Finding Your Bliss

Prepared by Eric Saul

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.
 - Joseph Campbell


The purpose of this paper is to allow you to think about your life in a unique and interesting way.

The ideas presented in this outline will help you think about your life in ways that you probably have not. It will help you visualize, in advance, and will help you realize your full potential as a human being. Likely, you will not have thought about these things, or the questions proposed herein. It is also the intention that this will help you be a better practitioner and will help you in your career of helping people.

I wish I had been taught some of these principles when I was young. I hope you find them useful. I would invite you to let me know if you have any comments on this document. You can email me at

Are You a Miracle?

If we have never been amazed by the very fact that we exist, we are squandering the greatest fact of all.

- Will Durant

Do you feel special or unique? You are one of approximately 7.5 billion people presently living on Earth. According to the Population Reference Bureau, more than 100 billion people have existed on Earth.

There are no two human beings who are perfectly alike, nor ever have been in the history of the world. DNA combinations make us truly unique.

Our DNA has three billion basic chemical units. Our DNA makes incalculable adjustments every second to accommodate our very being.

Our brains have 10 billion neurons.

The are 10 trillion distinct life forms in our biosphere.

Let's calculate the odds of your being born to your parents in this particular time, place, and circumstances. Answer: about 1 in 400 quadrillion to the 150,000th power: [4x1017]150,000 ~ 102,640,000. That is a 10 followed by 2,640,000 zeroes. That number of zeroes would fill 11 volumes of an average-sized book. ["Odds calculated by factoring in the chances of survival of a continuous lineage of more than 150,000 generations of your predecessors, all surviving successive natural disasters throughout more than a million years of geological time, including factors of evolution, biogenesis, specific sperm and egg combinations, ultimately merging successfully together to result in the one-and-only YOU" (Binazir, 2011).]

As a comparison to the above, the approximate number of atoms in the known universe is 10 to the 80th power.

Your being born is an event so unlikely as to be virtually impossible.

If you think that your chances of being born into this world were incredibly small, there is an even more amazing fact. That is, that in the vast universe of billions of galaxies and multiple trillions of stars, the chance that conditions would have been favorable for life in our solar system was even far more remote.

Does reading the above make you feel special? It certainly should. Now go out and make a life for yourself that reflects this miracle!

It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
- Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, in Casablanca

The Vastness of You and Our Universe

Before you get too wrapped up in your concerns, think about the size and complexity of the world and universe that we live in.

You and everyone who has ever lived were created in the crucible of a burning star billions of years ago. All the constituent parts of you (atoms, cells, molecules etc.) are as old as the Universe

The universe (Latin: universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. It is everything that exists, everything that has existed, and everything that will exist.

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development of the universe. According to this theory, space and time emerged together 13.799±0.021 billion years ago, and the universe has been expanding ever since. While the spatial size of the entire universe is unknown, the cosmic inflation equation indicates that it must have a minimum diameter of 23 trillion light years, and it is possible to measure the size of the observable universe, which is approximately 93 billion light-years in diameter at the present day.

Because we cannot observe space beyond the edge of the observable universe, it is unknown whether the size of the universe in its totality is finite or infinite. Estimates suggest that the whole universe, if finite, must be more than 250 times larger than the observable universe. Some disputed estimates for the total size of the universe, if finite, reach as high as 10^{10^{10^{122}}} megaparsecs, as implied by a suggested resolution of the No-Boundary Proposal.

The age of our Milky Way galaxy is 13.2 billion years old.

Our Sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, which is one of a few hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Many of the stars in a galaxy have planets. At the largest scale, galaxies are distributed uniformly and the same in all directions, meaning that the universe has neither an edge nor a center. At smaller scales, galaxies are distributed in clusters and superclusters which form immense filaments and voids in space, creating a vast foam-like structure.

From studying the movement of galaxies, it has been discovered that the universe contains much more matter than is accounted for by visible objects, stars, galaxies, nebulas, and interstellar gas. This unseen matter is known as dark matter (dark means that there is a wide range of strong indirect evidence that it exists, but we have not yet detected it directly). The expansion of the universe is accelerating due to dark energy. Today, ordinary matter, which includes atoms, stars, galaxies, and life, accounts for only 4.9% of the contents of the Universe.

Discoveries in the early 20th century have suggested that the universe had a beginning, and that space has been expanding since then at an increasing rate.

The universe may be fine-tuned; the Fine-tuned universe hypothesis is the proposition that the conditions that allow the existence of observable life in the universe can only occur when certain universal fundamental physical constants lie within a very narrow range of values, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the universe would have been unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood. The proposition is discussed among philosophers, scientists, theologians, and proponents of creationism.

The age of planet Earth is 4.5 billion years. The distance across the universe, from one end to the other, is 27.4 billion light years. The distance across the Milky Way galaxy is 100 light-years.

The Earth is just a beautiful blue marble with a tiny biosphere rotating in the vast emptiness of space. The Earth is neither too hot nor too cold, and has just the right amount of oxygen, water, and a food source to sustain you and all the other human beings. This is known as the Goldilocks principle. The Earth rotates approximately 1,000 miles per hour and is speeding through space at 67,000 miles per hour. Our sun is just a common star. The total number of stars in the known universe is one hundred sextillion, or a 1 with 23 zeroes.  It is said that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth. Does this put things in perspective?

There are many competing hypotheses about the ultimate fate of the universe and about what, if anything, preceded the Big Bang, while other physicists and philosophers refuse to speculate, doubting that information about prior states will ever be accessible. Some physicists have suggested various multiverse hypotheses, in which our universe might be one among many universes that likewise exist.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

The following are questions that are pertinent to your thinking about your life and purpose. These are questions that you will be asked for the first time, and probably the only time, in your life. You don't need to answer them right now, but I would say that you should think about them.

·       If you could extend your lifespan, would you want to do so? This would be under ideal circumstances, where you would be in good health and would have friends and family around you to grow old with as well. You would not experience diminished cognitive ability.  Would you live your normal lifespan (about 80 years), extend it 50 years, 100 years, 500 years, 1,000 years, or forever?

·       If you could make yourself happier, would you? If you could raise your baseline of happiness to whatever degree you think is appropriate, would you do so? Why or why not?  If you could imagine yourself being happier, what would the consequences be?

·       Would you like to be more altruistic, that is, more helpful to other people? You could raise your base level of altruism to any degree that you wish. What do you think the consequences of being more altruistic would be on you and those around you?

·       Would you like to have more empathy? If so, why? If not, why not? What would the consequences be of having more empathy?

·       If you could have an objective view of yourself, that is, have the ability to see yourself as others see you, would you wish to do so? What would the positive and negative consequences of this be? How much objectivity do you think you currently have about yourself? What is the evidence?

·       If you could make yourself more intelligent, would you do so? How much more intelligent would you like to be? What would you do with this intelligence, if it could be granted to you? Would you like to be able to read and comprehend a book much faster? Would you like to learn to play a musical instrument, master a new skill, etc.? Is there a field of study that you would pursue if you could more quickly master it?

·       Do you have meaning or purpose to your life? Has the answer to this question changed over the course of your life? Do you wish you could have a stronger purpose or direction to your life? How do you think that would affect your life?

·       If you could know your future, would you want to know it? If knowing your future, you could actively change the circumstances of your life, would you want to know? Do you want your life to unfold as a mystery or more as a comfortable certainty? What do you think the consequences would be of knowing your future? Would it have positive or negative effects?

There are no right or wrong answers to the above questions. They are designed to stimulate you to think outside your normal patterns of thinking and feeling. Do you think that contemplating the above in any way will change your philosophy or belief system? If so, how?

Prescription for a Happy and Successful Life

1. Be happy.

"A joyful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22). One of the most important components of life is being happy. As simple as it may sound, being happy is not the easiest thing you can be. According to many studies, the human mind often defaults to negative thoughts and emotions. This is called the negativity bias. This means that we are more likely to remember criticism, insults, or negative information than a compliment or positive feedback. There are many strategies to make yourself happy. Many of the negative habits that people have are related to counteracting negative emotions. Some people eat, drink, and take drugs. We often just keep busy with things and routines to take our minds off of our day to day concerns and worries. Some of the benefits of being happy are that you will live longer, you will be healthier, both in physical and mental health, you will be more creative and more efficient in your day to day activities. And don't forget to laugh and smile.

2. Don't forget to breathe. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm.

Of course, one of the most important things that we do to sustain life is to breathe. On average, we breathe 12-16 times per minute, or approximately 20,000 times per day. We often forget that there is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. The most effective way to breathe is through the rising and falling of your diaphragm. This is the way that our bodies were designed to take in air. This form of breathing is much more efficient and will even promote calmness and relaxation.

3. Relax.

One of the most important things a person can do is to take time out to relax. As easy as this sounds, it is also not one of the easiest things we can do in our lives. I recommend that you refer to any number of stress management books that will teach techniques to help us relax.  One that is highly recommended is progressive muscle relaxation.

4. Meditate.

Probably the single most important activity we can do for our physical and mental health is to meditate. This, however, is for many the most difficult thing to do. Incredibly, the average human has between 40 and 48 thoughts per minute, approximately 2,900 thoughts per hour, and an amazing 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day. As noted earlier, much of our thinking defaults to negativity, anxiety and rumination. The mind, even as it sleeps, is processing thousands of thoughts. One of the ways we can quiet our mind and literally give it a rest is through the practice of meditation. Meditation is simply concentrating on not concentrating.  Meditation starts with deep breathing and exercises to still the mind. Jon Kabat-Zinn, in his book, Full Catastrophe Living, uses the technique of meditation to reach a state of mindfulness. He defines mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally" (Kabat-Zinn, 2013, p. 99). Mindfulness can lower blood pressure, bolster the immune system and promote healthful sleep. It can also increase feelings of well-being and calmness, increase control of emotions and promote positive emotions, decrease rumination, reduce depression and anxiety, increase flexible thinking, increase self-awareness and improve memory. Dr. Dean Ornish has meditation as a key element in his program of reversing heart disease. Try meditating before you take a test and see if you're not more relaxed and alert, and perform better.

5. Exercise.

"Not exercising is like taking depressants" (Tai Ben Shahar).

Need I say more?

6. Eat healthy. Eat ethically.

Eat healthy foods, low in fat and sugar. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and seeds.  Avoid processed food, high sugar content, and animal products. This will be good for you, good for the planet, and especially healthful for our animal friends.

7. Express and feel gratitude.

There is considerable psychological research that indicates that "grateful people are more attentive, determined, energetic, enthusiastic, helpful, interested, joyful and optimistic than those who aren't. [ ... ]The reason gratitude has such a powerful and lasting effect on your well-being is that it helps you reframe your experiences in a positive way .... Research also indicates that people who have a grateful disposition are less anxious, depressed, envious, lonely and materialistic" (Grenville-Cleve, 2012, p. 93). Gratitude is consistently related to life satisfaction.

8. Savor the good things in life.

"In positive psychology terminology, savoring is really about noticing, appreciating, and enhancing the positive experiences in your life. By savoring, you slow down and consciously pay attention to all your senses (touch, taste, sight, sound and smell)" (Grenville-Cleve, 2012, p. 159). Savoring is enjoying what you really like in life ... you fill in the blanks.

9. Be free with compliments.

We all like to be complimented and we all want to be appreciated. Compliment others as you would want to be complimented yourself. Be attentive for things to compliment in others.

10. Don't give advice.

Psychologists rarely, if ever, give advice to their clients. A principle in good psychotherapy is to help guide the client to solve his or her own problem and to show them the way toward a solution that best fits their needs. The same applies to people who come to you to talk about their problems. It is best to listen as a good friend and ask them what they think is best for them. A willing and empathetic ear, without advice, is one of the most precious gifts of friendship. Men tend to want to solve problems and find solutions; women often want to process and discuss possibilities. (See Deborah Tannen's book, You Just Don't Understand.  See also section on active listening.)

11. Don't take things personally.

When you are criticized, very carefully consider the source and the motivation of the individual. This may be one of the hardest things to learn. It might help to remember that what others think of you is none of your business.

12. Be resilient.

Resilience can be defined as the ability to recover from adversity and to remain active in difficult situations. Psychologists have determined that resilience can be learned. Among the benefits of resilience are greater ability to cope with stressful events, greater optimism and energy, openness to new experiences and increased emotional stability. Techniques for building resilience include distraction, distancing, and disputation. "When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us" (Alexander Graham Bell).

13. Try to practice self-control in your daily life.

Self-control, called by psychologists "self-regulation," refers to how we control natural impulses. Lack of self-control can lead to many personal problems. Psychological studies have shown that self-control is linked to happiness and well-being. According to popular wisdom, self-control can be developed by routine and practice.

14. Make sure you have a good social support network.

The connections with friends, family and others are an important contribution to our physical health and positive psychology. There is a large body of psychological research that shows that relationships are one of the principle factors regulating our well-being. Another interesting recommendation from research on couples is that you should build more positive connections with your family and loved ones. This is called the "positivity ratio." This ratio should be 5: 1, which states that there should be five times more positive moments than negative ones. The psychologists recommend that you should spend time getting to know your partner better and knowing their needs.

15. Choose your friends carefully. Choose your partner very carefully.

One of the great joys in life is having a partner who is both supportive and agreeable. Try to avoid partners who make you unhappy. People who are disagreeable have a tendency to hide their personalities in the initial phases of a relationship. There are many ways to determine if a person will make you happy. Listen to your friends. Let a disagreeable person find someone else to aggravate.

16. Avoid vexatious people. Don't be vexatious yourself.

One of the greatest aggravations a person can have is to be associated with someone who brings you unhappiness. Avoid them at all costs. This will make your life far easier. Don't try to change people; accept them for who they are.

17. Don't compare yourself to others.

If you try to keep up with the Joneses', this will likely make you unhappy. Try to avoid comparing yourself to others, or trying to keep up appearances or social status. This is particularly true about obtaining material goods.

18. Remember that beyond a certain point, money and material goods will not make you any happier.

There are numerous studies that show that beyond a relatively low set-point, more money and things will not make you happier. In fact, having too much money can lead to unhappiness.

19. Be an optimist.

Try, as much as you can, to think positive thoughts. You will notice as you go through life that people are attracted to those who have a smile and a good word to say. Try to frame things in the best possible light. Optimism does not come naturally to many people, but it is something that can be learned. Try to cultivate it in yourself, and see if it doesn't affect those around you. Some of the benefits of optimism are: reduced anxiety and depression, higher life satisfaction and increased well-being, stronger immune system, and better cardiac health.  In addition, optimists cope more effectively than pessimists with negative events in their lives, such as illnesses, etc. When faced with adversity, optimists are more likely than pessimists to take action and are less likely to give up.

20. Get into the flow of things.

Being in the flow is feeling absorbed in your activities, you lose track of time, you lose a sense of self, and what you do is rewarding for its own sake. Flow is a concept that has been part of the positive psychology movement for a number of years. Flow is often described as a state of optimal experience. The flow can simply be described as intense experiences that make you happy, or doing something for the sheer joy of it. The flow can be engaging in music, the creative arts, sports, or other activities.

21. Find meaning and purpose in your life.

There is a substantial body of research demonstrating positive outcomes for individuals who endorse a sense of purpose in life. Many of us get our sense of purpose from our careers and families. For some people, thinking about purpose in life can be difficult, as we may have some unpleasant ideas of how we have lived our lives. Research indicates that satisfaction can come from a feeling that one has made a difference. Perhaps one way to look at it is to assess your life through asking the following questions: How do I want to be remembered, and by whom? Am I happy with the life that I have lived? Am I living life the way I have always wanted to? According to Joseph Campbell: "Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer."

22. Do good for others.

One of the most interesting findings in psychology is that by performing acts of kindness and doing good for others, you will be the beneficiary every bit as much as the recipient. These studies indicate that helping others reinforces the notion of connectivity with others and helps build self-esteem in the giver. ·

23. Make the world a better place.

Leave the world in a better condition than the way you found it. Every person has the power to change the world for the better. As Gandhi said, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change."

24. Remember that life is too serious to be taken seriously.

We often take ourselves way too seriously. For hundreds of years, writers and poets have pondered the human condition. Perhaps we might take some time out to occasionally laugh at ourselves.

25. Follow your bliss.

"Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls" (Joseph Campbell).

Rhythms of Life

Heart beats on average (according to

80 per minute

115,000 per day

3,450,000 per month

42 million per year

3 billion in a lifetime

Breaths (average adult; according to

12-16 per minute

17,000-23,000 per day

510,000-690,000 per month

6.3-8.4 million per year

500 million in an 80-year lifetime

Time for a blood cell to do a complete circulation through the body (

1 minute

Life Span (CDC National Center for Health Statistics, 2014 data)

Man's average life span at birth:

76.4 years

916.8 months

27,886 days

Woman's average life span at birth:

81.2 years

974.4 months

29,638 days

Time for food to digest (

Total digestion: 24-72 hours

Time to pass through stomach and small intestine: 6-8 hours

Time to pass through the large intestine: 24 hours


40-48 per minute

2,500-2,900 per hour

60,000-70,000 per day

According to neurobiologists, almost 60% of our thoughts tend to be negative.  We experience anxiety, regret, guilt, and other negative emotions.  This is normal, and everyone feels this way.  Through relaxation, meditation and other methods, you can redirect these negative thoughts to positive ones.  (See Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living.)

Active Listening

One of the most important things that you can do for a member of your family, a friend, an acquaintance, a partner, or someone in need is to be a good listener. 

Being a good listener involves your “whole being.” 

Listening is not just hearing words.  Listening is hearing thoughts, emotions and intentions.  Listening is more than just hearing with your ears.  It involves your eyes, your undivided attention and, maybe most of all, your heart.

When someone truly hears you, it is a special gift.  Can you recall a time when you felt understood simply because somebody you knew sat and really listened to what you had to say?  On the other hand, can you remember a time when you felt such frustration because somebody close to you was inattentive, distracted, and closed off?

Can you remember talking to a loved one or a friend and hearing an echo or reverberation?  What you were saying was really not getting through and you were not being understood or deeply listened to.  Can you remember a time when you were trying to connect with someone and you knew that they were distracted and thinking about something else?

Have you ever wanted to tell somebody how you felt and you saw that they were paying more attention to their phone than to you?  Could you have done this yourself?

When we talk to others, we are often thinking about what our response will be rather than what the person talking to us is trying to relay.  It is said that when we talk to others, we put most of our effort into communicating our thoughts and ideas.  Should we also put that same amount of effort into listening, hearing and understanding?

As mentioned before, what you are being asked to do is to be a good listener and to express empathy.  Empathy is not sympathy, and you are not feeling sorry for someone, but are relating to them on a deep level.

Being a good listener is really listening, asking questions and eliciting more information.

There are four building blocks of active listening.  They are:

1.  Clarification:  Asking a question; for example, “Do you mean that…?”  “Are you saying that…?”

2.  Paraphrase:  Repeating back what the person is saying using your own words.

3.  Reflection:  Telling the person what you think the emotion is that they are feeling.  For example, “You sound really hurt by that.”

4.  Summarization:  Summing up the conversation.

In summary, being a good active listener takes your full attention and is something that can be learned as an important social skill.

As stated before, never give advice.


By Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Sit in a room and read--and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.

- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Binazir, Dr. Ali. "Are You a Miracle? On the Probability of Your Being Born." The Huffington Post, June 16, 2011, Accessed 22 Nov. 2016.

Campbell, Joseph, with Bill Moyers. Hero with a thousand faces (3rd Edition). New World Library, 2008.

Campbell, Joseph, with Bill Moyers. The power of myth. Doubleday, 1988.
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was a prominent American mythologist, writer and lecturer.  He is best known for his books on comparative mythology and religion. In his most famous work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he describes his theory of the archetypal hero found in all the world's religions and mythologies. Campbell tells us that we should be the hero of our own journey of life. His most famous quote is: "Follow your bliss."

Carnegie, Dale. How to win friends and influence people (Reissue Edition). Simon & Schuster, 2009. (First published in 1937.)

Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1937.  It was an international best-seller, originally selling more than 15 million copies. It is still in print, and it is as popular as ever. Carnegie wrote that much of success in life is due to one's "ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people." These aims are accomplished by making people feel important and appreciated, and by seeing the situation from the other person's point of view. Carnegie teaches you how to make people like you and how to change their thoughts without causing offense or resentment. For example, "let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers, and talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person."

Chopra, Deepak. Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old.  New York: Harmony Books, 1993.

Chopra, Deepak. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams. San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing and New World Library, 1994.

Chopra, Deepak, and Menas Kafatos. You are the Universe: Discovring Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters. New York: Harmony Books, 2017.

Depak Chopra is a trained physician who incorporates the wisdom traditions of many belief systems.  He believes that when you look at the universe, with its stars and galaxies, that you are actually looking into a mirror reflection of yourself.  He states that “each of us is a cocreator of reality and we can uncover the hidden dimensions where consciousness is a field of infinite possibilities.”

Cormier, Sherry, Paula S. Nurius, Cynthia J. Osborn. Interviewing and change strategies for helpers (8th Edition). Cengage Learning, 2016.

Gladwell, Malcolm. The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Little, Brown, 2000.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. Little, Brown, 2005.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The story of success. Little, Brown, 2008.

Gladwell, Malcolm. What the dog saw: And other adventures. Little, Brown, 2009.

Gladwell, Malcolm. David and Goliath: Underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants. Little, Brown, 2013.

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine since 1996. Prior to his writing for the New Yorker, he was a reporter for the Washington Post, where he covered the issues of business and science and was the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. His works have been perennial best-sellers. He discusses unique ways of looking at issues of popular culture, science and thought. In his books, he asks readers to look at these issues in unique ways.

Grenville-Cleave, Bridget. Positive psychology: A practical guide. MJF Books, 2012.

Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. (2nd Edition). Bantam Books, 2013.

From the book cover: "Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn's renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this classic, groundbreaking work-which gave rise to a whole new field in medicine and psychology-shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches derived from meditation and yoga to counteract stress, establish greater balance of body and mind, and stimulate well-being and healing. By engaging in these mindfulness practices and integrating them into your life from moment to moment and from day to day, you can learn to manage chronic pain, promote optimal healing, reduce anxiety and feelings of panic, and improve the overall quality of your life, relationships, and social networks."

Lanza, Robert, with Bob Berman. Biocentrism: How life and consciousness are the keys to understanding the true nature of the universe. Dallas: Benbella Books, 2009.

This book posits that the universe and everything in it has consciousness and self-awareness.  The universe is a life force that created you and everything in the universe.  It is an interesting concept to think of the Earth, the stars and the universe as pure consciousness.

Sapolsky, Robert M. Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst. New York: Penguin Press, 2017.

Sheehy, Gail. Passages: Predictable crises of adult life. E. P. Dutton, 1974.

Sheehy, Gail. New passages: Mapping your life across time. Random House, 1995.

From the cover of Passages: "The years between 18 and 50 are the center of life, a time of growth and opportunity. But until now no guide has existed to help us understand the mysterious process by which we become adults."

"Gail Sheehy ... set herself three objectives in writing this pioneering book: to locate the personality changes common to each stage of life; to compare the developmental rhythms of men and women-which she found strikingly unsynchronized; and, in light of this, to examine the crises that couples can anticipate. Which passages cause one partner to put an extra strain on the other? How do their needs and dreams change with age?"

Gail Sheehy interviewed more than 100 individuals for this groundbreaking work. Her research indicated that there were distinct periods, or passages, in our lives. These passages were highly predictable, and Sheehy proposed that if one knew them in advance, life would become more manageable.

From the cover of New passages: "Passages [was] named by a Library of Congress survey as one of the most influential books of our times."

Tannen, Deborah. You just don't understand: Women and men in conversation. HarperCollins, 1990.

Tannen, Deborah. Talking from 9 to 5: How women's and men's conversational styles affect who gets heard, who gets credit, and what gets done at work. William Morrow, 1994.

Deborah Tannen is a Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She has also been the McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. Her books were New York Times number one best-sellers for numerous years. Dr. Tannen is a noted expert of the psychology of linguistics. Her books give incredible insight into how we speak to each other. The understanding of this process is crucial to having improved relationships with our partners, families and co-workers.

Further reading:

Burns, David D. Feeling good: The new mood therapy (reprint edition). Harper, 2008.

Now and again, we all get the blues. Young people, in their teens and twenties, often experience periods of depression. David D. Burns, MD, is a noted psychiatrist who has written one of the definitive and most widely-read self-help books on treating depression. Feeling Good outlines effective treatments for dealing with depression, anxiety, guilt, procrastination, pessimism, and low self-esteem. These problems can be effectively treated with the scientifically proven techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy. The techniques in this book can help a person develop a more positive outlook on their life. It is one of the most recommended books on depression in the field of psychology. (See also

Ornish, Dean. Eat more, weight less: Dr. Dean Ornish's Life Choice Program/or Losing Weight
Safely While Eating Abundantly. HarperCollins, 1993.

From the cover of the book: "Dean Ornish, M.D., is president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California. He is assistant clinical professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and an attending physician at the California Pacific Medical Center. A graduate of Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Ornish was a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and completed his internship and medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. His research has been published in numerous medical journals, including The Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Cardiology. A one-hour documentary on his work was broadcast on 'Nova,' the PBS series."

Dean Ornish's landmark book was a breakthrough in the study of healthy diets. He recommends a plant-based diet, low in fat. In addition, the book deals with stress reduction, which includes meditation, yoga, social support, and exercise. Ornish has proven that changing to a healthy, supportive lifestyle can actually retard and even reverse cardiovascular disease. More recent research shows that this regimen is helpful in protecting against inflammatory diseases as well as some kinds of cancers. (See also

Williams, Redford, and Virginia Williams. Anger kills: Seventeen strategies for controlling the hostility that can harm your health. Harper Perennial, 1993.

From cover of book: "In Anger Kills, Dr. Redford Williams reveals ground-breaking research that confirms that hostility not only is a serious barrier to happiness, but can lead to heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses. Dr. Williams and his wife, Virginia, team up to present ... research in the field and offer seventeen practical strategies that can help readers translate scientific theory into meaningful action."

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