Monday, October 31, 2011


When key things are out of your control, it's easy to feel stressed and unhappy. But being a "control freak," trying to control everything, doesn't work out well either. In your life right now, what is the common thread that runs through most of your stressful, out-of-control situations?

This week's theme is control.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tell us a story: this is not a drill

At first you thought it must be a mistake, a prank, a hoax, or a false alarm. But soon enough it became clear that this was the real thing, and you had to act immediately. Where were you, who were you with, and what happened?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Duct tape and a rubber band

Sometimes problems seem too big to handle, and the best you can do at the moment is a temporary, stopgap solution. But sometimes the temporary fix works out just fine and turns out to be all you needed after all. When did one of your hasty, temporary fixes turn out to be a workable, durable solution?

Friday, October 28, 2011

In the dark

Are you afraid of the dark? Even if you are not, what was one time and place where the darkness seemed darker are more threatening than usual?

This week's theme is common fears.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Squeezed in

Are you afraid of tight spaces? Even if you are not, what was one place where you were uncomfortably packed in with too many people in close quarters?

This week's theme is common fears.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Are you afraid of being left alone? Even if you are not, what was one time when you were especially glad to rejoin the company of other people?

This week's theme is common fears.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

High places

Are you particularly afraid of high places or bridges? Even if you are not, what was one place where you were high up enough that it made you uneasy, or one bridge that made you worry about whether it was solid and safe enough?

This week's theme is common fears.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Common fears

In How the Mind Works, author Steven Pinker explains that most actual phobias point to dangerous situations that our ancestors faced. We instinctively fear eight-legged crawlers, for example, because some spiders have painful or deadly bites. Phobias can become excessive or misplaced, but they make sense. This week we take a look at some of our most common fears.

Are you personally afraid of spiders, snakes, sharks, or some other specific creature? Even if you are not, what was one startling creature encounter that made you jump backwards?

This week's theme is common fears.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tell us a story: slipping out of the time stream

Have you ever lost track of the calendar and mistakenly thought it was a different day? What actions did you take, or what plans did you make, with the wrong day in mind? How long did it take for you to realize your mistake?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pick a team

If you had to sign up for a team, choosing just by the team names, which would you choose: the Rock team, the Paper team, or the Scissors team?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Every slot is already filled

If you start running out of open time slots in your schedule or empty spaces in your home — or if things start "filling up" in any other context — the cost is loss of flexibility. For example, a new problem comes up, and you have very few options for how to deal with it. Or someone gives you a new car, but you don't have a place to park it.

What is one part of your life where you can see this happening — there's no empty space, and things suffer because of your lack of flexibility?

This week's theme is empty space.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The roaring silence

Sometimes space is empty because someone or something has departed (for example, a restaurant closed) or because plans failed (a construction project lost its financing). You look at the empty space and see what should be there instead of what's actually there. Is there a space like this in your life, one that constantly reminds you of what's not there?

This week's theme is empty space.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Time out

One of the benefits of daily meditation is that it opens up a space outside of our usual agendas and our habitual patterns of thought. Do you meditate? Do you have some other activity that sets aside some "empty space" in your day?

This week's theme is empty space.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blank spot on the map

In many areas there are seemingly empty spots on the maps, places that for a variety of reasons remain undeveloped and largely unused. Near my home town, for example, the army set aside a square mile for safely blowing up old munitions. What "empty place" is near you, and what is its story?

This week's theme is empty space.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Empty space

We certainly have mixed feelings about emptiness. We fear the poverty of "empty cupboards" and try to fill every shelf and niche, but we also crave the freedom of "wide open spaces" and like to feel that some pages still remain unwritten. Is there a place in your life where this conflict plays out — for example, a space where you regularly clean out the clutter, only to quickly fill it up again with new stuff?

This week's theme is empty space.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tell us a story: praying outside the lines

Tell us about a time that you attended a ceremony for a religious or spiritual tradition other than your own.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Who gave you advice recently? Was it advice that you welcomed and needed, or did it feel intrusive and unhelpful?

Friday, October 14, 2011

I bet no one else can do this

How long can you hold your breath? How many balls can you juggle? Some skills have few practical uses, but they might be fun for showing off. What is one of your oddball talents?

This week's theme is hidden strengths.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When the going gets tough

What is one not-so-obvious character trait or personal habit that makes it easier for you to get through difficult times?

This week's theme is hidden strengths.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

...and I also speak Japanese

What is one skill that you learned and mastered in school, but that you rarely get a chance to use?

This week's theme is hidden strengths.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Call for backup

Who is your best person overall to turn to for help when you have something difficult to handle?

This week's theme is hidden strengths.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hidden strengths

What was one emergency or unusual situation when you surprised yourself by handling things that you would normally think were beyond your capabilities?

This week's theme is hidden strengths.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tell us a story: spilling it

What was an uncomfortable secret that you carried for years, until you found that it was okay to let it go and tell the truth? What made the difference that made it okay to drop the secrecy?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Down on the farm

Do you keep any animals that are not pets? What can you tell us about them? Are they chickens, for food? Goats, to keep your lawn trimmed? Mice, for laboratory experiments? A wild animal that comes around because you feed it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

A shining example

Like everyone, you have many personal strengths and virtues; some are easy to see, others more hidden. Of all of these, which would you most like to see other people adopt and imitate? Which of your strong points would do the most good for the world at large?

This week's theme is values.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Next year's theme

If you had to pick one of the following words to serve as the central theme of the next chapter of your life, which would you pick: tranquility, prosperity, triumph, or healing?

This week's theme is values.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Misspeaking and missed speaking

There are two ways by which your speech can be at odds with your values. The first is by saying things that you don't truly believe. The second is by not saying things when circumstances call for you to speak up.

Looking at your own past behavior, which of these two faults is more common for you?

This week's theme is values.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Values: your specialty

Yesterday we mentioned four ways to value things: (1) by speaking of them, (2) by taking action, (3) by spending money on them, (4) by devoting time and attention to them. All four of these areas are important, and different people tend to specialize in different ones. Which is your specialty? When you find something that's important to you, which of these do you tend to do first, or most often, or with the most energy?

This week's theme is values.

Monday, October 3, 2011


There are at least four different ways to measure our values: (1) by our words, (2) by our actions, (3) by how we spend our money, (4) by how we use our time.

Ideally these four measures should be in alignment with each other and in agreement with your real values. In practice, things are never that neat. In your life, which of these four feels most in line with your real values?

This week's theme is values.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tell us a story: underground

What's one memorable place you've been or one unusual thing you've done below ground level — in a cave, tunnel, subway, or basement?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Making a difference

What is one of the world's big problems that you feel you could help to solve (or at least would make a serious and sincere effort), if you were given the opportunity?