Your Life as an Experiment (and the tools you need to run it)

So you decided to change your life for the better. You have resolved to become more positive, more connected, or more resilient, perhaps to become healthier or to have a stronger sense of meaning and purpose.  Motivated and determined to transform your life, you start to read and to explore, and pretty quickly realize that you are flooded with a myriad of contradicting advice.

Online and in print, an army of behavioral scientists, authors, psychologists, coaches, and experts dispense their guidelines for life. One book speaks about the power of the present moment, while another one praises focus on the future. One study shows the perils of procrastination, and another study depicts it as an effective mechanism to prioritize tasks. Some experts show statistical evidence for their findings, others provide pictures of brain scans, and others yet quote the Buddha or Krishna. It all sounds both convincing and questionable at the same time. You are yet to take the first step of your new path and already find yourself confused.

You don’t know which steps to take.


Steve McQueen Changing Diapers

My sister got married in the 70s. I was only six but I still remember her walking down the aisle, while my brother-in-law-to-be awaits her in his best pair of bell bottoms. He was a modern man, and as such he was a husband who “helped”. He helped in all house chores, cleaning, and grocery shopping, and especially took pride in his dishwashing abilities. His willingness “to help” was astounding and novel, and my sister was considered lucky to have married him. When their first child was born, he also helped with the baby, demonstrating that beyond being a modern husband, he a modern father too.


Dump Positive Thinking

A friend of mine recently told me that he is starting to practice positive thinking: “I have too much negativity in my life” he said, “I need to start thinking about things more positively”. He was right of course, mindsets do matter, and there is plenty of research showing the merits of attitudes like optimism and gratitude. However, there are also some misconceptions about positivity that can sometimes lead positive-thinkers to regress.

Here’s why “positive thinking” per-se does not work, and more importantly – what does...


Finding Your Life’s Purpose

When we reach the age of adolescence, many of us start to think about the purpose of our lives. Initially we expect to find some sort of global or common theme that brings a sense of purpose to us, but speaking with others about it, we quickly realize that this is not the case. Life is what you make it. The challenge in finding your life’s purpose therefore lies in the fact that it is unique. No two people draw meaning from the exact same things.

Meaning in life is important. Research studies consistently show that people who report a greater sense of meaning are happier [1], healthier [2], and more satisfied with life [3]. But what exactly is meaning? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as the “idea” behind a word, phrase, or a work of art, and defines purpose as “something set up as an object or end to be attained: an intention”.


5 Ways to Plan an Unforgettably Happy Summer :)

When I moved to New York years ago, I didn’t think much of summer. I grew up in Tel Aviv, where it’s always warm, and I was surprised to see my neighbors getting all excited at the first signs of spring.

Starting April, they prepared long lists of things to do, places to go, and events to book. It seemed silly to me that everyone was talking about their summer plans months in advance. Then September came and I realized the cost of my complacence. Out of the eight weekends of my children’s summer break, three were struck by summer thunderstorms, and two were wasted lazing around or shopping.

The remaining three weekends were fun, but way too short. Before I could even realize it, the winds of fall were in the air, and everyone started thinking about Halloween costumes. Summer was gone and I learned my lesson. The following year, as soon as the snow melted, my wife and I sat down and started to plan.


Answering the Big Questions through the Small Ones

In his 1982 song “think too much” singer Paul Simon debated whether he overthinks things, or perhaps does not think nearly enough. In the first verse of the song he says:

“I started to think too much

When I was twelve going on thirteen”

Do you remember this age, when you started to think about the big questions?

“What was I put on this earth to do? Who am I, really? What is the meaning of all life? Could there be any meaning at all, if our planet is only a tiny speck of dust? If God is not up in the sky, then where is he? Are we alone in the universe? What happens after you die?”


Meet Your Ideal Future Self

As children, when asked about our future plans, most of us had an immediate answer. Oblivious to the obstacles and challenges that we may have to face, we often said that we plan to be astronauts, world explorers, presidents, inventors, or rock stars. This type of response was based on the abstract perception of the world that we had. Most of us had never met a real astronaut or a world-explorer, and the information that we drew upon mostly came from books, films, and television. We liked the way these possible futures look in theory, but in practice had no idea what they truly entail.

For this reason, as soon as we grew up, these plans immediately became meaningless for many of us. Instead of thinking of our future in the abstract, we started asking more specific questions: What does it mean to be an astronaut? How long does it take to train? Does NASA offer dental coverage...? We discovered that real life is different from the movies we watched and the books we read. In real life no scenes were edited out. James Bond spends most of his time doing paperwork. Authors spend their time battling writers' block, and astronauts study piles of boring equipment manuals. Faced with adulthood, it was time to formalize new plans and dreams that match our newer perception of the world. But many of us simply did not know how.