Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What is wisdom?

What is wisdom?

‘It does not automatically come with age. Many older people never put their life experience to good use’

The Shrink

When people are asked what they’d like in life they typically respond that they want to be happy. Wisdom, which we might think of as a remote and highfalutin concept, is not such a popular answer. But, in practice, happiness is flimsy, relatively unpredictable and best thought of as something that may visit us if we create the right environment for it. A practical, everyday sort of wisdom – the ability to make good choices and judgments in life – is the stuff we need to negotiate life’s sharp bends.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Benefits of Failing at French

I USED to joke that I spoke French like a 3-year-old. Until I met a French 3-year-old and couldn’t hold up my end of the conversation. This was after a year of intense study, including at least two hours a day with Rosetta Stone, Fluenz and other self-instruction software, Meetup groups, an intensive weekend class and a steady diet of French movies, television and radio, followed by what I’d hoped would be the coup de grâce: two weeks of immersion at one of the top language schools in France.

The Emotional Whiplash of Parenting a Teenager

Being a teenager is hard – being the parent of a teenager may be even harder. Any parent of an adolescent knows the pain of being rejected, neglected, or artfully critiqued by their teenager. But being pushed away is only the half of it. Raising teenagers becomes that much more stressful and confounding when teenagers interrupt weeks of frostiness with moments of intense warmth and intimacy.

Monday, July 14, 2014

New Facts about Transgender People and Health Care

In February 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released the largest‐ever survey of transgender and gender non‐conforming people, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (available at Nearly 6,500 responded to this wide‐ranging questionnaire. Here are some highlights relating to transgender people and health care:


Terminology within the transgender community varies and has changed over time so we recognize the need to be sensitive to usage within particular communities. 

Transgender: A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use. “Trans” is shorthand for “transgender.” (Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective, not a noun, thus “transgender people” is appropriate but “transgenders” is often viewed as disrespectful.)

How do transsexual people change genders? what is the process like?

Note: The information in this section applies only to transsexuals, not to transgender people in general. Remember that not all transgender people want to transition.

There are a variety of paths that people follow, but many use a series of guidelines set out by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. These guidelines are called the Standards of Care (SOC) and they outline a series of steps that people may take to explore and complete gender transition. 

These may include:
  • Counseling with a mental health professional 
  • A “real life” experience where an individual lives as the target gender for a trial period 
  • Learning about the available options and the effects of various medical treatments 
  • Communication between the person’s therapist and physician indicating readiness to begin medical treatment (usually in the form of a letter) 
  • Undergoing hormone therapy 
  • Having various surgeries to alter the face, chest and genitals to be more 
  • congruent with the individual’s sense of self 

Friday, July 11, 2014

We Tell Kids to ‘Go to Sleep!’ We Need to Teach Them Why.

We tell children why it’s important to eat their vegetables. We tell them why they need to get outside and run around. But how often do we parents tell children why it’s important to sleep? “Time for bed!” is usually the end of it, or maybe “You’ll be tired tomorrow.” No wonder children regard sleep as vaguely punitive, an enforced period of dull isolation in a darkened room. But of course sleep is so much more, and maybe we ought to try telling children that.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why Love Is a Learned Language

From developmental psychology to Timothy Leary, a reframing of love as deliberate mastery rather than magical thinking.
Love might be one of the most quintessential capacities of the human condition. And yet, for all our poetic contemplation, psycho-scientific dissection, and anthropological exploration of it, we greatly underestimate the extent to which this baseline capacity — much like those for language, motion, and creativity — is a dynamic ability to be mastered and cultivated rather than a static state to be passively beheld. Despite what we know about the value of “deliberate practice”in attaining excellence in any endeavor, the necessary toil of mastery, and the psychology ofwhat it takes to acquire new habits, we remain gobsmackingly naive about the practice of love, approaching it instead with the magical-thinking expectation that we’re born excellent at it.




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