I recently saw a blogger use the occasion of his birthday to write a list of tips that equaled his years. I thought that such a good idea that I didn’t want to wait until my birthday to do something similar. So, this is my top 51 truths. One caveat–which I feel somewhat apologetic for and which will be obvious as you read on: while the large majority of these statements are supported by research findings, others are merely personal beliefs that are not testable by science.
2. Effective discipline = effective teaching.
3. Self-entitlement has many faces, but two common ones are expecting others to protect one from the consequences of one’s choices and expecting that others, if they are fair, will give one the outcome that one wants because one is a good person who tried hard.
4. Behind just about any action of abuse or neglect is pain.
5. At the end of everything, how well we love is what matters the most.
6. Avoiding avoidance is generally advisable when the avoided thing, person or situation is not truly dangerous.
7. More determinative of mood is what we think about what has happened, not what has actually happened.
8. Being kind to others is a great mood enhancer.
9. We loose IQ points when we get angry.
10. Show me someone who is not engaged in an internal battle and I will show you someone whose life is in shambles.
11. Being in a successful long-term marriage is one of the most difficult things a human can try to do.
12. The greatest pain is having one’s child die.
13. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s fear.
14. We get use to just about anything. One of the many things this teaches us is that we need to mix things up lest our sex life become mundane.
15. Single parenting in a two-parent household is a symptom.
17. “Physical activity” is a much more effective term than “exercise.”
18. Fast food is generally poisonous, though it may take a long time for the effects to become obvious.
19. We are suffering from an epidemic of sleep deprivation, across the lifespan.
20. The large majority of kids, teens and adults who could benefit from evidence-based mental health services do not get it. This truth is even harsher for minorities and the poor.
21. We parents love our kids so much it makes us lunatics some of the time.
22. The practice of a spirituality correlates strongly (and positively) with multiple physical and psychological benefits.
23. If Heaven exists (and I believe it does), there are no institutions there.
24. When we don’t know what is motivating another person’s irritating behavior, our own mental health is nurtured when we assume she or he has good cause.
25. Adaptive rituals produce positive illusions.
26. Men are generally simpler creatures than women.
27. There are many more ways to promote misery than there are to promote happiness.
28. Corporal punishment can usually be aptly labelled “undisciplined discipline.”
29. Willpower, when used in isolation, is not a very reliable tool for changing harmful habits.
30. The more we learn the more nuanced we become.
31. Understanding how well a person can do things when he or she doesn’t feel like it can tell you a great deal about his or her success in both vocational and personal arenas. This is why teaching such skills to our children is a top parenting activity.
32. Heaven exists outside of space and time, which makes it very difficult for us to think and talk about what it is like.
33. Crisis = (pain/2) + (≥ opportunity/2).
34. Using addiction to deal with pain is like drinking ocean water when on a life raft: certainly understandable but it makes things worse.
35. We parents are shepherds, not sculptors.
36. Having kids quadruples the importance of having a good maintenance schedule for a committed relationship. (I’d write something higher than quadruples but I had a hard enough time spelling quadruples.)
37. If swimming is the activity that uses the most physical muscles forgiveness is the activity that uses the most psychological muscles.
38. What an apple is to a pediatrician, positive one-on-one attention is to a child psychologist.
39. Simultaneously pursuing self-interest and effective political service is like trying to iron clothing underwater.
40. Addiction is a jealous, cunning and harsh mistress that isn’t satisfied until its victim is left with nothing else.
41. An important mistake we make in thinking about race is to suppose that being impacted by someone’s race is the same thing as being racist.
42. Show me someone who is critical and unloving towards others and I will show you someone who is critical and unloving towards himself or herself.
43. Though they vary, we all have our limitations and when we exceed them we break.
44. No engaged parent can be generally happier than his or her least happy child.
45. Improving someone else’s life, without them knowing one did so, is glorious.
46. Well-conceived mission statements can help one to make many decisions about how to spend one’s time and resources.
47. Considering a difficult decision from the context of one’s deathbed can promote clarity.
49. Empathy tends to soften anger.
50. Going through an effective psychotherapy is like being reborn.
51. Show me a spiritual person who is generally physically active, getting enough sleep, eating a good diet, executing his or her top talents in service to others, and being loving in his or her personal relationships and I will show you someone who is wise.
I enjoy receiving all comments, but would especially welcome others sharing truths I have left out. Also, if anyone would like me to do a subsequent blog post on any of these assertions, I’d enjoy hearing about that as well.