The practices that I find most useful come from:
- Buddhism (in particular, Zen, vipassana meditation, nonduality, and the teachings of Shinzen Young)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Constructive Living
- The Landmark Forum
- Gurdjieff and Ouspensky
- BJ Fogg’s theory of behavior change
- Getting Things Done
- Writing for insight and behavior change
- Crap detecting
I blog to distill key insights from these sources, make connections, and test teachings in daily life.
As you explore my posts, please keep the following in mind.
Please do not take anything on this website as advice.
Advice turns me off. I find it condescending and simplistic.
I respect individual differences and never assume that what works for me will work for you.
I am not a psychologist or spiritual teacher. I have no professional qualifications to advise anybody about anything.
I’m just an ordinary guy who wants to be free of suffering — a beginner, seeking first principles with a fresh eye.
When I describe a treatment or technique, I am merely reporting what it is like for me. Your mileage may vary.
Please remember to rigorously test anything you read here (or elsewhere). Like they say in Alcoholics Anonymous: Take what works and leave the rest.
No target audience
In defiance of conventional advice for bloggers, my writing has no target audience.
Or rather, it has a target audience of exactly one — me.
I read things that stimulate me and inspire me and help me figure out how to live and then I write about them. The fact that there are other people who enjoy it is nice, but it’s just a byproduct.
I also agree with David Clear on the problems with writing for a target audience.
Fortunately, I have nothing to sell you and no ambitions to create a huge following.
I simply follow the lead of my current interests and share what I learn with raw honesty. This works best when I forget about target audiences.
The Internet — and much of book publishing — is a huge advice machine. We’re inundated with instructions for how to get healthy, happy, and enlightened.
I practice crap detection and seek out primary sources — authors driven by data rather than ego.
After a lot of soul-searching, I chose not to allow comments on my posts.
I would dearly love to have a rich and high-level discussion about the ideas explored on this website. Alas, my past experience taught me that spam and trolls often take the dialogue straight to the gutter.
More about me
I’ve been a professional copywriter and editor since 1979. Over the years I’ve freelanced for Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Company, Hazelden Publishing, Mayo Clinic, UnitedHealthcare, and other organizations and individuals.
Since 1989 I’ve been the contributing editor for the Master Student Series of books published by Cengage Learning. For years Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis (now in its 17th edition) was America’s best-selling college textbook. I’ve edited other books as well.
I’ve coauthored five books. My favorite is The Caregiver’s Journey: When You Love Someone with AIDS, written with Mel Pohl and Deniston Kay (now out of print, unfortunately). If you ever see a copy in a used book store, take a look at it. This book is loaded with Buddhist and Twelve Step teachings.
I have several books in process that I would like to finish before I die. Given my age, that’s real pressure.
I have been married to Joanne since 1974. We have two adult children who have wonderful partners. I am more proud of these facts than anything else.
I am a grandfather. Our grandson, Mason, was born in 2019. This changed my life changed forever. Joanne and I see him often, which is the most important thing we do.
I am in my 60s. People describe me as semi-retired, which is an oxymoron. Better: The distinction between work and play is disappearing for me.
I spend large parts of my days creating and consuming text. When feeling stressed, I can open up a text editor and suddenly feel better.
I live with prostate cancer. My only treatment at this point is “active surveillance.” This diagnosis raises a question: Can I experience unconditional serenity with cancer (a really interesting condition)? Regardless, I see every day that I’m alive as a gift.
I’ve lost my parents. My father died of a disabling and undiagnosable neurological disease (I wrote about this.) My mother died from complications of atypical Alzheimer’s disease.
I fear dementia more than death — though I’m not really that thrilled about death, either.
Before my children were born, I was a starving musician. I played guitar in jazz clubs and country clubs and taught at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.
Turns out that writing and music are both forms of composition. So, my career transition was nearly seamless.
I quit Facebook. Sometimes I miss this online connection with family and friends. But ultimately I quit to protest the company’s greed and contempt for privacy.
There are some people I wish I’d met. If you could have dinner with any four people from human history, who would they be? For me: Hildegard of Bingen, Dostoevsky, Jesus, and Buddha. I would offer vodka on the rocks and see who takes me up on it.
I have no firm ideas about what I am doing, really. Every day I just try something and see what happens.