Discovering Meaning (3 Exercises)

Joy, happiness, Awe, Sean Doyle, Positive psychology

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said that “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Research and experience have shown this to be true. Having a sense of meaning makes us more resilient and persistent, and less dissuaded by setbacks. It helps us find creative…

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Mud and Dreams (Coming Soon!)

My first full book is coming this May 2018. Mud and Dreams is a series of essays on the poetry and science of living. A work of “motivational poetics” the book speaks directly to the human concerns at the center of our lives.  Mud and Dreams makes poetry, philosophy and…

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Back to the Cave Again

In the Republic, Plato gives us his “allegory of the cave”. Prisoners who are chained to their spots underground see only images flickering on the wall. They have no other reality. They are shown shadows of puppets without dimensions, without substance. Our poor little creatures know nothing else of life.…

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Is This Forgiveness?

Jack Kornfield tells stories of forgiveness, heroic and true. Of Buddhist nuns brutally imprisoned for saying their prayers, afraid only that they would lose their compassion for their captors. Or of the mother who welcomed the killer of her child into her home, and nurtured him and made him kind. They…

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Beyond the Horizon

I don’t know the purpose of the sunrise. As I lie on the beach looking out over the water, I can’t say anything about indubitable truths or universal structures of knowledge. I only know to look for the foundations of meaning in the lived experience of the world. The sun…

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A Reluctant Christian

I don’t know whether I can be called a Christian. I don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. At least, I don’t see his holiness as anything different than my own. Or different from yours. Or from the effulgent heart in each of us, even if occasionally dulled. What I…

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Teach Us To Care and Not To Care

It is dangerous to care. We count on people, and we should.  But people will ignore you. They will try to convince you to do what they understand. They will even undermine. We have to learn to care enough, not to care. Be respectful and kind and forgiving, but do…

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Waking Up Our Souls

Early in the novel Zorba the Greek, the narrator is approached by a “loose nit” stranger with an “eager gaze, his eyes, ironical and full of fire.” Within seconds of their meeting, Zorba asks the narrator to take him with him on his journey. When the narrator asks “Why”, Zorba…

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Communities of the Heart

One day each month, I lead a well-being discussion over lunch in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  (Details can be found here) The talks are part philosophy, part psychology. There is a tentative spirituality that often creeps in, and is always welcomed. But at their core, the dialogues are human,…

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The Pursuit

It is so easy to get caught up in all the chasing. There are the goals and dreams and aspirations. We pursue a vision, or our aim, or any other number of respectable things.  To swing, as the poet said, “the earth a trinket at my wrist”. But after the…

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