How to Survive Your Beloved Adolescent

Six strategies that work.

Originally posted in Psychology Today


Parenting is never easy, especially during baby- and toddlerhood, times so physically demanding, basic self-care or merely keeping one’s eyes open provides a challenge. Fortunately, parents are rewarded with hugs, kisses and the gift of love, besides being supported by other parents’ more or less good advice. The following years aren’t exactly a vacation either, but nothing comes close to the difficulty of parenthood during adolescence. NOTHING. (more…)

Zen in the West – John Steinbeck

Could there be anything more close to the Zen way as John Steinbeck’s transcended preacher in The Grapes of Wrath?

“I went into the wilderness like Him [Jesus], without no campin’ stuff.” The fallen, former preacher looked at the stars and looked at the sun rising. Just as Buddha did when he sat under the Bodhi tree at the night of his enlightenment. He just stared. The former preacher wasn’t sure what he was doing, watching, staring, being alert. Suddenly, he felt one with the hill that he was watching, no sense of separation from anything anymore. He felt one, and the union felt holy. (more…)

How to Deal with Someone Who Never Stops Bragging

When enough is enough.

Originally posted in Psychology Today

Bragging has only gotten worse with social media. People feel less inhibited when the contact is mediated by technology. But why do it in the first place? Nobody really likes a bragger, but that doesn’t seem to stop the behavior. It doesn’t stop when we avoid eye contact, chuckle at this apparently unconscious character flaw, or show our boredom with a yawn, either. That’s because a bragger doesn’t notice—he or she is either insensitive to begin with or becomes insensitive while bragging, like a person who becomes numb while drinking alcohol. Bragging is similar to getting a fix or fill of something, perhaps to forget the emptiness someone feels inside (think narcissism). (more…)


What to do when you are being ignored or excluded.

Originally posted in Psychology Today

Ostracism, “the act of ignoring and exclusion,”1 hurts just as loneliness kills, which explains why we guard against it with great sensitivity (see blog “Overcoming Loneliness” under the rubric “Loneliness”). Surely there are inter-individual differences of how sensitive we are, but hardly anybody is exempt from feeling any sadness or anger when given the silent treatment by a spouse or no invitation to a family gathering. Often people hide their painful feelings in shame because coming out seems to make everything worse. (more…)

Kissing Perfectionism “Good-bye”

I want the best for myself and my family–naturally. Why settle for less? We live in a society of plenty; all we have to do is go for it and ask for exactly what we want, in department stores, restaurants, on the love market, and of course from doctors. An almost inaudible, but powerful voice inside of us may tell us to reach for the best and only for the best.

Is this a good choice though? (more…)

Do Not Ruin the Moment

When you overthink what is good, the good goes away.

Originally posted in Psychology Today

Everybody wants to be happy, but countless studies1 show: Avoiding unhappiness is more important to us than finding happiness. The moment we consider something to be emotionally risky—from small change to big love—we tend to turn away from it. People like me, who wish to spread happiness, regret this tendency, because it is often unnecessary and irrational. Researchers such as Timothy D. Wilson and Daniel T. Gilbert call this tendency the impact bias, which causes us to underestimate our inner strength to cope with our feelings in case of disaster. (more…)

4 Benefits of Hugs, for Mind and Body

Research finds surprising power in even casual embraces.

I had the honor of introducing Zen Psychology Therapy (ZPT)* at the World Congress for Psychotherapy in Shanghai in May 2014 [1]. What an experience! In retrospect, two impressions struck me the most, the first being was the openness and intellectual vibrancy with which Zen Psychology and other hybrid approaches were received. Instead of being offended by a Western psychologist speaking about Zen Buddhism and mindfulness in psychotherapy, I was welcomed as (more…)

The Ultimate Gift of Love

All experiences are mysterious; love is no exception. We cannot accurately reconstruct any experience because too many vivacious variables are involved, however attentive or scientific we go about the reconstruction. Bits and pieces and the whole of life are twirling around, inside out and outside in, firing and dying (more…)

Are You a Worrier?

Five things to try when your mind spins out of control.

Originally posted in Psychology Today

I don’t think anyone in his or her right mind wishes to be completely fearless. At least after the fact of a close encounter we can appreciate when our internal warning signal is aligned with a red traffic light, preventing us to cross the street and become roadkill. However, I don’t know anybody who appreciates being afraid for no good reason, or even just anxious about future events — which is the definition of worry. (more…)

Why Must I Worry: Five Zen Remedies

Zen Psychology does not begin with a concept of your self or your problems, but with an open mind. The intervention emerges within the sacred space of kind attention, deep listening, and questioning. When I meet a person who wishes to widen his or her inner space to let go of worry, (more…)