in comfort but one day he heard a voice which turned him in another direction. Within two months he left his business, enrolled in a seminary and was later ordained a minister. He then established a church and leased a group of buildings that had been part of a defense plant in a rough part of LA.
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Wholesaler to the Hungry

Peter Clarke, Ph.D. and Susan Evans, Ph.D. are trying to direct trafficraw food traffic. Six years ago they met a retired produce wholesaler named Mickey Weiss who was giving away perfectly edible fruits because of cosmetic imperfections. He was giving away over a million pounds of produce a month to charities in Southern California. It made so much sense to Clark and Evans that they founded Wholesaler to the Hungry to redirect such produce to low-income people all over the country.
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The Noticing of Bags

Ian Frazier and his buddies Tim and Bill McClelland used to spend their free time enjoying a round of golf. Now they pay attention to bags. In trees. And when they see them, they get them. Notice what needs to be done. And do it. They don't exactly say that. They just do it.
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The Naturally Constructive Life of Scott Nearing

Scott and Helen Nearing's version of "The Good Life," as America's homesteading heroes, is a highly individualistic one. The form and texture of their lives are alien to many of us who spend more time with buttons, keypads and switches than with soil or stone. Yet the foundation on which their lives were built is not only familiar, but consistent with many Constructive Living principles. Their vision, which was fervently developed and documented for more than half a century, was based on purpose, work, simplicity, service, and commitment.
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Visas for Life... A Japanese Schindler

There is no way to purely and simply know Sugihara's motivation, or anyone's motivation for that matter. But it seems likely that the ability to put oneself in another's shoes forms the foundation of compassion, and is therefore one of the most important skills to develop, if goodness can be cultivated at all. Thank you, Chiune Sugihara, for the example you set during that month in August, so long ago. It serves, on the grandest of scales, as an exquisite reminder of the importance of cultivating compassion.
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The Art of Self-Reflection

Naikan is a method of self-reflection developed in Japan by Yoshimoto Ishin. Its structure uses our relationships with other as the mirror in which we can see ourselves. We reflect on what we have received from others, what we have given, and what troubles we have caused. Genuine self-reflection affects so many aspects of our lifethe presence of gratitude, our relationships with our loved ones, the degree of judgment we place on other's faults, our mental health, lifestyle choices, investment decisions, even our faith in a supreme being or force.
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Taking Note.... of Others

Now it's important to make the younger musicians understand that the choices you make on the bandstand are exactly like the choices you're going to make in the greater society.
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Arugamama: The Challenge of Acceptance

Most strong-willed people consistently try to control the external conditions of life. In some cases these external conditions can be controlled; but in other cases (for example, the weather) they cannot be controlled. Perhaps most common is our tendency to try to control other people�what they do, what they think of us or how they feel. To be blunt, this effort to try to control external conditions often gets us into trouble. So we need to learn the wisdom and skill of simply accepting what is. Life cannot always be the way we want it to be. Our plans rarely go according to plan. Flexibility and acceptance are qualities that help us live more wisely�spiritually as well as psychologically.
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Facing the Demons of Inaction: Morita Therapy as a Resource for Moving Forward

Ten years later I discovered the work of a Japanese psychiatrist that provided more than just insight into my struggles with procrastination. His work offered me a set of practical strategies for moving forward and taking action even when I didn't feel like it.
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Marriage On My Mind

So I am doing my own small-scale and totally biased study. What does it take to have a long standing (not long suffering) marriage? One where the couple genuinely like and respect each other after many years. One where they treat each other with admiration, civility, and loving actions. My research involves pestering friends, relatives and acquaintances who have been together for more than twenty five years, and who appear to have made a better go of it than most. I ask them for their advice, their stories, their words of wisdom. Three themes that keep re-appearing are as follows: (1) an attitude of acceptance (or as one friend put it, "no blame"); (2) ensuring adequate time together; and (3) creating and cultivating small but important rituals in daily life.
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Peasant Marey

When I came home after having met Marey, that time, I did not tell anyone about my "adventure." What kind of adventure had it been anyway? I even very quickly forgot about Marey. Later I met him seldom. I never even talked with him, about the wolf or about anything else either. Now suddenly, twenty years later, in Siberia, I recalled our meeting with such absolute clarity, down to the last detail. It means it had sunk down into my mind imperceptibly, all by itself, without my wanting this. And suddenly this meeting was recalled when it was needed. That tender, motherly smile of a poor serf was recalled, and the peasant, his signs of the cross, his nods, his "Oh well, boy, how frightened you are." And especially his thick finger dirtied with earth, with which he quietly, timidly, tenderly touched my shaking lips. Of course anybody would have cheered up a small boy, but that time in this isolated meeting it was as if something quite different took place. If I had been his own son, he could not have given me a look shining with clearer love. Who was forcing him to do it? He was a peasant serf who belonged to us, and I was his young master. Nobody would know how he comforted me, and nobody would reward him for it. Did he love little children so much? There are people like that. Our meeting took place in isolation, in an empty field, perhaps only God saw from above the deep and enlightened human feeling and delicate, almost womanly tenderness which can fill the heart of a coarse, bestially ignorant Russian peasant serf.
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The Whole Hearted Renter

Maybe next week I'll sell my novel and I'll put a down payment on a house that we own and we'll get a dog and we'll hang pictures on all the walls, sand strip the floors and I'll have a compost pile and vegetable garden and plant fruit trees. But right now we live here, in this little house. It's the house my children are growing up in and I'm not half hearted about it any more. And if any of us are ever walking by this house, sometime years from now, and find someone in the front yard, we'll tell them about living here and having barbecues on the back porch. We'll say "see those flowers, we planted them." We'll ask if the honeysuckle is blooming by the back window.
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Dancing with the Dragon (of Depression)

After 22 years, I completed my Bachelors degree in Psychology. I did what needed to be done despite my feelings. I help others, victims of crime and violence, to practice their lives. I help them to be productive and grateful, to direct their attention to the moment -- not to what came before, but to the here and now. I help them to dance with their dragons, as I have learned to do. For our dragons will always be part of us. It is a matter of accepting them, embracing them as our greatest teachers. They remind us that our feelings are always changing, shifting, like the Japanese sky. And it's not what's at the end of the road, but the journey which deserves our attention and for which we can be grateful. Thank you, Dragon.
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Over the Edge: The Search for Perspective on Tragedy

My Naikan reflection on this accident has allowed me to see, in detail, all the thoughtful acts that were done on my behalf by others -- many efforts by my family and people I had never even spoken with. At a time when I was wounded, weak and unable to care for myself, they were there for me, watching over me, offering their love and support to help me get well. It renews my faith in the world that we are intrinsically good, and it awakens my deep gratitude. I am more clearly aware now of my obligation to do for others.
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Gratitude: Inspirational Thoughts and Ideas

You must learn to understand the secret of gratitude. It is more than just so-called virtue. It is revealed to you as a mysterious law of existence. In obedience to it we have to fulfill our destiny. -Albert Schweitzer
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Anxiety as Misdirected Attention: A Case Study

...I learned two very important lessons. First, never make assumptions that because something is long-standing it is therefore complex and intractable. Secondly, working simply is the best way to start (and in this case finish).
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Making Each Morning a Good Morning: Naikan at an Austrian School

I will give you brief overview on how I integrated Naikan into our school. An initial problem was that I could not create the same setting and atmosphere as the traditional Naikan retreat. Nevertheless I quickly found a way in which I could weave Naikan into the fabric of our classes, without imposing it on the children. In order to explain the situation better, I must first tell you how a typical school week looks, in my class.
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Strategies for Creating Responsibility

This essay will outline how people who work with children can show them where the responsibility for there behavior lieswithin themselves.... By taking the time to really teach children about the responsibility that they have for their behavior we are really teaching them something that they will use for life. As people working with children, this is our responsibility.
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Wake Up and Smell the Rosemary

Before long, the hour was over. My client's anxiety had vanished. There was nothing more to say. No grand message or moral to send him off with that night. Our actions had spoken louder than all the words I had uttered previously.
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Editorial: The Responsibility for What We Do Not Do

We fool ourselves into thinking we are living a life of integrity simply because we lack a culpable action. Though our culpability is invisible we still must accept responsibility for what we do not do--particularly when we know, in our hearts, that something must be done, must be said.
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Defeating the Demons of Inaction: Indecision

So when we are confronted by indecision, we need to move forward despite our doubts or confusion. We need to move forward, even if we're only taking small steps. Those steps, regardless of which direction they go in, are likely to give us new information and experience. Our actions send ripples into the world. The situation may change or reveal itself in a new way once we have moved to a new vantage point.
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The Stress of Not Getting Things Done

There is no substitute for "accepting my feelings" (of laziness or boredom, or anxiety, or whatever happens to appear), "knowing my purpose" and then "DOING IT." My stress is relieved almost from the moment I start, and I go to bed that night often satisfied at what got accomplished.
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Mind/Body Medicine in Japan

Dr. Itami is the founder of Meaningful Life Therapy (MLT) in Japan. MLT is a psycho-educational program that provides guidance, support and skills for those who are suffering from serious illness, primarily cancer. It compliments the patient's medical treatment and is based on the premise that the mind and body are not separate. The patient's attitude and life activity impact on their health. Several characteristics of MLT are noteworthy when compared to efforts in the U.S.
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Counseling People Who Were Sexually Abused: An Approach Based on Morita and Naikan Therapies

Early in my work, I thought it was necessary to have the client talk about the details of the abuse and to get the client in touch with her feelings about it. It was assumed that to cope as a child she had to dissociate from her feelings or "bury" them. What I found was clients were all too much in touch with certain thoughts and feelings about the past and out of touch with many other elements of their past and present. Attention was often focused on how no one cared for them in the past and into the present. They ignored the efforts of a caring aunt, a grandfather who took them to ball games, or a teacher who payed special attention to them. They take for granted a husband who drives them to their appointment, watches the kids in the waiting room and takes the family for ice cream on the way home. These experiences provide realistic context and balance to those parts of their lives that were, or are, miserable. Many clients lived their day to day lives as if it were the most miserable part of their past. Using Naikan-like assignments with clients, many now recognize that life is not all tragic, even in homes where a lot of abuse may have taken place.
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Powers of Observation

...[O]bservation is a major key to success. The observation of the passing scene is proof against boredom; every day brings new sensations, new things to enjoy and to think about. And by providing constant mental and emotional stimulation, observation lets people know what it means to be truly alive -- to live life to its full potential. Whatever other successes one may have, the leading of a vibrant and fulfilling life is the highest success.
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Extreme Attention

One positive point from this realization is the heightened awareness of the need to pay attention to the now. I have found that the world is an amazing place if I simply take the time to notice.
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The Perpetual Garage Sale Giveaway

All in all, [the Perpetual Garage Sale] was a wonderful experience. I got rid of 25 boxes of clutter and enjoyed every minute of it. I got to know my coworkers in new ways, and my house feels more settled and spacious.
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Affluenza: The American Bug

Our entire economy is driven by our intense psychological need to fill our spiritual and emotional vacuum with more and more stuff and our illusion that the accumulation of wealth and material possessions can provide meaning to life.... The less meaning we have in our life the easier it is to be seduced by the materialistic work hard, play hard, be happy syndrome -- a syndrome that is based on a lie.
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Truth About Consequences: Letting Children Learn from Reality

The most effective response is action, not words. Although our minds may quickly come up with a stream of clear and well-targeted words, the most effective response is to keep them to ourselves and to act instead. Not in addition to, but instead. At the moment of conflict, no benefit can be gained from engaging in verbal communication. Before or after the conflict, yes. But not during. A logical consequence must be related to the problematic behavior. Punishments may not be related (you lose your allowance if you don't clean up your toys), but logical consequences must be (your toys are put in storage for a while if you don't clean them up). The difference is an important one.
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Scaling the Walls of Youth: The Application of Japanese Psychology to Working with Children

Learning to accept and live with unpleasant feelings is a skill. It may be taught and learned by youth -- sometimes more readily than by adults. Young people have less to unlearn. Teaching them to accept their feelings as natural and respond constructively to their life situation gives them a crucial choice as they inevitably face moments of emotional pain and mental discomfort.
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Dealing with the Downs and Outs of Depression

These are seven strategies that can help you respond more effectively to depression. They're not easy and developing skill will take some time and effort. But you'll find that most of these strategies will benefit you in other areas of your life: a healthier body, more intimate relationships, and a closer connection between your spiritual beliefs and your daily life.
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Exploring the Link between Gratitude and Attention

[T]o cultivate gratitude, we need to develop a new habit of attention.... Through self-reflection, we can come to see everything we have, and are, as gifts. And through self-reflection we begin to train our attention to notice what we haven't noticed.
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Finding Meaning in an Age of Distraction

The things that stick in one's mind as the deep and wonderful expressions of one's life, are counterintuitively usually those things that go against this notion of convenience, of comfort, of this centrality of our own importance.
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