The first two don’t work. The third leads to spiritual gold.

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When a person or situation upsets us, we have three ways we can respond: Express, suppress or watch. Only one of these three works.

The bad news is that few of us choose the right response. The good news is that consistently choosing the right way of responding puts us on a glide path to experiencing real, sustained joy in our lives. I’ll tell you how later on, after describing the two responses that DON’T work.

What’s emotional upset?

First, let me explain what I mean by emotional upset so we’re on the same page. It’s how you feel after your boss lobs a passive aggressive comment your way about your work performance; or how you feel after seeing your girlfriend talking with her ex at a party; or how you feel when your husband calls you an idiot for missing the deadline to sign your daughter up for soccer. …

It’s truer today than ever.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I wrote the piece below about Joe Biden in May of 2019, when he was the early frontrunner in the Democratic primary. The debate back then centered on whether the party should go for the moderate Biden, the putative best candidate to beat Trump, or a Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren type whose views more closely hewed to the mainstream of the party.

The point of the piece was that I thought this debate overlooked the most salient feature of Biden’s candidacy: That he was the best-equipped person in the country to lead a post-Trump America.

With his inauguration now upon us, I thought it useful to revisit why I thought then, and believe now more than ever, that Joe Biden is the best person to lead us out of, as Dante put it, “the dark forest” we’ve been lost in these past four years and back to a place where we Americans can once again “behold the stars.” …

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Thousands of books about work, work habits, what to do, what not to do, have been written by a plethora of brilliant minds over the millennia, especially in the last fifty years. I’ve read some (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey comes to mind), but certainly not all.

For my money, the most profound advice of all regarding work comes from a short passage in my favorite book of wisdom, the Tao te Ching, written 2,500 years ago by Lao Tzu.

From Chapter 24:

“He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. If you want to accord with the Tao, just do your job, then let go.” …

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The use of mindfulness practices in schools has been growing for several years. Even better, it appears to be working. Kids behave better in school, do better academically and improve their overall focus. ( This is absolutely fantastic for all involved — kids, teachers and parents.

But we’re missing a mammoth opportunity by restricting this to mindfulness practices only. Teaching kids the underpinnings of mindfulness is monumentally important. In fact, it could be the most valuable information kids learn in the entirety of their K-12 education.

Bold statement? Yes. True? I wholeheartedly believe so. Here’s why.

Educating about our inner…

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As someone who has devoted his professional life to writing about and teaching meditation, mindfulness and the all-around spiritual path, I thought it might be helpful to those interested in this arena to know what my 2021 New Year’s resolution is. In other words, what does someone who has dived headfirst into the spiritual ocean think is THE most important endeavor to pursue?

First, I think it’s critical to go through resolutions one might think I’d pursue. The following are all important to growth on the path…They’re just not, in my experience, the MOST important. …

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I’ve paid twenty bucks a month for ten years to subscribe to Eckhart Tolle’s website. Every week he sends out an email called a present moment reminder that contains a quote from one of his writings. At this point I’ve received several hundred of them.

Out of those hundreds of quotes, twelve have stood out above all others; i.e., I keep them in my email inbox to peruse periodically. And I’m not one of those people with 3,000 emails in his inbox. I keep mine clean and minimal.

My Eckhart only inbox

In fact, guess how many emails I have in my inbox right now? Twelve. …

I’ll provide a roadmap

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

With the new year fast approaching, millions of us will decide in the days ahead what we want to focus on in 2021. Many with holiday guilt will choose to lose ten pounds, workout more, drink less or all of the above. Others may decide they want to read more, travel more or save more. All great ideas.

But I’d submit that there’s only one resolution we need to commit to. And then recommit to every January 1. And that resolution is…

Working on ourselves.

First, a mea culpa: It’s beyond presumptuous to proclaim to know the best new year’s resolution for everybody. But if you’ve read any of my previous pieces you know of my fervent belief that working to get our inner houses in order is the most important endeavor any human can pursue. …

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Many millions of trees sacrificed their lives providing paper for all the books and articles about diets, dieting and weight loss. Low fat. Low carb. High protein. Paleo. Atkins. Mediterranean. It’s never ending.

I don’t have any qualms about any of these. I’m sure they work for the people who do them…for as long as they do them. But how many people actually stay on a diet for the rest of their lives? Not many. Which leads to the proverbial yo-yo, up and down, lose fifteen, gain eighteen, lose twenty, gain twenty path that so many weight loss aspirants travel.

The annoying…

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I had an epiphany a few days ago while riding my bike along the Back Bay near my home in Newport Beach, California. It’s about a 45 minute ride and serves as my workout four or five days a week.

Forty-five minutes alone on a bike. You know what that means: Lots of time for my mind to wander into Thoughtlandia.

Traveling to Thoughtlandia

As someone who has traveled the spiritual path these past ten years, I am well-aware that Thoughtlandia is NOT where I want to be. My regular meditation and mindfulness practices train me to live in the present moment as much as possible. …

The Wild Stallion And The Tamer

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I’ll start this off by posing a seldom asked question: What is the mind? Mickey Singer defines it as a field of energy that can create thoughts. So the brain does lots of things, but the mind is the entity within it that creates thoughts. And let’s face it, most of those random thoughts are the bane of most people’s existence.

In fact, quieting our noisy minds is central to many spiritual traditions, notably Buddhism, Hinduism, the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, Mickey Singer and many more. A fundamental precept within all these traditions and teachings is that our minds/thoughts are not who we are. …


David Gerken

Meditation and Mindfulness teacher. Dad of three precious kids. Former Washington, DC political aide and Writer for THE WEST WING. Follow me at

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