Please join me in thinking critically and creatively about self-help books and spiritual practices.

Most of us are not psychologists or spiritual teachers. But we are intelligent non-experts.

And we’re all mortal human beings who want to be free of suffering.

Today we have a vast array of options for behavior change and personal transformation. How do we choose among them?

Let’s find ideas that work from people we can trust.

Let’s take a deep dive into specific books and authors.

Let’s capture the big insights, connect ideas, and clarify how to change our thinking and behavior.

We’ll distill the essence, discard the disingenuous, and discover what makes a difference in daily life.

Like Jack Kornfield said: “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”


The older I get, the more I turn to people wiser than myself for guidance in living a good life. I write to document my discoveries.

This website is a curated collection of insights — the best of what I’ve learned about self-help and spiritual practices. I blog to keep these insights up front and active in my heart and mind.

I am doing this to make peace with death — the essence of spirituality. If I can do this, then I will know how to live.

I invite you to subscribe to my blog. (Scroll down to this bottom of this page and enter your email address.) Your feedback is always welcome. In the meantime, may you be happy, peaceful, and at ease.

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. Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis is America’s best-selling college textbook, now in its 16th edition. I’ve edited dozens of books for other publishers as well.

My own books include:

  • Career Planning Supplement to Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis, Stan Lankowitz, Ed Stupka, and Doug Toft, Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
  • Helping Chronically Addicted Adolescents: Problems, Perspectives, and Strategies for Recovery by Cardwell C. Nuckols, A.G. Porcher III, and Doug Toft, McGraw-Hill, 1994.
  • The Caregiver’s Journey: When You Love Someone with AIDS by Mel Pohl, Deniston Kay, and Doug Toft, Harper San Francisco, 1991.
  • The Disease Concept of Alcoholism and Other Drug Addiction by Norman Miller and Doug Toft, Hazelden, 1990.
  • HIV: What You Need to Know by Dorothy Flynn and Doug Toft, Hazelden, 1989.

My original career goal was to be a psychotherapist. I ended up as a writer and editor instead — long story. However, I’m still fascinated by psychotherapy and mental health.

The Interwebs and I go back a long way. I was the first writer for Mayo Clinic’s online portal back in the mid-1990’s when it was Mayo Health Oasis. Since then I’ve written over 100 articles for health websites.

Many of my clients have been nonprofits, and I find this sector to be fascinating. You can see what I’ve written about it at MissionBox.


I write about ideas and practices that fascinate me, benefit me, or alarm me. However, 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 urge you to rigorously test anything you read here — or elsewhere.

Like they say in Alcoholics Anonymous: Take what works and leave the rest.

Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests. After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable and conform your conduct thereto. — BUDDHA

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. — BRUCE LEE