Humans 101

The everyday martial art of talking to someone who disagrees with you

A blue silhouette of a bald person overlapping a red silhouette of a long-haired person, all on a yellow background.
A blue silhouette of a bald person overlapping a red silhouette of a long-haired person, all on a yellow background.

Words create our reality. Once we put them out there, we can’t take them back. Expressions like “I didn’t mean to say that” or “I was only kidding” come too late.

So why do couples get into needless arguments? Jeffery S. Smith, MD, writes in Psychology Today:

The cause of arguments and fights is a lack of mutual, empathic understanding. When empathy is not engaged, then people revert to a self-protective mode and become judgmental. The result is a bad feeling on both sides and no happy ending.

People want to be understood, not just heard.

Author Daniel Kahneman’s theory…

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Humans 101

We’re all in a state of flux right now, but that doesn’t mean we’re helpless

A mysterious lone figure standing in a field on a beautiful early misty morning.
A mysterious lone figure standing in a field on a beautiful early misty morning.

The world is full of uncertainty right now, and many people are experiencing the ups and downs of adapting to new ways of living. I’ve had a few emotional dips recently, which took me by surprise—I’m generally an upbeat person.

But William Bridges, author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, has some compelling explanations for these ebbs and flows. He explains that change is external—moving from one city to another, for example—but transition or adaptation to change is an internal, psychological process.

Bridges describes three nonlinear phases of transition: endings, neutral zone, and new beginnings. Endings occur with significant…

The way you’re wired shows up in the strangest places.

A few years ago, when I was dating my wife, I cooked dinner in her home, looking for a knife to chop vegetables. She said to try the top drawer near the stove. When I opened it, I found a knife alright, along with a hammer, screwdrivers, a tape measure, a chunk of string, a small tube of glue, and lots of other stuff.

I was puzzled. Her house was tidy; everything arranged just so — the plants, the artwork, all the little touches. Every day, she made the bed, pillows not just tossed on the bed but arranged symmetrically.

This Is Us

When you forgive, you grow

My father was a high-achieving, sharp-looking, charismatic, entertaining guy. He provided well for our family, and I learned a lot from him. He taught me the importance of hard work, paying attention to details, asking for what you want, anticipating what can happen, being a good conversationalist, and being friendly to and respectful of others.

He could also be a short-tempered, controlling, overbearing, critical, and perfectionistic pain in the ass. Like with anyone, overused strengths can become weaknesses. But it didn’t stop there — I heard many racist and misogynist remarks from him throughout my life. …

5 tips for high performance

Selling is about buying.

It doesn’t matter if you are selling shoes, cars, or multi-million dollar service contracts; we all like the experience of buying. No one wants to be sold.

If you’re in sales and try to pull your buyer towards you, chances are they’ll pull back. But, on the other hand, if you align yourself with your buyer or even slightly behind where they are in their decision-making process, you allow them to buy.

Imagine a pendulum on a clock, hanging vertically from 12 to 6. That is your buyer. If you position yourself at 8 and try…

Words of wisdom from people in their 50s and 60s.

No one wants to ruin their life intentionally, but some people manage to do it. When we see it happen, whether it’s a celebrity or someone we know, we’re often surprised, but when we look closer, it’s most often been a slow burn on the way to the wreckage.

That intrigued me, so I asked about 100 people, all over the age of 50, “What is the best way for someone to slowly ruin their life?” …

Humans 101

Discontentment begins and ends in your head

Recently, I sat with my wife in our back garden, a small fire burning in front of us, smoke curling up, the earthy smell of peat hanging in the cool air. I looked up at the stars and planets, sparkling bright in the clear, pitch-black evening sky. A peaceful feeling wrapped me like a warm blanket. I felt so good.

After about an hour, my wife said she wanted to go inside. Seconds after she left, my mind kicked in: “Why is she going in? She should stay out here with me. If we were on a date, she wouldn’t…

Humans 101

Or, what I learned from 100 people over 50

‘Wisdom comes with age’ is not just an aphorism. Life experience is one of our greatest teachers. As we move through life, we accumulate wisdom about who we are, what’s really important, and how we can live productively and happily.

With this in mind, I recently polled about 100 people, all over the age of 50, for advice on making the most of life. I studied their comments, looking for the particular mental attitude or belief underlying each one. …

Here are the most important things I’ve learned.

I looked up at the stars on a clear night recently — the beauty of our universe was undeniable. It puts our life in perspective, too, seeing this vast cosmos of which we are just a tiny part. I felt peaceful, blessed to be alive and humble. I thought to myself, looking up is good for us.

So is meditation, or looking within.

The purpose of meditation is not to control your mind, hear your inner voice, improve your health, find your passion in life, or solve your problems. …

Self-doubt is not your friend.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I doubt myself. I doubt I can write another decent article; I doubt an email I sent to someone will be well received; I doubt I can improve my golf game; I doubt I’m a good enough parent.

I sent an email the other day to a coaching client who works in a very high-pressure, toxic environment, challenging him not to forget the essence of leadership is about spirit. After I sent it, I wondered how he would react to it? I didn’t hear from him for a few days, so a slight…

Don Johnson

10 years as a monk, 49 years meditating, 30 years in the shark-infested waters of corporate America | Connect with me on Linked In-

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