About

Everything about this website is “wrong.” I have no editorial calendar, no target audience, and nothing to sell.

I simply follow the example of Maria Popova from Brain Pickings, who says: ”I read things that stimulate me and inspire me and help me figure out how to live and then I write about them.”

Feel free to contact me with feedback: doug.toft@gmail.com

No advice

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. 

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 perfection

Much of my blog is a public record of my experiments with self-help and spiritual practices. You will find questions, contradictions, paradoxes, and failures.

Still, I hope you discover something here that makes a positive difference in your life — or at least spares you some needless suffering. 

Like Thaddeus Golas wrote in The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment

I’m really not expecting anyone to take these sentences and expand them again into a feeling of realization. But if one of you whom I never hear about gets a little higher and happier, then I would write all this again a thousand times over. 

No bullshit

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.

Much of this material is a product of the Bullshit Industrial Complex. And some of it is downright dangerous. 

My goal is to point you to primary sources: authors driven by data rather than ego — qualified professionals who do original research and publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.

I also write about spiritual practices that have withstood the test of time.

No comments

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. 

I’m also inspired by Leo Babauta, creator of zen habits. His policy is to create minimal websites that offer a pure reading experience.”

Please do feel free to contact me with any comments on my posts. I value your ideas, and they make a difference in what I publish.

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 16th edition) was America’s best-selling college textbook. I’ve edited other books as well. 

I’ve coauthored five books. All of them are currently out of print. My favorite was The Caregiver’s Journey: When You Love Someone with AIDS, written with Mel Pohl and Deniston Kay (Harper San Francisco, 1991). 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 care for him full-time during the school year, which by far is the most important thing I 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’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.