Tag: Optimism


Syrian Refugees and the Need for Hope

During celebration of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew greeting L’Shanah Tovah means “for a good year.” But how can we possibly say it will be a good year with a straight face, when the U.N. predicts that the Syrian refugee crisis could escalate by year’s end to 4.27 million people fleeing Syria? After the body of a three-year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach, it seemed that the world finally woke up to the gravity of the humanitarian crisis. However, it would be wrong to chalk......

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How Negative Thinking Can Boost Problem-Solving

The New York Times website recently featured a very short puzzle to help you assess how good you are at solving puzzles. It’s simple: Type in three numbers, and see if those numbers obey a certain rule. Some sequences will obey the rule, and some won’t. What’s the rule? Interestingly, if you try the game, you’ll almost always get the response, “Yes!” (Yes, your numbers follow the rule.) But when you try to guess what the rule is, you’ll probably be wrong. Why? Because we almost always start with, “Here’s my idea,......

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Can Complainers Be Cured?

About ten years ago I was in a taxi with Elliot, the calmest of my five younger brothers. Traffic was at a standstill, and I was complaining about how late I was going to be for a meeting, and how impossible it was to get around in New York City. Elliot turned to me, and said something that’s become one of the most usable pieces of wisdom I’ve ever received: “Relax. It doesn’t pay to complain about what you can’t control.” Complaining without doing anything is often a security blanket used to......

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The Brand-New-Day Prize

On a recent ordinary morning, I was standing inside a Starbucks ordering some coffee when a raggedy, scruffy, grungy-looking guy who was probably in his late 30s stepped up to the adjoining counter. You could feel everyone in his immediate presence tense up. He looked directly at the barista. Then, in a loud and clear voice he declared, “You are the proud winner of the grand prize of a brand new……………DAY.” Everyone broke out laughing. Standing side-by-side with him, I said, “A brand new day is the grand prize, that’s great. No......

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Overcoming Pessimism - How Do Things Get Better?

Rabbi Irwin Kula speaks with Rev. Welton Gaddy about how to break out of a pessimistic mindset, and why we are morally obligated to do so. Kula says that “when we get scared and fearful and sad and depressed, take a little perspective – I mean, that’s why we need sabbaths, I don’t mean the Sabbath of a literal Sabbath necessarily of any faith tradition, but a sabbath as a moment of saying, ‘The whole of creation is a hell of a gift, and we’ve been evolving, and as difficult as life......

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